December 4, 2017 § Leave a comment
At the end of October, I authored a blog that had taken months to complete, and even then, the eventual inspiration came from wanting to pay tribute to a former supervisor. While it was a struggle to finish off, I wasn’t frustrated or discouraged. I knew the piece came together the way it should. It had its time and place.
I was immediately re-energized to start work on another blog that had also been in the back of my mind for some time – and this turn of events was most fitting. I wanted to express how there isn’t necessarily a right time for things to happen in life, whether it’s doing something you’re passionate about like writing, checking off a bucket list item, a career achievement, or a life decision, like when to get married.
Perhaps that spark came from highlighting my memories of Bill Scott, former editor of the Grande Prairie Daily Herald-Tribune, who’d passed away earlier in the month.
It may have also been our mutual joy of writing that reminded me not to focus on how many blogs I write but rather on the fulfillment I get as well as the reason Wendy and I started The Muse and Views eight years ago.
Our goal is to build content from our musings and reader comments for a motivational/inspirational book(s). There’s no doubt we have more than enough writing to fill a couple of books – themes have developed on topics ranging from goal setting to meaningful people to our love of music.
Wendy and I need to meet up again soon to sort through all of our work and go from there.
It will happen in its time. The finished product may not be the traditional book we originally contemplated. It may be an online publication and some podcasts or a combination of mediums. There are no limits to the possibilities. The fact we both continue to write in this space, albeit intermittently, will give rise to more food for thought and means that goal remains very much alive.
Ultimately, we need to decide what success looks like.
American businesswoman Anne Sweeney helps to put things in perspective with this quote: “Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live.”
Writing a book isn’t the only item on my bucket list (I also continue to tinker with the short story on my late dog Jasper who had a penchant for demonstrating he thought he was human). Among other things is my desire to have a flat tummy.
Though that goal is health related, it’s another thing where I have taken steps in the right direction, but admittedly haven’t made a full commitment. I work out twice a week with a personal trainer who even comes by my house to capitalize on the workout equipment in our basement.
Often I finish Thursday’s workout thinking I am going to exercise at least three times by the following Tuesday and typically it turns out to be once or none.
So, to really accomplish that bucket list item, and achieve even higher levels of fitness in the process, I need to work out at least twice more per week.
Again, I could get down on myself for not doing more, but then I ask myself if I was working out a year ago. The answer is no. Were my blood sugars higher? Yes.
So, there is always more we can do toward a goal, but I think of it as success if we continue to move towards that target, whether the steps are large or small.
As Nido Qubein, motivational speaker and president of High Point University said, “Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.”
I met Edmonton colleague and friend Elizabeth Severson several years ago at an economic development conference in Yellowknife. She’s documented on Facebook her challenges of staying on course with a healthy regimen.
Here’s a post from Oct. 30 that shows how progress is often an ebb and flow affair: “When I started my weight loss journey a few months ago, I weighed the heaviest I had ever been … I finally said enough is enough and started making some drastic changes to my lifestyle…less junk food, less eating out. More portion control, meal prep, healthier choices and going to the gym. The result of these changes: more energy (for the most part lol), less headaches, less body aches, and not needing as much medication around cold/flu season. I sleep better too!
“The biggest change however is that I am down 16 lbs!! And while I have another 50 lbs to go, I know I can do it! Yes, it’s tough, I have my ups and downs, over-indulge at times, but I am human am trying not to beat myself up over it. I am grateful for the supports I have in my life (my husband, my family and friends) and look forward to being the healthiest version of me.”
Since this post, Elizabeth has shared news of how she’s faring. Sometimes, there have been setbacks but then I encourage her to look at other good things that have happened in the meantime, like her husband getting partial custody of his daughter.
Our success towards goals also have to be put into perspective with what else is happening in life.
For Jackie Dawson, another Edmonton friend, getting married wasn’t something to do just because her friends were getting hitched. If that meant waiting until age 36 to say yes, so be it.
“I could have been married in my 20s, I was proposed to, but I knew I wasn’t ready. I had lots I wanted to do still and I was still trying to figure out who I was,” she says.
But I waited…then I figured it would never happen because I hadn’t met the right guy. Then when I met my fiancé I knew right away that I’d marry him.
I’m glad I waited and didn’t settle. When you know, you know. Some people are lucky enough to find that person early on but I was never 100% on seeing myself with any guy I dated for the rest of my life.”
