Wednesday, October 30, 2013

No more brochures!

  • Is there an obesity problem? Said nobody.
  • Do we lack adequate funding for education? Said nobody.
  • Should I recycle?
  • Is it bad for one to watch five hours of television a day?
  • I wonder what I should eat to be healthy?
  • Just where might I find this information? I just don’t know where to look.

Look everywhere.

We know what we should do. We know where to find information. There is an article a day, every day, on most of the topics listed above in nearly every remaining newspaper on the planet.

The problem isn’t lack of information. It’s whether that information is correct and more over, it is how to implement, measure and execute. Easily and for the regular man/woman that rarely changes much in their daily routine.

We received your brochure. It had information that we read. Then we recycled it and then went back to our normal day to day actions.

What are you going to do to support me make a change? How will you change the world’s behaviours? And why? This is how you stand out from the crowd.

The world doesn’t need another know-it-all. We need humble servants prepared to make a difference through accountability and execution, and all of it based primarily on the information we already have. No more spilled ink. Time for sweat.

Step up. Stand out.
Written by Willie Cromack - The Underdog Effect. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


You sot at your desk counting the sound of tics of the clock on the wall. With frustration you begin to speak out loud.
"I've been with the company for over 10 years!"
"But, yet again, this new job has better pay and I would be able to afford more for my family."
"Wait! I can't, we would have to move...Everything is here."
"No...I won't get a promotion if I stayed!"

You still can't figure out what to do. You've tried to narrow down the decision; made a pro's and con's list, spoken to friends, family, and still, zilch.

As a last resort, you flip a coin. Heads you change your life forever, tails, you stay. As the coin turns in the air and falls to the ground, deep down inside you're hoping the coin shows heads..You glance down and your heart drops, you begin to realize, that your life is about to change...

Nervous yet excited, all of your previous doubts begin to escape your mind. You start imagining how life will be with this change. You can't believe it's actually happening and you can't wait to tell your family and begin your new adventure.

We've all been there, stuck in a predicament, afraid to make the wrong decision.
"What colour?"
"I don't know what to do"
"Should I try it?"

All of these processes have gone through our minds. We become scared of our own potential to change and persevere. We end up cemented in our "comfort zone," falling into a routine we call ordinary. Never moving forward..

Imagine all of the missed opportunities! That girl that ask you to dance, but you were too shy, your friends inviting you to a social event, but you didn't go, your children's play, but you decided to stay late at work. These all could have provided essential growth to your life, but we constantly say no..Why? We like to play it safe, away from change, away from harm, away from risk.

The second we allow ourselves to say yes is the moment we can enjoy the simplest things in life. Even if it's not a life changing experience, we can still gain from it. You will begin to realize that the more you allow yourself to do so, the easier it becomes. Life will flourish and you'll wonder why you never did this before.

So why is it so difficult just to go with it? We all know that the grass will be greener once we've jumped over the fence.

Let's do it...Jump, and never look back.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Music Therapy

It's Monday at 5:30pm, you finally get into your car after a stressful day at work. You realize, it's only Monday and start muttering to yourself.

"How am I ever going to get through this week?" It's routine, day in day out. You've done this before, to a point where you don't even think when you go through your mental check list.

Seat belt, lock doors, mirror, mirror, ignition, time to go home....

Here comes traffic, Your ears begin to bleed from your engine. Stop, go, stop, go, stop.... Great another accident.... Your eyes wander from side to side, and your mind goes blank.. You start to think.

"Maybe I'm stressed? Depressed? I might be having an anxiety attack right now."

Many of us are caught in this situation every day, or similar ones just like it. Whatever the situation, we feel helpless and have no outlet or way to solve this problem. We have all tried to ignore it, but eventually it piles up. We feel like we're suffocating from the depth of anxiety within us. We can't fall asleep at night, our mind races constantly, and all you can think of is how tired you will be tomorrow.

Last resort, you end up putting the radio on. After a couple mindless songs with Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber, your favourite song comes on! Your head starts bobbing to the beat, your shoulders, and feet follow. Flash backs of your youth practicing Vanilla Ice's dance moves in the mirror run through your mind.

