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Welcome to Merge's Monthly Mega Minute — a bite-sized, yet substantial and practical, nugget of information that you can use immediately to enhance your professional and personal success.

Periods of vulnerability can present both threats and opportunities

Recently I had a conversation with a scientist friend who told me how biologists use information about animal life cycles to accomplish diametrically opposite objectives — in some cases to purge populations, and in others to conserve them. The secret: determining in which stage of its life cycle is the animal most vulnerable. And it's at these vulnerable points that either the worst or the best is the easiest to accomplish. It is when the animals are at greatest risk that it takes the least effort to destroy them, or conversely, to protect them. He gave me two examples to illustrate his point.

The Bertha armyworm is a significant insect pest of canola in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the interior of British Columbia. Like many insects, it goes through a four stage life cycle — egg, larva, pupa and finally, the adult moth stage. However, they are the most vulnerable at the larval stage. As eggs, they are not susceptible to pesticides; as pupae, they are buried in the ground and therefore well protected; as adults, they are widely dispersed and therefore difficult to control. Because scientists know that the insect's defences are the weakest when at the larval stage, substantial and successful control efforts are targeted at this point in the life cycle.

The grizzly bear's annual cycle involves hibernation during the winter and feeding during the spring, summer and fall. In spring and summer, abundant food sources keep the grizzlies at higher elevations. But with the fall often comes food scarcity, so bears tend to make their way down to lower elevations to forage, where unfortunately there is also a greater risk of human encounters (which can result in the grizzlies being destroyed). So the fall season is when the bears are the most vulnerable – they are anxious to fatten up for a long winter hibernation ahead but they are at the greatest risk of mortality. Scientists know that it is at this vulnerable point that the bears also have the greatest chance of long-term success. Every year that a bear survives a winter increases the likelihood that it will mature into a full-grown mating adult. So biologists focus their grizzly conservation efforts in the fall – educating the public, monitoring bear movements, evacuating areas as necessary — all with the goal of protecting the grizzlies during this most precarious period.

So in the animal kingdom, periods of vulnerability can present both threats and opportunities. Is it the same in the world of business? I think so. For example, let's consider retail. The two months leading up to December are usually the busiest selling season of the year and so they represent significant financial opportunity. But the threats are also paramount — staffing challenges, out-of-stock situations, increased overtime costs, errors related to high transaction volumes, high stress levels — to name just a few. It's at this point of vulnerability that either the worst or the best is the easiest to accomplish. It's what you choose to focus on and amplify that will determine the ultimate outcome.

So are you embracing your vulnerabilities in your organization as a way to capitalize on opportunities? Or are you succumbing to the threats and perishing as a result? I would love to hear about your approach to these kinds of situations. Please share your thoughts directly on the blog at

“Bracing for the boomer brain drain” published in The Globe & Mail

As the last of the Boomers move through their 50's and beyond, those who elect to take early retirement often take decades of tacit knowledge with them. This boomer brain drain — the loss of undocumented, intuitive experiential information about people, business processes and informal procedures can leave huge gaps in an organization's cumulative intelligence. In Merge's latest column for The Globe and MailBracing for the boomer brain drain — she offers five strategies to brace for this corporate amnesia, and to ensure that you retain crucial institutional knowledge. This column published behind The Globe's paywall, so if you're a subscriber, here is a link directly to their site:

Merge's latest column in Canadian Accountant addresses workplace automation

How to prosper in the age of accounting robots — asks (and answers) the provocative question: could accountants (or for that matter, any professional) be replaced by automation, just like the switchboard operator, the film projectionist and the elevator operator?

Merge's expertise sought for an article in Financial Management magazine

Sarah Ovaska-Few writes 4 Steps to Finding a Personal Brand and interviews Merge as well as Dima Ghawi, an executive who went through a personal branding process. Definitely worth a read if you're thinking about where and how you want your career to grow and progress.

And our 2018 video tip series on how to motivate employees continues ...

Since the last Mega Minute, Merge posted two new videos in our year-long series on specific ideas to improve staff performance and job satisfaction.

Turning Managers into Leaders

That the Turning Managers Into Leaders blog is now nine years old?!!

Merge started the Turning Managers Into Leaders blog back in August 2009 as a tentative foray into the world of social media. It turned into something bigger than any of us had ever expected. Today, almost 1,500 posts (in fifteen categories) later, this blog is a valuable resource for leaders in Canada, the United States, and around the world. Whether you're seeking tips on how to deal with a specific leadership or workplace communication issue you're facing, or if you just want to dialogue with other like-minded leaders in our learning community, chances are your issue has been covered at some point or another in the blog. Use the categories (on the right-hand side) or the search function (at the very bottom of the page) to find what you need. And if you can't find the answer to your leadership question or issue, please let us know because Merge will probably address it in a future blog post!

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