The day the doctor told me I had diabetes

This post is sponsored by Ascensia Diabetes Care Canada Inc.

I remember the first day my doctor told me, “You have diabetes”.  I asked him again, because I didn’t believe it. “What does that mean?” He said I would likely have it the rest of my life, and my eating habits and lifestyle would have to change, forever.

It didn’t sink in for a week. But, here’s the thing… numbers don’t lie.

As a former engineer and brand marketer, I get the importance of numbers and tracking. So when I first visited my diabetes specialist, I would compare all the numbers: blood sugar, A1c, LDL/HDL cholesterol, Triglycerides, etc. It is how measuring became so important to me.

But, I still struggled with improving my eating habits and increasing my fitness levels. Measuring morning glucose levels wasn’t enough, and eventually I stopped the practice altogether. I simply relied on my doctor appointments every three to four months to “whip me into shape”, but that rarely happened.

In this video, I share a bit of my story and how I’m working towards improving my health journey.

I started using the CONTOUR® NEXT ONE smart meter awhile back, and really began to appreciate the power of numbers and meaningful information. I enjoyed the extra bells and whistles of the tool itself, everything from the colour coding to the historical information. But then came the CONTOUR® Diabetes App…

The My Patterns feature has been vital in providing me with richer information. It uses behavioral science, which helps adjust my behavior in a positive way. For someone who struggles with this, I am grateful for any digital technology or support system that can help. I love the idea of receiving actionable information in real time, which provides me with the motivation to act.

The new CONTOUR® My Patterns feature, basically uses your test results to understand patterns in your blood sugar readings, and then suggests ways to address it using tools such as reminders or structured testing plans to help improve blood glucose readings. It’s already available for iPhone via IOS and for Android via Google Play.

Ascensia Diabetes Care has partnered again with professional hockey player, Type 1, Max Domi, to launch the newest version of the CONTOUR® Diabetes App, the new My Patterns feature and bring greater awareness to diabetes. Being a life-long hockey fan, I’ve been following Max Domi for a while now, and he’s truly an inspiration. Despite being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at the age of 12, Domi is active on and off the ice, as a champion in the Diabetes community. He is an inspiration to any Canadians living with diabetes, and wanting to achieve their dreams and find success in their lives.

With this partnership, Max will be conducting a Q&A later this year! Send me your questions for Max Domi now for a chance for him to answer! 

If you want more information on the CONTOUR® NEXT ONE Meter and CONTOUR® Diabetes App, please visit www.contournextone.ca.

In the meantime, I shall continue to monitor my progress and use the My Patterns feature in the hopes of empowering and improving my self-management of diabetes. 

#CONTOURpartner #ad

This post is sponsored by Ascensia Diabetes Care Canada Inc.

7 Ways to Pick the Best Brand name for your Business

 Want the next big brand name?

Want the next big brand name?

Many business owners get caught up in the delicacy of choosing the right name to represent their company or idea. Some rush into it because they are so anxious to get the business started and then they realize their business name is lacking. Others spend so much time agonizing over a brand name that perfectly encapsulates their company’s essence that it takes their focus on the most important business needs such as networking, running the day to day operation, and making money.

A great business name clearly tells people who you are, what you do, and what you are all about. It evokes a feeling that connects and is memorable. A fantastic name is an excellent start to building your brand, while a horrible name can cripple you at the starting gate. So what are some important things to consider when creating that name or brand for your business?

1. Keep it simple

Your brand name should be short, easy to pronounce, spell and understand. Too often, business owners feel the need to have an overly descriptive title to their company. A name such as “Srivasnanamians’ GTA Business to Business Advertising Services” breaks several rules at the same time. Ideally you want one word and minimal syllables. If you want to add another word, do it only if you absolutely have to. Alternatively, you can try to think if there is another single word that works better. The world’s most powerful brands such Nike, Google, Apple, and Facebook, have a simplicity that is elegant and powerful.

2. Make it relevant and memorable

Your brand name is more relevant if it lets customers know what you do, if it stands for something, or has a call to action. But even more important is to make your name memorable. This can be done in several ways. Try to come up with something catchy or distinctive. If your name can creatively stick in people’s minds or is one of those words that are repeatable, that sizzle can spread. If you’re business has a completely new offering or has limited competitors, you can be a bit more bold with selecting a name. Something entirely unique or weird can also work. You can use a dictionary and thesaurus, but sometimes a made up name can set you apart from your competitors. Just make sure you follow most of the other rules, as it is impossible to follow all of them.

3. Think long-term

You may be starting out locally, but any forward thinking entrepreneur should set a growth goal that goes much further. Names based on location (e.g. Yorkville Cleaners) or geographic area (e.g. Ontario Paper) severely limits you if you start to have major success. Having to re-brand a name or image costs money and time. The other aspect is your product/service offering. Perhaps you may plan to extend your offerings and your brand name limits you (e.g. Just Lamps!). The stronger a brand name becomes, the better it can offer a broader range of products (e.g. Virgin)

4. Use pro-active language

Language is a tricky thing. Certain words generate an emotion or perception that is either good, bad, or neutral. Whatever branding you pick, the language has to be carefully thought out. Choose words that are positive, pro-active, forward-thinking, inspirational, and engaging. Be also cognizant of current cultural trends that are hot and avoid the ones that are blasé (e.g. Synergy).

5. Research & Brainstorm names

There is nothing like solid research to determine what you like and what you don’t like about both names in market and what your competitors choose for names. Don’t try to pick something similar to your competitors or else you will confuse your customers. When you find a name you love, figure out the root of that name, how the company came up with it or what is so appealing about it. When you brainstorm names, do it first without judgement and then try to springboard off ideas you like. It’s better to have a nice exhaustive list to start before you close in on the names are true winners. This also helps you to avoid names that are so similar that end up with a lawsuit (e.g. McDowell’s vs. McDonald’s)

6. Focus on Customers and not yourself

I’m sure your name sound lovely or it sounds pretty cool to you. But do your customers care? Unless your name IS the brand (e.g. Martha Stewart), try to avoid brand names that use your name, or something relevant/funny only to you and a few others. Similarly initials can be quite appealing, but the best initialled brands in the market have been around forever. If you become as big as RIM or IBM, (and I hope you do!) feel free to change your branding then. Lastly, to avoid your bias, be sure to get tons of feedback from family, friends, potential clients and suppliers.

