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The Day The CBC Called

The Day The CBC Called

Life can be funny...

Now, I'm not saying I believe in fate, or maybe I do, I suppose that's for another time but for now I'd like to tell you about a string of coincidences that lead up to the day the CBC called. A day I won't soon forget, 

I was approaching retirement when my son Daryl asked if I would assist with bringing Havlar to market.  Having extra time on my hands and looking for an project or two to keep busy, I agreed because this venture sounded like something I could get my head around and have some fun with at the same time. Little did I realize that my role as the acting Managing Director would launch me back into a full-time employment in what would otherwise be my retirement years, but I was good with that.

So it goes something like this, 

Coincidence #1:  I enrolled in the pilot Seniorpreneur program at the new Community Innovation Lab (iLab) to beef up my networking skills, connect with like-minded people and to see what resources were available for startups these days (especially funding).  The iLab is a not-for-profit organization based in Durham Region, Ontario and they provide training and mentoring resources, a co-working space and basically represent a central access point for entrepreneurs of all ages to collaborate and innovate. It was there that I met Pramilla Ramdahani the Founder, CEO

Coincidence #2: I took on a near full-time consulting gig to help pay for some of Havlar’s start-up bills.  From the beginning we were determined to “boot strap” our venture and so everyone needed to pull their weight to pitch in both sweat equity and funding, including me.  Not wanting to draw from my retirement nest-egg this became the best option and my client just happened to be located in the CBC building downtown Toronto. 

Coincidence #3:  We were ramping up our pre-crowdfunding activities and were busy working with a video production company named West and Social. I agreed to pay for the video production provided my sons managed the script and were in front of the camera.  West and Social just happened to have all of the Havlar prototypes on site and were completing final production edits. Their studio is located just a few blocks from the CBC building.  

And then the phone rings, it’s a journalist from the CBC News and it strings together something like this…..

  • Jacqueline Hansen (Journalist CBC News) has been given an assignment to investigate seniors working later into their retirement years
  • Jacqueline reaches out to Pramilla at the iLab to discuss the Seniorpreneur program
  • Pramilla provides Jacqueline with my name and contact info
  • Jacqueline researches Havlar online and then conducts a telephone interview with me
  • I inform Jacqueline that the HavlarGo prototypes are at the West and Social production studio a few blocks away from her CBC office
  • We arrange for an on-site shoot and interview at West and Social the next day
  • I walk over from my gig in the CBC building to West and Social, meet Jacqueline and her cameraman from the CBC. We’re joined onsite by my sons Daryl and Kyle and the camera rolls.
  • The news feature is to be aired in a couple of days

So, a whirl wind of activities that resulted in a featured segment on the CBC National News, CBC.ca, and CBC Radio in both French and English.  We were even “trending in the news” at one point and our story reached an audience in Australia that we continue to work with.  

Way too cool!  

I guess you never really know when life and opportunity will intersect, so just hold on and enjoy the ride.

~Tom

Theft - What You Need To Know

Theft - What You Need To Know
Before we hop into what you need to know, let’s play a quick word association game…what would come to mind for you?
  1. Theft?
  2. Robbery?
  3. Identity Fraud?

Did you answer Ocean’s Eleven, Robin Hood and Mary Samsonite like myself?

I suppose Mary Samsonite wasn’t identity fraud per se, but that’s how these words exist for millions of people around the world. They’re made to be almost theatrical…imaginary, but if you’ve ever been a victim to theft or identity fraud, you probably have a vastly different view on the topic and thus, here’s what Havlar really wants you to know.

 For the most part, theft is a crime of opportunity. Thieves are looking for easy targets that represent the smallest chance of getting caught, so we need to understand how they operate.

Ocean’s Eleven was not only a good movie, but also accurate in that thieves often work in teams, men and women. They’re often well-dressed, well-spoken and will distract you long enough to have their partner(s) steal your valuables. They often target senior citizens and women, as they’re more trusting, less likely to get into a physical altercation if caught and carry handbags / purses which are easier to steal than wallets.

But where do they operate?

Popular Target Locations

1) Shopping Centers and Grocery Stores – Distraction thieves will target hand bags or purses that are open at the top, as flaps and zippers present a barrier and they’re more likely to move onto the next person. Engaging in conversation about random topics, fruits, product information or suggestions, they’ll have you turn your focus away only momentarily while their partner swoops in for your valuables. The interaction happens fast and before you even realize what happened, the thieves will be long gone.

2) Parking lots - Often faking illnesses, asking for direction or help looking for a lost child, their objective is to wait for you to get back to your car, put your valuables down and then distract you long enough to gain access to your unlocked, vulnerable vehicle. Happening quickly and preying on the deeds of good citizens, they’ll quickly steal your valuables – GPS, wallets, purses, cellphone, etc. and flee the scene before you realized what happened. Some will even go to the extreme of puncturing your tire and giving you a “helping hand” to gain access to your vehicle and thus the valuables inside.  

