Posts tagged Holy Trinity of Happiness
Look, not to be a pessimist here, but no matter how good things are going for you or your company, even if you’ve been on a run of good luck for a good while, you’re bound to hit a bottleneck or six sooner or later. Call it summertime blues (the last week of August tends to be a deadzone for investment and action), or call it karma, it’s just a fact of life.
It’s all too easy to get pessimistic and be blind to any silver lining. After all it never feels good to have people criticize you or your project. From personal experience in Epilogger’s earlier days, I can share that it’s hard when possible investors pretty much send you packing. You wonder if your pitch deck needs work, start to toy with the prospect of taking all that advice you’ve been getting in changing features or the direction of your product or life, or even question your fitness to continue doing what you do. Substitute “investors” for “supporters” and the same queasy feeling may come over you whether you’re a CEO, a CTO, blogger, salesperson, athlete, or artist. People love support and can do great things when the world strokes their egos. The true test of character, however, is when the gravy train stops and it’s just you and the open tracks.
Don’t give up. Trust me on this one. Tenacity is the ultimate form of optimism. No one knows what you’re capable of like you do. No one knows your business like you do. Know one knows your limits like you do. No one wants you to succeed more than you do. Being an entrepreneur can REALLY suck sometimes but that’s the sacrifice we make to try to change the world. I’ve said it before in this post. If one was to ask me what the common x-factor is among all successful people, I would say it’s tenacity. Many people who saw “The Social Network” think that Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook at Harvard, met Sean Parker and got investment and fame over night on the heads of Eduardo Saverin and the Winklevi. The real story of Facebook is that Zuckerberg got turned down by numerous investors before finally landing his VC. Some told him to give up and that it would never fly. How’s that working out? You have the vision, make the world believe it by executing.
Don’t confuse tenacity with plain old stubbornness though. There are legitimate cases where people just have a genuinely crappy idea that needs to fail. Usually the bad idea is due to lack of due diligence (Is this even needed? Is there at least a niche market? Did someone already do the exact same thing?) A few episodes of Shark’s Tank or Dragon’s Den should paint you a good picture of what I mean.
Get advice but always take it with a grain of salt. Ask whether the source of advice is playing with a full deck and has the right experience. Celebrity does NOT make expertise. You could be talking to the most well known though leader in internet security who has sold his/her company for a bajillion dollars, but if that person would need buy into what you’re doing/selling and has no understanding of it, keep that in mind before panicking and changing it all. There’s a difference between opinion and advice – one is criticism, the other is constructive. So take advice from people who you really trust and want what’s best for you. I can count on one hand who those people are in my life and you can be sure that those will always be kept close. They have helped me profoundly.
You are NEVER alone:
The world is more social now. As such businesses have changed and communities have become more tight knit. What’s really great is that there are now more people and programs that are willing to help you solve a myriad of problems that every entrepreneur faces at different stages. If you don’t know something, ASK SOMEBODY! Don’t worry about looking stupid because I guarantee you that you will look even stupider when negligence to learn something important comes to bear in an important situation. Get social and get out there. I learned a lot from my advisors, but to get to the level where their advice made sense, I had to go back to basics. I enrolled in the MaRS program, signed Epilogger up for Founderfuel, read books, attended tech meet meetups, and pulled the right contacts to get me to the right people to teach my dumb ass the things I didn’t know jack about.
You are not alone If you were ever stranded at sea or on a desert island you would do everything you could to signal for help. Apply the same logic to your startup, your art, and especially your life.
It’s a thought that is at once scary and enlightening.
We go through life looking out for numero uno, rat racing, making as much money as we can, and sometimes stepping on others to get there, but you just can’t escape the fact that no matter how much wealth or possession you amass, you can’t take it with you. Does success come at the expense of others or does caring for others bring success? I think it’s the latter.
