Mike’s Mailbag: Week 7 & 8, 2016

Greetings Muchachos,

Back at’er this week! My apologies for pulling chute last week, I was away and didn’t want to put out a half-hearted effort so we’re jam packing this edition with great content – consider it the double-decker, extra cheese edition of Mailbags. Let’s go!

  • Amor Fati. Latin for “Love of Fate”. I heard this quote in an interview with Ryan Holiday and was very intrigued. The concept behind Amor Fati is basically “learning to love and accept everything that happens” as Holiday puts it. Essentially it means, all events (both good and bad) shape us into the humans we are and who we become. If we adopt the attitude of accepting everything that happens to us rather than dig our heels in, we will learn to grow from every experience we encounter. Check out Ryan’s take on the meaning of Amor Fati.
  • Another gem from Chris Ackroyd titled Your 20’s Don’t Matter. Or Your 30’s. Or Your 40’s… “All that truly matters is what you choose to do with your time, not what stage of life you’re supposed to be at. If you knowingly adopt risks and accept both the potential rewards and consequences of whatever it is you choose to do, then do it. The types of risks you choose to take shouldn’t be determined by your age, they should be determined by what you care about and by what makes you happy. You’re the only one who gets to decide what matters.“- Chris Ackroyd
  • I think that like you, any top 10 list of productivity hacks is often fairly obvious and redundant but this one in the Harvard Business Review is quite good. You might find a few tidbits that help, I know I sure did.
  • If you’re a hockey fan, you probably know who Dylan Larkin is by now. He’s taken the league by storm as a rookie on the Detroit Red Wings and by setting the all-time fastest skater record at the All-Star Game. This video of him as a 17-year old is quite a chuckle and shows that he really was just another kid that loved the game and had fun doing so. Good on you “D-Boss” for hustling and making it to the show!

Song of The Week: We’ve Got Tonight” – Bob Seger. I love this song. To me, it’s all about keeping the faith and staying true to yourself.

Quote of The Week: Life is like riding a bicycle. In order to maintain your balance, you have to keep moving”




Presence: The Best Gift You Can Give

What would make their day? Which mall will have the smallest crowds? How much do I want to spend? When can I find time in my schedule to go purchase a gift?” All things that cross one’s mind when buying a gift…

However, I learned something last weekend and that is, sometimes, the best gift you can give has no price tag at all. You can’t find it at a mall. Not even on Amazon. There are no crowds because few people give this kind of gift. That gift is your presence.

Here’s what I learned about presence last weekend…

It was my 26th birthday last weekend and my parents were nice enough to take me skiing in the Rockies. I hadn’t skied with them in probably five years so I was super excited – just like the ol’ family ski trip days! However when we arrived, something just didn’t feel totally right. I wasn’t fully relaxed. My mind was wandering. I wasn’t living fully in the moment and couldn’t figure out why…

It was a busy week at work with some lingering uncertainty so I was tuned into my e-mail inbox. Earlier that morning, I posted some thought provoking articles in my Mailbag and was interested to see if any of them struck a chord with readers. Later that afternoon, I posted a picture of the crazy amount of snow on the mountain. Then to top it off, it was my birthday the next day so I thought I might receive a few well wishes from family and friends. Basically, it all added up to things in the e-mail, text message and social media domains that were all out of my control.

The problem was that these virtual domains were occupying more of mind than they should have and inside, I was feeling guilty for not giving more presence to those within the physical environment I was actually in. Here I was fortunate enough to be on a ski trip in BC. Better yet with both of my parents who are healthy and happily married. I happen to still be employed in an industry where so many are losing their job by the day. And to top it off, I’m lucky enough to have a lot of great friends and colleagues in my life that care about my well-being. Something needed to change so I could decompress and take it all in.

Then it hit me… I am going to turn my phone off.

In theory, it should be easy. Don’t look at your phone for 24 hours. Yet for some reason, we find it so difficult as a society to disconnect ourselves from the virtual world we live in, even if for short periods of time. But I went for it, on my birthday of all days.

The freedom I felt from unplugging and just living my life between the two ears I was born with was very invigorating. I struck up conversations with complete strangers on the chairlift. I got stuck more times in the trees than I could count. I skied a run with an old Australian guy for the hell of it. The conversations I had with my parents got deeper and more interesting. I started to gain clarity on a lot of things that had been circling in my mind. Not to mention, the apres ski cervezas in the hot tub started to taste that much more refreshing!

