My Thoughts

EP2 – Launching a startup in the middle of a pandemic

A startup in a pandemic? Now that is not for the faint of heart. No matter the economic conditions, it is still possible to do something risky and succeed. No matter the time, environment or challenges you face, if you have an idea you believe is ready for the world, why not give it a shot and go for it.  Many people fear taking a risk in the best of times, let alone in one of the most trying times we have ever seen.

Today, we have the opportunity to speak with Amy Davies, an entrepreneur in Toronto who started her business well before the current Covid-19 situation. Ironically, the service she built and is offering happens to be perfectly aligned to what is happening around the world, a virtual outplacement program.

First 30 Outplacement

Amy Davies is the founder and CEO of a new startup, First 30 Incorporated (, an innovative technology company that has developed an online and mobile-friendly outplacement program, offering 30 days worth of coaching videos and resources that businesses can offer to their employees affected by restructuring and layoffs. Amy is also the author of A Spark in the Dark: Illuminating Your Path to a Brilliant Career in a Reorg World.

Our discussion focuses on the things every entrepreneur faces, challenges, risks and opportunities. Listen in as Amy and I discuss her business, while giving real world advice on how to succeed no matter how bad the challenges in front of you. I also highly recommend you read her book because it formed the foundation for her startup and gives you so many ideas even if you are not currently looking for work.

Listen to the rest of my podcast as well and let me know what you think buy subscribing to my email list. I hope you enjoy listening. If you have any ideas for other interviews or topics, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Podcast, why I started one

Years ago before the concept of a podcast existed I tried to start a blog, at this URL actually. Well, I first tried at another domain that I own and have had parked and unused for years, but I faced many challenges. First of all, writing a blog involves, well, writing (or typing for technical accuracy). Issue is, that takes a lot of time, and for an ENTP like myself, I much prefer to just talk. The second major issue was I really didn’t have much to write about. I was a generalist, deep in my career and developing my skills. Who would want to read what I had to write anyways? Finally, there are something like 600,000,000 blogs in existence…so ’nuff said.

Fast forward to 2020. I have now spent over 20 years refining my skills, knowledge and expertise in certain areas. I have built a large network across verticals and geographies. I still don’t love to type, but for those who know me, you know I like to talk. Add in the fact that the world has changed around me to a non-written media oriented world, where we touch our video screens, ask Google for our answers and listen to our books and other content while in transit (and even when stationary). As Google and the voice assistants of the world take on more of the load in how consumers interact with technology, Podcasting is becoming part of the new frontier in navigation, research and search engine optimization. So, as I podcast, I am getting ahead of the game.

There is that one other reason I decided to start this podcast. I enjoy coaching, mentoring and helping others. I guess I just realized that it gets hard to spend a lot of time with a lot of different people, so as a way to be more efficient, this podcast is a tool for me to share my thoughts and ideas with as many people as possible.

My fear that tech (and laziness) is ruining the experience of eating in (and affecting our health along the way)

In thinking about things I did differently in 2019, one thing I tried NOT to do too much was use the new breed of food delivery services out in market. I decided to go back and read an article from August in The Atlantic titled “The Booming, Ethically Dubious Business of Food Delivery: Meal-delivery companies are the ultimate symbol of the most powerful force in business today: convenience maximalism.”

Online including food delivery is surging, and eating in is the new dining out.

According to the article, “the U.S. food industry has seen a major turning point in the past few years and is about to see another. In 2015, for the first time on record, Americans spent more money at restaurants than at grocery stores. In dense urban areas, restaurants are literally eating the urban retail budget. Food-service locations have accounted for 40 percent of all new leases in Manhattan this year, more than clothing stores, banks, and health clubs combined, according to data from the real-estate company Cushman & Wakefield. Yesterday’s Gap is becoming tomorrow gastropub.”

The bigger change however is what we are seeing now, and will continue to grow in 2020, where the Atlantic predicts that more than half of restaurant spending is projected to be “off premise” meaning not inside the restaurant. In other words, spending on deliveries, drive-throughs, and takeaway meals will soon overtake dining inside restaurants, for the first time on record. According to the investment group Cowen and Company, off-premise spending will account for as much as 80 percent of the industry’s growth in the next five years.

My main issue with this, is it makes me think about the scene from the Disney/Pixar movie Wall-E where all the humans become so lazy as the technology does all the work for them. I love eating in. I love my kids asking to stay home and hang for dinner. I love that they even choose shows like Diners, Drive-ins and Dives or other food related content on TV over action movies and crappy modern day sitcoms. Food has become a “cool” and “trendy” lifestyle topic. But when they ask to use Uber Eats or other services rather than cook it themselves, or…wait for it…walk the few blocks to pick up take out, are we really teaching them anything but to be super lazy?

