Saturday, August 25, 2012


I am up early today with the goal to get caught up from my time away.

I notice an interesting phenomenon.  I have an email file of emails that need my action.  Many of those are now 2 weeks old.  And what I am finding is many of them now do not need to be dealt with at all.

Part of what causes me to me responsive is the vision of myself as being fast and available.  I am pondering if that persona is actually hurting my productivity.

One rule to get over procrastination is to ask the question:  If I leave this, will it get worse?  Perhaps I should be asking:  If I leave this, might it go away.
I read a book last night and this morning - Resilience - Why Things Bounce Back by Andrew Zolli.

The title caught my attention.  I have always believed that that ability to bounce back from life's failures was tied to success.  As a result, I always seek ways to be more resilient.

But it was not what I expected to start.   The stories related to resilience of the economic system and of ecosystems.   Both topics of high interest to me.

Much of resilience has to do with interrelated systems.  On ecosystems in agriculture, it told of the dependencies on monocultures and the risks that brings to our food system.  Of course this is a topic near to me.

I returned to my gardens after being away for 2 weeks to find that the lush climate for growing vegetables also is lush for growing weeds.  Unbelievable how fast things grow here.  Despite the overgrowth, tomatoes, beets, carrots and squash are all flourishing.  Beans are trying to produce a second crop.  Potatoes need digging.  It is wonderful.

It was not until about page 120 that it got the the parts on personal resilience that I was looking for.   At some level, I knew all the keys and know to strengthen them.  Resilience can be helped by social networks and meditation both of which can be consciously worked on.  

The book was not explicit on health but I am a great believer that health (which we can influence a lot) helps a lot with resilience.

I did find the book to be an interesting read. 


And the resilient Josh turned one.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Canoe Trip FAQ

No business advice in this one - just a personal vacation update.  Elizabeth and I are just back from a canoe trip.  So exhausted and rested at the same time.   And sore.

Or if there is advice, it would be to take time to reflect.  Fast company did an article on taking time to reflect to improve productivity.  Perhaps that is the message.

I feel the pressure of email, responsiveness, projects etc that were on hold for almost 2 weeks while I was out of touch.  I am hoping the value of the reflection time sticks despite the return to real life.

The Canadian shield is just beautiful.  There is no place more tranquil.  Awesome.

I had spoken to a few people unfamiliar with canoe tripping so thought I would give a basic FAQ.

Canoe Trip FAQ:

How far can you go in a day?

Our days tend to be short.  A long day is only 7 hours by the time you pack up, stop for lunch and set up camp again.  In 7 hours, you can cover about 20K (12.4 miles).  If it was all no wind, flat water, you could do 30K.  But the days are punctuated with portages.  And a 1 K portage takes an hour.

How do you navigate?

With a topographical map and compass.  We do not take a GPS but some people do.  We do not strictly plan where we will stay.  We see how tired we are and how nice the lake looks.

What do you eat?

We eat well.  All just grocery food but dry stuff like lentils, soup mix, pasta etc.   We dried some of our own vegetables which are a real treat.  We cook on a white gas whispertlite stove and take a stick stove for backup.  Usually we augment this with blueberries but it was so dry this year that they were all gone.  A few raspberries (very sweet by comparison to blueberries).  And of course fish almost every day for breakfast, or lunch or dinner.

Granola is a staple for breakfast.  And it has the advantage of not needing cooking so can be eaten as lunch or dinner in a pinch.

How many calories do you burn in a day?

Some people say 6,000 but with the short days we do, I think we only burn perhaps 4-5,000.  So for extra calories, we make instant pudding/mouse.  And we take high calorie snacks - dried fruit, nuts, sesame snaps.  

What is a typical day?

Up at perhaps 6:30.  Fish until 7:30.  Breakfast.  Roll the sleeping pads, stuff the sleeping bags, pack everything.  The early mornings are precious times.  The fishing is good and the water is still and often misty.  If there is a drawback, it is cold so the temptation is to stay in the sleeping bag.  It was about 45 degrees F in the mornings.  Still water is also best for canoeing - especially bigger lakes where wind later in the day can make them tougher.

Paddle for a couple of hours.  Paddling is punctuated by portages. 

Stop for lunch.  On days we set out early, sometimes fish again.  The problem is catching, cleaning and cooking a fish is time consuming.  So lunch with fish takes 90 minutes.

The back on the water for a while. 

Then set up camp.  Fish.  Then dinner. 

How often do you see people?

Most days, we saw a couple of other trippers.   At nights, we never shared a lake with any other trippers.  In previous trips we have been as long as 8 days without seeing anyone but this year, there was more activity.

