Friday, February 26, 2010

Cashing in with Tommy's Brother

It was a hot, sweaty, summer night in the 1960s.

The performers were in town for a show at a local high school gymnasium, another stop on the long dusty trail for touring musicians, riding steel horses.

As townsfolk filled the place and the air became electric with anticipation, band members realized their star was missing.

One of the band members, Tommy, started walking the halls and looking in classrooms searching for his brother. The last place he looked was the boys' locker room. And that's where he found his older brother Johnny, walking slowly, peering deliberately into each of the mesh-wire lockers.

Tommy noticed Johnny was also holding a rolled-up $100 bill.

"What are you doing? The show's about to start," Tommy said.

"I'm looking for the dirtiest, rattiest tennis shoes I can find," Johnny replied. "I figure the boy could use this".

Johnny, who was born on this day, February 26, 1932, in Kingsland, Arkansas, was one of seven children who would help their parents farm a 20 acre patch of cotton. Music was integral to his everyday life and Johnny soaked all of it in, ranging from his mother's folk songs and hymns to working man songs from the fields and nearby rail yards.

He would eventually work in a Detroit automotive plant, enlist in the U.S. Air Force, start a band called the Tennessee Three, cut records in Memphis, sell appliances door-to-door, get married, become a father, get divorced, become addicted to narcotics, get busted and do time. Johnny would also propose on stage and get remarried and reborn both personally and professionally before passing away, four months after losing his wife and BFF, in 2003.

His songs, echoing themes of sorrow, moral conflict and redemption made him one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, earning 11 Grammy Awards

"The Man in Black", Tommy's older brother Johnny, would have turned 78 today.

"He's just like my father that way-my father just adored my mother and let her do whatever she wanted. John's like that. He's a very rare man, a very good man, and I've had a good life with him"

p.s... my old friend Chris Colepaugh and his Cosmic Crew are back from the Vancouver Olympics and gigs in Memphis to play the Haiti benefit show tonight in Moncton. Chris has been known to play some mean Johnny Cash tunes from time to time ..."Hard to Say" if any "Man in Black" material will be performed tonite since his original stuff cooks with enough gas on its own.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why Canada Matters to America

According to the July 2009 issue of MacLean's magazine, Canadians tend to:

Be wealthier than Americans.

Live longer than Swedes.

Be more industrious than Germans.

Eat better than the French.

Have more TVs than the Japanese.

Enjoy more lovers than the Italians.

This week, one reputable American has taken notice of the brand called Canada in a big way. In a report that is hurtling its way across the web like a Prairie brush fire, Tom Brokaw explains why Canada matters so much to his fellow Americans.

Had he been allowed more time, Tom could have also pointed out how corruption is almost non-existent in Canada (Brian's old German friend Karl being exception to the rule). According to the 2008 Bribe Payer’s Index, prepared by Transparency International, Canada is tied with Belgium for No. 1 — meaning our firms are the least likely in the world to engage in payoffs. Only four per cent of Canadian business people have ever bribed high-ranking politicians or political parties, according to the survey, well below the international going rate of 13 per cent.

Tom Brokaw has helped many Americans understand there is much more to the brand called "Canada" than just moose, mountains and mounties. Yes, there was a time when many of our friends south of the border only knew about Canada through maple syrup and some "Flying Frenchmen" from Montreal, but all that is changing thanks to stories like these now being readily communicated in our Facebook world.

Canadians have known for decades the rest of the world sees as "nice and polite" and there is no denying the Brokaw report adds to that story. However, there is another side of Canada that kicks serious ass ...

In comedy ...

At the rink ...

And on stage ...

"Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature hath so joined together, let no man put asunder. What unites us is far greater than what divides us"
JOHN F. KENNEDY, Addressing Canadian Parliament, 1961

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Are You a Saver Soldier?

Tim believes our world today is being run through three intangibles.

1. Knowledge.
2. Personal networks.
3. Compassion.

And it's crucial to bring more to the table in all three categories, since we now live in an age where information is more important than seniority. Getting paid for what you actually know, not how long you’ve been hanging around or where you went to college.

Years ago, Tim's book, "Love is the Killer App", challenged how businesses could survive without new ideas, without connection skills and without compassion. He felt it used to be far too easy for a business to operate under the radar in remote, isolated areas where barracudas, sharks and piranhas could proliferate. Tim theorized the old economy, marked by surface caring that merely masked predatory intent, only served to make companies become havens for internal fear, loathing and self-preservation.

And that's why Tim Sanders continues to write and speak about a workplace of a different kind in his latest book ... "Saving the World at Work".

"Being less bad will not save the world . . . the only way that you can move beyond zero and make a positive difference is by influencing others"

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hope for the Cynical

"A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin"

You are about to enter an arena that requires courage. Skill. Tenacity.

An arena that does not permit you to sit. Or stand on the sidelines.

You are out there.

In front of the crowd.

Livin' on a prayer.

You could be an athlete or an academic. An entertainer or entrepreneur.

Or you could be "interested" in someone special.

But no matter, you find yourself in a position where you feel vulnerable.

Because others are watching. And evaluating.

This is the place where few cynics dare tread.

A place where you won't find many men since guys normally don't like to get too "deep" with other guys.

But last week, a guy who qualifies as a man's man, took a risk and shared something with one of his closest friends.

He is a husband, father, entrepreneur, weekend warrior, hockey & UFC fan who counts "Gladiator" as his all-time favorite movie.

This is what he forwarded:

Research indicates growing cynicism among owners, managers and workers, however, few resources exist to address this syndrome. You won't find too many practitioners (educators, consultants, trainers and developers, human resource personnel, etc.) able to recognize and/or want to take cynicism head on.

Cynics tend to prefer movies with realistic endings as opposed to happy ones. They don't expect the truth from anyone, including family and friends, believe the self help industry is recycled feel-good crap and that the government is out to screw us all.

Jaded negativity or scornful skepticism is a convenient security blanket for self-preservation in professional or personal relationships.

