Thursday, July 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Terry Fox 2011


That word means so much to us as humans. Our lives are touched by them, and the actions they perform that separate them from the rest of us. We always say that the world needs more heros, or people like that. Brave, courageous, self-sacrificing, honourable and dedicated are words that come to my mind in thinking about true characteristics of a Hero.

And all these words are represented in a young man who died before his time, at the tender age of 22, Terry Fox.

Terry Fox is a Canadian legend, and has been named Canada's #2 important citizen for his Marathon of Hope run across our country in 1980 to raise money for Cancer research.

His goal was to raise $1 per Canadian by running across Canada with one leg. A big goal at the time, and to date, he has raised over a half a BILLION dollars in his name in the fight against the disease that took his life.

At the age of 18, his right leg was amputated when it was discovered he had cancer in it.

I can only imagine how horrific it would be for a young athlete to have their leg amputated above the knee at age 18, and how he thought he was getting a raw deal in life. And certainly, a man of lesser character would've let that bother him, but I think Terry Fox was put here on this earth to inspire us. Inspire us on a human level like no other like him, and give hope to millions long after he has been dead. And he has certainly achieved that.

In death, he has been frozen as that iconic figure. -Wincing face blinded with pain, slowly trudging along regardless of circumstances around him. Surrounded by a belief system so profound and strong that it was never an option to quit his Marathon of Hope.

I had read somewhere that after running through the eastern provinces; he raised something like $55 running through the entire province of Quebec.

I can imagine that was completely and morally crushing to him. But it never came close to stopping him.

Here he was, waking up every morning at 4am and running a half marathon on one leg. Eating, having a nap, and then running a second half of the marathon in the afternoon every single day without a break. And you raise an insulting amount of money for the effort like this with no support or recognition. But still he continued his run…

However, by then the exposure starting following him and by the time he reached Toronto, all that effort was starting to pay off in a way he never thought possible. Everyone started to follow his run. He was on TV and in all the papers. He had a police escort coming into towns and cities. It became a fantastic and touching story. It reached every single Canadian, and inspired us all. I can remember being an 8 year old boy going into the bank with my dad every week and my dad would ask me, "How much do we give Terry this week Chuckie?"

But by the time he was just outside of Thunder Bay, Ont. Terry's body was tired. Not from the Marathon of Hope that he did everyday, but from the cancer that had spread into his lungs. Lumps in each lung had spread throughout his body and one month shy of his 23nd birthday, Terry slipped into a coma and passed away.

And with that, as a young man died, his legend started and lives to this day.

When he passed away, then Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau said, "It occurs very rarely in the life of a nation that the courageous spirit of one person unites all people in the celebration of his life and in the mourning of his death ... We do not think of him as one who was defeated by misfortune but as one who inspired us with the example of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity".

And this brings me to think that Terry Fox had done more with the 22 years of his life, than almost everyone I know who lives a full life. I can imagine that almost 30 years ago when he was diagnosed with cancer as an 18 year old, his life seemed over. Who would've thought that he would become a household name in his own country and eventually named Canada's #2 most important citizen?

Well, Terry would've been 53 years old today. And so I'm throwing a shout out and a big Happy Birthday wish to his memory. He is finally re-united with his mother Betty Fox, who passed away this year. I'm thankful for his contribution and the sacrifice he gave with his life to something so terrible as cancer which is an enemy to someone we all know. But because of his vision and his sacrifice, many others who may have died of cancer, were saved and allowed to live life a little while longer.

And that is the stuff that Heros are made of...

I want to throw in a quote from him that I thought was so very poignant. He said in his fundraising letter to sponsors, “I believe in miracles; I have to”

-So here's to you Terry Fox. Your life will be forever remembered by all you have saved, and we remember you today on the day you were born to us…

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Note to Self...

Dear Chuck,

This is Chuck. I just want to tell you that I think you're pretty ‘effing cool. You've come a long way in the 37 years of our life, but I just wanted to tell you that I think you are the shizzle.

Remember when we were talking when you passed that mirror store the other day and I was telling you what great looking blue eyes you have? I really meant that. Its true that our body hasn't been in the greatest shape lately, but I’m not really worried about that. It will always come when we are ready to look sweet again. The good news is that you still have a great ass that we could bounce quarters off of, and that will never change. Kudos to us for that...

And I must say, that I really like what you have been doing to our hair. I don't know why you were so insistent on straightening your gorgeous naturally curly hair, but I like it that we've gone back to letting it" be who we is"...

This writing a novel idea/thing that we've picked up is absolutely brilliant. It's about time that we got off our ass and decided to write down some of the stupidity we've done in our life, and shared it with the world that the small price of a hardcover book will bring. We may not be a great accomplished writer right now, but damn if we won't look great doing it.

