Thursday, April 28, 2005

Intrinsic Motivation Will Change Your Life!

Yes! So Order Now! And If you are one of the first 100 people to try Intrinsic Motivation, we will send you ABSOLUTELY FREE OF CHARGE a gourmet pocket flashlight! Don't wait! Order Now!

Sigh, If only it were that simple - just dial a toll free number and suddenly you intense motivation to do whatever it is you think you should do more of in your life: Need to lose weight, eat right and exercise more? Done. Need to study harder and get your Masters degree? Done. Need to stop procrastinating? Don't delay, call today. Everything magically taken care of. You're a new person - and you have a GOURMET pocket flashlight.

Well, it's not that easy. Headrush though has some great tips today on how to increase your own intrinsic motivation. It's drawn from a book about becoming intrinsically motivated to exercise, but can apply to any habits you wish to develop or change.

"The idea is to shift your mindset about exercise from "I should exercise" or "I have to exercise" to "I want to exercise". The author identifies four ingredients for intrinsic motivation: vision, mastery, flow and inergy."

I'll let you read the rest yourself, because it is a really great post and too much to sum up here, but reading this post got me thinking: If we can learn how to intrinsically motivate ourselves in one area of life (like exercising, to use their example) and we really analyze what motivates us in that endeavor, then can we not use the same tricks to motivate ourselves in other areas? Then following that logic, can we not help motivate others as well?

This goes way back to the good old Hughtrain:

"We are here to find meaning. We are here to help other people do the same. Everything else is secondary.
We humans want to believe in our own species. And we want people, companies and products in our lives that make it easier to do so. That is human nature.
Product benefit doesn't excite us. Belief in humanity and human potential excites us.
Think less about what your product does, and think more about human potential.
What statement about humanity does your product make?
The bigger the statement, the bigger the idea, the bigger your brand will become."

Which brings us into (I hope) One piece of the future of sales and business as we know it: If you want to help other people become more than what they are, then you first have to help yourself become a better person. If you can help people become more than what they are, then they will remember you, they will buy what you are selling and they will recommend you to your friends.
This works. For example, I am a Devoted Headrush reader. In fact, if they EVER publish a book that is not about computer programming I ill be among the first to run out and purchase it. This is due to the fact that every time I read that blog, it inspires me to be a better person, it gives me advice on HOW to be a better person, and it does all this without ever talking down to me.

We are here to find meaning. We are here to help other people do the same. Everything else is secondary.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Words to Live By?

For those of you ho have been feeling as low-energy and uninspired as Nigel and I have recently, here are some "happy thoughts"

- Every day is a chance to create something, so cook a nice meal, draw a picture, write, or do whatever gives you a sense of accomplishment. Then you know that you've accomplished something that day.

- Take time for a coffee break with somebody that makes you smile. Nigel and I do this at least a couple times a week, and if we didn't I don't think I'd make it through some weeks.

- Call your mother (I know, I know.) Or if not your mother call your gramma or your aunt or your sister, or brother or some long - time friend who knows you really well. You'll probably feel pretty good afterward.

- Remember to BREATHE. Modern humans are notorious for breathing poorly. Here's how to take a real breath: 1) put your hand on your belly. 2) Breathe in through your nose and as you do, let the air expand your lungs until your belly (and hand) is being pushed outward with the inhalation 3) Exhale through your mouth, and as you do, let your belly and hand return to the starting position. There, don't you feel better?

Pamper yourself: Have a bubble bath, light some candles, play some soft music... Give yourself permission to relax.

I feel better already :P

Back in Body Only

I was sick, again. Being sick is not a time of calm reflection for me. It is a time of severe guilt and taking stock of my many failings and/or weaknesses. I know I am not unique in this and usually I wade through these rare occurrences of colds etc. and get on with my life. Unfortunately, due to the fact that I am now entrenched in the Establishment, which includes closer communities of coworkers (wow, alliteration before noon), I am experiencing that settling-in period which, I guess, includes physically acclimatizing myself to being around colds and flus brought in by my office buddies. This settling in period has equaled a greater frequency in illness down time and hence this diatribe on sickness = guilt = unhappy thoughts = bumpy road to balance within new 9-5 lifestyle. I know in my heart of hearts that I am lucky, that my job is one of the good ones, but I never wanted this…regularity, uniformity, sameness. And because I am feeling particularly unmotivated right now (my normal state heightened by cold bouts) I am having a hard time being creative with the details of the specifics of my job – defining for my peace of mind that which is not regular, uniform or same about my job. This is probably why Jay and I have so much in common right now; that common glue which is job dissatisfaction.

Is it delusional to want to do what I do but in a foreign country, wearing anything but business casual, probably bombing around in a jeep, talking to people about their lives, HELPING in a very tangible and REAL way? Why do I feel like I am not allowed to be unhappy here?

Wah wah…I’ll feel better and complain less tomorrow.

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Art of "Hanging In There"

Almost every day I get out of bed, get dressed, eat breakfast, and commute to work. When I get to work I open the door, and almost every day I "hit the wall."

Mondays are the worst. Mondays when the weather is beautiful outside are almost unbearable.

I think to myself "I can't do this" (work) "going through the motions one more time takes more strength than I have" "I just can't push myself to pick up the phone, fill out paperwork, talk to people etc. etc." I feel numb, and I procrastinate, waiting for the day to be over while at the same time being filled with dread that the day WILL end and I will not have done anything, and thus be a bad or lazy person.

Somehow though, in the midst of the numbness and dread and negativity I find ways to pick up the phone, fill out the paperwork, and complete the myriad of activities that make up my working life. At the end of the day I start to feel a little better.

And I think about people that run Marathons, and the old adage of putting "one foot in front of the other." When you think you can't run any further, focus on your steps - run six more. It's amazing how far that'll get you.

