Million Dollar Reality on my Television


Have you ever watched the real estate show Million Dollar Listing LA? I had seen it a few times a number of years ago and randomly came across it this week. It’s all about brokering big deals and displaying big drama in Los Angeles, California. If it wasn’t reality TV then I would be sure that someone with great creative skills and writing abilities was scripting these people. But oh, they are for real. This show is in full juxtaposition to the other reality happening right now in Los Angeles: wildfires.

As I randomly surfed the TV channels last night I came across both a new episode of Million Dollar Listing LA as well as live news coverage of the wildfires that are ravaging parts of Los Angeles. It occurred to me that the same homes, which may have sold recently for $5 million or $16 million, which were built for the uber rich with no expense spared, may be up in flames right now.

I know that the whole city of LA is not under threat to burn down, but parts of well-known exclusive neighbourhoods, such as Bel-air and Ventura, have gone up in flames. I read an article on CNN last night that explained how a number of factors, including low humidity and high winds, have all come together to contribute to this very dangerous situation.

A fire doesn’t care if a home is in an exclusive neighbourhood or a tenement. It rages on and destroys everything in its path, which is what is happening all over LA right now. But I just keep thinking back to Million Dollar Listing last night, and I know that some of the homes featured on that show over its 10-year run are probably a pile of ashes right now.

Southern California is a beautiful place, and I enjoyed a trip there about 15 years ago. For the most part, the climate is temperate and the landscape is beautiful, which is in part why the area has attracted millions of people over the last 150 years. It is the land of brilliance and creativity and yet also frivolity and foolishness. What is considered serious and important on the reality show Million Dollar Listing LA makes me want to laugh out loud. Then again, these featured brokers could never have known when the current season was being filmed that their beloved city was about to be hit with the worst wildfires in the region’s history.

The wildfires across LA are unfortunately a reality, and they are no laughing matter. They are to be taken quite seriously. I hope the hard-working firefighters get the blazes under control soon, and that the city can come to together to clean up and rebuild. I don’t doubt it that the people of Los Angeles are resilient. I hope that they stay safe, and I am sending them my best wishes.

Pay it Forward

pay it forward

Helping someone in need can take many forms. There are many individuals who need help, be it financial, physical or spiritual. Some people are dealt some pretty rough cards in life, and I have always felt that it’s important to be there for people who need a helping hand. For someone who is sick, impoverished or disadvantaged in some other way, I don’t need someone to help me first in order to push me to help someone else. I just do it. The concept of Pay it Forward comes from the idea to create a ripple of kindness. One person can influence the next person to be kind, and it just spreads.

I’m all in support of that, and I even see that an international Pay it Forward Day has been established. It’s coming up on Saturday, April 28, 2018. But that’s not what I want to focus on today. I want to talk about how to pay it forward in other ways.

Sometimes you help someone just because it’s the right thing to do. The person you help doesn’t have to be ill, short on money or lost in any way. It can be your sister, your friend, your cousin or your current or former colleague. You can help your friend who has been close to you for 30 years or the person you met last week.

I have been the beneficiary of this concept many times in my life, and I appreciate the helping hand I got. In particular, I want to thank the many people who have helped me develop and grow in my career.

My first mentor was a tremendous man named Michael Ludlum. He was my “Writing for Broadcasting” professor during my first semester of Journalism School at New York University almost 20 years ago. I was the one student in our small class of graduate students with no experience in journalism. He recognized my raw talent and spent hours working with me, training me and giving me the confidence to be a good journalist.

Professor Ludlum, I believe, recommended my name to be a Graduate Assistant, which ensured the rest of my graduate school tuition was paid and that I secured a salary to teach young undergraduate students with him. He taught me the importance of mentorship and leadership and how to manage people in a way that helped them grow. I have passed that on to my colleagues and people who have reported to me throughout my 15 year plus career. I hope they learned something from me, via Professor Ludlum, and guide people in the right direction.