You may have heard it all before from people like Oprah or Deepak Chopra, on the power of gratitude and reveled in their insight if you attended on of their seminars but once the excitement wears off we find that we think critically and usually get to “it’s so easy for them to be happy and enlightened with their money. The question which is hard to answer is which came first, the success or the money? Success is not always money. Gandhi could have told you that if he were still around. Success is the people around you who believe in you and they all deserve your gratitude.
It can sometimes be difficult to slow down long enough to think what or who you should be grateful for. Is it truly possible to make it to the top in today’s “Thank you economy” without help? A celebrity has her agents and distributors to thank but we all know that without fans, there is no celebrity. We celebrate people who thank the little people who helped get them there. Lady Gaga, with all her fame and fortune knows it (Little Monsters, House of Gaga), the Misfits knew it (Fiend Club), captains of industry who give back by mentoring know it. They don’t have to thank the world, in fact even infamy could also make them known the world over, but who will cry when they die?
I stopped to think of all the people who have helped me and continue to do so. There are so many that it’s impossible to list them all, and it humbles me to the point that there is no gesture big enough to thank them all that could ever do them justice. The best I can do is be the best person I could be to them. Helping others does take time out of your busy schedule but it’s worth it. I could easily bury myself in work for each waking hour of the day and still never be done, but when a friend needs me I do my best to be there for them. The rewards of being a genuine, helpful friend totally outweigh the cost it presents to your time. When you are sick or need a leg up, they will be there for you and that’s priceless.
I’ve been reading Robin Sharma’s book that shares the title of this post. I’ve seen him talk before and I like how he relates all his sort of hippy advice to entrepreneurship, so it resonates with me. One would think from the title that it’s about how to be more awesome, as most self-help books tend to be, but if you read it (and it’s a very easy read with 1.5 page chapters) you will notice that most of his advice is about taking care of yourself so you can take care of others. Seems to be the contrary of what I ranted about at the start of this post, but the difference is the reasons behind looking out for oneself. You only have one life to live and once it’s over, it’s over. Will you be forgotten or will you leave a legacy? It’s up to you.
Recently I’ve found myself in a few conversations centered on the same subject: who people really are when no one’s looking. This subject has come up mostly with my younger friends just entering their 20′s (i.e my sister and her friends, students I’ve given lectures to, young friends in the tech scene) and I wish I had taken the time to think about it when i was in my early 20s. I think it’s important to grow your own way and be the person you want to be, not the person everyone else thinks you should be.
Consider that most of us, on any given day, dress or act a certain way in public to “fit in” without rocking the boat. It makes sense; it’s a lot easier to blend in because you’re less likely to get hassled by others or be the subject of gawking onlookers’ judgement. You can ride the public transit system or walk the streets in peace knowing that you can exist without impinging on anyone else’s equally pedestrian existence.
However, I believe that within every one of us there is an artist, a scientist, a writer, a sexpot, a game changer, an inventor, a dancer, a fighter and, in some cases, a genius. It’s painful for me to watch someone stifle their true nature to fit in to such a degree that even behind closed doors they worry about what label they will bring upon themselves because, secretly, they enjoy some sort of activity or pursuit that others would find strange, abnormal or taboo. When we force ourselves to fit the mold that society puts pressure on us to adopt, potential and growth are stifled and we are that much further from our next giant leap in culture, science, enlightenment and acceptance.
It seems the only time people cut loose a bit is in the bedroom, but a lot of the time, it’s more of the same. To me, it’s ludicrous to think that two people can’t shed society’s expectations, or take a break from the usual folkways and mores when the door is locked. Pierre Trudeau said it best (although he was referring to the state specifically – however it can be said that the state sets the tone for a lot of what we think is right and wrong)
“The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation… What’s done in private between adults doesn’t concern the criminal code.”
Consenting adults should be able to escape from it all when it’s just those in the room. I guess the point is, if you can’t be “naked” when you’re naked then do you even have an identity at all.