But it inspires no one, and sadly, prevents enormous human potential from being released and shared with others. Have you ever noticed how the cynical types rarely, if ever, tap into their full potential and achieve any measure of greatness? Cynics will quickly dismiss "The Five Questions" posed by Tom Ferry in yesterday's TSB post.

1. What is My Purpose?
2. What do you Value?
3. What are your God-given talents?
4. It's ten years from now. How is the world experiencing You?
5. What do you do NOW to get started?

Answering those questions and others that probe the deeper recesses of your soul require equal parts of both Hope and Courage.

For the record, Greek mythology reveals that when Pandora opened her box, she let out all the evils except one: Hope. Apparently, the Greeks considered Hope to be as dangerous as all the world's evils. But without Hope to accompany all their troubles, humanity was filled with despair. It was a great relief when Pandora went back to her box and released Hope as well.

Oscar Wilde once asked, "What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing". That's why you won't see cynics investing time, energy or money into the stuff legacies and memories are made of.

Maybe, that's what separates musical gladiators like Jon from so many others.

Are there legacies and memories you need to start making?

When do you plan on making them happen?

"Miracles happen everyday, change your perception of what a miracle is and you'll see them all around you"

p.s... Can't resist throwing in this scene of Hope and Courage.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Five Questions

"Control your own destiny or someone else will"

Tom knows a thing or two about success.

What he knows helps some people become fantastically successful.

Not only financially, but in every way imaginable.

For more than a decade, Tom has earned a peerless reputation as a top trainer, motivator and personal coach for professionals in the real estate and financial services industries. Tom has conducted trainings for more than 130,000 sales people nationwide, and has personally coached 16 of the top 100 agents in all of North America.

While many of his clients earn more than $1 million per year, Tom’s clients’ growth is not measured by increased income alone. He believes in being committed to helping people work less, eliminate stress, and have more fun, ease, passion and joy in their businesses and lives.

And Tom Ferry credits much of his success in coaching others to being intimately familiar with "The Five Questions".

These are the types of questions that only the rare few will have the courage to answer in an honest, authentic way. Questions like these, that probe the deeper issues of Life Purpose and what we truly Value most will make make wince with discomfort.

But, imagine for a moment, that you did take time this week to absorb Tom's questions.

And answer them.


Where could those questions take you?

Maybe it depends on whether you choose to live by design or default.

"God doesn't require us to succeed; he only requires that you try"

Friday, February 19, 2010

Celebrating "Silence"

February 19, 1964.

Amid the ceaseless noise of a city that doesn't sleep, a Yankee fan named Paulie heads to his quiet place.

With his guitar.

"I was able to sit by myself and play and dream. And I was always happy doing that. I used to go off in the bathroom, because the bathroom had tiles, so it was a slight echo chamber. I'd turn on the faucet so that water would run — I like that sound, it's very soothing to me — and I'd play. In the dark. 'Hello darkness, my old friend / I've come to talk with you again".

Paulie wasn't aware back then, but he was actually practicing what Deepak Chopra refers to as The Law of Pure Potentiality. Think of it like tossing a tiny stone into a still pond and watching it ripple. When the ripples settle down, you toss another little stone as you enter a field of pure silence where even the faintest intention ripples through the universe. This is the field of all possibilities and infinite creativity, where anything you imagine can be manifested into reality. But, it's impossible to enter that field and experience that level of stillness if your mind is constantly churning like an angry, turbulent ocean that would never notice if you heaved in the Empire State Building.

It is in his quiet place, that Paulie becomes still and taps into the field of pure potentiality, sharing it later that day with his buddy Artie. The pair grew up about three blocks from each other in Queens, and started hanging out in the 6th grade but now they're doing the odd gig as a folk duo in Greenwich Village coffee shops.

When Artie first heard the song, he was immediately excited by it.

"It was clearly the product of considerable talent".

They eventually recorded Paulie's song, using nothing more than a single guitar and the sounds of their own voices. It was included on their debut album, released in October of that year, but, the record flopped and their musical partnership came to an end.

Paulie split and headed for England.

Artie went back to school to study architecture

About 18-months later, a producer at Columbia Records noticed the song was getting airplay on radio stations in Boston and Cocoa Beach, Florida. He took the original recording, added some overdubs with drums, bass and electric guitar and released it as a single. Two years after Paulie had composed this masterpiece in the darkness of his bathroom, it hit #1 on the U.S. charts, causing him to reunite with Artie as a musical act destined for stardom.

In 1999, BMI named "Sound of Silence" as the 18th-most performed song of the 20th century. In 2004 it was ranked #156 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, one of Simon and Garfunkel's three songs on the list.

But as Artie alluded to, by using imagery of light and darkness, "Sound of Silence" shows how ignorance and apathy destroys our ability to communicate on even a simple level.

Lacking stillness in our internal dialogue, we tend to constantly evaluate, classify, label, analyze and judge people and situations. This inner turbulence blocks the flow of energy required to tap into the field of pure potentiality that Paulie experienced on this day in 1964.

Pure potential is everywhere and anywhere around you.

Pure potentiality is a state of pure awareness, that inner stillness connecting you to infinite creativity.

Where all things are possible.

Once you experience and celebrate silence.

"I try to open up my heart as much as I can and keep a real keen eye out that I don't get sentimental. I think we're all afraid to reveal our hearts. It's not at all in fashion"

p.s... Four decades after the fact, isn't it great to see Paulie and Artie still bringing it with nothing more than a single suitar and the sounds of their own voices?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ruling the World from Starbucks

Bill is a 33-year old Cape Bretoner who spends most of any working day at Starbucks.

He doesn't worry or stress about getting ready for work, picking out something to wear or fighting traffic on his way to the office.

Bill doesn't have an office to go to.

That's because, as he is proud to say, he doesn't have a job.

Instead, Bill spends the bulk of the 9-to-5 work day relaxing with a highly customized coffee beverage (which he lovingly calls the "Tuxedo") and swapping stories with java-sipping cronies.

He is no hurry to give up this lifestyle any time soon.