The music takes you over the stress you felt before vanishes and before you know it, your home. "What happened?" You ask yourself. One moment you can't breathe and the next you're on top of the world.

Music has a huge influence in our well being. It can help that quiet teenager who is bullied at school through a rough day, trying to heal the wounds on your heart from that last break up. It can make you forget about that interview coming up, or the everyday stresses of life.

If we allow ourselves time everyday to listen to music to sooth our psychological struggles, life will have colour and purpose. We can have growth and substance in our lives, as it can help develop our individuality.

Music has the ability to make day to day chores seem easy, enhances the exercise experience, and can give an edge to a professional athlete getting ready for the game. Whatever situation you might be in, music has the ability to lift you up.

So what do have to lose? Try it, next time you feel down, turn up those speakers, and let yourself go.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Educating the herd.

We like things the way they are. No changes please. Stay the course. Let’s just make this easy and move on, I’m too busy to think right now.

No time to think. Little to discuss and even less we’d like to debate. That’s hard work and requires and opinion that isn’t spoonfed to us by our friend who seems to know more than us.

So how will you get a new idea to take shape? Who will care if nobody cares? Who will debate the
finer points of your new concepts if everybody wants to stay normal?

You will need to be consistent and find a way to build a conversation people are interested in and that they will rarely consider controversial. You will also need to find the outliers in your arena. Those that will beat the drum for change and engage in a conversation for a new future. They are out there and you might have to take every one of them out to coffee, or work for them, or make them sit up and pay attention by supporting their efforts. Whatever you propose, this is your tribe. Become a part of their network and build with them. Maybe even to an even bigger vision combining and collaborating together.

To gain traction there is very little you can do beyond continuing to iterate your ideas and speak with people, one on one if you must, daily. Hard work gets you where you want to go if your idea even stands a chance. Keep building a conversation that people might want to attach to. Continue to support others see what their life could look like inside of your future vision.
Make the change seem easier than doing the normal routine.

Set out to make people’s lives better.

You don’t stand a chance if you can’t crack open the door of complacency but shouting louder will never work. Your work must nip at the edges of regular life, slowly pushing those edges outwards to include your ideas and work.

Telling people what to do rarely succeeds. Having them discover their own best life inside your work is much more difficult but stands a greater chance to last over the long term.

How hard are you working to tell your story?

Step up. Stand out. Written by Willie Cromack - the Underdog Effect.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fear as a Motivator

You start counting down the months, days, and nights. Your mind becomes distorted, feels like you can’t move forward. The day is coming, the one that will change the rest of your life. Fear has now knocked on the door, and you've opened it.

You begin flipping through pages of the contract, trying to focus on the important points, but the words begin to fade and turn into a different language. The realtor and salesman are explaining each page to you, and you begin to pretend to understand and nod along.

“Initial here, sign here.” Your hand slowly trembles and becomes heavy trying to sign your name. You begin to space out and all you can hear are pages flipping, pens clicking, and muffled toned voices.

The salesman and realtor shake your hand. “Congratulations on purchasing your very first home!”
The reality begins to set in. I've done it. I was stressed for nothing. The months prior to this day you couldn't sleep, focus or enjoy the everyday essentials of life.

Fear consumed your life, and you were okay about it...

Slowly the fear you once lived with is gone. A weight has been lifted off your shoulders.  For months leading up to the day of buying your first home your life seemed dark and cloudy. Every day you hoped it would get better, but didn't  You didn't want to do anything to change it, until the day you had an appointment set, to change your whole life.

Fear can consume everyone, and we get stuck in a slippery slope going nowhere.  Within the example above, just goes to show how far fear can take control of our lives. Relationships, health, opportunities, are all examples what fear can destroy.

What is stopping you from growth and happiness? What’s on the other side of a decision? Why are you scared?

These are all questions we ask ourselves when it comes to fear in any situation.  Sometimes we just need to take a deep breath, and leap.  If we don’t get out of our comfort zone and try new things we will end up miserable and stuck for the rest of our lives.

