Thursday, May 31, 2012

It Is Not Always About Getting Skinny!

The goal of fitness is health, not about how skinny we can become. There are skinny people who are really unhealthy and overweight people who are fairly healthy. Your size does not completely dictate your health. Now, I am not in support of the idea that being overweight is okay. Because of the myriad of health issues connected with being too heavy, it is not okay to be overweight and not take the necessary steps to combat the issue. Not everyone, however, is going to get "skinny" by following a healthy lifestyle.
If you are exercising 60 minutes a day, eating a nutritious, well-rounded diet, and living a healthy lifestyle, you are going become more and more fit and healthier and healthier as the days go by.  With this "plan", you will also lose some weight. If you are overweight and your goal is to become healthier, then follow the above and you are good to go. The weight will slowly come off and you will feel amazing!  If, however, your only goal is to get "skinny", then you need a totally different plan.
For some people what it takes to get "skinny" is up to two hours per day of fitness exercise and following an extremely strict calorie-controlled diet. This can be very difficult. Regular fitness is enough to get people to where they want to be from a health perspective, but it is not enough to get them to where they want to be from an image perspective. What is our real goal?  Is it worth the 90-120 minutes a day of exercise and following a highly reduced calorie-controlled diet to get skinny? If it is, then put in the work. A caveat here, however, is important: There isn't anything fundamentally wrong with wanting to lose a lot of weight, with wanting to get skinny, but there is something wrong with our entire focus being on seeing the pounds drop off accompanied by the snubbing of a healthy diet and well-rounded life. An obsessive relationship with our scale can indeed result in much smaller bodies but often with a number of increased health issues.
Regardless of whether we want to lose weight from a health or an image perspective, we need to remain focused on the "healthy" elements. The truly simple, really basic, and totally real health plan is:
     1) Workout/exercise/move for 60 minutes per day.

     2) Eat healthy, nutritionally-balanced meals. Home-cooked is the best, but we can also learn how to order in a healthy manner
         when we eat out.

     3) Stay consistent with #1 and #2!

It really is that simple...not necessarily easy but really simple. When we follow this “health formula”, we will slowly lose weight and build a long-term sustainable healthy life. The key to success in this equation is consistency. 60 minutes a day means an average of 7 hours per week of exercise. This may seem like an unattainable goal, but it is necessary to counteract the reality of living a sedentary lifestyle. If we sit 8 hours a day… we need to counteract that with fitness or we will be unhealthy.  By starting slowly and staying with the process, we will get to our 7 hours of exercise a week and, by following a nutritious diet, we will build ourselves into healthy, energetic people.  Simple.  Let's get started.

~ Yoshia

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Popularity vs Respect?

One of the hardest areas you will ever have to face in leadership is the battle between popularity and respect. Both are instrumental in your quest to effectively lead, yet both are not equal. In an ideal world we would be able to find a balance where we are as popular as we are respected, but this holy grail of leadership is rarely achieved and a temporary state of circumstances.

The simple difference between popularity and respect is that popularity is a state while respect is a trait.

The state of popularity is a condition of others perception that elevates us in status. Identified as a state, popularity is temporary and easily achieved, all we have to do as leaders is make decisions that make the people around us happy. Because of this our popularity is dependent on the circumstances we find ourselves in. In leadership, if these circumstances benefit those we are leading we become popular until the circumstances do not assist those we are leading. If our goal is popularity we have a very simple job, make others happy by giving them what they need and watch them become dependent on us to make them feel good.

Understanding respect as a trait means that we also must understand that respect is something that distinguishes us from others and is not easily achieved. Respect, when earned, is something that is not a temporary identifier; instead it is something that creates legend. Respect is a trait that is not attached to circumstances because it has the ability to survive in good times as well as in hard times. Respect is not a simple job because in order to become respected you will have to make others question your decision making process. Unlike popularity, respect is earned through making tough decisions and facing times where people are looking to you not at you.

There are moments where you will be both popular and respected, but eventually a situation will arise where either your state or trait will take over and identify your leadership abilities. You will be face with the decision of making all the people happy to achieve popularity and some respect, or making some people happy while achieving everyone’s respect. You can be respected by the majority without everyone’s approval, but you cannot become popular without a majority decision. Your defining leadership moment will expose you to the masses and you will be categorized as a popular leader or a respected leader based on the action you take.

Weather you are the leader of your business or the leader of your household, your job is not about becoming buddies with those you are leading, rather your job is allowing them to function without you. This is not achieved by always making people smile; it is about making people learn to make the best decision for themselves as hard as that decision might be. Years down the road, when you retire or your kids are grown, you can then enjoy the popularity that respect has given to you.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Worldly Perspective

Worldly Perspective 

This past week, a group of us recently returned back to North America after running the Great Wall Marathon in China - what a fantastic experience! The marathon itself was challenging, enlightening, and of course rewarding. That aside, the trip was filled with time spent in rural villages around the Great Wall, sightseeing of historical sites in Beijing & Shanghai, and cultural experiences such as a Chinese acrobatic show and a traditional Peking Duck lunch. 