Why should he?

Bill also happens to own three houses, two duplexes, one apartment building and paid cash for a brand new Cadillac.

Along the way he has collected some valuable financial education, applying the lessons from "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" author, Robert Kiyosaki.

Not only has "Tuxedo Bill" embraced the "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" philosophy, he has also deepened his financial education through the regular use of Kiyosaki's board game called "CASHFLOW".

Along the way, "Tuxedo Bill" followed a traditional educational path, earning a Masters degree before deciding that was no way for him to get rich. As he explains, "We go to school to learn to work hard for money, but studying guys like Kiyosaki makes more sense because he writes books and creates products that teach people how to have money work hard for them".

And that's how you get to rule your world from anywhere you like.

"Academic qualifications are important and so is financial education. They're both important and schools are forgetting one of them"


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Motorvationally Speaking: "Hitting the Customer Service Mark"

"The way to gain a good reputation, is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear"

If you're hoping a product or price advantage can take your brand to the promised land, you might want to check that dream at the door.

Product and price as a competitive advantage has been wiped out in virtually every business category. Those can be too easily duplicated, by every price-slashing, copy-catting, money-grubbing goober between Buctouche and Bangladesh.

But, a genuine customer service culture can’t be copied.

Particularly when a business sees Customer Service, not as a "department", but as an attitude.

From: elisha lapointe []
Sent: Tuesday, January 05, 2010 6:19 PM
Subject: Ontario Friends experience Wheels & Deals

The adventures continue, and Service comes with a hug here...

Yesterday was spent touring the city, seeing quaint little houses, some still decked out with their Christmas fare. I noticed the lack of fencing, as if the neighbours here have no need of privacy, or in fact embrace their neighbours and the feel of community. At home, it's all cubed little squares, no one says hello, and privacy is paid for at premium. ...I'm falling in love with this cute little place, where everyone is quick to say hello..

It was Elisha's 29th really, she's 29 not just saying it lol....and so we all went out to dinner at Carribean Flava's....YUM... got to see My aunt Barbs sister Bonnie....and Steph and Elisha's friends...was a very good evening out. Beth and I went back to the Hotel afterwards, where we continued to sleep for 9hours ..(guess we needed it)

Morning coffee....even though we drink's the same obsession with it...we need it...or we are gonna get cranky!! Beth was gonna run out on her own, but I wanted to join...

omg we've got a flat tire......(says beth)....say WHAT??

We call CAA....
Flat tire pumped address from Eliisha to go get it fixed....

Welcome to Jim Gilberts Wheels and Deals...the Huggable Car dealership.... omg....there's music being pumped out of those speakers in the parking lot....I start to giggle...this is funny. It's singing a happy tune about this place being the huggable place...WTF...I'm skeptical..I'm from Ontario damn it!!

They take our information, our keys and direct us to wait...... wait...there's coffee....a kurig coffee maker....sighhh thank GOD.... We walk in further, only to discover a little posh waiting area, complete with lazy recliners, big screen tv' games, popcorn...
Ok..guess this won't be much of a hardship.....Then I use the rest room.....packed with diapers, ladies sundries and personal items....all free for the need of it...and I think....OMG..who DOES this??? Then I think, and I tell Beth...this is gonna kill us....they are going to charge us an arm and a leg here....

again the skeptic....

so...we relaxed, watched Ellen, had coffee and popcorn....all very very comfortably....and then it's done....fixed the tire...poor thing had picked up a nail somewhere...and get this....only 17 bucks to and popcorn is more than that in Ontario....We get happily directed to the nearest Tims, after being told to have a safe trip home when we go....

Is that our car??? seriously, this car was someone stole our car and gave us a clean one back.....THEY WASHED OUR CAR....and vacuumed inside...and took out the car mats and washed them too...they KISSED and HUGGED our car....and left a cute little letter inside telling us so, attached to some cookies...

OMFG...i get it....this place is called the huggable car dealership, and I want to run back and hug and kiss them all....this place was so endearing..and made what could have been a yucky day, into a positively great experience...

Wow, we can really learn something about Customer Service from far, everywhere we go, it's completely friendly ...

I need to go back and get a souvenier from the huggable dealership...that just rocked !!!

There isn't an ad in the world that can match the power of a raving fan, gushing over your brand and the way it does business. The quest for making your brand "seamless" is achieved when the internal culture and operations are aligned with what the brand is promising in its external marketing.

Today on TSB, we get up close and personal with one of the people most responsible for creating raving fans at Canada's Huggable Car Dealership ...a seamless Customer Service Leader ... Mark Embleton!

"Motorvationally Speaking", on CHCD TV, is a weekly, internet-based show focused on people who embrace the power of positive thinking. The guests may not always be famous, but they are always enlightening, and each one of them has an interesting story to tell. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome as we aim to inspire, educate and motorvate.

"Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game. Service wins the game"

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ryan's Riddle

"The goal of life is to take everything that made you weird as a kid and get people to pay you money for it when you're older"-
DAVID FREEMAN, screenwriter,Wizard Academy faculty member

Have you ever been asked to connect with a group of people that in no way shape or form you can relate to?

Later today, I get to enjoy that experience once again.

Later today, I have the privilege of speaking to a group of high school students regarded by some in the school system as "at risk". These are the "switched-off" young minds who have struggled far too often with personal demons and issues that have made their high school experience somewhat less than fulfilling. Poor classroom performance and social setbacks have dropped these kids into a program designed to keep them segregated from the "normal" school population. In other words, the "bad apples" are being kept in one bunch. But, through off site learning, they will be able to remain in the system and graduate with a high school diploma.

While in no way does my high school experience (near perfect attendance, decent marks, relatively stable home life) match theirs, I am humble enough to admit there might be something to learn from a group often considered to be educational washouts. This will be the fifth time I have addressed such a group and on each occasion I have walked away super impressed by the talent and potential that exists in the room.

I am sharing this with TSB readers for two reasons:

1. There are times when a little humility can take us a long way.
2. Never underestimate the talent that lies within those who don't quite "fit".

