When he worked, he really worked. But when he played, he really played.

Dr. Seuss
How to Enjoy guilt-free Time Off, when you're Self-Employed

How to Enjoy guilt-free Time Off, when you're Self-Employed

Posted by martin.parnell |

Life has been pretty hectic, lately. I have travelled to Ontario for a Rotary conference, been to the Cinefest film festival, in Sudbury, for the Premier of *The Secret Marathon and, this past weekend, drove to Edmonton, Alberta, for the Edmonton International Film Festival, where the film received thePeople’s Choice Award for Best Documentary Feature. 

On Saturday, I fly to Montreal for Thanksgiving with family and, the following week, I’ll want to take some time off because our son is arriving from the UK and, as he’s a keen amateur photographer, we want to attend the Dark Skies festival in Jasper. 

This all sounds great and, so far, it has been. But, it’s unusual to have so many disruptions to my working life, in such a short space of time. Fortunately, I was able to combine visiting Sudbury, for Cinefest, with two Keynotes at Cambrian College, in the same city. 

This is a strategy I’ve used before. If I am going somewhere, for any reason, I try to make better use of the time, even if I have to tack on a day at the beginning or end, and try to use it for business purposes. This is of particular benefit to me, as I’m self-employed. 

When you are in this position, it can be hard to allow yourself time off. According to Kat Boogaard, in her article How to Take a Vacation When You’re Self-Employed, posted on the QuickBooks Resource Center website,  “only 57% of small business owners planned to take a vacation in 2014” and suggests it’s because  “Oftentimes, unplugging from your work seems like a larger hassle than it’s even worth.” 

So, how do you take time off, without feeling guilty or facing the prospect that your business will suffer, when you are self-employed? Personally, I make sure I’m organised. I plan well-ahead and make a schedule for the time I’ll be away. I look at the hours when I’ll definitely need to concentrate on activities that are not work-related and then see where things work-related will fit in. 

This works really well, when I’m just taking a few days, but what if you want to take a vacation, maybe 2 weeks in the sun, or heading for a campground with the family for some outdoor adventures? The same tactic can apply here, too. It’s all about planning, getting as much work done as possible, beforehand and being flexible. 

Another thing you might consider is to employ someone for a few hours a week to keep on top of things for you. It might be basic work that may not need your level of decision-making, but can help keep the general workload to a minimum. It may seem easier said than done, but there is good reason for ensuring that you take time off and recharge your batteries,  as Boogaard goes on explain, according to science: “Reaction times increase by as much as 40% following some time off. An annual vacation cuts the heart attack risk by 30% in men and and 50% in women.” 

This is supported by Francine Lederer, a clinical psychologist, telling ABC News: “The impact that taking a vacation has on one’s mental health is profound. Most people have better life perspective and are more motivated to achieve their goals after a vacation, even if it is a 24-hour time-out.” 

One of the added stresses of taking time off, if you are self-employed, is the notion that if you’re not working, you’re not being paid.  You are not, technically receiving “holiday pay”.  This is something else that Boogaard addresses: “Being self-employed doesn’t mean you don’t get any paid vacation time—you just need to figure out how to offer it to yourself. 

One of the best ways to do this is to build it into your standard fees. For example, let’s say at the beginning of the year you decide you want to offer yourself two full weeks of paid vacation throughout the next calendar year. At that point, you can calculate how many working hours you’re losing and multiply that by an estimated cost per hour. Then, you can slightly increase your fees and prices throughout the rest of the year to make up for that lost time.

While significant price jumps usually aren’t recommended, spreading a small increase out across the remainder of your working time can help you take some much-needed time off—without feeling guilty about lost wages.

Many self-employed people also have begun diversifying their income streams with products—whether it’s courses, ebooks, physical goods, or something else entirely. After your initial time investment, these are a great way to earn some passive income while you’re on vacation.”

With Thanksgiving nearly upon us and other annual festivities on the horizon, why not start thinking about how you are going to take time to unplug and not feel guilty about spending precious hours with family and friends? After all, you can’t get those times back, once they’re gone.

*The Secret Marathon movie is about my trip to Afghanistan to support women and girls in their struggle to have the freedom to run and partake in sports. My best-selling book The Secret Marathon, which includes chapters written by the girls themselves, is published by Rocky Mountain Books. 

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in the fall of 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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We are all different, which is great because we are all unique. Without diversity life would be very boring.

Catherine Pulsifer Author of Change Your Life
How to Make your Organisation more Diverse and Inclusive

How to Make your Organisation more Diverse and Inclusive

Posted by martin.parnell |

Each week, at the Rotary Club of Cochrane, a member is asked to speak for one minute on how they have been influenced by one of the aspects of the Rotary Four Way Test. 

The Four Way Test:

Of the things we think, say or do

1. Is it the TRUTH?

2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?

3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?

4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned? 

This week, it was my wife Sue’s turn and she chose to concentrate on the 4th. point: Willit be beneficial to all concerned?  

We have just returned from a Rotary Conference in Niagara Falls and the overriding message, coming from the leaders of Rotary is that all Rotary clubs need to focus on increasing membership.  This is an area where our club has already introduced initiatives to address the issue. 

Another aspect talked about, with regards to membership, is that it must reflect our community. This is certainly something that Sue and the other members of the Membership Committee are looking to address. As she said in her one minute talk, if we can make our club more inclusive and culturally diverse, it can only be beneficial to all concerned. 

I believe this applies, not only to Rotary, but to all businesses and organisations. I wanted to find out how organisations go about achieving this and so I went to the HR.com website and found a whitepaper on this very subject,  entitled Workplace Diversity and Inclusion: Emerging Awareness andBest Practices Report It is based upon survey of 450+ HR Professionals in Q4 of 2016. 

The Introduction states: “Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) continues to be a key focus for organizations, big and small. While attention to the topic appears to be widespread across the market, the motivations that lead organizations toward creating and maturing a D&I program continue to be unique. 

The purpose of this study is to better understand why organizations establish D&I programs, how D&I leaders feel about their program’s current performance, and what initiatives are being undertaken to advance their programs. One element that may be driving organizations is a growing awareness that workplace diversity produces bottom-line benefits to organizations committed to inclusion. 

We are also beginning to see an emerging landscape around the concepts of diversity and inclusion that is more complex than we might have anticipated.

Some believe that diversity alone is the primary goal, one that solving the issue of diversity doesn’t guarantee an inclusive culture. Diversity is about whom you hire, but inclusiveness is about a work environment of trust and involvement. 

Gallup has found that the employee engagement elements most strongly linked to perceptions of inclusiveness are, “someone seems to care about me as a person,” and, “my opinions seem to count” can be measured in terms of workforce demographics. Others believe this point of view leaves out the equally important

topic of inclusiveness. A recent Gallup article, for example, states the following: “Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.” - Mahatma Gandhi” 

The paper is wordy and full of statistics and you might like to take a look at it, when you have time. However, for the purposes of this blog, I will share with you a piece from Sharon Florentine Senoir Writer, CIO..com, posted  Feb 14, 2019: 

Diversity and inclusion 8 best practices for changing your culture. 

In it, Florentine quotes Sabrina Clark, associate principal at SYPartners, a consultancy that specializes in organizational transformation. 

 “A strong diversity and inclusion strategy can help your organization attract top talent and drive innovative results. Here’s how to launch a D&I initiative that works. 

Research shows that even just the presence of physical diversity results in better performance and for companies that are data-driven, that extra performance boost can be extremely motivating,” Clark says. “It’s also the fact that companies that lack diversity are being called out publicly, and may even be losing business, not to mention falling behind when it comes to recruiting. Even Google is starting to show signs that their lack of diversity is affecting them.”