It's not that I'm advocating hanging in there when you feel like something is totally not right for you, but sometimes I think we are forced by circumstance to make the best of things, and there is some satisfaction in knowing that you are strong enough to carry on - even in circumstances that are less than ideal for you.

So I have to hang in there. A little while. So every morning I will put one foot in front of the other until I cross the finished line.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Was Reading Dr. Phil Today...

I know, I know...*shaking head sadly* One man, even if he is a doctor, does NOT have the answer to all my problems. Wanna lose weight? Read Dr. Phil. Depressed? Read Dr. Phil. Anxious? Read Dr. Phil Problems with spouse/family? Read Dr. Phil. I could go on.

Dr. Phil is his own brand now, and he is incredibly well marketed. In fact, Dr. Phil picks up where Oprah left off. Why would you buy a book merely recommended by a famous talk show host when you could buy a book WRITTEN by a famous talk show host. Why stop there? Go on his show, where Dr. Phil and the good people from EXTREME MAKEOVERS will help you look beautiful AND improve your sex life (this really happened, and he's even posted it on the site.) I'm not even going to get into the fact that the whole Extreme Makeover idea is negative, and totally against what Dr. Phil says that he stands for (ie. acceptance of self.) Instead I am going to skip that small inconsistency because to the good viewing/book-buying public, those things don't seem to matter. What I am going to do is marvel at the fact that Dr. Phil isn't even a human being anymore (was he ever?) He's a mascot to his own brand. He's a TV star, sure but no more real than the character he plays. He's a cook book. He's a symbol but he's not real.

I imagine that the marketing bigwigs over at Dr. Phil inc. (or perhaps even the good Doctor himself) must think that if we knew the REAL Phil, with all of his human mistakes, problems, faults common to all people- we wouldn't buy into the brand anymore. It's like Dr. Phil has to be perfect for people to take his advice. I disagree. Sure it makes for a well crafted brand, a nice consistent "image" but in the end I don't buy it.

And I don't. I bought the first Dr. Phil book when it first came out, at the advice of a friend who I discovered later, does not necessarily have the same taste in books as I do - and that was before the branding.

I went to the site because I was curious as to what a Psychiatrist can tell people about weight loss - I thought it was a weird idea.

He's got some great ideas "love yourself" "Be good to yourself" "Change your self destructive patterns" These are good things to tell people. But other people like Rosa Say at Talking Story and Target Market at I'd Like My Crayons Back Too and Chris Bailey at Alchemy of Soulful work as well as many others will tell you all the same things that Doctor Phil does. They won't charge you for it either. Best of all, all those people are REAL and they are willing to tell you about it, too.

A Nod to Rosa

In keeping with Rosa Say’s 5 minute check-in strategy for managers : I have been speaking with someone who is leaving her job soon. Her staff administrator is a classic bully. Over the course of many years working with this administrator everyone has grumbled but predominantly turned the other cheek; the owners/operators of the company have been consulted and know of the situation but have done little to nothing for whatever reasons. As my friend prepares to exit, more cost saving/corner cutting actions have been occurring (ex. exceptions to sick leave provisions that were not agreed upon nor discussed with staff). She has been very angry and the disgruntled feeling that she has maintained over the years is now bubbling to the surface, so she wrote a very respectful and concise letter outlining the issues she has with the administrator. She discussed this letter with her fellow staff members and then gave the letter to the owners/operators. The administrator has now had a meeting with the owners/operators. Who knows what will come of this; however, the point was the woman needed to stand up for herself if only to actively prove to herself that she was worth more than the treatment she was receiving at the hands of the administrator. I believe the letter accomplished that…and the letter has proven that the administrator’s worldview does not include the precepts of respect and human dignity: her response to the letter was, “why bother when you are leaving soon?”

I think the administrator has deeper issues than poor communication skills. The owners/operators could have avoided this situation if they had been taking Rosa’s advice and checking in regularly with their staff. This is not an issue about monetary compensation (although they are criminal in how little they pay their highly trained staff). This is an issue about taking the time to know your staff and your work environment. Perhaps regular communication and LISTENING would have prevented the administrator from feeling so disgruntled and she would not have found it necessary to take out her bitterness on those she administered.

Monday, April 18, 2005

My mind wandered...


So I thought about going on a retreat - ah bliss! A quiet place to reflect, eat good food, be active and create. If anybody knows any good ones - please let me know.

But maybe it doesn't take a retreat. Maybe if I just switched off the TV at night, and took an extra 20mins to cook myself some healthy food, instead of eating junk. Maybe if I went for a walk on my lunchbreak and stretched a bit more. Maybe if I worked on getting adequate sleep each night, then I could find more time and energy to be creative.

It's nice, though, to be somewhere where the only thing you have to do is be true to yourself. I think that is what a retreat really offers. So do spill - if you have a particular favorite retreat place or retreat story.


A note on Nigel's Post: Entrepreneurship and exploitation.

I find it exceptionally interesting that those two topics wound up in the same post. Some people would say that if we are not careful, entrepreneurship can easily degenerate into Exploitation. Some people would say that as responsible entrepreneurs our goal is to never let that happen. Some may even go as far as saying that women in the sex trade are enrepreneurs in their own right. After all, they are just filling a void in the free market system.

Now I disagree with the last point, and agree with the first two. One thing we must always remember in business (and personal life) is that we have a choice. Every morning when we get out of bed, we can choose to contribute to the world in a way that makes it better for others, or in a way that exploits others. Being a responsible citizen and a good person is not mutually exclusive to being a sucessful business person. You just have to remember that the bigger you become, the more your individual choices begin to effect other people.

