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Woman of the Week: Jennifer Dobbelsteyn

What always astounds me about women I’ve chatted with who have become CEO’s and presidents of notable companies or of ones they founded, is that they all have a sincerity and generosity towards others while also being driven, focused and intelligent. Dr. Jennifer Dobbelsteyn, President of Dobbelsteyn Consulting Group International Inc. is no exception to this.

Jennifer has worked in the healthcare industry as both a nurse and in management but saw there was a gap in the system. Staff, who assist and care for ill patients that are often in devastating condition, often lack support themselves.  She decided to begin her consulting company as a way to improve “healthcare work environments for staff, thereby, improving the caring environment for patients,” after completing her PhD and MBA.

Jennifer shared with me about the importance of the work done by her consulting company:

“This work is timely and extremely important currently because of the changing demographics. The population is aging in Canada at an unprecedented rate, making long-term care the healthcare environment of the today and tomorrow… I work collaboratively with organizations to resolve the problem, involving front-line staff which allows organizational leadership to target their resources strategically.”

Through her firm, Jennifer aims to effect a positive change within organizations by providing necessary education sessions, valuing all staff and encouraging team work. Healthcare workers take on a lot of stress and a safe and supportive environment is key to motivating workers to be at their best for patients.

Despite achieving great success with her business, there are still changes that Jennifer feels are necessary to be made in Canada’s healthcare system. She sees a need for improvement and for a focus of provincial governments to be on working environments in healthcare, including “preventing violence, insuring occupational health and safety, promoting professionalism, managing workload, and stabilizing staffing.”

“I guess I thought that someone needs to do more about these problems facing the healthcare system. My next thought was that the someone can be me and my company,” she added.

Jennifer also sees a need to be a support to women in her workplace by inspiring them to speak up and fostering confidence in the environment. She motivates women in her field to strive for success, persevere and accomplish goals that make a difference.

One woman in history that certainly made a difference is Mother Teresa. Jennifer shares that if she could go back and meet one woman, it would be her, because of the inspirational and amazing work she devoted her life to.

As to what superpower Jennifer wishes she had, the realist shares how everyone has a superpower innately within them.

“We all have a superpower. We just need to discover what that is and use it to make a difference in our own small way,” she said, then added that she would love to have the power to make a workplace that is safe and perfect for all, despite this likely putting her out of work!

She is not a dreamer, but a doer and Jennifer is about getting things done that have positive and long term effects on society, while motivating others to do the same.

 For more about Jennifer and her consultation firm, visit www.dobbelsteyngroup.ca

The way we view powerful men is about to change

One by one, they all fall down — men of power, men of money, but clearly not men of finesse. Simply put, men that are lacking any form of respect for their female peers, co-workers, or acquaintances. The movement that started with the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, has grown into a festering and disturbing monster over the past few months, with almost daily cases of high-profile men who are now being exposed for their alleged sexual misconduct. What do these stories prove to us? How has society allowed these powerful men to dominate and get away with locker-room talk and disgusting predatory behaviour?

For me personally, it started with watching the fall of British actor Ed Westwick. I was a fan of his work and I grew up watching soapy drama’s like Gossip Girl. Sure, his character on the show lacked morals, and the way he played with women’s emotions was atrocious, and that time he attempted to ‘rape’ a fellow character on the show…that was all teenage drama. After all, he was playing a role. He was being ‘Chuck Bass’ . But, when this transferred into real life, and woman after woman described similar scenarios where he pinned them down and forced himself upon them, I knew he had no right. I feel terrible for the women in these situations. While no charges have been filed against Westwick, his reputation is certainly paying the price, as his shows have either been cancelled or halted.

Matt Lauer is a face I grew up watching. I thought of him as a respectable and well-known journalist on NBC. Waking up and watching the today show with Matt Lauer and Katie Couric was a tradition that many people can recall over the 20 years he has been working at the American network. And it was all ruined in a few minutes after hearing he was terminated for sexual misconduct. Lauer allegedly sexted interns and gave co-workers sex toys with notes about how they should use them. There is also the tape that TMZ found of Lauer telling once co-host Meredith Vieira, to ‘keep bending over like that’, when he thought the cameras were off air.  My view has certainly changed. How was this behaviour tolerated? Obviously the fact that he was the highest paid reporter and attracted over four million viewers with his charm each morning have him a lot of sway.

