Author Archives: David Chellew-Indie95

About David Chellew-Indie95

David Chellew, MBA Throughout your career there are times that you ask yourself; why do I do what I do? Is it worth it anymore? Should I try something else? After the financial meltdown and great recession of 2008/09 in particular, these were not easy questions for me to answer. 25 years on I’m still going strong, not because I have to, but because I want to. I’ve accumulated all the conventional business degrees and industry courses necessary to do my job. But I learned from experience that the things needed to build success are passion and commitment: if you’re not passionate about what you do, you’re just putting in time, if you’re not committed to doing it, then you’re wasting your time. When I sit down with clients who have been with me since the beginning, I am reminded often that there is a market for advice; not everyone wants to spend the great time and effort in trying to be successful investors. Guide and mentor both, my role is to light up the possible, shine it on the opportunity and help you see with both clarity and certainty. So whether you’re looking for alternative investment opinions, education or advice; I’m your guy. In a world with increasingly cookie-cutter investment options, I’ll help you create a unique financial strategy that works for you. I am fortunate to work with a business and life partner who is the Yin to my Yang. We live and breathe the downtown Toronto lifestyle. A bad commute to the office is having to grab an umbrella; our over-the-top shared office space is located less than 600 meters from our condo. When we’re not working you’re likely to find us on King or Queen West supporting our favourite local bars and bands, or riding our bicycles around this beautiful city. A proud blended family with four amazing adult children, son-in-law and the dude, our grandson, all living in the GTA, it’s easy for us to host frequent family dinners and barbecues.

Using Love to Weave a Good Life Together

Whether the smell of fresh cool lake water on a hot breeze or sun-warmed pine needles, there is something powerful in my mind that drags me back to another place, another time.

Last night Linda and the family were doing a memory-lane visit, on the family chat, to our home on Indian Road in Sudbury; Linda tells me that today marks the 10th anniversary of our family’s permanent move.  And for all the grand memories, for all the laughs, for all the warmth of our family of six, there is no turning back from the urban journey we’ve been on since.  We’re a bigger family.  One son-in-law.  Two beautiful grandsons, one and three.  One sig-other for both oldest daughter and youngest son.  For all our good memories together, we continue to create new ones.

The tapestry of Linda and my life together isn’t some monochrome, loosely woven, tread worn, ready to be discarded rag.  Rather, it is a richly colored work in progress.  The pattern has changed over time.  The introduction of others, whether the young Irish who fled the Great Recession at the end of the last decade, or the bar staff who liked us because we weren’t pretentious and accorded them the respect that was their due, people who’ve worked with us or for us, or our children’s friends as they grew into adulthood, all have changed the pattern and color of the weave.

Linda and I are the same age.  We met when she was a student of mine.  And lest you make some bawdy connection, we fell into dating when she finished university and I was no longer a lecturer.

I’m not sure how I would characterize being in love with Linda.  It wasn’t some mad, headlong clutching and grabbing rutting behavior.  Instead, it started on Lake Ramsay, sitting on a granite outcrop at 3 in the morning, talking, and not talking, listening to the gentle lapping of the lake on the shore.  Coming to love with each other that way provided us with the warp that gave us the strength to weave a life well together.

Things developed rapidly.  Not only did we come together six weeks later as a blended family, and bought a house soon after, our four children were just as adept at coming together as brother and sister.  It was, well, just right.

Others’ expectations created problems for us from the beginning, trying to cut our threads.  Many of Linda’s friends and confidents challenged her, suggesting that she was rushing things.  My best friend claimed that she had ruined his life.  My work relationships were threatened, ultimately leading to my termination.  My clients, who in retrospect were taking advantage of me in the guise of friendship, treated her as a handmaiden.  Neither of our families approved.

And we often heard people calling us the Brady Bunch or commenting on how hard it must be – but it was neither some uptight mid-American view of how blended families were supposed to work, or some conflict filled approaching Armageddon.