One of the biggest eye openers of this trip was the worldly perspective one always seems to gain when they remove themselves out of the day to day in North America. And this is the premise of the story for today. During our travels we were amazed to come across many inner city Chinese that were disfigured and disabled - yet, were the primary individuals that were begging for money - better known as 'street beggars'. From missing limbs, to significant burns and disfigurement, these individuals were definitely dealt a hand that most would kindly pass on. And as we asked our tour guide about these individuals...we became privy to one of the many stories.

Gao Zhou Zhou - a girl that looks about 15 years old - her back is bent and bowed; her legs fold uselessly behind her. She gets around using a homemade skateboard. Her arms, legs and face are very, very dirty. She doesn't know her age - and she cannot remember her real parents. But she knows the pain of life on the streets of Beijing. 

'When I first came here they beat me so hard I nearly died. They beat me and they beat me,' she says. It was three years ago when a man she calls 'uncle' came to her village. There was a cash transaction with her stepfather, who was promised the equivalent of $250 Canadian dollars in instalments. In the land of the rampant capitalist, this was just another business deal. 

Since then, most days from early morning to nightfall, she has been hunched over her pitch - a patch of pavement close to Tiananmen Square, amid the crowds of tourists and shoppers. Most don't offer a second glance. Some pause long enough to place a few notes into the tin she holds out. On a good day she earns 300 yuan (less than 50 dollars Cdn). It goes to 'uncle'. 'The man who took me here is a very powerful man. Everybody in the village is scared of him. He can chop off anybody's arm or leg. Whatever he wants. He's got men all over China. He told me he will find me wherever I go.' 

And above all...this is not an isolated story. Apparently it is common for the parents of disabled children to offload them in this way. Left to fend on their own and live as 'slave beggars' amongst the millions of people that reside in cities such as Beijing - let alone the millions of tourists every year. 

So, today's blog is a reminder for when we awake in our homes (as small or as big as they may be) in North America, enjoying the breath of fresh air, possibly with a view of the mountains and/or the ocean, surrounded by great people (whether it be family or friends), away from war and fighting, and privy to endless amounts of opportunity - to truly be reminded for what we have. Because at the end of the day, we come home after a long day of 'work' while as the night falls on Tiananmen Square, Gao Zhou Zhou will be picked up by her 'uncle' and will hand over the day's takings, and she'll be back there tomorrow with no other place for her to go!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Listen to That Little Voice

As I was hanging onto the air conditioner unit that had just fallen from my second story window, waiting for my lovely wife to join me and assist me in pulling it back up, two things occurred to me:
  1. All of my "reaction" training that I've been doing to improve my goaltending for hockey has paid dividends in ways I had not envisioned (I grabbed the cord to prevent a calamity as it fell)
  2. I should listen to the little voice is my head when he says "This is far from your best idea".

I had dismissed him, you see, since my Dad had done this exact same thing and met with success; however, as I discovered - just because someone's successfully done it before does not guarantee the same success for you.

Seemed like a fairly decent reminder for me to carry forward in other facets of my life - thought I might share this with you so that when you next hear that little voice saying "Maybe you should rethink this", you'll consider what that voice is talked about.

Just a thought.


Friday, May 25, 2012

20 Principles of Success Not Taught in School

I will preface this post by saying that none of the words written below are my own, although they resonate with me as if they were. This article was too good not share, my only hope is that you enjoy it and take as get as much from it as I have.

No matter what you do for a living, no matter how old you are, and regardless of where you grew up, we all share something in common—a desire to be successful. True success should be defined by you, specific to you and your goals. What success means to one, can be very different for another. Success to some may mean fancy cars and homes. Success to others may mean being a good parent, spouse, or friend. For others, it may be simply to be happy. Or it can be all of the above.
I believe true success begins with this core principle:

Your success, happiness—anything you truly want for your life—has to begin with unwavering, non-negotiable desire, commitment, and persistence. Without it, you cannot withstand and overcome the tests that will be put in your way, to not only see how badly you really want it, but to help you appreciate what you have once you get it. Because it is through the tests, that you discover yourself and your purpose, which is what you were really looking for to begin with.

