Eclectic Blog

Writing and grammar instructors lead exciting lives, you know!

I decided that the summer of 2015 was the summer I needed to go horseback riding in Mongolia. So I did. But I took an unconventional way of getting there…

I decided to first spend a few days in Beijing, with a day trip to the Great Wall. Have you ever been to Beijing? I loved it and I’d recommend you visit. I found the city very easy to get around on by foot and metro, very safe, and quite friendly. I didn’t do many of the super touristy things, but I did line up with the masses at Mao’s mausoleum and I did marvel at all the beautiful clothing in the many boutiques. Yes, you can buy shlock in Beijing, but you can also buy quality goods.

The Great Wall was indeed grand! Make sure you wear good walking shoes and bring water, especially in summer. It was very hot.

I then took the Trans-Siberian train from Beijing to the capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar. The train ride was 27 hours, and it crossed a variety of landscapes, including the Gobi Desert. I loved the experience!

I arrived in Ulaanbaatar and immediately fell for the city. It’s quite a contrast of old and new. It’s vibrant, hip, inexpensive, and full of crazy drivers, so look out! But Ulaanbaatar was just another distraction from the real goal of my trip: horseback riding.

I spent the next two weeks riding across the steppes, the mountains, the rivers, the marshes, and the dunes of Zavkhan province. I rode with a group made up of seven nationalities; we camped in tents next to a river every night. We traveled with Mongolian wranglers, a Mongolian cook, and a translator. It was a brilliant experience. The horses are strong, fearless, and fast! I was so impressed with them.

One of the best comments I heard on the trip came from a wrangler when one of the riders asked him how long it would take to get from A to B: he told the person to look at their watch before we left, and then look at it again when we arrived. That, he said, would be how long it took us. Sage advice!

If you have a sense of adventure, patience, and a willingness to bathe in cold rivers, I’d recommend a horse riding adventure in Mongolia. And I’d recommend you get there by train from Beijing.

Happy trails! 
Kari Hasselriis

New Workshops to Help with Your Workplace Communication Needs

We are expanding our communication skills workshops. Take a look at what’s new:

Everything DiSC Management: Identify your strengths and challenges as a leader and determine how to adapt to meet the needs of the people you lead.

Teambuilding with DiSC: Identify team inefficiencies, develop a positive group dynamic and build a sense of trust among team members.

People Insights with DiSC: Discover insights about your behavioural strengths and identify how you can be more effective in developing relationships in the workplace.

Speaking up and Thriving at Work: Build the skills and confidence you need to speak effectively in workplace settings.

Budgeting for Success: Learn the basics of developing a cash budget from a business perspective, with a focus on cash management strategies.

Pricing through the Supply Chain: Identify your supply chain process and determine the “cost” of each of your products and services. 

Financial Analysis: What Are Your Financial Statements Telling You?: Learn how to make sense of your financial statements and assess your statements in five key areas: liquidity, profitability, efficiency, stability and growth. 

Working Capital Management: Explore working capital management to ensure your organization or department is able to continue its operations with sufficient ability to fulfil the ability to pay short-term debts and upcoming operational expenses.

To learn more about our workshops and services, visit, call 204-221-0584 or email

Join us at our upcoming public workshop.
Writing Effective Minutes – Tuesday, September 29, 2015
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  • Take notes and summarize efficiently.
  • Interact with the chair to keep the discussion on track.
  • Give the readers the information they need.
  • Use clear, concise language.
  • Use templates to take notes and write minutes.
  • Develop effective agendas.

Create Great Meeting Minutes with this Tip

Did your last set of minutes take you hours to prepare?
One way to reduce the time it takes for you to prepare your meeting minutes is to use a template. However, the trick is to use a template not only for the meeting minutes that you distribute… but also for the notes that you take.
Try this Minute Taking Template at your next meeting.
How to use it:

Page 1

Note the meeting information (date, location, attendees, etc). Prepare this information before the meeting to give yourself more time to concentrate on the conversation during the meeting.

Page 2

Write the agenda item at the top of the page.

  • Discussion/Decision: Write the key points of the discussion and any group decisions. Use point form.
  • Action: Write any actions required. Be specific - ask yourself, “Who is doing what by when?”
  • My Thoughts: Write down any questions you have. Ask for clarification at the meeting instead of trying to track the information down after it.
To learn more tips that will help you create great meeting minutes, register for our workshop - Writing Effective Minutes.

An Email Structure that Gets Results

Here is a fabulous structure for an excellent email! Do you sometimes pause before you send out an email because you don’t know where to start, or how to start? You will no longer have these concerns if you follow what is known as the MAD email format. MAD is an acronym for Message – Action – Detail. Whenever you initiate correspondence by email, use this format. Your opening paragraph is going to state the main idea of the email message: “I have received your documents that you submitted for your insurance policy adjustment. There are two things related to your adjustment that we need to discuss.” Then, in the next paragraph, give the action(s) that you want the reader to complete: “Please call me by Friday, May 18 to set up an appointment time to discuss your adjustment. My number is 123-4567.” After you’ve stated what you want the reader to do, give the details related to your main message: “The two things we need to discuss are:

  • benefits received from your previous employer
  • contributions you made in 2011

I understand that it’s not convenient for you to come down to the office during the day, so I thank you for your understanding.” And that is a brief example of the body of an email using the MAD format! What’s great about this format is that as soon as your readers open the email, the message and action are directly in front of them on the screen. With this format, readers don’t have to read through details that may or may not be important to try and understand the message. And they don’t have to scroll through the email to find out what you want them to do. The benefit to this format for you is that it greatly improves the structural quality of your email. To create this organization, ask yourself: Why am I writing? (Message) What do I need my reader to do? (Action) What details does my reader need or want to know? (Detail)

To learn more about writing effective email, attend our upcoming Writing Email that Works workshop


Spotting Signs That Need Help

When driving around town, I look at signs. The image posted shows one I see weekly, and its mistakes jump out every time. Let's take a look at it.

First, let's look at spelling, The Canadian Press Caps and Spelling book lists homemade as one word. An other acceptable correction would be to use a hyphen.

Next, we need to see if the apostrophe is needed. To decide, read the sentence without the contraction, as in this example: Homemade food at it is best. The sentence doesn't makes sense, which tells us that we don't need the apostrophe.

So, the corrected sign will read: Homemade food at its best.


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