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inspiration

The Second Time Around

The First Time Around

On Sunday, I will be running in the GoodLife Fitness Toronto Marathontwenty-nine weeks since I ran my first marathon on October 16th.  My goal is to run a 4 hour and 10 minute race, which is 19 minutes and 26 seconds faster than my first one when I ran injured. I adjusted my training program based on the lessons from my first marathon. Here’s how I did:

One of my favourite quote is from Muhammad Ali who said, “The fight is won or lost far away from the witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” I am confident that my training has prepared me but anything can happen on the day. That’s what makes it so exciting! Phil

My last week of a 29 week, 831 mile training program

Advice From the Big Chair

The empty ‘Big Chair’

On Wednesday, my friend Mel and I attended a “meet the author” session with Wayne Johnston, a celebrated Canadian writer. He is one of my favourites and I intended to ask him for advice on approaching publishers, my next mountain to climb.

Everything was going well: I confirm the session, my camera was charged, and we arrived twenty minutes early. As we were waiting in our second row seats (we chose not to run when the doors opened), I decided to buy a copy of “The Custodian of Paradise” for Wayne to sign. I also was going to ask him to include his favourite motivational saying, something I had asked Mark Tewkesbury, gold medal swimmer from the 1992 Summer Olympic Games, when he was a mystery guest at a business conference. He wrote, “Why not me?” It didn’t really make sense until I started writing my book. 

Mel at the book seller’s table

At the start time, an empathetic co-ordinator informed us that Wayne had not yet arrived and they were trying to locate him. Every ten minutes she updated us on their efforts to find him until forty minutes had passed when she said they still could not find Wayne and  she would try to reschedule him for the fall season (she did a great job). 

My new paperweight

All was not lost: I had a great time with Mel and we discussed a few open items about my book. You can find advice and inspiration in many places and often the best guidance is not planned.

Phil
                                                                                   

What’s in a Name?

 “What are you going to call it?” is often the first question people ask me about my book. I answer the same way each time: “I don’t know.” I have thought about potential names but not one of them has stuck. My book keeps changing and so does it’s description.

There is a lot of advice on picking a book title. Sources agree that there is a lot at stake because it is a key influencer on whether or not a reader will buy your book (or someone else’s).  

A good title…
– Grabs attention, is intriguing, and pulls the reader in
– Sums up what the book is about 
– Hints at the benefits of buying it (addresses what people need)
– Is relevant to the audience interested in your book
– Is not too obtuse, clever or clichéd 
– Does not include hard to pronounce words
– Is positive
– Matches the tone (and energy) of the book

– Is short (less than eight words)
– Stands out from other books in your genre
– Is easy to remember
– Includes a subtitle that further describe what the reader gets
– Includes key words a reader would type into a search engine to find a book like yours
– Does not mislead the reader

I have been tracking my competition through LinkedIn chat topics on the best change management books written. The list is at 243 and counting. Also, I downloaded the table of contents of The 100 Best Business Books of All Time. Finding a title that will stand out from these tomes and meet all of the above criteria will be a challenge. There is one more requirement, however, that makes the task a little more manageable: you need to love your title and be proud of it because you will have it for life.

Phil

The Best is Yet to Come

In the late 90s, I was influenced by the writings of Dan Sullivan, the founder of The Strategic Coach program, a process for helping entrepreneurs grow. His perspectives helped me manage my career and life. One of his core processes is called The Entrepreneurial Time System where time is divided into three types of days: “free days” (off-limits days to  rejuvenate), “buffer days” (preparation days), and “focus days” (performing days). 

Although I couldn’t organize my time in this way, I did benefit from the thinking behind it. In particular, Dan believes that you create breakthrough ideas during a series of consecutive “free days” where you completely remove yourself from work (including emails or reading business journals). Mark, my friend and fellow Sullivan fan, and I would ask each other about our breakthrough idea after each vacation. They were usually good ones.  

I thought of Dan this week when my family went skiing at Whistler. On day 3, my breakthrough idea came to me about half way up the mountain. I realized that my greatest achievements are ahead of me.This is true of most people but declaring it verbally and in writing creates the mindset necessary to make it real. Questions like “What are better achievements?” and “What would have to be true to achieve them?” have started forming the steps to reach them. My book is my next step.