I’m now prepared to be disappointed by the familiar faces I see in the media and whose work I once admired as brilliant. Just this morning, entertainment mogul Russel Simmons stepped down as CEO from his string of companies after he was accused of “sexual misconduct”, where a woman alleged he forced her to have sex with him

Nothing gives these men the privilege to put women through years of mental and physical abuse? Probably just that — they are…. so-called men.

Let us continue to speak out against any form of abuse to women and may the fall from grace for these powerful men mark a turning point in history for women around the world .

 

What kind of leader are you?

Being the boss can be hard, especially when you are a woman. You can be considered too authoritative, too compromising, or too emotional. It can be incredibly frustrating, but remember that your leadership style is yours alone – and it doesn’t mean it’s the wrong one.

There are a number of different leadership styles to consider as a manager, and the use of each style depends on the companies goals, vision, and workforce capability. Depending on your goals, it may be prudent to alter your leadership style in order to encourage or inspire progress. Here are a few styles to consider:

The autocratic leader: This is someone who knows what he or she wants, and demands results. This kind of leader can be quite successful in a cutthroat business, and is useful in times of crisis. The business centres around the boss, who has most of the responsibility and all of the authority. Employees are closely supervised.

The authoritative leader: This kind of leader takes charge and mobilizes their team towards a single goal. It’s a step down from autocratic, in which the boss has most of the authority, but is using it to help….. This type of leadership style is useful when the goals of a company change or when employees need guidance.

The coaching leader: In businesses that are choosing to invest in their employees and facilitate growth, the coaching leadership style is ideal. It involves actively teaching and supervising. This style only works if the employees are willing to grow in their role.

The pacesetting leader: Do what I do – this type of leadership style focuses on self-example. The boss has high expectations, and if employees cannot do it, the leader must be prepared to jump in. It is not the most sustainable leadership style.

The affiliative leader: Your team is more important than you are. This type of leader praises his or her employees and fosters a sense of belonging at the company. This kind of leadership can promote loyalty and instil confidence in employees; however experts warn that constant praise can also result in complacently among a team. Use this style in combination with another for efficiency.

The democratic leader: This type of leadership is great for smaller businesses and start-ups. Employees are seen as valuable and contribute equally for the betterment of the company. The team holds ownership and responsibility of the plan or business concept, and the boss simply fuels the discussion.

Above all else – remember that not all leadership styles will work with your role or personality. That’s okay. But, a good mix of two or three of these leadership styles is bound to produce results.

What kind of leader are you? Let us know in the comments below!

What is two minutes of your time worth this Remembrance Day?

No matter what I’m doing on Nov. 11, I always take two minutes around 11 a.m. to stand still in silence, remembering those who fought so that the rest of us could live free of tyranny and oppression. The people who died, who suffered, and who sacrificed their lives

I remember when I worked at Tim Hortons during my university days, I asked my employer if we were going to stop and take part in two minutes of silence for Remembrance Day. He said no. I told him (not asked him) that I would be participating and walked into the back room. I stood for those two minutes, listening to The Last Post, tears welling up in my eyes. I was proud to stand there and, for a short amount of time, dedicate all my thoughts and my love to those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.

As I did this, everyone else kept working. Customers ordered their coffee and sandwiches. My colleagues worked overtime to make sure they got their food in a timely manner. The phone was ringing off the hook. No one stopped. No one listened to the bugle ringing out. No one cared.

My heart broke.

This wasn’t the last time I would experience this kind of indifference to Canada’s veterans. At numerous workplaces I’ve had to ask my employer to allow me to participate in Remembrance Day ceremonies, or to keep a livestream of the event running on my computer. Most of the time, the employer will agree. But no one else is interested. No one else feels the need to take initiative and say “we may have a meeting at 11 a.m., but can we make it 11:05 a.m. so that those who want to pay their respects to this country’s veterans can do so without repercussions?” And no employer was volunteering to make that change.