7. Think Visually

When someone hears your brand, what do they envision? Hopefully the same thing you do! A name that creates a visual image in someone’s mind can be a great connector and incentive. At the same time, how does your name look on paper or in a logo? It needs to be clean, clear, and visually appealing. If you want to come up with a logo too, then the image needs to work well with the brand name. (e.g. Nokia: Connecting People) The visuals must conjure up positive and relevant associations.

Whatever brand name you choose, make it sure it boldly delivers what you want for your business. Ideally your brand will engage your customers and everyone else and you’ll have them begging for more.

Five Easy Steps to Discovering Your Personal Brand

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We've all been talking about Personal Brand Leadership for several years now. It was a relatively obscure concept when I first proposed an idea on it during a networking keynote in 2008. At the time, I was helping networkers understand that every connection could perceive you in a certain way. Now we hear it everywhere. It seems like every presentation and take on Personal Branding varies to some degree. However, the essential insights are the same:

1) Personal Branding is about you being your own corporate brand

2) Personal Branding can be and should be entirely owned by you

3) Personal Branding is an ongoing process and evolves

4) Personal Branding defines how you live and engage both personally and professionally

 

"Great, but how do I figure it out?"

What most people don't talk about is how to figure out what your personal brand is. What is the process? Several months ago, I was sitting with a friend at Starbucks and she was telling me about her struggle to find the right brand for her website. So first I asked her a few basic questions about herself , dove into her feelings and within 30 minutes, we had come up with several Personal Brand elements and a Personal Brand Statement. She looked up at me and said "Wow that was pretty cool....and super-fast!" I said, "Well that is a nice beginning" but thought to myself "How the heck did we just do that?"

Since that time, I have done this for thousands of people and delivered hundreds of talks on how to create your own Personal Brand. The critical piece and belief is to realize is that discovering your Personal Brand takes time, but is a worthwhile investment. When your Personal Brand is aligned with who you are, then every moment of your life both personally and professionally is fulfilling, valued and happy.

Isn't investing 100 hours of your time worth 450,000 hours of happiness?

Isn't the best investment you?

Isn't the best time to invest in you... now?

 

So here is a simple 5-Step recipe to start figuring out what your Personal Brand is.

Step 1: Know Yourself

Self-Assessment is the key piece here. You need to analyze various aspects of who you are, how you behave, what motivates you and what you want to achieve. In particular, you should look at:

a) Personality type

b) Values

c) Interests

d) Skills

e) Experiences both memorable and noteworthy

It is critical here that you are completely and brutally honest with yourself. There are many tools out there to help figure some of the above things out. For example, with personality types I would suggest a combination of several tests like Meyers-Briggs, Strengths Finder and Enneagram. Remember that these tests are just guidelines and they do not define you completely. For the rest you can make a large list, then break it down to your top 10 and then finally rank your top 5.

 

Step 2: Get Feedback

This takes your self-assessment further by getting feedback from real people. Often the way we assess ourselves is not the way others see us. I once did a test called the "Leadership Circle 360° Profile Assessment™. The test specifically showed the gap between my assessment and others, which was very insightful. The quick and easy way is to get feedback from a broad range of people. This could and should include:

a) Family members

b) Co-workers

c) Fellow students

d) Teachers

e) Anyone you have worked for (manager, director, etc.)

f) Anyone that has worked for you when you were a leader or manager

g) Close friends

Ask these people to assess you in the categories mentioned in Step 1. Then also ask them:

1) What are some words or phrases you would use to describe me?

2) What are my top 3 strengths and my top 2 development areas?

3) Can you think of someone famous, historical or fictional that I remind you of?

 

Step 3: Extract commonalities

Now you have to look very carefully at the information you have. First, see if there are any particular words, themes, images and ideas that seem to stand out with your own assessment. Second, look at the feedback for words and themes that describe you. Third, check for any similarities between your assessment and the feedback. Last, look at your experiences and see which ones align best with the words and themes you have extracted.

From these commonalities, you should be able to pick out certain threads within your stories or experiences. Determine what words and themes stand out.

 

Step 4: Hone in on the key elements

Try to come up with a list of your top 5 brand elements. Try to rank them. Then think about the following:

1) What are you best at? (your value)

2) Who do you serve or wish to serve? (your target audience)

3) How do you do it uniquely? (your USP or Unique Selling Proposition)

4) What is your Why? (your purpose, cause or belief that inspires you to do what you do)

Remember that it's okay to revisit the previous steps if you want to dive deeper or want to refine or adjust.

 

Step 5: Develop a Personal Brand Statement

Now you are ready to attempt a Personal Brand Statement. I say 'attempt' because it's not going to happen magically the first try. Just like Neo in the Matrix, his first attempt to do a super jump failed. Eventually you can craft a statement that says who are you, what you do, how you do it and, most importantly, why you do what you do. This statement is the promise delivered to every person you meet. This statement is the main thing that everyone knows about you or gets about you. This statement is likely a consistent piece that most people will agree on. Hopefully you can get something like this.

"Bobby is a meaningful connector who nurtures people to discover their purpose and authentic journey and then help them achieve personal and professional leadership."

Now if you can throw in some nice imagery, emotions or words to help people visualize what your brand is, even better. I liked what I first came up with, but what I love even more is my latest.

