Mike’s Mailbag -> Week 21, 2016

Good Morning Mailbag’ers,

Good golly miss molly, it feels good to be back. Refreshed and rejuvenated. Feels like the seasons are a’ changing so let’s consider this the 1st summer edition of 2016…

  • We’re coming out of the gates with a very heartfelt piece written by St. Louis Blues forward and Fort McMurray native, Scottie Upshall, via The Players Tribune. It really speaks to the sense of community and hometown pride that all Canadians feel, irrespective of where the dot they grew up in lies on the map.
  • I really liked this piece titled “Are you in survival mode?” as it almost speaks to a “fight or flight mode” many companies and employees find themselves in within the energy sector. There is no question that our sector is greatly influenced by global commodity indexes; however, what we do control is our attitude, entrepreneurial spirit, grit, perseverance and how to make lemonade when life gives you sour lemons. Businesses and families alike have to hunker down and exercise significant fiscal responsibility and discipline but it doesn’t mean we can’t look to find new avenues for growth and innovation. A biker in the Tour de France doesn’t say a hill is too steep nor does a world class chef say his cut of meat isn’t tender enough to grill. The biker shifts down a gear and pushes to reach a new peak power output and a great chef will find a way to tenderize the meat by choosing an alternative cooking method to grilling. Bad examples or not, we as an industry must look to thrive in all market environments, not just when a $ index has three digits in front of it.
  • Next up is Sheryl Sandberg’s commencement address to the 2016 Class at the University of California Class titled “The Lessons That I Only Learned in Death” via MacLeans magazine. Sandberg is the COO of Facebook and tragically lost her husband a little over a year ago while on vacation in Mexico. She shares the lessons learned from her struggles over the past year and they are very introspective and authentic insights that we can all learn from. Especially, if you’ve gone through something similar. Thanks for sending this one, Mom.
  • I’m really enjoying writing this Mailbag and I feel like we’re on a roll here so why stop now… Ryan Holiday is one of my favorite thought leaders in the game right now, he’s young, ambitious and not afraid to speak his mind and tell it like it is. This piece titled “The One Trick People Who Really Love Their Jobs Know, While Others Continue Grinding It Out in Obscurity” really resonated with me as I am turning the page into a new chapter of my career and professional development in general. I, like many other aspiring business professionals, spend a lot of time trying to objectively (not subjectively) understand our value proposition to employers and/or investors. This piece really spoke to me on the perspective and mindset required to be great at what you do, not just good or good enough to get by.
  • Speaking of hard work and the many late nights and early mornings it requires doing whatever it is you need to do to hone your craft, doing so requires your mind to razor sharp. Sometimes music is needed and other times silence. However, if you’re like me, you often need some sort of ambient noise in the background. Check out the website Calm which has all sorts of natural environments you can “immerse” yourself in while trying to focus.

Song of the Week:Things Ain’t Like They Used To Be” – The Black Keys. The inspiration behind this song is to put something, some event, some notion, some internal belief, some roadblock behind you going into the summer of 2016. Just because things may have been hard once upon a time (career, romantic relationship, mental health struggles, family turmoil, whatever) doesn’t mean that previous time of your life should define you or consume your current self. Everyone is or has fought battles behind closed doors so don’t feel alone or beat yourself up over it. Just do your best to change things so they “ain’t like they used to be.”

Quote of the Week: “At one point in your life, you’ll have the thing you want or the reasons why you don’t.” – Andy Roddick

Keep Calm & Carry On,




Aloha Amigos,

I’m very excited to announce that going forward, you will be receiving a paper copy of Mike’s Mailbag via carrier pigeon every Friday morning, circa 1983.

Terrible jokes aside, going forward, if you’d still like to receive Mike’s Mailbag each week, you’ll have to hop over to www.mikesmailbag.org and type in your e-mail address into the “subscribe” box (upper right-hand corner or bottom of any page). By doing so, you will still receive a Friday morning e-mail each week! And it will just help to streamline a few processes on my end, which is key as my life is about to get a little busier…

Reason being, I am moving back to Calgary full-time on June 6th into a Sales/Business Development role with Ferus. I am very excited to transition into a new role, with a new team, and on the front lines of an industry that is so vital to Alberta’s livelihood. To all of you whom I’ve tried to keep in touch with while I’ve been “away”, I’m genuinely excited to rekindle conversation over an ice cold adult beverage, preferably on a patio. And to those who have made my 9-month journey across Alberta such a great experience, both personally and professionally, I say thank you and this is by no means a goodbye, just a see ya’ later.

