Slowing down for stress sickness

We do it to ourselves

In my case it’s no surprise to anyone.

‘cept me of course.

So I’ve been moving every weekend for work / weddings / family obligations every single day since the end of August. Almost sixty days straight.

I’ve been on adrenaline so long my blood my qualifies as a performance-enhancing substance. This was the weekend I was going to “slow down”. As soon as that message hit my brain – the wave of chemicals I was riding was cut off and sickness took me in 24 hours.

I have read so many business books and articles about this. I never learn.

Maybe someone else can learn from my vast stupidity.

Within this stupid-sea, a moment of beauty: Today is a most beautiful fall day in Toronto. I had to go return the gorgeous brand new Prius I used to drive to a meeting yesterday. Driving sick made me slow down, and it was then I found the power of the electric car…

I took the most scenic, lake-bound route downtown and listened to Jazz on volume level “1” ( it’s usually top 40 on volume level 40).

I got about ten honks and five middle fingers. The Prius on electric is no race car. Thanks to Zipcar I drove a Mustang GT this past summer. The engine is like a Tiger getting ready to pounce.

When you hit the gas on a Prius electric it’s like an old man screaming into the wind.

But – it was a truly beautiful moment of peace.

As usual. Forced upon me.

Will the same moment be forced upon you?

Or will you MAKE it.

*sniff* soup time.

Problem with speaking, Paul’s secret singing

Not that anyone thought I was a manly man –

But it’s not easy to say this.

I like … musicals. I see you smirking!!

It was the disney stuff that put me to sleep.
It was Rocky Horror that woke me up.

In University my girlfriend ( now wife ) exposed me to the original “RENT” and the obligatory anniversary visit to “Mamma Mia”

BUT! It wasn’t until the movies came out that I really connected.
I will not enter into a debate about how bad Pierce Brosnan sings. He is James Bond.

This past week I drove a few hundred kilometres to speak to some professional colleagues in Peterborough and I went through my pre-speaking ritual of singing my way there in the car.
Calms my speaker-nerves.

Jerry Seinfeld quoted the true statistic that on a top five list of fears, death was number five and public speaking was number one. Resulting in the quip – “Most people would rather be in the coffin than giving the eulogy!”

And it reminded me of someone I wanted you to meet.

Could you speak to this audience? Be that little dot on stage?

Everyone knows that one foreign professional who is more than qualified for a job – but just can’t get over speaking issues or cultural issues to land one.

Enter Bonnie Gross and Speech Science. Secret to several of Canada’s MBA Schools and many corporate clients.

Some not so corporate like preachers and teachers too.

I met her that fateful evening on my visit to Verity (a Toronto Women’s Executive Network ) and was so happy to finally find someone I could connect these people with.

I met her again to make sure she was of the passionate, kind and empowering school I subscribe to -she sure was.

So! If you meet one of these international superstars who could use a little help, connect them with Bonnie.

If you aren’t sure if you like musicals or not the incredibly clever and fun “Wicked” is in Toronto right now.

It is a virtually guaranteed fun night out.

Less painful on dudes than MM and Rent too.

