Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Weighing in on Ferguson.

Much discussion has taken place re: the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Was it justified, racially motivated, warranted, an example of the obvious racial & socioeconomic divide that's eroding our society? Was it a life & death reaction to a series of dire events? Was it both or was it neither? Let's start with the obvious. When someone loses their life, it is a tragedy that transcends race, gender, age and religion. Regardless of the investigative outcomes that life will not be replaced and that is about as unfortunate as it gets.... that is, unless we take / learn nothing from it. Here are the top five things I've learned (so far) from the tragic Ferguson incident, not meant in any way shape or form to trivialize the unfortunate events.
  1. Each time incidents like this happen, society takes ten BIG steps backward. In life, the second the blame game begins is the same second the learning stops. Blaming only assures situations will more than likely be repeated.
  2. We rush to judge people & events. We're so impatient, we can't even wait for due process to run it's course before we formulate (and share) our opinions. We want it right but we want it right - right now.
  3. We're quick to play our cards when it suits us. The race, religion & gender cards. We seem to avoid the realities of life cards which state that sometimes terrible shit happens that has no bearing on ANY one of those things.
  4. We seldom put ourselves in other people's shoes. That would be difficult when whats easy is to wonder why everyone else doesn't think / act or react like us. Why didn't he/she just...
  5. More than less, the reaction to these instances, merely serves to reinforce the very stereotypes we seek to eliminate. Rioting, looting and... shooting at police as a solution?
The only positive that can come from this tragic incident, and incidences like it is a better understanding and clearer management of 1-5 above. Until then, history is very likely to continue repeating itself.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Suffocating under the weight of ignorance.

First things first let's meet Jim.

It was interesting to read the backlash to this very real, very honest infomercial. "Oh yeah, blame the parents", "This is prejudice against overweight people" and on and on. Here's the reality folks. Obesity is a controllable death sentence that's also crippling global economies. Millions have been spent trying to passively & non offensively educate the population on the adverse ramifications of obesity. For the most part, we've chosen not to listen (eg: statistically trending towards unhealthy populations). But why would we / should we listen or take action?
  1. there's zero tangible accountability for living an unhealthy lifestyle eg: healthy lifestyles are optional. 
  2. we don't view this global epidemic as 'our problem' eg: I know MANY PEOPLE raising obese children who would watch Jim's video and hope other people 'get it'
  3. we've justified & prioritized profiting from the obesity epidemic over solving it.  
  • The research industry receiving MILLIONS in grant after grant for study after study validating how being overweight is negatively affecting our productivity. Thanks.
  • The health & fitness industry profiting BILLIONS promising those who want to keep doing what they're doing can achieve better health with this pill, that membership, this miracle cure
  • The pharmaceutical industry making BILLIONS creating drugs that manage the symptoms of obesity to provide 'better quality of life'
  • The fast food industry profiting BILLIONS in serving up cheap, processed food while placating us with their 1-15 ratio of healthy-to-processed food choices
  • The technology & gaming industry generating BILLIONS from feeding our addictive & insatiable appetite for instant gratification
  • The medical industry continuing to invest BILLIONS in downstream medical care vs.  investing in upstream prevention. 
  • *ever wonder a) if we invested 50% of these total monies into a solution, we would make great inroads to solving this epidemic or b) why don't we mandate these organizations contribute to a health care solution using a percentage of their profits as they are clearly part of the problem? 
With all of the above, the 64 Trillion dollar question remains, do we (as a majority population) stand a chance of living healthier lifestyles? The answer to that is a sum total of the parts, beginning with us. 
  1. Do you know what healthy choices are? Do you make them 80% of the time? Do you have consequences for making and/or not making them? 
  2. Did you decide to have children? Do you understand what that responsibility entails pertaining to their health? Do you parent to make your children 'feel good' now or do you parent to make your children 'be empowered' to thrive later? 
  3. Did you choose to live in a community? Do you simply live and take from that community or are you contributing to it's sustenance, growth and preservation? Do you voice your opinion to those who can make change?   
  4. Do you pay attention to what's going on in your province? Do you vote? Do you do your diligence on the candidates you're voting in and their platforms? Do you voice your opinion to those who can make change? 
  5. Do you reap the benefits of living in your country? Do you pull on a red & white jersey every four years and become vocal when we win hockey? Do you vocalize your opinions to those who can make change?
Until more than 50% (17.44M of Canada's 34.88M population) can answer yes to all 5 questions above, we will continue to suffocate under the weight of our ignorance. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Differentiate your business brand.

"We're not trying to be better than the competition, we're trying to be different". Steve Jobs.

There's little argument about the impact Steve Jobs had on.... the world really. His vision redefined the manner in which we communicate across multiple mediums. But lets get back to his famous quote, a quote which defines ANY entrepreneur's / new businesses success. I'm no Steve Jobs by magnitude nor am I  attempting to draw any comparisons to his accomplishments, however like many entrepreneurs I identify with his lengthy battle to switch the team focus OFF of what the competition is doing and ON to what we are creating.

Here are five reasons why that is critical to the success of any business.
  1. You can't control what others are doing. Focusing on others takes your attention off of what you're supposed to be doing. More, if you're attempting to replicate what others are already doing it means you're already behind / following.
  2. It exposes your lack of business IQ. Extremely successful business people remain focused on the execution of the worthy. While they are aware of the competitive landscape, they're not in reacting to it. They're defining it. 
  3. You risk losing your unique value proposition. I've been in too many meetings that propose we operate like everyone else IN THE SAME BREATH as the demand to uphold our unique value proposition. You can't have both.
  4. It becomes a race to the bottom. Eventually, it comes down to who can deliver the best service for the cheapest price. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Apple decided they would be a premium brand, which carries a premium price and guess what? People not only expect that, they line up city blocks to get it. [see below]. Be great enough with your proposition that you can demand the supply. 
  5. All of that energy and focus will only make your idea, business or value proposition better. You will stand APART from the rest of the businesses in your space and THAT is what consumers want. Not more confusion about the same thing. 

The book on how to be successful need not be re-written, it simply needs to be read and implemented.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Why we think we're owed something.

Ever wonder why so many of us live in this perpetual state of naivety constantly believing we're owed something? 'Ya... she doesn't talk to me anymore', 'I've been working there for five years now', 'I deserve a break' and the list goes on.

I think the reason is threefold; a) our self worth has been greatly over inflated & over exaggerated b) it's a byproduct of compensating (and over compensating) what would otherwise be considered routine behaviors & c) we lack the practice hence skill of taking personal accountability. 


The reality of life's law suggests many of us are getting what we're giving and reaping what we've sewn. If our phones have stopped ringing, it's because we have stopped calling. If our flame has dwindled, it's because we're no stoking the fire and the cause / effect list goes on should we be mature & honest enough to own it.

One of the better books I've read was written by John G Miller called QBQ; the Question behind the Question. It was a helpful resource in re-framing many of the victim questions I was asking myself. At the end of the day all of my life's magic and mayhem start & finish with one person; me.

Don't blame. Own S!!t