Through my journey, and as I continue to write my own “story of success,” I have faced many obstacles and made many mistakes. The gift from those obstacles and mistakes are these principles, which I use as my guidelines—or should I say my way of life—to keep building my foundation stronger, and reaching higher to live to my fullest potential.
    1. The only thing in life you have control over is your perspective. No matter what happens, YOU control what the meaning is, and what to do with the meaning you give to the circumstance.
    2. Have more fear of regret than failure.
    3. Failure is only part of the journey to success. There is not one success story out there that hasn’t experienced failure. The reason you are hearing about it as a success story is because those people saw failure as a tool to get it right.
    4. It’s not about what you want to do for a living, it’s about you who want to be. What is your purpose and legacy?  I believe the age-old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is wrong. We need to be asking, “Who do you want to be? What footprint do you want to leave in this world?” From there, you will have your answer as to what you should “do.”
    5. Stay focused on your race within. When you are too busy looking behind and around you, people are passing you by.
    6. True leadership comes from good energy. Worry more about what your energy is like than the firmness your handshake.
    7. Life will give you the same challenges/problems over and over again until you learn your lesson.
    8. Until you jump over your inner roadblocks, your outer ones will stay firmly in place. We spend so much time focused on all the exterior obstacles around us, letting them be our excuses. But the more clear and aware we are of our internal roadblocks, and dissolve them, the external roadblocks will begin to disappear, too.
    9. The most successful people are the ones that work on themselves first.
    10. Do not judge—be inspired. If you are too busy judging everyone and everything around you, you are not remaining open to find inspiration in everyone and everything around you.
    11. You are not allowed to complain about something unless you are going to do something about it.
    12. Surround yourself with people you want to be like.
    13. Learn to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. The more fears you face, the more you will grow.
    14. Always ask, “What if?” and, “Why Not?” Instead of thinking, “What if I fail?” ask, “What if I succeed?”
    15. Creativity is your unlimited capital. Understand and harness its power.
    16. “I only have good days.” If you start off everyday with this mindset, even when challenges emerge, your positive mindset will help you overcome them more readily.
    17. Create your own footprint. You do not need to do what others have done before you.
    18. Hit the “mental reset button.” When you are thinking negative thoughts, envision hitting the “delete” button in your mind and begin to rewrite a better story.
    19. Abundance is everywhere. You must choose to see it and believe it in order to fully experience it.
    20. There is a lesson in everything that happens to us—wisdom to be gained and gratitude to be given. Begin with gratitude and everything else will reveal itself.
The beauty of success is that it can have many layers. Success doesn’t need to be limited to one aspect of life—but as many aspects as we desire to succeed in. The critical part of being successful is to be aware of what you want. Define it, write it down, and reflect, every day, on which steps are necessary to write your own story of success.

Top media mogul and business expert, Jen Groover, has been tagged by Success Magazine as a “One-Woman Brand,” and “Creativity and Innovation Guru,” a leading “Serial Entrepreneur” by Entrepreneur Magazine. She has gone from guest-hosting spots on QVC to linking deals with some of the industry’s biggest heavyweights. Jen is a top business and lifestyle contributor and content creator for major networks such as ABC, CBS, CNBC, NBC, Fox News, Fox Business News, and The CW.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What Would It Take?

The Question: What would it take? Where is the magical line, what is the metaphorical straw, that will push us over the edge into taking responsibility for our own good health? For some people, it takes a major health scare for them to make changes in their life. For others, sadly, even that is not enough.
At some point in all of our lives, health should become the number one priority. The question is if we will make it a priority now or will we let other circumstances decide for us? People often say that they are" too busy", "too broke", "too tired" to do what it takes to lead a healthy lifestyle. How can that be? How can it be that living longer and better is not a bigger priority than making some extra money or watching TV? Isn't that what it really comes down to?
In the western world, we have the luxury of being able to trim and save a bit and then use those resources in other areas of our lives. Most of us drive cars, eat at restaurants, own iPods and televisions, and yet we "don’t have enough money or time to exercise for an hour a day"? We don’t make health enough of a priority to trade an hour of TV or reading or “relaxing” to do some exercise. Smart money says that, if we get chronically ill, suffer a heart attack, or undergo some other often preventable health episode, that we would then wish that we had spent a little more time dedicated to our health. That's the smart money, but, even then, I have seen that it's sometimes still not enough to force changes to be made.
 The money aspect of this discussion is often a tender spot for people. Personal trainers are not cheap; there is no debate in that. The question is would you rather drive a Cadillac or walk around in one? I often see $90k+ vehicles sitting in the McDonalds drive-through line. These same people could be driving a $30k vehicle, be seeing a personal trainer a couple of times per week, and changing their lives for the better, but the priority seems to be on their vehicle.
For many of us, of course, personal trainers and gym memberships are simply too expensive - even if budgets are trimmed and resources gathered. However, taking long walks, playing catch with our kids, and throwing a frisbee for an ever-eager pup, is absolutely free. Not only do those things give us health benefits, but they give back to us in many other ways. We will see sights on our walks that are beautiful and alien and astounding, we will forge a stronger, deeper bonds with our families, and we will give our pets even more reason for their unquenchable joy and, best part of all, we'll have a whole lot of fun. That's the beauty of exercise - we see the positive results in physical ways and also in mental, psychological, and emotional ways.
"What would it take?" - it's not a question that can be answered for somebody. It has to be answered according to our own values and ideals. Let's take a minute and think about what it would take for us. Let's be honest. Will we push on until that health scare moment arrives or will we take the necessary steps now to prevent that moment of crisis by instilling in ourselves the habits of a healthy lifestyle? 

~ Yoshia

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Be your own boss / start your own business? Think about it!