It was fun.  It was ordering ten pizzas or barbecuing hamburgers at midnight because we learned the benefits of party-ending carb comas that rapidly reduced the house party from 60 to 10.  It was getting impatient and lighting a fire in the pit with gasoline only to have the fire department arrive because apparently 60-foot flames were not acceptable.  It was laughing at a daughter doing a “grass angel” on the side lawn telling Linda how much she loved her after her first experience getting drunk.  It was travelling from city to city watching rep basketball.  It was keeping a skid steer for a whole summer because all the kids and their friends loved tooling around the property “landscaping”.  It was ditching a truck that had broken down on the side of the road so that we could rush off to a Leaf’s game.

If I give pause, as I am tempted to do this weekend, it is not because I am tried of weaving.  It is because I want to allow some of the color that is important to me back in; you know, the coolness of the water on a warm breeze or the smell of sun on the pines.  But most importantly, I want some time with Linda in the space between to listen to the water lapping on the shore.

David Chellew and Linda Odnokon have been life partners and in business together for almost 19 years. During that time, they have mellowed into their respective roles and enjoy working with individual investment clients. Dave is a Portfolio Manager and Linda is an Investment Advisor with iAS and work out of the co-work space CSI (Centre for Social Innovation) in downtown Toronto.

 

Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). iA Securities is a trademark and business name under which Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. operates.

 

This information has been prepared by David Chellew, Portfolio Manager for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of IAS. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the type of publication and are subject to change. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any the securities mentioned. For more information about IAS, please consult the official website at www.iasecurities.ca. David Chellew can open accounts only in the provinces where he is registered.

The Journey from Angry Recycler to Socially Responsible Investing

Raising four teenagers in a blended family can be challenging.  In fact, if memory serves me correctly, if you lose your sense of humor teens can be impossible to be around.

In our kitchen in our waterfront home (well, more like a rambling near-shack) we had a pantry cupboard that I had removed the shelves from.  It wasn’t much different than all cupboards in the kitchen, for years missing the hardware.

I wanted to paint all of the old 1960’s plywood fronted and varnished wood a nice clean flat white.  I got so far as to bust the shine and prime part of one shelf on one cupboard before I had to abandon my best of intentions to deal with other things.  9 years later when we sold the house it still had that one shelf half-painted, but along the way the cupboard and drawer hardware had reappeared.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t finish what I start, or that I’m not a good handyman.  It’s just that having a two-story eight-bedroom, two-thirds of an acre home required more work than I could reasonably handle, even with a lot of willing help.

In fact, Linda called it the money pit.  That’s not quite fair; it had good bones and a decent layout.  It had never been finished well by the original owner and while linoleum floors and cheap carpeting might have been embarrassing, our four teens and their assemblage of friends didn’t care.  In fact, by dint of location and who the teens were, I’m sure there are few people from Sudbury between the ages of 30 and 35 who haven’t partied at the house.

Getting Back to that Pantry 

Unlike the garbage which sat next to the fridge, the pantry had a big plastic garbage can lined with recycling bags.  Big recycling bags.  Into it went all the empty cans, bottles and cardboard that a bunch of teens could generate.

I watched on many occasions one of the four opening the door just wide enough to pitch an empty onto the pile.  Opening the door fully meant confronting the fact that there would be a flood of recyclables rushing out.  I kid you not, I watched all of them sneak around, being environmentally conscious, but avoiding Linda.  Mama O didn’t brook attitude; if she saw it she would deal with it, which meant whomever was closest would be stooping over, picking up the rush that Linda caused and hauling the bags outside.

As a man, I appreciated teen avoidance behavior.  As an adult, if I opened the door and found disaster within, I was going to have to deal with it, which inevitably included fitting all the debris into two bags in a pantry with a one bag limit.  I worked on a more elegant version of avoidance; I just wouldn’t recycle.