Jackie and I are both huge sports fans, so I thought it fitting to sum up with this quote by former NBA coach John Wooden who once said, “There’s a choice in everything you do, but in the end, the choice you make, makes you.”
October 16, 2017 § 1 Comment
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”
This quote by author Ralph Waldo Emerson struck a chord recently when I mentioned my last blog to friend Alysha Samec. I had written about adapting to change and growing as a professional and told her I was now considering how my personal side has evolved.
I actually began thinking about this topic in the summer when the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation reunion was held in in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. I didn’t actually attend because of my work schedule.
However, it was almost exactly 20 years since I left the OLG to start my communications business so I felt a little sentimental.
I also reminisced a lot as a result of getting reconnected with many former colleagues through Facebook at the time and thought about who I was still in contact with and what kept us connected.
In August, we travelled through the Sault on our summer vacation so I had the opportunity to visit a few friends I’d made in my newspaper, lottery and school board days and while operating my communications firm.
As I visited with these people, I considered whether my personal brand had changed over time. If so, would these connections remain just as strong?
Great friendships and business associations endure the test of time – you pick up where you left off as if time hadn’t stopped when you’ve been apart for some time.
I’ve been friends with some people in the Sault for up to 27 years. We stayed connected invariably over shared beliefs and interests.
Alysha asked me if I could define a time when I knew who I am. That’s tough to put a finger on but I think the basic David was formed in my early 20s.
On one hand, I’m much more confident than the guy who it took three weeks to ask out the lady who would become my wife. Now it would take me three seconds.
At the same time, I have always pursued what is really important to me so I had to put my shyness aside to be a news reporter.
I have always known there is something more. Even in high school, I transferred out of a class where I wasn’t being productive to the one that produced the school newspaper, which would lead to my pursuit of journalism – and that newspaper interview that would have me meeting the above-mentioned wife-to-be.
I’m proud of the professional me and happy with David, the person.
Would I do some things differently? Most assuredly so. Do I live with regrets? Never.
A quote from actress Jennifer Aniston sums up my feelings ever so powerfully: “If I could tell my younger self anything, it would be to stop trying to please everyone. You can’t please everyone. All you can do is be yourself and whoever likes you, likes you and whoever doesn’t like you, doesn’t.
“Live your life to the fullest and take chances. Don’t let bullies get to you. Be strong. Just stay true to who you are.”
The late technology legend Steve Jobs had some further great counsel: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
These thoughts on personal brand tie back to my professional life. I recently met up with Ryan Townend, CEO and owner of William Joseph Communications, headquartered in Calgary with offices in Saskatoon and Red Deer. He was doing marketing presentations in Grande Prairie where William Joseph has now expanded.
Ryan related he’d gotten contracts on a couple of occasions, in particular, because of his personal/professional brand. In one instance, he worked his butt off over a long weekend to make a presentation and his competitors didn’t respond to a quote request for several days.
I already had a strong affinity for Ryan’s style as it reflects my own work ethic and practices. This just added to my enjoyment of his business philosophy.
In another instance, Ryan received work because he’d personally responded to every person who commented on a social media campaign that went sideways. His demonstrated willingness to handle a sticky situation up front and honestly impressed a client to be.
Ryan’s outlook is simple: “We only have one life to live. Let’s make it a good one!”
All of this tells me that when you’re authentic, either personally or in business, you’ll get connected to the people you really want to be around.
As a side note … I’ve struggled getting fingers to keyboard on this blog for several weeks but wanted to complete it as a tribute to former Daily Herald-Tribune editor Bill Scott who I worked with for 3.5 years in the mid-1980s. He passed away Oct. 3 and his celebration of life was last week.
Bill authored the column Potpourri for more than 45 years. As much as he was an excellent writer and editor, Bill exemplified how you can work hard and play hard. He enjoyed inviting staff to his home and sharing his love for cooking and music. He organized car rallies for employees and always got the hockey pools going. And then, of course, he would hold court on Fridays after work at Dar’s, a popular watering hole back in the day.
Bill also walked the talk when it came to volunteering. That connected with me at the time and I’ve given back to the community in some form or another almost continuously since.
RIP Bill. You were certainly true to yourself. Journalism and Grande Prairie will never be the same.