My father instilled in me a strong sense of respect for our veterans. My grandfather was a paratrooper during the Second World War and while I was pretty close with him during the few years he was alive, I never felt closer to him than on Remembrance Day. I would go every year, skipping class if need be, to the war memorial to pay tribute. I would meet up with friends and we would stand there and listen to the speeches and watch as the wreaths were laid by the site. And then we would stand in silence, listening as gunshots were fired. Thousands of people would be crowded on the streets, and yet there was not a pin drop to be heard. It was enough to make you cry.

One day in early 2000, my dad sent me this video. It was Terry Kelly singing a song called “A Pittance of Time,” and it perfectly summed up my feelings towards Remembrance Day. Actually, it impacted me so much that every year I search for the song on Youtube.

The song was based on Kelly’s personal experience. He was in a drug store in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia when an announcement came over the stores PA asking customers who would still be on the premises at 11:00 AM to give two minutes of silence in respect to the veterans who have sacrificed so much for us. The customers, however, weren’t having it. They wanted to pay for their items and move on with their day.

Sadly, nothing has changed.

Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War. There are no veterans from that war still alive. Despite these facts, less and less people show up to these Remembrance Day ceremonies to offer their respect. Less people are wearing the poppy and less people are taking those two minutes to remember.

And that’s a shame.

Report indicates little change to workplace gender equality gap

The number one issue for women in business is achieving gender equality. October is Women’s History Month in Canada and as a country, sometimes it’s easier to take note of the progress concerning the roles of women in society then to accept the inequalities still present.

A 2017 study on the status of women in corporate America showed that people are comfortable with the status quo. The report, entitled Women in the Workplace, is the largest of its kind, with data gathered from  over 222 companies, and was established by LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Company. 

The report shows women at all levels in corporate America are unrepresented, despite achieving more college degrees than men. The percentage of men in positions of power at the corporate level is at equal level at some companies, but higher at most others.

Ignorance about diversity within the workplace is the primary reason for this disparity. Women of colour are generally placed at a disadvantage where they are often overlooked for promotions of job advancements. Overall percentages from the study indicate that, compared to white women, women of colour get the least support from their office managers.

Two major themes were presented in the data:

  • Women continue to be hired and promoted at lower rates than men and the gap is more pronounced for women of colour
  • There is no difference in company level attrition and women and men appear to be leaving their organizations at the same rate.

The distribution of women weakens as you climb up the corporate ladder. Entry-level positions have a higher percentage of women compared to c-list corporate titles like CEO, COO, CFO etc. The percentage of women is also rather uneven depending on the industry. For instance, there is a lower percentage of women working in technology than you would find in the food and beverage industry.

Depending on the industry, the larger percentage of men think their companies are doing a good job at highlighting diversity in the workplace.

The report indicates the bar for gender equality is too low and on average you may only see one in 10 women in leadership roles. Men are also more likely to get what they want, like a promotion or a raise, without having to ask.

Other statistical highlights include:

  • At entry–level positions, women occupy 47 per cent of jobs and only 17 per cent of that figure is represented by women of colour
  • At a managing level, women get promoted at a lower rate (37 per cent) than men in that same position (63 per cent).
  • At a senior C-list role, women of colour make up only three per cent or 1 in 30. At this level, white women occupy a position of 18 per cent.
  • Forty per cent of white women will have their work defended by their managers. That number is 28 per cent for black women, 34 per cent for Latin American women, and 36 per cent for asian women.

The conclusion of this report doesn’t offer much hope for women in business. In order to close the still prevalent gender equality gap, most companies will need to restructure their thought patterns and policies to be more inclusive to women in the workplace.The report recommends some key suggestions such as:

  • investing in more employee training
  • have a compelling case for gender diversity
  • managers should enable change
  • employee flexibility to fit work in their lives
  • hiring, promotions, and reviews are fair and balanced

These steps are not foolproof, but it does present a chance for people to question their company’s accountability and evaluate if they are doing their part to help reduce the gap.

What are your thoughts? Comment below.

Time to shut down the pregnancy questions

There are certain things, as proper etiquette, you may not ask a woman: her chest size, her weight, and her pregnancy plans. It seems like common sense, but I guess sometimes men need reminding.

Jacinda Ardern is a newly elected 37-year-old politician in New Zealand and she is the youngest ever leader for the New Zealand Labour Party. Of all the questions that Ardern has faced, this one seemed the most absurd. While appearing on radio talk show, The AM Show, Ardern was asked by male host Mark Richardson of her pregnancy plans. Ardern was asked live on air if she plans on becoming a mother during her time in parliament. Richardson based his questioning stating he thinks it’s a legitimate question to ask on behalf of New Zealand because she could potentially become their Prime Minister.

