Mike’s Mailbag: Meet Bernard & The Next “KHL”

Top O’ The Morning Compadre,

Feels good, it’s Friday isn’t it? Check mate!

September is one of my favorite months of the year for many reasons but front and center is that it is a month that allows you to recalibrate your daily routine (from fitness to waking up early to eating healthier to fewer wobbly pops) and reassess your personal and professional/career goals. Whether it’s going into grade 1, freshman year, or strolling into the office, I always look forward to this month as it brings with it renewed vitality and clarity on your life’s ambitions if you take the time to reflect, recharge and re-instill the self-discipline required. For me, the self-discipline piece is key. It often tends to sway during the summer months and while it’s not easy to break bad habits, it just has to be done.

I’m off to hideout at the lake this weekend to chisel away at some personal initiatives I’m working on with the intention of finishing off 2016 strong. I hope you’re able to carve out some time this weekend to hone in on what you’re aiming for. I’d like nothing more than to see at the finish line!

  • Most people, including myself, thought the KHL is the Russian hockey league that any NHL player who breaches their contract opts to play in instead… Turns out, there’s another KHL and it’s in Kenya. Yes, in the heart of downtown Nairobi
  • Meet Bernard the Roughneck. He’s become quite the legend since he showed up in opposition to the Kinder Morgan protest in British Columbia. He’s provided a voice for many in the oil & gas industry in Western Canada. I won’t comment on Rebel Media’s “sponsorship” of sorts because it is evidently very biased and going down that road opens up an argument that is a whole other can of fish. However, I truly think Bernard means well and provides a perspective seemingly often forgotten by many Canadians in opposition to an industry that contributes a great deal to the Canadian economy (as presented in Canadian Parliament yesterday).
  • Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland… Supposedly, the ultimate in East Coast Canadian luxury experiences. I have only ever heard of this gem in the press and elsewhere on the Internet. It looks absolutely amazing but I really don’t know much about it… That’s okay though as I have a great deal of work to do and money to save if I intend on staying there anytime soon (even if just for a night)! I’m curious though, has anyone stayed there or know much about this bucket list destination?
  • This is a pretty awesome looking all-in-one travel app from Google -> Google Trips Thanks to my pal in Toronto, Brett, for the heads up on this app!

Song of the Week: You’ve all heard Gravity by John Mayer but perhaps not this version…  And it is oh so smooth. Sit back and relax with Gravity, Live at the Nokia Theatre in 08′.

Quote of the Week: Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” – George Carlin

I guess I should mention I got my first ever hole in one last weekend!! Big shout-out to Sudsy, one of my playing partners and loyal Mailbag reader, for being such a beauty to golf with.

Have a Great Weekend,




Mike’s Mailbag: Week 16, 2016

We’re cutting straight to the mustard this week!

  • Robert Greene, best-selling author of The 48 Laws of Power and The 33 Strategies of War, is very passionate about understanding what drives the human mind and the many variables that play into it. In this short clip, he describes how powerful and successful humans derive pleasure from pain. A lot of people shy away from exposing themselves to pain, whether it be physical or psychological, because it hurts and challenges one outside of their comfort zone. He uses the example of long-distance swimming and the anguish one often experiences in the moment but then the strength and euphoria post-swim having pushed through such physical and mental roadblocks.
  • You shake hands with three people and not even 3 seconds later, you realize you don’t remember any of their names… We’ve all been there and have felt the guilt and foolishness. What I often try to do to combat this is assimilate one’s name with a famous person’s name or a landmark that they remind of for whatever reason. That way, when I’m trying to recall their name an hour or day later, I use the power of association to help me remember theirs. At the end of the day though, Keith Ferazzi says it best in this article… That is, if you really want to remember people’s names, take a genuine interest in the people you meet and care enough to remember them all.
  • I have to thank my bud, Brett, in Toronto who puts out a similar weekly e-mail called The Beer List for this next article on the smartest building in the world called The Edge in Amsterdam. This building produces more energy than it consumes, collects rainwater to flush its toilets, and knows what you take in your coffee to name a features. Check it out here via Bloomberg…
  • I want to give a shoutout to another pal of mine, Jared, in Calgary for unveiling his slick new website – www.jaredpoplawski.com. Not only is it a cool interface, it’s packed with thought provoking material that he describes as “an exploration of business, psychology and learning“. I’ve already got it bookmarked for some reading this weekend!
  • I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that the playoffs are in full swing and they are oh so good to tune into… Round-the-clock hockey on the tube and for Canadians, that’s hard to beat. For that reason, I thought I’d share two of my favorite playoff memories…
    • 1997 Playoffs. Game 7: Dallas vs. Edmonton. Todd Marchant ripping down the right side at Mach 9 (the Dallas defenseman literally falls because Todd is going so fast) and goes high blocker side on Andy Moog to steal the series in OT… God damn this was good.
    • CBC Closing Playoff Montage in 2014 to “The Show Must Go On” by Queen.

