Author Archives: admin

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Innovation Management – 5 ways to energise your organisation

Innovation Management Tips

When I was a student, I remember working for a year in industry during my tertiary education. At one point I received a lesson in Innovation Management.

I was working with a gentleman called Eric Stonebank, a VP with Cherverton & Laidler in the printing and packaging industry in the UK. Eric had asked me to go into the plant and research some information to allow them to make changes in some processes that would increase efficiency.

I remember chatting to a few of the guys on the presses and asking about some pretty direct questions about how they were doing certain jobs. Between my age and foolhardy line of questioning, something was lost in translation.

Then Eric decided to give me a lesson in Innovation Management. In a fraction of the time, he was getting all the answers he needed and more in a casual conversation.

What was I missing? Eric had learned to speak their language and could phrase a question very differently to me with my lack of experience. If he failed to get the answer he was looking for he would ask again slightly differently.

innovation managementIn a way, he managed to get the employees themselves to be excited about future potential innovation.

What can we learn in our organisations to help progress our business and production practices?

Let me give you my five tips to improve innovation management that I have learned through business and adventure:

  1. Follow Eric’s advice. Ask questions differently. Phrase the question to let the employee know they are a partner in the process.
  2. Listen intently to their answer. Engage with them in what they believe is an idea that can help you and answer your question.
  3. Don’t be afraid to copy from a peer/competitor. The rest of your company may be in great shape and just needs a tune up – someone else may have just what you need. Innovation can be a little like music. In a scale there are only twelve notes which limits our ability to create a unique phrase (string of notes) because somebody has probably put them together in that order before. Innovation has more to do with a “basket of good ideas” used together in the right recipe than it does a singular good idea.
  4. Take innovation seriously – make time for innovation. The tech industry is notorious for beer and pizza sessions where staff take time out to innovate and create a new idea/theme/game.
  5. Communicate better. Learn to transmit and receive information in a way that benefits a culture of innovation. Innovation can come from employees, managers, clients, suppliers and competitors. Have a plan to talk more openly to those sources. One big question I have always asked my staff to ask in our businesses is “What is the one thing I could have done that would have made your experience even better”? Try it…

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ethics in business

Ethics in business – would Artificial Intelligence score higher?

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Are we challenged with ethics in business today?ethics in business

When it comes to ethics in business I always remember a talk I was at with John Maxwell, famed leadership guru.

John was teaching a group of us in the Portland, Oregon area. It was shortly after some scandals where piles of garbage were found under the corner of someones proverbial rug.

Interestingly it was prior to the toxic mortgage bundles that were sold to banks with little due diligence or conscience.

At the time I remember thinking that the devolution of ethics corresponded to the evolution of self-help books. The more we focus on ourselves, the less we seem to focus on the community we are a part of.

In the immediate pre and post WWII era, the focus was on nothing but community. More recently as the trend towards “entitlement” evolves we see an overwhelmingly tendency to put self before service, the opposite of the famous Rotary “creed” and certainly at opposition with community values of the early and mid 20th century.

So what are ethics in business

According to John Maxwell at that talk, there are none.

It was a shocking statement – and it was delivered exactly in the way he wanted. In fact, if I recall correctly his statement about ethics in business was delivered to a high powered US journalist who was writing about ethics in business.

The journalists question in reality was “What are business ethics?”

John’s reply as I stated was “there are none… there are just ethics. No group gets to choose ethics or create a separate list of ethics, there are simply ethics”.

I guess the world has not been listening, because several years later we lived through an enormous financial collapse around the globe.

On a smaller scale in relation to ethics in business, I keep running in to people who had invested locally in a business. They are coming to me with similar stories and it always goes back to the same couple who have raised money for and run a business very unethically and have negatively impacted the lives of many people.

So, together with Andre Voskuil, I have decided to start running webinars and training sessions on how to evaluate a private business investment. In every case, literally ten minutes online or ten minutes with the business plan should have revealed that what my friends looked at was not viable. The challenge was simply that they did not know what they were looking for!

Time to bring an end to that!