The implications have a wider scope when applied to the double standard that the sexes face on a daily basis. Why is it that a man can be promiscuous and liberated while women get all kinds of labels should they want to live that way as well? It doesn’t make sense in an increasingly secular society. In my days learning the ins and outs of the criminal code as a criminology undergrad it became blindingly obvious that most of the common law that we take for granted is rooted in the bible or the Ten Commandments. Just about all mala in se offences are straight off of the stone tablet and the vast majority of mala prohibita offences are extensions of that.
I always find it fascinating when I see people staring and shaking their heads at a person who walks by dressed in a way that expresses their true selves. You must have experienced it at one time or another. Someone in neat pants, functional shoes, who carries pens in their shirt pocket is labelled a dweeb. A person dressed in black who has dyed their hair is a goth or a freak. It goes beyond fashion sense and into self-expression. When most of us were younger (say, high school) we probably got the chance to explore our more unusual sides, but why does that have to end once we enter the work force? If hiding your true self away is what growing up means, I never want to grow up.
Take one look at anyone who has changed the world in a profound way or brought about social change (good or bad) and you will notice one common factor among them that is anything but common! Each of these brave men and women dared to dream and dream different, to BE different. Why do I say brave? Well, because being different invariably means you will get in all sorts of trouble, be called “crazy,” and take all matter of crap from just about everyone. Most people don’t like change, but without change, there is no progress. To be a leader is to grow your own way and to be strong enough to endure the consequences. Albert Einstein did it, Hugh Hefner and Larry Flint did it. Rosa Parks, Pierre Trudeau, Barack Obama, Johnny Rotten, Gandhi, The man in Tiananmen Square, Raoul Wallenberg, Oskar Schindler…. the list goes on and on, spanning centuries. We could not ignore them and they changed everything.
So, when you step out of your home and are under the gaze of others, will you grow your own way or are you happy to go with the flow? Here’s to the crazy ones.
Toronto, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. You showed the world that you care during Movember 2011 and you showed needy people across our great nation that you still care last night at HOHOTO 2011 at the Mod Club.
My first experience with HOHOTO was last year and I was delighted to see so many of the new friends I had made in 2010 in one place enjoying a big bash together in support of charity. This year was just as great if not even more so and although I arrived quite late to the party, it was a beautiful thing to be greeted so warmly by so many people with smiles on their faces. The thing I will remember most about this year’s HOHOTO is reconnecting with friends who I’ve not seen in months due to how busy we’ve all been this year – the year of the startup.
It was such a good time last year that I got involved in the organizing committee this year and though my role was a small one, it was a part of the greater sum of the hard work put in by a cadre of angels who wanted to party with a purpose: charity. Thanks to Alexa Clark, April Dunford and Michael O’Connor Clarke, our wonderful sponsors and, of course YOU, HOHOTO 2011 was the best one yet and we raised over $67,000 for the Daily Bread Food Bank.
By the way, if you want to know where on earth all the pictures are from last night I suggest you check right here. <3
Also here is Photojunkie’s HOHOTO 2011 photobooth, posted lightning fast, and Motionblur‘s set here. See if you’re in there! I’m also looking forward to Michael Penney‘s video coming down the pipeline soon!
It goes to show that Toronto is a city with heart and because of your generosity, a lot of hungry people will eat well this holiday season! Didn’t that feel good?!
If you are strapped for cash or just need to give more then I encourage you to visit this site to pledge to a random act of kindness and GiveGet will donate $5 to a charity of your choice, including Daily Bread Food Bank.
Have a happy and healthy holiday season. 2012 is going to be a big year and I look forward to seeing you all shoot for the stars.
Rannie got involved in a new, yet at the same time old-timey endeavour this year: The Tweed Ride in support of Bikes Without Borders. As you are probably well aware of, October is the ramp up month to open season for just about every charity you’ve ever heard of to begin their major fundraising cycles in November. It’s a pretty good move to get the jump on November by fundraising in October to avoid what I call “donor burnout” because come mid-November people are starting to get tapped out with all the benevolence as they start saving up for Christmas gifting.