Speaking to the next generation – New College

This past week I got the chance of a life time.To speak to myself at age 20. Kind of.My alma mater, New College at the University of Toronto was running a very dynamic student leadership symposium and gave the honour of being the speaker at the closing reception.To speak to young people who are so full of powerful potential – who all attend an institution that truly changed my life for the better has been something I’ve always wanted to do.It went quite well, I’m already engaged in helping several of the attendees but in case the words can help anyone else – here’s a short version of that talk:
A French diplomat known for deep thinking once said “I’m more afraid of an army of 100 sheep lead by one Lion Thank an army of 100 Lions lead by one sheep” You’ve spent the day considering the lion in you and what army you may be called to lead. I’m here today because I have studied people, I work with a lot of them, rich and poor, young and old and I have learned from every single one – my life motto is “if hindsight is 20/20, I want to have the clear vision of other’s learned wisdom”. I hope a little of what I have learned since I left the seat you’re sitting in can be of help to you today and tomorrow.
I will share with you two secrets, two dangers, two life changing tools and one challenge. It is my hope that it will have a positive impact on your life. Secret one – the secret of the rich – ten people – meet here on campus. Student councils, residence groups, sports, debating, art, ping pong, gay cinema – whatever. They share values, interests, and build trust before getting the all important diploma. Go separate ways. Five years pass, one gets another a really good job, two are dating, one is overseas, two enter school – business/masters, the rest are bums working at Starbucks, Tim Hortons and heaven forbid, Coffee Time. Ten years – lawyer, married, children, more job help, bums turn into mechanics, doctors, business owners, real estate agents, financial planners.
When you need these professionals in life, you go in search of someone you trust. People would always rather do business with someone they know to be trust worthy. Look to your left and right – here they are. I’m here today as living proof, you see I was one of the bums.
I had 30+ friends in the group. Next month we will gather just off campus and celebrate 15 years of friendship. 8 of those friends are married to each other. I met a wonderful woman at orientation, became friends in the commuter lounge, started dating after become student leaders together and now we are happily married. We are one of four new college relationships started through study groups, dragon boat and volunteer events just like this one. Tomorrow ladies and gentlemen I will MC the wedding of a New College friend – much of that original group that met through New College leadership will be present. Would you like this to be your future? First let’s talk about Secret two – The fleeting power of youth. You will only get one “first”. First job, first career, proposal, marriage, baby, house, car – these are magic moments and what young people don’t know is that when we are young and broke these firsts possess a power over the older and successful. They want to feel that energy, rejoice in your success, take part in your joy – all you have to do is let them in. It’s the reference from the New College mentorship program to get your first job. Help from a UofT contact for your wedding. A tip from an alumni to join a board. Let people help you and do it for others and you’ll keep that magic in your life. After my wedding my good friend and I created a concept we call wedding whisperer’s. I’ve worked on 30 weddings in 6 years, MC’d 6 new college weddings and saved my friends time, money and helped them enjoy their special day. Make no mistake, I had a heck of a lot fun while doing it too because these are my strengths put to good use.
On to the dangers. Danger one – walking off this campus with nothing but that piece of paper. Make no mistake folks, there is money and success in volunteerism, not just good on the resume but leadership and management experience will boost that salary, get you that job and help you close that sale. I volunteered for a charity called gratitude and worked the phones, honestly for a bucket of chicken for my friends for dinner one night. It turned into a career in non-profit and the adventure of a life time. I have touched over 100 million dollars in donations, met celebrities, important people and launched the campus dreams of hundreds, including my own which involves a renovated commuter lounge when I die. So! Find your fetish, something you really love, unhealthily love, is it chess at Hart House, whiffle ball at the AC, something nasty to do with poetry on the other side of Queen’s park where those dirty artsies hang out? Do it for love, the philosopher’s stone was said to be the mythical element that helped transform lead into gold – in the world of jobs Vs. Careers that element is passion and passion is just another word for I love it so much that it makes others uncomfortable. Don’t let academics, staff, registrars, parents or yourself fool you into thinking the paper or the letters behind your name is the only reason you’re here. They are only half the reason – finding out what exactly your super power is and how to use it is the other half. Don’t neglect either. Danger two! The tyranny of choice. Your parents like to give you a hard time because they had no choices and you have every one in the world. How is that easier? We are an ADD society, if you are bored for more than on millisecond there’s app for that. Dream big, follow that passion but here’s the trick to making sure you eat at the end of the day. It’s called the informational interview – find the person with that job who loves it – meet them for coffee – CEO or Zoo keeper and ask them to complain about how long it took them to get here. Through their complaints they will reveal the secret to your success. Ask them what you should be doing with the next five years to get to where they are and they’ll coach you, help you make it happen – that magic of “first” I talked about. Commit to the now work hard in the moment but plan for the future and work on it a little every day. If you want a salad you don’t plant tomatoes at 8am and eat at 5pm. You want the good stuff, it takes time, patience, cultivation. You want good, buy a salad at Metro. You want GREAT, be the farmer of your own success.
Today you spent time doing Myers Briggs and learning the concept of “mindfulness” – this is not hippie stuff people. Let me tell you corporations pay big bucks to have their leaders do this stuff because there is power in knowing yourself, what gives and takes away energy and how to focus that energy in a moment. It’s the difference between punching a clock and being the office rock star. Life changing tool 1. Young alumni status. Don’t waste it. One day UofT and New College will ask you for money. When I was on campus my friends and I “partook” in food at the end of a reception every night for three years – the world’s cheapest meal plan. I met my wife in that quad, I met my best friend in that office, there were good times here. So I’ll pay gladly. BUT when you get out and have nothing, know that UofT is here to help you get something! Mentoring programs, martini bar alumni events (called “shaker”), events in every major city in the world, an amazing alumni magazine, discount financial advice, life insurance, car insurance, email for life, a private club and athletics deals. Use it. If it does for you what it did for me – be ready to give when they call. If all you have in 20 years is that piece of paper in a frame on your parent’s wall. That’s your own damn fault.
Tool #2 – we’re almost done. When we graduate, leave, get kicked out people move out of home, travel, get jobs it was really hard to keep in touch. Sure we have facebook but that’s just too damn messy. There is a facebook of business and it’s called LinkedIn. More powerful than a resume, it’s a web 2.0 digital conversation about your passion and success. I have used it to meet heroes, authors, celebrities, mentors and reconnect with friends that I can now do business with – low maintenance – no Christmas cards, business cards, when things change in my life, city, job, face, you know, when I need you, we’re ready to go. Caught up and all about making change.
But first my challenge. To find your passion, your method to find magic is through networking. I have all the books you’ll need but mark my words, beware type A people. The secret of networking is that you have two ears and one mouth and you’ll make money if you use them in that proportion. When working with the Vice President of the Student Council when I was Orientation Marshall I asked her how such a quiet person won a college-wide election and knows so many people, “she said, I feel it’s better to be thought of a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt”. I asked her, “are you talking about me”?! I married that woman. We made a great team then, make a great team now. So please live this challenge, do this for others. I have some prizes today, I challenge all the winners to figure out a way to use them to network! Use this gift cards to invite out a professor or a fellow leader and learn about each other. Thank someone who has helped you. These prizes were not solicited from businesses, my friends, hard working folks who work regular jobs like teachers, chaplains and a couple who work here at UofT gave me their hard earned money for the purpose of helping a student who was just like them. I come here today with over $500 in prizes given freely just by asking – hey guys can we help out others the way we were helped 15 years ago?
And so I leave you with a question – will you be a sheep or a lion? Will you follow or will you lead? The choice is yours, if you choose to lead, I’d be glad to help.———————A special thanks to all my friends who donated prizes to this event.Link——–2011 Follow-up. A google alert turned up this blog post.
Nice to know an impact is made now and then.

