Friday, October 28, 2011


For the last few years I have participated in the Hallow's Eve trail race on the North Shore. It's a great race. The start is moderately challenging as you climb up a few small hills before heading into the trails. On the first hill I couldn't help but think, this never gets easier. No matter how many times I complete this race or train on the course, it's always work. What would it be like to be a good runner? These thoughts were immediately followed by what I would like to call an "aha" moment, but maybe should be called a "duh" moment.

I work hard to be able to participate in the events that I do. I will never be the type of athlete that can just show up and do well. My improvements have happened slowly and over many years. My "aha" moment came in the form of the thought, even if I was a good runner, that wouldn't mean it would be easy (duh).

Have you ever seen a winner cross a finish line that looks like they haven't given it their all. No. You know why? Because even if you're good at something, you still have to work at it and just because you're good, doesn't mean it's easy. You may have more of a natural affinity but if you don't work to cultivate your talent it won't take you anywhere.

A lot of people are good at a lot of things, but it's the people who put forth the effort that see the results. Nothing ever comes easy, not even if you're good.

~ Sasha

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Amazing TOP SECRET of the Fitness Industry;

I have spent a lot of time listening to people’s latest and greatest ‘tricks’ for getting skinny and, quite frankly, it is making me a little bit crazy. I want to share a secret with everyone reading this post. Here it comes: regular exercise and proper diet will get you in shape and keep you healthy. I know it is an amazing revelation that I am sharing today and it appears that this is a difficult “secret” for many to grasp. I am going to delve into a couple of myths in the fitness industry over the next few weeks. My first victim is the low carbohydrate and extremely low calorie diet.

There are many low carbohydrate diets out there and it seems they all get their fifteen minutes of fame. I have recently come across the latest “miracle” in weight loss - the ‘800-calorie a day, no exercise’ diet. This diet consists of eating 800-1000 calories a day with very few carbohydrates. Because this dieter would most likely pass out if they attempted any physical activity, this is also a “no exercise” diet. It has to be! The list of things wrong with this line of thought is so long I am just going to limit it to the low-carb and no-activity aspects of this particular spectacle.

The first and most important thing for every reader on this post to do is to look up ‘beta-oxidation’, the process in which fats are burned. I will not go into great detail here, but the most essential thing for a no-carbohydrate dieter to know is that, without carbs, you cannot burn fat. It simply becomes impossible. The initial reaction the body will have is to lose weight and I am sure more than one reader will note that, if you cut out all carbohydrates, you will have nothing left to burn but proteins and fats. While this first step is true and pounds will be lost, it will also be short-lived. The body does not buy into the tricks we throw at it for very long. Our metabolism will slow. Our body will go into emergency panic mode and start storing fat as quickly as it can because it becomes all-too-aware of that it is being deprived.

The “no activity” aspect of this particular diet is especially troubling. Delving into the many reasons why physical activity is so important would encourage me into a tirade that I could carry for months so I am not going to go that route. Instead I will consider the philosophy behind this method. Is the most important thing really to just be as skinny as possible? Is weight loss really more important than health? If so, at what cost? I know a way to get skinny very fast without exercise or diet… take up crack and I guarantee you will lose a whole lot of weight. Fast! Of course, it would be absurd to totally commit yourself to a horrible drug in order to lose weight, but really how far away from intentionally starving ourselves is this type of diet?

When we look at making changes in our health and fitness strategies, we should first ask ourselves a few critical questions. 1. Is it a sustainable change? 2. Is this going to make me healthier? 3. What am I willing to give up in order to obtain my goal? If you are willing to give up health and long-term sustainability, then all bets are off. Chop a leg off to lose weight or start smoking crack to fit into that bikini, but, if you would like to become healthy and fit and stay that way for life, then you are choosing to go with the “secret”. If you eat a proper and balanced diet and exercise regularly, you will lose weight and be healthy. I know this seems silly-simple and, frankly, it is. The problem is that eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly is not always easy, but, in case you haven’t checked, neither is starving yourself. So pick your path. Long term sustainable health or a quick weight loss while sacrificing your health and long-term success. What will it be?

~ Yoshia

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Responding to the call...

If you haven't already, you are going to get the call.

"Hello Jane, this is your [boss/parent/coach/teammate/friend/spouse/potential] calling. I have a great opportunity for you, and all I need you to do is earn it by championing your own cause A right through to Z".

Let me correct myself. You are going to get a call, but you may not hear it, and the instructions are likely not going to be anywhere as clear as above.

Your call could be a stranger who needs change.
It could be a boss asking you to work over the weekend (who would see you as a doer if you say yes with a 'no problem' attitude)
It could be your friend asking you to help them move
It could be an investment that may seem risky
It could be a day with nothing on the agenda that offers a perfect opportunity to improve your fitness...