"Bobby is the Beacon of Light who Helps 'Lost' Leader-Ships ashore to start an Authentic Path of Passion and Purpose"

Words can be a powerful expression. So too can a personal brand be a powerful beacon for you and others. But most of all, each of you can be a leader. You just need to know who you are, know what you want and then ultimately make that positive impact with your brand, your promise and your legacy.

What Twitter Doubling Its Character Limit Could Mean For The Site

CEO Jack Dorsey recently announced a plan to double the character limit of tweets from 140 to 280.

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Honestly? Our amusing first reaction was, how would Donald Trump react to this? ("Shh! Don't tell him," we imagine some White House staffers said.)

Twitter's challenge

No growth in active users: Twitter growth has slowed down in recent years to a stagnant 328 million active users worldwide. This summer, active user engagement dropped in the U.S. by two million for the very first time.This means businesses will spend less on targeted ads.

Money: The company's 2013 IPO started at $44 a share. Now Twitter shares linger at $17, far below the market success of its former big brother Facebook, which is now more like a Great-Uncle Moneybags. Sluggish Twitter user growth is mostly to blame.

Most importantly, Twitter the company has never turned a profit. It has had to evolve, innovate or die.

Evolution so far

Over the years, Twitter has added many new features both good and bad:

  • Eliminated character counts for links and @handle replies
  • Native video uploads & live streaming via Periscope
  • No DM character limits
  • Mute button for spammers

So, Twitter hasn't been sitting on its hands. They just haven't come up with a game-changer.

That is until now.

Many colleagues and fellow tweeters will disagree. But hear me out! Setting our emotional biases aside and knowing Twitter MUST grow, the new 280 limit can entice more users and engagement. Concurrently, Twitter culture and point of difference of brevity and speed endures. For Twitter, growth is all that matters right now.

Why 280 is good

More space: The biggest tweeter complaint is not enough space. I personally spend time shortening many of my important tweets about politics and social justice. Yes, brevity is good. But character limits are frustrating. Like Twitter says, now there will be less cramming.

Increased tweet value: The biggest gain will be in cogent, well thought-out tweets that can now tell a short story, flush out details of an event or make a stronger argument. Additionally, some of the more inspirational or creative tweeters can share longer, thorough quotes and entire poems, etc.

Core value remains: The core value and benefit of Twitter for thought leadership, event updates and information exchange stays the same.

  1. Responsiveness: Twitter is for the most immediate things happening in the world. The first place we see any breaking news, an earthquake or a World Cup goal score, is Twitter. People respond the most quickly here.
  2. Accessibility: No other social platform has this. I can't send Lady Gaga or Lebron James a personal message on LinkedIn or Facebook. But on Twitter I can directly tweet them (even if they don't read it). Users love this feeling of access.
  3. Brevity: 280 is FAR fewer allowed characters than LinkedIn (1,300), Facebook, (63,206), or Instagram (2,200). Twitter culture still places value on shorter posts. You can still choose to write shorter tweets and many do. In fact, read mybold prediction below.

Evidence-based planning

This idea didn't come from left field. Data shows that Twitter users desire a change like 280. Twitter has been carefully considering how best to attract users and more engagement.

According to their publicized data chart (see below), most Japanese tweeters use only 15 characters and don't hit the maximum that often, while nine per cent of all English tweeters hit the limit. This implies, perhaps not too strongly, that 280 characters doesn't mean English tweeters will max out tweet lengths, but they are cramming the space. I personally do this sometimes, changing tenses, losing punctuation and even taking out verbs (about = abt). I would argue an even higher percentage of users would welcome more space.

Two other important implications are:

  1. Complex language users will likely try Twitter
  2. Busy people will enjoy it more because they're not spending time trying to be so concise.

More time and space will both add users and create more tweet engagement.

Better connection: Isn't this what every social platform wants? Twitter can do the same with the 280 and allow more depth of interaction. @BilalJaffrey said this about the 280:

"It allows better expressions of ideas and this will likely improve engagement and will allow deeper connections."

Why this 280 may be bad

Negative response: Twitter is both brutal and brilliant when it comes to humour.

We have already seen voluminous jokes about how "we hate this," dread about how we "fear change," and pandemonium over "should I stay or should I go," "thanks but no thanks."

Clogging tweets: We may see even more junky tweets. Do people really need to put their signatures in tweets now? Or worse, spam/legal notices!

Users leave: I doubt all the heavy users will leave. If the engagement gets more creative and open, you will see more users join and try it out.

140 is enough! Twitter is doing what Instagram did with video. First, Instagram had video at 15 seconds and then upped it to 60 seconds. They didn't go higher like other platforms. What do we see now on Instagram? Either short five-10-second videos or full 45-60-second videos.

What's next for 280: bold prediction

Given the higher currency in shorter tweets remains, I predict we'll see two main types of tweets.

1, Higher-value short tweets: the one quip, idea or bold statement

2. Longer-form tweet: short story, creative expression, or concise yet detailed arguments.

We do the same thing with texts, either super-short or longer ones. Twitter may eventually large-size the text of shorter tweets like Facebook does. It's a best practice that works and shouldn't be ignored.

Given the above, Twitter will still own the culture of brevity, offer more creative expression and deeper connection, and ultimately bring more users to engage and tweet more often.

Is that a game-changer? You betcha!

Feeling Lost, Stuck or Unfulfilled? It's OK. It's human.

Feeling Lost, Stuck or Unfulfilled

Everywhere I go, I see people who are lost.

When I walk among crowds of people, they seem to be hurrying like busy bees, worker bees to their hives, doing all they can to produce honey. And often times, they are doing it for someone else.

They walk about in a sea of a million lost souls, unfulfilled, unhappy and unresolved.

Often this feeling of lost is hidden.

It’s hidden because we become complacent, we get comfortable, we resign ourselves.

We also fear change, we fear the unknown, we fear even striking the conversation to understand ourselves better.