I wouldn’t recycle, that is, until my oldest daughter Cara called me out.  Rather than sheepishly admit that I was doing the dad-version of sneaking a pitch, I went on some self-righteous rant.  Digging out my recyclables from the garbage, I yanked the door open in anger, dropped an f-bomb, and waited for the flow of cans, bottles and cardboard to come to an end.  Too embarrassed to do much more than pick it all up and haul it out, I never fully reconciled our kids’ environmental stewardship with their unwillingness to do much more than a sneaky pitch.

Our household never came to understand why, in early 2003, the great recycling drama would come to an end.  Rather than deal with the inevitably tension-filled back and forth, I would check the pantry a couple of times a week when I woke up early, and if it was nearing overflowing, quietly stuff the bags before carrying my morning coffee and the recycling out.

Today Rob and James proudly point out that they only generate one little garbage bag a week because of their recycling and composting efforts.  I quite frankly want to use the verbal equivalent of throttling them:  you know, something sarcastic about what an effort that may take.

Environmental Concern Should Inform our Investing

Environmental consciousness comes easily to me.  When I was ten, growing up on the South Shore, I would troop down to the STOP (Society to Overcome Pollution) depot with the week’s haul of newsprint and spend a couple of hours volunteering.  This was driven more by a 1960’s “hippy” philosophy than it was the economics of filling up landfills.

Now that I work out of the CSI co-work space, I am even more acutely aware of the effort necessary to be responsible stewards of the environment.  I carry around orange and banana peels to make sure they get into the compost pail.  I separate out my garbage and am aware of what ends up in my pail that I am trying hard not to empty more than once a month.  And that community influence extends to home.

For a while now Linda and I have been trying to divert most of our wet waste at the condo to the compost chute.  We’ve also questioned whether using non-compostable bags makes sense or if we’re just making things worse.  We now have a 1-gallon wet waste pail lined with small compostable liners – my bio-bomb in the making (so called because wet waste makes a satisfying splat when falling down an 11-story chute).

Because of where we are, Linda and I are starting to pay closer attention to socially responsible investing.  More than avoiding “bad” companies we’re starting to look at them through the B Corporation lens.

In an ideal world, I would have a plethora of B Corp certified publicly traded companies to chose from (as far as well can tell there is only one in Canada, Dirtt Environmental Solutions).  But sometimes leadership means taking a little extra time and focusing on quietly carrying out the recycling.

David Chellew and Linda Odnokon have been life partners and in business together for almost 19 years. During that time, they have mellowed into their respective roles and enjoy working with individual investment clients. Dave is a Portfolio Manager and Linda is an Investment Advisor with iAS and work out of the co-work space CSI (Centre for Social Innovation) in downtown Toronto.

 

Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). iA Securities is a trademark and business name under which Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. operates.

 

This information has been prepared by David Chellew, Portfolio Manager for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of IAS. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the type of publication and are subject to change. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any the securities mentioned. For more information about IAS, please consult the official website at www.iasecurities.ca. David Chellew can open accounts only in the provinces where he is registered.

Getting Off This Crazy Train: Time to Stop Sleeping with the Elephant

“Heirs of a cold war
That’s what we’ve become
Inheriting troubles I’m mentally numb
Crazy, I just cannot bear
I’m living with something’ that just isn’t fair”[i]

I don’t remember a time in my adult life that approaches my childhood feelings of doom and helplessness, at least until now.

For those of you who don’t have those memories, I grew up an air force brat and can clearly remember what it was like in Zweibrücken, West Germany: the surging of fighter jets taking off from the RCAF base, roaring over our apartment, as NATO lurched from Berlin wall crisis to Cuban missile crisis.  I can remember my own experience in the military as an infantryman, learning to fight the Soviets in a conventional and tactical nuclear, biological and chemical battle.

As much as the late sixties and early seventies were a time of protest, a time for change, I could not help feeling growing up, in a uniquely Canadian not Québécois way, that the quiet revolution of my birth and home province, that gave rise to the expression “maîtres chez nous” (masters in our own home), was more honest than Ottawa’s response to US pressure.

