The gift of saying yes

I had forgotten what a true pain it is to move.

This past week I moved house and am still living out of boxes.

I now have NO storage space and have to purge 1/3 of everything I own. Which is a good physical and spiritual exercise.

Talk to me if you’ve just moved out on your own or if you want a free Tiffany lamp.

I was in Barrie Ontario today. It’s the end of an era, pretty much my most active network contact, my northern champion in Barrie is leaving. Her name is Ann Andrusyszyn and she is a human dynamo. Working for the Barrie public library she has been such a wonderful northern ambassador for the fundraising profession and promoter of the Simcoe area.

As Ann packs up for a move across the country she gave me a generous gift this morning at 7:30am. She said yes to my help. It’s the greatest gift someone can give me.

You see I have all these boxes and moving supplies. Didn’t want to junk or recycle them them when no doubt someone is moving. Ann let me drop off all the best boxes and some other supplies off.

Sometimes the strongest gift can be that of accepting. Fundraisers and “giving” types are allergic to accepting praise, gifts and thanks.

A great book called “Being Generous” introduced me to the concept of “circulation”. A more grassroots concept than the constant acquisition, hoarding and selling goods.

As a fundraiser it was a breath of fresh air. If you read it let me know! Would love to discuss it with someone.

I don’t want your resume

My linkedin profile says “I have met face to face with 90% of my connections”.
And I have almost 600 connections.

Yes that’s a lot of meetings.
3 a week minimum, I really shoot for five. 7am, 5:30pm or lunch when possible.
Yes that’s a lot of meetings,
no I don’t sleep a lot,
yes I make time for my family.

I do it because I’m seeking three things:
1) To meet the best and brightest coming up and coming into in my profession
2) To help only the proactive and kind to get ahead in work and life
3) To learn from the wisdom of incredible people

It is September, all the job seekers who took the summer off are looking and plenty of networking meetings are taking place.

But it’s time I made public a dark statement I want to say every single day.


When people show up to a coffee meeting with a stack of crumpled paper with reams of information on it I want to ask
“what am I to do with this”?

But I’m a constructive criticism kind of guy and I’ve never had anything constructive to offer.


A special thanks to network Elisa McFarlane (more about her later) for sharing this format with me. She claims she did not create it, I don’t care, she’s the first one to bring something crisp, useful and interesting to one of these meetings.

I call it, the networking meeting biography. Something you can use to provide a snapshot and if the contact wants, they can take it and use it to refer you.

On this topic, no one seems to know about “the informational interview” or the “exploratory networking meeting”. Google it if you’re job searching.

In the mean time I have created a handy dandy template for this document. Download and share with anyone you know it can be of help to.

I will be forever grateful to Elisa for sharing this and for a truly fascinating meeting, it’s not often someone strikes me silent, enraptured with stories and ideas.

A key resource that Elisa mentioned has helped her and she uses to help others is an incredible organization called “The Junior League“. It’s a networking organization for women and I can’t figure out why more intelligent women in my network aren’t members.

There are so many special things designed to keep women down in this world, how many are designed to empower?
How often do you feel like this?

Some of the training and networking they do is of incredible value, we had a conversation about the teaching of governance, something leaders pay to learn so often, is a mainstay of this group’s understanding of volunteer service.

Check them out. If you want more information, talk to Elisa.

In the mean time. Please.
If you want to give me your resume.

Email it.

Ps. An update. A career coach named Curt Skene sent me his site that has what I agree is the perfected version of the “one page bio”.

Religion Outside the Box

It’s Sunday. Ok, fine, let’s do this.

Recently I’ve caught some flack from peers who have seen my brand, read this blog and ask “where’s the religious stuff Mr. Catholic”?

I have a problem with religion ( who doesn’t ). Yes I’m really really into it but I truly believe that mine is the only TRUE religion on earth…..FOR ME. I’m just not into pushing mine or any faith on others. People are only going to learn by actions, words are pretty meaningless. … My two cents on the topic. I look forward to the impending debate.

In the mean time, I’d like to share two truly great resources on the topic that anyone can appreciate.

CBC podcasts are a true gift for Canad. I particularly enjoy a show called “Tapestry“. The promo spiel: Governments change, economies tumble and soar, and headlines trumpet the scandal of the day. All the while, Tapestry deals with the more subtle news of life — a thoughtful consideration of what it means to be human. An engaging, provocative and unexpected hour of radio in which rabbis and poets get equal time on the topic of faith, science-fiction writers and physicist-priests ponder the great creation myths, athletes explore the hero’s journey as a spiritual metaphor, and architects examine the idea of space for the soul.

