Friday, September 22, 2017

Baking a pie

I like apple pie.
It's best 10 minutes out of the oven with a scoop of french vanilla ice cream.

The ice cream slides off the pie like a 5 year old boy screaming with joy on the playground.

The first bite reminds me of that one apple tree in my grandma's back yard. The grandkids would pick the tree bare each autumn so grandma would bake us a pie.

We called our grandma, memere, which is slang for grand mere in French.

Her freezer always had ice cream in it. Her favourite was Napoleon (neapolitan). But in the fall, she traded in her napoleon flavoured ice cream for french vanilla.

Apple pie is unremarkable without the ice cream. I've tried it and have been disappointed too many times.

My memere made the best apple pie. I'm sure you'll disagree with me. But she's gone and so is her apple pie, so we will never be able to settle that argument.

It's the first day of Autumn and I can't help but think of those apple pie days in my youth. Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer never had so much fun.

Yet today, I am reminded that my children's memories are as relevant as my own. My best memories are based on those simple experiences. I have to keep that in mind as I create memories for our kids.

It's not the big adventures, the grand gestures nor the latest toys.

The best memories are simple as apple pie. Sitting at my Memere's kitchen table eating a fruit that was picked the day before by me and my cousins.  And adding a scoop of French Vanilla ice cream just because today is a special day.

Where's your apple pie? And what's the scoop of ice cream that is going to put your simple pie into the "best ever" category.

Go make memories.
That's all we have, when all the other stuff rusts away.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Opinions are like a*&holes...

There's a new era among us.
In 100 years, we have seen the industrial age, the information age, and now there's a new age that parasites itself on the information age.

It's always been around.
Technology makes it more accessible and louder.
It sickens me.

I'm calling it the opinion age.

People have always had opinions.
Before social media, an opinion only had the breadth of someone's voice and network.
If you didn't like what someone had to say, you left the room. You disassociated yourself with the nut and you only hung out with people who believed in the same things you did.
If you were in radio or newspaper, your opinion was unleashed on the world if your manager allowed it.
Enter Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh with their right and left wing agendas.

If a person didn't have access to a radio microphone, and they called into a station, there was a gatekeeper.
The gatekeeper's responsibility was to keep crazies out.
If there was hate to distribute, a score to settle or an opinion without fact, the gatekeeper kept the person away from the masses.

Today, social media has given everyone a mass media microphone.
No gatekeeper.
No where to escape.
Just flimsy opinions flying around like paper airplanes.

We all have them.
I'm ok with that. I don't have to agree, and neither do you.
But when they are unleashed to create hate, fear, and anger, I have a problem.

I don't like where this world is heading.
I don't like internet trolls.
And I definitely don't like negative posts to build on hatred.

I spoke to a man from Pakistan yesterday who lived in the Kashmir region for 25 years.
He saw the devastations of hatred and is worried like me.

In 1963, there was an psychological experiment called The Milgram Experiment conducted at Yale.
The test was to see how far a person would go to obey orders from a superior.  The test subject was told to increase the voltage of shock on an actor in the other room for different reasons. With each increasing voltage, the actor pled for the shock to stop. In some cases the perceived shock was equal to a lethal dose and the test subject still obeyed his orders.

Professor Milgram wanted to understand why German soldiers could obey superiors to execute millions of prisoners during the Holocaust. I believe he discovered that humans want to conform their behaviour to be accepted by a group.

The actor in the Milgram experiment was in a different room and unseen by the test subject.
I also believe if the actor would have been seen, the test subject may not have gone as far.

It is my OPINION that as long as we don't SEE the pain of another person, we don't experience, care or understand what has been done.

If a childhood friend dies and you haven't seen her in years, you may be saddened. But you may not feel the pain the family feels if you don't see them in mourning.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to witness it, did it make a noise.
The logical answer is, "Of course".
My philosophical answer is, "No, because noise has to be heard to exist".

It is my OPINION that humanity is losing its way while guarded by a computer screen.  The pain is not seen, therefore doesn't exist on the other end of the internet.

Be careful what opinions you post online, your words have more power than you think.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The answers are easy if you know the right question.

There was magic recently at a coffeeshop in Moncton. I felt it. John saw it. No one else experienced...yet.

It's coming.
John is an entrepreneur. He bounced up and down his seat as he explained what he was trying to do. John is so hyper he probably should be on ritalin.  As he spoke, his voice intensified the more excited he got.  

