Are you an Entrepreneur ?

By Anastasia and Michael Tsouroupakis

Are you an Entrpreneur

Entrepreneurs are a unique breed, who in general shares various similar characteristics; among them are great amounts of self-confidence, highly innovative and analytical abilities, as a general rule they are very social and can network very well, and pose heightened levels of self-motivation.  In addition to these general characteristics, those who have become highly successful also possess the ability to identify opportunities and have the ware withal to make decisions and to take calculated risks.  It can be argued that on some level many people possess these characteristics and they are not entrepreneurs and do not possess the desire to become one.  What is it in addition to these basic character traits that make a successful entrepreneur?  They just think differently.

Hard Work AND Smart Work!

While it is indisputable most of our parents engrained in us the adage, that ONLY hard work will result in success, such is no longer the case.  Today’s successful entrepreneur owes most of their success to among other things, working SMART as well as working HARD.  A hard worker by definition is someone with a good work ethic, and anyone who believes that the amount of work they put into a task will be rewarded with success.  This is a fantastic attribute for anyone who works for you, but it cannot be the sole driving force behind an entrepreneur. If your business has undertaken a project that is just not right, no amount of hard work will make it successful.   The smart worker will cut the project free and refusing to waste any more of their time and their team’s time on this particular endeavour.   A smart worker is able to plan their time with efficiency and can prioritize and delegate necessary tasks, resulting in maximizing their results with minimal energy input.

Fear and Failure                                                                   

To the average person these two words incite a panic in their brain; we look to minimize these to outcomes at all costs.   The entrepreneur has no aversion of these two things, they embrace them.  Henry Ford was very fond of saying “One who fears failure, limits his activities.  Failure is the only opportunity to more intelligently begin again”.   Entrepreneurs never take failure personally, in other words they don’t interpret their failed venture as a reflection of their own abilities or self-worth, and rather it becomes a lesson of how NOT to do something.  In short they embody Thomas Edison’s adage, “I have not failed I have just found out 10 000 ways that won’t work”

And finally Inspiration

All of the above points we have made mean nothing if what you are doing does not inspire you.  If the business venture you are entering into does not speak to your passions, and does not help you in define the world in which you live then you will never find success.   Richard Branson sums this point up rather nicely “Entrepreneurship is about turning what excites you in life into capital, so that you can do more of it and move forward with it.”

We whole heatedly agree.


Bad Managers, Good Managers, Great Managers

By Anastasia and Michael Tsouroupakis


The other morning we were sitting have breakfast at one of our new neighborhood breakfast places.  When we walked in at around nine we noticed that three tables were  occupied (slow by most standards) and one of the waitresses told us to seat ourselves.  We picked a spot near the window and we were given menus and placed our coffee orders.  As we sat contemplating our breakfast choices we noticed that in addition to sit down customers they had a number of take out customers as well.  Our waitress came back with our coffees and took our orders– a very ordinary breakfast dining experience THUS FAR.  From the moment we placed our order it took 26min for our food to come , and there was mass chaos behind the open kitchen between the cook staff and the waitstaff struggling to fill take out orders and almost ignoring the customers who came in to sit down.  In the midst of this was the store manager who stood watching all of this with his hands in his pockets!! Yes that’s right he was perhaps the most disengaged manager we have had the displeasure of witnessing.  Instead of making the rounds of all the waiting tables to fill up cold coffee mugs HE DID NOTHING! Instead of busing the dirty tables HE DID NOTHING! Instead of working the cash so that the take out orders could be processed efficiently HE DID NOTHING!  Instead of helping the cook staff HE DID NOTHING!   What he did do was stand behind the counter looking over his staffs’ shoulder meandering back and forth between the cash register and the cooks station on the other side, and in general just being in the way.

