Wednesday, March 17, 2010

How do you define yourself?

I had an interesting discussion with a good friend of mine yesterday regarding defining oneself.  It spurred a significant amount of thought overnight in my mind about how I define myself.  It's obviously something I have thought about before because the title of my blog essentially speaks to that point.  How do I define the many facets of my life?  So, here is a stab at the underlying basis of why I define myself different ways to different people.

I believe that it all comes down to fitting in and being relevant in a relationship.  If I am among a bunch of work collegues, I become a sales and marketing professional pretty quickly.  Most people don't care much about my sports life, family life, or my entrepreneurial aspects.  They may want to know a little more about "who I am", but in that world, I am most relevant and valuable to to define myself as a sales and marketing professional.  Now, in my sporting life, I hate to define myself as a certain type of athlete.  Tennis player, triathlete, swimmer, runner, etc.  Every type of athlete comes with some pre-conditioned stereotypes.  Triathletes tend to be seen as super fit, super anal, and pretentious.  Tennis players tend to be seen as snobby and upper class.  So, I prefer to define myself as an athlete that plays many sports.  Very generic.  Very boring.  Very appropriate.

And then I can define myself as a family man.  I absolutely love being a dad.  I could/do define myself as a father at every opportunity.  Father's understand the impact that little daughters have on them.  It changes your perspective on almost everything.  As for the way I provide value, the greatest thing a parent can do is to raise a child with love and support, and there's nothing more valuable than that. 

So the answer to my question about the basis of defining myself...I believe I provide the most value to the most people by defining myself as a father.  As a family man.  Then everything else falls into place where it is most appropriate.  Athlete.  Entrepreneur.  Sales and marketing professional.  Friend. 

How about you?  How do you define yourself?  I would love to hear about it.

Thanks for reading.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Tomorrow's running route

As I continue to build my mileage up for Around The Bay road race, I figured out how to post and track my routes.  Here is tomorrow's route if anyone is interested.  30km of rural roads and a few rolling hills.

We'll be leaving in the morning so join us if you are interested.


The Olympics are finally here

Well, the day has finally come!  I can't wait.  I remember a year ago and all the hype surrounding the Olympics and how they are so close yet they seemed so far away.  100 days ago the Globe and Mail did a big section on the Olympics...still really far away.

Now it's tonight.  The opening ceremony is all about Canada showing off what Canada is.  We are competitive, friendly, open, welcoming, and generally cold (except for Vancouver of course).  The rest of the world will watch over the next 17 days, and some of the most amazing video and photos will be taken of some of the most beautiful vistas Canada has to offer.  It's a proud day for our country.

The Olympics aren't perfect and there will be problems, but for all those issues, the stories that come out of the games will be the legacy for the media and the athletes, and the venues will be the legacy for the rest of the city and country.  Last time I was in Montreal I went swimming in Olympic Parc.  An amazing facility that would have never been built if it wasn't for IOC money. That would never be possible without the Olympics.  Because of the 1976 Olympics, Quebec as some of the greatest athletes come out of that province. 

Please take the time over the next 17 days and enjoy all that the Olympics has to offer.  Cheers, tears, scandals, and stories.

Go Canada go!

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, January 31, 2010

Leadership as a course

Last night we were out at the 7th annual Fire and Ice Gala for Leadership Waterloo Region.  The event is always one of the top events we attend and we look forward to going every year.  Earlier this year I had a discussion with two fellow graduates of the program and we talked about what we thought of LWR.  The comments were pretty consistent:

"The course didn't provide leadership development, it just exposed me to areas of the community I was alread familiar with"

"I was looking for ways to become a better leader, and it didn't give me that"

"The network was the true value of LWR, not really the courses"

Not the most positive comments regarding a program that I value personally and as a member of Waterloo region.  I hold this program near and dear to my heart for a number of reasons, but mostly because it has so much potential to take younger people and make them community leaders.  I agree with some of the comments above, as the course did not always develop leadership skills explicitely, but I think that the people who were making those comments forgot a few of the real leadership development skills that were developed.  For example, we had a great speaker come in and talk about Emotional Intelligence.  If a leader can understand, develop, and exploit the teachings of EI, then they can become a better leader in their business, at home, and in the community.  Another area which great leaders are able to is to understand their roles in different situations.  Sometimes it's important to mobilize, direct, and lead with a strong voice at the front of the line.  Sometimes it is equally important to lead quietly from the back of the line.  There were many chances at LWR to learn that skillset, although not always taught explicitly. 

So, does Leadership Waterloo Region do a great job in developing leaders?  I think they do an OK job, but not a great job.  LWR needs to better develop a value proposition to their candidates to draw the right people into the program.  It also needs to do a better job explaining what candidates will get out of the program.  You will get leadership development opportunities, but you are also going to have times where you will simply learn about your community and areas that need help.  Maybe that particular area doesn't motivate you, but it might inspire 5 others in the class to volunteer or lead in a new area.

My recommendations:

1.  Is to be much clearer on expectations to candidates on what they will get out of their experience.

2. Spend more time developing and improving leadership characteristics that candidates can apply at their day jobs

3. Continue to grow the power of the alumni. 

The last point is difficult to do but LWR and their alumni committee needs to keep trying.  For example, we were the only people there from the class of 2005.  Too bad.

For those that are interested in learning more about your community and developing leadership skills, consider looking into Leadership Waterloo Region (   If you set your expectations appropriately, and actively participate in the program, you will get tremendous value out of the experience.