January 9, 2017 § 1 Comment
“Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.” – John Lennon
The above quote is one of my favourites, wisdom I’ve shared with others many times.
I’ve recently found myself practising what I preach with a new job at the City of Grande Prairie. I became the Manager of Intergovernmental Affairs on Oct. 17, through a small restructuring. This new position involves focusing on advocacy, strategic planning and, as the title would indicate, relationships with other municipalities and levels of government.
Up until then, my entire 34-year career had been concentrated entirely on communications, from newspaper reporting to corporate writing and editing, operating a consultancy, along with communications co-ordinator and manager roles.
There’s certainly a significant learning curve that goes with this position, relatively new in Alberta municipalities. Some duties are tasks that I would have done off the side of my desk in the past are now essential elements of my new position. Others involve skill building and opportunities for training.
My focus is more on City Council-related activities and priorities and our Corporate Leadership Team’s strategic directions. I now report to the City Manager rather than being part of a service area. I move from managing a team to having functional leadership responsibilities.
I was asked to take on this new role in a Sept. 8 meeting. Ironically, this discussion occurred immediately after a City of Grande Prairie Leadership Network Meeting where Leadership Coach Alan Goff presented on the 4 Rs to Remarkable Results.
He underlined that … “What got you HERE, won’t get you THERE.”
This is a reminder that we can’t stop learning, making changes, adapting to the evolving environment around us and being visionaries who will foresee changing circumstances.
Moving to a newly developed position within your organization has its challenges. It’s not like picking up and leaving to a job at another employer. There is personal transition and an extended period of passing the torch.
I’ve always considered myself somewhat of a mercenary – doing whatever is asked of me to complete a project, often with competing priorities. That was certainly the case when I operated my own business. I was routinely working around the needs and expectations of up to four clients daily to make things happen.
Reminding myself of this experience and that I had also pioneered the first communications officer position at the Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board certainly helped me to adapt. So did this quote from Ekaterina Walter, a recognized business and marketing thought leader.
“In the midst of change we often discover wings we never knew we had.”
Here are some highlights of Goff’s 4 Rs to Remarkable Results.
- Face Reality – Take responsibility for your results and those of your team.
- Relinquish what is in your way.
- Rely on the process – stay positive and avoid the ‘crabs in the barrel’.
- Reform to a better way – Change small, but often.
I follow the work of Tony Robbins and am fond of using his quip, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”
I just discovered another piece of wisdom from this American businessman, author, and philanthropist: “Change is automatic. Progress is not. Progress is the result of conscious thought, decision, and action.”
These lessons are great advice as we embrace new challenges and changes in 2017.
August 29, 2016 § 3 Comments
I’ve written in this space previously about what music means to me. Lately, I’ve also observed how it impacts friends and other people in Canada and around the globe.
Music can get muted on a sound system and performers head to the stage and studios of the afterlife. However, it can never be snuffed out.
In his 1971 song American Pie, Don McLean is said to be drawing reference to hearing of the untimely deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson with the words … the Day the Music Died.
However, even 57 years after their deaths, people who enjoy early rock and roll music continue to play their tunes.
The power of music on a nation was evident on Saturday, Aug. 20. It will go down as a day I will always remember where I was and what I was doing.
Joyce and I were part of the 11.7 million viewers – about one-third of Canadians – who watched what is said to be the final concert of the iconic Canadian band, The Tragically Hip. It was telecast commercial free on CBC, our public broadcaster for those reading from outside our country.
Although there are talented Canadian performers who have achieved greater acclaim outside this country, I can’t think of another band the CBC would interrupt Summer Olympic coverage to present their concert live.
While the band will stop performing now with the announcement frontman Gord Downie has terminal brain cancer, the music of this venerable band will not die. If anything, a new generation of listeners will be created by the outpouring of love and appreciation for the group.
Andrew Jones, Owner of Checkered Owl, media manager for Tasman Jude, Caleb Hart and Black Indie agrees: “There is something eternal about GREAT music. Something that resonates with us for years after it was written. It’s that feeling you get when you turn on an old Ella Fitzgerald record, a Nirvana track, stream some Run-D.M.C., dust off your record where Dylan went electric and something captures our heart. The best music, the music of a band like The Tragically Hip, never dies, its honesty reverberates throughout the culture, it influences the next generation and ensures their music will be at work for a very long time.”