I worked with a talented group of people early in my career, in radio, at the Team Sports Radio Network. The ownership shut down the sports concept less than two years after we launched, and yes, we all lost our jobs. But my boss, and another one of my early mentors, Shawn Lavigne, stuck his neck out for me and secured a job for me at Sportsnet. He didn’t have to do that, but he just did. He recommended my name to a hiring manager, and that’s how I moved from radio to TV.

The day I got my job at Sportsnet I promised myself that I would pay it forward and help other people secure a job if they needed my help. I have to say, one of the greatest ways you can pay it forward, and get a ripple moving, is to use your influence to help someone in his or her career. It is something people do not forget, and it keeps the pay it forward momentum going.

As I have changed paths in my career there are many more people who have guided me and really helped me. But people haven’t just helped me with my career. When I faced years of fertility challenges, people offered me advice and support. When I have been overwhelmed with life (ever had a day like that?!), my friends and family were quick to reach out to be there for me. I have and will continue to pay it forward and be there for them.

There’s Doping at the Olympics. Really?


Were you as shocked as I was yesterday when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) publicly admitted that there’s a doping problem in Russia? Didn’t you always think, like I did, that the Olympics are where clean and honest sport comes together in a show of strength and fair play? Now I know the truth: there’s doping at the Olympics. Really?

My apologies for my rather sarcastic comments above. Honestly, I am not surprised at all by yesterday’s announcement from the IOC that Russia has been banned from the 2018 winter games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. It’s not because a few Russian athletes were found guilty of doping. Doping is a state-run industry in Russia, and after years of investigation the hammer has finally come down.

I have been reading stories about just how deep doping is entrenched in Russian sport. There is some sick desire to always win. Young athletes must be living in a culture where they are forced to break the rules and destroy their bodies just to be number one. It saddens me to know that there are probably hundreds, maybe thousands, of talented young Russian athletes whose dreams have just been crushed.

Do 16-year-old skaters and 21-year-old skiers deserve to be thrown out of the Olympics before they even have a chance to compete? Did these athletes scheme and plan behind the scenes so they can stand on the podium in February? I doubt it. Unfortunately, they are part of a very broken system that demands cheating in order to win.

And the IOC made it clear this must stop. Doping is unacceptable, ever. It’s terrible that hundreds of young, hard-working, talented Russian athletes will not be allowed to compete at the Olympics in a few months. They are caught in what may seem like an unfair system. But the IOC had no choice. The Russian Olympic Committee didn’t just break the rules for years, it laughed at them and stomped on them.

I am intrigued by the IOC’s attempt to reach out to individual athletes from Russia, to separate individuals from their country that sponsors doping. I see this as a message to these young athletes, in particular those who have managed to stay out of the doping controversy (dare I say, are verifiably clean?) that they are welcome at the 2018 Winter Olympics. If these individuals qualify to compete (based on criteria outlined by the IOC), they are welcome, but not as Russians.

These athletes won’t see a Russian flag and they won’t hear the Russian anthem. They will participate as athletes who do not represent any country. But if they agree to these rules and compete using only their abilities and relying on hard work, then I believe they will be warmly accepted by the Olympic community.

IOC President Thomas Bach said it well yesterday, when he noted that the long-time Russian doping represented an “unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games.” So, I hope that integrity returns to the Olympics. This is just a start.

There’s Nothing Like a Bedtime Story

bedtime story

Did your parents read to you at bedtime when you were a child? If you are a parent, do you or did you read to your kids at bedtime? For me, the answer is YES and YES. I believe that books, and reading in general, are an important part of an enriching life. But there is something special about reading to a child or being read to. A bedtime story is the perfect way to send us off to sleep.

I have been reading books to my three children since the day each of them were born. We started off with simple but classic board books, like Goodnight Moon, The Hungry Caterpillar or The Going to Bed Book. A baby doesn’t have much of an attention span and has a tendency to tear or chew on the book if she or he gets bored. A number of our board boards have teeth marks in them!