In what world is it okay to ask this type of question to a woman, regardless of the position she may hold? Ardern, however, quickly shut down the radio host, calling the question out of line.

That is unacceptable in 2017,” Ardern said. “It is a woman’s decision about when she chooses to have children and should not predetermine whether or not they are given a job or have got opportunities.”

Ardern is familiar with Richardson’s stance on women and pregnancy in the workplace, as the host previously said that employers should know this information from their female employees. Richardson’s bold question asking if it is ok for the Prime Minister to take maternity leave left many upset.

Ardern has already publicly spoken out about her plans to to start a family and she doesn’t mind discussing it, however the comparison to women in the workplace is what caused the upset. Ardern insists that women should not have to be worried about maternity leave and consider this a struggle in the workplace.

Ardern even went on to ask Richardson if he would ask a man this question, to which Richardson responded with an unenthusiastic “yes”. Instead of focusing on the accomplishments of this young woman, many seem to be stirring up drama and provoking emotions from the public about her personal decisions. This is not the first time that Ardern was asked this question. During an appearance on a New Zealand TV show called The Project, she was asked by male co host, Jesse Mulligan, if she planned on having children. In this case, Ardern responded politely and said her situation is no different from any other working woman looking to balance priorities and responsibility.

In New Zealand, many activists are debating this form of sexism. The Human Rights Act of 1993 prohibits any employer to discriminate on the grounds or pregnancy or plans to start a family.

Ardern’s case is no different.

Forcing women to wear heels at work is abusive

Requiring a woman to wear high heels at work isn’t just sexist — but abusive.

Heeled shoes are painful. Despite how awesome they look and how powerful or pretty they make you feel, there is no scenario in which women will say, in relation to their heels, “these shoes make me feel like I’m walking on a cloud.”

Some women just don’t have the feet for high heels. They may have no arches, wide soles, or legitimate medical problems relating to feet or ankles, all contributing factors in not being able to squish into a narrow and pointy piece of plastic supported only by a skinny rod on one end. The result is blisters, sore callouses, and the potential of a sprained ankle.

Like I said. Forcing women into heels can be harmful. Personally, I only wear high heels to fancy events, job interviews, and sometimes on a night out — but only if those events, job interviews, and evenings out don’t involve a lot of walking. Honestly, I don’t even know why I bother half the time. I can’t imagine wearing heels eight hours a day, every day. Nor would I want to.

British Columbia parliamentarians have taken notice of this fact and are pushing forward legislation that will ban requirements for footwear dress codes based on gender, or more simply put, it would make it illegal for employers to force their female employees to wear high heels in the workplace.

Who wants to move to British Columbia? I can tell you my hand went up.

I am constantly disgusted by the mandatory dress codes in certain industries. When servers or restaurant hostesses are forced into skimpy dresses and clunky high-heel shoes, I always wonder about the safety factor — is it safe for these women to be balancing five drinks, a plate full of steak and potatoes, and a side order of fries, all the while wearing shoes that could be used as a lethal weapon if taken off the foot and thrown at a person’s head?

Or how about when a receptionist for a large law firm is sent home for not wearing the correct foot attire, as happened in the UK. Apparently, this offended the many people who actually stare at a person’s toes while they speak with them.

This is all getting a bit ridiculous, don’t you think? Especially in 2017, as more women become decision-makers and obtain positions of power.

I agree that sometimes a dress code is necessary. But, can we also agree there is no job that can be performed better in 5-inch stilettos? What’s wrong with a simple black flat or a working shoe with a very small and thick platform? For goodness sake, what’s wrong with being comfortable AND professional in the workplace?

All of the other provinces in Canada should follow British Columbia and create legislation of their own. There is no need for ridiculous and sexist dress codes in the workplace. If legislation banning them is what’s needed for companies to change their policies, then so be it.

Although, it’s worth being said, that if we need legislation to mandate companies not to force their female employees to dress a certain way, Canada probably isn’t as feminist as it claims to be.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below and sign up for our weekly e-newsletter:

The one text message you should never send

“Hope you’re well!”