If you are interested in finding out more about the coaching we will be offering, sign up below and get a free copy of Andre’s book – The Only Business Book You Will Ever Need

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Distractions to success – My five tips to stay on task

How to simply avoid Distractions to Success

Distractions to Success are something that at one time or another we all fall foul of. They are like little white lies. No such thing exists. We try and rationalise our bad habits like texting or abundant amounts of time on social media as if they were acceptably non-productive – but in truth it is an oxymoron.

As streamlined as we think we have made our lives, it appears to me as though we have just jammed in more tasks to the already limited time we have.

As I speak to audiences about productivity and time management it becomes clear we don’t distractions to successneed time management practices so much as a clear focus on what tasks we need to achieve.

What ever way you cut it, the jobs which really need to be completed will always rise to the top of our list, but often at the wrong time… just as you realize you don’t have enough time to complete them.

So how do we avoid distractions to success?

In a sense it is simple. We need to shake the jar and see what rises to the top.

You have probably heard the analogy about how many rocks can you get in a jar?

The story goes like this…

Add some big rocks until the jar is full. That is then all you can add right.

No because you can add some pebbles in the cracks and fill the jar. Then it is full right?

No, because we can add sand and really fill the jar.

Wow, now we have a lot of stuff in that jar.

That, my friends is how we go so busy. That annoying analogy of how we cram our workday is what has lead to a chronic and systemic distraction to success.

Something the size of a grain of sand can stop us, and does, from focussing on the real task at hand.

But how do I find the big rocks?

If you have been to a town in Western Australia called Kalgoorlie, you will know that despite all of the massive amounts of underground mining, some of the biggest nuggets of gold are found where? Right at the surface. Right under our noses.

The problem is that we are so focussed on moving sand that we forget to look on the surface. We get too deep in to the administrivia and distractions we let the world throw our way.

Sorting out the important from the distractions can be as simple as shaking the jar.

Technically, it is a process called granular convection.

You see if we put all of those mixed sizes of rock in one jar and shake it, the big stuff rises to the top. Right where we need it to be.

So you need to get used to shaking your day up a little.

In a productive world we give 20% of our time to the important tasks. That is it. Pareto’s principle in effect right there.

So what if we were to reverse the principle and give our important tasks 80% of our time… wow, what a concept.

It is possible, and it has little to do with time management. It has a lot to do with focus.

How to avoid working in the sandbox.

We encounter numerous distractions to success because we have a habit of focussing on a grain of sand more easily than the critical task.

Those grains of sand could be:

Email

Social Media

Coffee meetings

List writing

Texting

Meetings

But to be truly productive we need to isolate the most critical tasks – the big rocks.

A friend of mine calls them the MIT’s, (Most Important Tasks).

He gave up writing exhaustive lists of tasks that never were completed and led to guilt and frustration, in favour of writing a list of five MIT’s. It is kind of like the big rock analogy. The typical task list includes the grains of sand – the stuff we truly don’t need to worry about to be successful.

So here are my five tips to focus on what is important to avoid distractions to success.

  1. Identify your big rocks – what are your MIT’s
  2. Keep the big rocks at the top – shake the jar a little and analyse what sandbox you have been wasting time in
  3. Purposefully cut back sandbox time and if necessary play in the sandbox during unproductive times of the day
  4. Watch out for the big rocks floating to the top – analyse your MIT list to make sure it is current
  5. Never put more than 5 MIT’s on your list

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motivational speaking

Motivational Speaking – My five tips to giving a great talk

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When it comes to Motivational Speaking, for most people it ranks up there with falling from a great height.

But rest assured that when it comes to motivational speaking, we all started in the same place.

motivational speakingSure, we either have a solid background in a process or technology and we have become an expert or we went and gathered a whole pile of life experiences and can use them to inspire people.

But if we want to turn that in to Motivational Speaking income, how do we put together a great talk?

It is not as hard as it may seem, although it takes time, structure and discipline.

For me personally, I started speaking in front of audiences as a politician. I had had some experience in chairing committees so I was used to being in spotlight somewhat, which really helped. At the end of the day though, just having given a lot of presentations doesn’t make you a good keynote speaker.

For that matter, being one of the top speakers at your local Toastmasters club will not do much to further a speaking career either.