Also, our daughter is about to start realizing that her dad is just about the coolest cat in the game. That's worth a lot. She is a real darling and it's safe to say that she got her good looks from her mother, and that we had very little to do with that. -But that's ok. We can still take credit for her down the road...

In closing, I just wanted to tell you what a great guy you are and how much I admire you. It’s been a while since we've had a little pep-talk and I just wanted to take a moment out of our busy day to say I think you're aces kid. You really got it going on.

I probably have forgotten something, but hell, I'll keep ya in the loop as I will never be far away.

Hope to see you in a mirror sometime soon.



Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Death of Amy Winehouse

Club 27 strikes again.

Amy Winehouse has joined the infamous Club 27, which included such rising superstars as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison.

Winehouse will forever be enshrined in this club. Unlike the rest of us who live on, she will never grow a day older than the age of 27 and maybe that's the only upside to such a macabre club such as this. Or it could be, that this was the most humane way to go for tormented souls such as these...

I imagine that there are people in this world clinging to life as we speak, and battling for each breath to stay alive. Then there are those of us, and I will include Amy Winehouse in this picture, that have life and choose to throw it away. Some people have been given every possible advantage in life, and yet they have a perception so unique and tortured, that they can only see the dark side and victimatic way out.

I simply find this fascinating.

I am not here to bash Amy Winehouse, but to illustrate a point. I'm not here to lay blame or seek why this happened. I'm quite sure that every available resource was afforded to Amy to rid her of her demons, but if the individual doesn't want the help, none can be offered. There was obviously a perception issue, and Amy Winehouse's case won its plea.

So I will leave you with a fantastic example of the perception of this point...

There were a set of twin boys who grew up in a very abusive household. Their father was an alcoholic, and regularly beat them and his wife. He lost countless jobs and houses, which forced the family to move constantly throughout their lives, uprooting them along the way. Their father was a womanizer who lied, cheated and did whatever he could to survive before finally dying when the twins were in their early 20's.

Fast-forward to the end of the twins lives, and they are being interviewed by a behavioural psychologist. One twin is extremely successful in business and has a balanced family life with his wife and 2 children. He is a regular contributor to his community, and volunteers in society with his many charities. His wife and children love him, and view him as the model father. His, is a life of meaning and contribution.

Contrarily, his twin brother has had many failed marriages and relationships, he has served time in prison, has never been able to hold down a job, and he is an alcoholic without any life balance and has no meaningful relationships in his life.

Throughout their hours of interviews with the psychologist, there was an underlying question that was asked which paved the way for the reason behind the story of why they are the way they are. See, it occurred to the psychologist to ask each twin, "Why are you the way you are?"

And the answer was stunning... In fact, each twin answered it with the same reply which was remarkable seeing that their lives were polar opposites. Their reply when asked, "Why are you the way you are?" was...

"Just look at my father"

I find it simply amazing how one's perception can become one's destiny...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The "Backwards" American Flag

Being a Canadian, I see flags as being balanced.

In fact, since we are Commonwealth to the UK, I see their Jack as being balanced as well. -It's the perfect flag that denotes balance. Whether forwards or backwards, the Canadian and British flags are the same.

Not so for the United States Flag.

In fact, if you ever noticed that on forward deployed troops, the US Flag is shown to be "backwards" on the right shoulders of each soldier. Why is that? Is that an obvious mistake, or is there a deeper meaning that we didn't notice?

It turns out, that somebody in the US High Command made an amazing observation. They realized that if the US Flag were on a staff flying into battle, that the flag would appear backwards, with the stars being closest to the staff, and the stripes flying away from it. Conversely, if they were in retreat, the flag would fly conventionally as it appears on paper.

Seeing the distinction, it occurred to the US High Command that the troops would always be going into battle, and never in retreat, so they placed the flag "backwards" on the right shoulder of each serviceman to signify this.

It's a small observation, but obviously it was enough to inspire the change on the uniform, and to each serviceman who carries it into battle.

And to me, this is the stuff that inspiration is made of...

Thursday, July 14, 2011


When I was in my mid 20's, I was an energetic entrepreneur on the scene looking to make my fame and fortune. The vehicle I chose to pursue this was the Recruiting Industry. I started to cut my teeth for a small Recruiting firm which was only 2 people in size, but I thought it was an amazing opportunity to grow this business and I could make a real difference in building it. And I did. When I left that company, there were 20 recruiters, and we were a multi-million dollar company in less than 18 months. But then I left...

I left because I was left uninspired by the owner. I was uninspired because my belief system was to make a difference, and once we had grown so large, that difference became a moot point. -It was replaced by Monthly Revenue, accountability and Profit margins. -Pretty UN inspiring things if you ask me.

