Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Anchor your focus & achieve success.

    Each year, I drop the anchor by way of creating a personal mission statement. A personal mission statement is a concise statement of intent which all actions & outcomes must meet prior to engaging. If actions & outcomes do not support the personal mission statement, I don't engage them.

I craft this in Oct / Nov for the upcoming year because I found floundering and waiting for the clock to strike midnight on Jan 1 was a waste of precious time. I hate wasting my time. I draft the PMS based on input from trusted business and personal peers who provide me with need to hear vs want to hear feedback on how I can improve. It becomes a cathartic and effective process.

This past years PMS was Next Level, meaning actions and outcomes must be purposefully and intentionally leading my physical, emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual spheres to the next level. Does this practice work? It does. While I'll spare the humble brag of achievements accomplished from Nov to Nov, I will broadly share it was one of the most productive and enjoyable years I've had to date. All of the planning was done up front and then it was simply a matter of execution (which is actually not that simple). 2015's personal mission statement is efficiency, meaning the focus will be to become even more efficient with time & energies invested across the five spheres to achieve the outcomes I'm after. *Note. I did not invent this process, I simply execute it at a high level.

I'm obviously big on goal setting & time management as a framework for success. Where there's no plan, there's no purpose and no point. It's like getting in a car to drive to a destination that you have no idea where it is and wondering why you're wasting time, driving aimlessly & getting frustrated. This practice starts with a personal mission statement and then follows up with specific goals (with timelines) down the personal and professional verticals. If you've found yourself struggling to get ahead or stay on track give it a try. You will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Realities of Being an Entrepreneur.

I'm often surprised when I talk to people interested in starting their own businesses. When asking about my experience as an entrepreneur, they'll say, "You're so lucky," or "It must be great to be out of the rat race." Statements like this make me smile because they couldn't be less true. Luck has nothing to do with it. As for the rat race, while different, it's faster than ever.

That's why I wanted to share the realities of being an entrepreneur. First, a disclaimer: At the end of every day, I wouldn't trade my current situation for any other option, and I'm grateful to be able to do what I truly love. However, being an entrepreneur isn't the easy, carefree career path that many believe it to be; it's actually quite the opposite. When everything is invested in your own business--time, money, passion and creativity--it can border on obsession. And when you work from home or your spouse or family members work with you, you rarely, if ever, leave the office--at least from a mental standpoint.

Let me start with a few hard truths of being an entrepreneur:

1. It's stressful. If you think meeting a boss's deadlines or demands is tough, try meeting your own, especially when your personal savings are on the line. Maybe you've already taken out a second mortgage and your credit cards are maxxed out. Or maybe you've borrowed money from family and friends and you're on the hook to pay them back, ASAP. This type of pressure lights a fire under even the most laid-back personalities. Not only will you feel the pressure to get your business off the ground, but you'll also feel the added pressure to do so quickly to regain some semblance of financial security.

2. It's never-ending. Yes, it can be thankless to work for someone else, knowing your skills and talents are ultimately making someone else a bundle. But in most jobs, you can leave the work behind when you go home to enjoy your family, friends or hobbies. As an entrepreneur, the workload can be intense, especially during the early stages when you are the CEO, CFO, HR person, sales staff, marketing guru, tech guy, office manager, and janitor. With all these roles, there's rarely a moment that you feel your work is "done" for the day. There's always something more you could be doing, like researching new markets, writing press releases, contacting new media, cold calling new sales outlets, developing new products and the list goes on. And that can eat away at time formerly devoted to family, leisure activities, workouts or relaxation.
It's a difficult balance to strike.

3. It's frustrating. Maybe you've partnered with someone who doesn't have your best interests at heart. Or you've received a shipment of damaged products that you need for a trade show the next day. Or the media appearance you spent days preparing for is suddenly cancelled due to a natural disaster. As an entrepreneur, these types of situations happen on a regular basis. (I speak from experience; all of the above happened to me.) The truth is that you never know what's around the corner and it can be extremely frustrating when you've planned to spend a day on product development, only to find out that you have to repair the cases of product packaging that came apart during shipping.