It’s because of this show I tripped on to Rabbi Brian and his newsletter, “The 77% Weekly” and his ministry “Religion Outside the Box“.

His newsletter goes out every Monday except the last of the month. He encourages readers to take the last one off and relax, slow down, think and if needed, pray. And to remind us all that 77% is good enough; that we don’t need to strive to be correct 100% of the time. Life isn’t graded after all, it’s pass/fail.

Over the years the newsletter has helped me think more deeply about faith and my own religion. Check it out.

Also, he’s written a new book. If you’re not religious but “spiritual” this will be a resource you’ll appreciate.

Hope this is of help, my continued thanks to the Tapestry and ROTB team.

I leave you with links to a couple of my favorite posts:
Mind At EaseSomeDrive by Mothering

Three birthday lessons and Paul meets a King

It was a beautiful August evening.

About 30 of us gathered to celebrate something special, the 15th birthday of Charity Village .com

I am one of this site’s biggest professional fans.
We share a mission statement: “Dream big. Make it happen”
We share a purpose. Helping others with both tasks.

Who on the internet can claim to have been and continues to change lives since 1995? You can read the story and the facts if you like.

All I know is that my first job and every one since was from this site.

I use it every single week to help me in my work, help others with their work and improve the lives of others.

The site is staffed by good people, many whom I have met over my short career in non-profit. Some of whom joined us at this wonderful event.

I learned three things from this networking birthday party:

1. It never ceases to surprise me that true leaders, “changemakers” as CV calls them, are wise but humble people that are very focused on what they do. Unlike the arrogant noisy A.D.D. types that cling to their titles and blackberry’s, or who often dominate business networking and entrepreneurial gatherings. Looking at a few dozen people in a room, you would be hard pressed to seek out the leadership team of this successful corporation.

2. The Cake is DEAD! Long live the cupcake! Event planners have been rocking this trick for decades but it’s only sinking in now. I have now used them for networking events, weddings and birthdays. Besides the “cutting and blowing out candles” part ( which you can get a tiny cake for ) – CUPCAKES RULE!! Variety for all, better presentation, instant distribution and more people will say yes to a cupcake than a piece of cake. Cake, you and me are done. Normally I’d be like, “it’s not you it’s me” but in this case. It’s you.

3. Truly wise kings aren’t about protecting treasure. They are the treasure. When I hold these events I often try to find a venue that is accessible but is also run or owned by a customer service killer. Most people don’t know this but I LOVE the Annex. It’s where my heart lives, I reside far away and have moved many times but I am on Bloor St. between Bathurst and Spadina at least once a week or I’m miserable. What a treasure to find a “new” restaurant there. A comfortable place for adults ( no chicken wing specials or loud chaos ) with crisp aesthetics, good food and run by a veteran of the community. The Annex Live is a restaurant and event space in Toronto that fit the needs of this event perfectly. The food for our budget was over the top perfect for networking. The staff attention was perfection and the greatest part of doing business with them was spending a little time talking with the owner. I don’t use the term “a king of a man” often but this guy is the kind of person I try to live every day finding and learning from. In our short talk I will never forget some words of wisdom….”when you live through many good years and have what most people want you realize life boils down to the good things. You have to focus on the things you are good at and being close to the things, mostly people, you know are good and happiness won’t be far”.

The event was all I hoped it could be.
Thanks to dynamic folks that made time to attend.

A celebration, great networking and connections made, a new resource discovered. Life was a little brighter that day.

Hope to see you at the next event. Until then…

Dream Big. Make it Happen. – Thanks CV.

Fun and fascination in the age of persuasion

If you know who these people are, you’re either an insomniac or a marketing nerd. Or both.

More on them later.

My last blog had a wonderful result. Several readers kindly let me know through LinkedIn that they bought the networking book I mentioned!

Even more astounding, less than 24 hours later, the author called to say thanks!
Speaks to the networking prowess and humility/authenticity factor of the author.