Are the campsites marked?

No - just find a place big enough for a tent.  People tend to use the same spots over and over so they do tend to be signs.  EG - a fire circle.  (we do not have fires though)

How heavy is the gear for portaging?

It feels heavy but it is not.  Packs weigh about 50 and 35 pounds.  Food pack (stored in a bear barrel to keep the bears out) starts at perhaps 25 pounds and ends at 10.  The canoe weighs perhaps 45 pounds.  At our age, we take 2 trips on the portages.  First with the packs to get the views and figure out what obstacles there might be on the trail (and for that matter figuring out where the portage goes) then another with the canoe and food.

How do you know where the portages are?

Guide books often give directions.  We used Hap Wilson's Temagami Canoe Routes.  Occasionally a previous tripper has tied a ribbon on a tree or marked a tree.  Sometimes there are small cairns marking routes over rocks. 

What fish do you catch?

All bass.  One perch.  I only fish for food.  No catch and release so most days, one fish is one meal.  Sometimes 2.  And when dinner is caught, fishing is done.  Rockbass are small but invasive so I always kill and eat them (lots of work to clean though).  Did not catch a crappy but same would apply to that.

I use a very cheap collapsible rod and cheap lures.  Bass and perch are not very specific and will strike almost anything unlike trout which are picky and hard to catch.

Where do you go to the bathroom?

That's what trees and bushes are for.

What safety measures do you take?

We take 2 of each critical item like 2 ways to purify water - iodine tablets (yuk but works) and an MSR filter, 2 stoves, an extra paddle, 2 compasses (a nice one and a tiny backup).  2 flashlights (although you do not really need one and the backup is tiny)

Let me know if there are other things I should add to the FAQ.

The pictures are all from the trip.  The falcon was in the town of Haliburton before the trip began.   The spider web was early morning dew.  The fish was lunch.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Leadership By Choice

I have a rule I try to follow.  Only blog when I upbeat.  I figure who would want to read depressing or complaining stuff.  They just read the newspaper if they want that.

The minor complaint for the day.  My flight was cancelled and now my standby flight is delayed.  Travel delays are not fun.

But travel delays are minor in the big picture.  One of my friends - David Thompson died.  He wrote a best seller - Blueprint to a Billion.  One of his 7 essentials was to have a board member who was an experienced Billion dollar CEO and since I qualified, I always felt rapport.  I sat on the Primal Fusion board with him.  He will be missed.

Fast company had an interesting article on rules of social media.   Lots of interesting quotes.  It starts with "would a real person speak that way".  Other comments like "User experience gets worse as the number of ads increase" (As monetization attempts go up, consumer experience goes down.)

Don't try to be clever, be clever.

Interesting article and interesting way to present it.


 I read an interesting book - Leadership by Choice - Increasing Influence & Effectiveness Through Self Management by Eric Papp.

It is a classic self help book with a focus on the leader. 

It starts with a chapter on communication and of course that started with listening.  I know in my heart I can only learn from listening and I continue to remind myself to listen better.  It has some hints and trick on this.

It gets into teams and leadership including speaking of leading different generations.  I must say I would not like to be in the cohort labelled the entitlement generation (and no worry - I am far from that agewise).  I think to some extent we become what we are labelled.  Anyways - it had tips on managing them.

I liked the chapter on "Prioritize for Productivity".  It covered all the time management stuff that I know but always need to be reminded of. 

Good book.  Fast read.  Really quite inspirational.

Monday, August 06, 2012

I Make My Own Stress

I find myself stressed.  As I look at it though, I figure out that all of it is stress I am causing myself.  Part of this is by "standards" I hold myself to (EG - less weeds in the garden, clean den, even maintaining a social media footprint etc.).

I have blogged quite a bit over time on how to deal with stress.   

In my opinion this stress occurs when the reward to too disconnected from the activity.  Sometimes this can be a time disconnect.  EG - the vegetable harvest or the dinner is weeks away.  Sometimes it can be because the outcome is not assured.  EG - write an article but it may not get read and even then will it result in opportunities.

I know we choose our reaction to outside happenings so no one or nothing can cause stress if we do not choose to let it.

The same needs to be true of these internal stresses.  Being stressed detracts from enjoyment and does not add to performance.  Now to be zen...

Adding to my stress is too much travel but some of what I have been doing really reduces the stress level.  Last weekend, I hiked the Grand Canyon.  Nothing comes close to the awe one feels in the Grand Canyon.  And adding the challenge of a bit of a hike (7.5 miles down and 7.5 miles back with one vertical mile each way)... it was all good.

9 hours of hiking (including breaks) and temperatures over 100 F near the bottom.