As 2018 research from McKinsey shows, greater diversity in the workforce results in greater profitability and value creation. The same holds true at the executive level, as McKinsey found a statistically significant correlation between diverse leadership and better financial performance. Companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity at the executive level are 33 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile. When it comes to gender diversity, companies in the top quartile are 21 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile, according to McKinsey’s research.

While financial performance is a major driver of D&I strategies, some organizations launching diversity initiatives in the face of government compliance regulations or to address shareholder pressure, Clark says. “In the UK, for instance, companies are required to publish their diversity statistics; there’s also been increasing pressure from shareholders and boards,” she says.

Current employees and potential hires are also raising the stakes, says Jeff Weber, senior vice president of people and places at Instructure. “More and more, when we’re interviewing, candidates are asking what we’re doing about diversity and inclusion. And it’s not just diverse talent themselves, and it’s not just millennials or Generation Z — we’re hearing this from white, straight men in the Midwestern United States.”

Organizations are also realizing that making diversity and inclusion a business imperative will help them avoid tarnishing their reputation, Clark says. “They’re thinking ahead, which is great, about what kind of company they are, who they want to be, and what their legacy will be. It’s going to continue to be important, and the voices demanding it are only going to get louder,” she says.

SY Partners has been initiating these hard conversations and investing in diversity and inclusion right alongside its clients. The following eight best practices for diversity and inclusion guide not just SY Partner’s client consulting, but its own internal business strategies, Clark says.

1. Establish a sense of belonging for everyone

For each individual to bring their best self forward, a sense of belonging must first be established. Having a connection to an organization or group of people that makes you feel you can be yourself not only results in greater engagement and creativity in the workplace, it’s a psychological need.

But these changes take time, and they aren’t always linear, Clark says. “A client once told me that you don’t just fast-forward to belonging. You have to go through the hard work of focusing on diversity and creating that inclusive culture so you can get to belonging,” she says.

It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, either — that’s why it’s so important to share best practices and be open to trying new things. “The good thing is that as you’re working on diversity, you can also work on inclusion, and vice versa. It’s all interconnected,” Clark says.

2. Empathetic leadership is key

Diversity and inclusion are often treated as a single initiative owned exclusively by HR. But for real change to happen, every individual leader needs to buy into the value of belonging — both intellectually and emotionally. Only when the entire C-suite steps up to own diversity and inclusion will a company’s D&I practices thrive.

“You have to make sure leaders are equipped to make the story their own, feel it within themselves and be able to explain why they care; why it matters, and why it should matter to their direct reports,” Clark says.

Part of this process requires tuning in to empathy; each person remembering a time when they were excluded, shamed, interrupted, and so on, so they can apply those lessons outwardly, she says. “Leaders have to feel it within themselves; then they can identify the relationship with feeling excluded or making others feel excluded. That’s a critical starting point,” Clark says.

3. A top-down approach isn’t enough

Top-down approaches drive compliance, not commitment. From senior leaders to frontline employees, every individual must see and understand their role in company culture. This means identifying differences in employee experience and values across the organization so that change can be made relevant for each person and knowing that lasting change must activate different parts of the system — top down, bottom up, and middle out — in different ways. 

4. Quotas don’t automate inclusion

Hiring goals may boost diversity numbers, but this won’t automatically create an inclusive culture. Too often, leaders focus diversity and inclusion efforts disproportionately on the employee pipeline, but the employee experience continues far beyond an offer letter. To retain and nurture top talent, it’s critical to take an honest look at the end-to-end employee experience, with an eye toward creating conditions that promote inclusion on a daily basis and designing ways to measure the impact.

“What you must understand is that this emphasis changes everything,” Clark says. “From sourcing and recruiting to hiring, onboarding, to the daily aspects of work, team-building, culture, from successes and failures, performance reviews, succession planning, mentoring — everything.”

Organizations must adapt their processes to scale diverse and inclusive behaviors. For example, in meetings: Who’s invited? Who gets to speak and how often? Are you leaving out anyone whose input would be valuable?

“You have to look at everything through the lens of, ‘Have I created conditions where every person can contribute in their unique, meaningful way and feel safe and secure doing that?’ and if you find places where that’s not the case, having the courage to admit that and work to change it,” she says.

That also means understanding how your teams work best, and when tension and discord are actually beneficial. “Recognize that sometimes the easy and fast way is not necessarily the right way, and that sometimes teams function best when there is a bit of tension, disagreement, back-and-forth,” she says. “Obviously, you cannot let things devolve into personal attacks, but know the difference between a healthy, stimulating exchange of every person’s ideas and a situation where people are being disrespectful because of who another person is.”

5. Inclusion is ongoing — not one-off training

It isn’t enough to teach employees what it means to be inclusive. Like any form of behavior change, inclusion requires individuals to identify key moments in which to build new habits or “microbehaviors” (daily actions that can be practiced and measured). And when these habits are put into action in an environment that supports honest conversations and healthy tension, real change becomes possible.

“One way to do this is to identify change cohorts within the organization outside of the executive or management level,” Clark says. “Then, you equip them with the skills and information to help them champion change within their departments, teams, working groups. This is much more effective than one-off training sessions which don’t move the needle; you want people to incorporate these ideas and beliefs into their daily lives.”

6. Maximize joy and connection, minimize fear

People are wired to react with fear and distrust when their beliefs are challenged. While fear can be a powerful motivator, it also encourages people to narrow their perspective — the opposite desired effect for creating a more inclusive workplace. Finding ways to frame challenges through a lens of possibility — and elevating the power of shared experiences and storytelling to do so — creates greater potential for positive change.

“Then you can focus on creating moments that continue the momentum,” Clark says. “You need to not only point out where there’s room for improvement, but spotlight the moments of success and celebrate them. One of our clients decided to do a commitment tree; every employee wrote down their personal, individual commitment to diversity and inclusion, and they put those in a very public place so they could see signs of their progress and celebrate those.”

7. Forget ‘fit’ and focus on helping individuals thrive

The norms, power structures, and inequities in society can easily become embedded in an organization — optimizing to hire, train, and reward people who “fit.” Creating a culture where every individual can contribute their full potential requires investigating the systems and processes in your organization to uncover sore spots and blind spots, and then finding ways to reimagine them.

“‘Fit’ can be dangerous, because it can exclude,” Clark says. “You have to first be able to identify and bring to life your organizational values, mission and purpose, and define ‘fit’ so that it adheres to those. You have to define it differently,” she says.

8. Consider your brand

As in any transformation effort, brand and culture are intimately connected. The products and services you put into the world reflect your values — and your biases.

In the journey toward building a more inclusive organization, it’s important to consider the relationship between what’s happening inside and outside your company. What is your brand saying about who you are as a culture? In what ways is your employee base not congruent with your customer base? What experiences are being left out or misunderstood?

“We see the work with diversity and inclusion as a transformation that’s required here,” Clark says. “It’s not just an initiative or a program; it requires investment from the very senior-most folks to the newest person in the door, and it requires real behavior change. It’s about how the entire company operates and the individual ways of working, communicating, contributing and even just being in the world.”

Not only are these issues that need attention in the workplace, but for any organisation that aims to grow and reflect their community at large.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in the fall of 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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If the people in the audience are talking, you're being ignored. If the people are gazing at you, you've got something they want to hear.