If opening your own business is as easy as the starter kit you're selling me, I have few questions.
  • what's with the statistic that 1 in 5 businesses makes it to year 5 and half of those to year 10?
  • why did the largest capitalist country in the world require a “stimulus package”?
  • why are other countries around the world declaring bankruptcy?
  • how is the world in a global economic crisis?
Possible Answers? 
1. Not everyone is wired ‘equally’.
       Being an entrepreneur requires a very special innate set of tools beyond passion. While we like to think we're all equal the REALity is we are not.
    • Organization – successful business is a culmination of a thousand daily responsibilities. The good ole “it’s all up here” isn’t going to cut it.
  • Persistence – not only is the table not set for you, you aren’t even provided with a spear to hunt your own food.
  • Patience – very few things in business happen quickly and the worse people get in their jobs, the slower that process is.
  • Resilience – it’s almost comical how many times you will get punched square between the eyes and have to pull yourself back up off the mat.
  • Independence – the cliché ‘it’s lonely at the top’, is real.  
  • Coach, mentor, leader  - great business is built from the bottom up, not the top down. YOU are irrelevant in comparison to those you’ve empowered to deliver the service / product. This is counter intuitive to everything you've been taught to date. 
 2. They didn’t teach me business in school.
What I was taught was a skill set for a specific area of interest. eg: I’d like to be a physiotherapist, so I’ll pursue that vertical of education, finish with a degree, intern and then of course.... maximize my earning abilities by being my own boss because why would I work for someone else so they can collect all the money and I only receive a percentage of the wage? Followed by:
  • Wow, I had no idea there was as much risk associated with owning my own business.
  • Additionally, I’m working harder & longer than I was when I was working for someone else (read: 24/7) with marginally better returns (to start).
  • I can’t charge as much because since we lowering prices to be competitive, I’ve got to work harder to demonstrate the value.
  • I wish someone could have taught me the reality of business at the same time as I was learning my area of interest. 
Area of interest + business acumen = the start line of business. 
 3. Great business evolves from systems.
Whether it’s a bottle drive, not for profit, small / medium or large business there’s a fairly standard (& required) formula for success that has had to have been well articulated for the reproduction & scaling of your business.
  • Straight up, repeat business success is predicated from a single word; ENGAGEMENT.
  • How am I going to engage prospective employee’s to buy into my product & vision & sell it and how am are we then going to turn around and ENGAGE customers for their 1st, 20th, 200th interaction?
  • Without a vision people can get behind, a mission that can be put against a tangible audit to show pass / fail and clear goals and objectives that support both the mission & vision, you have taken a loan and borrowed your way to being the 4/5 businesses that do not make it to 5 years OR you have created ‘m-equity’ whereby the scaling ‘success’ of your business is 100% tied to you. read: no one will buy you out bcs it’s ‘all about you’ and any valuation is going to be based on good will vs. tangible return on investment.
Vision + mission + goals & objectives. Many business owners make the mistake of not articulating a clear vision & mission and even less create, adhere to or retool the goals & objectives.

4. The world was created to thrive and survive based on interdependent relationships.
  • Successful business ecosystems are no different than successful team sports.
  • There has never been a championship hockey team comprised of goalies in every position and there will never be a successful industry comprised of entrepreneurs in every sector.
  • If we look at current industry trends, we see the partnerships, alliances & mergers taking place to shrink the rapidly expanding marketplaces to capture the critical mass.
  • More profitable for business & consumer. Infinitely more challenging for entrepreneur in inventory or service related business. 
In short, while there’s a lot of upside to being your own boss / starting your own business, it’s a decision that needs to be carefully weighed with the REALities of great business which statistically speaking.... may not favor everyone.

Monday, May 21, 2012


I was out for a run this morning on the trails of the North Shore - I missed out on the sun of the previous week, but even with a little sprinkling of rain (this was before the deluge kicked in) I was still able to appreciate what an amazing part of the world that we live in.

The other thing that I reflected on was how uniquely challenging this sort of running is... and, seeing as how my mind had a few minutes to wander, it went to the upcoming "Tough Mudder" that I'm going to be taking part in (which, actually, is what the run is a training component for).  

From there, I started to think about how many people I know that have signed up for this race - and the fact that, while I think it's awesome for them to be challenging themselves, I am a little worried that many have been caught up in the hype without actually considering how challenging it's going to be.  In fact, there are a lot of people I know who signed up that have never run more than 5km - on the road - let alone taken on a 16km trail race.  Add to that 22 obstacles (some being fairly physically challenging) and an estimated 3hr+ completion time... well, there's a reason there's a lot of people fail to even complete it.

As I said, it's not the idea of taking on something big, and challenging - in fact, I applaud this.  What's troubling to me is that a lot of these people don't seem to realize exactly how big and challenging it is, or how much work they should be putting in to prepare for it.  A couple of one hour "Tough Mudder" bootcamp classes a week just doesn't cut it (even if they are super tough and make you feel like puking... which, actually, isn't a great method of training either but I'll leave that for some other time).  The classes are improving your capacity to work hard, but that's about it - they're not addressing your strength or power, and they're not helping develop your trail-running ability.  And actually, if the race does last 3 hours, then they're not going to even do your conditioning a lot of good outside of the first 45mins.