Take the first step! Say “yes, I’ll do it!” Not tomorrow, not next week, make it today.

Many people look at fear as a bad thing. But if we have a different approach to fear and use it to our advantage we can accomplish many great feats. Without fear in our lives we wouldn't be able to grow and experience life to the fullest.

Let fear be the driver to your success and not destruction. Next time you’re invited to do something outside your comfort zone, try it! If there is a job, opportunity, relationship, or experience you want, go for it. Imagine what you could do if you said yes to every opportunity, where would you be?

Hill Running

Training on Hills

-improves leg strength
-speeds up stride
-expands stride length 
-develops your cardiovascular system

 Why It Works

-force the muscles in your hips, legs, ankles and feet to contract in a coordinated fashion while supporting your full body weight

-muscles contract more powerfully than usual because they are forced to overcome gravity to move you up the hill. The result is more power, which in turn leads to longer, faster running strides.

Going Up
  • While starting, shorten your stride. Don’t try to maintain the pace you were running on the flat.
  • Aim for equal effort going up as well as down, not equal pace
  • Your posture should be upright – don’t lean forward or back 
  • If breathing quickens you are probably going too fast or over-striding 
  • Don't use an explosive motion it will waste energy. If the hill is long or the gradient increases, keep shortening your stride to maintain a smooth and efficient breathing pattern. If the gradient decreases, extend your stride again. 
  • Maintain the same steady effort and breathing throughout.
Accelerate gradually into the downhill.

Coming Down  
  • Visualize gravity pulling you down the hill.
  • Maintain an upright body posture
  • Strides can be slightly longer than normal.
  • The key to efficient downhill running is to stay in control. When you start, keep your stride slightly shortened and let your turnover increase. When you feel in control, gradually lengthen your stride.
If you start to run out of control when descending, shorten your stride until you feel you are back in control again.

Common Problems



Breathing too hard

Over-striding or bounding too far
Tight legs

Sore lower back

Leaning forward
Sore shoulders and arms

Arms extended too far forward



Tight hamstrings or sore shins

Arms flailing

Going too fast
Sore lower back

Leaning too far forward
Sore quads

Forcing your quads to work too hard by over-striding


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

While we're on the subject

of leaders..... needing to do just that, a few words

We hang petty thieves and appoint the great thieves to public office.
~Aesop, Greek slave & fable author

Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.
~Plato, ancient Greek Philosopher

Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.
~Nikita Khrushchev, Russian Soviet politician

When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I'm beginning to believe it.
~Quoted in 'Clarence Darrow for the Defense' by Irving Stone.

Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other.
~Oscar Ameringer, "the Mark Twain of American Socialism."

A politician is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country.
~Texas Guinan. 19th century American businessman

I have come to the conclusion that politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.
~Charles de Gaulle, French general & politician

Friday, October 11, 2013

Be a Role Model for Youth

Young Children Learning How and Why to Eat Healthy Food

Healthy eating habits are created through constant practice and modeling.  As a parent or caregiver of a young child you are the prime adult in charge of what groceries are bought, what lessons are taught and what conversations are happening around the topic of healthy eating.

The responsibility is also on other mentors and adults in the child’s life. This may be at school, or at peers houses and other activities the child is involved with.

 The more places young children can receive the message and the tool set to learn about healthy behaviour and how to practice these skills, the more chance they have of maintaining a healthy lifestyle when they are adults.

As with any skill set young children are learning such as math, writing, movement or physical skills, learning the importance of healthy foods is an essential life skill. It may very well be the most important one to make time for, regardless of how busy we are.

Children who get quality sleep, who don’t spend hours watching TV or playing video games will  then understand the feeling of being energized and therefore have the ability to focus while at school and in class. 