Chuck Berry
If your Message is Worth hearing, People will Listen

If your Message is Worth hearing, People will Listen

Posted by martin.parnell |

I am currently away from home and writing this from a hotel in Sudbury, Ontario. There are several reasons for me being on the road, the first being two days of Rotary training, followed by a three day Rotary conference, in Niagara Falls. Then a drive to Sudbury for the Cinefest Film Festival and, on Wednesday, I will be giving two Keynotes at Cambrian College, here in Sudbury. 

One thing that all of these events have in common, is the way in which different facilitators,  presenters, speakers and filmmakers have a message to convey. The way in which they share it is extremely varied. Some will just get up and speak, some will use technology, others will present workshops and the filmmakers use their art. 

On looking back at all the events I have attended, the one thing that is evident is, if your message is worth hearing, the more people will listen intently, ask questions, take notes or give a positive response.

During the training sessions, I was able to hear about new initiatives, consider good practice and think about new approaches to the things I will be required to do in my developing role in Rotary. 

At the conference, I was able to listen to speakers sharing their passion for Rotary, bringing delegates up-to-date with the great work Rotary is doing both locally, nationally and internationally. I was able to chat with other delegates and find out what is going on in Rotary Clubs in Canada and parts of the US. 

At Cinefest, one of the top 5 film festivals in Canada, I was proud to be at the World Premiere of the feature documentary film, The Secret Marathon. This Canadian –made film, follows the story of a group Afghan women who are fighting for the right to be able to run, to have the freedom to play sports and my journey to support them. I wondered how the film would be received, would the message come across, how would the audience respond? 

People had obviously been interested enough from what they had already heard, that over 400 tickets were sold for the event, held at the Sudbury Silver City Cineplex. This meant an additional screening had to be added and, at the end, the film received a three-minute standing ovation. 

Which brings me to my up-coming events on Wednesday, at Cambrian College. I will be giving two different talks, Firstly, in the afternoon, I will speak to staff and students in a presentation entitled Ordinary to Extraordinary: How one person can make a difference and, in the evening, I will give a presentation to members of the public on the story behind the film and my book of the same title, The Secret Marathon. 

I’m hoping my talks will go well. It’s up to me to engage my audience. I feel I have a message worth listening to. I will speak with passion and conviction and hope I can engage with everyone in the room. 

So, if you have a worthwhile message to share then you have to ensure that its heard.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in the fall of 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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I'm very strict with my packing and have everything in its right place. I never change a rule. I hardly use anything in the hotel room. I wheel my own wardrobe in and that's it.

Charlie Watts - Drummer with the Rolling Stones
If you Have Baggage, make sure it’s the Right Baggage

If you Have Baggage, make sure it’s the Right Baggage

Posted by martin.parnell |

On Monday September 16th, my wife, Sue and I are heading off to Ontario. During our trip, we will be attending a variety of events, from a Rotary Conference, in Niagara Falls, a speaking engagement and book signing at a college, to Cinefest film festival, in Sudbury. This is for the premiere of The Secret Marathon, a film that documents my first trip to Afghanistan, in support of women and girls who strive to obtain the freedom to run. 

One dilemma, when traveling for various situations, is what to pack. We will be staying in different hotels and will be expected to dress business casual for most of the time, formal for two of the dinners and casual when visiting friends and, for the film festival, who knows? Our film is being shown on a Sunday morning, so definitely not “red carpet”. 

One trick my wife employs is to base her wardrobe around one colour. When she went to the UK, for five weeks, last Spring, it was blue. This time, as some of the outfits need to be more formal, she’s opting for black. Another trick she uses is to take scarves and costume jewellery, so that, even if her whole outfit is black, she can brighten it up, very simply. So, a pair of black pants, a black dress, a pair of black culottes and all she need is a selection of simple tops and a couple of lightweight jackets.

For me, it’s a matter of how many shirts?  I have two or three that require no ironing, so they are a must. If necessary, I can rinse them out and let them hang-dry overnight. 

Also, for the Rotary Conference, I have a black polo shirt with the Rotary logo on the front – perfectly acceptable for daytime. Two pairs of shoes, one black, one brown will be enough to cover all contingencies (although, in my case, a pair of running shoes have to be in there, as well as my running shorts and a couple of tops). 

When attending events, like a conference, you never know, in advance, what the temperature is going to be like, in the hosting hotel.  I have sat for a couple of hours at a time either feeling too hot or very chilly. Make sure you feel comfortable in whatever you are wearing, be prepared to remove a layer, if necessary or add a sweater, just in case. 

Sue always puts a lightweight shawl in her purse or carry-on, so as not to be caught out, if the temperature is on the cool side. Put one complete outfit in your carry-on, there’s nothing worse than arriving somewhere, only to find your suitcase has been lost or will be arriving the next day and you only have the clothes you travelled in. 

Make sure whatever shoes you take are comfortable. Sue offers this advice to the ladies, in particular:  “Those new heels might look and feel great, when you try them out in the store, or just wear them to dinner. But, when you have to stand around in them for an hour of “mixing and mingling, or it turns out there’s dancing after dinner, you might wish you’d stuck to something flatter or a wedge heel.  I have a pair of little black, suede boots that have a low heel, but a cut-out design at the side, so I can wear them with pants, but they still look great with a black dress, for evening.” 

A couple of plain tee-shirts are a good idea, they can be worn under a jacket or as an extra layer, if the temperature drops. I’m sure anyone who travels a lot will have far more advice than I can give and there’s always the debate as to whether rolling or folding is best. 

Try not to fret too much, if you’re staying in a hotel, you should have access to a laundry service if you should need it and most hotel rooms will have an iron. 

Main message? Keep it simple, be comfortable and don’t forget your toothbrush. 

And finally here’s a tip from actor, Robert Powell: “When you get back from a trip, make a note of what you didn't wear. This will avoid packing it unnecessarily next time.”

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in the fall of 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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The odds of hitting your target go up dramatically when you aim at it.

Mal Pancoast - President and Founder of Breakthrough
How to Achieve Success by setting Targets and Goals

How to Achieve Success by setting Targets and Goals

Posted by martin.parnell |

On Thursday September 4th, one of our local newspapers, the Cochrane Eagle, published my latest monthly article, entitled “How a little support can help you achieve your goal.”                           

In it, I wrote about the importance of setting goals to achieve a desired result. In this case, it was the formation of a Stoney Nakoda Girl’s U-18, volleyball team, made up of young women from the Bearspaw, Chiniki and Wesley First Nations and their efforts to raise money to take them to the Alberta Indigenous Games, in Edmonton.

To achieve this, founder and Coach Joey Wesley set up a GoFundMe page and contributions were made by a number of groups and individuals including the Nakoda Youth Council, the Rotary Club of Cochrane, Banff Lodging Company and Communitea Café among others. 

On the same day, as my article appearing, I read a piece by Doug Alexander, in the Financial Post, entitled HSBC Wins Title In Canada. It relates to the fact that “HSBC Holdings PLC’s Canadian bank has achieved something most financial firms can only aspire to: gender parity at its upper echelons.” 

This struck a chord with me, as I saw it as an achievement in goal setting, which happens to be the focus of much of my writing. I also include it as an essential part of my workshop sessions, as I feel it’s an integral part of any undertaking if you wish to be successful. 

I mentioned, to my wife, Sue, the coincidence of the two articles coming out, on the same day and she asked me a question “What is the difference between a goal and a target?” This made me pause for thought and led to an interesting discussion about how to define and differentiate the two. 