I was an anglophone in a francophone land, and I’m not sure I would ever fit in.  On the other hand, in a later life in Ontario, my sensibility was more French than English.

Québec chose to go in its own way.  In the short term, between the exodus of anglophones coupled with challenges attracting investment capital during periods that led to a couple of secessionist votes, I’m sure the provincial economy suffered.  Québéc today is likely the better for it.

“I’ve listened to preachers
I’ve listened to fools
I’ve watched all the dropouts
Who make their own rules
One person conditioned to rule and control
The media sells it and you live the role”[ii]

I was pleased when Chrystia Freeland dropped her “ad hominem” comment in response to US leadership insults to Canadians.  It was an intelligent, intellectual flipping of the bird.  It pleased me.

And for a while, the media of all political stripes, and politicians, rallied around our Prime Minister.  But it wasn’t long before the more conservative of press and elected representatives started preaching a pattern of accommodation and acquiescence. Are we prepared to have a Chamberlain moment?

Washington is intent, apparently, on destroying the old order.  Fine.  But I ask you, do we need to accept blustering and economic threat?  Standing up to a bigger, stronger bully is always painful.  But more than self-respect, drawing the line in the sand and going our own way leads to freedom from future fear and intimidation.

Maybe it’s time to find our own way.  Maybe it’s time to stop gnashing our teeth over the hurt coming our way.  Maybe it’s time to say, “yes, Mr. President, the old way doesn’t work anymore but that doesn’t mean your way should be our way.”  Maybe it’s time to brush off an old rallying call and since I am “quebecois, toutefois anglogphone”:

“Vive le Canada, vive le Canada libre.”

 

[i] Songwriter(s):  Bob Daisley Ozzy Osbourne Randy Rhoads.  C:  1980 Jet Records

[ii] Ibid.

David Chellew and Linda Odnokon have been life partners and in business together for almost 19 years. During that time, they have mellowed into their respective roles and enjoy working with individual investment clients. Dave is a Portfolio Manager and Linda is an Investment Advisor with iAS and work out of the co-work space CSI (Centre for Social Innovation) in downtown Toronto.

 

Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). iA Securities is a trademark and business name under which Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. operates.

 

This information has been prepared by David Chellew, Portfolio Manager for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of IAS. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the type of publication and are subject to change. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any the securities mentioned. For more information about IAS, please consult the official website at www.iasecurities.ca. David Chellew can open accounts only in the provinces where he is registered.

Big Business: how bigger can ruin a good thing.

Why is it that large pools of capital can see a good thing and overwhelm it, throttling the nuance that made the good thing good?

Linda, Rob and I are in the middle of deciding how we are going to house the “business” for the next couple of years.  Our dilemma is finding a way to provide office space for our practice, keeping it affordable while maintaining an attachment to a community.

I went on a riff over the last two days about large capital pools buying out co-work spaces, jacking up rents and costs to the point that they are becoming non-competitive.  We’ve looked at the options and we are arriving at the conclusion that it’s a lot cheaper to rent a traditional office space, furnish it and pay the ancillary costs than it is to stay in a “community” space.  In my opinion “all in” it’s about 30% cheaper.

A couple of months ago Linda observed with some degree of comfort “the floor is getting older”.  It took me a fair amount of time to digest that, only to quip months later that “yeah, that’s because the people we wanted to be around can’t afford to be here.”

There is a truism that in our society that capital is attracted to trends because of their excess profits and opportunity. Co-work spaces are supposed to be all about community and a single “all in” price that makes plugging in easy and convenient.  When that single price becomes prohibitive to the community, the very essence of the community is destroyed.

Having to parse the way I make a living and examine it in minute detail has left me questioning many of the foundations that it was built on.  And I increasingly look through issues with the help of my millennial children’s’ eyes.  Those eyes don’t see the world on my continuum, but rather in a completely new way.  And most often, that fresh look is the better one.