3) Banks - A popular location for thieves to scout, watching inside for large withdrawals and transactions. Working as a team, one member will signal their partner(s) in the parking lot and wait for you to get back into your car and put your valuables down. At this point, a seemingly good natured citizen will tell you that you have dropped money in the parking lot, hoping you leave the vehicle in search. In this brief moment, their partner will root through your vehicle and quickly remove all accessible valuables before you return looking for the “lost money”.

4) At home – The objective is simple - gain access to your home and either recon valuables for later or steal valuables immediately. The approach to access your home can always vary depending on how many thieves are in on it.  A seemingly harmless utility call to “check your pipes”, or a solo “I’ve lost a pet”. Once inside, they will engage in conversation to divert your attention long enough to take anything of value. Alternatively, if you’re not home at all, they will just look for points of entry and see if they can get inside by any other means.  

Prevention

It is a shame that thieves prey on good, law-abiding citizens and use their compassionate, well-natured humanity against them. You would never assume that a well-dressed, well-spoken male or female asking about bananas was just about to rob your purse in your shopping cart, but the sad reality is theft happens every day. The only way you can help prevent becoming a victim, is being aware of what to look for.

If you carry a handbag while shopping, it’s important to never let it out of your sight and ensure all flaps and zippers are closed. With theft being a crime of opportunity, having obstacles for the thief to overcome can help in ensuring they keep moving. It’s also important to not carry more than you need, which will reduce your vulnerability to identity fraud and the utter headache of replacing all your items. Do you REALLY need your social insurance? 

If you’re travelling with a vehicle, always ensure your valuables are out of sight. An unattended purse or bag in the backseat is an open opportunity for a thief while you’re away. It’s important to ensure your car is locked, as it only takes moments to snatch and grab valuables. You may think it’s silly to lock your car as you return a shopping cart, but sometimes that’s only as long as it takes.

At home, are you expecting anyone? Usually a utility or service company will call ahead or schedule an appointment prior to showing up at your home. Even if you are expecting an appointment and have any doubts, ask for their name tag and confirm identity prior to giving access to your home. A door chain can also be used as a barrier between you and a potential thief to protect yourself and deter uninvited guests.

If you do suffer the unfortunate experience of being a victim to theft, try to remember any details of the person(s):  height, weight, body features and call the police immediately. It will be important to contact your financial institutions to protect your banking and any other companies to protect cards / identification. 

In general, be aware of your surroundings and valuables so you don’t make theft easy. Is a stranger being overly nice or trying to make you turn your focus?

We all want to believe the best in people, but bad apples do exist. Hopefully this small blog will be enough of a mental reminder that you’ll remain safe and not have to deal with the headache of theft and identity fraud

"Identity theft is NOT a joke Jim, millions of families suffer every year" - Dwight

~KG

Back to School Safety

Back to School Safety

Do you worry about your children being victims of theft?

I’m assuming the answer is overwhelmingly yes, but maybe the thought isn’t in the forefront? I mean, of course you don’t wish theft on anyone, but maybe you, like many others think “it won’t happen to me or my family?”

With school just around the corner, I was reflecting about this on the weekend.

I myself don’t have children, but my brother and sister do. Despite their age, they’re about as tech savvy as I am with their cellphones, Bluetooth ear bubs, gaming devices and other valuables. I’m sure they bring them to school like many other children, but are parents more worried about valuables being misplaced or having them stolen?

Or are they the same thing?

When the branch manager and I go for walks after work, we pass schools for students of all ages. Children playing in the parks and running around the soccer fields, teenagers chatting with their friends and hanging out, but very noticeably are backpacks scattered everywhere.

An easy opportunity for the right person?

School in general can be a tricky and hard time, but whether you are just studying in the library, away on sports or track competitions, sitting in class with the odd bathroom breaks and recess, our valuables need to be protected.

Why spend $80 on an iPhone case to protect the $1,000 phone, if we causally leave it laying around, vulnerable?  

The good part about the HavlarGo is it’s designed lightweight, concealable and simple, perfect for people of all ages. It can be easily installed in little Johnny or Sally’s backpack, absolutely covered in stickers, glue and sparkles but their valuables will remain safe and secure on the inside.

Pikachu or Mewtwo…..? Maybe a casual Leafs or Habs sticker? A band or artist….?

Anyways, school can be busy and hectic at the best of times and in the technology age we live in, why worry about having to replace lost or stolen valuables as well?

Let us worry about your valuables, so they can focus on their studies, the classroom and just being a kid.

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More to come,

~KG