So let's be successful entrepreneurs, managers, salespeople, whatever. Success is good. It feels good, it can help you do good in the world. But never forget: success can be a double edged sword, and you choose every day how to wield it.

Entrepreneurship and Exploitation

I really found Jay's post informative because just this morning I was thinking about evolving my own posts from complaint oriented to solution oriented. I too have been wondering how to translate "entrepreneur" for myself. Additionally I still find myself strapped for cash three weeks out of every four due to a combination of tight budget and bad budgeting skills. I was thinking about some eBay-like route as a possible solution but I see from Jay's post that perhaps I should't limit myself there...there may be a more specific arrangement via the web to use as a conduit to reach a specific market. Good news.


I watched Sex Traffic, Part One, last night for the second time and would really recommend the two part dramatic series attempting to realistically depict the trafficking of women for work in the sex "industry." The woman who plays the elder sister is amazing and the show itself is a good reminder that this issue, like many others, is not a case of bad guys/good guys. Many people are complicit because they just don't want to ask questions or look too closely at a situation with the potential for exploitation. Part Two is tonight at 8pm on CBC; there should be a quick summary of Part One, so you can tune in half way through.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Long Tail?

From PoynterOnline: via Loic Le Meur.

"Google unleashed a beta version of its video-hosting service yesterday. Users can upload videos of any size and Google will host it for free. Amazing as that is, it isn't the most interesting feature. It also will allow you to charge whatever you want for users to download the videos."

So you have a video on: short french basketball players trying to make it into the NBA, you upload it onto the google site, and charge $3.00 for it. Somebody in Timbuktu has been looking all over for a video about short sports teams, and has $3.00 burning a hole in his pocket. Suddenly, you become this guys supplier for short sportsman videos. He tells all the people on his "we love short sports" blog, and then they all decide to buy your video - you are a de facto entrepreneur with a worldwide customer base, and a market for your product. You send a nice thank you letter to google, and quit your day job. This is an example of the "long tail" starting to take effect (hopefully) in a way all of us can benefit, if we so choose.

As an amateur filmmaker, I am interested in the potential of this new development and while I still question Google's business practices enough to not keep my gmail account (see a few posts below) I am not above looking into this new development, and hoping that other web companies will follow suit. I hope that isn't too hypocritical of me.


I've noticed the obvios lately: Whenever I go to read the Newspaper, I am always dissatisfied with the fact that I'm reading Yesterday's news in todays paper. Honestly, I'm just a little surprised that anyone subscribes to newpapers at all, what with so many available up to date journalistic sources on the web. As Nigel said last post, however, there is something nice about that ritual of newspaper + coffee. That I suppose is almost entirely responsible for keeping the newspaper business alive. That and technophobia.

So in Video, Search Engines, News, and everything else, choice is a good thing. It does mean, however, that if what you are selling is not different or remarkable, you are going to have a hard time.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Taking a minute

I have been feeling a little pressed for time as of late but I am currently waiting for the plumber to finish dismantling my kitchen sink so I thought I would take this opportunity to post. Apparently when the upstairs people shower their water overflows a pan down here somewhere and the neighbor kitty corner to me, as well as myself, get blocked kitchen sinks. Nice. Got to love apartment living...atleast the neighbors directly above my bedroom have been quiet as church mice for the last little while. I hope that doesn't mean their relationship is on the skids.

So, I did my usual old man routine and picked up the weekend Globe, grabbed a coffee and brioche and spent a leisurely amount of time pouring over the paper. Really enjoy that...hard to find like minded souls my age. There was an article on positive thinking (sort of) by Heather Mallick; her column As If. It resonated because I have been feeling more impatient and malcontent like than usual - like time is closing in on me and I have to have it all figured out and carried out SOON. It didn't help reading the lead column in the F section, by Leah McLaren, on the confidence and ambition and follow through of the "echo generation," or early twenty-somethings. Can't seem to stop the perpetual measuring of myself against some impossible yard stick.

Ok, now I've throw a little Beth Orten on, Don't Wanna Know 'bout Evil, and I can believe for now that it will all be ok. I would also like to recommend Nouvelle Vague for moments such as these.

I have to go muck out the room that was my kitchen now. The plumber has finished up and, I think, the conclusion was a successful one.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Mean People Always Ruin it for Everybody...

At BBC - My Favorite on-line News source:

"Cyber criminals are starting to use fake blogs to snare new victims.
The bogus web journals are being used as traps that infect visitor's machines with keylogging software or viruses.
Filtering firm Websense said it had found hundreds of bogus blogs baited with all kinds of malicious software to snare the unwary. "

This is worse, to me, than unsolicited advertising Blogs - at least with the Advertising Blogs they're just annoying. If I link to a blog and it's an advertisment, I can surf on by.

This new development has me pissed off because now when I'm checking out other blogs, one misstep while clicking and suddenly I've landed myself a Virus that's going to eat up my computer and steal all my personal information.

I guess it had to happen sometime, and these News stories are often sensationalized way out of proportion in order to scare us and thus keep a loyal audience for the news program. I also know that even if there are hundreds of bad blogs out there, that's a small percentage of the millions of total blogs in the world, so my chances of becoming infected at this point are pretty small. That doesn't mean that I don't get upset, when I see someone rain on my parade. Essentially what this situation will likely end up doing is only: Convincing the Powers that Be that blogs need to be regulated for our safety. And I do disagree with the potential of losing my voice and the voices I care about through regulation because a few bad apples ruined the barrel.

Ok - so maybe I'm going a little overboard in my rant there - and please - feel free to disagree with me (comments are below- ha ha) At the same time, we've seen patterns like this before. Whenever there is an open door, criminals tend to exploit it. Invaiably when criminals exploit a situation, poeple push for regulation.