So with this kind of stress, pressure and workload, why, then, would anyone subject themselves to being an entrepreneur? The answer is simple: the positives outweigh the negatives:

1. It's rewarding. When you're successful, you reap both financial and emotional rewards. There's no better feeling than seeing a product you've worked hard to develop on store shelves, or when you've provided successful service for a grateful client. It's exciting to make a sale or win a new client when you know it's from your own hard work; it's gratifying when customers tell you that your product, service or example has made a difference in their lives. And of course, turning a profit and knowing your business is financially stable are extremely rewarding as well.

2. It's flexible. Once you work for yourself, it's common to feel you could never work in a conventional 9-to-5 environment again. I believe it's mostly due to the flexibility. Yes, you may work more hours, but you can do so on your own terms. You can stop work at 3 to pick up the kids from school without asking your boss for permission. You can work from midnight to 4 a.m. if you're a night owl. You can work from home or your own office with daycare on-site. When you're the boss, you call the shots, and the new freedom can be exhilarating.

3. It's the chance to create. Many entrepreneurs are driven by the need to build something great, help other people, or leave something behind. Perhaps it's a business that your children can join and grow; maybe it's the legacy of creating something that will be around long after you're gone. No matter what the motivation, creating something from nothing that grows and develops through the years can be almost like raising a child; it's your baby, and you've nurtured it to its current level of success. That type of fulfillment is difficult to duplicate in most other career paths.

Written by Tamara Monosoff 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Why Innovative Fitness is AWESOME.

    Yes, I'm absolutely biased in this assessment of this business, but to be involved in something that brings so much empowerment to so many, is something to be proud of. Founded over 20 years ago, IF emerged after many hours of planning during our French 400 class at UBC. Two young, ambitious, business-raw athlete's determined they wanted to match their innate & learned skill sets with their passion for helping people achieve their goals.

The name "Innovative Fitness" was tongue in cheek as it came at a time when the industry was trying to revolutionize health & fitness. Twenty years later, we still know there to be few sustainable short cuts to healthy living and Innovative still thrives on old school fundamental principles of goal setting, eliciting support, working through adversities and achieving personal victories.

Here are the top 10 reasons Innovative Fitness is AWESOME.
  1. We're TEAM centric. While our industry & society vaunt the "celebrity trainer", IF is able to scale further, faster for you vis a vis a team mentality which means we can positively affect more people.We bring allied health care providers together. It's not about "listening to me vs them", it's about your health at the epicenter and all of us ensuring you are well taken care of. Ego's left at the door please.
  2. We're focused on the bigger picture. Ultimate health is not simply physical prowess. Ultimate health is a combination of emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual AND physical well being. We're big on the mental as well as the physical.
  3. We strive for excellence. Excellence is consistently doing the little things well day in and day out. Excellence is what everyone deserves from every business in the service industry.
  4. We encompass personal development. The goal for our incoming team mates is to have them leave our organization (inside or out) better than they started. Confidence, competence & contacts for life.
  5. We're all about engagement. Unlike most 'gyms' who set up shop to sell memberships they hope very few use, we want to see you early and often. In fact, we'd love to see more of you... working on you.
  6. We will challenge you. Without challenge, there's limited adversity. Where there's limited adversity, there are few genuine personal victories read: limited growth. We all know, you're either getting busy living or...
  7. We give back to our communities. That's right. We started our own charity supporting physical literacy. If we can help kids move mor confidently and competently out of the gates, we eradicate many downstream diseases.
  8. We focus on you. It's not about 'us', we can all be replaced (if we're doing our jobs right). What matters is you, your needs, wants and goals. There are trainers out there who may forget that from time to time.
  9. The people you meet. From all walks of life, from all athletic abilities, from all spans of goals. The people you will meet and share experiences with are some of the most generous, best, caring, savvy men & woman in our communities.
  10. The places you'll see. Yup, from local hikes you never even knew existed to remote corners of the world. We'll help you pick a goal, draft the plan and get you there safely with a 10/10 fun factor.
So there you go, Innovative Fitness: Empowering people since 1995. 

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

How to handle not making the team.