Once the tearing, shredding and biting phase has passed we move up to slightly longer, paper books, and we have dozens in this category all over the house. My kids’ bedrooms contain a good-sized library of classic and new children’s stories, like Madeline, The Little Red Caboose, Pinkalicious, Corduroy, and one of my all-time favourites, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day.

Corduroy, about a bear who lived in a department store and searched for his missing button, shaped how I felt about stuffed animals. He wasn’t just a stuffed bear, he became a child’s friend. My parents read this book to me at bedtime when I was a child, and I love reading Corduroy to my children.

I have also now moved into reading chapter books to my children. I have tackled some light and shorter books with my daughter that usually have a main character that is either a dog or mermaid without much of a plot, but she loves them. And she looks forward to the time we spend together, cuddled up in her bed, to read our bedtime story.

I have been reading chapter books with my son for a number of years. Our first big series was Harry Potter. With seven books and thousands of pages, it took us almost 2 years to complete the series. When we hit some exciting parts or the climax of each book we just couldn’t stop reading. I will admit that we had a few late nights when we couldn’t put the book down. The fact that I had read the books two times on my own before was irrelevant. Reading them with my son was a different and wonderful experience.

With Matthew’s love of sports, and his love of reading, we have now moved onto reading baseball biographies together. Thanks to my Uncle Bill, who gave Matthew a number of books over the summer, we are learning about some of baseball’s greatest players. And when do we read? In the evening, at bedtime.

Last night we really got into the biography of Satchel Paige, one of the greatest pitchers of all time. We have only read the first few dozen pages, but Matthew is already hooked. He is learning about Paige’s early years and the challenges a poor black child faced growing up in the U.S. South. He is asking me very poignant questions, and it thrills me that we have the time together to read and learn about this amazing man and this important part of history.

Whether it’s Goodnight Moon, Corduroy or Harry Potter, I relish every bedtime story I read to my children. It is one of the highlights of my day, and I always look forward to it. What is your favourite bedtime story? Leave me a comment here, post on Facebook or Tweet me @AliciaRichler.

Inappropriate Behaviour is Never Appropriate

I have carefully followed and monitored the news coverage and analysis over the last two months of men, who for the most part were in positions of power, and used that power over women. I have read a lot and thought about this often. I have kept my thoughts to myself and taken it all in. But I will say it loud and clear today: inappropriate behaviour is never appropriate.

There is one thing I want to make clear before I write more. I have never personally been the victim of inappropriate behaviour, harassment or sexual assault. I have worked with many men over my 15 year plus career, and all of them, from the CEO of the company to my boss to my colleagues, have always treated me with respect at all times.

My first job in media, at a sports radio station, where I was surrounded by men, I was never exposed to any inappropriate behaviour. I worked closely with some big names in sports, and quite honestly, my experience was very positive. And that’s the way it’s been for me as I moved into television and then into communications.

But I think my story is unique. I think I am lucky that I have worked for and alongside some good men, who always treated me appropriately. Other women have not been so lucky. And that makes me angry.

It is unacceptable for a man, especially one who is in a position of power, to behave in an inappropriate manner around a woman. Harassing a woman is awful, and assaulting her is revolting.

Women have put up with this for thousands of years, all over the world. Men, who for the most part are bigger and stronger than women, have wielded power over them and abused them. It is important to note that not all women through history have been the victim of inappropriate behaviour, but they have been in the minority. And until now women’s cries for help went unheard.

Coming forward and speaking out against harassment or assault takes tremendous courage. I applaud every woman who has filed a complaint or who has faced the man head on who may have behaved inappropriately towards her. Women in ancient times to the Middle Ages to the Industrial Revolution to the 21st century have tried to speak out. And now everyone is listening. Loud and clear. Finally.

But I also think that we need to be careful. I believe that there aren’t just a few good men around but there are many great men. Most men know what is appropriate and what is not and they know how to treat women respectfully. They are equally revolted by sexual harassment and assault. They just know what’s right.

It is never too late to speak out. Women are learning that now. There is strength in one voice or many. I hope this is just the beginning of a new world we are living in where men treat women with respect and women can speak out when they don’t.