Enough doom and gloom,

Check out Seth Godin's great post today. Here's a taste to wet your whistle:

"I'm in Minnesota today, and I'm so delighted by what I'm experiencing.
In addition to extremely nice people, inspiring architecture, a vibrant arts community and surprisingly good food, there's a vibe in the air about the work people are doing. This placed is filled with organizations that are working hard to create stuff that's worth doing."

He goes on to talk about the fundamental difference between the companies described above and the companies that only work hard to cut corners at ever turn. I think his post is brilliant! You can tell me what you think if you are so inclined.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Why does being creative matter?

I saw that question in a book review in It is a great interview with Twyla Tharpe: choreagrapher and now author of the book:The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life. The article is worth reading if only for Twyla's tips on how to foster creativity in yourself on a day to day basis, but I especially liked her answer to the above question. When asked why does being creative matter, Mrs. Tharpe responded:

"So that you walk out the door believing in yourself a little bit more. So you believe that in any given day you've made more of it than it might otherwise have been. So that you do not take things for granted. Creativity, ultimately, is a way of saying thank you."

I would like to add my two cents, and tell you why I think being creative matters, both in business and personal life:

Creativity matters because ultimately it is the one thing that is certain to make you better.

Creativity matters because in a world where customers have millions of choices, creativity in products and advertising gets you noticed.

Creativity matters because the best and brightest employees usually have it.

Creativity matters because your customers value it.

Creativity matters because in the end, it's the creative ideas that will allow you business to continue to grow.

Creativity matters because it's fun.

Creativity matters because it gives your life purpose.

Creativity matters because it allows you to strive for more.

Creativity matters because it allows you to bring something into the world that would never have gotten there if not for you.

Creativity matters because it helps you connect with people.

Now many of these statements overlap. Creativity is flexible that way. The point is, if you are a manager, and you aren't doing everything you can to encourage creativity in your staff (both in and outside the workplace) then you're missing the boat. Creative thinking is so essential for getting ahead, that even in the most non-creative desk job, your business will do better if staffed with creative people.

Think about this: The first car would have never been built without a creative person to dream it up. Computers would not have been invented, nor the internet. Companies cannot evolve without creative people. Why would you limit your own evolution?

Lighter Thoughts, On My Mind: Yesterday and Today

Points of Note:

PhD candidate (Carleton University – Department of Sociology and Anthropology) Anne Galloway is working on an eclectic mix of mediums and methods to impart her dissertation. Particularly interesting in light of computer/blogging evolving technology.


On April 16th Toronto will be experiencing the Framework Foundation Timeraiser :

The Framework Foundation empowers Canadians between the ages of 22 and 35 to 'get in the picture' and help build stronger communities through volunteer involvement. Our Framework Foundation 'picture' celebrates the power of collective dedication, recognizing its importance in addressing community needs.
The Framework Timeraiser is the first major program of the Framework Foundation. The inaugural 2004 Toronto Timeraiser was so successful that we have been asked to launch Timeraisers in other Canadian cities.


A Timeraiser is part volunteer fair, part silent art auction and part night on the town. It is a celebration with a cause. It is a way for you to get in the picture.We are using a hybrid approach to bring people-to-causes and causes-to-people. Our main goal at Timeraising events is to give volunteers a venue to where their time and skills are needed most. The Framework Foundation does this by working closely with agencies that are committed to top-notch volunteer management programs. It is also silent art auction with a twist; instead of bidding dollars, you bid volunteer†hours. The art has been purchased from artists, not donated. The investment in the art is then leveraged to inspire volunteerism. The win-win-win-win-win is this: volunteers connect with meaningful volunteer opportunities, the agencies connect with skilled with volunteers, the artists get paid for their work, donors spend their money twice (first in the arts community, then on volunteerism) and our community is the main beneficiary.

Sounds interesting and I am looking forward to the Vancouver event, hopefully, in Fall 2006 (unless the organizers decide to stage the West Coast leg in Calgary).

I wonder why the age limits?


A couple of entertaining weblogs, Blogger directed me to:

New York Intern

My name is Andy, and I'm an intern in New York. This blog is a look into my subordinate soul, as I climb my way to the base of the professional ladder and experience New York City in general. You'll be here for the good times, the bad times, and of course, those situations somewhere in the middle, which I refer to as "bood" times.

The Last Nail

This one reminds me of home improvement tv shows but with a witty, cynical, intelligent twist.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Let us be Complacent No Longer!

Inspiring posts at Alchemy today:

"There are a ton of books and gurus and websites and blogs (not unlike this one, but that's likely to on) that encourage us to pursue purposeful jobs. There are those of us who excite people to live their passions. We throw out lots of really thoughtful words and mantras that make it seem like the "perfect" career and workplace are so easy to achieve. All of this is done for what seems like the individual's benefit. There's just one problem with it all: the system in which each of us work is broken.
When it comes to hiring...organizations still insist on seeing meaningless resumes, conducting meaningless interviews, and contacting meaningless references.
When it comes to achieving...organizations still insist on handing out hollow titles and binding people with hollow position descriptions.
When it comes to treating people with respect...organizations still insist on not trusting their employees with the facts (usually in the form of silence, denial, and lying through their teeth) and not helping them grow as full people (they're only concerned about them from the time they enter the office doors to when they exit).
Not your organization, you say? Consider yourself lucky. This is your invitation. You now have an obligation to spread the seeds of how an organization MUST work in today's world. You have no other choice.
You may say this is a diatribe written in anger and frustration, but it is not. This is being written by someone who sees and understands that there will always be a problem with creating soulful work as long as organizations continue to operate with a "business as usual" mindset towards its most important asset: it's people."