You could point to any numb er of famous people like Einstein or Eminem who were never considered to be academic superstars. In fact both dropped out of high school for different reasons. Like it or not, the factory model of education that groups us in batches called grades and teaches us how to memorize as opposed to think doesn't always serve those who are gifted.

On my last visit, one of the students misunderstood the debriefing that followed a paradigm-shifting exercise. It's one of those clever activities that illustrates just how simple solutions can be when you color outside the lines and not be confined by "traditional" wisdom, which is often more traditional than wise. Instead, Ryan went ahead and crafted his own paradigm-shifting exercise which I will share with you now.

INSTRUCTIONS: With the addition of two (2) straight lines - without tampering with the equal sign, the following equation becomes mathematically correct.

After more than a decade of speaking and facilitating with literally thousands of people in different parts of North America, no one in any of those sessions has ever come up with something so original.

Feel free to let us know how you make out with "Ryan's Riddle".

Careful, you might have to forget what you think you already know.

And lose yourself.

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day. Never lose a holy curiosity."

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Destination Called Humility

"There's ringing in my ears
And no one to relate to 'cept the sea
Who can I believe in?
I'm kneeling on the floor
There has to be a force who do I phone?"


A suitor approaches a beautiful woman at a nightclub, hoping to dazzle and impress.

An applicant walks into an office, likewise, hoping to dazzle and impress.

The suitor, flashing considerable wit and charm, pontificates opinion on his own brilliance, causing the woman to slowly withdraw and start looking the other way.

The applicant, talking a mile a minute about her past success, can't understand why the person across the desk can only muster a "We'll keep your resume on file and be in touch if anything comes up".

Neither the suitor nor the applicant can understand why it is the people they encounter in these situations, can't see the human gems glittering before them.

"What's wrong with her?! Doesn't she see how lucky she is to be even talking to a guy like me?"

"The people who run that place are idiots! With my credentials, experience and talent, I could bring much more to that company than they could ever afford to pay me."

T.S. Eliot once observed, "Humility is the most difficult of all virtues to achieve;
nothing dies harder than the desire to think well of self".

Perhaps that virtue can be realized once you see Humility and Pride are just two sides of the same coin.

Pride is what many suitors, applicants and millions of the rest of us project whenever we get caught in the trap of thinking more highly of ourselves than is warranted. Pride and its byproducts of arrogance and conceit are within our nature, but Humility is often something we must learn.


Not a trait that comes to us naturally.

Which is why its good to let a guy like Jack Canfield help us take a look in the Pride mirror every once in a while.

Nobody stands taller than those willing to be shown the way.

And few have studied this trait more than Jim Collins.

His book, "Good to Great" and the research that supports it, is regarded as a landmark in terms of defining specific traits that stand out among the greatest business leaders.

As Collins explains, ambition, talent, innovation, persistence, inspiration, perspiration all take a back seat to Humility.

Herb Elliot was a world record holder in the mile run from 1958 to 1962. One day, Herb offered an educated opinion on Humility vs Pride:

"To be a world-record holder in the mile, a man must have the arrogance it takes to believe he can run faster that anyone ever has at the distance; and the humility it takes to actually do it".

Each day, we struggle to find balance between the conflicting forces of Humility and Pride. On the one hand, you need a certain level of self confidence and belief that you can accomplish the goals you set for yourself. But, that won't happen unless you possess the Humility required to do the necessary work.

Don't let Pride stand in your way.

This week, let Humility be your destination.

"Swallow your pride occasionally, it's non-fattening!"

p.s... Long before he became an international superstar, Peter Frampton slugged it out on the bar and concert circuit as a guitarist with gritty English blues rockers Humble Pie. Often regarded as a band that never realized its full potential, the Pie did serve up some tasty offerings while a humble Frampton learned his craft as second banana to frontman, the late Steve Marriott.

Following his split with Humble Pie and four solo albums with little commercial success, Peter Frampton hit paydirt with "Frampton Comes Alive" in 1976. It sold over 6 million copies in the U.S. alone and is still one of the best-selling live albums ever as Peter continues to show us the way more than three decades later.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Be My Valentine?

Have you ever noticed how this weekends "holiday" usually prompts a dualistic response?

Duality is a universal concept; right or wrong, black or white, heaven or hell, inhaling or exhaling, giving or receiving, ying/yang, supply and demand, action or reaction, fight or flight, pain or pleasure, love and hate, good versus evil, left-brain/right-brain, hero or villain, bacon or eggs, PC or Mac, Leafs or Canadiens ...

You get the picture.

Valentine's Day produces that type of reaction.

It's either for or against, nothing in between and zero fence-sitting when you ask people for an opinion on how they feel about Valentine's Day.

The hoopla over February 14th forces people into one of two camps. Those who can't wait for the holiday to arrive and the surprises it may bring ...and those who shudder at the very thought of being single on a day when you are not "supposed" to be. Some see it as the least romantic days of the year when the majority of men act like robots, purchasing flowers and chocolate for their sweethearts out of obligation rather than celebration.

Today, TSB explores these dual perspectives to see where it leads.

However, for true romantics, who still believe in true Love, Valentine's Day symbolizes much more.

Pablo Picasso painted Love as "the greatest refreshment in life".

Robert Frost waxed poetic, describing Love as "an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired".

Zsa Zsa Gabor called Love "a game that two can play and both can win".

How much a heart can hold cannot be measured or defined by either the poet or the scientist but that matters little to love junkies who feel Valentine's is the best time to cozy up with "someone special" and enjoy a "chick flick" made better by a ballad that lifts the movie to legendary status.
Is this not what romantic memories are made of?

Today on TSB, we countdown the Top 5 "Valentine's Day Music @ the Movies" of all time. Think of this list as those magical moments in film history when words, pictures and music were woven together - seamlessly.

And eternally.