The good news?  It's getting to the breaking point, but it's not too late yet to start to train properly.  My suggestion is, at a minimum, 3-5hrs a week of training from now until the race.  Do one hour of basic strength and movement training, one hour of basic conditioning (this would be the boot camp or circuit class), 45mins (including warm up and recovery) of running intervals  (preferably hill, since you're likely to need some running power development), and finally, 1-2hrs of running on terrain that is similar in technical difficulty and elevation gain/loss to the locale you'll be racing in.

Please don't take this as a lecture - it's simply because I don't want anyone to have a bad time because they can't finish, or worse, because they get hurt.  These type of races are very popular and yes, very cool - but if you're taking on one of the bigger ones, you need to commit to the preparation time as well.

Good luck!


Friday, May 18, 2012

Are You Fit to Run?


“Don't run to get fit, be fit to run.”~ Diane Lee

Did you know that running for one mile is exactly 1,500 reps (or steps) of a one-legged plyometric exercise. Ask any fitness professional and they would tell you that plyometrics are an advanced exercise, that shouldn't be used until someone has built up their strength.

In the words of Mike Boyle, "Running produces forces in the area of two to five times body weight per foot contact." So, now we are talking about 1,500 reps, with a load of two to five times your body weight. Sounds advanced.

So, when did running become the starting point for someone who wants to get in shape? Running is an extremely advanced exercise. Yet most people who decide to start an exercise program start running from day one.
I don't necessarily want to convince you not to run, but I want to make people aware that it's an advanced exercise. It isn't for beginning, out of shape people trying to get fit. For those individuals, there are better choices.

Before you lace up your shoes, to head out for a run, the next nice day ask yourself, are you running to get fit, or are you fit to run?

~ Sasha

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What does 'it's all mental' mean?

Cumulatively, we’ve trained tens of thousands of people over hundreds of thousands of training hours. We know that;

  • 3% of those we train are looking to take their athletic game to the next level
  • 3% come to rehabilitate injuries
  • 3% come to stay healthy & active through their later years and
  • 91% come to improve their self esteem.

That 91% does not walk in and say ‘I’m coming to improve my self esteem’, they say I’ve heard great things about the program from xx or yy and I’d like that structure / expertise / support & experience to help me get back into shape. Regardless of who we’ve trained or what they’ve been preparing for, inevitably we’ve had to tap into mental strength in order to meet/complete the physical requirement. At some point, each one of our customers has heard us proclaim, ‘it’s all mental’. But what exactly does ‘it’s all mental’ mean and why is it repeatedly referenced?

  1. Physiologically, the answer is easy. The brain sends the signal through the central nervous system to the specific muscle required to complete the movement. From a literal standpoint, ‘it’s all mental’.
  2. Psychosomatically, our predisposition to the perception of failure & the potential of looking bad (read: being vulnerable & hurting our ego), redirects that signal before it gets sent through the nervous system. Instead of going to the muscles , it gets sent to our mouths and comes out in the form of ‘can’t’. Our role is to palpate that signal back to where it needs to get; the muscles. From a semantic standpoint ‘it’s all mental’.   
  3. Psychologically, we would have to peel back the layers and investigate the factors that contributed to us being out of shape in the 1st place if we really wanted to get & stay in shape.
    • "No time". What are you trying to prove? Who are you trying to prove it to? Why do you feel the need to prove it?
    • "Lost my way". What was your way? Why did you lose it? How is exercise / this going to get your way back?
    • "Want to feel good about myself"? What’s contributing to you not feeling good about yourself? How is this going to help you feel better? Why aren’t you feeling good about yourself? 
    • No judgment, just honest questions that need to be asked and answered. From a psychological standpoint ‘it’s all mental’.
As we articulated on a recent facebook posting there are many mental conditions that can affect our physical being. We referenced forms of negativity & distress that can lead to becoming a workoholic, alcoholic, cynic, panic, diabetic, manic, frantic, psychotic & addict. If we think that 1hr of exercise 1-3 times / week is going to help us at the same time as these old / persisting / new forms of distress remain unchecked in our lives... we’re likely to be perpetually disappointed. 

The mind is our most powerful and influential muscle in our body, as such should be treated, conditioned & exercised at the same (or higher) levels than the rest of our body. Yet there’s a stigma associated with admitting and seeking that help. We have no problem investing in accountants, doctors, physiotherapists, personal trainers and the likes for advice, yet are reluctant to invest in counselors and psychologists. Is this just another example of ‘our minds’ getting in the way of our progress?

Physically, you don’t always need to seek a personal trainer as a catalyst to get moving. Mentally, you may not always need to speak to a psychologist to get thinking. However, the reality is without advice from an expert in any field, you risk wasting time doing things a) incorrectly or b) that are counter intuitive to your end goals.

Our advice? Make mental training a part of your physical plan if you truly want to achieve results. It's time we taught ourselves... to think for ourselves. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Passion vs. Success

There are more than two ways to spend the 50 years that come between the ages of 18 and 68 (i.e. your career)...  However, for simplicity's sake, let's look at only two:


In simple terms, the Passion Follower does what he (or she) does because it brings purpose or meaning into their lives and they enjoy it!  As Wayne Dyer put it, "Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life."