Yes Chris, and so many people just go along with it. Now I don't pretend to have any easy answers, but I'd expect there are alot of talented creative and soulful people working for the soulless organizations that you talk about. If there are so many of us seeking soulful work, then why do we stay at the 9-5?

I know for Nigel and I it comes down to two things: 1) fear of the unknown unpaid world and 2) No clear idea of exactly what to do next, leading to "well we might as well stay here"
That's kind of a sad thought, but I'd hazard a guess that those two factors figure prominently in the apathy many of us feel.

FEAR: the big one - what if I can't eat? What if I embarrass myself and my family? What if my soulful work fails and I have to concede defeat? What if this is the best there is?

NO CLEAR IDEA: Well, I know I don't like it here, but what else IS there. Everybody else seems to think this is ok so I'll chalk it up to there's just something wrong with me. Don't wanna rock the boat if I don't even know what to do next...

Hey, news flash: I don't think everybody else thinks that soulless work is ok. They just appear to think that way - the same as you when you're pushing the 9-5... just a thought

So the organizations don't have a leg to stand on without people buying into what they're trying to sell. And in order for us all to stop buying into the soulless work experience we have to face the fear, forget about coming up with the perfect idea, and ust take the plunge.

I think I'm really lecturing myself here :)

Monday, April 11, 2005

A Few Thoughts: Entrepreneurship, Indie Stylings, and Ayahuasca

I was reading Talking Story this morning and happened upon a discussion regarding “on-again-off-again-entrepreneurship.” This interested me because I have always been fearful to let go of the paying job…it always seemed to be an all or nothing venture. This discussion talks about oscillating between the two: working for yourself and working for someone else. I echo Rosa Say’s statement when I say that I am looking forward to Anita Campbell’s (Small Business Trends) continuation of this conversation.


I went to the Lisa B. spoken word night on Saturday and was not only brought to tears by her powerful pieces but profoundly moved by the indie stylings of Glenna G. I am really looking forward to their next show at Solstice Café on the 21st.


It seems I have yet again proven to myself and others that my memory cannot be likened to a sponge…during a conversation, where I was attempting to bring in a few interesting points of fact that I had picked up during an ethnographic survey course, I confused said facts. So the following is a little clarification courtesy of Wikipedia:

Traditional and Western
Nowadays, the term
ayahuasca can also mean analogous concoctions made with other plants that contain the two main components, an MAOI and DMT, or one of its analogues. The DMT is the main "active ingredient", causing the desired effects. The MAOI is necessary for DMT to be active orally. However, most actual shamans and many who work with the tea regularly object to this and state that the Banisteriopsis vine is the only defining ingredient, everything else being of secondary importance. While the DMT can be thought of as creating the desired state, the vine itself is considered by many to be the "spirit" of the tea; it is the gatekeeper to the other realms and the guide through the experience, controlling access to the altered states and helping one navigate them. Traditionally, Caapi is and has been the defining ingredient of the tea.

In modern Western culture, entheogen users sometimes base concoctions off of Ayahuasca. When doing so, most often Rue or Caapi are used with a non-traditional, non-DMT admixture, such as Psilocybin or Mescaline. Nicknames such as Psilohuasca or Pedrohuasca (from the San Pedro Cactus, which contains Mescaline) are often given to such brews. This is usually only done by experienced entheogen users who are more familiar with the chemicals and plants being used, as the uninformed combination of various neuro-chemicals can be dangerous and most are unaware that such combinations can be made.

The point being, for those of you involved in the conversation, that the drug I think I was speaking about (dimethyltryptamine) – from the Amazon – is in fact a component of “ayahuasca,” found in South America as well as the Amazon.

Another case of a little knowledge going way too far. I hate it when I behave like an academic stereotype…

Thanks to Target Market

Over at I want My Crayons Back Too, for her inspired post on Oxfam. I checked out the web site and it sure got me thinking, so here are a few Hard Facts courtesy of that site:

"One billion people live in poverty.
If Africa, East Asia, South Asia and Latin America each increased their share of world exports by just one per cent, they could lift 128 million people out of poverty.
In Africa alone, this one per cent increase in the share of world trade would generate $70 billion - five times what the continent gets in aid.
More than 40 per cent of the world's population live in low-income countries - yet these countries account for just three per cent of world trade.
For every dollar given to poor countries in aid, they lose two dollars to rich countries because of unfair trade barriers against their exports.
When exporting to rich countries, producers in poor countries pay tariffs that are four times higher than those paid by producers in other rich countries.
Africa has lost the equivalent of 50 pence for every pound received in aid because of the falling prices it gets for its commodities.
Coffee prices have fallen by 70 per cent since 1997, costing exporters in poor countries $8 billion.
Rich countries spend $1 billion a day on agricultural subsidies, putting farmers in poor countries out of business and driving down their income.
A Ghanaian cocoa farmer only gets 1.2 per cent of the price we pay for a bar of chocolate. Between 1996 and 2000 Ghana increased cocoa production by almost a third but was paid a third less.
About one-third of manufacturing workers in developing countries are women. They earn about 25 per cent less than their male colleagues.
Increased patent protection will cost developing countries $40 billion each year. The new rules were designed by the transnationals that stand to reap the benefits."

In particular I was also really blown away by the role that the WTO is playing in keeping poor people in developing countries sick through patent policy on medicines. This makes the drug companies richer and richer while children in places like Africa are dying. Pretty serious stuff.

But we all know that the WTO is scary in its imense disregard for anything that will put a damper on the profits of the multinationals, so instead of allowing myself to become more depressed over this, I found myself an antidote:

The Yes men (and for those of you who have not seen the documentary based on what these guys do - go out and rent it tonight.) These guys achieve social activism through selective impersonation. Their target: the WTO.