As we left Whistler Village for the last time, a sign in front of the The North Face store captured the gist of my breakthrough: Never stop exploring (to become your best).

Phil

Where’s the Better Future?

Last week, I heard that Ontario Place, a recreational park started in 1971, was closing. This saddens me because two eras of my life were closely linked to this attraction. I worked there for two summers while in university and visited every summer as our boys were growing up.

1981 – I’m second from the right

I worked with 10 guys in the boutiques department, pricing and delivering merchandise to the stores on site. The warehouse was the first ‘man cave’ I had seen. It was located in the maintenance compound away from the public so we were free to talk, laugh, and play music all day long. The grounds included an open-air forum where musical acts played nightly. As a staff member, I got to see many diverse bands for free, including Blondie, The Spinners and Gato Barbieri. With 500 young people on staff, the parties were great, too. 

One winter I also worked in the Cinesphere, which was the first permanent Imax theatre. My first paid public speaking job was welcoming people to the show and proclaiming the benefits of Imax technology – my first sales pitch. I remember the lights were so bright that I couldn’t see the audience.

Nostalgia for Ontario Place came early. In my late twenties my friend Dan, a fellow OP warehouse worker, and I planted a time capsule on site that we buried under a pine tree we bought for the occasion. It was our toast to a great place that sparked our great friendship. 

2004 – Charlie and Sam

As soon as our boys could walk we took them to Ontario Place. They loved the water park and rides just like the kids I saw while working there. I also smiled at staff members, knowing the fun summers they were having.   

My most recent memory of Ontario Place was last week when I ran by the front entrance. It still looked great. 

So what does this have to do with writing a book on change management? First, there is loss with change and you have to acknowledge it. Second, usually there are good reasons for making big organizational changes. Ontario Place has been operated with a 20 million dollar deficit for years and the provincial government could no longer justify the cost, which I support.Third, a picture of a better future is important to help people deal with their losses. A task force has been set up to look at options for the site. Without a clear picture of the future, the only thing known is the loss.  This I do not support.

Phil

Diegogarcity – I’ve got it and I want to keep it!

Have you ever been exposed to something new, say a word or a product, and then you see it everywhere? You buy a car and then see the same model on the road. “I didn’t know they were so popular,” you might say.

This is called ‘diegogarcity,’ which sounds more like a destination than an affliction. I have been experiencing diegogarcity since I started researching book proposal writing. Books are everywhere – no kidding – and the publishing industry is extremely prominent, too. It seems that every newspaper, magazine or T.V. news program is covering some aspect of this business. 

Diegogarcity isn’t always positive. The publishing industry is going through hyper-change and the printed book is being challenged by cheaper media alternatives, industry consolidation, and shrinking distribution channels. This wave of discouraging news can dampen spirits. It can also awaken the warrior within.

Knowledge is power and the more I learn about this fascinating industry, the better I am positioned to be a part of it. Perhaps I should start thinking more about victory.

Phil

What presence?

Every year during the holidays, a friend and I choose a destination to visit  in the summer. We’ve been to many cities in the US and Canada. Each one has its special attractions and memories. 

Ernest Hemingway’s study, Key West

This year we discussed going to Key West, Florida, the southernmost city in the continental United States. It would be great to visit Ernest Hemingway’s home to see where he wrote ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro.’ 

Why are we fascinated by environments that produce great things? Is it the belief that we, too, can get something positive from these spaces, that something magical will rub off on us? If so, is it the physical space or the spiritual presence that holds this magic? Could we get it by sitting in Hemingway’s writing chair or by closing our eyes and taking in the essence of his study?

Inspiration
Reading

I started thinking about how my environment has played a role in my writing.  What made it productive? What facilitated the connection between intention and output? Perhaps, like most things, it’s a collection of factors versus one ‘silver bullet.’ 

If you get inspiration by visiting famous places, that’s great. If you create your own productive space, that’s great, too. As long as an environment helps you get to where you want to go, you are in the right place. So far, it’s working for me.  Phil

Writing: 1. Source materials, calendar, to do list, and latest draft, 2. Where thoughts turn into words, 3. My plan – front and centre, 4. My printer that churns out numerous drafts, 5. Reference materials

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