The Success Chaser chooses jobs, careers, opportunities (and more) based on the pursuit of money, wealth, prestige, status symbols - "success" as it has come to be known in our society.

These paths are not mutually exclusive of course...  Ever met someone who loved money so much they made a lot of it?  Did you like them?  Probably not - but there's no doubt they were passionate (about money) and successful (rich.)

The better way to combine these paths (in my opinion) is to find that thing that you LOVE to do and feel fulfilled by.  Work starts to feel a lot more like play, and (just like in school) we all tend to do better at the things we enjoy.  Most of the world's truly successful people have been driven by passion - wealth has been a byproduct.

AND...  if wild "success" never comes, and you live a modest life unadorned by sports cars, yachts and private jets, you will have at least lived that life doing something you enjoyed!


Monday, May 14, 2012


After getting home from two weeks in Peru and beginning to prep for the week, I had a bit of time to reflect back on everything I'd seen - from Cuzco to some of the villages, various ruins along the path and, finally, Machu Picchu itself.  

Something in my own perspective had changed, and I wanted to hold onto it - but describing it was challenging.  And then I came across a quote that seemed to sum up my impressions as neatly as anything I could have come up with myself:

"100 years from now, it won't matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of life I lived in, how much money I had in my bank account, nor what my clothes looked like.  But the world may be a little better because I was important in the life of a child."  (Unknown)

I'm going to try to remember what really matters - and focus on making a difference that will last.

Happy Monday!


Friday, May 11, 2012

What's New Pussycat?

 I haven't played volleyball since I was in high school, and even then I wasn't the captain of my team, (if you know what I mean). A few weeks ago, a girlfriend and I went to a drop in game being hosted at the local rec center - we had a blast! We were slightly intimidated walking in seeing everyone warming up in their 'volleyball-esque' looking gear (i.e. knee pads) but we stuck it out, and I'm so glad we did.

It reminded me of being young again, how new everything always was - a new skill, a new friend, a new place, a new sport - everyday we did something that was scary, and forced us to step outside our comfort zone. As adults, I think we tend to gravitate towards things that we know - we know what we like, we know what we don't, we know our strengths, we know our weaknesses and that knowledge ends up dictating our lives.

We hear about how good it is to step outside our comfort zone all the time, but given the opportunity we usually pick what we know, not what we don't. The challenge, pick something that you've always wanted to try, maybe painting, learning a language, or even volleyball, and challenge yourself. Step outside of your comfort zone. Learn a skill, make some friends, and be bad at something again. You'll be surprised at how rewarding (and fun) trying something new can be, trust me (just be careful if you pick volleyball, I forgot how much I disliked it when someone spikes the ball, particularly at my head!)

~ Sasha

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The relentless pursuit of excellence has been replaced by the apathetic guarantee of mediocrity

 We're hearing friends (intelligent friends) so worn down by the prospect of swimming upstream they are contemplating the notion of 'why bother'. "no matter what we try and do, future generations circumstance is going to be shaped by the information they receive from sources other than you & based on the amount of  access & freedom to that information, there's little you can do."

This is untrue.

While we agree marketing messages can have a largely uncontested & self oriented influence over people's decision making, this epidemic provides an opportunity for critical thinkers to again 'revolutionize' our social conscious. Think about it, the point in history where the vast majority of effort & profit relies on making things 'easier' for the masses, someone points out the obvious.

  1. we are being sold on less focus, effort & assembly required yet...
  2. we are failing to make the correlation to less learning, aptitude, & overall productivity yet...
  3. we are then complaining about lack of opportunity, remuneration & reward.
1+2 doesn’t equal 3.

Enter the equality card. Like a pair of pocket ACE's, it’s a marketers ‘all in’! "YOU DESERVE IT"...."NOW BUY IT!”...
for $XX in yy easy installments. The reality of equality is that it’s a much more complex conversation than X should = Y. When we attempt to flatten out hierarchies we are essentially neutering the very eco-system that’s essential for our species growth, sustainability & survival. Naturally, we’ll realize & react to that once it escalates to critical level. Think this is overboard? Ask yourself one question; Is what we’re doing is working on a personal, professional, religious, economic, social or global scale? Meaning, are we getting ahead overall?

Solutions. What can you do?

  1. make the choice for yourself. Excellence or apathy? Once you’ve made that choice, be two feet in but don’t complain about the other side. In fact, be great!
  2. make the choice for yourself. Victor or Victim? You get to decide what to listen to, believe, endorse, condone & purchase. No one’s holding a gun to your head. Make the effort to make better decisions.  
  3. make the choice for your children. Setting & adhering to your own set of guiding principles is the same habit as passively being swept along. It’s your choice. Control & regulae the sources, frequency and amplitude of the messaging.
  4. make the choice for your children. The responsibility as a parent is to provide the necessary tool sets to help them thrive and survive in the world. Sheltering them from adversity, prolonging their integration & living your life vicariously through them merely weakens the gene pool.