In our short chat I found that Tsufit like me, loves reading and enjoys a healthy curiosity and relishes the feeling of fascination. I shared a resource that has changed the last few years of my life:

The Age of Persuasion CBC radio show with Terry O’Reilly

(they can’t podcast but here’s the link to stream shows )

I don’t like the term “brain candy”. Something that provides only temporary pleasure. This show is more like chocolate cake for the brain. Something delicious that you savour, is attractive to others and you can share with delight.
It breaks the stereotype that learning can’t be entertaining. Ever wanted to know:
– What’s the contract between audience and advertiser?
– Flintstones were born as cigarette advertising?
– How billboards, taglines and slogans are born?
– The most powerful ad in the history of the world?
– What do admen think about mad men?
– Why is negative advertising popular?
– How can you connect with YOUR audience?
Some of the greatest stories of persuasion you’ll ever hear.

I listen to it every week while I wash the dishes and I’m never disappointed.

It truly helps me with work as I consider my own marketing and networking by feeding me fascinating facts.

This past year the boys of persuasion put out a book!

As we were talking on the phone Tsufit look at her desk and saw that it was sitting in the latest set of books she had picked up from the library!

If you’re a reader this is the perfect enjoyable summer read that will feed and give power to your fall.

I mentioned our buddy Vince at the start of the blog. His slap chop infomercial is mesmerizing. More than that magic bullet garbage (Hazel ash your cigarette!).

But! A guy off the internet took it and mixed it to a rap and now….the company bought it and the internet version is the infomercial on late late night TV.

How’s that for the power of persuasion?

If you are hiding under a rock and haven’t seen the Old Spice commercial I’ll leave you with this fun version of our buddy Vince’s slapchop:

Own your excellence – here’s how

Thank you Tsufit

Successful author of “Step Into the Spotlight” posted a LinkedIn update about Tony Robbin’s new show “Breakthrough“.

I wouldn’t have caught it if not for her. I recorded and watched it today.

For those of you who cringe at the name “Tony Robbins”, with his giant blinding white baby-seal sized teeth, his gravelly voice and patronizing-feel-good platitudes. Stop reading. Now.

No judgment, it’s not your thing. I get it.

I tried years ago to get into Tony’s books and tapes.

It didn’t stick and mostly made me feel fake.

Then a couple years ago it was simply “my time to hear his message”. The audio book “live with passion” did it for me. It helped me with actual tools to cope with daily challenges at work and at home. It was real and practical.

It empowered me to embrace challenge and clearly see it as a growth opportunity by teaching me how to project the reward and the reason I was struggling in the first place.

Today, I watched this show with great scepticism but excitement too.

This was a story about a couple who had experienced bizarre tragedy on their wedding night of all times. No joke. Dream wedding in Mexico, as the reception finishes he jumps into the pool, hits his head and is instantly paralysed.

Yes it’s dramatic and some might say taking advantage of a tough situation but watch it for yourself. Their issues are larger versions of the ones so many of us face every day. It was moving and uplifting.

A confession. I have a marriage rant. Romantic movies leave you at the point-of -proposal and end there with an arrogant pronouncement of “happily ever after”. There are no movies about living daily life. No one will make a movie called “washing dishes. again”, “mortgage interrupted” or “desperate housewives – who are pretty much ok but have a ton of work to do and it’s 5pm and dinner isn’t ready yet and another load of laundry – for real?!”. Thank goodness, for mentors, community members, parents and frankly, shows like this.

Back to breakthrough. I’m not going to lie, there was a LOT of crying.

I really freaked out my dog too.

As soon as the show finished I took those tools and did some things for my wife right then and there. Tony gave me the tools, reminded me of some I had put in place recently when I read a cheesy titled but very good book on how to FIND the motivation to do dumb daily but critical tasks at work and home without complaint, resentment or the regular barriers holding you back: procrastination, laziness, fatigue, entitlement.

But as much as this has helped me improve my personal life this blog is mostly about improving your business life.

I mentioned a person named “Tsufit“. Her book “Step Into the Spotlight” sounds like some narcissistic ego amplifier. It is certainly not.

Here is a quick quote from my original review: This book should be titled, “tips for real human beings who work in client service, want to stand out and not be phony”. It is the sharpest book I’ve ever read on being your best professional self, heck it’s helped me to be “on” much less and to be more “real” without fear.

It is a networking must read for anyone with customers, donors or clients to serve and connect with. For anyone who believes relationships are critical but struggles to stand out because of situation or self.

Connecting and keeping in touch with Tsufit through her site and LinkedIn is constantly a learning opportunity.

I don’t like crying. But a little raw emotion is cleansing and empowering. This show made my spirit soar and do something for my family and myself – instantly.

There are physical therapy coaches for the injured, fitness coaches for the wealthy, psychiatrists for those diagnosed with the need but for the rest of us – the potential zombied nation. We need something to help, we need tools, ideas from outside ourselves.