I suppose I should pass along one article for you to read this week and in the spirit of major life transitions, here is a thought provoking read “The Career Advice I Wish I Had at 25” by Shane Rodgers. This is not a preachy article, just a genuine reflection of lessons learned over the course of a successful career by a fellow whom I know absolutely nothing about. Bullet #12 is sure a cool little anecdote from JFK!

I really hope all of you will take ten seconds out of your day today to hit subscribe on https://mikesmailbag.org as I genuinely look forward to you dropping by every Friday!

Song of the Week: “Wild Child” – Kenny Chesney.

Quote of the Week: “Oh the places you’ll go. There’s fun to be done. Points to be scored. Games to be won. On you will go will the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl. Onward up a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. On and on and I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems, whatever they are. Will you succeed? Yes you will, 98 and ¾ % guaranteed.” – Dr. Seuss

Your Friend,


Mike’s Mailbag: Week 19, 2016

Buenos Dias Amigos,

Do you feel that vitality in the air? Well that’s because this week’s Coffeetalk segment is radiating with positive vibes thanks to my two special guests, Dawn Burvill and Justina Waschuk, co-owners of YogaNation in Red Deer. YogaNation has become my home away from home while living in Central Alberta and I largely have these two ladies to thank for bringing a sense of community to my life. Whether you’re a dedicated yogi already or someone on the fence about giving yoga a shot, this segment is worth its weight in gold!

Check it out here: https://mikesmailbag.org/2016/05/12/coffeetalk-episode-5-with-dawn-burvill-justina-waschuk/

  • This Mailbag is all about the human body so let’s get started with none other than one of “the” faces of Silicon Valley – Tim Ferriss and his SxSW talk “Hacking The Human Body“. Some really interesting tips and pointers…
  • A friend of mine, Jared, introduced me to Mark Sisson and his “Primal Blueprint“, as he learned of this machine through a Tim Ferris podcast. Mark has a very interesting contrarian view of fitness in contrast to how popular media outlets have tried to educate society at large. His perspective is quite different but I’ve slowly tried to adopt some of his dietary principles into my life and so far, so good!
  • There’s really no way to describe this ESPN E-60 clip as anything other than “wow, what a beauty!”… The hockey tournament that is as much about having “beauty flow” as it is about winning on the scoreboard…

Quote of the Week: “The difference of a person’s fate is decided from what a person spends in his free time between 20:00 to 22:00 . Use these two hours to learn, think and participate in meaningful lectures or discussion. If you persist for several years, success will come knocking on your doors.” – Li Ka Shing

Song of the Week: In the yogi spirit, this is a 30-song playlist I’ve put together for what I would envision being a very “power flow” type class. The songs are in a specific order and meant to get one in the zone as your sweat glands start to flow like the Mississippi. Take a listen here via Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/mwilkesy/playlist/7B1BbOdrCZtusFextg1H9V

To end a great edition, I’d like to share a great story about what the Mailbag is all about as people ask me all the time why I write it… I could give you a shpeel about why I originally started writing a weekly note to a few close friends and it blossoming from there but I’ll save that and share why I’ve chosen to let it grow organically…

A few weeks ago in the last Coffeetalk segment, Rick included his junior high math and science teacher, Mr. Matthews, as one of his dinner guests if he could choose any 3 people in the world to have dinner with. Rick lost touch with Mr. Matthews years ago and even forgot his first name but said he reminisced upon his relationship back in the day with fond memories… Well, a good friend of mine in Toronto and loyal Mailbag reader, Chris, tracked down Mr. Matthews the old fashioned by skimming through a Maritimes edition of the Yellowpages and left a few voicemails for different “Mr. Matthews” to see if one of them was in fact “Mr. Matthews”. A few weeks later, Chris received a callback from one of them who is now well into his 80’s and lives in a seniors facility. Chris briefly spoke with “the Mr. Matthews” and followed up by sending him a print copy of the Mailbag that featured Rick along with both of their contact information so that Rick could try to arrange to take Mr. Matthews out for dinner in Halifax. If that isn’t a salt of the earth, people helping people story, I don’t know what is. Chris certainly didn’t have to pull out the Yellowpages and cold call a couple of numbers but he did so out of generosity and the good of his own heart. Perhaps, this story will inspire you to do a good deed for someone in your life, whether they’re a small or big part of your life.