It’s a phrase that takes one second to send. No autocorrect needed, no thinking required. Sometimes modified, most seen in work emails, with family and friends, your next-door neighbour, the phrase implies that we, the sender, wishes the best upon the person. And that’s pretty much it.

I learned the implications behind this text message the hard way. After sending a similar text to a friend of mine during a difficult time in his life, I quickly realized that sometimes, it’s better to just ask.

So, just ask.

Wishing well upon a person is nice. But it doesn’t do the job of showing how much you care about the person. It’s a wish. Meaning you don’t expect a reply, you instead assume- and hope- that it’s going well. Sending a text message along these lines allows you to skip the details, tidbits, and everything in between and just jump straight to the conclusion; everything’s well.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware of the hidden subtext behind this phrase either. But, to some, it implies that the sender is merely pretending to care about someone. Because that was the truth when I sent this text to him. We had just met. He was a new addition to my life. So, I felt like I was required to check up on him out of formality. It was courtesy.

However, it was the first time I was called out for being courteous. He knew exactly where I was coming from when I sent that text. As a people pleaser always looking to get on everyone’s good sides – the guilt was real. So, ever since that incident, I’ve took it upon myself to be very careful before ‘hoping’ the people I interact with are well.

Before sending the text, it’s important to ask – do I really care how this person is doing? Sometimes, the answer is still no. And that’s okay. It’s fine to just hope in this case. However, the question then arises, when you’re looking to catch up with someone you truly care about, how you can really showcase your interest in the person’s life.

Take a look at the text messages exchanged between you and your best friend. There will be no hope in sight. Rather, your texts will contain a plethora of very concrete questions; “How is it going with that thing?”, “Did you find out about…?”, “Is it over yet?” followed by very detailed responses, usually details that you, the reader, could have lived without actually knowing. (i.e The events that took place the morning after Taco Tuesday)

The bottom line is, there will be a time in every person’s life, sometimes multiple times a day, when they must stare directly into their phone screen and laptop, and spout the words ”I hope you’re well.” It’s embedded into us to hope well for humanity. And although that’s not necessarily a bad thing, sometimes instead of hoping well, it’s better to just make sure they are well. You never know what a person is going through unless you ask. Because, unfortunately, we live in a society where there’s no answer other than ‘good’ when it comes to responding ‘how are you?’

So, offer something extra and lend your ears once in awhile. If their story turns out anything like mine, you’ll get a great article topic in return.

What text would you never send to a loved one? Let us know in the comments below! 

How to return to work after a holiday

Is anyone else struggling this week? It’s hard to return back to work after a holiday or vacation, which is weird since you’d think everyone would be refreshed and ready to put their heads back in their books. You’ve had time to rest, sleep in, watch movies, and binge eat cookies. Isn’t that enough?

Not really. Most people find it really difficult to return to their work responsibilities following a holiday or vacation. Our minds just aren’t ready to process the large influx of emails on our computer or the stress of completing the project left on our desks before the holidays. It’s not time yet! Don’t worry, you can get through it. The first week will be terrible, but here are some tips to help you survive it:

Take it easy: No, this does not mean shirk your responsibilities. It simply means not to set your expectations really high. Try not to plan any big meetings or deadlines for the first few days, or at least until you get to today’s emails. Set mini-goals for yourself and take two to three short breaks throughout the day so that your mind has time to adjust to this new routine.

Don’t feel bad about admitting it’s too much: Your co-workers or boss may be all gung-ho about getting back into their routines, but when they ask you to start a new project or move up a deadline, don’t be afraid to say “I’m still catching up from last week, can I get back to you on Monday?” The first week back will be hell, so be honest with yourself and others. If you take on too much, you will get overwhelmed and start to feel anxious about going to work every day.

Remember you aren’t alone: At the same time, don’t complain to your co-workers how much you hate being back at work and how wonderful your vacation was. Chances are, they don’t want to be in the office either. Don’t pile work up on their desks.

Make sure your workspace is clean: If you are organized and your desk looks fresh and clean, you will feel a bit less anxious about all the work you have to do. It also gives you something else to do in the office wen you need a bit of a brain-break.