How important was this concert to me? Well, typically when a concert or music special that I want to watch is on TV and the Toronto Blue Jays or Montreal Canadiens are playing, I PVR it for later viewing. I’m also not one to forego a chance for a campfire with friends but I took a raincheck on an invitation.
This time, it was music that had to take precedence. I knew the concert wouldn’t be just the final appearance of The Tragically Hip. It would be a celebration of a band that told the story of Canada and Canadians over the years, References to communities and storylines from across the country are peppered through its albums.
When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau learned of Gord Downie’s diagnosis in May, he tweeted: “Gord Downie is a true original who has been writing Canada’s soundtrack for more than 30 years.”
Those words sum up my feeling for the band. Although I have a greater collection of music by several other artists, this band is really the one group that has always spoke the fabric of this country.
I told Jessica Allossery, a singer/songwriter friend in London, Ontario, that I was writing this blog. She was eager to share her feelings about music and the impact of the band.
“The Tragically Hip’s final show brought Canadians together as one. As we paid our respects in gratitude and awe, the band put on their bravest faces, to perform their incredible final show. What a night we will all remember! This is a band that will forever go down in history, as it united Canada with our love of music, story and soul.”
Music evolves. It heals, tells stories, cheers us or helps us understand a situation. It creates conversation.
I used the phrase, “turn the page” with a work colleague the other day and he exclaimed, “Metallica!” I reminded him the song was originally produced by Bob Seger. The workmate told me I was showing my age. I responded that I was simply showing my taste in good music.
How many songs of the Beatles have been remade over the years? Bruce Springsteen devoted a complete album to the music of folk artist Pete Seeger.
Gord Downie himself once said: “Music is the ultimate medium for expressions of love, and those expressions find a beautiful backdrop in the environment. Music is also a popular rallying point — at its central core, it’s a way for people to get in touch with the best parts of themselves and to voice the love in their hearts. And the environment is one of the great loves of our lives — when we think of the best parts of ourselves, the environment is always there, informing us, as a backdrop.”
Earlier in August, we attended the first-ever Bear Creek Music Festival in Grande Prairie. This three-day event brought musical acts from around the world and attracted thousands of music lovers from near and far.
The event was a success on several levels. First of all, we were treated to a first class event. I was introduced to acts that I’d not previously heard of and as much as fiddle music is not my favourite, I couldn’t help but tap my toes and join in on a standing ovation when a set featuring a collection of artists came to an end.
That’s the thing about music. Just like millions of Canadians were moved to join together for a televised concert, it has the power and energy to get us to do things we might not normally do.
The Beatles penned a song titled While My Guitar Gently Weeps. This final concert of The Tragically Hip had many Canadians doing just that.
Thank you, Gord and bandmates for all you have done to entertain and move us.
November 3, 2015 § 2 Comments
“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” – Soccer star Pelé.
We took in the 36th GoodLife Victoria Marathon while vacationing in B.C.’s capital over the Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend.
Although I’ve never been a runner, I was captivated by the many storylines associated with the event.
Some were entered to train for higher levels of competition such as the 2016 Summer Olympics. Others were preparing for this year’s Boston Marathon. Others were first timers just hoping to complete the course.
There were 9,081 runners entered in total. Of those, 1,569 were competing in the Marathon, 3,855 were participating in the half marathon, 2,570 signed up for the 8 km course and 1,087 were in the Thrifty Foods Kids Run.
The star athletes stood out like in any sport. You could tell by their routines and the way they carried themselves.
As someone who played slo-pitch and ball hockey for a few years, I felt more connected with the participants struggling to make it across the finish line.
I do walk our dog daily but my strongest association with sports now is jumping out of my chair cheering passionately for the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Blue Jays.
I’ve yet to set and fulfil fitness goals, having abandoned going to the gym on two occasions.
Therefore, setting a target to enter such a gruelling competition, regardless of whether it is a full-length marathon or a shorter distance and then reaching it is quite an achievement in my eyes.
Few reach Olympic glory. Some will enter competitions like this repeatedly to set better times and establish new fitness levels.
For a young friend, Jordan Skidnuk, it was a finish that would see him within two minutes of his personal best. But being one year removed from a broken leg, he was happy with the result.
Jordan has entered in marathons for several years, including being the youngest Canadian in the 2012 Boston Marathon.
His late father, Darrell, was a veteran marathoner.