I accept that change and the deployment of capital are inevitable in a growing community.  What you give up in human scale and pressure on infrastructure and public services, you gain in a greater vibrancy and diversity.  That doesn’t mean I can’t spot when aspects of that change stops being additive, that it starts to subtract.

At some point in the deployment of capital, prices to consumers rise rapidly so that excess profits can be retained.  Price is a great leveler and as competition continues to raise prices, a point of in-elasticity is reached.  I would suggest to you that the world of co-work spaces is rapidly reaching that point.

As we move towards making an office decision, my dilemma, our dilemma, is figuring out how to remain part of a community that gives us fresh eyes and challenges us to be different.

David Chellew and Linda Odnokon have been life partners and in business together for almost 19 years. During that time, they have mellowed into their respective roles and enjoy working with individual investment clients. Dave is a Portfolio Manager and Linda is an Investment Advisor with iAS and work out of the co-work space Brightlane on King West in downtown Toronto.

 Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (iAS) is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada. iA Securities is a trademark and business name under which Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. operates.

This information has been prepared by David Chellew, Portfolio Manager for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (iAS) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of iAS. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the type of publication and are subject to change. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any the securities mentioned. For more information about iAS, please consult the official website at www.iasecurities.ca. David Chellew can open accounts only in the provinces where he is registered.

Passive versus Active Investing: There are no Shortcuts

I had a friend who absolutely hated weeding his mother’s flower beds and herb garden.

Even as a teen I knew they were something amazing, literally dominating an acre, and his mother’s pride.  I don’t suppose I’m equipped even now to understand where gardening for pleasure becomes gardening to impress, but clearly Danny’s mom was gardening to impress.

Fed up, Danny decided one day to take a short cut and nipped out to Canadian Tire to buy some herbicide.  Three days later nothing was left but flower bed after flower bed of dead and dying plant material.  I didn’t see Danny for the rest of the summer.

Investing is much like that:  there are no shortcuts.

You can, like me, buy cut flowers which pleases Linda and is convenient to me.  Living in a condo doesn’t leave space in my life for growing things and frankly I don’t place much value on the process, only the result.  It’s a lot like the planters on King Street West that miraculously have gone from winter foliage to spring flowers overnight.

The other end of the spectrum are the gardeners in our condo complex.  Our flower gardens are beautiful, and a small group of volunteers spend countless hours of their retired time keeping them that way, developing through the spring with early blossoms to late fall ablaze.  I didn’t exactly endear myself to one of them last year when she was complaining about not getting any help to which I quipped maybe we just needed to pave them over.  I know myself and as much as I love the results I’m not prepared to spend the time getting them there.

The decision about whether to be a passive or active investor is a lot like that.

There are no short cuts to riches.

“Overnight” success in investing requires a lot of trial and error, and time committed to experimentation and failure, until you find a groove which works for you.  People like me can help with the process, providing advice, guidance and mentorship but ultimately you must take responsibility and work at it.

At the other end of the spectrum is the “buyer of cut flowers”.

Passive investing is a lot less labor intensive and if all you want is the benefit of the bloom, you need to school yourself in terms of expectations.  On occasion you might benefit from the blaze of color, but generally what you’re going to get is a well ordered manicured investment landscape.

I’ve toyed a lot with the concept of control when it comes to defining investment.  But I keep coming back to the same thing.

It’s about time commitment.

My profession is one of my passions, but I get that not everyone shares my interests.  The demarcation is your willingness to experiment, to take the time and effort to learn what you need to make an informed decision.

And if you think you found the magical answer to instant riches, remember Danny and his herbicide.

David Chellew and Linda Odnokon have been life partners and in business together for almost 19 years. During that time, they have mellowed into their respective roles and enjoy working with individual investment clients. Dave is a Portfolio Manager and Linda is an Investment Advisor with iAS and work out of the co-work space Brightlane on King West in downtown Toronto.

 Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (iAS) is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada. iA Securities is a trademark and business name under which Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. operates.