People helping people… It really is a beautiful thing!

Carpe Diem,


Mike’s Mailbag: Reflections on Fort McMurray

Good Morning Folks,

The news of the week is no surprise and not of a good nature with our neighbors to the north seeing their entire community and more burn to the ground in a fiery blitzkrieg. Times like this show people’s true colors in so many ways, both good and bad, and I really hope it is more the former. In saying that, I’d like to say two things in brief…

  1. In dire emergency situations such as this, put your political allegiances aside, show some maturity and be an Albertan, a Canadian, a human being. This fire is a colossal tragedy and not the time nor platform to take low blows at political parties or leaders who you do not support. The Premier of Alberta did not start this fire nor would have changing the budget allocation, this was Mother Nature reminding us who is in charge. Look at it from a different lens… If someone interviewed you in the middle of you having a heart attack, you would not have an answer on the tip of your tongue about the exact lifestyle changes and rehabilitation plans you’ll need to enact four months down the road. You are in survival mode and just trying to stay alive. That is where Fort McMurray and the province of Alberta is right now. Please Albertans, think and act appropriately.
  2. There is a great deal of goodwill and deeds of selfless generosity being shared and spread on social media platforms. It is a sign of the tight-knit nature of Alberta and genuine care we have for our neighbors. This is great and let’s keep our spirits higher than the flames. But please, please, do not get caught up or even give the time of day to the few keyboard warriors sitting in their basement making mention of how this is a “karmic” event and a result of Fort McMurray’s own doing. The boos often come from the cheap seats and there’s a reason why. Let the boos drown out in the silence of their own echo.

I’d like to move on and get on with a typical Mailbag but it just doesn’t seem right this week. In lieu of that, I’d like to share some of the best stories of generosity coming out of Alberta this week:

  • The St. Louis Blues are donating the entire portion of the 50/50 draw and silent auction proceeds from game 4 against the Dallas Stars to families affected by the fires in Fort McMurray. Scottie Upshall, a heart and soul player on the Blues, is a native of Fort McMurray, Alberta.
  • Labatt shut down beer production at one of their major breweries to instead make 200,000 cans of water for emergency responders. This is awesome in so many ways. From a business sense, it shows their nimbleness and speed to market, but forget about that, it is just a selfless and as close to humanizing act as possible for such a big corporation to take. Kudos, Labatt.
  • I’ve read that WestJet added 11 additional flights out of Fort McMurray to evacuate citizens and workers, in particular, the patient evacuees needing to flee the hospital. Meanwhile, I haven’t heard anything of the sort on Air Canada’s part except that rather than cut rates for folks fleeing for their lives, they in fact charged a large premium. They have since blamed this on their “revenue management system” and offered partial refunds… Either way, this is just another example of the massive difference in goodwill associated with the WestJet brand and putting it lightly, lack thereof with Air Canada… Regardless of the actual financial transactions taking place behind the scenes, this is yet another feather in WestJet’s cap for superior customer service.
  • Rex Murphy… He often has something interesting and intelligent to say about all things in Canada. This 4-minute reflective clip on the Fort McMurray tragedy unfolding is no exception and should be shared from coast to coast.

Quote of the Week: The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” – Marcus Aurelius

Song of the Week: Line of Fire” – Junip. This is one of my favorite songs to listen to when I just want to think… Think about life at large, thoughts swirling in my own head, what the future holds. As of this week, the meaning of it just got a whole lot deeper.

Pray For Rain & Our Neighbors,


Fort Mac - Atlantic Canada Political Cartoon