This is how I feel about you

Sorry to gush dear network,

Today, three people reminded me that life is to be lived.

One continues to survive managerial abuse
the is now on the other side of second lung cancer
the last sees the beauty in life after living through Auschwitz.

So many in my network are warriors for powerful causes
– and they undervalue themselves.

I have a face to face meeting with a stranger or network contact three or four days a week outside of work. We are connected on LinkedIn and other networks.

You tell me your stories…

THIS is how you make me feel ( focus on that crecendo before the chorus )

Those kids are the causes my network fights for!!

But who fights for you. I know you’re facing challenges.

My gift is that I see your power when you can’t.
Let’s amplify what is working.
Wrap our fists in your awesomeness and together punch fate in the mouth.

Thank you for sharing your challenges, letting me fight alongside you.

For inspiring me each and every day.

Thursday night some of us are going to meet and try to change the world.

Wish us luck.

Mastermind session – Esther’s Echo

If you don’t know the book “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill you won’t have heard of a “Mastermind” meeting.

Something as simple as getting together to focus on one problem. Using all your mental power, skills and resources to help another.

The cause is good -but I’m doing it because of the individual:
Matthew Cimone

He’s had an interesting journey so far:
International student with overseas postings
UofT Award winner
UN Goodwill Ambassador
Founding a charity under 30

He’s CEO of Esther’s Echo – they use digital media to link initiatives spearheaded by local community leaders in the developing world and student-led initiatives in Canada with potential donors and investors online. The model directs funds into the hands of effective leaders and efficient projects that are often overlooked by large international organizations..

Kind of like Canadian Kiva, but using not just money but Information Technology.

He’s made my alma mater proud, he’s helping my beloved College at UofT, he’s the kind of person we need more of in non-profit and network, at this stage of their game, they could use our help.

One night’s investment, let’s help Matthew change the world?

Only 15 spots free.

6:30pm to 8:30pm
Green Beanery – ( Toronto, Bloor and Bathurst )

Use your skills to help a great peer.

Let me know if you’re interested on LinkedIn or via email.

Even if you can’t come I can send you some notes after and you can comment and send suggestions!

The new stability! Paul declares war

What the hell is wrong with me?!

I just wish I was more comfortable going to work, punching the clock and going home

I mean I have a wonderful spouse, beautiful child, a dog who is my best friend….um… and a cat ( who lives with us and does like, nothing )

But I have this nagging pain in my brain that screams at me daily

– busy or productive?
– reports or results?
– push paper or empower people?

It’s driving me insane and I thought I’d shut it up ten years ago when I decided to work for charities I love. But like Mr. Palotta, I’ve found some shocking cultural norms

I’ve met 10,000 peers in non-profit. I’ve tested my theory at hundreds of organizations I’ve stuck my nose into from the staff, board and management level.

HERE’S THE SECRET —- *ahem* — I want to change the world.
But only between 9 to 5. And never on holidays or weekends.
There are 100,000 of us in Canada and we run the system
Anyone that screws with us, will be treated like trouble – and purged

My life would be easier if I bought in.

But I can’t and I’m so grateful to my spouse who supports me
who allows me (as the slightly larger earner in our family)
-to take a risk

And declare WAR on the clock watchers, on the many people who have no…. “skin in the game”

These pictures I found to encapsulate the concept of “Grass Roots” are kind of scary but appropriate! Real grass roots enablers know it’s about using every resource, the very blood in our veins (“it’s in us to give” right?!)

– to help the terminally ill in a hospice
– to humbly serve the youth who turns to the street
– to support the new mother who decides to choose life
– to support the older man who has lost his life to addiction

I’m not a very smart guy, but I want to change my own life to be a part of the solution. It’s confusing to find out that destroying this system of perceived stability will bring more “work – life balance”

– The charity that kills it’s office addiction will get more out of telecommuting employees who focus on results and not killing time in a cubicle
– The staff person who can be present for his kids, have a full time job WITH benefits is all too happy to use the powerful corporate skills built over a life time
– The mother who is not fired because she gets pregnant (which is par for the course in all charities, we just sugar coat it) will bring her new knowledge and life experience to a team that dynamically engages and retains her
– Taking boards from the 7pm zombie-walk through an agenda to a dynamic mix of online content, afternoon AND evening meetings and onsite visits will find not just more done but more contributed both ways

I draw my strength from you network – thank you for all you share and teach me
Hundreds of you are changing this system and humbly, I beg to learn from you

Together, we march forward, the army of the passionate!