#5. THE BODYGUARD: "I Will Always Love You" - Whitney Houston

#4. JERRY MAGUIRE: "Secret Garden" - Bruce Springsteen

#3. TITANIC: "My Heart Will Go On" - Celine Dion

#2. NOTTING HILL: "When You Say Nothing at All" - Ronan Keating

and the coveted top selection on "Valentine's Day Music @ the Movies" is ...

#1. GHOST: "UnChained Melody" - The Righteous Brothers

Hope this weekend finds you happy and fulfilled - in your way - on Valentine's Day.

"Without love, what are we worth? Eighty-nine cents! Eighty-nine cents worth of chemicals walking around lonely"

p.s... This is for Guys Only - the ones who might need a few ideas this weekend!

Previously posted, February 13, 2009

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Social Media: By the Numbers

Twitter has been smokin' hot for just over a year.

Facebook has swelled to become the 4th largest country in the world.

Biz types are flocking to Linkedin to update their profiles.

The numbers currently associated with Social Media are, in a word ... Uber-Staggering.

EConsultancy recently published the following stats on their blog:


- Facebook claims that 50% of active users log into the site each day. This would mean at least 175m users every 24 hours.

- Twitter now has 75m user accounts, but only around 15m are active users on a regular basis.

- LinkedIn has over 50m members worldwide..

- Facebook currently has in excess of 350 million active users on global basis.Six months ago, this was 250m…This means over 40% growth in less than 6 months.

- Flickr now hosts more than 4 billion images.

- More than 35m Facebook users update their status each day.

- Wikipedia currently has in excess of 14m articles, meaning that it’s 85,000 contributors have written nearly a million new posts in six months.

- Photo uploads to Facebook have increased by more than 100%. Currently, there are around 2.5bn uploads to the site each month.

- Back in 2009, the average user had 120 friends within Facebook. This is now around 130.

- Mobile is even bigger than before for Facebook, with more than 65m users accessing the site through mobile-based devices. In six months, this is over 100% increase.

- There are more than 3.5bn pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, etc.) shared each week on Facebook.
There are now 11m LinkedIn users across Europe.

- Towards the end of last year, the average number of tweets per day was over 27.3 million.

- The average number of tweets per hour was around 1.3m.

- 15% of bloggers spend 10 or more hours each week blogging, according to Technorati’s new State of the Blogosphere.

- At the current rate, Twitter will process almost 10 billion tweets in a single year.

- About 70% of Facebook users are outside the USA.

- India is currently the fastest-growing country to use LinkedIn, with around 3m total users.

- 70% of bloggers are organically talking about brands on their blog.

- 38% of bloggers post brand or product reviews.

But, these statistics only start to mean something when you weigh the number of ways they impact you.

And your brand.

"Social media is like teen sex. Everyone wants to do it. No one actually knows how. When finally done, there is surprise it's not better"
AVINASH KAUSHIK, Google analytics evangelist

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Are You a One Night Brand?

Back in the 1950's Hugh scraped together $8,000 from family and friends and launched a business and a brand that took America and the world by storm.

His business model focused on a magazine that featured a style of photography and an element of brand notoriety that appealed to a certain demographic and a certain type of advertiser.

Hugh needed those advertisers in order to publish his magazine and after meeting with initial resistance from the stuffed-shirt crowd, he persisted and eventually signed up brands such as:

- Crosswinds House beach towels
- Scintella Satin BedSheets
- Lektrostat Record Cleaning Kit
- Mansfield Holiday II 8-mm cameras
- Leslie Record Racks
- Electro-Voice Musicaster loudspeakers
- The Ronson Electric Shaver
- Max Factor crew-cut hair dressing
- The Rogers "Rocket Flame" cigarette lighter

And lets not forget the unforgettable "Batch Book", that new and modern address book where you can jot down every pertinent detail and avoid those ghastly social errors.

Those brands aren't exactly household names today. Few of them still exist.

Some disappeared as society changed. Technology rendered others obsolete, while the rest ran out of creative, emotional and financial gas.

Brands can vanish for any number of reasons, but the real question is why should your brand be one that sticks around? How is your brand positioned to be a long-term player since now more than ever, even the best corporate brands are no longer guaranteed longevity in the marketplace.

And few figured out this brand longevity issue better than Hugh.

Hugh Hefner is the ultimate "lifestyle entrepreneur", creating a brand that has endured for generations. Playboy is still the leading men’s magazine in the world,
and the business model has diversified to include four income streams: publishing, licensing, online and TV.

And as Hugh learned a long time ago, the "story" never gets old.

Gradually, organizations are discovering a brand is no longer what they say it is.

It's what others say and whether they feel its worth talking about.

Hugh Hefner may be living a certain way personally, but his Playboy brand has been set up in another fashion. The question becomes whether you want your brand to be strategically positioned for a long-term love affair with your customers with decades of profitable bliss or something that smacks of pash-and-dash, booty-calls and one-night stands.

Think about your brand and the way it is positioned right now.

Does the brand "story" still resonate?

Can it be adapted seamlessly to other business models?

And how much staying power will it have?

"Life is too short to be living somebody else's dream"

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Beating Entrepreneurial Blues

How does anyone know what it feels like to be an entrepreneur until they have actually done it?

Lack of first-hand knowledge, however, doesn't seem to prevent anyone with a pulse and the ability to spew nouns, verbs and adjectives from volunteering an opinion on what it takes to own and operate a successful business.

Today on TSB we feature a guest post that will show you how to capitalize — as opposed to combat — “Entrepreneurial Disease” and the manic depression it creates through 4 cyclical stages. What makes this subject remarkable is how the author is able to match appropriate activities to specific — and not always positive — emotional states.

Our guest poster happens to be a "been there, done that" kind of guy.

He is Cameron Herold, the former COO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK, whose professional resume includes:

-Helping build revenues from $2 Million to $105 Million in 6 years (no debt or outside shareholders)
-Building a PR team that landed more than 5,000 stories in those same 6 years
-Hiring 220 people in 4 months
-Leading the sale, branding, and integration of 450+ franchise locations.
-Teaching his psychological theories at the Entrepreneurial Masters Program at MIT.