Once I was lost too.

I was too busy impressing other people, living by others’ expectations of me, building someone else’s dream.

The truth is, I was forced into trying to figure out where I fit in the world, what my purpose was, and what leadership path I should be on.

I failed numerous times, was fired, let go or structured/squeezed out from almost every career job, whether it was engineering, brand marketing, performing arts, or teaching.

I felt lost, alone, a failure.

So I decided to forge my own authentic path of passion and purpose.

I decided to own my past, be more mindful of the present, and embrace a future that excited me.

That is why I dove into my personal brand. I had to understand who I was, what I believed in, what also understand for. I had to build my own story, purpose, and legacy.

I did a deep dive into my values, personality traits, skills, interests, experience stories of my life.

I did my own self-assessment, I got the assessment of others through feedback, I did numerous computerized assessments. I diverged into thousands of words, emotions, ideas, and possibilities.

Then I started to thread together the tapestry of my life. I saw themes that came out. I saw possibilities unravel. I saw my purpose start to take shape and focus.

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When I finally converged into my top personal brand traits and identity, I started to get excited.

As I still walk among the sea of souls, and meet some who are not lost any more although sometimes they still lose their way.

I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to feel lost. We all feel lost sometimes. It’s human.

But it’s not okay to do nothing about it.

You can do something about it.

You can invest in yourself. There is no greater investment.

Are you willing to invest 100 hours of your time in order to get 450,000 hours of happiness?

If you are, then invest in your personal brand.

If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

Join me on this incredible journey of fulfillment, joy and delirious happiness.

If I can help you, I will. If I can't, I will find someone who can.

10 Ways to Boost Your Networking Skills

 A great networking event with friends new and old

A great networking event with friends new and old

Networking is fundamental to how I run my business and how I create relationships. I love Networking because it has given me so many amazing opportunities and experiences in my life and I have met some incredibly inspiring and nurturing individuals with the advent of social media. I learn something each day with every connection. Networking is something we all can use. Networking is something we all need. Networking is something we can all improve upon. So here are my top ten tips to think about Networking.

1) Networking is the new certainty in life, so start learning now.

Benjamin Franklin once said the only two certainties in life are "Death and Taxes". I propose that there are two more -- delivering Presentations and dealing with People. No matter where you go, you are giving presentations at school, at work and at home. Throughout your life you will always need to deal with people whether at home, work or in public. Networking is both presenting and dealing with people. Once you acknowledge and accept this, why not start investing now to become better at it?

2) The 80-20 rule of networking helps you find jobs and opportunities.

They say 80 per cent of jobs and opportunities are found through networking and 20 per cent are not. 20 per cent of people use networking effectively and 80 per cent do not. So if 20 per cent of all people are using networking to get at 80 per cent of all the opportunities, what should you be doing? Networking!

3) Give without expectation.

Networking is not asking for a job and it is not just taking what you can from a connection. My personal philosophy is to give without expectation. I always ask every contact "What can I do to help you?" I give my ear and spend a good amount of time just listening because every person has his/her story. This philosophy will help build up your reputation, integrity and personal brand. That good karma will come back to you.

4) Know your value.

With any networking scenario, there will be give and take. Many people, especially youth, don't realize what value they can provide. Every person has value and it comes from your experiences, your energy and enthusiasm, your personality and your contacts. Beyond that, you should get comfortable with knowing your personal brand and elevator pitch. Take to the time to understand what you bring to the table. Remember that networking is not just "I want to meet you" but also "I want you to meet me".

5) Build the relationships.

Networking is just the start. Your ultimate goal is to build a relationship. That is where the true value of networking comes into play because you will get advice, support, mentorship, and a higher likelihood of opportunities coming your way.

6) Everyone is a bridge.

We forget that every single person we meet can be a bridge to someone else. Perhaps that cashier has an uncle who works at the company you have targeted for a new job? I have discovered opportunities from random meetings in an elevator, a subway seat and a New Year's Eve party. Know that you can network anywhere, anytime with anyone!

7) Networking strategies are great, but learn the tactics.

Every networking article talks about the typical strategies - have business cards, create your pitch, have a plan, etc. But very few talk about actual tactics. You need to learn how to enter a conversation, ask the right questions and leave the conversation. The best tactic to enter a conversation is to use your "power words" such as "Hi!", "Excuse me...", "Sorry to interrupt..." and "Pardon me..." These words will get you into any conversation. Just make sure you are clear and loud enough to be heard. You should also ask open-ended questions such as "what are you passionate about" and "where do you see yourself in 10 years". These questions invest, engage and open up the conversation. When you need to leave, again use your power words from above and mention the next step you'd like to take (e.g. e-mail, call, coffee, LinkedIn connection, etc.).

8) Leverage Online Networking is now expected, so build a compelling presence and brand.

Social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+ are huge right now. Start building your profiles in these spaces if you are there. If you are not sure where to be, think about who you want to network with. For example if the majority of the people and companies you admire are engaging on LinkedIn and Facebook then you need to be there. Having a strong profile, responding to articles and updates, and connecting with people you have networked with will build your online personal brand.

9) Not following-up renders networking useless!

So often people exchange business cards and never contact each other. Or they add each other on LinkedIn and the networking dies there. Remember you are building a relationship and you want to be memorable. Following up is critical to making networking work effectively. In fact, by following up you are setting yourself apart from most networkers. I once spoke about networking at a national conference of 500 young entrepreneurs. I personally asked them all to take my business card and contact me. 75 people took my card, 21 people followed up and only 2 maintained a relationship with me. So you can either be in the top 15 per cent of taking a card, the top 4 per cent who actually follow-up or the top 0.4 per cent who created a relationship. Where do you want to be?

10) You gotta want it!