I am thankful for you!

We all get soft, take up residence in a comfy place.

I’ve recently been gearing up, 2 years for a move.
From this comfy place to…. I don’t know what.

One of my favorite bands writes the lyric
“She’s like a baby, I’m like a cat
when we are happy, we both get fat”
in a song entitled “never enough”.

There are those for whom it’s never enough.
I convinced myself that “those people want stuff”
A mentor recently helped me to see that good things can kill you too.
I was in Vancouver this past weekend.
Groomsmen in the wedding of a good friend.
Had a full day to walk and think.

Sorry, I can’t say enough about this book.
Just check it out if you are someone who fights for change.
Ask yourself if even good things can have a trace of poison.
Like apple or cherry seeds in large amounts.

It was Vancouver, so of course it was raining.
I don’t know why, but I had loaded my mp3 player with very thoughtful songs from this band from my youth.

On this day in a Starbucks ( don’t ask which one, there is one every 500 meters in Vancity ) I had a great conversation with a resident of the city of “change”.

A peer taking a risk. It was exhilarating.
Easy to forget the vitality of authenticity.

It’s Canadian thanksgiving.
I’m thankful this year for those who share with me so I can learn. As they discover and rediscover the power of being poor, starting over, taking professional risks, the value of money, of the little things, realizing how we allow so many distractions to keep us away from what’s important.

What we want Vs. What we need
If you haven’t seen Brewster’s Millions. See it soon.

Flat-screen wanting, ipad chasing, car loving, foodies, artsies – zombies.
*ahem* no judgment. I’m speaking about me, not you.

Thank you to those who help me learn, stay focused, push forward and be better.
Thank you to those who help me focus on what’s important, and slow down.

I hope there is someone out there
for whom I am this person.