TSB was fortunate to be in a closed-door session recently in the U.S. where Cameron shared these insights with a select group of Canadian business owners.

Making the Rollercoaster Work for You
By: Cameron Herold, Founder BackPocket COO

Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape, once wrote:

“First and foremost, a start-up puts you on an emotional rollercoaster unlike anything you have ever experienced. You flip rapidly from day-to-day – one where you are euphorically convinced you are going to own the world, to a day in which doom seems only weeks away and you feel completely ruined, and back again. Over and over and over. And I’m talking about what happens to stable entrepreneurs. There is so much uncertainty and so much risk around practically everything you are doing. The level of stress that you’re under generally will magnify things incredible highs and unbelievable lows at whiplash speed and huge magnitude. Sound like fun?”

Many ultra-successful entrepreneurs are even clinically diagnosed as manic-depressive or bi-polar. Francis Ford Coppola has it. So does Ted Turner.

This article is about the emotional intricacies of being an entrepreneur – about what you’re going to feel during the journey.

The concept that we’re going to examine is called the Transition Curve. It resembles a rollercoaster.

Regardless of whether or not you believe you will ride an emotional rollercoaster running a business, you will. You have two fundamental choices: you can hold on and scream, or you can wave your hands in the air and have some fun.

I’m going to walk you through these different analogies, but let’s first look at the various stages of this process, which repeat.

* Stage 1: The first stage of the concept is called “Uninformed Optimism”. At this stage on a rollercoaster, just getting to the top of the rollercoaster, you experience feelings of an adrenalin rush, characterized by excitement and nervous energy.

* Stage 2: The second stage is called “Informed Pessimism”. As you ride over the top of the curve you now have a bit more information. Feelings of fear, nervousness, and frustration begin to set in. Perhaps you even want to get off of it.

* Stage 3 – The third stage is called “Crisis of Meaning”. You’re past scared. You feel despair. It’s as if you’re standing on the edge of a cliff ready to jump, and you begin to think “Today the rollercoaster’s going off the bottom of the track for the very first time.” You feel helpless and you’re both terrified and frozen.

At this point, you face a critical juncture. You can come off the bottom of the curve and crash and burn, which is when your business goes bankrupt, you lose your marriage, you start drinking, or you end up in a doctor’s office because of stress. Or you can come around the corner because you’re getting support at “Crisis of Meaning” and you can enter an upward swing call “Informed Optimism”.

* Stage 4 – Informed Optimism. You’re calm. You’re informed. You might even say you are cautiously optimistic.

Capitalizing on All Emotional Phases — Activity Pairing

Here is the critical point – at each stage of the curve, you can do things to leverage the feelings and energy — positive or negative — that you have at that moment. Fighting against these phases is like working against a natural force.

Stage 1 – Uninformed Optimism
As an example – at Stage 1 – Uninformed Optimism – it’s both a great place and a dangerous place to be for your business, depending on what you are working on or in at that time.

When you’re starting your business, you have seed financing, some friend and family money, or you’ve just started the business with $50 in your pocket. You can start a business without a lot of money directly because you’re benefiting from uninformed optimism. You can take risks when you’re feeling like this. Because you’re so full of excitement you don’t really know what’s coming yet. So you’re uninformed and your fully optimistic – or you wouldn’t have started.

When you’re at Uniformed Optimism you should be doing things like:

* Talking to the media. Imagine if a newspaper calls you when you’re at that stage of uninformed optimism. How’s your media interview going to go? It’s going to go amazing because you have unbridled excitement and big thinking.

* Talking to potential investors. That’s why everyone was investing through the 90s with the dotcom bubble. The entrepreneurs were so full of uninformed optimism and enthusiasm.

* Doing speeches in public – the audience will love you.
* Recruiting new employees – they’ll all want to work for you.
* Networking for new clients – who wouldn’t want to buy from you?

When you’re at Uniformed Optimism there are also some things you should avoid doing:

* Spending money is a bad thing to be doing at this point. Because when you are really excited and full of optimism you think nothing will go wrong. The last thing you want to be doing is spending all this money because the reality is – at some point, you’ll cross the curve and discover harsher realities.

* You don’t want to be doing business planning
* You don’t want to be working on your budget
* You don’t want to be making buying decisions
* You don’t want to be making hiring decisions
* You don’t want to be doing your accounting, or your bookkeeping.
* Anything that requires you to be making financial decisions or planning logical shouldn’t be done when you’re at the manic energy or uninformed optimism stage.

Remember that when you’re at that uninformed optimism stage, anything that’s outward facing — talking about your company, selling the story, raising money — is well-matched. Simultaneously, at that stage, you don’t want to make buying decisions, or hiring decisions, or planning decisions, or budgeting decisions.

Stage 2 – Informed Pessimism
At Stage 2 – Informed Pessimism – you have more information now. You’re not as excited as you once were. Coffee is helpful to get you started. You are worrying at times. You aren’t depressed or scared – but you’re somewhere in between scared and excited. You’re just a little bit pessimistic now. The great aspect of this stage is that it prevents you from making careless mistakes due to overly optimistic thinking.

When you’re at Informed Pessimism you should be doing things like:

* Planning the next phase of your growth
* Intermediate-term strategic planning
* Budgeting, as you’ll be more realistic
* Purchasing things like advertising – you’ll be careful with where you spend your money and will not over-purchase advertising based on exuberant pie-in-the-sky sales forecasts.

When you’re at Informed Pessimism, there are also a few things you should absolutely avoid doing.

Do not:

* make hiring decisions.
* talk to the media or do speaking events.
* work in roles where being excited would help you get a better result – wait until things turn around emotionally for you.

Stage 3 – Crisis of Meaning
This is a scary stage and can feel like you’re standing on the edge of a building needing to jump. It will feel like all the odds are stacked against you and that everything is going wrong. It will be hard to get out of bed in the morning. Sleeping at night will be close to impossible due to worries and fear. You’ll feel like you’re paralyzed and can do little more than clean your filing cabinet drawers successfully.