I get working late the odd night, a bad snow storm, feeling sick or any other legit reason to take advantage of these convenient services. But when it’s a nice calm spring or summer evening is it really that hard to get of the sofa and walk (or even drive yourself) to get your dinner?

Not only our health, but what about the health of the environment. In this age of “local” and “farm-to-table” concepts, do food delivery services deserve to grow at the rate they are? According to the Atlantic, “Meal-delivery companies are a symbol of what might be the most powerful force in business today: convenience maximalism.”

Yes, we all want what we want, when we want it, and how we want it, but we need to be better informed about the dark underbelly of the convenience economy. Think about the garbage and waste from the materials used to deliver it to our homes like cardboard and plastic. Think of the burning of more fossil fuels to get it yet to another location. For now, these issues will be a by-product of our desire for instant gratification.

PS – have you listened to my podcast yet?

Originally posted on December 31, 2019 here:

Know me as a customer – getting it right and committing to getting better

The other day I received a letter from a large, global online business saying I hadn’t been taking advantage of some of the perks of my ongoing subscription. I have never given them any direct customer feedback.

The thing is, I’m a heavy user of these perks, and they delivered a paper letter saying I wasn’t engaged. That’s right — a real-life paper letter arrived in my mailbox from an online company that wasn’t able to track the most basic of my content consumption habits. Thing is, I actually gave them explicit permission to do just that.

It got me thinking about the importance of knowing your customer, and if a large scale company as big and successful as this one with access to tons of data isn’t getting it right — how can the rest of us succeed?

It’s especially alarming when you think about just how much data big companies have about a customer like me, yet they can’t get the basics down about how I’m actually using (and enjoying!) their products, services and all of the perks that come along with it.

I know companies can’t get it right all the time. We’re all striving to make things better for customers because at the end of the day, we all want to do the best we can.

Although they did raise on eyebrow by sending me this letter, I want to share what my team and I think we’re doing right at Simplii Financial and how we are committed to making it better. After all, we need to remind ourselves to look at how our own organizations are getting things right and wrong

Where we’re getting it right:

  • Making sure you only see relevant content: We’ve worked hard to ensure customers aren’t served content for product offerings they already have. So, for example, if someone has a chequing account, we won’t try to tell them more about our chequing product offers.
  • Listening to customer feedback on next day transfers: Our customers asked, so we delivered when they wanted next day transfers to be removed (where we had an overnight hold on funds moving from one account to another), we did just that. Customers can now receive transfers in real time, alleviating wait times.

Where we’re committed to getting better (because we aren’t perfect and can always improve):

  • Process for credit cards: Currently only Simplii customers can open a new Simplii credit card, meaning new customers must first have another Simplii product before applying for a credit card. We’re exploring whether to make the Simplii credit card available to new customers without any requirements for having another product.
  • Transferring a balance: Right now, Simplii Visa customers call contact centres to transfer a balance, increase credit limit or add an authorized user. In an ever-changing digital landscape, we are assessing how to implement more digital service requests as quickly as possible.

Admittedly, it was sort of annoying to get a letter from a company that clearly wasn’t analyzing my data properly, but it also made me stop and think about how we can all continue to learn from each other about how to get it right. Customer feedback is critical to ask for and more critical to be listened to.

Have you ever received a customer letter from a company that was wrong about your user habits? What do you think companies can do to get it right more often?

Comment below! Interested in hearing your thoughts. Also, please listen to my podcast and let me know what you think buy subscribing to my email list. I hope you enjoy listening. If you have any ideas for other interviews or topics, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Originally posted on December 18, 2018 here:

EP1 – My three team rules

Everyone is a population of 1.

For me, that is no more evident than in my career path. Over 20 years, I have gone from coding databases to selling Viagra to running a 2MM customer digital bank, and now to Podcast producer. Through each stage in my career, I have learned a lot about leadership and have synthesized three team rules that now follow me wherever I go.

I decided to launch my Podcast, ‘Fine Tune with Corby Fine’, for those of you who are looking to ‘Fine Tune’ your business, your team or yourself.  I am going to offer innovative ideas, opinions and examples to address all kinds of different challenges, while identifying opportunities to help you innovate and succeed using my two decades of experience. You will hear and learn from the best interviews, case studies and ideas in marketing, digital transformation, analytics and leadership.  I promise you that in every episode, there will be those one or two nuggets that you can action…not just theory, but challenges for you to tackle head on. Ready to learn something new…then let’s go…

In my initial Podcast episode. I wanted to give a little bit of context to who I am, how I think, and why you should keep listening after this initial pilot episode…and there is no better way to start than to try and give you some context as to my leadership style and how I approach teams that work with me.  How you manage people is a good sign of how you think and act in other areas of your life as well. My three team rules are just one example if this.

For those that missed it, please take a listen…to where my journey began. If you want to connect with me for ideas on new episodes or interviews, please do so though my contact page, also come connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn as well.