I make this sound like I floated off into abyss on a tropical island to never come back but that was certainly not the case. It was merely 24 hours sans iPhone but 24 hours well worth it. I felt rejuvenated. Refreshed.

The best part I learned about giving presence and living in the moment is that you get something in return – fulfillment. The enriching feeling of letting your guard down and giving those around you your undivided attention. This feeling permeates into your body language. Your sub-conscience allows you to relax. Your fears and anxiety are put at bay so you can just be your genuine self. You can accept who you are and where you are at in your life. When you get lost in the moment, you give yourself permission to feel human.

It was only 24 hours but it was a start. Perhaps it is fitting that Family Day Weekend is upon us where we can all give our presence to those most deserving of it.

Oh and don’t let me forget… Thank you for all the birthday wishes last Saturday!


Mike’s Mailbag: Week 5, 2016

Top of the mornin’ amigos! My snowpants are on and I’m about to dive into some powder (no joke – check it out below) at Big White so with that in mind, let’s get down to business. Week 5, let’s spin it!


  • When Larry Fink speaks, people should probably listen. One might say he is a rather smart, successful fellow. He recently wrote a letter to the CEO of every Fortune 500 company advocating an end to quarterly guidance targets in favor of longer term, more responsible targets that have the future success and sustainability of companies at the forefront. “Shortsightedness” within companies, mostly publicly traded in this context, affects how companies operate and plan their growth strategies and it’s not always for the right reasons. Hitting quarterly stock price targets by propping up financials at quarter’s end (ie. accounts receivables) or via creative accounting practices (ie. mark-to-market accounting) for the sake of executive teams cashing in on stock options or bonuses does not necessarily foster a foundation for the long term viability of a business. Perhaps, if as Mr. Fink points out, compensation and growth objectives had longer term outlooks than maximizing shareholder value each and every quarter, many sectors of our economy would grow at more sustainable levels and operate within a narrower peak-to-trough bandwidth. In the context of Alberta and our energy industry, I think many of our publicly traded oil & gas companies could reap serious benefits of an approach to growth like Mr. Fink puts on the table.
  • Are you currently putting yourself out there by publishing a few editorial pieces on LinkedIn in 2016 or experimenting with starting a blog of some sort? If so, this is as solid of a 30 minutes as you can invest in yourself. Daniel Roth, Executive Editor at LinkedIn, put together a great 30-minute video series on all the things one should consider when approaching putting pen to paper, or shall I say hands to keyboard. For anyone who has any sort of writing goal in 2016, this video series is worth checking out!
  • A refreshing piece on the state of pipeline politics in Canada by Karin Klassen of the Calgary Herald. “We even marginalize ourselves in our own country. How amusing it must seem to our competitors, that in turning on ourselves, we implode our industry, unable to get pipelines built to supply even our own family... That Canada sits on the third largest oil reserves in the world, and we can’t even create domestic independence, much less an export industry, is not only an embarrassing failure, but one can hardly imagine that it’s prudent national policy. Yet here we are.” You might consider sharing this piece with fellow Canadians if you agree…
  • John Scott. NHL All-Star Game MVP. You all know the story in mainstream media. Here’s the story of how things actually unfolded before All-Star weekend… I don’t think Gary was too happy this hit the Internet a day before the festivities took off. Kudos to The Players Tribune for bringing light to a feel good story that nearly didn’t happen.
  • I’m not much of a sailor, never really have been. But as little as I know about the sport, The Volvo Ocean Race has to be one of the most rugged, gut wrenching and at times downright terrifying race on the planet. I couldn’t tell you a thing about the sport but this video shows how tough these sailors really are…

Song of the Week: If you feel like country music these days is moving away from the authentic roots that the greats like Yoakam and Strait planted, Sturgill Simpson is your guy. He’s old school and knows how to rock. Here’s “Some Days” by Sturgill Simpson…

Quote of the Week: Beware of destination addiction. The idea that happiness is in the next place, the next job, or even in the next partner. Until you give up the idea that happiness is somewhere else, it will never be where you are.” – Robert Holden

Time To Shred,