I refereed to my old friend the Oxford English Dictionary and came to the conclusion that: a goal is “the object of effort or ambition, an aim or desired result” and a target is “something selected as an object of attention or attack”. 

So, the way I interpret the two articles: 

Joey Wesley’s goal was to form a volleyball team and take them to the Alberta Indigenous Games. His targets was to raise enough funds to get them there. 

The goal of Sandra Stuart, Canadian chief executive at HSBC was gender parity, her target “requiring those in middle management and above to ensure their businesses were comprised of at least 30% women”. 

This was no small task and Stuart began putting policies in place more than five years ago, in order to achieve her goal and, in the end, she achieved it by setting specific targets. Unfortunately, the article doesn’t go in to the specifics of those targets, which I’m sure would have proved enlightening, but it does tell us how important the practice proved. 

In the Financial Post article, Alexander quotes Stuart as saying “The game- changer was targets” and goes on to explain that “if you hit them you got a green; if you didn’t hit them you got a red.” She suggests other CEOS should implement the same strategy “I wouldn’t be shy to put the targets in front of your leadership team and I wouldn’t be shy to have the discussion at the board.”

However, as I see it, whether setting a target or a goal, having something to aim at can only help you succeed in your endeavour.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in the fall of 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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When you are enthusiastic about what you do, you feel this positive energy. It's very simple.

Paulo Coelho de Souza - Brazilian lyricist and novelist
At this Time of Year, make time to Review, Revise and Revitalize

At this Time of Year, make time to Review, Revise and Revitalize

Posted by martin.parnell |

As September comes around, once again, our thoughts turn to Fall activities. Whether it’s putting away your Summer wardrobe, raking the leaves or enjoying the sunflowers, it’s a new season and a time of change. Many people will be sweeping up the dead leaves and planting bulbs, in anticipation of Spring. 

Sweeping away the old and thinking about things to come could be part of your Fall plan for the workplace. Why not take a look at where you are with some of your projects, goals, working practices, staffing structure and other aspects of your business and see if there are areas where you might get rid of some things that are no longer relevant, have run their course or never really took off. 

It’s not necessarily a time for big changes, but you could look at this as a time to start planting some fresh ideas, thinking about where you want to be come next Spring, share ideas and mull over the direction in which you want to go. According to SunSigns.org, “The symbolism of September month focuses on refocusing our energies.” 

Even if you don’t feel the need to make changes, it could be that you do need to just refocus your energy and regain some enthusiasm for what you are already doing.  But, that may be easier said than done. 

You may be fully committed to a particular project, but if it is one that is going to take some time to complete. I found a piece from the team at Liquid Planner on “How to Stay Motivated When You’re Working on a Never-Ending Project”.

Posted on February 14, 2019, it is full of ideas and I’ve highlighted some of them for you: 

1. Focus on small, meaningful wins.

Bite-sized accomplishments are the key. Give yourself one meaningful task a day. To up the ante, make it something that stretches you a bit. It doesn’t have to be around the project either. Examples include having a conversation with your boss or team member that you’ve been putting off or talking to the customer about how to bring this project out of the sphere of infinity.

2. Make a game out of keeping the project aligned with business goals.

Big projects are like epic stories; it’s easy to forget the beginning of the narrative when you’re a year into it and there’s a lot more to write. Study the project schedule to see if the work completed and the tasks left to be done are consistent with the goals and deliverables agreed to on Day 1. Make sure your priorities are up to date, and if not, start communicating, updating, and reworking the project plan.

3. Cross tasks off your list!

If you’re waiting on dependencies, change orders, or decisions to be confirmed on the part of the customer or stakeholder, it can be tempting to rework an existing project task into the ground to keep yourself from being idle. Unless something really needs to be updated or improved upon, however, let it be and mark it done.

4. Reassess your goals.

If you’re facing a project stall, dipping back into your career goals and job commitments are always useful and could be inspiring. You might be able to cross off some, update them, or use them to help solve some problems or answer some lingering questions that exist on your current project. This exercise also reminds you of the big picture you’re heading toward as you get mired down in the details (or lack thereof).

5. Give yourself side assignments.

It’s important to feel like you’re accomplishing something every day, but when your project feels like it’s sprawling into no man’s land, it’s hard to get that satisfaction. Make yourself useful in other ways. See if you can contribute to other projects. Reach out to other teams or team members and see how you can pitch in. Offer yourself up as an objective eye or ear or to be an extra welcome resource. If you’ve ever wanted to be a mentor or volunteer in your professional field, this could be a great time.

6. Keep your team members challenged.

If you’re a manager, pay attention to the mood of your team. Keep their minds engaged by asking questions and delegating work that challenges people in their roles and prepares them for the next level of their career.

7. Learn something new.

If your enthusiasm is flagging or you’re feeling burned out, what would get you excited? Make a list and follow through. Ideas could include learning a new skill or training to become a leader or a mentor inside or outside your organization. Ask your manager for ideas. It’s hard to feel bored or restless when you’re learning.

8. Remember that long projects end.

When you’re in the middle of a big project (or any challenging experience), it feels like it will never end. But, it will! Even if it’s the worst disaster of a project you have ever experienced, you will walk away with something. If you look at work as a way to keep learning, growing, and developing, the truth is the difficult experience is the best experience you will ever have. Make it worth your while.”

Whether you are making a clean sweep, planning for the future or simply revitalising existing projects, this may be a good time to take a look at the state of your business and review your current situation.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in the fall of 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.

Sherry Anderson - Canadian curler
How a Culture of Volunteering can Benefit your Business

How a Culture of Volunteering can Benefit your Business

Posted by martin.parnell |

At the weekend, I attended the Cochrane Outhouse Races, a fun event that is held annually. Teams build outhouses and race them down the high street. Hundreds of people turn up to support and a lot of money is raised for charity. Of course, this wouldn’t be possible were it not for the many volunteers who put in countless hours to make it happen. 

Volunteering is an activity that can be hard work, but has great benefits, you are probably doing something to support a good cause, you meet new people and you might even learn new skills. If you are in business, it’s a great way to get your employees to share an experience and for your company to “give back.”   

A study from Deloitte revealed that employers who encourage and promote volunteering boost morale, workplace atmosphere and brand perception. The study was based on surveys of 1,000 full- and part-time employees who have volunteered over the past 12 months.

The research found that an overwhelming majority – 89 percent – of employees think organizations that sponsor volunteer activities offer a better overall working environment. In addition, 70 percent believe volunteer activities are more likely to boost staff morale than company-sponsored happy hours, with more than three-quarters saying volunteering is essential to employee well-being.”

But, how do you persuade your employees that volunteering can be beneficial?

For some ideas as to how to achieve that, Kenneth Waldman, on the volunteermatch website, 14. June 2016 suggests the following:   

5 Ideas to Encourage Your Employees to Volunteer

Getting your employees to volunteer can be a challenging task. However, it can provide your company and your employees with many benefits that aren’t obvious right away. Employees may see volunteering as something that cuts into their time — either on or off work. In reality, volunteering represents a way of giving back to one’s community while strengthening relationships and building new skills, all of which ultimately improves the workplace and boosts employee engagement and retention.

In order to encourage your employees to participate, let them know what’s in it for them. After they volunteer the first time, you’ll have no trouble getting them to take part from then on. Here are 5 different ways you can encourage your employees to volunteer.