Between organisations such as Oxfam, and activists such as the Yes Men, I know I stand at least a chance of being able to sleep at night.

The Oxfam site asks us to "Tell a friend" about their latest campaigns. I urge everybody that reads Renaissance Girl to visit the site and sign their petition. From a business standpoint and from a humanitarian standpoint, the things they are campaigning for make sense. People can make a difference.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Today's Post: The Spy Biz

Caught a snippet of the CBC news this morning, before I ran out the door to meet up with my J.W. [see last week's post] 'friend' to talk evolutionary theory (she was not out at her usual spot on the sidewalk - between Bikram's Hot Yoga studio and the queer-friendly hair salon; so I guess I was stood up)...the CBC was reporting on "spy agencies" funding students in their studies with the alternate agenda of keeping tabs on their professors (dovetailing nicely with the story out of the States about the Professor sanctioned for his remarks on 9/11). Students in Vancouver were then surveyed, in typical sound-bite fashion, regarding their opinion on the subject - those opinions ranged from resounding, "hell yeses" to indignation that the objective and pure ivory tower would be sullied in such a which point I choked because I was laughing so hard. [note: I can't find the story on their website and cannot guarantee that I heard this story correctly, fact for fact - the CBC has a bad habit of not posting every story they report on during their brief news updates on the 1/2 hour and I have a bad habit of disseminating theses stories after catching bits and pieces while frantically pulling myself together in the morning.]

I think this parallels nicely with Jay's post below, underscoring the ridiculous nature of "security." I don't feel very safe, do you?

But I wouldn't mind having someone pay for my education either...and the idea of working for an organisation like CSIS taps into the romantic 'spy' image I have in my mind: mentally and physically sharp, kicking easily identifiable bad peoples' assess...making out with civilians and key players alike. Very James Bond and, I'm sure, a very accurate portrayal.

Yesterday's Post: The "Seven Golden Rules" and a bit about coffee

Just linking around this morning and I ran across the following article by Loic:

"Minding your own business," French entrepreneur Loïc Le Meur offers seven golden rules - for doing nothing.

Thursday January 29, 2004 The Guardian

· You wait for the idea of your life. I know so many people who, before starting a business, wait for the idea that will revolutionise the world. They never do it. We all have business ideas and the difference between an entrepreneur and a "normal" person is that the entrepreneurs execute it.

· You do not look for the empty space surrounding you. Opportunities are everywhere. Did you ever think "this service can be really improved", or "this product is really bad"? This is empty space and an opportunity to create a business. Of course, it is even better if you find not just an improvement to a product or a service but a real innovation that addresses a clearly identified need.

· You believe that all companies have great products and perfect services. Do you think that most things you buy are perfect? How many do you think are really bad? There are so many people and companies that do not care much about quality and still continue selling until a competitor appears.

· You do not share your idea with anybody. So, you've got your simple idea? Probably not. Every time I created companies, I had about five different ideas. Most people protect their business ideas as if they were protecting the most valuable thing they have. I do exactly the opposite, as sharing your ideas can help you better define and test them. Many people will criticise them and enrich them. If everyone tells you the plan is stupid, then what they say may well be true!

· You give up on your idea because someone has already done it. Look at low-cost airlines. Ten years ago, who would have thought that out-of-the-box airlines would appear and take the market share that Ryanair, easyJet or Virgin have? Just measure how innovative you can be, how much faster than your competitors can you go and how much better your product can be.

· You do not execute your idea. Your idea is worth nothing if you do not execute it immediately, faster and better than competition. You should be more scared by not executing fast enough than having the idea right. This is just because from the idea in your mind to the company you will have created, and from the very first products and services you deliver to the mature ones, your idea will have changed tens of times with the feedback you got from your clients.

· You listen to people who tell you that you will fail. Congratulations. You have finally chosen an opportunity and started gathering a team to make it happen. Even though the team is only you, this is just awesome, as you have started doing it rather than thinking about it. Now you will find tens of people, some of them you consider friends, who tell you that you will fail for hundreds of different reasons. Do not listen to them. Listen to your clients, and be obsessed by quality. Your friends just envy you.

I was thinking I would just cut and paste the above into an email to Jay (we have been discussing collaborative projects of late) but I realised that it is necessary to keep repeating, over and over again, this message of ACTION - for the benefit of us all. So, on that note I think Jay and I had better think about how to start sharing some of these ideas we have been volleying back and forth over coffees at Mirage.


Introducing the Coffee Crew and a teaser from Colin Newell's opinion...

The darkside of the Victoria Cafe scene: There are one or two (maybe three) cafe`s in Victoria whose employees were hired on the basis that their demeanor was deemed far too objectionable for a vocation as stevedore`s or prison guards in maximum security penitentiaries... ..where the choice in furnishing was strictly limited to what they could pick up at the local landfill.. with owners so drunk on the illusion of their own superiority that they are impervious to reason.. That said, drink up!

Hmmmm I wonder what cafes he could be referring to in the above little summary?

If you are a fellow coffee culture sad sack, and currently reside in and around the Victoria area, I think you know that I know that you know...


From BBC News:

"Lawyers for an inmate at Guantanamo Bay, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, are arguing that his trial by military commission violates international law.
The case is part of a wrenching battle in the US courts that goes to the heart of the war on terrorism and its legality.
The Bush administration has argued that holding detainees without trial is imperative for national security, but lawyers for the Guantanamo Bay inmates argue that the detentions have no basis in law. "

"holding detainees wihout trial is imperative for national security"?!?!??

And this is coming from the first world - the land of the free.

"Some 540 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay. "

I don't know much about terrorism, or national security, I'll admit that. It seems to me though, that there must be a better way. Isn't a person's right to a free trial guaranteed in the constitution of the very country that is holding these detainees? Is this an "all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others" kind of situation?