While there’s no question on the value of treating people like humans vs. robots, we need to learn the pendulum shouldn’t & can’t swing all the way to the opposite side for sustainable change.
Raise the bar!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Chances not Taken

Chance to quit #1:  When his Innovative Fitness coach suggested setting a goal.
Chance to quit #2:  When his IF coach suggested the BMO Marathon.
Chance to quit #3:  When he realized that his physique didn't exactly lend itself to endurance running.
Chance to quit #4:  When training proved difficult to fit in to business and family life.
Chance to quit #5:  When he got sick 36 hours before the race.
Chance to quit #6:  When he forgot his race number, chip and all his gels rushing out of the house.
Chance to quit #7:  When he realized this meant there'd be no proof of his running at all.
Chance to quit #8:  When his nipples were rubbed raw at 20km (22.2km to go.)
Chance to quit #9:  When he threw up at 23km.  His 4th (and not last) porta-potty stop of the day.
Chance to quit #10:  When it got REALLY hard with 10km to go.

Luckily James M never quit and now has a marathon to his name. 

He also has a mindset that says "I don't quit – no matter what."

I was honoured to accompany you, and pleased to help with as many of the issues above as I could – in the end the work was all yours though.


James M at the Historic Half earlier this year - no BMO pics yet.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Nutrition is the New Religion

It's amazing, actually, how sure of ourselves as a species we can be - and inevitably, no matter what, some of us migrate towards extreme views.

I used to find that politics and religion were two topics that I didn't ever touch on with anyone but my closest friends - and even then, they were subjects to be tread lightly on.  Lately, though, I've found that nutrition has become one of those things as well, with people swearing their eating plan is the only one that works - sometimes in the face of science, evidence and anecdotes.

The problem is - there is no single, simple answer.  Each of us is a complex combination of physiology and psychology - so what works for one person might not work for another.  I also think that we're generally too quick to look for a nice, pre-packaged solution where there is none, and this is what can lead us to the "snake-oil" salesmen pitching all manner of "fad diets" and "eating plans".

At the very least, must of us are trying to jump into the 8th step out of 10, instead of just starting at square one.  So - for those trying to find a place to begin, here are a few guidelines:
  1. Nobody's ever gotten fat eating fresh fruit and vegetables.  This does not mean it's the ONLY thing you need, and some special conditions (ie. diabetes) may limit the choices... however, adding as much fresh produce into your day as possible can't hurt.
  2. Dietary fat does not turn into body fat.  Skip the "low fat" or "no fat" items.  (This is not a greenlight to eat deep fried foods, even those you make yourself).
  3. Eat as close to fresh as possible - the more steps that the food goes through prior to your eating it, the worse (and less like real food) it becomes.  Simple rule of thumb - if you don't need to prepare anything, or "preparation" means opening a box - probably pretty far from good for you.  This includes the so-called "healthy" frozen dinners.
  4. Don't worry about the 5-6 meals a day to begin with - start off simply eating properly portioned servings of breakfast, lunch, and dinner at regular times during the day.  Adding in snacks will come once you've mastered the basics.
There - I'm going to leave it at that.  Four basic ideas to institute - nothing too complex, nor (hopefully) terribly controversial.  John Berardi has said that if you try to adopt one new habit, your chances of success are 85% - but try to make it two new habits and it drops to 35%.  So - focus on one thing above at a time, and make it a habit before trying to move onto the next one.

Good luck - like everything else, remarkably simple... but not easy!


Friday, May 04, 2012

Running Out Of Time

I read a piece of advice that Alwyn Cosgrove gave to one of his friends, and fellow mentees, which was replace the word 'time' with 'life.' Wow. Reading this made me think of all the ridiculous things that I say (and hear) on a daily basis.

'I don't have enough life to relax and read.'

'Workout? I don't have enough life for that.'

'Cook healthy meals? I don't have enough life to do that, I'm too busy!'

Makes you stop, and think about what you're really saying when you say 'I don't have the time.' We all have time. No one gets more or less time in a day than anyone else, so really, it comes down to how we choose allocate said time.

The thing is, it's the activities and rituals we don't make time for that probably have the bigger impact on the quality of our lives. We need to stop wasting time on things that don't matter, and make time for the things that do. 

My challenge to you for the upcoming week is to replace the word 'time' with 'life.' Decide if you have enough life for that or if you really are just too busy.