Bring it on Monday.

teach me dear network

January 2011 – I was confused!

I have a non- work “networking meeting” face to face minimum five days a week

I keep a database of what good referrals would be for my network

I’m astounded about the LACK of understanding of some of my best contact’s business!

Gave me great focus as I set my goals and themes for 2011

If you are a service professional who relies on good referrals you need to learn how to quickly share how you spend your time, how your business works and what your ideal referral looks like

For me, it all traces back to the fifth habit of the classic Steven Covey book: SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND,

When I remind people of this, they all say “Oh, I read that book ten years ago”

Great, so what!

I needed a big reminder that this is the key

So! This is the THEME of my networking in 2011

If I have granted you admission into my network then it’s up to you to:
– Teach me about your business
– Teach me what your ideal referral looks like ( and what a bad one looks like too! )
– Teach me how to talk about you

I met a guy for coffee this week that literally said, I’ll forward you an intro email to help connect me to others.

Brilliant! Something I can modify but I don’t have to worry about misrepresenting you.

So network. If you want to do more of what you love in 2011 – let’s meet.

I’m all ears.

Steven Page is a hero – Paul deals with divorce

We all have that band

Their music walks with us when we were young
and then every day since then

every powerful moment
every painful moment
every moment of joy

For me, that band was the Barenaked Ladies.

Their first ever release on the yellow tape in 1991 ( when I was in grade nine ) was the first indie cassette to go platinum in Canada. Their album Gordon was a major hit and they have been closer to me than my family ever since.

I have every album and know every lyric

Then, in July of 2008 – Steven Page was arrested and it was the beginning of the end.

Now, I can’t help how I feel ok so please don’t think that I’m trivializing this very important subject…..but I kind of felt like my parents got divorced.

Do I go with my troubled hip Dad who strikes out on his own? Or stay with the family who is trying to keep the same old same old afloat?

I’m not smart enough to judge so I just said that this part of my life was over and I washed my hands of both of them.

But I never really understood what Steven went through, how could I? I have touched mental health in my life as the leader of a Toronto food for homeless program for five years and volunteer for seven. But I still don’t “get it”.

This week Steven had the impossible GUTS to host the “mental health” special with CBC. A series of shows discussing the issue from the inside out and even a call in show.

So maybe my petty little healing with the music I love can take place. But either way, today my hat goes off to you Steven Page, man that took guts.

The shows were so personal and powerful. You did this country a service by helping us get one step closer to understanding.

I highly recommend a listen.

Who can you trust?

Do home purchases and sales ever go “smoothly”?
This is one of the biggest investments in our life.

As anyone reading this blog knows, networking is my thing.

So you’d assume I know 1000 Real Estate Agents right? Wrong.

We had one when we purchased our first home.
Transaction went well, but she moved out of province.

Didn’t figure we’d need one until a move took us by surprise.

A cold referral – yikes!!

When I think of agents, I think of agent Smith from the Matrix. I was expecting to get slapped around and referred to as “Mr. Nazareth” a lot.

I listened to a lot of “I have the best agent” stories for a couple weeks.

But finally, the right referral. I saw the good work, I heard the words that gave me the comfort to make the call. The team was everything we had hoped for in the short timeline we had.

They were certainly tested. We sold at a bad time, our property was no rolling estate in the hills. But close the deal they did. With style, taste and keeping our nerves at bay.

This is the Trilogy Team of Chestnut Park.
They are my agents.
They protected my family when our back was against the wall
– and they have my loyalty for life.

If you’re looking, then this is where I’ll send you.

I’d wish you luck, but if you call them.

You won’t need it.

What you can do for me

I’m often asked “Paul, what can I do for you?”

The answer is weird and confusing…..

LET me help you.

Commit to the process, stay in touch until your current need is complete.

Quick story, as usual it takes place in a Starbucks.

I was finishing up a couple books on Saturday night before going home to spend time with my little ones ( dog, cat, baby ) and give my wife a break.

Behind the counter the staff of my local Starbucks were getting ready to close up shop and were talking about their great plans for the evening. These plans started however with a 1 hour public transit trip with a 1/2 hour wait to go only a few kilometers which was on my way home.

Now, I’ve done this before. Made this ask, I get turned down 100% of the time.

