May 16

Brandon! Welcome to double digits! Here’s why dad is harsh sometimes…

Life with me isn’t easy. It’s 97% happy-go-lucky, 3% WTF JUST HAPPENED?! I’m not going to pretend there’s method to my madness. Like all other parents, I’m just making shit up as I go along. But rest assured, the intention is good. I’ve always said to you, if I’m the toughest thing in your life, everything else will be a breeze. So far so good little buddy.


How I’ll always see you… deal with it.

Why I push you hard in athletics.  It’s not because I think you’re going to make a dime in sports. It’s because sport gives you a safe environment to try your absolute best and still fail miserably. I like that you lose sometimes. I like that you don’t make the cut sometimes. But you know what I like best? That you keep you trying; that you’ve lost the embarrassment of failure. Nothing worthwhile is ever achieved without enduring failure. I’ve never protected you from disappointment and I never will. A kid who tries and fails is better than the kid who never tries. If you want to improve, find a kid that’s better than you and watch how they prepare. In most cases, they’re better than you because they’re better prepared than you.

Why I’m all over you about your grooming.  Appearances matter. Appearances have always mattered. We’re a visual species and you know the science (click here). Regardless of how brilliant, creative or able you are, you’re going to find that people tend not to give a damn if they’ve already written you off because you’re a slob. It’s not fair or right. It’s what is. It’s not about what you’re born with. It’s about the effort you put into yourself. It’s about taking pride in yourself and dignity in what you show to the world. You’ll come to realize that people who put little effort in themselves, put little effort in all other things.

Why I’m always barking at you to be active.  Horrible things can happen to anybody. Accidents and pathogens aside, there is growing evidence that indicate illnesses like cancer and heart disease can happen to anybody regardless of lifestyle. You can mitigate some risks by living well but someone has to be the 1 out of the 5000. You will get sick and you will get hurt. What’s unknown is where on the bell-curve you are. Far better to be of healthy weight and habit when it hits. Staying in shape and eating properly must be a way of life. Dealing will illness is tough. Dealing with illness with an extra 20 pounds roped to your gut is tougher. Eat sensibly and exercise. Forever.

Why we talk about everything in the news.  There’s a reason I encourage you to read and watch history and science programming with me. It gives you context about the day’s headlines. Nothing happens in a vacuum and you now appreciate that everything is relative. You need to know why the Middle-East is the way it is. You need to know why the LGBT movement is always in the news. You need to understand the origins of the religiously themed daily headlines. You need to know what’s going on in the world so you can identify those who don’t, simply by keeping your mouth shut and listening. You’ve seen how mob mentality can rally around a single talking point. It’s not your place to change opinions and beliefs. But it’s beneficial to know who holds them and why.

Why I’m constantly bugging you about homework.  Because it’s your job man. I can rein it in on most other things but school is something I will not. I have no idea what you’re going to do for a career nor do I know if your university degree will have any value when we’re all working for our robot overlords. All I need from you is the mindset of work before play. Not work while you play. Just finish the #@$#^& thing first, than play. This is where I messed up in university. Life with lots of options because you achieved stellar marks is infinitely better than life with few options because you didn’t. But even more important than marks and grades is mindset and habit. You know that awesome feeling when you accidentally finish an assignment a week before it’s due? Yeah, that’s what life feels like when you make getting stuff done before it needs to be done, a habit.

Although we’re proud and will happily share your exploits with others, we’ve never made you feel that you were any more than the sum of your own hard work. Nothing came easy for you and to be honest, that’s not likely to change. So until I can see you setting your own standards without me, you’re still going to have to deal with me.

Oh, and one last thing…

It’s far more important to be useful than to be nice. The world is filled with nice guys with meager self esteem. Guys who put minimal effort into self-betterment and only recharge their esteem meter by doing unappreciated favours. What is given away for free is valued the same. It’s far better to be reliable and helpful when it really counts than simply being nice and available all the time. Don’t ever get stuck in the zone…

You’ll figure this out soon enough.

