Monthly Archives: March 2017

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TITAN Arctic Challenge – My Five Lessons To Get to Where You Want To

The TITAN Arctic Challenge

This past week on the TITAN Arctic Challenge I had the opportunity to drive the ice roads to our most northern community that you can drive to in Canada – Tuktoyaktuk.

It was a journey fraught with danger, cold weather, unpredictability and frankly, a lot of miles.

Titan Arctic ChallengeWe departed southern Canada in mid May knowing that we had several thousand kilometres to get under our belts quickly in order to be one of the last groups to ever drive the ice roads to Tuktoyaktuk, a remote Inuit hunting and fishing village in the far northern reaches of Canada.

The project, TITAN Arctic Challenge was in actual fact a driving project with Nissan. Promoting the hashtag #TITANarcticchallenge was going to keep their social media department happy and we were to put two Nissan Titan XD trucks through their paces on the way north to prove they had what it takes to compete with the North American truck market.

So off we want with all my pre-conceived notions of what the journey would be like – long, boring and flat. I thought I knew where I was going. How wrong I was!

Our first real port of call was the northern BC community of Terrace. It was really a service community for other smaller towns and villages in a remote northwestern corner of BC. Again, I had never been and I assumed Terrace was too remote for many people to want to live in and had a couple of nice mountains. Other than that I wondered why people would live there.

Getting to where you want toHow wrong I was!

The approach to Terrace through the smaller community of Smithers in the Bulkley valley and then the Skeena River valley was astounding. Towering coastal mountains shimmered in the evening alpenglow as we drove in to what was in fact a bustling community.

I met with a friend who had moved back to what was her home town. She was enjoying spending time in the community again and shared a story with me that amazed me. Her grandfather was the first person to build a home there. He returned from the Gold Rush in the Yukon and looked down on a valley that had enough lumber to build a few homes and founded what we know today was Terrace. Now I had known this person for ten years but never knew that story.

For the second phase of the TITAN Arctic Challenge, we pressed on through remote and wild, rugged mountains, north in to the Yukon. Our initial destination – Dawson City, the gold rush town itself. I immediately fell in love with Dawson, a charming, eclectic city that oozed pioneer living, individuality and freedom from a system that binds most people. The community here was just different – and that was OK by me. We only stayed for an evening but vowed to return.

Next on the agenda was the Dempster Highway – which I had researched on YouTube and knew to be flat and boring. A long arduous 700km drive from Dawson City to Inuvik. How wrong I was!

dempster highwayThe Dempster highway winds it’s way through the most stunning and beautiful mountain range I Have ever had the privilege of seeing. The Richardson Range is often confused with the Rockies but is really a sub-range of an Alaskan formation. In the arctic circle the permafrost ensures that the snow is maintained from the bottom of the valleys to the top of the peaks and so we were treated to approximately three hours of the most stunning white scenery you could ever imagine. My jaw was on the ground for the whole trip, dreaming of climbing, hiking and skiing trips in this extremely remote corner of the world.

We were now in to the final phase of the TITAN Arctic Challenge.

Arctic CircleNext up, Inuvik and the ice road to Tuk as it is affectionately known.

I knew all about that – or so I thought. 170kms of ice on the Beaufort Sea that would be exciting but featureless and we would end up in Tuktoyaktuk with 800 people who probably did not want to see us there. How wrong I was!

Our first spectators as we stepped on to the ice with the trucks was a pair of foxes sunning themselves on the northern bank of the road, simply watching vehicles pass them by. Driving up the McKenzie river we passed abandoned camps that had been used and were being restored for Caribou hunting. The ice retained a mesmerizing sea green colour as the sun on occasion lit up the bottom of the river bed for us. The road was busy but dull it was not.

On this day, the Arctic Ultra was running. A collection of hardy adventurers from around the world were trying their hand at running 350 miles in arctic conditions. The handful of tired runners that were still pushing to the finish in Tuk dotted the road as we cheered them on.

Just as I was beginning to wonder if we were lost or would ever get to Tuk a small cluster of coloured roofs appeared on the horizon. Prior to that, even standing on the roof of the truck all you could see was a white blanket of snow on the Beaufort Sea. We were about to reach the ultimate destination of the TITAN Arctic Challenge.

On arrival in Tuk, we were greeted by a few young children and their dog. The hamlet, primarily Inuit is focused on hunting Beluga Whales and Caribou. It was an immensely friendly community with people stopping us and asking if we needed any help. They proudly told us to tour an igloo which one of the local pastors had built for visitors to the town. In all, we were there for a about three hours, driving around, talking to a few people and exploring the remnants of a long gone oil and gas boom in the region.