To be good at Motivational Speaking you must have a story to tell. You must be seen to be an expert in that area, and you must add value to the lives of your audience.

Does it mean you are technically a great speaker? Frankly, today that is low on the list of qualities. I have seen amazing speakers who did not have the perfect delivery, who hummed and err’d their way through their talk but had the audience captured.

Learning to get the audience on the edge of their seat listening to you is one of the most important goals you should have.

So here are my five tips for Motivational Speaking

  1. Don’t try and live off one presentation. Life changes and your experiences and knowledge should grow too
  2. Have an introduction that grabs the attention of your audience in the first minute, use humour or emotion but get their interest immediately.
  3. Speak to them about how they can improve their lives. Your stories can help but don’t make the whole talk about YOU – make it about them.
  4. Give your audience tacit examples of how their lives can improve if they apply some of you ideas. Think of the benefits of what you shared, not the features.
  5. Make sure you get their attention enough to lean in to your talk. The best way to get another booking is for that audience to be telling the organiser how life transforming your presentation was.

To carve out a career in motivational speaking, you need to be disciplined with your preparation, hard working with your outbound sales calls and tenacious when starting your career. Put that all in the mixing bowl and it is just hard work after that.

One guarantee is that it is an exceptionally rewarding career.


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Motivational Speaker | How to get your start

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Motivational SpeakerSo you want to be a motivational speaker but you are not sure how to get started?

Like any business, developing a keynote speaking income is hard work. The good thing is that a plan combined with tenacity will pay off.

What are the steps to become a Motivational Speaker

Let me share with you the five steps you can focus on to becoming a motivational speaker.

  1. Develop your talk. There is so much information on the internet that is free in regards to developing a good keynote that you don’t need to look far or pay a lot of money. At the end of the day, you can boil a keynote presentation down to a methodology that psychologically delivers what an audience and more importantly a meeting organiser are expecting,
  2. Practise, Practise, Practise. Look for opportunities to talk. Start free, offer your services to service organisations, schools, community groups – all people that typically don’t have a budget for a professional Motivational Speaker. Build a resume of talks that you have done and testimonials from organisers.
  3. Communicate. In order to develop a good business as a Motivational Speaker, people need to hear from you. Building your database of potential clients is critical to your success. Make sure you are adding valuable content to your website and delivering it to those interested parties on your list.
  4. Build your stories. Just because you know a lot about a subject does not necessarily make you a good motivational speaker. The art of story-telling is disappearing. You need to learn to keep it alive. Learning to incorporate your own personal experiences as analogies is extremely important but remember they must be relevant and entertaining.
  5. Don’t worry about uhm’ing and err’ing. I know Toastmasters will tell you it is a terrible thing to do and so was talking a cell phone to a concert at one time. Times have changed and along with it came a lot of grace for speakers who may have the occasional uhm or err. You will overcome that. I have seen some amazing speakers who were so good at delivery that unless you went back and counted how many times they stumbled you would never have known. Relax, enjoy the ride, and gauge the feedback from the audience not somebody who wants to be a professional speaker but has  not made it yet.

I understand this is a very simplistic overview but the main point to remember is tenacity will pay off. It has taken me a long time to even build the stories that I can share with an audience. I am not an Olympian or Movie Star, but to a certain extent that is what makes me relatable.

You can check out my promotional video here:

 


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SOME DAYS I FEEL LIKE MY TRUCK!

just do your bestI had a young friend message me the other day. He knows me from the rally driving community, so he see’s me driving a shiny well cared for rally car (at least until the end of an event)! So he asked me what my daily driver was. He might have been expecting my reply to be a Subaru STi or a BMW M5. Instead, I answered “a beaten up old Dodge Truck” I don’t think I ever received a response from him again after my reply!My truck has had a hard life. Some people look at it and chuckle, others wonder why I haven’t fixed it or taken better care of it! In truth, it has been very loyal to me. It really is a utility vehicle.

There was a time when I could have taken passengers in my truck. I can now, so long as they only see the truck only from the passenger side. The truck, you see, had an “off” at a rally. It wasn’t racing, just being it’s utilitarian self when the road underneath it went all slippy and shiny and so the truck panicked and went in the ditch. Not only did it take a very long time to get out, but the two cranes that were needed to get it out actually arrived just at the end of the rally and blocked the only road out until quite late in the evening. We all had the best time we could watching my truck get extracted while the Pizza went cold at the town hall we were supposed to be at.