Oct 15

Why your children need to be good story tellers

My son and I chat about his future all the time. Like a lot of boys his age, he’s certain he wants to be a DARPA engineer. Yesterday he changed his tune.

“You know what Daddy? I think it’d be cooler to own a business like you do.”

I beamed, “Why the change man?”

“All you do is have coffees with people. You don’t actually do anything.”

“Brandon! You finally get it!” I crowed. “Study to be the best engineer you can be so you know what to look for when you’re hiring other engineers to do the work that you sell.”

Continue reading →

Dec 14

A note for my 8 year-old son Brandon

I started this collection of ramblings with A Message to my 5 year-old son Brandon. Now that my kid is halfway to nine and showing more insightfulness than I exhibited at the same age, it’s time to tighten the tone of these notes. In the past I wrote about being ridiculously happy and living fearlessly, but that’s stuff for a younger, goofier Brandon. Even though I feel more ignorant about the world than ever, I think I’ve still got a few things to tell my boy before he out-books me… also if I suddenly keel over of a heart attack, he’ll have a few words to remember me by.

Continue reading →

Nov 13

The best advice on raising children I ever received.

We had our first parent-teacher interview when our son was around two years old. During the interview, one of the teachers said something that has stuck with me since.

“Whatever you tell your children will be the absolute truth to them.”

Continue reading →

Oct 13

Brandon. 3 things I want you to be when you grow up.

It’s every parent’s hope that their kid turns out to be successful. For some, successful means the kid ends up with a sparkling job title, double gold in Olympic fencing and has the name Sanjay Gupta. For others, as long as their kids grows up to be productive adults who can pay their own way, is a job well done on the parenting front.

My requirements are even simpler than that.  Here are three things I want you to grow up to be.

Continue reading →

Jun 13

1000 phone calls. The real fear behind cold-calling.

I own a contract sales company so if there’s one thing I know, I know how to pick up the phone.  Social media, predictive analytics, email lead-nurturing and spiffy cloud-based CRMs; that’s all awesome.  But at the end of the day, somebody needs to pick up the phone and call a guy.  All the purchased leads, list builds, trade shows and million dollar ad-spends don’t mean jack if your sales guys are only pumping through 5 calls a day.

Continue reading →

May 13

Special: A note to my team

As I’m ending my term this Friday, I’d like to leave a brief note for my team.

Put your blinders on. Continue reading →

Apr 13

4 questions from a reader – Advice for Young Professionals

When folks start coming to you for ‘advice for young professionals‘, it’s time to concede that 37 is in fact ancient and it’s time to give up on your dreams of becoming a break-dance contestant on America’s Got Talent.

Here’s a recent chat I had with Jacqueline Cavalheiro (Student Awards) of Humber College in Toronto. Continue reading →

Apr 13

9 more things I learned by living to 38

First of all, I’m surprised I made it this far without getting pummeled at least once. Anybody who knew me growing up would probably say I beat the odds on that one.  I guess if you make yourself useful to enough people, you create your own guardian angels.

Last year, I wrote 9 things I learned by living to 37.  It received great reviews in that nobody told me to take a hike.  I also received quite a few emails from you about what your realizations were when you hit that completely random milestone.  My favourite was from some dude living in the Philippines:

“I realized that I didn’t like my dog very much because it occurred to me he had a better life than I did.” Continue reading →

Apr 13

3 things I look for when I hire

At some point, I’ll be moving on to a new customer which means setting up a new team that I’ll eventually leave behind or refreshing the one they currently have.  Being able to create and ultimately unplug from self-reliant teams is what makes my career enjoyable and keeps my phone ringing.  This also means that I’ll be hiring soon – a process I love for the simple matter that I will meet new people.

If two people have the same skill-set, here’s how I select the next guy or lady. Continue reading →