As we were waiting for our food this prompted a discussion of “What makes a good manager?” or rather what must a manager be to create a positive and productive work environment?   A good relationship between management and staff is based on trust, commitment and engagement.  While we couldn’t asses the issue of trust (although I can make a guess) commitment and engagement was definitely lacking, by standing behind the counter with his hands in his pockets this manager was sending a clear message to his staff, that he was NOT going to get his hands dirty and thus he was neither committed nor engaged.  As a result of his disengagement his wait staff were unapologetic for the untimely service and the cook staff produced less than adequate meals (our med soft poached eggs were hard boiled).  Had the manager taken his hands out of his pocket,  rolled up his sleeves and engaged the waiting customer by thanking them for their patience; or helped the cook staff and wait staff letting them know that they succeed and fail as a team, our experience as customers would have been much more positive.

This manager was practicing the antiquated “Top-Down Management” theory, and  perhaps unknowingly so.  This method does not work for a variety of reason particularly in the service industry. This theory was engineered in the 1870’s to get the most out of the factory workers, managers and bosses yelled and screamed at their subordinates to scare them into producing more  Well after 140 years I would like to think that we have evolved and realize that dehumanizing another will not result in increased productivity nor loyalty.  In addition to the ethical issues, there are the optics of Top Down Management to consider, while the wait staff and the cook staff were struggling to keep up and the manager stood over everyone watching, our first thought was “What the heck is that guy doing?” “Why isn’t he helping” and your frustration is now with the entire establishment.  Not a good thing.

I had read an excellent article by author Mark Graban “What Bad Managers, Good Managers, and Great Managers Do”,  and I remembered this quote “”Bad managers tell. Good managers explain why. Great managers go beyond this.” This manager was a bad manager, and we probably won’t be having breakfast there again….unless maybe we have a couple of hours to kill!

Don’t Feed the Raccoon’s

By Michael and Anastasia Tsouroupakis


As the weather gets warmer and the days begin to grow longer we begin to notice the first stirring of spring, the earth and her creatures  awakening after a long winters slumber.  In Toronto this also means the beginning of the nightly battle between homeowners and the raccoon population. We know what you’re thinking we have invaded their space etc. yet we still have to coexist with one another and there are times when we humans are losing the battle to these wily critters. When we became homeowners the elderly childless couple next door fed our neighborhood raccoon and skunk population and while charitable this left us with an enormous problem, we could not sit out in our backyard after dusk and at least one morning a week we awoke to the pungent aroma of skunk musk because our neighbors Chow surprised one of the little black and white critters.

Raccoon’s are nature’s scavengers, her garbage collectors if you will, and in the wild they are preyed upon by bobcats, coyotes, and the great owl, urbanization however has destroyed these populations and raccoon’s now have no natural predators and, with an endless food supply aka our garbage their numbers have completely gone unchecked. In the GTA the booming raccoon population is a real problem.

What can the average homeowner do to protect themselves?  When you google ways to raccoon proof your garbage you will find suggestions like make sure the area around your garbage is well lit, sprinkle the area with naphtha flakes aka mothballs, sprinkle predator urine around your garbage, ammonia will also serve in a pinch, and others suggest playing a talk radio station will also keep raccoon’s away.  We have tried all of the above remedies and nothing worked. The only thing that did work was to completely remove their food source by making sure all of our garbage AND recycling had lids which were secured or stowed away in a garage, shed or and enclosure. Yes we said recycling, even though everything in your recycling bin is empty this actually serves to annoy them, and they will respond by pooping in your recycling bin.  We know this from firsthand experience, the only thing worse than cleaning up the contents of your green bin first thing in the morning, is cleaning raccoon poop out of your recycling bin.

If you are storing away your garbage and recycling in the garage make sure the door is closed and locked, adult raccoon’s will go on their hind legs reach up and turn the door knob (we have actually seen this) and now not only do you have to pick up your garbage but you also have to worry about whether or not the critter has decided to take up residence in your garage.  If that happens, call a removal service and they will advise you how best to deal with the situation.