The truck has certainly seen some trauma, and like me is starting to show it’s age. We are similar in as much as we haven’t given up yet. I suppose in relative years we are the same age. I am not sure if it is like dog years, but my truck was born in 1998 and I was born in 1963, I think that makes us fairly close.

My truck also likes to help people, another trait that we share in common. People borrow my truck less now that it looks a little tired, but it can still do it’s job.

I suppose I could put a new box on it and replace the door and put some shiny new running boards on, but I am quite happy with my truck the way it is. It has character. It is rather like an English movie actors teeth compared to an American movie actors teeth. You can tell a lot about a person from their teeth, like, for instance, how much money they have had to give to a dentist to get their teeth so white and straight.

As I think about the next few years, it would be easy for me to get a little excited about the plans. I am not a very good runner at all. In fact the only marathon I have attempted, I did pretty dismally in. So you might ask why I am planning to do a 100km race in November and an 800km run in Kenya and Sudan in 2013. The answer is simple, if I can save someone’s life, it will be worth it. If you can think of a better answer please send me an email .

Add to that my second least favourite sport, swimming, and you may question why I plan to do a 250km open water swim next year. The answer would be the same. In fact, I am really not terribly good at swimming, biking or running which is why I enjoy triathlons so much, lump the three together and I can at least get to the end.

My truck, like me, when it gets a little daunted by a long journey, steep hill or heavy trailer, just puts his head down and digs a little deeper. I personally find the throb of a big diesel engine very comforting. There is something about that diesel engine that gives you comfort, a certain confidence that it can get you to the end. That is what I tell my body when it complains… we can at least get to the end, maybe not fast, but we can get to the end!


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SOMETIMES YOU JUST HAVE TO RE-BOOT

When life gets too busyI guess it is genetic! Lack of hair in my family I mean. In fact half of the family is blessed with flocks of thick heavy hair and the other side, well, they just don’t have much. Nothing  you can do about it really.

As I think about it, it may not be entirely true. I had an uncle when I was growing up and I guess he knew what was coming so he grew lots of hair. He didn’t wear his hair long, instead he accumulated it on his head by sort of twirling it around and around. If you were behind him in a strong wind you were certainly in danger of losing an eye with the whiplash effect of his hair getting thrown around in a breeze. Thankfully nobody in our family suffered any life threatening injuries from my uncles hair.

As for me, I have spots on my head where hair looks like it has been rubbed off. Some people say it is an excess of testosterone. I am not sure, but whatever it is, it doesn’t bother me. When I look at my options, it was to grow long hair and store on top for the inevitable day, just like my uncle, or cut it off. I took the latter option and now I don’t have bad hair days.

My computers used to have bad hair days. That was back when I used PC’s. They would get all confused, quite routinely in fact, and you were left with no options. The computer had stalled, a screen staring at you blankly but no activity. It was a bad hair day and so, like my head, my computer ended up with bald spots. The Ctrl, Alt and Del keys were the most bald in actual fact, because pressing them all at once a few times caused the computer to re-boot. It was the most common sequence of keys I ever pressed on a Windows based machine. I often wondered why they never made it one key. On reflection the “one” key  was probably the power button. That was a last resort, you knew that no other keys worked so you re-booted the computer by hitting the power button.

The reason I think this happened a lot is because generally, a computer has quite a bit going on. Billions of calculations a second or something crazy. I know how a computer feels. My life for the past several years appears to have been billions of decisions a second and when that happens, something called “cross-linking” occurs. It is like filing memories in little pieces in the wrong cupboards. I do that all the time. I can never find simple things like shoes. I look in the wardrobe, tell my wife I can’t find them and she looks in the same wardrobe and there they are. So the diagnosis is serious, I am cross linked.

In training, there is something called “super recovery” I believe. When you have been training hard for a while and you are feeling a little cross linked, you can stop, allow your body to recover and when you start again, you are at a much improved level (unless your nearly 50, in which case everything seems to be a bit of a struggle still!). It is a little like what a PC does. It has to turn itself off, gather it’s thoughts and start again.