So I started my own recruiting firm...

And it was just me and the name of my company for about 2 years. But then I met the woman who would become my wife, and I became inspired again. I realized that I would build a recruiting company for her, but not for me. I would always find a reason or an excuse to let myself down so that I wouldn't feel that I could fail. But if I had a reason WHY to build it for her, it was bigger than me, and I wouldn't let her down. She inspired me to go out and get a small office and hire people.

For the first time in 2 years, I was recruiting a team to work with me, and not FOR me. I found a great nucleus of young guys, and found ways to inspire them and for a couple years, they worked their asses for the cause of what my small recruiting company stood for. Certainly, there were bigger, better companies to work for, but they worked with me because they believed in my "WHY" in what my company did.

My "WHY" my company existed was to help regular people become inspired in the companies we placed them in, and find people who really needed a helping hand in their careers. We worked with a lot of immigrants to get them their first positions in Canada and allowed them to build a life for their family here.

We just didn't place people in jobs, that's WHAT we did. Anyone can do that... But where my small company was different was that we found people and asked them what KIND of environment they wanted to work for, and made that match for them and their belief system. We took people from other countries and made an effort to find them positions that would help them establish themselves in Canada, and it made a huge difference in their family, and their lives. It touched them that someone would do that for them, and believe in them when nobody else would.

And I had a wonderful company...

When we started to grow again, now to over 10 people, I had to get a bigger office. And as soon as I started seeing the cost and the WHAT involved of this, I stopped seeing the WHY it was that made me successful in inspiring my team. When you lose that WHY in your vision, you start relying on the WHAT and the HOW, and when that happens, you lose your competitive edge. There will always be competition in every industry, and you can always lose yourself to someone faster, cheaper, bigger ect. But the "WHY", or cause you have distinguishes you from your competitors on another level. You don't feel like you have competitors if you have a strong "WHY" because although other companies placed people in jobs, they didn't do what I did, which was change lives. I simply used placing people as the way to do it. And that's why people worked for me.

But I lost that vision in the grand ol'scheme of things when I started seeing money and success come in. And as soon as the leader becomes uninspired, it doesn't take long for the team to feel that, and one by one, they all left my company to start their own, just like I had when I left my first recruiting job.

I want to be clear...My story is not meant to be a tale of "Woe is Me" Instead, it is meant to show you that if you inspire others around you, and take yourself out of the equation to find a WHY, or a cause bigger than yourself, you will create something intrinsically special. And that will inspire others to drop everything to work with you.

I now realize many years later that my co-workers were no different than me. They simply wanted to work for a place that inspired them to come to work and touch people's lives. When I took that WHY away, there was no longer a reason to work for me. I had ceased to maintain the WHY they were there for in the first place, and they could take their time and skill set somewhere else and do better.

There are people out there that inspire us everyday, and we are drawn to them. Some call it charisma, and some call it leadership. But whatever you call it, it will make you dig down deeper and work for a cause that you truly believe in, and in that realm, you can create any possibility.

And that's what we as humans want. We want to create something that inspires, and touches people's lives. This makes us feel like we are part of something infinitely larger than ourselves surrounded by those who have the same belief system.

So looking back, it makes perfect sense.

Today, I sit in this chair and write this seeing new possibilities of helping and inspiring others once again, and it has brought me back to a life of contribution. And that feeling of WHY replaces everything that WHAT and HOW ever could.

And this has made all the difference...

Monday, July 11, 2011

I was in the grocery store this weekend and while I was at the check out counter, I saw a 20 something male with a RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) T-Shirt. He had his back to me and as he turned around, I made eye contact with him.

"Is your father in the Forces?" I asked

He was a little confused until I motioned to his T-Shirt.

"Ah, No. It's just a shirt" he replied

And maybe to him, it simply WAS just a shirt. But to me, that shirt represented a belief system, and a way of life that was decorated by blood as the cost.

"You mean that it's just a T-shirt to YOU" I said.

It took everything I had in me to pull back on myself to not verbally pounce on him because to me, it wasn't JUST a T-Shirt. -It was a way of life; a belief system to me and to the many men and women whom that shirt represented.

As I walked away, I realized how powerful language was.

To him, it was just a T-Shirt. But I'm thankful that to the men and women who defend and peace keep for Canada, that it means infinitely more than that...

Monday, July 4, 2011

Being Uncool...

I love the scene from the Movie, "Almost Famous" where the Philip Seymour Hoffman portrays the famous Rock and Roll Critic Lester Bangs. In it, Lester Bangs is on the phone with William Miller (Patrick Fugit ) talking about being "Uncool" when he nails the line right on the head...

"The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool"

I think we have all been there.

But my God, what a great line...