The fact is, we receive THOUSANDS of calls per day.
Most of us miss most of those calls.

We're too busy making less important calls,
or we're busy complaining that our neighbor gets all the breaks,
or we're comparing against the 'have-mores' to find reasons to upset ourselves.

The fact is, if we responded to the potential that exists daily all around us here in North America to think and act more entrepreneurially, be more active, engage our loved ones, check off our bucket lists, tell our mentors what they mean to us, and just live with every fiber of our being...

I would sell my laptop, stop writing this blog, and we could communicate these messages in person on our 85 year rat race sabbatical we'd probably label 'having the best life ever'.

Who's in? Who's looking around them right now for those incoming calls of opportunity?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Do It Once - and Do It Right

How many times in life have you sat down to do some work (study, read, complete a report, etc) and decided to do it while trying to do something else? What some would call multitasking?

A recent study at UCSF demonstrated a number of things about multitasking, one of which that the idea of multitasking might be a myth; you're actually just doing distracted work.

Or, to put it another way - you're not multitasking, you're just doing a crappy job on a bunch of things.

If you want to be an effective individual, stop trying to juggle multiple items at once; turn off the smartphone, close your door, and work far away from the television. Stop trying to take notes and text while you drive, and leave the computer at home when you go out to spend time with your family.

In our efforts to improve our efficiency, we're actually taking away from our quality.

Slow down, focus - and do things right the first time.


Friday, October 21, 2011

What's Your View of Possible?

Recently I had the chance to listen to (read: audio book) The Talent Code, written by Daniel Coyle (which I would highly recommend!). It was a nice mix of research and theory along with anecdotal examples that Coyle discovered as he travelled the world looking at "talent hotbeds." The premise is that some places seem to produce high performers at a rate that is far beyond the norm. He wanted to see why.

One of the first elements according to the Talent Code are Primal Cues. These are things that strike a deep chord including how we view what's possible and how we see ourselves. Seeing someone else we can identify with achieve success sends us a cue that we can too.

The 4:00 mile was considered "physiologically and biomechanically" impossible. No human could do it. Roger Banister breaks the 4:00 mile which has stood for decades. In the weeks after another person did it, then the following season more, and in the next few years 17 people did it. They just needed to know it was possible.

Last Saturday I was working out, and decided that I would try a weighted chin up. Chin ups are challenging and I am proud of the fact that I am able to complete them, period. The thing is, I watched a video of Neghar Fonooni (, a Strength and Conditioning Coach in the States, completing not a chin up, but a pull up (which is more challenging) with a 16 kg Kettlebell (that's about 35 lbs) and she changed my view of what I thought was possible, so now I had to try.

I picked up the 15 lbs Kettlebell, decided that I would like to be able to complete four (an arbitrary number) and just like that, I did it ( I was shocked. I had no idea that I was going to be able to complete one, let alone four. I wasn't any stronger than I was yesterday when I didn't do weighted chin ups, but my view of what was possible had changed and therefore, I had.

"The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can't are both right? Which one are you?" ~ Henry Ford.

~ Sasha

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Braving Unchartered Waters

Today I want to thank miss V (for anonymity sake) for presenting an opportunity for discussion that has borne today's lesson. Miss V is in a new role; outside her comfort zone, learning & growing, but very much on her own void of the supportive team she had grown accustomed (a team she assembled, in fact).

The reason I want to thank miss V, and the reason I am sharing the context of said journey - is that while she feels like she is going it alone; nothing could be further from the truth.

Sayings like, "it's lonely at the top" point to exactly this fact: the more hurdles you overcome and the more progressions you make as a leader & as a human being - the fewer people you'll have available to share the victories or to garner advice during the tribulations.

It's a fact. For a person to win, another has to lose. We notice a success story BECAUSE of how much they stand out from the norm. Everybody wants to end result (money, fame, great job, respect, marrying the right person, setting records, etc)... but are we all willing to go through the process?

I would argue that the attractiveness of the end result is directly proportionate to the ugliness of the hard work, sacrifice, and even suffering to get there.

So what's the point? Well that's the million dollar question. Only miss V in this example can know why going down the road she is will be worth it.

One answer I believe in is this: the billion dollar answer to the million dollar question is simply VISION.
True leaders have a vision that they believe so strongly in; the option to ignore it and pursue a 'normal life' just doesn't exist. It is exactly the conviction to that vision, and the leadership ability to compel others to it; that defines whether or not a success story comes to fruition, or a dreamer is left with their dreams (which become nightmares if not realized).

So, while I wish I could give the comforting answer that it will all be ok tomorrow and life IS fair... the fact is it might get worse before it gets better for our friend miss V... but if she is married to her vision and can inspire others to it's end... she will be a success story we tell and others ask...