Networking, like leadership, is something you have to want and demonstrate. This mean you have to do everything -- be prepared, plan your questions, rehearse your tactics, offer to help, use social networking, follow-up and build the relationship -- to make an impact with networking. The person that called and e-mailed me 7 times in order to get a coffee meeting finally got one, because he got my attention. The person that waited for 30 minutes while I was talking to dozens of people after my keynote then got me for one-on-one for 10 full minutes. The student who offered to help me with a project eventually got hired for a job and then later I recommended her for another job. The more you want it, the more you will do and the more you will find success with networking.

Don't Just Hustle For Life. Hustle FOR A Life!

On a recent birthday, I shared some raw honesty — I think I am at best exactly at the halfway point of my life, if not beyond it. Meaning… I truly don’t believe I will get past 84 years of age. But the time is right now to change all of that. I’ll share with you some of the how and why.

I decided to spend the entire birthday mostly off social media, especially Facebook, even though I am huge extrovert and a social beast by nature. It was hard, because ironically I spent much of this ‘special’ day alone. I had a birthday party last night so all is good. However, I remember that last year I had the same problem, where I spent almost the entire birthday alone. My wife was at work, the kids were at school/daycare and then that evening I had to go teach a class. Ultimately, it made me realize that I tend to spend too much time on social networks to feed my affection for connection.

I recently started a journey called #FitInMyLife, as a means to do more things that are healthy and fit in my life. This was prompted by a very personal and brutally honest post I did on Facebook called “WTF is Wrong with Me?” 

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I started really turning my life around with the healthy eating and fitness plan. I got a personal trainer, worked out 3 times a week, starting doing more cooking every night and shopping for more food a few times per week. Most recently, I started doing Hot Yoga twice a week. The results have been great and my mind is slowly shifting in the right direction. Now I believe I can and will get past 84 years of age. Yet this is also not the point of my post.

You see, #FitInMyLife became more than just health. As I spent almost an extra 10 hours a week doing this, I was losing time and energy on all the other things I was used to doing. I reflected on how precious our time is. I realized there were so many things I wanted to #FitInMyLife – family time, friends, travel, culture, business, career, etc. I’ve been hustling all my life to fit all these things and for the most part, I am tired of hustling for life. I want to start hustling for a life.

Leadership for me these days is about learning, evolving, growing and changing for the better to make positive impact on myself, others and the world. But it starts with me. I have spent 40+ years learning. I am a “learn by doing” type of a learner. Now I want to take my life to the next level. A big part of this journey is focus and eliminating activities that do not help you achieve your vision (a la 4-hour workweek). Here are some things I have observed to help you Hustle For A Life.

1) Create business systems that generate revenue while you sleep

I thought I had solved my biggest problem when I left the corporate world. I was like okay no more ‘working for the man, because now I am the man’. The attitude was based on the idea that maybe I shouldn’t spend my life hustling for another company, making them millions of dollars while I work long, crazy-ass hours, stressed and giving up on the things I truly value in my life.

“… and it’s not about money and popularity. Although, some money would be nice.” – Jeff Bebe, Almost Famous

I spent almost a decade exchanging my work, sweat and expertise for pay, benefits and ‘security’. Nevertheless, I knew that the Top 5 Regrets of the Dying had nothing to do with my title nor how successful I was for a company. Thus, I became an entrepreneur with the idea that the world was my oyster; I could grow my business beyond anything the corporate world could pay me.

Big problem….I am still exchanging time, sweat and expertise for pay and entrepreneurial benefits (like freedom, flexibility and control). I am still hustling for the next keynote, the next workshop, the next gig. While I am proud of some of the successes I have had, after 7 years, I am getting tired of this kind of hustle.

When my new GMAT book finally came out, I realized that the crazy amount of work I put into it – about 5 months and 1000+ hours, that I often regretted or doubted – was actually going to pay off WAY more than I realized. Aside from promoting my book from time to time, it was actually going to earn revenue for me in the next 3-5 years. Then the next book ‘revision’ would require less time and this would also continue to earn revenue while I sleep for more years to come.

So….THE BEST way to Hustle For A Life is to create business systems that generate money while you sleep. There are many ways to do this, the GMAT book being the best example. But even better, anyone can do this! Why? How? Because we all have expertise, experience and stories, we all have supporting connections and we all have desire to live the life that we truly want. So isn’t it worth it to invest in this type of endeavour? Isn’t the life you want to live worth investing in now? If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

2) Reduce the amount of TV you watch

I grew up as a TV junkie. That is why I know every theme song to TV shows from the 70’s, 80’s and some 90’s. I watch about 20-30 hours of TV per week. Even when I started my career, after dinner, it was my way to relax. But did I really need to watch from 7pm to midnight?! Even now on Social Media, everyone is talking about that latest episode of Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Bachelor, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, and heck even the Kardashians. I get it, TV shows are fun, many of them are even high quality and sure don’t you deserve a break? We all do, which is why I do watch TV via my PVR – shows like The Daily Show or Big Bang Theory, etc. I also referenced TV in our older post called “5 Ways to Waste Your Summer.” However, let us look at the numbers. If you watch 20 hours of TV per week on average, over 10 years that works out to 10,400 hours or 433.3 DAYS. If you cut your TV amount by half, you will gain 217 DAYS (that’s 24 hour days) of your life in the next 10 years. We’re not talking your whole life just the next 10 years. What can you do with all that extra time? See point #1. If you hustle for a life, then you can go back to watching whatever you want as much as you want.

3) Consider reducing the Cancer of Commuting

So many of my friends commute. They come home tired, they are stressed during the commute, and they resolve doing it because of the trade-off for a something like a nice house. I get the need and value of a nice house and a big yard. However, think about the numbers again. If you commute daily around 45 minutes (some do much longer) each way, over 10 years you will spend 156.25 DAYS commuting. Again, I reiterate that’s 24-hour days. If you cut that to 15 minutes, you will gain 104.2 DAYS over the next 10 years. If you have my commute of 8 seconds, well then you gain almost 150 days. Aside from reducing stress, lessening havoc on the environment, reducing fatigue too often when you get home, and having time to take on an extra-curricular on a weeknight, what can you do with all that time? See point #1. If you hustle for a life, then you can have the big home and spacious backyard and never have to commute again.