Who gets your vote Toronto?

Here’s my deal, my personal opinion:
Democracy is a contact sport.

It’s never pretty. But. You got to pay to play.

Sometimes you’re the guy standing, sometimes, the guy on the floor ( or woman ).

Life is risk, getting out of bed is risk.

You can’t complain if you’re not in the game.

So, every election I vote in. I volunteer.

For a candidate or if I’m on the fence, for the elections body.

This time. I can’t sit it out.

My candidate was always Rocco Rossi in my heart. He just never came through. Today Rocco released me, and stepped down.

Look at this guy.
Read the now hundreds of articles.

I’ve met him, listened to him, been to debates, watched and listened to dozens.

I don’t care about his past indiscretions. He’s human and his honesty about himself is indeed refreshing. But what about those thoughts and beliefs?

He’s everything I fear in humanity.

He says exactly what we’re all thinking.

In our bigoted, racist, truly elitist, car-loving, planet-killing, hateful hearts.
I’m talking about me, not you.

I can’t go there, won’t go there.

Georgie, I’ve put on the purple tie. Let’s go.

Anyone care to come along?

Dear network, I will always respect your decision.
But I can’t respect no decision.

Ten days Toronto. Let’s do it.

Phone power!

I know this is an old picture.
People tell me this is what my current phone looks like to them. The damn phone doesn’t matter…it’s what you DO with it.

Anyone who works in any form of “client service” knows…
You live and die by the phone.

My second summer in University I got a job that changed my life.

I was working for a famous guy named Ed Mirvish. A King of a man who valued customer service above all. We were renewing subscriptions for this theatre ticket business. His people were pro’s and they taught us about real service not just sales.

Later in University I would go on to excel in raising funds on the phone and ended up with a 100% success rate. They had me training fellow students soon after.

My work in philanthropy had me connecting with donors across Canada. With no real travel budget, it was all about the phone. Now ten years later. It Still is.

Young(er) professionals I meet need work on interpersonal skills. This can indeed be taught through networking interaction but what about the phone?

Sure the big corporations train their people but not many else provide this important training. I have finally met someone who not only does it, but does it using the best methods I’ve ever heard of.

Attending a networking dinner at a private women’s executive club in Toronto (Verity – If you’re a female executive, wow, look into this) I was astonished to hear the amazing method of using actors trained as coaches to take phone interaction and feedback to the very highest level.

I can’t think of an industry that can’t use this critical skill.

Can yours?

If so, call Amy.

If you ever want to talk phone skills. Give me a call.

One of my biggest secrets is that at every job I could, ever since Ed. I’ve bought myself a headset. Sure it means of often get made fun of by co-workers because I look like this guy.

But I spend over 2 hours a day on the phone.
No RSI injuries for me and I get results.
Thank you Plantronics!

Anyone who knows me knows I prefer face to face.

In this digital world everyone is trying to tell me tweeting is talking. Please.

We all know…..the phone rules.

Corporate Secret – Mike Lipkin

Numbers alone will never inspire.

Inspiration alone is empty and temporary euphoria.

What if we analyze our business and also amplify personal power? Big things happen.

Missions are accomplished. Lots of money is made.

There’s a guy, he does that – and he doesn’t really want you to know his name.

Sorry Mike. I’d like my network to know about you so here goes.

In my networking travels I seek out those who people I think are wise, get them to tell me who THEY think are wise and I ask those people….who do you listen to? Read? Watch?

Several folks in management, human resources and client service said the same name to me about a year back. It took a year to put the story together.

His name is Mike Lipkin.

So I did a little research. He has a few books, has spoken with Tony Robbins, Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela and his clients are fortune 500’s, governments big and small.

So why isn’t he a household name?

I had to bother him and ask. Heck I wanted to see if this superstar was human or just another poster boy for teeth whitener. And he responded. With authenticity and humility. Direct and sharp in a way that is so rare.

I learned of his connection to Environics and his commitment not just to inspiration but results through methodical numbers and the study of data.

People who want a quick fix don’t like this approach.

As time goes on I want to tell you, yes Mike is a secret for those at the top.
I kind of like the way that he isn’t about the big public sell.

He’s about results and those that want them.

So….if you want them. You need to call Mike.