I appreciate the Tweed Ride because it takes a similar approach to Movember in that it gives fundraisers and donors an activity that appeals to their sense of irony and fun. People love Movember because, simply put, moustaches are hilarious and that one fact is a big reason why there is so much enthusiasm around it. The Tweed Ride gives its fundraisers an excuse to ride around town en masse in 1930s tweed attire while onlookers wonder what on earth is going on. I think my favourite aspect of the ride was that. The faces I saw on people were priceless and I bet that they will be searching the internet to find out what took place last Saturday on the streets of Toronto.
The ride was staged in Trinity Bellwoods Park and had several stops: a photo opp in front of Old City Hall, High Tea in Grange Park, and finally (and most enjoyably) the nightcap at Dovercourt House where, after a delicious chicken dinner, many of us went upstairs for Lindy Hop lessons. Here’s a piece of Stay Classy advice for this week: Go take dance lessons! It’s better than greasy nightclubs, the people are nicer and you WILL meet lots of new people and dance with them. No need for painful pick-up lines here, everyone is just happy to be there learning together. After the dance lessons the dance floor was opened, prizes were awarded (Rannie won a brand new bicycle for raising over $1000! Go Photojunkie!) and we were treated to some big band music stylings by a group called “Sly Balloon.”
Rannie has a great set of pics for the event which I’m sure he’s working on and will put up shortly here. I have a few and it was so hard not to put them all in sepia.
Yes, there was a penny farthing bicycle. Pip pip.
Sly Balloon makes it a swell swingin’ soiree
We were treated to uh… this during high tea at Grange Park.
It seems that there is a universally accepted icon for just about anything online these days. Checkins have that pin and map, links are typically a chain, delete is a trashcan or “x”, twitter is a bird, and so on.
Although some icons have double meanings, both are usually known across the web and are understandable within the context of the site or web app where they reside. With the popularity of blogs you would think a universal blog icon would have been in use for some time now but as far as I know there isn’t one. It’s probably difficult because conceptualizing what a “blog” (short for “weblog,” as you likely already know) is in itself difficult. A blogger gets inspired, types up a blog post, adds multimedia, shares it out to the web and social nets, and people read it. So how does one create an icon that pulls from all those actions? Also what about RSS feeds, a blogger’s lifeline in a lot of cases when s/he wants to keep people coming back with each new post?
Does an icon designer try to cram in the universally accepted thought bubble and keyboard icons for the ideation and typing part of the blogging process? The “add a picture” icon for multimedia, and the “sharethis” icon with the RSS feed radio waves? Surely not. Also, as blogs are often about the personality or subject matter behind them, how does one account for that? I think the reason why there isn’t a universally accepted icon is because blogs are hard to define in simple terms. Blog are all about content and that’s a very all-encompassing term that’s just too broad to put into an icon. Blogs can be repositories of all things internet and have a way of taking pieces of the larger pie that is the web and news sources and breaking it down to more digestible morsels by way of commentary, news feeds, satire, or reflection. Mashable understood this from day 1 and owes its success to being a central hub/mashup of the goings-on on the web.
Icons are generally very literal and therein lies the problem in this case, hence it’s not surprising that no one has really, come up with the “blog icon.” If Blogger/Blogspot didn’t trademark it’s logo, I think that would have been more or less suitable as a universal blog icon but WordPress is the king of blog platforms now and there’s no getting around the “W” as a brand logo rather than a universal one.