Now I think about it, we can learn a lot from PC’s. You see, many of us quit on tasks because of some serious cross-linking. We are just not thinking straight. We put our faith thought in the wrong closet and like, me, we need our wife to drag it out again. It is at these times when I consider re-booting. I have to re-boot quite often now and certainly during exercise when I think about quitting.

I have no idea what possessed me to verbalise the fact that I was going to do a 100km run in November. In fact it has been verbalised so much that quite a few people are coming to join in or spectate. I get swallowed up in the romantic adventures of people like Ray Zahab or Squash Falconer or Dave Cornthwaite I guess, people who are doing some remarkable feats. Ray for example, ran 7,700km across the Sahara (http://www.runningthesahara.com) in 110 days… in sand. So I look at that and think “Well I can do a shorter distance, like, say 100km… that should be achievable, after all, Ray did 7,700km”. I already know that I am going to have to re-boot a couple of times on the run. I should have a T-Shirt printed that has a Ctrl, Alt and Del key on the front and says “If you see me laying down, press all three buttons simultaneously”.

If I am horizontal or staring back at you blankly, it is because my mind has started storing the thoughts about not being good enough in the wrong closets, the most accessible ones, so I need to re-shuffle my thoughts around and get the faith thoughts back in that closet and put the thoughts of despair in the storage locker with a padlock on. We are all challenged, every day of the week, and some of us, like Ray or Squash or Dave, tend to challenge ourselves a little more, but me, I know I need a re-boot from time to time, then I know, like a PC, I can get to the end of the adventure. That or buy a Mac computer!


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A LIFE OF IMPERFECTION

Don't focus on perfectionWhen I was at school I never had the time to do exams. I would show up, run through the questions and leave early… I hated sitting and staring at the paper trying to figure out if I had answered correctly, much less perfectly! I remember taking home report cards that almost without exception said “If Mark applied himself and slowed down he could be “really” good at this subject. He is always keen to answer in class, but needs to think more!” I had proven myself a “do-er” a Jack of all trades, yet a master of none, and continue to by living a life of imperfection.If I thought about the title I have used here, I would probably get confused and perhaps ADHD is a partial explanation for why I believe imperfection trumps perfection almost every time. You see, thinking is often overrated I believe, and besides, I am impatient and I prefer doing. I am not a very good spectator. I like to cheer people on as much as the next person, but in doing so I get excited enough to ask the question “why am I not I doing what they are doing”? There is your answer as to how I get involved in most things. I am not terribly good at any of them but I do get to do quite a few things along the way and occasionally put another plaque in a box somewhere for getting as close to perfection as I may ever get!

You probably know enough about me now to consider me crazy. Hang on a minute though, I am not saying I don’t think about or prepare for anything. As an adventurer, it is actually my objective to stay alive, otherwise I can’t be much help to the people whose lives I am trying to save. I am simply saying that if I sat down and thought about every project as much as a perfectionist would claim to, I would never actually get started at anything. I do train for events and to be quite frank, I push myself more than I ever used to think I could, thanks to the inspiration of supporters like Leanne Manlove at Pinnacle Elite Athlete in Kelowna.

I don’t believe life is about perfection. Don’t get me wrong, it is about a journey of improvement, moving towards a target that is closer to perfection. That is how we solve problems by moving closer to getting a perfect solution, but if we were waiting until we found the perfect solution we would still be at the beginning. The Wright Brothers and anyone before them who tried to defy gravity only got it partially correct, but if they had not taken that first brave step, where would Richard Branson be today (probably still extremely wealthy and successful actually!).

In November, a group of people are coming with me to Guatemala. Far from perfectionists, this group of people has selflessly made a decision to put up some money, dedicate some time and do something they have never done before… run 25km to help the children at Casa Esperanza. Wow, I am so humbled. I have the privilege of running with people like my son, Matt, who has never run before and to be honest has been struggling to find a rhythm when he does run; far from perfect, but he keeps coming back to hone his craft temporarily. You see, Matt’s goal is not to be a “perfect” runner at all, in fact it is not to be a runner, if he survives 25km he will be excited. He is doing it because he wants to help the children in Guatemala.