All the above books are reviewed on my LinkedIn book list.

Thank you Tony.

A very special thank you Tsufit.

Who’s got your back? The secret partner

The Blues Brothers were Roman Catholic fundraisers

Just like me.

-spoiler alert- The entire movie is about how these two misfits try to raise an honest $5,000 ($20,000 in 2010 dollars ) to save the orphanage that they grew up in.

To quote Joliet Jake “we’re on a mission from God”.

By now, it’s no secret that I live life through movies. Blues Brothers is my strategic plan. Every time I start a project that scares me I think of this statement.

These guys are not upstanding citizens, they don’t claim to be pious or hold themselves up for others to admire. They just want to make music.

They gather their team – some leave from successful jobs, others leave family behind and they try to do one thing right.

Story of my life. Probably yours to eh?

Along the way they come across people who help them, people you know as Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Chaka Khan, John Lee Hooker, John Candy and many more. Some of the best blues music ever captured in a movie.

Also for some reason Princess Leia is trying to kill them. It has the record for most cars destroyed in a movie of all time.

Keith Ferazzi’s book “Never Eat Alone” is an international best seller. It’s his most famous book.

But it’s the less glamorous follow up book “Who’s Got Your Back” that I find indispensable when working with young professionals.

Among my mentors and the successful leaders I’ve studied there is a strong personal network. But there is also a secret partner, the voice of reason who helps us stay grounded in reality when all those around us have other motives.

Who’s got my back?

His name is Thomas Tran.

He is objective, cool, calm, thoughtful, methodical. As Zen as a human can get.

All the things I struggle with and maybe never will be.

Sure we are very good friends.
He’s been involved in every caper I’ve ever gone on.
He’s the godfather of my first child.

But he’s my ultimate business partner.
All my fun with weddings work is because of him.

He’s the ultimate networker, he lives in the service of others and yet he seeks no recognition. He actively rejects recognition.

A thousand people consider him their personal touchstone – listening is his currency.

I can’t count the times he’s said the following words that would be an insult coming from anyone else:

“You’re being hot-headed”
“You’re moving on this too quick, consider the alternatives”
“Don’t do this. I mean it. Don’t do this.”
“You know you’re wrong. You’re being an idiot.”
“It’s none of your business, there’s nothing you can do and nothing you should do”

And every time I do what he says not to, and end up hurt or embarrassed he doesn’t say “I told you so”, he helps but he says “you made your bed friend. Now sleep in it overnight and learn this lesson”.

So. Who is your Joliet Jake, Elmwood or Tom?

Your sounding board, your voice of reason who knows you better than yourself.

Find them. Today.

And if you like blues or soul music, watch the Blues Brothers.

What if you could be a leader…right now!

Robin Sharma is a great business and inspirational writer. Author of several best selling books.

A few years ago he shared a concept called “leading without title”. Something that really stuck with me as many in my network struggle with what is still a “command and control” hierarchical world of work.

His brand new book, “The Leader Who Had No Title” has brilliantly illustrated the concept in fable format. I finished it today – a truly enjoyable read which shares this truly practical but life-changing concept.

It left me very thoughtful.

Recently, more books and people have been helping me to understand the real world challenges of working in a leadership role. My eyes have been opened to appreciating where I am and how to work and lead from “the middle” rather than “the top”.

Today I was working in Collingwood Ontario. Have you been there recently?! They have JUST I mean just today finished about a year’s worth of work downtown (getting ready for the International Elvis Festival of course). I can’t tell you how beautiful it is. If you haven’t been in a while, go for a drive and visit.

I was sitting in a lawyer’s office before a meeting and had this thing up on the wall called “Desiderata“. I have read over 200 business books. This 100 year old poem is heavy, thoughtful, good advice. Read it below but what really stood out for me was “Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.”

However humble.

Like so many professionals, I tricked myself for so long, thinking that there is more control and more ability to influence from the top with an “important” title. Thanks to my current leader, many mentors and the great Mr. Maxwell and Mr. Sharma – I finally get it.

I can lead, make change, help others, help my mission, from anywhere.

If you’re struggling with this, make contact with me and we can talk.

Enjoy Desiderata – (click for clear version )

Get the RED card Starbucks users!

What if something you do every day could generate a donation to help AIDS in Africa? With NO work on your part? Why would you not do that?

So it’s no secret, I spend a lot of time networking in Starbucks.