When you’re at Crisis of Meaning you should be doing things like:

* Cleaning your filing cabinet drawers – seriously. Doing a few little things can often perk people up.

* Reaching out to your support groups like friends, family, your church, groups like the Entrepreneurs Organization etc. to ask them for help, advice or to just lend an ear.

* Trying to set your TOP 5 daily and only work on the most important items each day.
* Taking breaks and going for walks, getting exercise, getting outdoors.
* Writing lists – lists about what you are strong at, lists about what you love – make lists that, when you read them, will help rebuild your confidence.

* Realizing that many others have been in this exact same place and usually turn the corner, just like you will.
* Remembering “The Little Engine That Could” – I think I can, I think I can – it can take time, but things will rebound.

When you’re at Crisis of Meaning there are also some things you should absolutely avoid doing:

* Don’t talk to others who are depressed.
* Don’t talk to others who are “half empty” types

* Don’t take any “all-in” Vegas poker type risks where you put everything on the line hoping for a big win.

* Don’t try to “rally the troops.” Your employees, the media ,etc. will all smell fear. And your fear will lead to making things worse

* Don’t turn to the bottle. Vices during stages of depression will lead to you spiraling out of control.

* Don’t think that you can “handle it” all on your own. You can’t. And when people “need” others, your true friends really will be there to support you.

* Don’t try to learn more. Reading books and magazines about how to be successful or how to grow your company will only make you feel worse about your current situation. They’ll just make you feel even more bogged down. Reading stuff like this is great when you round the corner though.

Stage 4 – Crash & Burn
I don’t really waste any time explaining this stage or what to do here – because if you slide off the curve, here it really is over – the company is done and/or so are you in the role leading it. Usually this is bankruptcy or forced sale, etc..

Stage 5 – Informed Optimism (or Hopeful Realization)
This last stage is much like when the little engine that could turned the corner – and realized “he did”. You’ll start feeling excited and energized again. You’ll start rebuilding your confidence. And you’ll start to feel momentum working in your favor again. You’ll also have a lot more insights and experiential learning to draw from. You’ll realize you have more competence and confidence than before and everything will start to go your way again.

When you’re at Informed Optimism you should be doing things like:

· Hiring
· Strategic Planning
· Reorganization of your team – putting the right people in the right seats
· Cutting the wrong people
· Generally getting everything in order to really start growing again.

When you’re at Informed Optimism there are also things you should avoid doing:

· Don’t lose focus.
· Don’t let your confidence slip.
· Don’t get cocky or you’ll fall backwards off the curve.

Conclusion: This cycle repeats itself.

Enjoy the ride instead of fighting it.

TSB thanks guest author Cameron Herold for sharing his insights today. Cameron's training modules are used by CEOs and companies in more than 15 countries. He also happens to be a pretty cool guy who enjoys his hammock, the music of the Grateful Dead and hanging out with his wife and kids.

What Cameron has clearly illustrated are the predictable patterns of psychological, financial and entreprenurial laws of gravity: What goes up must come down. The secret is being able to recognize the process while its happening and learn from the failures along the way. Someone who understands this dynamic better than most is Richard Branson.

The British-born billionaire, is famous for his Virgin brand of over 360 companies, but what many don't know is how Branson overcame mild dyslexia and poor academic grades as he learned how to ride the entreprenurial rollercoaster.

"I never get the accountants in before I start up a business. It's done on gut feeling, especially if I can see that they are taking the mickey out of the consumer"

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Seven Laws

First picked it up in 2001.

Nothing resonated.

And I mean nothing.

Put it down. Filed it away.

Picked it up again in August of 2004, while dealing with some internal despair and self-doubt.

This time everything spoke.

And I mean everything.

After more than 400 reads, it still does to this day.

Deepak Chopra's masterpiece "The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success" is ideal for those who need an alternative to "traditional" methods of self improvement, which state you have to work hard, set goals, prioritize and a burning desire in order to be successful. It also happens to be one of those rare books that reads differently each time you pick it up, bringing you unusual clarity to present-day circumstances you are dealing with.

Are you facing a personal or professional dilemma right now that is forcing you to choose which way to turn?

Do you find yourself caught in the swirling confusion of modern-day chaos that makes it difficult to decide which choice is the right one for you?

Chopra argues you and I are infinite choice-makers and every moment represents a field of all possibilities with an infinity of choices. However, since most of our thinking and behaviour anticipates some form of response, those choices tend to be fear-based, often leading to less than desirable results.

Today, David Riklan, founder of, outlines the Seven Spiritual Laws and how they might impact your choices.

Outcomes of situations are determined in advance by the vision that went into solving them. In other words, inner qualities such as peace, clarity and focus determine all results.

Is this the week you discover the "Seven Spiritual Laws" in your own way?

"You can free yourself from aging by reinterpreting your body and by grasping the link between belief and biology"

Friday, February 5, 2010

Monopoly and Moncton

Ever notice how certain words just belong together?

Bacon and Eggs.

Ham and Cheese.

Beer and Pizza.

Batman and Robin

Hall and Oates.

Are you ready to add another to the list?

Monopoly and Moncton.

The most commercially-successful board game in U.S. history, with 485 million players worldwide is about to be Canadianized. And the final vote to get Moncton, NB included on the new Canadian Monopoly game board wraps up this Sunday, February 7th. Only the Top 20 cities will be included, and despite its deep historical connection to the game, Moncton is currently 35th in the rankings.

Often drawing comparisons to the Leafs Cup win in '67 or the Canada-Russia Summit Series in '72, many Monctonians still talk fondly to this day about the climatic finale to the 1975 Greater Moncton Monopoly Championships. With over 100 competitors waging board game warfare at Highfield Square, this elimination event progressed to the point where only four individuals were left standing.

Ready to claim Monopoly glory.