"How'd she do it?"

Monday, October 17, 2011

It's Easy to Blame Someone Else

I've written, shall we say... "less than popular" blogs in the past. This one probably won't improve my standing in this regard.

I'm not on board with "Occupy XXXX" (you can fill in whatever city/financial district you'd like). That's right - I don't agree with it.

The thing is, yes, the corrupt managers of our world accounts, the CEOs, the CFOs, the traders/realtors/bankers... they've all made a lot of money in the recession. In fact, if it's to be believed, some of them made a lot of money because of the economic meltdown. But while they should all be held accountable for the laws they break, I think the "99%" has to turn the mirror around on themselves. How many are in the position they are because they let themselves be convinced they could afford a $300,000 mortgage on a $12/hr job? How many people bought a BMW when they could really only afford the Ford Echo? Oh, I know, the bank manager/car salesman was convincing, and showed you numbers that worked - but in the end, you were the one who chose to ignore reality in favor of the fantasy, who let greed and envy cloud your judgement. Be upset with the state of the world's economy, yes - but let's all accept our part in it.

We're all to blame.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Step Up or Out

A simple check is to ask yourself: Do you know more about your trade today as compared to what you knew last year? If you are a lifter, do you know more about training and nutrition than you knew a year ago? If you work in construction are your skills better than they were a year ago? If not, why? Do you purposefully want to suck and be left behind? Or, do you already know it all?

If all you do is stay the same for three years you will not only lose value in the marketplace but with yourself. ~ Dave Tate

I believe this. I think about all of the people that I was training a year ago, or even six months ago, and how if I trained them now, it would be better. Now, that's not to say that I wasn't a good coach before, but in the time that's passed since then, I have learned more.

It's like Dave Tate said in the above quote, if you stay the same you will not only lose value in the marketplace but with yourself. Everyday the fitness industry is coming out with the new, best method for training and if you can't keep up, you're out. It's that simple. You need to make the decision, find the time and invest in your growth both personally and professionally, the return is worth it, but if you decide that it's not, politely step aside for those of us that do. We'll find you if we need you, you'll be in the same place we left you.

~ Sasha

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I'm not owed anything.

In grade 10, I found myself on the receiving end of a life lesson from my granddad. He saw me cast aside loose change with an ignorant disregard. "It's just change" I naively proclaimed as he turned a shade of red.

Into his den I went for an hour of perspective that spanned the great depression, world war II, immigrating to Canada with nothing, starting a business with nothing and what that took. "The world doesn't owe you anything" he said. "I know you think it does, but it doesn't. Anything you want, you're going to have to work for and you're going to have to work hard."

Admittedly, at that age I had very little perspective on what hard work was, however I would begin to see & feel multiple examples through my personal & professional life pursuits.

High school. In order to qualify for post secondary education, I would have to do better than show up & show off. If the grades were not 70% + my options would be limited. At best i was a C+ student, so in order to reach the goal of university I would have to change my course of action. This was called sacrifice; giving up something now, to get something later. In terms of sports, we had to make the team which came with the same sacrifices as making the grade.

University. In high school it was easy to be a big fish in a small pond, but university was the meeting place of many student athletes with the same (or better) pedigree. I would have to be better than them if I was to get a look. Not worse than, not as good as.... better than. It was really simple. Being better than others meant things like listening, focusing, learning and checking that three letter word; EGO at the door. On top of over 40+hrs / week dedicated to athletics there was school, which without would again limit my opportunities. Planning, patients and perspective were factors in succeeding through university.

Entrepreneur. There was a toolbox of knowledge acquired from university that meant very little beyond having a toolbox of knowledge acquired from university. Next was the application phase. I would quickly learn it didn't matter what I knew, it mattered what I did with what I knew. Once again, I/we would be challenged to be better than competing peers, competing businesses, competing options. Unlike sports, the business season is 24/7/365 with no pre & post season, little time to rest & rejuvenate and slim margin for error. If I/we wanted to be great I/we would have to be great. Good was status quo, average/poor were bankrupt. To thrive and survive required greatness and only greatness. Passion, determination and desire were staples to business success.

Marriage & Parenthood. Unsurprisingly, the same prerequisites for success in these life pursuits applied here with the downside of not meeting them being emotionally and financially costly. Whoever said life gets easier as you grow older had obviously mastered the simple formula to success. In this realm it was about selfless giving/sharing to even think about 'being great at'. In this stage, it wasn't about me anymore.

Reflection: Looking back, I can now appreciate the value of the change perspective and more importantly the point granddad was trying to make. At this age & stage of life, it's interesting to see the young people, co-workers, peers and even business professionals who both fail and succeed. Those who are making their way are using the same fundamentals & principles he shared on that impactful day.