4) Take a Hard Look at Other Time Wasters

Everyone knows that I am one of the biggest culprit with this one, especially these days with Social Media. Back in University, I was called “The Procraster Master” because of my subtle skill of procrastination, which I turned into an art form. I left everything to the last minute. In fact, I was often amazed at what I could get done in such a short period of time when I truly focused. Imagine if I could put that same focus in my daily routine.

The average person spend 22.4 hours per week on Social Media. I am sure my number is much higher, maybe over 30+ hours. If we all can reduce our usage by 10 hours per week, we again gain 217 DAYS in the next 10 years.

The other big time waster is that ‘in-between’ phase of every single task, meeting or plan we have. If I finish a task with 40 minutes before my next meeting, I will likely waste that time. Alternatively, if I have 90 minutes to do something that takes only 70 minutes, I will ‘create space’ and just do it in the 90 minutes. If we log our time during the week, I’m sure we’d find at least 5-10 hours of waste that can be controlled. Let’s say 5 hours and we end up gaining 108 DAYS in the next 10 years. What can you do with all that extra time? See point #1. If you hustle for a life and eliminate waste, you can spend more time doing the things you love.

5) Try Integration (and/or Automation)

I miss my friends. I miss my kids sometimes too. I miss doing fun things. I miss travelling. It’s hard to fit it all in my life. However, we can use integration as a way to do two (or three!) things at once. For example

– Laundry with the kids. We make it a game. The learn responsibility, they have fun, we spend time together and I get it done

– Bath time and grandparents. Grandma and Grandpa live on the west coast. They miss their grandkids and we miss talking with them. But the kids need to have a bath, so we bring the iPad and Skype all together. It’s funny, enjoyable and most of the time it works. On days it doesn’t, we spend dinner talking with them like a family around the table.

– Lunch gatherings. Every time I go to Vancouver, I have an open lunch to invite my contacts to connect. It’s a great way to see 5-10 (or more!) different people all within a few hours.

– Baby-paloozas. Instead of going to the play-land or the beach with one set of parent friends and their kids, why not invite a few sets? Last summer we went camping with 4 families and it was a great way to spend time together, catch-up, and bond with more than one family.

– Travel together. We went out east and got grandparents to join us. I once went to Cuba and coordinated with friends to come along.

 

There are so many more ways to integrate. You can also automate your business and work by outsourcing, such as housekeeping, accounting, assistants, etc. But that only works if you have the money. Overall, integration probably saves another 4 hours per week. That’s a gain of 87 DAYS over the next 10 years. What can you do with all that extra time? See point #1. If you hustle for a life and integrate, you can spend more time with your kids, family, friends and travelling. You can also have more money to pay for automation.

“Men for the sake of getting a living forget to live.” ~Margaret Fuller

So where does this leave us? If you add it all up, we can create 733 DAYS — that’s 24-hour days people — in our next 10 years. That’s 2 YEARS of time in the next 10. What can you do with all that extra time? Here’s an idea: Create business systems that generate revenue while you sleep! So invest the time that’s worth investing and live the life you dream of. You can hustle FOR A life instead of hustling for life. Otherwise you might just hustle yourself out of a life.

Bobbylosophies: Personal philosophies on life

I have gone through periods of reflection at several key points in my life and this fall was one of them. I thought I would share some wisdom from everything I have learned from many years and many connections. These are just some things to think about as you go through the most impactful times of personal growth (i.e. high school to university to post-grad to career and family). 

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Be Passionate!
Alot of people think they are passionate, but are they really? Too often they say in their resume, or in conversations that they are, but in the end, they are not. I truly believe Passion is a rare quality. This was one of the first questions I asked you and I ask of others. Passionate people get out there and really make a difference. They speak up. They think positive. They take risks. They look for solutions rather than complaining. They motivate others by their leadership. Think of some solid examples of people who stand out in this way. Then ask yourself if you are doing the same among your own peers. Be passionate and stand out!

Communicate more
We can all communicate better. We can communicate more often than we should. We can all communicate more positively, more effectively, more tactfully, and with more active listening. Most important though is that you should always communicate, especially when you are not certain. Ask questions, start a discussion, encourage others to open up. Lack of communication is a root cause for conflict, whether its personal relationships or global relations between nations. One example is when you are not sure what a person is thinking or means when they say something. So you just go about being upset on an unfounded assumption. It's not much to ask for clarity or to over-communicate. I used to make judgements or act based on what I thought people were thinking and I would get misled, because noone truly knows what another is thinking. Communication is also very uplifting. If you have a compliment, give it. If you feel like saying something positive or noteworthy, share it. If you are not sure whether to say something positive about someone or something, just say it. Overall, more communication leads to better understanding and connection. 

Always think the best of people
Whenever I have a bad first impression, or I have a fight or disagreement, or someone makes a mistake, or someone hurts my feelings, or I am feeling awkward with someone, my first reaction is to think the best of them. This is very hard to do. It's important because we have no idea about the background behind why things happen. Our normal reaction is to get mad, fight back, hold a grudge, become negative and then look for more reasons to be even more negative. We all makes mistakes and don't always plan for things to go awry. Think positive, try to think first of positive reasons why the situation occurred. This makes it easier to resolve conflict, forgive mistakes, and acknowledge our own. But best of all, we think even better of the ones who do wonderful things for us! Here is a small example. For example, if your mom gets angry with you because she says you don't listen to her advice on how to raise your kid. Instead of lashing out at her, think about where she is coming from, how much she loves you and her grandchild, and how it would feel if you gave genuine advice that seemed to be ignored. You can take your mom's actions to be a positive step to communication and respond by communicating with the same love, respect, and understanding that you would want for yourself.