Maybe we should get this guy on the case, he'd know what to do.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

I'm Sorry...

Well, maybe I don't have anything to be sorry for right now (then again, well you don't always know how your acions affect others, right?)

So If I'm pretty sure I don't have anything to be sorry for right now you ask, then why apologize? I apologize friends, because those two little words happen to be two of the most powerful words in the English language, and beyond a shadow of a doubt THE two most powerful words in business/customer service.

Seth Godin got me thinking about this stuff today:

"It's really simple: most of the time, most of your customers will cut you slack if you just acknowledge that the outcome isn't the one they (think they) deserve.
People have a hard time with this. If someone feels as though they're treating you technically correctly, they don't want to apologize. They don't want to acknowledge the feelings of the other side. This is awfully short-sighted. These are words that are worth thousands and thousands of dollars in lost sales and word of mouth.

"You must feel terrible about what happened. I know I do. If there were any way I could figure out how to make this better for you, I'd do it." When isn't that a true statement when you're dealing with an unhappy customer?"

Wow. Think about that for a minute.

In my personal life, I say sorry alot. For example, if somebody bangs their elbow on their desk and says "Ow" I have been known to say "I'm sorry." At this point, people usually look at me funny and say something like "Why are you sorry, you didn't hurt my elbow." That's when I explain "It's my way of showing sympathy towards your sore elbow." As you can see:

sorry adj. sorri-er sorri-est
1. Feeling or expressing sympathy, pity or regret

See? Sympathy! Pity! I feel sympathy with your sore elbow, and maybe pity for the owner of said elbow (although pity could be a strong word there.)

The problem is, most people forget those two definitions of sorry, and purely focus on the regret aspect. That brings us back to customer service. Even if we didn't directly cause the problem that the customer is facing we can still say sorry. We aren't admitting that we were part of the problem by saying sorry in this case. It's like the table and the elbow - we can say "sorry" as a way of expressing sympathy, and pick up extra customer loyalty in the process.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Information every gooogle user should think about

Particularily if you use gmail. In the latest issue of Wired Magazine:

"Daniel Brandt, operator of Google Watch, a site that's critical of Google, says people who are concerned with privacy should be particularly cautious about what records are being kept on their online searches. In many ways, search data is even more valuable than other information sought by marketers, such as shopping records. "

Later in the article one privacy advocate even goes as far as to say:

"Stay away from Gmail. While 2 free GB of storage is a tempting offer, it's not worth the trade-off of having e-mail monitored and scanned. "

Most of us are aware that search engines use cookies, but I'd never thought of the implications of this with respect to free email accounts before. So many of the internet search companies offer free email accounts, that it is difficult, if not impossible to get a free email account without one.

This basically leaves you with two options: 1) enter false information into the free email registration page (not technically allowed, but often done - though if you ever forget your password, just try to remember which name and birthday you used for verification purposes)
2) stay away from free email altogether.
Otherwise, you may find a random search for some embarrasing medical condition comes back to haunt you ("no honestly honey, I never searched for Herpes using google, I swear")


In other News..

Dig Tank: Has a couple of great recent posts on customer service vs lip service in big companies: worth checking out for sure.

NY Times: Tells us that Columbus was wrong - the world IS flat. Good article.

I Got Nothing

There is so much in the world news that I could comment on (my brain is buzzing for once without the aid of caffeine and I am not particularly focused on the tasks at hand - sad considering I am up for a 6 month review next week)…but I do not feel all that articulate today – actually, judging by my contribution yesterday for our weekly meeting (and by my post), I wasn’t feeling particularly verbal Tuesday either.

People I am reading these days re: news, marketing, computers, their personal lives –


I recommend them all for diverse reasons I will not bore you with here.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Scary Thought...

From Hamish at Cardboard Spaceship:

"More Guardian. According to this two thirds of the world's resources are already over-used. And we have the aspirations of the Chinese, Indians and others to factor into the growth curve.
Freedom might be disappearing in this curve. Either you have conflict for the resources, or you have resource management in a centralised and rationed fashion that does not interlock well with personal freedoms. "

He goes on to talk about the exponential growth observed in a yeast colony (biology 101) and how that if you chart that growth, it looks alot like out human population explosion - until it's inevitable, documented (in the case of the yeast colony) collapse.

Like I said, scary stuff.

And nobody seems to notice. I love the quote on The Coporation from the CEO of Interface when he talks about how modern Society is like humans buiding the airplane. We have jumped off a cliff in our rickety "plane" and Everybody aboard thinks that we are "flying" when in fact we are plummeting down the cliff, and only a few people see it. I think Hamish sees it.

But in the big world of business "sustainability" is just a buzz word used to try and attract more clients. Profit still reains supreme and "sustainability of market share" is more important than sustainability of anything else.

But without realizing the environmental and human impacts of our actions, any profits will never be truly sustainable.

Why do so few people seem to see that?

Quick Note

Sweet Pete! Lisa B. will be back in town this weekend and weaving her magic at Solstice on Saturday …this is a spoken word event that will affect even the most impenetrable heart.

Monday, April 04, 2005

The longest 10 months of my life....

And me right in the middle of them.

Like most of us, whenever I start to make positive changes in my life I want everything to pay off RIGHT AWAY. As we all know, unless you live in a sitcom or a movie universe, pay off just doesn't happen that way... sigh.

Back in November (I think I've mentioned this briefly in some other posts) I made a decision to go back to school and finish m bachelors degree in Applied Communications (ie. media studies, ie. new media, ie. blogs, websites, video etc = great fit for me). I applied to this school in November, and was accepted (hooray) sometime around December. My program starts in August.