Tuktoyaktuk ice roadsI was completely surprised by the nature of this remote community. The destination was extremely special for me. I am not sure I would ever have a reason to visit Tuktoyaktuk again but I have a wonderful memory of being one of the last people ever to drive across the Arctic Ocean!

The TITAN Arctic Challenge truly was a big eye opener for me.

So you are probably wondering what my five lessons are for getting to where you want to go!

My Five Lessons On Getting To Where You Want To

Some of the points I learned on the TITAN Arctic Challenge are here, in no particular order:

1. Two degrees of separation In business there is a saying that it is all about who you know not what you know. The truth is, many of us spend so much time talking, we forget to listen. The art of conversation is cleverly crafted around asking someone questions about themselves and letting them answer. If I had done that with my friend I would have known sooner about her family history. In business the more you know about the people in your circle of influence the easier it is to get an answer to a question you may have. This of course would allow you to move closer to your chosen destination.

2. Don’t confuse the journey with the destination Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the destination we pay less attention to the journey. It is important to keep our eyes on the prize but frankly it is the journey where we learn and grow the most as leaders. I truly had no clue about the scenery we would be driving through even though I had done some research. In fact, all the team members were in the same position. We were in awe at the scenery as we drove north to Tuktoyaktuk.

3. Sometimes, you are just wrong! Lets face it we can’t be right all of the time. Being wrong simply presents an opportunity to learn and grow. Several times on this trip I was wrong in the planning phases and with my assumptions. While it was not critical on this trip in business making a wrong decision can be critical. The important thing is that you learn and adapt. You must learn to change a bad decision quickly. You own it, you made it, admit the mistake and fix it before it impedes your journey too much.

4. Give it 100% While this is obvious, it is probably the biggest reason for failure. So many business people are indecisive leaders. From #3 you can see that mistakes if corrected are not a problem – they are part of business. Being indecisive is a problem. If you do not commit to the plan 100% then you will fail. It is your plan – you had best be the biggest salesperson of that plan. The extreme example is the military. When an Officer prepares his or her orders and presents them to their leaders, they had better believe in their plan 100% or nobody will follow them in to battle with confidence. Likewise in business, your financiers, investors and subordinates will not be inclined to follow your lead.

5. Believe in good things When we initially left our homes, the ice road to Tuktoyaktuk was closed. We left in total confidence, believing in our plan and believing that the roads would be open. As we ventured further north the ice road did in fact open, however the Dempster Highway closed due to Blizzards. We left Dawson City for the Dempster at the same time it was closed. We did however believe it was going to open. By the time we arrived at the gas station by the snow gates there was a big line up of traffic. We sat down had lunch and by the time we finished the gates had opened and we were on our way. Would the gates have opened if we did not believe in good things? Of course they would, be would not have been there because we would have believed that leaving while the gates were closed was foolish!


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The “Dawson Toe” – A hard life up north

The Dawson Toe

We arrived in Dawson last night – a stunning town steeped in history and folk lore.

The drive up from Whitehorse was spectacular and enroute I could not help but recall the movie “Into The Wild”. I found myself peering off in to the distance trying to spy abandoned school busses with some lonely urban teenager living a remote life in the Northern Yukon.

Dawson Sour Toe

Photo: Budd Stanley

On arrival in Yukon, I was reminded of a town I am in the process of moving to, Kaslo in the Kootenays. With a rich history and a funky flair, Kaslo and Dawson share a few things in common – even mining. The wooden boardwalks on main street take you straight back to a bygone era and you can see dancing girls and drunken miners spilling out of bars as you stroll along the short main street.

The real treat was to come later however.

The Nissan’s have been chewing up the miles effortlessly but tonight is the real test for the diesel. It is parked outside in minus 30 and we are anticipating a sluggish start but… lets see.

I remain impressed with the seats. With almost 4,000 kms under our belt, both myself and passenger Steph Jeavons are comfortable and not at all tired with stepping in to our office each day for another days driving. The zero gravity seats that Nissan uses allow you a more comfortable ride without compromising the feel that a driver is looking for from the seat – that extra little bit of sensory perception that signals something is about to go wrong, just before it does!

With the cars parked on the street, Budd Stanley, Bryan, Steph and myself stroll over to the bar where we are treated to a very unique experience. The Sour Toe cocktail is heralded the world over as a must do in Northern Yukon. A black necrotic toe sits in a mound of salt, waiting for the next patron to “kiss the toe” as they knock back their chosen shooter. Budd was a long time member of this fraternity but tonight was our opportunity to knock back a sour toe cocktail.