Know Yourself
It's fascinating to see all these quizzes and surveys we do for ourselves to figure out who we are. Trust me when I say that you are not defined by a facebook quiz that asks you 5 questions and then determines what kind of Glee character you are. :) However, you should take time to understand everything about yourself both positive and negative. You can use the positive to improve the lives of others and you can address the negative to improve yourself. You should also know how you behave and treat other people. Once you have this, you can then understand others better, how to relate to them, and know what drives them. Since we are always changing, this is a good exercise to do every year.

We need people
You may be fiercely independent, a do-it-yourselfer, a take charge person, very talented, an expert in your field, focused on achieving your goals, and want to be a leader or a person who has impact.. Regardless you need to people to get you there. So it's important to network and connect. But you should also try inter-dependence, work with others, empower others to take charge, share your talents and seek new ones, collaborate, think about other people's goals, and give back as a leader. Even if you are an introvert and shy, you know that working with and communicating or presenting to people is a big part of life, so you should start practicing. The longer you go avoiding people or not treating people right the harder it will be to change yourself and to change the personal brand that you have created with others. So be nice to everyone, listen, admit your mistakes, stay positive, ask questions, be genuine and honest, and treat people with care, love, and respect.

Give genuinely
I am big believer in giving without expectation. Expecting things after having done something nice is eventually going to lead to hurt or disappointment. Focus your energies on how great it feels to give, teach, help, support, and be there for whomever needs it like your friends, family, partner, work, and school. They payback will come around and if it doesn't then ask yourself "what was I expecting and did I not enjoy the giving aspect?". There are so many opportunities to give to others and in so many ways. This applies to people you care about but also people you do not care for (like that evil Physics teacher) or do not know (like the homeless). Giving needs to be genuine and sincere otherwise it may also lead to negativity. This means that it's okay to say no once in a while.

Think, Reflect, and Learn
Alot of people talk about their pet peeves. I try to avoid this, but if I had to choose something that bothers me, it's when people do not think, reflect, and learn. Usually it's because they lack openness. This occurs often in politics, which is something I am passionate about. One reason I like Obama is that he thinks thoughfully and genuinely. I really encourage you all to really take the time to think about situations and issues that are both global and close to home.. You should also think and reflect about the things you say, things you do, and the things you believe. It is an ongoing process, but the rewards are amazing for your personal and professional growth. It will help you to make better connections, prioritize what is important to you, be open to new and different ways of thinking, embrace your mistakes, and achieve the balance in your life that will truly make you happy.

Find Balance
One of my personal philosopher role models was Aristotle. He wanted to learn about every topic in life during his time. So he became an expert in history, philosophy, math, astronomy, etc. Now today that is hard, but I still try to learn as much as I can about aspect of life out there. However, to me what is more important is balance. There was one time I worked so hard that I would develop ulcers. I clearly didn't balance my health. Another time, I got addicted to TV and let my school and relationships falter. Life is precious and so is your time. If you know your priorities you fit them all in. If you spend too much time obsessing about one thing or activity, it is to the detriment of other things. So you need to think about how you want to balance your school, social life, family, health, spirituality, extra-curriculars, etc. My health was one of the last priorities I was able to work on balancing and I am hopeful that this re-shifting of priorities will not only benefit me, but also my little son Nyal .

You Define your own Happiness
Life is stressful. Bad things happen. You will not always get your way. Everyone puts pressure on you, including yourself. You can deal with things positively or negatively, but it's up to you. How you deal with things will define you as the person you will become. Remember that YOU define your own happiness. You are not responsible for how other people react to your decisions. As much as everyone tells you what to do, how to behave, which school to go to, who you should marry, where you should live, what career you should have, they DO NOT have final say. YOU do. You are the only person who knows best what will make you happy both now and in the future. If you stay true to what you believe and want, the people that really matter will always be there and they will be happy for you eventually. Why? Because they can only watch you be deliriously happy for so long until they start to feel good to! Your happiness will infect others!

So....
Follow your Passions
Communicate positively
Think the best of people
Know yourself
Embrace the gift of people
Give without expectation
Think, reflect, and learn from this world
Find the balance that is right for you
And you shall find the happiness that is so rightfully yours to own, however you may define it. You deserve it and you can do it! 
 

Taking the Leap into Entrepreneurship

Taking the Leap into Entrepreneurship

 Starting a business can be a scary thing. You give up the stability of a steady income with benefits. You put your career on hold. You sacrifice significant time and energy for the first several years just to get up to your former corporate salary. You enter a risky area where most people fail within five years. So the real question should be, “Is it worth it?” I am here to say yes! Here”s how to make it happen.

7 Things That Helped Justin Trudeau Pull Off a Historic Win

On Oct. 19, 2015, the Liberal Party, led by Justin Trudeau won the Canadian federal election with a historic majority win. What was most remarkable about the victory was not only how it surpassed all predictions, expectations and forecasts but also how large the gain was.

In the previous 2011 election, the Liberals were dealt a staggering defeat. With only 34 of the 308 available seats, their worst result in history relegated them to third party status for the first time since confederation.

This time was different. For much of the 78-day campaign, again one of the longest in history, all three major parties were in a tight three-way race. The last projection by the CBC poll tracker suggested 146 seats for the Liberals.

Yet on Election Day, a red wave took over, surprising everyone. Trudeau's Liberals first swept all 32 seats in the Atlantic Provinces, signalling a new momentum. They eventually won 39.5 per cent of the popular vote, 184 seats of the available 338, which was a phenomenal gain of 150 and a majority. This was also pretty much met the CBC poll tracker's best case scenario of 185. Not only did Liberals usurp many Conservative ridings, but also NDP strongholds.

So how did this happen? Here are seven key aspects of what lead to this dominant win and red wave of support.