  1. Give Your Employees Paid Time off from Work

If your volunteering initiative didn’t go over well with your employees the first time, or if you’re just starting out, consider giving your employees volunteer time off (VTO). They probably are not against giving back to their community — but they may be too busy, or have family obligations that keep them from volunteering. With VTO, they can volunteer for their favorite causes without impacting their personal schedule. It’s a great way to lead by example because you’re also giving back as a company, which won’t go unnoticed by your employees. In fact, they may be more inclined to follow suit. There are other ways of rewarding your employees as well, such as public recognition for all the good work they’ve put in.

  1. Let Them Know about Different Volunteering Opportunities

As an employer, do your part and present your employees with a variety of volunteering opportunities they might find interesting. Check out VolunteerMatch.org for an expansive list of opportunities in your community. If you only offer projects which involve manual labor, not everyone will be able to participate. If you have a smaller team of employees, you can even get to know their skills and strengths outside the workplace, and plan volunteer activities accordingly. Try offering a healthy mix of short and long-term volunteer opportunities to keep them engaged.

  1. Listen to Their Input

Once they’ve volunteered, your employees will feel fresh with new experiences, which means you’ll be able to gather valuable feedback and determine which causes they were most passionate about. Your employees might have some volunteering ideas of their own for future opportunities, or they might hear about some additional opportunities while they’re out in the field. Take note of that. If you let them choose to create their own opportunities, they’ll jump at the chance to do so and you’ll have a healthier, more satisfied employee working for you.

  1. Assign Roles that Are Different to Those in the Workplace

If your employees are managed by their work managers when they are volunteers, it will just feel like more work. Instead, mix things up a bit and allow younger or less experienced employees to assume leadership roles — especially if they are volunteering on a project which is a perfect fit for their skills. They may appreciate the chance to prove themselves and learn what it’s like to take on more responsibility.

  1. Let Them Develop New Skills

If you assign them to a project which requires learning new crafts and skills, they’ll be able to come back to the company with a brand new skill set that might come in handy in future volunteer opportunities or company projects. In addition to serving the community, volunteering can also serve as a free form of employee training.

When done right, employee volunteering can be beneficial for everyone, and that includes your company, your employees, and the community. Your local community will be thankful, and your employees will identify more with your company’s value and mission, ultimately creating a healthier working environment in the process. And, as an employer, you’ll have productive and satisfied employees which are constantly learning new skills, and that benefits everyone on the long run.”

You might like to take a look at the document The Canadian Code for Employer-Supported Volunteering. https://volunteer.ca/code-esv .

By volunteering and encouraging others to do the same, you can improve the lives of others, get a great sense of well-being and be an inspiration to friends and family.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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Plans are nothing, planning is everything.

Dwight D. Eisenhower
Prepare Well so You can Enjoy the Results

Prepare Well so You can Enjoy the Results

Posted by martin.parnell |

At 7.00am on Sunday, August 18th I was at the start line of the Edmonton Marathon. The last time I ran this race was in 2009 so this would be my 10th Anniversary. The morning was overcast with a misty drizzle and the temperature was 10C, just how I like it. I felt good.

In any race I set myself a number of goals. In this one I set three: the first was to beat the time I set 10 years ago, 4 hours and 10 minutes, the second was to come under 4 hours, and the third was to qualify for the Boston Marathon, which meant finishing in under 3 hours and 50 minutes.

Now it’s great to have goals but, in reality they are meaningless unless you’ve done the planning, prepared well and put in the work to achieve them. In this case it meant following a 12 week training program, running over 600 kms and completing a variety of sessions including running hills, tempo runs (marathon pace) , intervals of speed running and long runs.

It’s often said that finishing strong is the key to any race however you can’t finish strong unless you start strong and you can’t start strong unless you’ve prepared.

Another key element is race day preparation. I was up at 5.00am and had my usual marathon breakfast of oatmeal, banana and two cups of coffee. I prepared my four bottles of a mix of water and CarboPro, a pure complex carbohydrate which I take with me on the run. I also carry electrolyte tablets. This would ensure that my nutrition intake would be 250 calories an hour. Another important lesson: never try anything new on race day. I was ready.

At 6.30 am I left the hotel and joined other runners on the way to the start. I followed my usual warm up with a 20 min run and 4 by 100m strides.

John Stanton, the Founder of the Running Room was the race announcer and after O’Canada he started the countdown: 5...4...3...2...1 and we were off. I had spotted the 3 hour and 45 minute “Pace Bunny” and decided to run just behind him. Pace Bunnies are individuals who run the marathon at a steady pace and, if you can stick with them, they will bring you in on that time.

Things went well for the first half of the race, I followed my hydration / nutrition / electrolyte regime every 30 minutes and stayed slightly at the back of the pack behind the bunny. My pace was just over 5 minutes per kilometre and the cool condition stopped me from overheating.

However, the truth of any marathon is that it only really starts in the second half of the race. At km 25 I felt a knot in my right calf. I could only hope that it didn’t turn into all-out cramp. The bunny was moving away from me and my quads were tightening up. A friend of mine, Ray Zahab, said that marathons and ultra-marathons are 90% mental and 10% in your head. It was time to dig deep. 

Before the race I had checked my emails and had a message from Zainab, the first Afghan women to have run a marathon. She had recently had a baby girl and named her Cedar, after a kind of tree that grows in Turkey, Canada and in the Himalaya. In Persian it means evergreen or eternal. 

Zainab had inspired me to go to Afghanistan, in 2016, where I ran the 2nd Marathon of Afghanistan, in support of the women and girls running for freedom and equality. Now Zainab and Cedar inspired me to push through the pain. I used the mantra “Zainab and Cedar, Zainab and Cedar” kilometre after kilometer and before I knew it I was at the 35km marker. I had taken 3 hours 4 minutes and 32 seconds, leaving 45 minutes to run 7.2 km. I had a chance. 

The kms ticked by and with 1 km to go my legs were pretty much done. I looked at my watch and it was 3 hours 39 minutes and then it hit me, I could walk in and still come in under my 3 hours 50 minutes target. I was flooded with relief, but kept on running. 

As I approached the finish line I could see the countdown clock at 3 hours 46 mins. I then looked to my right and saw my wife, Sue in the crowd, behind the barrier. I ran over, gave her a kiss and sprinted across the finish line: 3 hours 46 mins and 23 secs, made it by 3 minutes and 37 seconds. I was exhausted, but happy. 

Staggering along the finishing chute, to get my medal, my body and the mind started to shut down. Sue met me at the exit to the chute and gave me a big hug. Job done. Boston here I come. 

Whether you want to achieve a personal or business goal remember the words of Robert H. Schuller “Spectacular achievements must always be preceded by unspectacular preparation”.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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On every job you do, you've got to raise your game. My ambition is to just get better and better every job you do -- you should never stop trying to get better.

Ray Winstone - English film and television actor.
How to Embrace the Challenge and Enjoy your Promotion

How to Embrace the Challenge and Enjoy your Promotion

Posted by martin.parnell |

Congratulations! All your hard work has paid off and you’ve been given promotion at work or even joined a new company, in a better job. Once the celebrations are over, however, the prospect of the responsibilities of your new role, can be daunting.

It will certainly mean that people will assume you have a great deal of knowledge and experience. That is most likely true, but now you have to put your skills to work and convince those around you that your new position is well-deserved.

One of the most important skills to have is time management. If this is not something that comes easily to you, why not make a list of all the aspects of your new role and prioritise.