Since life is busy here are 3 suggestions to start with:

Encourage children to eat slowly, and discourage eating meals or snacks in front of the TV.
  • By eating slowly a child can detect the feeling of feeling full much better
  • Eating at the table versus in front of the TV also allows the attention to be on enjoying the meal, not rushing and better awareness to feelings of fullness
  • Distractions may lead to overeating, so before offering seconds ask your child to wait a few minutes to allow the brain to register fullness
Involve children in food shopping or preparing meals:
  • Get out some sticky tabs and spend 10 minutes going though a recipe book with your Childs and they can pick 1-3 favourites for that week
  • This will also shed light on their particular food preferences
  •  If the child has picked out the meal they may be more willing to eat or try foods that you are preparing
Encourage children to drink more water.
  •  Choose water to drink when the child feels thirsty
  • Avoid pop or other sugary drinks as the over consumption of sugary drinks has been linked to childhood obesity

Patience and time to allow these behaviours to become habit is key. Changing the foods a child is used to may not be an easy road to go down. Here is a quick read on When A Child Says "No" by Inbal Kashtan. 

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Are you bringing 100 of your 50?

I had the opportunity to listen to a successful entrepreneur express his opinion on the gap relating to business relationships. The main point simply stated in any successful business relationship two people/parties must bring 100% of their 50% to achieve a mutual measure of success. He cited a variety of examples of what happens when there’s a deficit from either party.

This advice, obviously not limited to business seems easy to qualify but much more difficult to quantify. He explained that almost all business relationships begin with what used to be deemed the only necessary quantifier; the contract. The contract, in essence was the terms of understanding expectations for both parties. For decades, the contract has been adequate & suitable however, he pointed out with the misplaced gratification levels & an over inflation of expertise (something we covered in last weeks blog), that the contract, stand alone may no longer cover a changing business relationship spectrum.

His opinion on that spectrum was as to the effect of;

  • 60-70’s: provide me an opportunity – and thank you
  • 70-80’s: provide me an opportunity -  treat me fairly – and thank you.
  • 80-90’s: provide me an opportunity– treat me fairly – understand my needs – and thank you
  • 90-00’s: provide me an opportunity – treat me fairly – understand my needs – empower me – and thank you
  • 00-present: provide me an opportunity – treat me fairly – understand my needs – empower me – mentor me – and thank me.
If I didn’t have experience in business management, I may have laughed his example off - however it’s actually fairly accurate. Speaking to him after the presentation my sole question was whether the deficit in the contribution could be made up by either party to which he replied, you can’t want it more than the them. Improbable. Perhaps it comes with age, maybe it was the manner with which it was framed, but whatever the reason – it sunk in. All either party can  control is putting forward their best 100% of the 50%.

Provided clear expectations are laid out at the onset and quantifiable plans are in place, there should be very little ambiguity. Of course, no system is perfect and one must always account for human factor variability, but again with 100% of our 50%, we should be far more then less productive.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Whatever You Build, You Will Have to Maintain

Whether it is Amy Winehouse’s death, Justin Bieber’s recent downfall in the public eye, or Lindsay Lohan’s constant attendance at the local rehab center -- being famous isn’t for everyone & it isn’t as easy as one might suspect. And these examples should be enough warnings to would-be influencers and others seeking fame.

What’s concerning is that our culture -- our world, even -- glorifies celebrities, when in actuality their lives often seem empty. We should see the unfortunate death of your celebrities as a clarion call to those of us seeking influence to be cautious.

Let’s be honest -- fame is seductive. Any influencer or communicator will tell you:

It’s tempting to want to be famous. The opportunity to have more influence, to talk to more people, to increase your followers, is sexy.

Fame draws us in with one tempting thought: the allure of more. Thousands of screaming fans. The thrill of an audience. It hits us right where we’re weakest, right where so many of us fall -- our inner being…our pride. All the while, we don’t realize we’re being led to the slaughter.

Every day, we see actors and musicians rise to fame too quickly and pay the price. And yet, we’re blind when we face these same temptations in our own lives.  At the age of 27 Amy Winehouse joined many others ending life all too early, and one can’t help but think that fame was one of the culprits. At the end of the day, fame is addictive.