No one is owed anything.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Five Things I am Thankful For

5. That, by and large, stirrup pants stayed in the 80's (please - don't bring them back).

4. That despite a number of extremely poor decisions, I made it through my teenage years relatively unscathed.

3. That we discovered the tasty flavor explosion created when we combine chocolate and peanut butter.

2. That I have lived my life without having to survive a war, with a roof over my head and food in my stomach.

1. For my family.

Happy Thanksiving.


Friday, October 07, 2011

Take Action

I recently read an article written by Todd Durkin, in which he wrote about what he had learned in the process of coaching someone else and I think it is great advice that we can live by everyday.

We ALL must discover our purpose in life. If you are not fulfilling your true purpose, you will never experience complete happiness or harmony.

Take more risks. When you get to a certain "level" in life, we often stop taking as many risks. Maybe it is because of fear of failure or even fear of success. Regardless, we can't let fear be the reason why we do something or not do something. Believe in what you are destined for, say yes to opportunities that surround that, and then work your tail off. Relentless pursuit of achieving your true purpose and overcoming any and all adversity that stands in your way will be a major determinant of the success you ultimately attain.

Associate with great people. Our life and business is built on relationships. We are a product of the books we read, the things we listen to, and the people we associate with. Seek out and find great coaches and mentors, like minded leaders who are pursuing common goals and passionate about living a world class life. One of my own coaches once said, "If you want to be a great athlete, train with great athletes; if you want to be a great coach, learn from great coaches; if you want to be a millionaire, hang out with millionaires; if you want to to be spiritually strong, hang out with spiritually strong people; who you hang out with and who learn from strongly influences the person you become." What great wisdom.

In order to "do something bigger with your life", take ACTION on discovering your purpose, take more risks, and associate with great people that will help propel you forward.

~ Sasha

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Parting ways with a good one...

As the (at least western) world mourns the loss of Steve Jobs today, it is only fitting we cite a few gems he's shared with us over the years that inevitably led to the accomplishments, achievements, and legacy he created over the last 56 years...

“Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” — Steve Jobs, at a Stanford University commencement ceremony in 2005

"Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life".

"I'm convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance"

"That's been one of my mantras - focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there you can move mountains"

"Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful, that's what matters to me"

There are a great many more one could share, but the great takeaway for me is not that these are great quotes... it is that these were the fundamental philosophies guiding Steve's remarkable life that served as input for the outcome we all marvel at.

One final quote, from Steve, on this exact point - "you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life".

Rest in peace, and thanks for the lessons Steve

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Is it everyone else?

Ever find yourself thinking about why you’re not where you want to be?

Is it the boss who doesn’t want to see you perform well? The spouse who’s trying to change you? The world that’s not treating you fairly?

Or is it the only person who has the ability to chart life’s course? YOU

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve come across people stuck in a moment that they can’t get out of and 9/10 times it all boils down to 1-3 things.

1. no plan.
2. no confidence
3. no support.

Plan. Everything starts with a plan. No plan. No purpose. No point. If its not your plan, then you’re probably being led by someone else's vision, agenda, goals or trajectory and while it’s great when things are going great, it’s the 1st place you’ll drop blame when they are not. Many things go into planning your life. The verticals, the timelines, the needs / wants, the costs etc. Few even know where to start creating the plan let alone what the content would be. They drift in an aimless abyss trying to ‘find themselves’ while the answer is right in front of the mirror.

Confidence. Confidence is learned largely though putting oneself out there and experiencing success. The less we put ourselves out there, the less we will experience success. Developing confidence is not a contrived life skill. Meaning, others cannot and should not try to instill confidence in you. Confidence must be developed by you, for you. Confidence works hand in hand with both trying and failing. That’s correct, failure is a precursor to success. Few have ever reached a high level of success without failing.

Support. Surrounding yourself with the right people is the key to getting where you want to be. Personally and professionally. There are those who will try to project their opinions & values on you (mostly for the purpose of keeping you in the same comfort zone as them). You want to avoid those people. There are those who will tell you what you want to hear (mostly for the purpose of validating your decision making). You want to take those people with a grain of salt. And then there are those who will listen more than they talk, challenge your decisions and call you on your bs. Those are the people you want to be around because those are the people who truly care... About you.

So if you’re reading this and thinking ‘I’m not where I want to be right now’, ask yourself if you have a plan, have put yourself out there enough to develop confidence or are surrounded by a solid / selfless support cast.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Five Signs Foreshadowing the Fall of Modern Civilization

5. The global economic crisis.

4. The continued, self-centered and short-sighted presence of unions (all of them - I have yet to hear from one that doesn't put their own needs ahead of economic realities).

3. The "Shake Weight".

2. The popularity of "The Jersey Shore".

1. Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann