York professor links putting off work to fear of failing

Procrastinators who put projects off to the last minute because they think they work better under pressure are deluding themselves, wrote the Toronto Star Aug. 4 in a story about the sixth biennial conference on procrastination at York University Aug. 4 and 5.

Gordon Flett, associate dean of research and graduate education at York University’s Faculty of Health and Canada Research Chair in Personality & Health, has found procrastination among perfectionists – people we associate with being high achievers and successful.

Because these people find failure difficult to accept, he says, they won’t start something they fear they’ll fail at or, just as bad, they start but never finish the project because “it has to be perfect.”

“This shows how complicated it can be. We think of the Type A perfectionist as strong, hard-working and goal-focused. But, within that is a subset for whom everything must be done just right.”

It’s estimated one in five people is a chronic procrastinator, he says, and this is bad for their mental health. His studies show procrastinators have a monologue running in their heads that chips away at their self-worth.

When they are in a fix because they’ve delayed too long, the procrastinator will think things like, “Why did I do this again?” and “I am hurting myself.” This is very stressful, Flett adds. “There is a lot of negative self-talk. These are the ones who are most troubled.”

  • Flett also spoke about the conference on procrastination on Windsor’s AM800 Radio July 31.

‘Missed opportunity’ for environmentalists

It’s a question many have asked, wrote the Toronto Star Aug. 3: Where were the city’s environmentalists during the strike? There were no backyard compost blitzes; no anti-packaging campaigns at big-box stores; no reusable mug sales beside the overflowing garbage cans outside Tim Hortons.

“It was a missed opportunity,” says Mark Winfield, a professor in York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies and a former activist with The Pembina Institute.

Environmentalists say it simply was a case of no bodies, no time, summer vacation.

What’s freckled, hairless and prowls Parkdale at night?

Pictures surfaced this week of a strange creature roaming the backyards of Parkdale, wrote the Toronto Star Aug. 1. It’s the size of a small dog and completely hairless. It’s a bit pink, though it also appears freckled.

“This is quite clearly a hairless raccoon,” judged York University biologist Suzanne MacDonald.

The denuded mammal hangs out in the King Street Wests and Dowling Avenue area, in the backyard of Christella Morris and Colin Williams. Three weeks ago, Williams captured the raccoon on video and posted the results on YouTube. As to the cause of her condition, experts are stumped. “It either has a very severe case of mange or a chronic condition, like alopecia,” said MacDonald.

Tenacity and a flair for publicity

There was much more to former Ontario cabinet minister Michael Bryant (LLB ’92) than staging the next gimmick for suppertime TV, wrote the Toronto Star Aug. 2 in a story about his new job as director of Invest Toronto. His CV is substantive. He clerked at the Supreme Court of Canada (as did his wife, Susan). He is a Fulbright scholar and one-time lecturer at King’s College, London. As a law student at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, he wrote to then Liberal Premier David Peterson – something about Meech Lake, Peterson recalls.

Does big ruin little?

Creemore Springs Brewery Ltd. continues to enjoy a strong brand identity, says Ashwin Joshi, professor of marketing in the Schulich School of Business at York University, in a story about large companies taking over small successful firms in the Toronto Star Aug. 4. “I’m willing to bet people still think of Creemore as an independent brewer. To me that’s an indication of success.”

However, just having a clear vision doesn’t guarantee success. Companies also have to execute well, experts said. Given Loblaw’s current problems running its own business, questions about its ability to run T&T Supermarkets may be reasonable, Joshi said.

“For the past five years, Loblaw has had significant performance issues,” Joshi said. “I think the jury is out in terms of whether Loblaw is able to manage this integration well. Strategically, I think it’s a wise move. Operationally, I’m not sure Loblaw has the capability.”

A reminder: Forgetfulness is a normal part of daily life

Real memory loss as opposed to forgetfulness is not a normal part of aging, particularly for those in their 30s to 50s, said Jill Rich, a psychology professor in York’s Faculty of Health, in a story in the Toronto Star Aug. 4. Pregnancy, stress, depression, sleep problems, poor diet and taking on too much can cause memory troubles but anyone without obvious lifestyle factors and serious memory problems, such as repeating conversations, needs to check in with his or her doctor, Rich cautions.