The Dawson Toe

Photo: Steph Jeavons

I opted to go last, which frankly was a mistake since the toe had softened considerably from the other two going ahead of me. Doing my best not to think about it I flung my head back swallowed the drink and stared at the toe – stuck in the bottom of my glass. I was furiously shaking the glass trying to dislodge the toe in order for me to get my certificate. Unceremoniously the toe flopped against my lips – job done. We were now honorary members of the sour toe cocktail fraternity and have a really cool certificate to show for it!

 


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titanarcticchallenge

#TITANArcticChallenge reaches the Yukon!

The #TITANarcticchallenge, Wow, what an amazing experience we are having.

#TitanArcticChallenge – what is it?

This is an opportunity to put both the truck, or trucks more accurately – a pair of Nissan Titan XD’s with the PRO4X package through the paces. As it happens it is putting us through our paces too!

#titanarcticchallengeWe left BC only a few days ago, departing Vancouver and heading north to Whistler then on through the Duffy up to Prince George and beyond. The vastness of the country is amazing when you sit behind the wheels for hours and hours and look at the GPS to realise that relatively you have gone nowhere.

Yesterday on the #titanarcticchallenge we drove up through what I referred to as the Valley of Ghosts. Northern BC’s majestic mountains line the highway from Terrace to Whitehorse but in our case they were delicately camouflaged by a gentle layer of ice fog and cloud in the -16 degree temps. Occasionally we were treated to a glimpse of a shoulder or valley that drew our eyes further in to the scene to reveal carefully sculpted treelined valleys and slopes leading higher and beyond the clouds – our only reference for the several hours of driving.

Towards the end of the day we found a pull-off just past Dease Lake and decided to call it quits.

Treeline Outdoors

Erecting the Treeline Outdoors tents that were provided was a breeze which was particularly helpful in the colder temperatures we were starting to experience. After a quick bite to eat provided by Muninn’s Post in Kelowna, BC we decided to get our heads down for the night.

Today we pushed through to Watson Lake for breakfast and then departed for Whitehorse, technically our geographic centre on the trip. We pick up an extra passenger and push north through to the Arctic – bring it on.

The TitanArcticChallenge is an adventure project put together by journalist and photographer Budd Stanley. Supported by Nissan Canada, Treeline Outdoors and Muninn’s Post and joining us for fun is famous Motorbike explorer, Steph Jeavons.

 


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Where Mountains Touch The Heavens

On the drive yesterday we were witness to some of the most awesome scenery I have ever seen.

From Prince George to Smithers was a pretty routine flat landers type of drive. The Nissan Titans were purring away, not overworking and the temperature was hovering around -10 degrees. Shortly after a quick stop, we arrived in Smithers.

Skeena River ValleyFor me, in my imagination, Smithers was a far off town – way North of the Okanagan and frankly the impression is that nothing happens here and it is almost in the frozen north. In truth, it was one of the most inspiring mountain environments I have been in. Jagged peaks and large cwms harbouring beautiful glaciers. It was an adventurers paradise.

I called a friend to see if she could meet us for supper. I told how impressed I was with the scenery and to make things even better, the sun appeared. She assured me I had seen nothing yet and was about to enter the Skeena River valley where the mountains touch the heavens.

The drive along the river was stupendous. Alpenglow kissed the summits and glaciers all around as we drove to where I know the sun now sets in the mouth of the Skeena River behind the mountains to the west of Terrace.

It was a fitting end to a good days driving, only bettered by an amazing meal at Don Diego’s in Terrace BC, a little gem that everyone needs to visit at least once.

#TITANArcticChallenge, #WhatTheTuk


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The TitanArcticAdventure – Zero Gravity Seats #WhatTheTuk

“And they’re off”… the famous intro to the cartoon series The Whacky Races… and our TitanArcticAdventure may be about as whacky. Thankfully, whatever comes our way, we can be assured of a sound back thanks to the Zero Gravity Seats installed in the trucks.

zero gravity seatsOn Thursday this week, local auto journalist, Budd Stanley and myself set off on an adventurous journey to Tuktoyuktuk. We have a very special gust with us too, Steph Jeavons a famous round the world female solo motorcyclist.

The objective is to take two Nissan Titan XD trucks and be one of the last groups to ever drive on the arctic ice roads up to Tuk.

Later this year the roads will be decommissioned in favour of a new highway to avoid the danger of driving on the arctic sea ice. So how could we say no?

Well, pretty easily actually. Temperatures could be as low as -50 degrees. Like every expedition, getting started is the hardest phase. Items not being delivered on time, last minute fabrication to the trucks and minutiae that serve to delay the start.