This information has been prepared by David Chellew, Portfolio Manager for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (iAS) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of iAS. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the type of publication and are subject to change. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any the securities mentioned. For more information about iAS, please consult the official website at www.iasecurities.ca. David Chellew can open accounts only in the provinces where he is registered.

Reflections on Tragedy in Toronto

Standing outside on the sidewalk in front of our office yesterday, Rob made the comment “watching out for white vans?”.

What first struck me as insensitive and gallows humour, it turns out he was seeing that both of us were watching, staring down the sidewalk, literally looking for white vans.

I’ve gone from praying that the van driver wasn’t a religious zealot, that the fringe far right wouldn’t have an act of terrorism to justify their racist and xenophobic views, to being gob-smacked that the dude was an incel, misogynistically driving his van into “Chad’s and Stacy’s”.

I’m still back-pedaling from hoping it wasn’t an act of terrorism, to being able to call it an act of mass murder.  But when you take a step back the result was the same, hundreds of people are affected by the murder of ten people and the injuring of another 13.

This is no different than Marc Lepine’s shooting rampage at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal where 14 women were gunned down in 1989 or the killing of 6 and wounding of 18 at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec by Alexandre Bissonette.

If an act is committed against our population by someone of a certain religious faith, we call it terrorism.  If it is committed by a white Christian against that same population, we uncomfortably hang the label terrorist on the perpetrator.  But what do we call episodically the gunning or running down of, primarily, a group of women?

Why was I distantly affected by the tragedy of the Humboldt Broncos, sympathetic to the victims’ families and the survivors and understanding the deeper scarring of my psyche, because hockey is so quintessentially Canadian?  Why was I was horrified by “vanicide” in North York?

I wondered at first if it was because I’m Torontonian.  Before I even knew that the suspicion was that Minassian was acting out his disaffection and misogyny I read in silence searching for the why.

The Humboldt tragedy was capricious and random.  Dude aiming his white van and mowing down a group of people wasn’t.

In many respects I am unqualified to comment.  I have neither the psychiatric nor criminal justice expertise to opine about disaffected and marginalized populations.  I am worried that we’ll have a knee jerk reaction and pander to more extremist views.

All I can do is stand in solidarity with whomever has the moral right to challenge societal misogyny.  And like language that is sexist, racist or any “ist” for that matter, I will challenge it as being unacceptable.

Social media is both a blessing and a curse.  Whether in my profession as an investment and portfolio specialist, or as a citizen of my city, my province and my country, I opt for a balanced approach, choosing not to silence opinions that I don’t share but rather unfollowing, unfriending or unlinking extremist views.  I won’t give credence to those voices by remaining part of their audience.

I’ll add my voice, looking for answers rather than casting aspersions.  I can call for greater road safety so that a Humboldt can’t happen again.

I just don’t know what to call for here.

David Chellew and Linda Odnokon have been life partners and in business together for almost 19 years. During that time, they have mellowed into their respective roles and enjoy working with individual investment clients. Dave is a Portfolio Manager and Linda is an Investment Advisor with iAS and work out of the co-work space Brightlane on King West in downtown Toronto.

 

Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada. iA Securities is a trademark and business name under which Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. operates

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This information has been prepared by David Chellew, Portfolio Manager for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of IAS. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the type of publication and are subject to change. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any the securities mentioned. For more information about IAS, please consult the official website at www.iasecurities.ca. David Chellew can open accounts only in the provinces where he is registered.

 

Sew What? Struggling with Gender Bias in Marketing

This morning’s coffee conversation with Linda was, not surprisingly, work related.  After all we are not only life partners, but business partners.

Linda is taking a foundation course in digital media marketing at the University of Toronto and was preparing an assignment, a digital brief for a marketing campaign.  As part of the process she was mapping a persona, and over the course of an hour the “client” had morphed into a 30/45-year-old male.

What she submitted was not that persona, but a gender neutral one.  She said “I don’t want to bias my efforts in a sexist way” or something like that.  I’m paraphrasing because her actual conversation is more vernacular, steered in part by my caffeine deprived grunts and urgency to be somewhere else.  But that’s the gist of it.