John and Janet Jansen, good friends of mine, also decided to Run4Life! In fact, they became so excited about the project that they challenged one of the founders of the Casa Esperanza, Kim Weiler, to run 25km also. He agreed, and now, with a few other people in the mix we have 10 runners, running a total of 500km to help the children of Guatemala. If we had all wanted to be “perfect runners” then nobody would be going and Run4Life would not exist.

Life is not about being perfect, it is about moving forward, about gaining experience and learning how to get better, it is not about getting better before you do something. I am also told that I must be passionate about running to want to do a 100km race! Frankly, nothing could be further from the truth. Running is a means to an end for me. It is probably a sport I enjoy less than anything else I do, but it pushes me mentally and the results are a level of fitness that I enjoy. Running and the associated endurance training prepares me for other adventures but I am not passionate about it.

I don’t believe you need to be passionate about an activity to do it well, I believe you have to be passionate about why you do it! There have been many books written on the subject of performance and dedication and one I enjoy specifically is Maxwell Maltz’s The Magic of Thinking Big. Early on in the book he talks about a trial between two groups of people competing against each other trying to get a basketball into a regulation hoop. The first group can practice as much as they want and the second group are not allowed to touch a ball but are trained to mentally visualise themselves throwing the ball into the hoop. Guess who won? I won’t spoil it, it is a good book, but you get the point hopefully.

Our Run4Life team is excited to be doing something to make a difference in the lives of children in Guatemala and I am completely humbled and inspired by their spirit and dedication, it is enough to help get me to the end of a 100km run! Over the next few weeks, I will introduce you to the team at the charity website, www.Rally4Life.com, but in the meantime, if you would like to support their efforts, you can donate through Fundrazr below…


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DECEMBER 26TH, 2013

No is the most important wordRecently I have had a series of meetings with a really good friend, Rolf Issler.

Rolf was a big encourager during the recent Guinness World Record trip to Australia and is an uplifting person by nature. He is also very busy in his business, where he helps plan and prepare brighter financial futures for his clients (http://www.rolfissler.com/about/).

Knowing that Rolf is very busy running his successful financial consulting business, I was surprised when we sat down for a coffee a few months ago and Rolf explained he felt compelled to help out in some way with the limited time he has. I should not have been surprised because I do know both Rolf and his wife Lisa have huge hearts and are always available to help when someone asks.

To suggest I was in trouble and really needed help was perhaps an overstatement on my part, but I did realise that somewhere in the day to day existence of pulling a funded adventure business together, for the benefit of charity, I would really be able to use Rolf’s help.

As the coffee sessions evolved and we poured over the various logistics of what it takes to evaluate, prepare and execute a successful adventure, we started to realise that there was an area that was weak, my Achilles heel if you like.

There is a saying that the longest journey in the world is from the head to the heart. Well in my case there is a very short distance from the brain to another part of my body that has been causing some consternation. You don’t need GPS to navigate, the distance is barely long enough to be able to draw a line indicating how far it is. Very simply, what I have struggled with is the apparent, very short distance from my brain to my mouth.

I was gifted with some kind of auto-receptor when I was born. When my brain hears someone talking about something which is “fun” and that someone asks if I would like to join in, my mouth says yes instantly! Later in life I read a personality book and I found out it is because I am a Sanguine, the Otter of the animal world… I like playing around and having fun. It is a good job there are a few Sanguines out there because a world full of Melancholic people, the Beavers of the animal world, would soon get dull I think, but then that is just my perspective.

This compulsion to keep saying yes has led to a diary that is all but full of adventures for the next two years. Now, when I look back, perhaps there should have been a little more thought, but I find everything is so difficult to say no to. The difficulty comes in passing up on a project that can get the charity some serious attention, my main purpose in life.

So Rolf, is my filter. We share a lot in common. We both have a strong Christian faith, we are a similar age, live in the same valley and in Rolf’s recent past is a series of Ironman triathlons. I have done a few bike rides with Rolf in the past few years and I have a hard time keeping up even though he hasn’t participated competitively for a few years now. Rolf understands what I am trying to do and I know he understands the importance of us trying to steer attention to the charity, so meet Rolf, my new filter!