In her article Shifting Expectations: How to Adapt to New Job Responsibilities, on the 99U website, posted   Nov 29, 2011, Elizabeth Grace Saunders suggests a way to do that:

“First, write out all of the activities related to your job. Then, categorize each of them as an investment, neutral, or optimize activity:

  • Investment: Spending more time on these activities could lead to a significant increase in the benefits you receive. Example: A significant career-enhancing project that helps you grow your skill set.
  • Neutral: These activities give back as much as you put into them. Example: Billable hourly work, where you aren’t building out your portfolio or developing new skills.
  • Optimize: More time spent on these activities results in decreasing benefits. Example: Routine email or paperwork.

As you scan your completed list, you will want to:

  • Complete the “Optimize” activities as quickly as possible.
  • Limit the amount of time you spend on “Neutral” activities.
  • Maximize the time you spend moving forward on “Investment” activities.
  • Re-evaluate as necessary.”

It’s also important to learn how to delegate. Make sure you understand the roles of all of your colleagues and the skills they offer, in order to take full advantage of the pool of expertise available to you. Saunders addresses this under the section More Management:

“Increases in the number of people who report to you should mean that the overall output of your team increases, if you’re delegating properly. But more management responsibility also means, of course, that you have to “let go” of some tasks.

To understand how much of your time different staff members receive from you and what you can delegate to gain back time for your creative projects, try this type of assessment:

  • Make a mind map or list of all of the different people reporting to you.
  • Detail out what each one of these people needs to receive from you such as:
    • Monthly one-on-one meetings (1 hour/month)
    • Weekly feedback on their current projects (2 hours/week)
    • Emotional support when they have a setback (varies)
  • Brainstorm all they could give back to you. The possibilities are endless. Your list might include things like:
    • Absorbing regular maintenance tasks, which could be anything from managing social media to writing blog posts to prepping files to answering customer emails, and so on. (4-8 hours/week)
    • Completing a major research or archival project. (5 days)
    • Taking over leading a committee or a regular meeting. (3 hours/month)
    • Attending a professional conference or seminar on your behalf. (1-2 days)” 

Depending on your type of work, you may find that you have to travel more or, if that hadn’t been an aspect of your previous job, it may be something else you have to adapt to. To limit the disruption of travelling for work, make sure your colleagues know when you will be away and that they are fully aware of what you expect them to do, during that time.

Allow time to prepare properly for any meetings scheduled or presentations you might have to give. Do you have all your information? Do the people you are visiting know what you may need? Are your travel plans all in place?

Also, if exercise is part of your regular routine, make sure you allow time for that on your trip. Do allow for time-zone changes and make sure people in the office and at home are aware, too. Let them know of best times to contact you and times when you will be unavailable. When you return, make sure you are quick to follow up on leads and submit any receipts.

Hopefully, your new job will be exciting, challenging and fulfilling, but if you feel it becomes overwhelming, seek help. There will be people who can support you and if there is skill that you feel needs improving or any area that you feel you are weaker, you can always ask for extra training.

For those of you who find yourselves in a managerial position, for the first time, I’ll leave you with some extra advice from guest writer Samuel Edwards, in the Under 30 network section of Forbes magazine, October 31st. 2016, in his post entitled 4 Things To Do After Landing Your First Promotion:

“When you launch your career, one of the very first goals you set for yourself is getting promoted. While it may take a few months, or even years, to get there, the day will eventually come when you’ll get notified that your hard work has paid off and that you’re moving up.

When you first get a promotion, the number one thing on your mind is how much more money you’ll make. Will it be a substantial pay raise or will you get just a small bump? Will you get a new office or will you remain in the same place? 

But as these details get fleshed out, suddenly your attention will shift to your impending responsibilities: What are your new responsibilities? Who do you report to? What does your new schedule look like? And more.

What you’ll quickly learn is that, along with a promotion, comes a huge learning curve that goes along with a move up the corporate ladder. The key is to understand what you’re getting into and handle it gracefully so that everyone around you feels like it was the right decision. Specifically, heed the following advice:

1. Proceed With Caution in Managerial Positions

If you’ve been promoted to your first managerial position, you need to resist the temptation to move fast and put your mark on everything you touch. You’re going to take on a lot of new responsibilities – many of which you won’t have experience with – so surround yourself with other managers at the company and pick their brains from time to time. Go to them for help when you’re uncertain of how to handle a situation. One thing savvy and experienced managers will tell you is that you need to slow down.

As human resources expert Donald Nickels advises in PayScale “Try not to immediately implement changes unless they’re absolutely necessary. Change is made even worse when supervisors move in and immediately begin scrambling processes that may have been in place for years.”

2. Gain Some Quick Momentum

Your first few weeks will set the tone for the rest of your time in that position. Your boss will be looking for affirmation that she or he made the right decision, while your subordinates and peers will be evaluating your performance and whether they like your leadership style.

You should begin looking for some quick and meaningful “wins” as soon as you start your new position. “When you’re having one-on-one meetings with team members and your boss, try to find out what some of their major pain points are in their day-to-day jobs,” career blogger Celine Tarrant suggests. If you can discover ways to address these points of friction, you can gain some momentum and people will begin to rally behind you.

With assuming your new role, you’ll have to balance taking action and holding back. The key is to find easy opportunities to make adjustments that will please the greatest number of people while saving bigger, more controversial decisions for later.

3. Write Down Your Goals (Immediately)

As soon as you accept your new promotion, things will start moving pretty fast. You’ll be learning new things, meeting new people, shuffling your daily routines, and dealing with problems left behind from the individual who vacated the position. That’s why it’s important that you immediately begin thinking about your goals.

Let’s say you get promoted on a Thursday afternoon and your boss tells you that you’ll be starting your new role the following Monday. On Friday, the following day, gather as much information as possible about the new position, what you’ll be responsible for, and where different matters currently stand. Then, over the weekend, start to set some short-term and long-term goals – both for yourself and for your new position. These goals will obviously change over time, but having some sort of roadmap will help you tremendously when things inevitably get hectic.

4. Respect Everyone

Depending on your personality type and the unique situation that you’re in, getting a promotion may make you feel accomplished – and it should. But it’s vital that you don’t let this self-importance go to your head. If you want to have a successful career, you’re going to need more promotions down the road. The only way to avoid burning bridges – and to keep paving new ones – is to give a little respect.

“Treating anyone like they are beneath you because you’ve gotten a promotion will hurt you in the long run, "writes career bloggers Kate Matsudaira and Kate Stull. Even when others confront you with negativity, attempt to steer things in a positive direction.”

Whether or not you encounter teething problems, as you adjust to your new position, do remember, you were appointed for a reason. Embrace the challenge and accept that you have been chosen for this role because it is felt you are the best person for the job and enjoy the work and chance to prove yourself.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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You have to love what you do, to give your best.

Lailah Gifty Akita - Founder of Smart Youth Volunteers Foundation.
It's not Just about the Money: How to Improve your Work Situation

It's not Just about the Money: How to Improve your Work Situation

Posted by martin.parnell |

On July 23rd. I posted a blog entitled “When the holiday’s over, how to improve your career.” In it, I suggested taking some time to evaluate your career path and increasing your wage. 

At the end, I wrote that I would, in a future blog, write about other aspects of your working life that you might wish to improve on and ways in which to accomplish those improvements. So, here goes. 

There are many factors that can affect people’s working lives. It may be that they don’t have support from family members, they are poor time-keepers, they can’t find childcare, the transit system is unreliable. These are very personal issues and those people need to look into ways in which they can fix these problems. 

However, there are situations and circumstances that are based in the workplace that I want to address.

Some of them are factors that I have written about, in previous blogs, all of which can be accessed on my website, www.martinparnell.com  and I’m going to reference them for you to read, at your leisure: 

Firstly, if you have your own business, you may be anxious about returning from vacation, if you know that your business is failing: See March 14th. 2018  How to diagnose and cure an ailing business and July 4th. 2018 If your business isn’t growing, look for the root of the problem. 