It is that time of year and you've just found out your kid didn't make the level / team they aspired to. If you're a rational, intelligent human being who views youth sports a social experiment that teaches young kids valuable lessons about teamwork, feedback, adversity, communication, rules, systems, failures & success, you're probably ok with whatever level / team they are on... and by default so are they. If you're an over-invested, egotistical, neurotic, human being who views youth sports as a hierarchical statement of your kid's (and self) worth, you're probably experiencing sleepless nights scrolling through the rosters of those who did make it, wondering how it is even remotely possible  your Johny or Jenny didn't.

As a coach, allow me to share some insights that can help you, and yours... but mostly you, move on. 
  1. Stop comparing. The minute you begin comparing who made it vs. who didn't is the minute you expose your lack of sport IQ. The quickest way to find the answer you seek; ask the coach. Not the parents, not your spouse, friends or Zamboni driver. You'll be surprised to learn that most times, the coach has a plan, system & strategy that may not have anything to do with what you're assuming it does.
  2. Focus on improvements. It's straight out comical how the first questions relate to who made it & who didn't when what they should be asking is "hey coach, can we get candid feedback re: what johhny / jenny can do to improve". If you didn't / don't do this, your athlete may very well repeatedly... miss the opportunity to improve.
  3. Don't think out loud. The worse thing you can do is repeat your illogical rationalization & thoughts in front of your child. Give them a chance to formulate and understand outside of your influence (which likely sounds like - don't worry, coach is an idiot & you're better than x/y/z). Again, this takes the athlete FURTHER away from learning what they need to be successful. You are your kids hero/heroine, understand that responsibility and avoid overcompensating. 
  4. Remember your skill set. Unless you're a professional coach, don't comment on the decision making, methodology and strategy YOU THINK is being deployed by a professional coach. We know it's difficult to differentiate between your glory sport playing days and present reality but there IS a difference that you need to accept & appreciate. Stick to being an awesome parent vs. a shitty parent-coach.
  5. Move on. In every defeat (if that's how you chose to view & define it) lies an opportunity. Have the tough chat, swallow the pride, absorb the lessons and focus on making the best of the situation at hand. Acting the spoiled brat through the duration of the season doesn't move you forward. It sets you back.
Youth sport is a marathon, not a sprint. Stats don't lie when they cite a high % of kids leaving sports in early teen years because they were burned out or not having fun. Stats also point to the real reason why kids quit youth sports and low and behold, that is one area parents excel. The primary responsibility of any good/great coach is to have players complete a season better than they started. The primary responsibility of any good/great parent is to have your kids progress their physical, social, intellectual, emotional & emotional EQ & IQ better than they started.

Let's stay away from being 'that parent'

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Don't forget to turn the filter on!

    I received an FB invite yesterday from a friend who I'd thought was already a friend. As I've experienced this before with spam I double checked with her to see if she'd indeed sent the new request to which she replied she had. Curiously, I asked why she'd created a new page to which she replied "I'm re-establishing my authentic self". I liked the honesty of that answer so much that it prompted me to devote an hr of time during a youth sporting event to filter my friend list. *What's important to articulate is the people I had accepted friendship from or engaged friendship with are/were all good & great people. There was no sour grapes or c-ya attitude, simply a conscious decision to better control information I share & who I share it with. While the process was cathartic, it made me think about the volume of unfiltered information we tend to share.

Given the nature of social media, I can't help but wonder if we'll look back 10-20 years from now and wonder what the f*@k were we thinking. There are fewer precious & private moments as it's become more like a race to share information with as many people as we can than savor those private moments. I mean, if we want to learn how to make a bomb, its two clicks away. If we want to find out about more than we need to know about someone, it's a search engine & see all.
On a deeper more conscious level we've all seen and heard people rushing to take the selfie that "will make a great photo for facebrag". I think that is as sad as it is great, because we've become less focused on being in that moment and fully embracing that than we are about sharing what we've half absorbed with others. Sometimes strangers.

I think it's also similar to the self imparted real world pressure we face to have to be friends with  everyone we meet. We don't. And there's actually nothing wrong with that. I admire those who are not frequent fliers of social media or the mainstream cliques. Ironically, most of those people happen to be some of the most accomplished, influential and successful people I know. So perhaps there's something here (read : value) through the example. And while I don't profess to have all the answers, I can share how appreciative I was of this random filter reminder.

Don't feel the need SPAM yourself to everybody - filter it and get the people and results you're really after.