Thanks for reading.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Scary Dog Owner day

So, last night when I walked my beloved Blaze last night, she was herself.  Rolling in the snow, running, pulling, sniffing, etc.  Last night when we went to take her up to bed, she could hardly walk.  She wouldn't look at us in the eye, she looked 100 years old and in so much pain.  It breaks your heart to see your dog in pain.  They can't tell you why they are sore, where it hurts, but you just know they feel really bad.  Very analogous to having an 8 week old daughter! 

This morning when I got up to walk her, she was exactly the same.  Her back was hunched over, her right side looked sore, shaking, and she wasn't stable on her feet.  We went out for her walk and she was very slow.  A few times throughout the walk she would attempt to walk faster, and even run a bit.  That only lasted for seconds and then she was back to her slow, uncomfortable walk.  She didn't eat her breakfast and just looked terrible.

The other strange thing is that she wouldn't look us in the eye.  She hid in the corners behind chairs and stared at the wall.  So strange.  We booked the vet appointment for this afternoon and went to see what was wrong.  I lifted her up to get her in the car and she yelped because she was sore.  Once again, heartbreaking.  We finally got to the vet and the exam eliminated all the really scary stuff...she wasn't on her death bed thankfully.  Ultimately what we believe is that she has a pinched nerve in her back.  We got a prescription for anti-inflammatories and pain killers and we were back home.

Blaze still isn't eating and is very uncomfortable, but it is such a relief to know that she is going to be OK.  She's here, restricted to the main floor, short walks, and no stairs for the next 2 weeks.  Now there is a part of me that says it saves me an hour a day as I don't have to walk her, but I really do enjoy the walks.  Overall, it is very good news.

I wasn't ready to let her go.

Thanks for reading.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Starting again....again!

It has been such a wild ride over the past 8 weeks.  I thought when I wasn't working full time I would have a lot of time to write, tweet, and generally get more out of social media.  Unfortunately it was the other way around.  Because I was at my computer all day and every day when I was working, I had the time and the awareness to write on it.  Blogging has never come naturally to me, but I have enjoyed it when I have done it regularly.

A number of readers (it's a small number) have been asking about the rental house we were trying to sell, and what ended up happening with it.  Well, my last post lambasted the jerk who was trying to buy my house and the real estate agent who didn't have the stones to stand up to his client.  Well, I am releaved to know that next Monday, the house will close and I won't have to worry about it anymore.  Selling your first house is always bitter sweet, and this one is just like that.  I loved that little old house when I bought it in 2004, and I still believe it has charm and character well beyond the houses that they build now.  Regardless of those sentimental thoughts, I will be happy to see the house go and the money in our account!

I am writing the next post shortly which will be all about the challenges I have in picking a next career.  It's the most difficult choice I have had in my life, and a very important one, so I am hoping that if I write about it, it will help clarify it. 

Thanks for reading.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Ahhh...Real Estate

OK - Well, it has been a long, long time since I have written in my blog due to a number of very special and important I will go through them over the next number of posts. 

I am starting with Real Estate and the value of a "contract".  On Sunday, November 29th, we received 2 offers for our house we are selling.  One just below asking price, which was the first offer, and a second one just above asking price.  Close dates were very similar and conditions were identical.  Obviously we took the higher offer from the second person that had brought the offer forward on Sunday evening.  Everything seemed fine.  2 simple conditions, home inspection and financing, and we are home free.  He was up front early on (through is agent) that financing would not be an issue.

On Tuesday the home inspection was completed and 1 minor issue was stated.  We agreed to have it fixed to the satisfaction of the buyer and agreed through email that the condition would be met.  Second was the financing.  Normally, when financing is done through an institution, documentation and disclosure is an important part of the process.  If anyone has dealt with banks in the past, and most have, banks are notorious for over-documenting processes.  This is normally a pain in the ass, but for this particular instance, it may be very important, as you will hear shortly.

On Thursday, our buyer's agent emails my agent to say that the deal may not go through, not because of the home inspection, but because of financing.  We are extremely frustrated at this point because he was clear early on that financing would most likely not be an issue.  When the agent emailed about the financing, my agent rightfully asked for documentation surrounding the denial of financing.  The bank would have a paper trail showing that this buyer had been approved or been denied financing, and that we would require that piece of paper to sign a mutual release on the contract.  It seemed pretty simple because if he had gotten financing, we would have required documentation proving that he did get financing.

For the next few days, we heard nothing from his agent.  No documentation.  No responses.  No professionalism.  So, you wonder who this agent is?  Take a look at his website.  This is not meant to be a slander, but a statement to say that you must follow through on what you say and act in a professional manner to all parties involved.  If your client was truly denied financing, prove it, for whatever reason.  This agent, Brian Balmer, is not providing my agent with the information we have asked.  Simple request.

So, we have decided to push forward on our threat of legal action.  This agent has until 5pm today to provide us with information regarding the client's financing with regards to the contract, or we will move forward with legal action.  I truly hope is does not get to this, but all the facts will be laid out if it does. 

What is the frustration with this?  It looks like the contract that this buyer signed to purchase our house is not worth the paper it's printed on.  It was a legal document with conditions attached.  The buyer has not proven either way whether these conditions have been met.  What is the purpose of having an agent and sign these contracts if people can just walk away because they feel like they don't want to provide proof?

My agent has been wonderful and forthcoming in this entire process.  Miranda O'Sullivan has been professional and curtious to all parties, and I would recommend her to any and all who ask.  Once again, this is not meant to be an advertisement or a ridicule of any agents, but really about the process and the ability for someone to walk away unscathed from a contract. 

Please post any comments or stories you have about real estate contract issues.  I would love to hear them.  I am sure I am not alone.

Thanks for reading.