Now I know I'm going to sound like a big whiny cry baby over this, but I'm putting it out in the open because I know we all experience the same feelings even if we don't tell: IT'S TAKING SOOOOOOOO LONG! I want to start Now - or better yet, last week. I feel like I'm waiting for my new life to begin, but every week just inches by - slower than molasses.

This is compounded by the fact that I tend to romanticize things, so right now school feels like the answer to all my problems (even though logically I know there are always good and bad results from every decision we make.)

So what do I need to do: For starters stop focusing on the future (or past) and start living in the present. Start being thankful for all the things I DO have instead of focusing on what I don't enjoy about my life. These are skills everybody has to work on, and I think that my "longest 10 months ever" has come to teach me how to be a more patient person. Somebody able to live more in the moment.

In this moment I am thankful for: My loving husband and supportive family; Friends close by, such as Nigel and TM who I can share my experiences with; Friends that I haven't met yet, like Rosa and many others who offer unconditional support even though we have never met; And many other influences and supporters in my life: too numerous to name.

I am thankful for the roof over my head, the full belly and the job that makes all these things possible. I am thankful for my creative mind, that will not let me rest until I find my place in the world. I am thankful that I live in a beautiful city, and a great country.

Feel better now?

I do.

My Eyes are Burning but I am Chomping at the Bit

Not fully awake and it is almost noon (I forgive myself because the clocks jumped forward this Sunday and there was a cat fight in the hall last night, as well as a dog with fitful dreams in my bed). Resources for those of you who find yourselves in the same pet-sitter role here...

I had a wonderfully inspiring Friday night with Jay and Target Market (check out T.M.’s arresting poem ‘Wet Dream’). I had hoped this start to my weekend would bear fruit of a creative kind but I let my new duties as zoo keeper fill my head to the point of overload…and it is Monday again. I suppose, as long as I jot down those little flames of beginning ideas, I can come to them again when I have moved back to my own home next week. Wasn’t it Hemingway who always said he liked to stop writing before the ink well was dry so he would have a little something to start with, the following day?

1) project with Jay
2) my own stories
3) article spin off from thesis

It feels like time to get very cliché and rent a writer’s cabin somewhere…but a little at a time may be my new modus operandi (thank you for the suggestion, Jay).

Friday, April 01, 2005

From BBC News:

"Paul Wolfowitz, the new head of the World Bank, has said his main goal will be to achieve "real success" in cutting poverty, particularly in Africa. "

"The US deputy defence secretary said he wanted his legacy to be "real success in reducing poverty especially in Africa, the continent which most desperately needs it". "

There are many people out there who do not believe he is sincere in those words. After all, this guy was the US Deputy Defence Secretary during the war in Iraq - the same war which seemed to so many people to be about MAKING MONEY off oil - by taking over a very poor country and exploiting it.

But I'll take off my left-leaning hat for a second and give this guy the benefit of the doubt. We can say that whether or not the war was about oil is irrelevant because when the citizens of Iraq went to vote for the first time, it was a day worth celebrating. We can also say that maybe Mr. Wolfowitz had an epifany when he saw the destruction caused by the tsunami disaster. Perhaps he realized that without debt reduction programs in these countries, they will never stand a chance should another large scale disaster hit. Maybe he realizes that there are more people to be helped, many in Africa or places like that than just the people directly hit by the tsunami.

I hope he does. Debt reduction and debt forgiveness program is one of the ways we can give lasting help to those poorer countries. His sentiments are so great, I really WANT to believe that he means what he said.

Only time will tell

Today's News From My Small World

Today’s work issue:

Still reeling from the break-in Tuesday night and the fact that the door to our department’s entrance is not yet fixed/working, everyone is up in arms over the fact that there is a syringe on the front steps. The cleaners do not want to pick it up, the property manager wants the City to deal with it, and the City says it is not their jurisdiction…so there it stays freaking everyone out. I’m not saying that the presence of such a stark example of the societal ills of this small city doesn’t distress me but what distresses me more is that people seem upset that the illusion we exist in an idyllic little bubble is dispelled. Get a sharps container, throw it away, and organize a fund raiser for this city’s homeless and/or drug dependent instead of employee art shows (not that art shows are a bad thing but I don’t think it is necessary to email about it for 4 months).

Today’s walk to work issue:

I have been walking the same 'path' to work for over a year…my past employment was very close to my current job. So, for over a year I have been saying, “hello,” to a woman handing out "The Watchtower." She is nice and we had kept the brief exchange to discussions of weather…recently she changed the nature of our acquaintance-ship and offered me some literature. I accepted and now have accumulated a nice little collection. She upped the ante today: she talked out EVOLUTION or rather the absurdity of EVOLUTION. Now I must admit here that I am somewhat of a poster child for the stereotypical acquiescing Canadian…I took the literature and even read it. I have not argued any points with her during her recent handing out of readings, which she frames with a brief positing of theories of the ideal nature of God’s rule. “Why get into it before 9am, before a cup of joe, on my walk to work,” I reason. But EVOLUTION!

I have decided to take my lead form Rosa Say’s recent post discussing the beauty, simplicity, and efficacy of being real. Next week, I will buy this woman latte and debate the points of evolutionary theory (throw in a little pre-hominid discourse) and see how it goes. My problem is that I know there are holes in this discussion – missing links. I also tend to lean towards self-doubt which comes out during debates of this nature when I am not assertive enough putting forward my opinion. But listening to others is a good thing; as well as learning new information. And a forum to flex my memory muscles is always welcome…I’ll write up an accounting of J.W. theology versus Anthropology ’05.

And, finally:

Thank you Rosa Say for including Jay and myself in your Ho‘ohana Online Community. I appreciate the comment that you believe our writing to be “soulful.” High praise indeed, given the source!