You may have great ideas that you want to share and feel that they would gain you recognition, but you don’t know how to go about it: See March 20th. 2018  How to communicate in a way that is accessible to all. 

You may find that you are miserable at work because, for one reason or another, a close colleague has left: See April 10th. 2018   How to deal with missing your work buddy, when they leave. 

At times, you may feel overwhelmed by the task in hand: See May 23rd. 2018 How to manage a mammoth tasksee it as an elephant. You may find it difficult to accept change: See September 4th. 2018 How to accept change and embrace the positives. 

You may feel terrified of making a mistake: See November 7th. 2018 How to be positive about making a mistake. You may be unsure as to the opinion of others with regards to you work: See January 9th 2019 Why asking for feedback in the right way is of most value. 

Hopefully, some of these ideas will help you address certain issues you may face with regards to work. But, what about more practical issues? 

They may appear pretty basic and of no particular concern, to some people, but can have a large impact on others. I found this article on www.iofficecorp.com, that mentions some of these. The piece is aimed at management but, if one or more of them applies to you, I suggest you point them out to your line manager.

If you are a boss, it’s worth considering these issues and whether or not they are conditions that may be affecting your employees, written by by James McDonald on February 18, 2019, he quotes Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, who recommends focusing on improvements in employee productivity, which can have a great impact on the bottom line. One of the most effective ways to do this is by reducing or eliminating poor working conditions:  

“7 Poor Working Conditions That Hurt Employee Productivity:

1) Inadequate Space Utilization

Have you ever heard the term “set up to fail”?  If your employees are lacking the space and resources to do their best work, you are doing just that.  And it isn't just about allocating the right amount of space per person. Your employees need enough space to be able to work comfortably, but they also need the right mix of space to be productive. They need to have access to quiet spaces where they can concentrate on deep work,as well as common areas designed for collaboration. And they need an easy way to find and reserve these spaces. 


2) Ineffective Workplace Technology

Workplace technology is one of the three most important elements that make up the experience, according to author Jacob Morgan. Technology that's slow, outdated, or ineffective is frustrating to use. And over time, that frustration can erode employee satisfaction and even push employees out the door.

A survey of 12,000 employees in 12 countries found that 58 percent of employees at companies considered to be "technology laggards" had negative feelings toward their employer. 

Inefficient workplace technology also hurts productivity in a big way. Consider what happens when you're using outdated software for hosting meetings, for instance. At least a few times a week, you have to restart a conference call, log back in and get everyone back on track.

By eliminating this distraction and others, you give each employee an extra 18 minutes back each day. Multiple that by 500 employees earning an average salary of $85,000, and over the course of the year, this can add as much as $1.6 million back into your annual budget, according to an article Lister published in the January/February issue of Facility Management Journal. 

3) Poor Lighting

If there's one element employees want more than anything else in their workplace design, its access to natural light. Poor lighting contributes to eye strain, fatigue and reduced productivity. On the contrary, access to plentiful light —especially natural light — can improve productivity. 

In a survey by Future Workplace, 70 percent of employees said having access to natural light makes them more productive. Yet more than 33 percent said they felt they had inadequate access to natural light.

4) Inefficient Workplace Processes

Just as it's critical to evaluate workplace technology, it's important to take a hard look at your workplace processes and identify opportunities for improvement. Often times, management and employees will accept a process based solely on the assertion that “this is how it’s always been done.” But times change, and our customers and employees do as well.

Open up a dialogue with your team and ask the questions: “What workflow issues are slowing you down?” You’d be surprised at how much things can change with just a few simple tweaks and the automation of certain procedures.

5) A Lack of Workplace Flexibility and Balance

Times have changed a lot since the Baby Boomer generation entered the workforce. The modern workplace isn’t confined to four walls; it goes everywhere with us. In fact, gallup recently reported that 25 percent of Americans work between 45-59 hours per week, working on commutes or while waiting for dinner to be ready.

Unlike our predecessors, however, a work/life balance is critical. In Gallup's most recent State of the Workplace report, 53 percent of employees said a role that allows them to have a greater work/life balance is "very important" to them.  

In the same survey, 51 percent of respondents said they would change jobs to have flexible scheduling in their work, yet only 44 percent said their current company offers it. A similar discrepancy exists when respondents were asked about having the option to work off-site at least part time. Thirty-seven percent said they would change jobs for that flexibility, but only 24 percent said their employer offers it. 

You can help employees achieve a greater work/life balance by offering flexible arrangements whenever possible. It's also important to make sure workloads are manageable and encourage employees to use their paid time off. A well-rested workforce makes a big difference in both the quality and quantity of work. 

6) Uncomfortable Working Conditions

It's difficult to concentrate when you're shivering or constantly fanning yourself to stay cool. Similarly, issues like broken chairs, wobbly desks or clanging pipes create poor working conditions that can become big distractions. 

They keep your employees from engaging in the type of deep work that produces the best results. Over time, they can hurt morale and negatively impact the employee experience. 

The good news is that you can easily address this issue by ensuring employees have an easy way to submit service requests via a mobile app.

7) A Toxic Company Culture

Your company culture directly influences employee engagement and productivity. In fact, much of today’s workforce will choose to move on to a new job if the workplace culture doesn’t meet their expectations. 

Just like a bad attitude, a negative company culture is contagious. It lowers employee engagement and reduces productivity.”

Whatever the issue or condition is, that’s having a negative effect on how you feel about your working conditions, from dealing with a difficult colleague to having to sit all day in a chair that gives you back ache, do make an effort to address the problem.

Not only will it make you feel better about going to work every day, but you’ll feel the benefit of knowing you didn’t just put up with something that, with a little research and determination, can be fixed. 

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

 

 

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Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow.

Lawrence Clark Powell - Librarian, Bibliographer and Author
To Communicate Effectively, you Need to Listen

To Communicate Effectively, you Need to Listen

Posted by martin.parnell |

At the end of my last blog, I indicated that I would follow it up with a piece about how the conditions in your workplace can affect your attitude to work. However, I found some information relating to this week in history that I would like to cover. I will tackle the previous topic at a later date. 

If we look back at the events of this week, in history, apart from England winning the soccer world cup (July 30th.1966) and Prince Charles marrying Lady Diana Spencer (July 29th. 1981), three other significant events occurred. 

Firstly, on July 30th. 1935, the first Penguin book was published. Penguin Books was co-founded by Sir Allen Lane, his brothers Richard and John and Indian politician, V. K. Krishna Menon. At the time, it was quite a revolutionary concept, to produce inexpensive paperbacks and, therefore make high- quality fiction and non-fiction more accessible to the public. The books were sold for sixpence through Woolworths and other high street stores. Penguin's success demonstrated that large audiences existed for serious books. As a consequence, Penguin had a significant impact on public debate in Britain It got more people discussing British politics, the arts, and science.

Secondly, on July 29th. 1914. Theodore Vail, he president of AT&T, succeeded in transmitting his voice across the continental U.S. Later, President Woodrow Wilson spoke to an audience in San Francisco from the White House and is quoted as saying "It appeals to the imagination to speak across the continent." 

Thirdly, on July 29th.1958, the U.S. Congress passed legislation establishing a civilian agency responsible for coordinating America’s activities in space. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has since sponsored space expeditions, both human and mechanical, that have yielded vital information about the solar system and universe. It has also launched numerous earth-orbiting satellites that have been instrumental in everything from weather forecasting to navigation to global communications.