The problem with any kind of influence is that once you build it, you have to maintain it. If you cut ethical corners to get to where you are, you’ll have to continue those patterns to continue having influence. While there’s nothing wrong with having a platform, the requirements of it can be costly.
For many of us, standing in front of an adoring audience would be exhilarating. Receiving a standing ovation in a crowded auditorium would be exciting. Getting a hundred people to re-tweet you on Twitter would feel good. Just the thought might give you a rush. This is the thrill of fame.

But the problem is that the feeling eventually goes away. And next time, you need a little more. And then a little bit more…just like every addiction.

You keep trying to top your last performance. You may even start performing solely for the cheers. But at some point, even that doesn’t feel that good anymore. And you start looking for exhilaration elsewhere.

Whether it is drugs or alcohol…research tells us that one addiction naturally leads to another. And an addiction is something that you have to keep feeding to feel normal. Fame is just that.

Anyone who knows what it means to be addicted knows that these obsessions ultimately consume you. Every thought, every craving, every waking moment becomes captive to the addiction. The irony is that you worked so hard to build an audience -- to influence people with your words, your music, and your art -- and now it owns you. What, at one time, was a vocation now consumes your identity. You become what you do.

So is all influence bad?

Of course not. It all depends on our motivation.

If you are seeking influence to merely be famous? You may find yourself on a path that leads to destruction. But if you seek to influence others for the sake of making their lives better because you, yourself have come to a place of peace & self-actualization…then your influence can be extremely powerful. However, as your influence grows, be cognizant of the temptations you face. Beware of the “performance mentality” and the thrill-seeking addictions of “fame”.

Alternatively, consider the possibility that may not actually need fame to do your life’s work. If, however, you do, be careful in how you attain it. Remember: whatever you build, you will have to maintain. 

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Market your authentic self.

....and with one click my opinion is validated. Ten & I’m coolio & OMG fifty+... I'm an expert! There are A LOT of experts amongst our networks these days, way more than there used to be when we were productive, sustainable & profitable. We’re privy to their profiles on Linkedin robust with their ultra-ego’s, confirming the demand for their grey matter. If we need more, we can be wowed by their inspiring instagrams or humored by their twerky tweets. It’s a brilliant billion dollar self effacing multi level marketing scheme. 

My favorite? Paid workshops one can attend to learn how to better market themselves... when they already have a job. Translation: we’re marketing you paying money to us - to teach you how to better market an inflated version of you for.... Ah, what do I know maybe I’m in the wrong business.

What I can share is FIVE FREE, NO FRILLS solutions to better market ourselves.

  1. be confident & comfortable with yourself. Your authentic self. If we’re really as cool as some of our projected self’s - there’s no 20BILLION/yr anti depressant play. People appreciate real.
  2. establish a personal set of guiding principles / values. Doesn’t matter what those are – it matters that they’re yours and you’re consistently working them. People like consistency. 
  3. do what you say you’re going to do when you say your going to do it. In the tsunami of inconsistency, you will remain anchored. People gravitate to grounded.
  4. commit to owning what you’ve agreed to be responsible for. Bank the blame, exorcise the excuses don't just do it - OWN it. People recognize leadership.
  5. work smart, work hard, work long & repeat. Make it your mission to become a student of whatever game you chose to play. Every play. Every day. People vaunt winners.  
This may err on the side of old school, but we have to be honest in asking; is new school working for us? 

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The Beginning of All Wisdom!

Weekly in our business, we have a planned time to get together with our teammates for a 1hr staff meeting to discuss various topics. What may range from a guest speaker, to a professional development topic, to a team-building theme, we utilize the one-hour to the most of our abilities knowing that we only have one hour together.

With new teammates recently added to our organization today we thought it would be timely to explore elements of both self-awareness and areas of personal development. In a non-judgmental & planned environment we delivered supportive feedback for each and every teammate – an action to stop doing, an action to start doing, and an action to continue to do. In essence, every teammate provided those three areas of feedback for each of their respective teammate so by the end of the meeting every teammate received 16 pieces of feedback on 3 different areas.