I love watching entrepreneurs be passionate about their business. John is the most excited I've ever seen.

John is in the honeymoon of a new business and he's chomping to get started. He asked me for some advice on his logo, name and taglines.

I don't like giving advice on work already done because how do you tell someone their baby is ugly?

I've known John for 10 years, so I gave him an hour to vomit all his ideas on the table. 

An hour of listening to him talk about his new idea went by.  I couldn't get much of a word in as he kept cutting me off. 

As my time commitment was finishing up, I asked him my secret, magical question. 

His answer gave me goosebumps. I asked him to explain and as he did, he got off his chair. He was pacing around the coffeeshop. He looked like a madman who was either going to punch a wall or kiss the next girl who walked in.  

Stopping in mid pace, he looked at me and half asking he said, "I need to change the name of my proposed business"?

Yes John, you do.

But I've spent good money on business cards, name searches, and logos.

I understand. The money you've spent is peanuts compared to that you will spend on building your brand. The marketing you've already done is ok. But it's not going to get you noticed in a highly competitive market. This new idea will give you INSTANT recognition in your category. 

Is this the purple cow thingy you told me about?

Yes, Seth Godin defines a purple cow as a product or service that is remarkable. Your new idea is on the path of remarkability.

As we parted ways, I could see John bouncing to his car.  He turned and looked at me and said, "The answer was inside of me the whole time. You pulled it out. Why didn't I see it?"

As I walked by his car, I answered, "You didn't ask yourself the right question". 

Ideas built on a good marketing strategy fill me with bliss. I hope John follows through on our discussion. It will make me happy to see him succeed. He's one of the good guys.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Invisible wounds

It cuts deeply.
You only know it, if you've lived it.

A right of passage.
A voyage,
A journey,
Through the forest of fear, anger and uncertainty.

An attack on a vulnerability.
A pain, a darkness, and a void,
Silently humming for help
But not knowing the lyrics.

You can smell it.
Fear does that.
Ask the dog.
Where's the air freshener?
Even Febreeze cannot remove the foul odour.

It hurts.
It wreaks.
It howls in the night like a hungry wolf looking for its prey.

Relief is undeterminable.
Comfort is addiction.
Cure is death.
There are others, but death is easiest.

The flames of pain wait for the world to stop spinning out of control.


Invisible wounds,
Stick a bandaid over the open wound,
Smile and,
Hope for a better day.
You go on.

Don't pity me.
Don't worry about me.
Don't cry for me.

Mind your own business,
But can you gobble up my problems
And tell me it's going to be ok.

What do you expect?
The poet is tired.
The playwright is sick.
The actor is missing.
The director is drunk.
Yet the viewer is waiting for the show.

The show must go on.
The stench is everywhere.
Only one lives it.
Unfortunately he is drunk, missing, sick and tired.

There's a light.
It's dim.
But it gets brighter
If you look long enough,
Through the clouds of uncertainty,
You can breathe.
One moment at a time.
Until the cut heals to a scar.
And becomes a distant memory in a world filled with fear, anger, uncertainty,
And love.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Check your mindset

My friend James is relentless with phrases like, "Check your mindset".
He is a pain in the ass when I'm not in the mood for his upbeat, positive frame of mind.
But he's right.

You have to know James to really appreciate him.
He's like Tony Robbins, only nobody knows him.
I called to ask his permission to right this blog.
He was in the middle of reading the biography of Ben Franklin. His next read is about the Roman Empire.

For work, he throws around criminals like I throw around my Grande Emperor's Cloud at Starbucks. James works as a prison guard. Surrounded by scammers, rapists, murderers, and drug addicts, James's daily work routine makes his brain work overtime as he balances egos, power struggle and dishonesty amongst both inmates and guards.
James keeps guard for potential danger and his own personal health.

For fun, he tortures his body with Crossfit and jujitsu.
If you look at him from behind, it looks like he swallowed a capital V for breakfast.
Mentally and physically, James embodies both aspects of health with fervour.
A positive mental frame of mind protects him from the toxicity of his job.
It also gets him to each new level he wants to achieve.

He's one of my dearest friends.
And he is one of my greatest inspirations.

Walking down a busy street, picking up my restaurant lawn signs, I looked to the heavens and asked where I could find money to complete a new business deal.

James appeared in my imagination and told me to check my mindset.
It's the first time he came to me like this.
I listened and did exactly as he had instructed.