When you have locked up your garbage raccoon’s will continue visiting your property until they are absolutely certain there is no potential for a meal; almost as if they are waiting for you to let down your guard.  Their tenacity knows no bounds. It took about two years for our nocturnal visits to stop, but we still lock up our garbage one slip up and we will end up back on their nightly rounds.

Best of Luck

Packing and Storing Your Winter Clothes

Winter Jacket

By Anastasia and Michael Tsouroupakis

With the warmer weather (finally) approaching many of our clients ask us the best way to store their winter clothing, and since we have such long winters our winter wardrobe tends to be far more extensive than our summer wardrobe. We have put together a few helpful ideas on how to safely and effectively store you winter clothing:

  1. Purge your winter wardrobe. There is no point in spending your precious time preparing a garment for winter storage if you are not going to wear it again. Our rule is if you haven’t worn that red sweater this season you’re not going to wear it next season either.
  1. Clean your clothes! It is imperative that you clean your clothes before you put them away, this will help prevents insects from damaging your clothing.
  1. Use fabric softener sheets to help keep your clothing smelling fresh and to keep insects from feasting on your wardrobe.
  1. Fold your coats don’t hang them!  Button or zipper your coats and empty your pockets and folding your coats will help keep their shape and is more space efficient than hanging.
  1. Storing boots.  Stuff tall and short ankle boots with newsprint to help keep the shape of your boots. There is nothing worse than trying to push your foot into a flat boot.
  1. Storing your clothing in plastic totes or plastic bag (more cost efficient) placed inside a cardboard box will ensure your clothing remain dry and safe through the warm humid summer months.

Once you have packed away your winter wardrobe you should store your boxes and totes in out of the way places like your garage, basement, utility room, or storage unit and get ready to enjoy the warmer weather.

Happy Winterizing!!!

The Wonders of WD-40

A little while ago I sat on some silly putty while I was wearing a ridiculously expensive pair of yoga pants. After my initial horror (did I mention they were expensive yoga pants?)

WD 40

I tried everything to remove the stringy gooey mess from my pants, I tried scraping the strands off with the blunt edge of a butter knife and then with the sharp side of a butter knife, dabbed it with a wet cloth and then a dry cloth, nothing I tried was helping in fact it was making the whole situation worse.  Frustrated I did what anyone would do, I googled “How to remove silly putty from my clothes” the answer I got was WD-40 and alcohol. I was stunned, WD-40 was the stuff you use to silence squeaky doors, it was a kind of grease, in spite of my reservations I tried and IT WORKED!  After I had removed all the silly putty and threw my pants in the wash, I looked up some more uses for WD-40. There were the obvious uses greasing squeaky hinges etc. but to my amazement, there were some unconventional ones as well, bellow is a list of the top ten most interesting uses for WD-40:

  1. Removes crayon from walls and wallpaper.
  2. Removes sticky sticker residue from glass ware.
  3. Removes stains like ink, lipstick, juice stain, from clothing and carpets.
  4. Removes chewing gum from your shoes, carpet or hair.
  5. Unsticks stuck Lego blocks
  6. Sprayed on the bases of trees it prevent beavers from chewing them.
  7. Removes dead, dried up insect carcases from your windshield.
  8. Sprayed on a glass shower door it prevents water spotting
  9. Removes scratches from ceramic and marble floors

And I have saved the best for last…….

  1. Snake Charmer!  A bus driver in Asia used WD-40 to remove a python that had

coiled itself around the underside of his bus.

Happy Spraying!