First because on my off time I look like a scruffy hobo at best and I’m a big guy and I get that it’s intimidating. BUT. There was four of them, I’m driving a microvan with a baby seat and it would have cut almost two hours off their evening plans.

I HATE that the world works like this.
That we can’t help each other with the gifts we’ve been given.

So, what can you do for me?

Let me be of humble service, of help with the few skills, resources and connections I have to offer.

It gives me great comfort. It would be a gift you give to me.

2010 Golden Crab Awards

WARNING! Longest post ever.
At the end of 2010 I considered a networking question.
Who has helped me the most in 2010?
This is not a Barbara Walters most fascinating people list. It’s not the smartest and most valuable networking contacts list, it’s not who are my favourite people list.
Who has helped me cut through the clutter and be my best professional self ?
I waded through 1000 names. I came up with four.

What’s with the crab?

Growing up, mine was a talkative family.
Our dinner table is like a federal media scrum.

I have also developed an eating problem that if I’m not with another human being I cannot eat without doing something productive.
Reading a book, the paper, radio or the worst – watching TV.
But in both cases eating crabs is the exception to the rule. CRABS REQUIRE FOCUS.
I was eating leftover crabs the day after Christmas and found that this one food absolved me of the nagging feeling that I needed to be productive. I knew that if I wanted the good stuff, I needed to focus 100% on the task at hand.

So my question was, who makes me do this with my business life?
Who is a golden crab?

Rather than keep these four superstars a secret,
I’ll share how they helped me. Maybe they can help you too.

What gives these crabs such powerful claws?:
1. All have well developed brands that they work hard on every day
2. I don’t have to “work” to connect them, each are master networkers
3. They contribute four times as much as they ask in return
4. Have curiosity, coach with humility, hold me accountable and keep in touch!

Alan Kay is a change accelerator through a method called “Solution Focus“. It’s a powerful method because it helps facilitate solutions by using existing tools and brings people together instead of keeping us in the “us” and “them” camps.

Alan is a powerful guy. I’ve watched him facilitate sessions within troubled and not so troubled organizations and boards. He has decades of connecting, negotiating, coaching and group facilitation experience. He’s changed the actual way that I connect, coach, learn and relate to others.
Ann Rosenfield is a fundraising professional in my line of work.

We’ve been friends and colleagues for a good part of my career but in 2010 we engaged in a number of joint networking events, each more fun and valuable than the last. I learned more from Ann this year than any other peer in my business.

Ann astounds me because, with her work and life experience she really should be a little more arrogant. But she shares, teaches, coaches, collaborates with such and open mind and dare I say heart that she is one of the most inspirational peers I have in this country. She’s the professional I model most.

I know 500 lawyers by first name. Kate Lazier is the only one who ever stepped out of line and jumped into networking endeavors feet first. In 2010 we co-hosted an event that took me so far out of my comfort zone – it was a powerful and valuable experience.

Kate Lazier is part of a dynamic younger team of (non-profit and estate focused) lawyers I’m keeping my eye on and in touch with. Kate is a solid and knowledgeable business professional and the living example of why I tell people that the best networkers are not type A people. In connecting this year I found a peer who is as eager to use networking to improve the non-profit sector as I am but in a very different way that I can learn from to get more powerful results.

Networking is best done in team. Kate was most valuable team players this year. Special mention and thanks to Kate for mentioning her great real estate agents BEFORE I needed them. It was a perfect networking moment. They were true professionals who at a stressful time, sold my house and saved my life!

Promod Sharma is someone I’ve blogged about before.
A 2010 superstar this guy has ripped up my life!!

Another resident of “should be more arrogant”, Promod brings many years of business success and management experience to the table. He has shared so much and has challenged my very concept of personal success.

I am a young man who plans my career path, work life and networking time ruthlessly. Promod made me walk through this plan and question my motives, results and methods in a gentle but accountable way. For this I cannot thank him enough.

He like Ann Rosenfield was also present at many of the networking events I held this year. Not just in support but in a genuine spirit of connecting. No one professional has been so directly impactful of my life and career path in one short year.

So! My deepest thanks to these four professionals.

There have been dozens of people and peers that have had a great impact on me.

My deepest and most humble thanks to you too.

I am not one of these “smart young men” you hear so much about. I am a young(ish) guy with a lot of heart, who wants to help others and build a tower of results for the few organizations I believe in. I need all the help I can get.

Here’s to a powerful and prosperous 2011!