Within one week, I had the money I requested.  Cheques mysteriously showed up in the mailbox.
Contracts were awarded that I hadn't applied for.

It took 5 days, but I had the amount I needed to complete my business purchase.

Excited and giggly, I recounted the story to my wife.
She told me I should have asked for more.
How did I miss that?
She was right.
I shortchanged this new power.
So, I did what felt right and doubled the number.

Everyday for two weeks, I informed the universe I needed the new amount.
This time I asked for six figures.
It took two weeks for the magic to spread like pixie dust in my direction.
Two weeks and another contract was handed to me for 60% of my ask.
The other 40% is on its way.
I KNOW its coming. Why would the magic stop now?
I've tapped into something with James's rules on mindset.


Check your mindset.
Go find a friend like James.

If you have a "James" in your life, care for that relationship like you would care for your mother.
He's rare and precious.
He's your ticket to all your dreams to come.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Big league

"When he was a kid, he'd be up at five
Take shots till eight, make the thing drive
Out after school, back on ice
That was his life, he was gonna play in the big league"

These are the opening lyrics from the Tom Cochrane song, "Big League". 

It reminds us that some kids work hard building on their game to hopefully one day make it to the professional ranks.

These kids don't get paid for their games.
They don't get paid to practice the long hours it takes to get better.
They work, and practice and work and practice.
They get better but there is no guarantee they will ever make a penny on their hard effort.
The chances are slim that they will ever make a living playing their sport.
They do it for the joy.
Of course, they dream of what could be.
That's the human in them.
They may be too small, too big. 
They may be prone to injury or prone to poor choices.

The professional ranks only takes the best of the best.
These kids work hard to hope to one day be able to be one of them.

Professional sport teams don't place job ads looking for players.
The world is filled with talent.
Teams are looking for specifics.
Teams are looking for a spark, a drive, a desire that is different from all the others.
The difference between those selected and those thrown away is marginal.
There's no lack of choice.

Why do professional sport teams not place job ads for their athletes but you do?
Are there not people wanting a job in your industry?
Are there not people wanting to work for you?
Are there not people dreaming to do the work that you have to offer?

I believe the answer is "Of course, there are".
I also believe that if you haven't found them, it's because you haven't allowed yourself to be discovered by the "right" people.
And the reason for this lack of discovery is due to you not describing the right person in detail.

There are kids who want a chance. They are willing to put in the work. They have dreams too. They are willing to do whatever it takes to get to their next level. 

If they don't know about you, then they go elsewhere.
If they don't know about you, you lose.

You don't need an employee, you need people who will make a difference.
If you look for employees, you'll find them.
If you look for difference makers, funny enough, you find them too.

Go find the kid who has a dream and help him achieve it.
The only thing holding him back from you is you.

It's time to play in the Big League. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Are you a Dreamer or a Realist?

A realist thinks about problems and applies conventional thought to determine if it is solvable or not.

A dreamer thinks about solutions and creates problems for conventional thought.
Dreamers are troublemakers.

They want to see change.
Status quo bores them.
To get a dreamer to keep his head out of the clouds is like keeping a cat from meowing at the bird on the front lawn.

Dreamers change the world.
Without them, the world remains in sameness.

Dreamers are unrealistic.
They see a world that does not exist, yet.
They imagine there is no heaven.
They build schools, companies, and countries.
They solve problems with man made flight, space travel, and nuclear physics.
They harness waves for sound, heat, and light.

Dreamers are ridiculed.
Each and every day, outside of their circle of dreamers, people point and snicker and don't understand why someone could be so unrealistic.
One day, the dreamer will be either poor and destitute OR rich and famous.
The dreamer doesn't do it for fame. Fame is a by-product of following the path of insanity toward achievement.
The person who does it for money or fame is not a dreamer. He is a realist disguised as a poser.
Posers and dreamers don't speak the same language.

Posers quit when someone achieves first.
Dreamers don't.
Dreamers want the world to be better for all dreamers and realists.

Are you a dreamer or a realist?

Do you work for money OR are you passionate about your craft no matter the pay?
Do you think about your craft WHEN you're not at work?
Do you take vacations to get away from your craft OR do you get away to get a new perspective of it?
Are you working on your dream OR simply dreaming while you work?

The Dreamer creates a new reality, while the realist lives in an old one.

I know which one I am. Do you?