Not the $6 latte stuff, just plain $2.21 Americano coffees ( no more eating donuts every day!! )

I hope you’re reading this because you’re a fellow junkie/patron.

Together we can use this daily habit/addiction to help others.


So, it’s no secret also, that I work in philanthropy (fundraising, for the layperson).

If you switch to the “Starbucks Red” card for your prepaid use every purchase will generate 5 cents for Project Red to help people with AIDS in Africa.

It’s something you’re doing anyway, as a time saver if you want to switch to a RED card and there are none at your local Starbucks ( they go quickly at some ) I have scored about 100 full size and keychain size cards.

I have also put $5 randomly on ten of them and will send you one or more in the mail if you use it and if possible share this message with others.

Email me at paulnazareth at rogers dot com.

What is Project Red? Where does the money go and what has it done?

Click here to find out.
So far since 2006 it’s raised over 150 million dollars for their cause.

Lastly for Startucks users DON’T forget to register your card online.

Did you know what you can do with a registered pre-paid card?
– Free refills on coffee or tea ( brewed or iced )
– 2 hours free daily wireless internet
– Free flavour shots in your coffee
– Free beverage on your birthday

Disclaimer and thanks:

No disrespect to Tim Horton’s. I still do a ton of business in there and if I’m on the road it’s Tims ( because there are no Starbucks drive-through’s downtown. Curse you 905!! ).

To all lawyers and financial planners who converted me ( not to mention visiting Los Angeles where it’s the only place to get a decent cup of coffee ) – thank you.

Understanding the reality of “leadership”

WARNING: This will be by far my most juvenile blog post to date.

My personal journey for the past few years has been to understand what “leadership” is all about, why do I think I want to commit to it and what could I possibly contribute?

It’s been a lot of reading and even more face to face meetings with leaders in business, community, faith and not-for-profit as well as mentoring by those ahead of me at various levels.

Just finished a great book by the prolific John C. Maxwell about “living and leading from the middle”.

And then last week it was like the window I’ve been peering through for years was smashed…

by a guy named Darren Pries-Klassen.

I have many wise, thoughtful mentors who have walked with me for the better part of the last decade. But Darren was a peer just a few steps ahead of me. Dedicated to pursuing his own opportunity to serve…like me.

Recently things changed and he is every bit the leader I hope to be; leading without title, empowering and relying on his team, dealing with the challenges of leadership like a human being who understands that he manages human beings. Not machines.

Listening to his reflections on real daily challenges in a language I understood I had the deepest most profound insight into this world I thought I knew.

Then, at that point. I started to think about…um…. Transformers.

I need help. I know.

Darren had been reading, listening, thinking, waiting and praying for twice as long as I had and it was astounding to hear the wisdom he had accumulated. His journey until his transition and then the change that had taken place in the short time since.

I finally realized how massive this transition needs to be and….

Crap. Transformers again.

You see, the first time I ever considered the concept of leadership was watching someone I knew ascend to this level of responsibility – I was ten.

His name was “Hot Rod”. A carefree, young, brash character was called to leadership. Right in front of my eyes he changed (with killer 80’s music in the background) and was a totally new person – instantly.

Thoughtful, wise, patient – his new name… “Rodimus Prime”.

Look, it’s an 1980’s kids cartoon, they keep it simple.

Here is a picture of the toy Hot Rod and Rodimus Prime before and after his change.

See the difference?

What an odd way of showing kids that massive life change is required of leaders.

Something I guess I took to heart.

Destroying the “looking glass” like Darren did, allowed me not just to see through but to ask direct questions about the life of a leader, and it changed my world.

A hundred sessions about, management, board expectations, staff development, strategic planning and leadership came to life in a few conversations about what these things mean when your number is called.

It gave me a better understanding and appreciation for every “boss” and leader I’ve ever served at work and in life.

It is certainly fun to continue the networking adventures of a hot rod but it’s good to finally understand what that change I witnessed at ten years old really means in the world of adults. That change certainly in not instant but every day can contribute to that transition!

Thanks Darren for being the kind of leader to openly share. You inspire with your candour, integrity and generosity.

Thanks Hasbro for branding these crazy ideas into my head. Even if you made a terrible new set of Transformer movies.

Now, can I help YOU find the Darren in your sector or industry?

Can YOU be a Darren for another? Could I help facilitate that meeting?

Can I help YOU make your transition from Hot Rod above to Rodimus Prime?

Let me know, make contact. Stay in touch.