Create a new routine: Once you are comfortable and ready, take on a new project or start a new work routine. This will make you a little more excited to be in the office, and light a fire for creativity and productivity. Start your day off slightly differently, whether that’s changing your morning coffee, adding in a few workouts, or simply reading the newspaper — the morning will set the tone for the rest of the day. You can even start having lunch with various co-workers. Think of it like starting a new job. When everything is fresh and inventive, that’s when you work the best. You just need to figure out a way to re-create that feeling.

Plan for the next week: This week was lax, but now it’s time to get back to work. Make sure you are super organized for the following week. Be on time to every meeting, present at every deadline, and on top of all your projects, new or old! Spend some time over the weekend planning your lunches, snacks, and coming up with personal deadlines for your work.

How are you feeling about being back to work? Let us know in the comments below!

What’s the best way to ask for a raise?

You’ve worked at a company for a few years, but nothing has changed. You’ve put in a lot of hard work, led very successful projects, and have done put in quite a bit of overtime. But, you are still living off of the same entry-level salary you were given when you started the job. Sometimes, it takes a while to receive more than verbal praise. It could be the crappy economy preventing your boss from handing out bonuses or giving annual raises, but if you don’t ask, you’ll never find out!

Asking for more money is daunting. And, for some reason, women just aren’t doing it. Women in Canada still make 72 cents to a man’s dollar, and that wage gap doesn’t appear to be dropping. I’m not sure if it’s because, as women, we are more calculative and respectful of our employers or if our employers are simply not giving women enough money. Either way, it sucks and it’s time to stand up and ask for that raise you’ve been thinking about for months.

Still worried? Don’t worry, Women’s Post has you covered. Here’s what you need to know:

Timing is everything: No, the right time to discuss salary is not when you are out to lunch with colleagues or riding an elevator with your boss. It’s important to make this request in a professional manner. Ask for a meeting with your boss and be honest about what the conversation is about. Say you want to sit down to discuss your salary and your future at the company. Also consider when raises are typically given at your company. Generally, employees are given a yearly review; however, by that point, it is often too late to ask for a raise as the books have been finalized. Try to meet with your boss a month or two beforehand.

Also, note whether your colleagues have been laid off or if there is a frugal atmosphere in the office. If your boss is always making comments about loss of revenue or client reductions, the company may not be in a place to give you a raise. Better to wait until the company is thriving.

Know why you deserve it: Just because you’ve been working at the same place for a year, it doesn’t entitle you to a raise. Come prepared with a list of your accomplishments and the new responsibilities you’ve taken on since you’ve started working with the company. Make sure to mention if business has gone up or if a project has been particularly successful. If you work in a large company, your boss may not actually realize you’ve been doing more than indicated in original job description.

Try not to compare your work to that of your colleagues. Remember that you are talking about yourself, and there is no need to say that you did more work than Mark on a project or absorbed some of his workload. Just be honest about your contributions and keep everyone else out of it.

Do your research: How much are you making right now and how much do you want to be making? These are important things to decide before heading into the office, just in case your boss throws it to you and asks what you have in mind. While it’s important to calculate your worth, it’s equally important not to overreach. Find out what others are making in similar positions in other companies, and what your new responsibilities mean. Are you doing the job of two employees? Are you doing the work of a manager rather than an entry-level employee? Make your “ask” reasonable, and be prepared to negotiate and compromise if your boss can’t accommodate your request.

Be polite and confident: Confidence is key. You need to make your boss believe you deserve this raise. Practice your pitch a few times in the mirror before the meeting, and make sure to make eye contact. Speak slowly and try not to let your voice waver (which I know can be difficult, as the issue of money naturally makes everyone nervous.) At the same time, don’t offer your boss an ultimatum, at least not unless he or she is being incredibly disrespectful. It’s important that you come across as a professional. If your boss does say no to a salary raise, ask why. It may just be an issue of funding. If that’s the case, ask if you can revisit the topic in six months time (or even the following year) to see if the situation has changed. This shows that you are willing to be accommodating to the needs of the company, but are not willing to just let the issue go. If the answer is a little more superficial, be prepared to come up with polite rebuttals about the time and effort you put into the job.

If the answer is still no, then take the loss — for now. And maybe start looking for a better place of employment.

What did you say to your boss when you asked for a raise? Let us know in the comments below!