Song of the Week:Record Yearby Eric Church. Safe to say his new album will be blasting all summer long at the lake…

Quote of the Week: Empathy is a choice and it’s a vulnerable choice. Because in order to connect with you, I have to connect with something in myself that knows the feeling.” – Brene Brown

I pasted a meme below that I came across at the studio this week… Fairly accurate if you ask me!

Game On,



10 Life Lessons I Learned From David Darst

#10: Presentation Crispness

This idea hails from a picture hanging in the office of Steve Ballmer during his tenure as CEO of Microsoft and can now be seen around the halls of Morgan Stanley Global Wealth Management; it is the practice of being able to communicate a business idea and potential solution in a series of five concise steps. Let’s face it, many successful businessmen or women regard their time as their most valuable asset so when they are looking to build a team around them, they want problem solvers with the ability to convey clear and concise messages.

The model is as follows:

  1. Summarize the Situation (6 seconds)
  2. State the Idea (10 seconds)
  3. Explain How it Works (15 seconds)
  4. Reinforce Key Benefits (21 seconds)
  5. Suggest an Easy Next Step (28 seconds)

Rumour has it that if you were to walk into Steve Ballmer’s office with an idea, you had better been able to deliver your message within this time frame.

Key takeaway: Get things done right, and right away.


#9: The Power of Writing Things Down

David Darst’s ability to recall facts, dates, and statistics is like no other I’ve seen, his mind is razor sharp. I asked him on his way back to his hotel one night how he is able to recall such a large number of facts on a moment’s notice and his response was “You’ll notice whenever I learn something new, I write it down.” The key for David is having a second point of reference in his own writing that he recognizes and that will register in his mind.

Key Takeaway: Find your learning style and stick to it.


#8: Subtle Non-Verbal’s

David has a magnetic presence when he enters a room, whether it is in a restaurant, lecture hall, or conference ballroom. People are often looking to him for the answers to their questions. Because he interacts with so many people on a daily basis from all walks of life whether it is a high net worth Morgan Stanley Wealth Management client, a CNBC news anchor, or a Dalhousie Commerce student, they often only have a short time period to interact with David because his time is in such high demand. David uses his non verbal communication skills to make the person he is interacting with feel as important as the person he just finished speaking with. Whether it is a slight touch of the elbow when he shakes your hand, reaching out to you mid conversation or at the crux of a story, or opening up his posture so his body language is receptive to your message. They are all subtle but very powerful ways that David engages with people and allows them to feel comfortable and at ease.

Key Takeaway: Be an engaged speaker and listener.


#7: Population Growth Reshaping Global Economy

With many of the advanced economies in the world experiencing stagnant birth rates (ie. Japan, and many EU countries), many of the emerging economies are experiencing rapid population growth (ie. Indonesia, Vietnam, and India). The global economic landscape is starting to shift. Birth rates are critical statistics to economic forecasts because if a country cannot expand its workforce or at the very least replace it, its economic output will start to shrink. The Western World is used to being a global force; however, there are many Asian countries that many Westerners are largely unfamiliar with that are growing at rapid rates and turning into economic engines in the global economy.