Going into that Final Four match, Vegas oddsmakers were giving a 13-year old Gair Maxwell a better than even chance, not realizing the intellectual and future political juggernaut he was about to run into. Early in that game of destiny it became clear to the young Sunny Brae resident he was being stymied by an unseen, unspoken and most unexpected opponent; a silent cartel formed by the two brothers and cousin who were also at the Final Four Table.

A ruthless gang led by eventual champion Francis Lord and his younger brother, a savvy 9-year old named Bernard, who in 1999 would become the 30th Premier of the Province of New Brunswick.

As you can see, the French press at the time had a field day reporting the news of that fateful Final Four match with coverage in the now defunct L'Evangeline newspaper. While sitting as Premier, Lord took time out of his schedule one day to forward a digital copy of the clipping saved by his grandmother to ensure his family's championship legacy.

Although the emotional scars of that setback have long since healed on my end, the 1975 Greater Moncton Monopoly Championships played a key role in helping a 13-year old boy understand that sometimes life isn't fair, that sometimes the dice just won't roll your way, and that sometimes you are going to run into not one, but two politically wise brothers and a cousin from Dieppe who can stonewall your attempts to get the most prized possessions on the Monopoly board.

Since Charles Darrow patented the game in 1935, approximately 750 million people have played the game of Monopoly, learning to Pass "GO", collect 200-dollars and hopefully be the first person to build houses and hotels that can put the other players out of business.

Interestingly, Darrow himself only invented the game after losing his job at a sales company following the Stock Market Crash of 1929. By 1934, he was selling copies in long white boxes to Wanamaker's Department Store in Philadelphia. Later that year, Darrow showed the game to Parker Brothers who rejected the game for 52 "fundamental errors", which included the game's length and complexity.

Eventually Parker Brothers said "yes" to Monopoly.

And now you need to say "yes" to Monopoly and Moncton.

"The first Monopoly game I played with my brothers, I hated losing so much, I just had to beat them"

p.s. ...Want some inside info on "How to Win at Monopoly"?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wings of Success

WestJet has done it again.

The Calgary-based airline - famous for creating a "seamless brand"- has been inducted into Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures Hall of Fame at a recent awards gala hosted by Waterstone Human Capital.

For the last four years, WestJet has claimed top spot in Waterstone's study of Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures. The program recognizes Canadian companies for having a culture that helps them take flight and achieve great financial results and competitive advantage.

On track to become one of the world's five most profitable international airlines, WestJet attributes corporate culture as the wind beneath its wings.

Interesting to note that Canada's most-admired corporate cultures also outperform the rest when it comes to dollars and cents.

"The performance of Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures of 2009, in terms of three-year compounded annual revenue growth, has significantly outpaced the S&P/ TSX by an average of over 300% --or three times," says Marty Parker, managing director of Waterstone Human Capital, a Toronto-based executive search and human capital consulting firm that has been running the program since 2005.

Results of the 2009 Canadian Corporate Culture Study show that 82% of respondents said that "leading by example" is a key strategy used to align culture. Furthermore, when it comes to hiring, 75% of executives surveyed said that cultural fit is more important than necessary skills.

In case you were wondering, here, in alphabetical order, are Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures of 2009:

Acklands-Grainger Inc.
Aviva Insurance Company of Canada
Ceridian Canada Ltd.
Corus Entertainment
Fairmont Hotels and Resorts
GoodLife Fitness
Medavie Blue Cross
Starbucks Coffee Canada
Walmart Canada

The special category award recipients for 2009 are:

Mount Sinai Hospital (Most Admired Corporate Culture – Public Sector)
Enbridge Inc. (Most Admired Corporate Culture – Energy and Natural Resources)
Workopolis (Most Admired Corporate Culture – Best Emerging Organization)
Whole Foods Market (Most Admired Corporate Culture – The Green Award)

"The great paradox of the 21st century is that, in this age of powerful technology, the biggest problems we face internationally are problems of the human soul"

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Motorvationally Speaking: "Hundred Watt Leadership"

At an early age, Paul became curious about the principles of personal development and factors that create success.

He started experimenting with goal-setting and applied what he learned to his chosen career of professional sales, becoming a millionaire by the age of 27.

It was then Paul realized the rest of the world needed to know his formula and in 1966, he formed Leadership Management International to help people transform ideas into goals and goals into phenomenal success. Based in Central Texas, LMI has evolved into an extensive, far-reaching organization with materials produced in 23 languages and marketed in more than 60 countries worldwide.

In Fredericton, NB, there is someone who is taking Paul Meyer's message to the market with high voltage enthusiasm. Like a one-hundred watt light bulb, Kathy radiates energy whenever the subjects of leadership and personal excellence are on the table.

Today on TSB, we get up close and personal with New Brunswick's "First Lady of LMI" ... Kathy Watt!

"Motorvationally Speaking", on CHCD TV, is a weekly, internet-based show focused on people who embrace the power of positive thinking. The guests may not always be famous, but they are always enlightening, and each one of them has an interesting story to tell. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome as we aim to inspire, educate and motorvate.

"Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort"

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Choice Overload

Each day when you wake up in the morning, you have choices to make.

Today's post is but one example.

Of the millions of blogs available through the magic of cyberspace, you can either choose to fully read and absorb this one, or discard it with a single click. You can also choose to quickly skim or plunge into the depths of this subject matter called "Choice".

Never before in the history of human kind have you had so many options before you. Naturally, you can be forgiven for thinking more choice means better options, but an excessive number of choices can create unrealistically high expectations, and make you blame yourself for any and all failures.

In the long run, this can lead to decision-making paralysis, made worse by a culture that insists there is no excuse for falling short of perfection when your options are limitless. According to best-selling author Barry Schwartz, overloading us with options, in everything from education, sex and religion to cars, cocktails or clothing, more choices can mean less freedom.

"Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it's always your choice"

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Gift Called Validation

Every once in a while, the video says it all.

There is no need to compose text to help frame a message.

Because what you will absorb will become self-evident.

"When I was 13, I told Henry Winkler I wanted to act. He said, Do it and don't let anyone stand in your way. His validation just made it all the more true. I haven't stopped thanking him since"