Zero Gravity Seats

But we are off and thanks to the Zero Gravity seats in the Titan XD trucks our backs are relaxed and we are enjoying a night in Whistler before heading further North tomorrow and starting to knock off some serious miles.  Until I started to really think about it, I had not noticed the effects of the Zero Gravity Seats. Driving on the roads today I realized that what I was feeling sitting in the seat was a lot less than the truck was experiencing driving along the bumpy swing highways in British Columbia. A lot of the jarring movement of the truck was not being passed to my body. It is a curious sensation but one that will help many people who spend large amounts of time behind the wheel of their vehicles.

titanarcticchallenge

For a while now, the ice road to Tuktoyuktuk has been closed and so our hope is that by the time we get there the weather will have cleaned up and we will be able to drive to Tuk and see one of Canada’s most interesting frontiers!.

Check back in for updates along the way.


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Top Three Sales Tips | What we can learn from Internet Marketers

Everybody has an opinion on the Top Three Sales Tips but I want to show you from a different perspective.

Many years ago I was accepted as a Fellow of the Institute of Sales Management. It was and still is a huge honour. As a young teenager I had started a company, built some success and studied a lot about sales and marketing. As a result I was recognized for that success at a young age.

Several months ago I decided to check out a few new cars in my home town. In the past I had done the same and was disappointed generally in the sales prowess of the employees. On this morning, with my wife I visited about 5 car dealerships.

top three sales tipsThe first one was around 9:30am so not too early. I was looking for a particular car and hoping to speak to a salesman. We walked in to the showroom browsed around a few floor models waiting for someone to acknowledge us. There was certainly a lot of busyness… around the coffee machine. In fact three staff were chatting to each other and completely ignoring us. Perhaps they were discussing their own top three sales tips! We loitered in the showroom for a few more minutes without a single person acknowledging our presence. I suggested to my wife that we try walking around the lot outside and see if someone realized we were a potential buyer… nope. A few more dealerships led to the same or similar results.

So we left to the next. Out of all the dealerships, including one of the highest end dealers in town, we only had one meaningful conversation. As a rally driver, I really wanted to take a look at one particular car. It is a real competitor for the Subaru WRX/STi. Thanks to the salesman this time, my contact details were collected, I was promised that I would be called for a test drive. This guy at least knew one of the top three sales tips and kudos to the dealer for some staff training, but that actually was the second time I had tried to take an up close look at the car, with no follow up. Not a single person has called me to pre-qualify me or ask why I would be interested. I certainly have never been called to take a look at one. You might think a guy who has a won a couple of rally championships would be a good client to get on the books…

So what can we learn from the Internet Marketing world and how does it even relate?

Last year my business partner and I formed a partnership with several leading players in the Internet marketing industry. It is a business that is renowned for selling information as opposed to products. Two of the partners alone had sold $70MM last year on the internet. My guess is that they did not do that by hanging around a coffee machine. Well, perhaps, to a certain extent they did because they work from home!

So here are my top three sales tips

Here are the three things that stand out to me that a few car dealerships in town could learn from:

1. They entice me to leave my contact details. You see, these guys know their numbers inside out. They know exactly how much money it costs them to get a visitor to their web page and they want to maximize their return. So, they make it easy for me, if you leave your email address here, I will give you my information. So a car salesman could ask if “I forward you an electronic copy of our brochure?” Bingo, he has a clients email address. One dealership last year even told me to go to their website to download the brochure, which did not require me to leave an email address… So for goodness sake, if you have a business that people walk in to, land on a webpage or otherwise connect with you, do something to get a name and contact.

2. They build a relationship with me. Internet Marketers actually know that they have little time to build credibility. I may have landed on their website but I don’t know who they are. So in a matter of a few weeks, they give me advice, for free. They let me know what success they have had in the past and they build a relationship with me. It might seem like a crazy idea, but if one salesperson at the first dealership and had said good morning to me, they might have closed a sale. just by saying good morning… So if I were in the car sales business and I was smart enough to get a clients contact details and knew they were looking for a particular car, I may in fact send over some independent reviews of the car, perhaps some video links. I might even send over some recent client testimonials. I would attempt to develop a relationship with a new client.

3. They follow up with me and start to sell me benefits. Internet Marketers are very astute sales people. While the car industry brags about features, the internet marketing world talks about benefits. For example rather than telling me that a car has air conditioning, perhaps ask me if I would be interested in having a car that kept me more energized for business meetings in the summer months so that I could close more business deals, have a more successful business myself and enjoy the increased success, because the car has a superior air conditioning system designed for busy people like me!

Perhaps if I had some downtime in the car sales business, rather than chat around the coffee machine I would study the art of selling a little more keep a head up for new clients walking in the showroom. I would perhaps look for an article that disclosed the top three sales tips so that I could improve in my profession.

If you are interested in sales training for your sales team, feel free to send me an email at bookings@markjenningsbates.com