I was searching around and came upon a site owned by one “Brendan Mitchell” who, back in 2008, threw together the icon you see above. You can find the site at theblogicon.com. Sure, the icon proposed is somewhat derivative (it looks like the old “b” from Birdhouse Skateboards mixed with the RSS icon) but it’s so far the only real effort I’ve seen in trying to solve the blog icon problem. At the very least the radio waves taken from the RSS icon is apt as just about every blog has an RSS feed, so it makes some sense to me. Mitchell as also gone through the trouble of putting up all the Illustrator files in varying sizes and variations and allowing free usage of the icon with no restrictions. You can also just grab the gifs and pngs here individually. Apparently a Spanish site by the name of “Hipertextos“ came up with a very similar one but the differences are negligible. Both Mitchell and Hipertestos are aware of each other and are happy to share their icons equally as “icon brothers” – again the icons are almost identical anyway. I think if enough people start using any one icon, even this one, the icon will become truly universal or someone with way more artistic ability and inspiration than is fathomable will make something truly awesome and sort this out once and for all. In the mean time I’ll be using this icon in my endeavours. Feel free to follow suit if you also have found yourself in the same predicament when trying to represent the noble blog as an icon across your web presence or in print.
Farmer’s markets are a great weakness to me. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to resist spending money at a farmer’s market save one time when I didn’t have my wallet on me. It’s damned near impossible for me to resist the urge to get fruits, vegetables and bread that are easily of a higher quality than any supermarket around.
Maybe it’s something about the fresh air or the fact that the vendors sitting in their tents peddling their goods are the very people who have grown, picked, concocted or invented whatever it is they are selling, but I am a complete sucker for them. When I lived in BC farmers markets were a dime a dozen and I would always show up at the house with heaps of fresh ingredients that I would turn into a feast for myself and any one of my starving roommates who would always appear “magically” right when I got done cooking.
Today I took my lunch at the Metro Hall Farmer’s Market and, boy howdy, did I drop a nice wad of coin. Before I knew it I had a delicious burger with peameal bacon on it, bought some beef jerky and pepperoni sticks, ate a bunch of fruit including yellow watermelons and a butter tart that Kelly, who met up with me there, insisted I try. I did and it was awesome. If I wasn’t on the way back to the office I would have bought a ton of stuff. The Metro Hall market is on till Oct 16th then they are gone like the dodo till next year but I will probably get there before that with a huge backpack and a healthy appetite. My wallet is already weeping but it’ll be worth it.
Sometimes I go to the Wychwood Barn farmers market at St. Clair and Christie or the Trinity Bellwoods one and it’s not too bad with some of the same vendors as the Metro Hall one but in my opinion, Metro Hall is awesome. I’m told that there’s one at Nathan Phillips Square so I’ll be checking it out. By no means am I any kind of expert on farmer’s markets but they seem to keep finding me. I’m definitely putting someone’s kid through college just like I am doing for that guy who walks around downtown with roses. He always finds me, puckers up with a pathetic face and thrusts some roses into my hands. If you’ve ever been to Loser karaoke at Tequila Sunrise you know who I’m talking about. He keeps getting my money because 50% of the time he comes round it’s someone’s birthday or I’m with a lady. Bastard.
Ken Seto, my colleague and CEO of Massive Damage Inc, creators of a great and super fun iPhone and iPad location-based zombie killin’ game called “Please Stay Calm” has recently picked up an obsession with “bulletproof” coffee (or was it called bullet coffee?). The main ingredient apparently is “grassfed” butter and I took a look for the stuff with no success today. I thought I saw a tub off it but the vendor wasn’t sure what that was and looked at me like I was mad before handing me a piece of cheese and telling me to bugger off. If any of you have any idea what that is and where to get it let me know. I’m making it my farmer’s market quest.
No one is infallible. I’ve seen the best of us make huge mistakes no matter how convincing their air of perfection was. That being said, I find it disconcerting how we all try to correct each other as if the corrector is somehow superior to the corrected. The Oatmeal published a very irreverent and painfully accurate (if not opinionated) comic about what we SHOULD have been taught in senior year.
I’ve been a writer for years but from time to time I make mistakes, usually due to haste. When others read anything I’ve published they love to comb through it looking for minor mistakes and sometimes will find one. There are two ways in which I find and rectify a mistake. Either I proofread or someone tells me.