Key Takeaway: See #6


#6: Importance of Family and Public Education System

David stressed the critical role that parents play in the upbringing and development of their children, in tandem with the strength of a nation’s public education system. He believes that there are far too many video games being played and not enough reading being done in the homes of the majority of North American households. He doesn’t believe that it is the high-end colleges and universities that are the key to the Western World maintaining its competitive advantages over certain parts of the world but rather the strength of North America’s public education system. It is essential to give every child a proper educational foundation with the opportunity to grow and excel into part of an educated workforce.

Key Takeaway: Stay true to your roots.


#5: Sense of Belonging

One of David’s keys to productivity whether it is in a corporate office or as part of an athletic team is a sense of belonging. David strongly believes that for a group of individuals to be successful and cohesive as a team, all must be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their rank. Employee empowerment is paramount in David’s eyes.

Key Takeaway: Treat others with the respect and dignity you would like to be treated with.


#4: Perspective is Key

This comes from an article (www.purposefairy.com) David gave to all DALIS members titled: These four spoke to me the most:

  • Forgiveness vs. Unforgiveness: Really happy people know that it’s not healthy to hold on to anger. They choose to forgive and forget, understanding that forgiveness is a gift they give to themselves first and foremost. “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned” – Buddha
  • Selflessness vs. Selfishness: They do what they do not for themselves, but for the good of others, making sure that they bring meaning, empowerment and happiness in the lives of many. They look for ways to give and to share the best of themselves with the world and to make other people happy.
  • Dreaming Big vs. Being Realistic: These people don’t really care about being realistic. They love and dare to dream big, they always listen to their heart and intuition, and the greatness of their accomplishments scares many of us.
  • Taking Responsibility vs. Blaming: They take full ownership over their lives and they rarely use excuses. Happy people understand that the moment you choose to blame some outside forces for whatever it is that happens to you, you are in fact giving all your power away. These people choose to keep the power for themselves by taking responsibility for everything that happens to them.

Key Takeaway: In the words of Conan O’Brien, “It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique. It’s not easy, but if you accept your misfortune and handle it right. Your perceived failure can become a catalyst for profound reinvention.”

#3: Stay Humble

After hearing some interesting stories from David about some of his interactions with the social circle he has built around him, let’s just say there are some rather well-known names in his circle. Yet, during his time spent with us, his graciousness and appreciation for all the youthful business minds he was able to meet with at Dalhousie was so sincere. At the end of the day, we’re just a student run society on the east coast of Canada relative to the institutions and clients he’s used to meeting with on Wall Street or at The City in London, England. David said the key to staying humble is a close-knit family and finding appreciation and energy in life where others don’t. When in New York, look up at the architecture. When speaking with a young business student, appreciate their perspective and youthful intuition. Every experience is an opportunity to grow.

Key Takeaway: To take a page out of one of my favorite lines of Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If”, “If you can talk with the crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings –nor lose the common touch… You’ll be a Man, my son!”


#2: The Importance of Your Mother In-law

If your girlfriend’s mother or your mother in-law doesn’t like you, you’re doomed!

Key Takeaway: Whether you like them or not, eat your peas!


#1: The Power of Names

I learned a lot of things from David but this was one of the most impressive and fascinating things I’ve ever witnessed… Over the course of David’s 48 hours in Halifax, I would guess he met upwards of 50 people and he remembered every single person’s first and last name in that span. Not only did he know nearly everyone’s name, he gave us all a lesson on the origin and meaning behind all of our names. Case and point, David met one of our members, Gilberto, who hails from Brazil. Without skipping a beat, David conversed with Gilberto in Portuguese for a minute in front of the audience, moving on to tell us about the #1 Brazilian song of all time as voted by the Brazil people, spinning that into a lesson on the meaning of important English words and their Latin origins, and then proceeding to recite by heart Act II, Scene I of Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour Lost”. It was one of the most impressive feats of the human mind I have ever witnessed and speaks to how well versed David is in so many facets of life.

Key Takeaway: Your ability to remember and address everyone you meet by name only deepens your connection with him or her and allows you to be a superior communicator.


David, it was an absolute honor and pleasure. You inspired us all.