Jordan’s girlfriend, Casey, eclipsed her previous best time in the half marathon by three minutes.
I’ve been thinking about writing these observations and how success will look different for each of us since returning from vacation.
This past Friday, I was inspired to push ahead.
I’d been invited, along with a couple of other colleagues, to share a talent at a teambuilding session with another department at work.
The department manager had heard I do readings of my writing.
Actually, it was the first time I’d had the opportunity to have a live audience for any of my creative work. I chose to read the story A Day in the life of Jasper, which I wrote for the Grande Prairie Public Library writing competition in 2010.
Since then, I have tinkered with turning the story into a book but have never made it past a second edit.
Another workmate, Arlene Karbashewski, read from her first book, The Treasure Kings.
I purchased a copy of the book and Arlene autographed it with the message, “May this inspire you to continue writing.”
This blog certainly hasn’t had the amount of entries from me over the last couple of years that I had hoped.
I learned that Arlene had only begun writing at age 40.
Sometimes people pick up talents later in life and, for others, it takes time for success to arrive.
Blue Jays fans were treated to the hitting exploits of outfielder/first baseman Chris Colabello this past season.
At age 32, he finally found his place in baseball after languishing in the minor leagues for several years.
Thankfully for the Blue Jays, he chose to sign on with Toronto and not take an offer to play in Korea this year.
Since turning that Jasper story into a book is a bucket list item, it was great timing to receive encouragement from another writer, a colleague who I discovered only recently is a published author.
It was also very cool to receive applause for a beloved story.
I couldn’t ask for better motivation.
June 22, 2015 § 2 Comments
Thirty-three years ago, I received my Diploma in Communications and Certificate in Journalism from what is now Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Richmond, B.C. Earlier this month, it was my turn to watch our son graduate from Okanagan College in Kelowna.
While it’s a milestone in our family to watch our only child take those next steps toward launching a career, thousands of other parents go through the same experience every year.
Countless other dads get to show their sons how to do a Windsor knot in a tie this year.
However, what I found remarkable was that all the speakers stepped to the podium combining to deliver essentially the same message I’ve already been sharing with young people – that youth today have more opportunities than ever before.
When I graduated to pursue work in journalism, you could find employment in print, television and radio.
I determined that I had a face for radio but not the voice and that sports writing was what I really wanted to do when I began my career.
In today’s world, you can specialize in social media and there are other numerous other niches such as green marketing. You can author copy in Canada about events in another country without stepping foot in that nation.
The range of other communications jobs that have emerged since my own graduation includes web content production and creating podcasts.
Even blogs were not yet a thing when I entered the workforce. Yes, there was life before the Internet.
And as graduates were reminded, jobs have been invented even since they began their college careers.
Pursuing a Writing and Publishing diploma wasn’t Peter’s first post-secondary choice. After trying a couple of terms at college, he decided to work in retail and construction before determining what he really wanted to pursue.
While Peter will be working in communications, something I can relate to, it’s much more important to me that he’s passionate about whatever he does.
I’m fond of the Confucius quote, “Find a job that you love and you’ll never work another day in your life.”
If I’ve inspired Peter and other young people about anything, it’s to find enjoyment in their employment and to think of what they do as more than a job.
That doesn’t mean being a workaholic – I’ve been called that – it’s more about considering what you’re doing fitting into the bigger picture, either for your current workplace or future opportunities.
I cringe when I hear people say they are bored or stuck in a rut at work. Even in a less predictable economy, we should still be masters of our own destiny.
That’s why the words of Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton, in particular, resonated with me. His key messages were:
Be present in all that you do. Take the time to engage with those around you – the best ideas are born of collaboration.
Be intentional about how you spend your time and about the work you choose to do. Follow your instincts and find a career and a life that aligns with your values – engage in work that is personally meaningful to you.
Give back. Use the skills you have acquired to transform yourself and your community.
Okanagan College graduates were told that most people will work in several careers in their working years.
A continuum of jobs has contributed to one career for me.
I began in journalism, moved on to corporate writing and editing, operated my own communications business, then returned to the public sector, first as a communications officer and now as a manager.
Okanagan College graduates would be wise to follow Mr. Hamilton’s advice.
Some sage words they might also heed come from the late Peter Drucker, management consultant, educator and author.
He once said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
Son Peter will go as far as his ambition takes him. I wish him and all graduates much success in the next chapters of their lives.