Carnforth Self Storage


The Universality of Duct Tape

By Anastasia and Michael Tsouroupakis

Duct Tape

We had intended on beginning a series of blogs about getting yourself ready for spring and posted the first of this series last week (see Spring Cleaning Just Ahead  Mar 18/15) but when we sat down to begin writing this week’s blog, our city was under a cold weather alert! It’s been almost one week and the warmer weather of spring has yet to arrive.  In light of this we thought it may be prudent to delay the second instalment and opted instead on writing a post about duct tape. Why duct tape you ask?  Last week one of our sons ripped his new spring coat in a road hockey game with some neighborhood friends. He was devastated, and as I looked at the rip in dismay (he had worn the jacket a total of 20 min), my husband calmly walked to the garage and came back with a roll of duct tape. My son and I watched stunned as he took the jacket from my hands, cut a piece off and plastered in on top of the rip.  He then handed it back to my son and sent him back outside. Game on!!!

“Duck” or “Duct” tape came into being during World War II when soldiers complained about how hard it was to open ammunition boxes out on the field, the seals were hard to break and not waterproof, the extra time it took to open the boxes could prove fatal.  Duct tape was created with the durable and adhesive ability of the original fabric tape BUT this new tape was waterproof and could be easily cut by hand.

Is there anything duct tape can’t fix? According to the Duct Tape Guys (Jim Berg and Tim Nyberg) who as of 2005 had written seven books about the virtues of duct tape (seriously I’m not making this up)  “Two rules to get you through life:  If it’s stuck and it’s not supposed to be, WD40 it.  If it’s not stuck and it’s supposed to be, duct tape it!” (1).

Since its creation duct tape has become a staple in every household and has been used by everyone to fix something at one time or another.  We were stunned to discover the wide ranging scope of its uses: it was used on the moon to repair a damaged fender on the lunar rover (works the same on a car fender), used to repair the Apollo 13 space module, re attaching the side view mirror to your car, hemming pants, curing warts, reinforcing the binding of a book, a temporary roof shingle, a lint brush, the list is endless. The more adventurous  have managed to fashion  wallets out of duct tape and our daughter has used it to help her fashion some new Barbie clothing, even the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under former President George Bush after 9/11 recommended that duct tape be included in every American’s “disaster supply kit”.

So whether you are an engineer, a do it yourself-er or a little boy who has ripped his brand spanking new spring jacket playing hockey, duct tape is a must for any tool box, toy box, sewing box, hockey bag, gym bag, household or work space.

Spring Cleaning Just Ahead

By Anastasia and Michael TsouroupakisSpring Cleaning

Spring has finally arrived! Winter was exceptionally brutal in our neck of the woods, with record breaking temperatures as low as -25 C and -40 C when you factor in the wind chill, but the end is finally in sight. This is why we decided to dedicate the next few blogs to getting ourselves ready for spring. Sunny days with the temperatures creeping their way over 0 C have resulted in huge snow melts where we can now see the sidewalks, driveways and lawns; they do not look pretty. Old man winter has left our homes looking worn, dirty and dreary. Here is a checklist to help you get the outside of your home ready for spring.

  1. Check your roof for any loose tiles and replace them immediately. The harsh winter weather wreaks havoc on your roof tiles, now is the time before the spring showers start to replace or fix any loose or damaged tiles.
  2. Clean out your gutters and make sure the downspouts are clear and aimed far away from your house. This will help prevent any spring thaw water damage to your home.
  3. Clear your front lawns, walkways, flower beds etc. of winter debris.
  4. Prune and mulch around your trees and bushes, this will get them ready for the spring bloom.
  5. Re-plant and replace the stuff winter killed. Our Canadian winters are hard on even the hardiest of plants, remove dead shrubs and clean up dead branches.
  6. Re Sod and re seed. The grass that lines your driveway and pathways is often a casualty of winter.  When we salt our driveways and pathways most times the salt ends up on the grass. Replace these brown and yellowed patches with either sod or seed.
  7. Change burned out outdoor bulbs.
  8. Clean up your doors and windows. Touch up your doors and door frames or slap on a fresh coat of paint altogether. Take the opportunity to clean your windows from the inside as well as the outside. Clean doors and window will instantly brighten the look of your home.

Happy Cleaning!!