The first way is far more preferable, of course, and should be encouraged of any writer, but, again, everyone makes mistakes. That’s when the Grammar Nazis come knocking at my door with their Nazi accents. They tell me to cross a “t” or dot an “i” – sometimes adding “Herr Nus” at the end of sentences. The more learned ones will tell me (between mouthfuls of knackwurst) that, according to publishing standards, punctuation such as commas and periods should appear inside quotations, not out. The thing is they’re right and, if they tell it to me nicely and discreetly, I will always make the correction. But they won’t because they’re Nazis.
I do, however, appreciate the private DMs that good friends and fellow bloggers send me when they find an error and I am happy to reciprocate. Being a blogger, I don’t always have a second pair of eyes to re-edit my posts before they go out. Also being a blogger who has recently come into some extremely busy times, it’s been a struggle to get out as many posts as I used to. This week has been extraordinarily busy and I apologize for this one, lonely post.
Where, however, do we draw the line for politeness when correcting another person’s grammar, spelling or usage? I see it happen all the time where someone will be ridiculed for spelling “ridiculous” as “rediculas” or for messing up the spelling of “definitely” to the painful “definately.” I suspect that these glaring and annoying errors in the written English language come from a lack of training in the importance of root words and some gaps in vocabulary. However I think they can be easily fixed and don’t merit being called “stupid” for bad spelling.
I know a lot of very smart people who can’t spell to save their lives. No one is really born smart. That is even if someone was predisposed to be a genius, would he/she really be considered one they had not learned the fundamentals of human knowledge and prose before pushing the boundaries to eventually become the celebrated genius (or lamentable mad scientist, despot, tyrant etc.) that they were destined to be? If a “born genius” was born in a cave and never saw the light of day would that genius really become as resourceful, as creative or as bright as they are predisposed to be. Plato would argue that it would not be the case.
Therefore we must be shown the light of knowledge and help one another to learn rather than punish those of us who for, one reason or another, did not grasp a piece of knowledge the first time around. I would say that you will feel better if you helped someone learn how to spell a common word, rather than lambaste them online in great spectacle. Don’t be a Grammar Nazi.
UPDATE: The Tornado watch has been lifted. This post is being left up for posterity.
Hey everyone. There’s a tornado watch in Toronto. The pictures on twitter allegedly show the twister in the city of Toronto and the lightning is fierce right now. I’m not sure of their authenticity at the moment but it never hurts to be prepared just in case. I am typing this up to give you some quick tips on what to do in a tornado and syndicating it to all my social feeds.
Getprepared.ca has some general tips but I thought I would flesh them out a bit for apartment/condo dwellers. It’s a scary time right now and I just want to help where I can with planned redundancy in information. If you get the info you need from this site, great. If from somewhere else, also great. Just stay safe!
Read the tips below but stay glued to 680news radio for updates. If you still have television keep your eye on the news. If your area goes from “Tornado watch” to “Tornado warning” SEEK SHELTER IMMEDIATELY.
If you are in a house
- Go to the basement or take shelter in a small interior ground floor room such as a bathroom, closet or hallway.
- If you have no basement, protect yourself by taking shelter under a heavy table or desk.
- In all cases, stay away from windows, outside walls and doors.
If you are in an office or apartment building
- Take shelter in an inner hallway or room, ideally in the basement or on the ground floor.
- Do not use the elevator.
- Stay away from windows.
If you are driving
- If you spot a tornado in the distance go to the nearest solid shelter.
- If the tornado is close, get out of your car and take cover in a low-lying area, such as a ditch.
In all cases
- Get as close to the ground as possible, protect your head and watch for flying debris.
- Do not chase tornadoes – they are unpredictable and can change course abruptly.
- A tornado is deceptive. It may appear to be standing still but is, in fact, moving toward you.