She concluded by saying “we both try to avoid sexism:  after all, you raised two daughters alone as a single parent.”

That left me remembering sewing sequins on a little pair of ballet briefs.  This is 1991; there were no YouTube videos to help me out or sequin sewing hacks (yes there are videos and hacks today).

You can’t imagine my horror after being handed two pieces of fabric, patterns and two little kits of ribbon and sequin for Cara and Shannon’s outfits.  To say that I was way out of my comfort zone is an understatement.  And changing my look from pleading to plaintive didn’t elicit any sympathy because I’m sure the women in the room were just as overwhelmed as I was.

After borrowing a sewing machine and practicing on scrap fabric I did a respectable job of putting together two little pairs of ballet shorts and two jumpers.  Stringing the gold and silver ribbon and tacking it on was a little more frustrating and I’m sure I left both the outfits overengineered and nothing short of a hurricane was going to lift the ribbon off.

But sequins …

I’m 6’2” and my hands are, um, largish.  It stands to reason that my fingers are just as proportionally large.  In fact, I could fit four sequins side by side along the width of my index finger.  I learned a few things along the way:

  1. Alcohol does not improve your disposition. After all scotch may having a calming effect it does little to improve fine motor skills;
  2. Sewing needles hurt. If you stab your forefinger and thumb enough it stops bleeding but just gets more and more sore and swollen;
  3. Taking an industrial approach to sewing with a long lead of thread lest I keep rethreading the blasted needle only means I will tangle everything up in it, or better yet, sew myself into the work. There is nothing more ignominious than standing up to discover four sequins ago your T-shirt became part of the project;
  4. Throwing the sequins across the room in a fit of temper only means that I must get on my hands and knees and pick each one up individually. Have you ever tried to pick up sequins with a swollen index finger and thumb devoid of any feeling?

I was justifiably proud of my effort and was beaming when I appeared at the girl’s recital.  I was looking for praise but ended up grousing when I didn’t get it.

A woman looked at me and mocked “oh poor baby.  I don’t know what your problem is.  When you go out to work in the morning, you put on a shirt and tie and don’t deal with half the shit we do.”

It took me a long time to get over my anger and come to terms with what she said.  She was right; whatever disadvantages I had being a man raising two daughters, they disappeared in other roles in my life.

I’m alert to sexism and double standards in the media.  I suppose because of that I can get more than a little self-righteously indignant when ads aimed at women pandering to a view that men are somehow more immature, childish and worthy of being mocked.  But then I stop myself.  It’s just wrong.  Any other comment I may make comes from the perspective of being a middle-aged white man of privilege.

I don’t know whether it is appropriate to segment a market according to any dimension that is inherently prejudicial – sexist or racist.  On the other hand, when contemplating a media spend it is obvious that in business you want to maximize the results with a dollar spent.

I find taking a business stand not to promulgate or reinforce a gender bias confusing.  I don’t think there is a rule book or set of standards that can help me hack the right way to be.  Out of respect for Linda’s decision, however, gender isn’t going to be part of our market segmentation.

I know that I am going to offend people from time to time.  But I continue to listen and adapt and do my best to be fair, egalitarian and open.  The rest is just sequins – just got to suck it up and get over myself.

#marketing #lifestyle #gender #equality #parenthood

David Chellew and Linda Odnokon have been life partners and in business together for almost 19 years.  During that time, they have mellowed into their respective roles and enjoy working with individual investment clients. Dave is a Portfolio Manager and Linda is an Investment Advisor with iAS and work out of the co-work space Brightlane on King West in downtown Toronto.

Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). iA Securities is a trademark and business name under which Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. operates.

This information has been prepared by David Chellew, Portfolio Manager for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of IAS. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the type of publication and are subject to change. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any the securities mentioned. For more information about IAS, please consult the official website at www.iasecurities.ca. David Chellew can open accounts only in the provinces where he is registered.