1) Need for Change + Anti-Harper Sentiment = Red Wave

Typically, governments that have been around for at least two mandates generate whispers among the electorate for change. In the 2011 election, when Stephen Harper was going for his third mandate, there was already strong anti-Harper sentiment. This time the feeling was reaching profound levels. We saw social movements around the hashtag #StopHarper (and a few harsher ones), youth engagement events and even bands such as Blue Rodeo writing anti-Harper songs. People were looking for a clear alternative. They were organizing strategic voting initiatives, engaging in debate and encouraging everyone to vote.

The voter turnout was much higher than before. During advance polling, about 3.6 million ballots were cast over a four-day period -- an increase of 71 per cent over advance ballots in the 2011 election. The final voter turnout was 68 per cent compared to 61 per cent the previous election. One could even argue that results from the Atlantic of Liberal dominance in the east may have affected voting in the west (this of course is a flaw in our current system, but I digress).

This momentum for change, to remove Harper and to rally strategically around one solid alternative were key reasons for his success.

2) Trudeau Stayed Positive (Sunny Ways)

One of Harper's defining political strategies were his negative attack ads. He had great success with similar ads before on the last two leaders Michael Ignatieff and Stephane Dion. He poked fun at Trudeau's hair and tried to position him as "not ready" or with little experience. However, even NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, who was the front-runner when the campaign began, put out his own negative ads against both Harper and Trudeau.

Trudeau was the only one of the three major party leaders who did not go negative. This set him apart and resonated with the electorate who were tired of the same divisive politics. He virtually ignored and dismissed the rhetoric about his hair and so-called inexperience, even using humour as a tool to poke fun at himself. Ironically, it was reminiscent of Jack Layton's "love is better than anger" credo that helped him with his own orange wave in 2011.

Trudeau also reached out to his conservative neighbours and looked to unify Canadians with his message. He called out the divisive niqab issue and barbarian cultural practices hotline as playing politics of fear, which most Canadians agreed with. During his victory speech, Trudeau mentioned Abraham Lincoln's "we are not enemies, but friends" mantra and Wilfrid Laurier's philosophy of "sunny ways" as a motivating factor.

3) The Longer Campaign Actually Worked in His Favour

When Harper first launched the longer election campaign, most strategists saw this as an advantage to Harper. Indeed, had the election been shorter, we may have seen a much different result. However, this length played well to Trudeau's campaign, who had started out in third place.

After a slow start, a mediocre first televised debate and trying to shake off his Bill C-51 support, Trudeau started to find his groove. He listened, learned and grew more comfortable with the process, people and political game. He willingly changed his economic position to take on a deficit, which undercut Mulcair's balanced budget approach. During the last two debates, Trudeau hit some home runs. The final debate on foreign policy impressed many and was the first signal of a turnaround. Ultimately, the other two party leaders underestimated his ability to come up from third place.

4) Consistency of Message and Brand

One of the primary ways to break through any marketing clutter is brand consistency. Keeping the message and answers consistent will eventually hit the intended target. Even when taking a beating over his Bill C-51 support, once Trudeau explained why he made that choice, he explained it the same way repeatedly. He maintain a consistent positive energy, fresh demeanour and poise. He even allowed the media to ask whatever they wanted, which was another great way to get his message across.

5) Strongest Social Media Presence

Being a social media aficionado myself, I was looking to see how the political machines would use this powerful medium. For example, I noticed far more sponsored messages from Liberals than other parties did. One of Trudeau's main sponsored ads simply asked: "Thinking about voting Liberal or not? Yes or no, click here." This was targeted at both Liberal supporters, those on the fence and even voters who wanted to say "no."

Additionally, Trudeau gladly made himself available for selfies, photos, videos and more. The Liberal party created many other quotable memes, videos and photos, leveraging their virality in a stronger way than the other parties could.

6) Key Memorable Moments and One-Liners

One of the hardest things to do is catch voters' attention and cut through the noise with either memorable moments (that are shared virally) or zingers. Trudeau won with both.

During a debate he defended his father, former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, in an eloquent speech. Justin Trudeau had not brought him up much, for fear of being construed as "just Trudeau's son, nothing more." Nevertheless, it was a powerful moment and Trudeau continued with more key and memorable moments such as:

  • Reaching out and promoting unity, also seen in a meme: "Conservatives are not our enemies, they are our neighbours."
  • In a video, reprimanding his own people when they booed a reporter: "Hey, guys. We have respect for journalists in this country. They ask tough questions and they're supposed to."
  • In an interview with VICE News addressing the youth vote where he said: "I'd love for you guys to vote Liberal, but I don't even care, as long as you vote."
  • Finally in a quote that was shared via video and meme: "We don't need to convince them to leave the Conservative party, we just need to show them how Stephen Harper's party has left them."

7) Young, Personable and Real

As much as the Conservative attack ads made fun of Trudeau's hair, it does not hurt that he is young, attractive and personable. He has a unique charm, much like his father and has established a leadership brand that is accessible, authentic and real. This resonated with millennials, most of whom were looking for regime change and someone newer and closer to their vision of Canada.

He showed a great knack for listening, no matter who was talking him, whether they were youth, media or seniors. Before the election, a video of him went viral, where he was engaging an anti-marijuana critic. She turned out to be the spouse of an assistant to former Conservative Public Safety Minister Vic Toews. Trudeau was willing to embrace his vulnerability and make himself available to all.

Is Hindsight 20-20?

The Liberals led by Trudeau have a lot work ahead of them, but their surprising victory may not be the upset we all thought it was. When you combine a growing need for change with a fresh, newer face, who brings a positive, unifying and consistent message, we can see how the red wave momentum was waiting for us. Perhaps many of us did not see it because this election fired up many negative emotions and divisiveness. However, most Canadians saw right through that. The people of Canada were the one who lit the fire and fanned the flames across the country on election night.