~ Sasha

Thursday, May 03, 2012

The Weight Gain Window

When is it okay to have a cheat day, when is it okay to tread off the path of nutritional excellence? There are many diets that include cheat days or a points system so you can earn extra points and use them on items of your choosing.  This works for a lot of people, but the real trick to eating healthy is making the smart choice the norm and the not-so-smart choice the exception. In exercise, diet, and and almost everything else, consistency is the key. Make healthy choices consistently and you don’t have to worry about desert after dinner one day or choosing the cream sauce the next.
Diet is the hardest part of a health regime. People struggle with what to eat and when to eat - or at least they say they do. Bottom line is that the vast majority of people know what to eat; they just choose to eat unhealthy items. We all know that soda pop is unhealthy, but a lot of us choose to drink it anyway.  Most of us know that eating great amounts of greasy, fried food is unhealthy, but some of us choose to eat it anyway.
People who are struggling with weight loss will often ask what type of diet plan they should adopt.  Any good training coach will say the same thing: “Eat healthy and balanced meals and load up on fruits and vegetables” or at least something to that effect. Unfortunately, that is not what people want to hear. They want an easy out. They want a guide to the perfect diet, but that is simply not realistic. Dictating what somebody eats for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is impossible unless you are also giving him or her a personal chef.
Weight loss is an equation. Calories in – calories out. If you are in a caloric deficit, you will lose weight. If you are not, you will gain or maintain weight. You could, in theory, eat one ice cream cone a day and lose weight. You would be horribly unhealthy, but you would likely lose weight. This, of course, is the ultra-simple version of how to do this. It becomes much more complex when you throw in emotions, hormones, stressful situations, etc., but the cold hard truth remains the same. If you are exercising and eating properly, you will be healthy and lose weight. For some people, this is much more difficult if their fitness goals revolve solely around weight loss. Also, some people have to be very strict with their diet while some can eat more and gain less, but, then again, who ever said life was fair? 
You have a window of calories per day. In this window,, you need to get all of your vitamins, minerals and nutrients. For argument sake, let's call this a window of 2000 calories. If you choose to have one of the McDonald's breakfasts, you may have just used 5-600 calories of your allowable 2000, but you've given your body very little in the way of what it needs to survive (vitamins, minerals and nutrients). You now have to get all of your needs filled in the remaining 1400 calories. If you get to the end of your day and you have eaten your 2000 calories but have not met your nutritional needs, you will start to crave. Then you get into the weight gain window. This then perpetuates into the following day. The body's craving and needs to be satiated and what do we often do? We fill it with quick burning carbohydrates, fats, and sugars when we should be saturating it with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. This cycle is not easy to break. It takes consistency and hard work, but, once you have the cycle broken, you will crave junk food less and you will lose weight and become healthier. It is not a quick fix, it is not easy, but it works and it works for the long term.
In today’s world, we are finding obese people who are also suffering from malnutrition. It seams counter-intuitive, but the cause of this is the weight gain window. We are filling ourselves with empty calories. Foods that are high in calories and low in nutrition.
Don’t live in the weight gain window. Take control of your diet one day at a time. Get consistent and you won’t have to worry about cheat days or points. Your exception will be the junk food while your norm will be the healthy choices.


Wednesday, May 02, 2012

I know a guy...

Who came to work for our organization a few years back.
He had ‘some’ work experience, a strong work ethic and the inclination NOT to be like everyone else.
He started at the bottom (where everyone starts) and after the honeymoon phase, he complained (like everyone complains) about not having enough money.
We told him to show us the results before we showed him the money. Sew before you reap type advice.
Like others before him, we didn’t expect him to return.

He did return.

He sold his house, downsized his car and moved closer to the facility he was working at.
Then he started to create opportunities for himself. 1st by mastering the systems, 2nd by creating new & better systems.
He made a few mistakes, but he made those mistakes trying as well as operating at full speed.
He never held the assistant manager, role player or manager title or wage, but that didn’t prevent him from acting like all of them.

Then the time came to ‘take the risk’. He would be the 1st person out of over 250 before him to take a franchise.
While there was no shortage of uncertainty from those around him, there was no shortage of confidence in the systems & himself.
Once again, he started at the beginning. Moved back home to save money, and kept expenses tight so he could service his debt.
He grew his business from 1 person to 2, to 4-8-10 and so on. He hired a single training coach, and then went to 2-3-4 and so on.
Within 3 years he had serviced his debt, put a down payment on a house, purchased a vehicle and enjoyed the fruits of his labor.

More importantly he had empowered hundreds of people to live healthier, happier lives & donated his time & money to charity & his community
He led family, friends and customers (young & old) on expeditions spanning 5 of the 7 continents of the world & crossed off hundreds of personal ‘to do's’
He started an adventure travel company, a public speaking company, co-authored a book, sat on community boards & co-founded a NPO organization.
At 30 one might suggest he was a business prodigy but we just knew him as wise beyond his years.

He decided he wanted to take the lead on the overall operations of the organization.
So he put himself through learning all of the business elements he wasn’t that familiar with at the onset.
And he asked to take control and the role of general manager for the organization with a focus on creating more franchises for ‘those guys & girls’ like himself.
He discovered his girlfriend, who would become his fiance who will eventually become his wife... through work
His single biggest attribute? He says what he's going to do... and then does what he says. 

Sound too good to be true? I probably wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself either. 
But it is true. He does exist and not surprisingly he’s become a good colleague and a great friend.
One can only hope every employer is both good & fortunate enough to come across people (guys & girls) like this.
People who sew before they reap, listen before they talk, master the systems before trying ‘their own thing’ and do what they say they are going to do without fail or excuses. 

We have no doubt that one day... he will own the company.