Iranian students speak up for loved ones left behind

Pegah Parastooyi, president of York University’s 2,000-member Iranian Students Association, said the student body has grown dramatically in her three years there, with visa students now making up about one-third of her group, wrote the Toronto Star Aug. 4.

“They have certainly put new energy into the community. For people like me who came to Canada at (age) 5, it’s difficult to know the everyday struggle of the people there. So, their attitude and outlook are refreshing,” said Parastooyi, 20, a political science major.

“I do not want the label that the student movement has become more political because the word ‘political’ is so negative,” she added. “But I would say we are now focusing on more pressing issues than being just a social group.”

Author takes his characters online

Brampton author Michael Dyet (BA Gen. Hons. ’83) has taken a novel approach to promoting, well, his novel, wrote the Brampton Guardian Aug. 2.

Dyet, who lives in the Bramalea area, released his debut book in March. Called Until the Deep Water Stills, it follows a group of four characters who find their paths converging leading up to a tragic event. Shortly after finishing the self-published book, Dyet started thinking about how to get the word out. “I needed a hook, something to let it stand out in a crowd,” said Dyet, 51. He turned to the Internet.

Calling the book an “internet-enhanced novel”, Dyet created a Web site with individual pages for each of the main players. Through a blog, diary, letters to an absent mother and photo journal, the main characters’ intricacies and personalities are fleshed out.

The book has its origins in an unpublished manuscript Dyet wrote shortly after graduating from the creative writing program in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. He took two of the characters from that original work and reworked them into new characters in the novel.

Brampton student lands scholarship

A Brampton woman has been named the inaugural recipient of a new scholarship that’s being distributed jointly by a prominent business association and a well-known printing technology company, wrote the Brampton Guardian Aug. 1.

Christina Sackeyfio will receive $3,000 through the National Black MBA Association and Xerox Canada’s scholarship program. She will also receive a four-month paid internship at Xerox Canada, a mentorship by an MBA Association member and a one-year student membership with the association.

Sackeyfio plans to attend the Schulich School of Business at York University in the fall to pursue her MBA.

“At Xerox we believe that investing in individuals and encouraging diversity and innovation are critical activities that corporations must pursue if they want to build Canada’s future leaders,” said Xerox Canada president and CEO Kevin Warren, who made the announcement Thursday with the president of the Toronto branch of the National Black MBA Association, Damon Knights.

Sackeyfio is the director of the Literacy Through Hip-Hop program, which works with children in Grades 6 to 8 to improve literacy through the use of popular hip hop culture, particularly music.

Consummate Leafs insiders died two days apart

They were Maple Leaf Gardens’ fixtures – Al Stewart (LLB ’54), a public relations guru and assistant to three different Maple Leafs’ owners, and Banana Joe Lamantia, a goal judge, penalty timekeeper and official timekeeper at pro, senior and junior games when he wasn’t a receiver of goods, wrote The Globe and Mail Aug. 4.

By coincidence, Stewart and Lamantia began working at the Gardens in 1948. Though they worked in different parts of the building, their paths crossed each day they worked in what were the halcyon days of hockey. They died within two days of each other – Lamantia on July 20 and Stewart on July 22 – at the same hospital, Toronto East General.

York grad joins Hong Kong trading firm

Louisa Liu (BA ’07), vice-president, sales trading at BTIG Hong Kong, Ltd., started her career at Daiwa in Hong Kong as head of Asian equities dealing and worked as sales trader for Macquarie, CLSA and Etrade before joining BTIG, wrote Business Wire Aug. 4 in a media release. She is a graduate of York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, and is fluent in English, Mandarin and Cantonese.

On air

  • Paul Delaney, professor of physics & astronomy in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about the return of the space shuttle from the International Space Station on CTV News July 31.
  • Chris Robinson, professor in York’s School of Administrative Studies in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about the impact of the economic crisis on people’s savings on CBC-TV Aug. 2.