He is going to be an amazing component of the team and instead of simply saying “Yes, that sounds cool”, he is going to take some time to evaluate the opportunities that cross our desks and run some due diligence to make sure we are doing the right things for the right reasons.

I am absolutely stoked to have such a first class person on board.


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THE COURT OF POPULAR OPINION

Learning to trustMy grandfather was a tremendous judge of character. It appeared as though he would be able to weigh someone up in the first five minutes.

My wife, to a certain extent has the same innate sense of being able to read the unreadable during a meeting. It is one reason why I try and have her join at me meetings as much as possible because, firstly I am a guy and sometimes I am not listening when you think I am, secondly even when I am listening, there is a good chance I am missing the point, particularly if I am not having fun and thirdly, well, lets just blame it on A.D.D. I just don’t like meetings that go past an hour and I guess I am easily distracted. I apologise!

What this all leads to is me being a terrible judge of character so I have now given up even attempting to figure out who somebody is. I have my good days and my bad days by not forming an opinion of someone. Sometimes, most of the people I meet are very honest and what I see is what I get and other times, it is a little more painful than that… it wastes my time or perhaps even my money.

Many years ago I was playing in a Church band, a worship team and there was a young drummer, Johnny Jansen whose parents are very good friends of ours. It was always fun to play with Johnny, I have never seen a drummer with so much energy and afterwards the stage is covered with splinters from broken drumsticks… enthusiasm doesn’t go far enough to describe Johnny.

One Sunday morning, Johnny showed up with his friend, Kyle Tubbs. Since I first knew Johnny, he had always wanted to carve out a career in the music industry and Kyle was apparently going to join him as a guitar player and lead singer in their band. As a guitar player, it is always cool to play with other musicians and so I was looking forward to the time together.

It was all going really well until Kyle started to play! His guitar was not in tune. Perhaps he wasn’t an early riser, not quite awake at the time and couldn’t hear what I was hearing. Many people can’t even hear when a musical instrument is out of tune, but as a musician, it is like clanging bells in your head. It is indeed a nasty sound. Kyle didn’t seem to mind though. Through the whole set he played his guitar out of tune. In fact I think he might have tried to tune it and made it worse.

Well, sadly, those were the days when I still judged people and while I only judged Kyle in my head (OK, maybe to my wife too) I did tell myself that Johnny needed a new guitarist. If Kyle was going to sing too, how would that work. The voice has an infinite number of notes unlike a guitar and all but one of them are incorrect!

Several years after that I went to a school play that my son was in. We had a great night and there was a really cool musician who had written some guitar music and serenaded the evening. It was a great night and when I asked my son who was playing the guitar, he indicated it was Kyle who I had played with at Church. Cynically I probably asked if someone had tuned his guitar for him! But truthfully, I was impressed.

Fast forward to 2012… I can’t believe how cool these guys are. Kyle is a rockstar, Johnny is an amazing entertainer and with two other very talented musicians and close friends, they call themselves Fields of Green! They are amazing. Kyle not only can tune and play the guitar amazingly well but he has a voice that is extremely rare to find. Not only is it good, it is unique.

I hope Kyle will forgive me judging him all those years ago because, it is him, not me that is actually making a living with a musical career. Fields of Green are on the verge of some incredible success. They recently won the Fox Seeds competition in Vancouver and are now coming to the end of an even bigger competition, the Peak Performance Project. Next week in Kelowna BC, they will be performing. It will be part of the competition, but get this… they are doing it for charity, Rally4Life to be exact to help install safe clean burning cook stoves in Guatemala when we go there next month.

If you have anything to do next Wednesday evening, cancel it, come on down, donate $10 or more to the charity and have a great evening with Fields of Green. You won’t be disappointed. After this, I hope that the sky is the limit for this talented band. They have put their heart and soul into creating a unique niche for themselves and work so hard to entertain the crowds they perform for. They need our help next week. We need a sell out. I would love to see people standing outside hoping to get in because the house was packed. That way, they will do well in their competition and Guatemalan children will live longer, healthier lives.

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