Eye-opening? Not particularly. Excellent? Yes.

Why was it not eye-opening? Well, the feedback (for the most part) should have acted more of a reminder for people. If we understand ourselves at any capacity, we should have an understanding of what we do well & what we don’t. And if we don’t – chances are we aren’t secure enough in ourselves to admit it. However, today’s exercise allowed others to provide it – which forced us to go to a deeper level of understanding our behavior!

Which leads us to the topic of self-awareness.

According to Aristotle, "Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom."

Why is this so important?  Numerous studies indicate that individuals who score high in self-awareness are happier and achieve greater success than those who lack it.  Self-awareness enables people to build their lives around their strengths and better manage their challenges.

As people become more self-aware, they are usually amazed at the abilities of the conscious mind to choose, handle situations with deliberation, and behave appropriately for different occasions.

On the flip side, the unconscious mind is a powerful force driving our behavior. Within our unconscious lie veiled assumptions and beliefs that formulate what is called default behavior. The dictionary defines default as the “failure to perform a task or fulfill an obligation,” which means that default behaviors are reactive responses that occur when we fail to consider the appropriate response.  

Becoming aware of our personal reactive tendencies is crucial if we want to make sense of our toxic behaviors, understand why we have permitted these gremlins to continue, and develop a plan for taming them.  

Our attitudes are choices, some of the most important choices we will ever make. Attitudes are reflections of what goes on inside our heads. They affect everything we do—positively or negatively. A negative attitude acts like the accelerator of a car. When we put our pedal to the metal, we learn very quickly that driving can indeed be dangerous to our health and to our career aspirations. Default behaviors occur when we decide not to act, but to react. And default behaviors may not represent our best side or our ideal self.

Becoming aware of the effect our personality and default tendencies have on the people in our lives helps us engineer better communication and leadership styles.  The four quadrants of the brain generally correspond to specific behavioral patterns.  Our brain's hardwiring drives how we think, feel and act, which in turn defines who we are!

6 Pack Abs-Core Training

Core Training

Currently, fitness professionals are moving away from the standard crunch style of core training and are being better trained to know what type of core exercises should to be doing/ and not doing with customers. 

I'll provide you with an example I see daily:

Example 1: 
-Works in an office at a desk all day
-Always on phone and computer/Always sitting
-Bad posture, rounded shoulders
-Experiencing low back pain/tight neck and trap muscle/cramping

Loading the Spine or Spinal Flexion

The first question to ask isWhat is the function of the core? Would it make sense to wind this guy any tighter or continue to put extra load on his back and neck??

Answer: The answer is obviously no. The function is to stabilize the spine……so why would we repeatedly do crunches and sit-up variations that put the spine into flexion?

 The traditional sit-up imposes about 730 pounds of compression on the spine. This means that every time you do a sit-up, knees bent with feet on the ground, sitting up to vertical, that amount of pressure is crushing your discs.

Application: Work the core as it was meant to function. Lot's of front support, side support, chops, lifts, and anti-extension exercises with a healthy dose of full body compound exercises. Plank variations, side plank variations, cable stabilization exercises, core roll-outs, dynamic medicine ball training and cable chops and lifts.

**We need to promote good postural habits and doing crunches put our body in poor position for good posture. So we need to progress his core and work it in a different way**

Core Exercises and Progressions

Customer must be able to perform an exercise properly for the entire set before advancing with exercises!

Go Through:
-          TA activation - supine draw in
-          Supine leg drop series
-          Glute series, quadruped series
-          Plank holds and progressions (front plank, side plank, side plank hip drops, front plank variations, swiss ball plank, roll-outs)
-          Rotational core (cable chops, lifts, medball throws,etc)
-          Unstable surface work (exercises performed on kneeling/standing/seated on bosu ball)

**I'm not saying that we can’t do any sit-ups/crunches but we should really be trying to limit how much we are doing**

If you want a "6-pack," change your diet. I can give you as much core info as you can take, but it takes a regimented eating plan, combined with exercise, to get that look