According to Wikipedia, the agency was founded in order to “encourage peaceful applications in space science. Since its establishment, most US space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo Moon landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. 

NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the Space launch System and Commercial Crew Vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services program which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches.”

On the NASA website, it states “Every NASA mission has a communications system to receive commands and other information sent from Earth to the spacecraft, and to return scientific data from the spacecraft to Earth. The vast majority of deep space missions never return to Earth. Thus, after launch, a spacecraft’s tracking and communications systems is the only means with which to interact with it. In addition, any issues with the spacecraft can only be diagnosed, repaired, or mitigated via the communications system. Without a consistently effective and efficient communications system, a successful mission would be impossible.”

In my role as a communicator, in my professional work as a speaker and author, these events hold particular interest to me as they all relate to aspects of communication. Communication is a key aspect of any business. The ability to communicate well can have a significant effect on the impression you give to employers, employees, colleagues and clients.

In her article, How to Communicate Effectively on The Story Exchange website, January 1, 2019, certified life and career coach, Ann Mehl, writes about the importance of the ability to communicate effectively, in work and life and offers tips on how to develop those skills.

I have selected a number of quotes from her article to share with you here:


“Effective communication is the most important skill in life. But it’s a two-part skill. The first is the ability to clearly articulate our own thoughts and feelings. The second (and more difficult) part is the ability to listen while others do the same.”

“According to some experts, about 50 percent of what is said in the workplace is not what is actually heard.”

“While most of us learned to talk at a young age, very few of us received any actual training in listening. Most of the time we’re too busy formulating our own thoughts and opinions, waiting impatiently for our turn to speak. As a result, there is no real connection happening, just two competing monologues. But really listening to someone, with your whole being, can be transformational.”

“It is impossible to talk and listen well at the same time. Give the other person space and permission to speak without fear of interruption. You’d be amazed at what you’ll hear when you can do this”

 “Most of us listen through a very selective hearing filter, based on our own experiences, bias, frame of reference and autobiography. Our mind is like a busy computer, constantly evaluating what we hear, looking for cues, openings, and connections that bring the conversation back to us. What we know to be true. But truly empathic listening requires that we abandon that filter in order to fully understand another’s perspective. Doesn’t mean that you have to agree with that person, but only that you can deeply see and feel where it is they are coming from. You are no longer listening to evaluate or judge. You are listening to understand.”

“What people say and what they mean are often two very different things. Leaving aside gender, cultural and language differences, there are many obstacles to good communication. The key to uncovering the meaning behind the words is to remain curious and ask the right questions.”

Reading Mehl’s piece, there is one thing, in particular that stands out for me. In these times of ever-increasing use of personal communication devices and social media, it’s even more important that we look at the ways in which we communicate and not lose the skill of listening.

So, do take time to listen to the people you interact with, whether at home or in the workplace, it’s a valuable skill and one which we should continue to develop, unless we lose it altogether.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own 'to do' list.

Michelle Obama – Speaker and Author
When the Holiday's over, How to Improve your Career

When the Holiday's over, How to Improve your Career

Posted by martin.parnell |

During the Summer months, many people take their annual vacation. Hopefully, it’s a time to relax and forget, at least for a while, about the pressures of work. However, sooner or later, the time comes when they have to think about returning to their job. 

For some it’s a time to go back to a routine they enjoy, a job that gives them satisfaction and a good salary. However, that’s not the situation for everyone. Others may dread going back to what they may consider a grind. Whichever of those categories you fall into, why not give some thought to just how you regard your work situation and perhaps ways in which you can improve it? 

I was thinking of reasons as to why it’s worth making an evaluation and actions that might be taken to make improvements, when I heard an item on Sunday’s Daybreak Alberta, with Russell Bowers, on CBC radio. A guest speaker was talking about the issue many people face of living pay check to pay check and she suggested ways in which they might look to earn more and have the opportunity to save, either for a rainy day or their future. 

Two of the ideas she shared were: 

“Update your skills” – is there a course you could take that would bring you more up-to-date in your field. This may apply to the technology being used in your workplace. Does your company offer extra training? 

“Are you being paid fairly?” – Take a look at what other companies are paying their workers who do the same job as you. 

For a more comprehensive look at this issue, I’d like to share this post from July 12th. 2017, on the FORBES website, by contributor, Liz Frazier, entitled  9 Simple Ways To Make More Money In Your Current Job, in which she gave the following advice: 

Ask for a raise - Don't wait until your boss offers more money, because that may never happen. Be prepared and show them your specific achievements.  Research comparable salaries and give them a specific number. It should be on the high end of the range so you have room to negotiate, but not unrealistic. The worst they can do is say no. If they do say no, ask them for the specific goals needed for you to qualify for a raise. 

Ask for a promotion - If there is an opening, be prepared to show you are qualified for it with your resume and accomplishments as it pertains to the new role. If there is not a specific role, show your ambition and loyalty to the company by creating a new role and present it to your boss. Make sure the discussion is open and straightforward. You need to communicate that you want to grow with your company, are a valuable and engaged employee and are ready for the next step. However, make sure you treat this as a two-way conversation. Present your ideas, then ask for feedback. If your idea isn't accepted, ask for suggestions on other possible career opportunities. 

Continue your education - Always look for ways to improve your set of skills or learn new ones. This can be an evening or online graduate course, industry webinars, a new certification or additional training. Ask your manager and colleagues for suggestions. 

Build relationships, in and out of your department - This is a good practice in general. If you want to move up and / or make more money, you need cheerleaders. When asking for reports from accounting or materials from marketing - walk over and ask them (if possible). It's easier to build a relationship by putting a face to the name. Treat everyone in your company (and in your life!) with respect: from the CEO to your assistant. By building relationships and a good reputation across your company, not only do you create support for roles you seek out, but it may open up opportunities in other departments down the road. 

Make yourself indispensable - I do not necessarily mean take on extra work. I mean make yourself indispensable through your character and hard work. Be honest, helpful, adaptable and positive. You will become indispensable simply because your colleagues and management will want to work with you. 

Put yourself out there - Opportunities are not going to walk into your office. You have to be out there to find them. Even the most social of us sometimes dread the company picnic or the awkward 3rd floor birthday celebration. I get it, but these are the times when you meet people in other departments and hear company chatter; not just who is secretly dating, but projects and opportunities you may not hear about otherwise. There are opportunities everywhere, but you have to be present and available for them. 

Push yourself before you're ready - One of my favorite quotes (think I've already used in several articles...but it's that good!) is from Richard Branson. "If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you're not sure you can do it, say yes - then learn how to do it later!" Nuff' said. 

Have a Plan B - If you are 100% dependent on a job, with no other options, you may accept less than you deserve because you are scared to lose it. Keep informed on industry trends, opportunities with other companies and business opportunities. Get additional training and education, even if not needed in your current role. Most important, keep a strong database of past colleagues and business partners across the industry, who can provide insights and opportunities. 

Switch jobs – One of the most effective ways to increase your salary is by getting a new job. If you stay at a company, you start at a base salary, and every raise is a % of that base - employees who stay in one job can expect about a 3% yearly salary increase. Switching to a new job allows you to start new and renegotiate a higher base – on average those switching jobs will receive 10 – 20% increase. 

Of course, it’s not just about the money. You may be in a situation where you are happy with the pay you are receiving, but your working conditions are not great. 

That’s a topic I will address in my next blog – watch this space!

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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If you’re not representing properly the available pool of talent then you’re missing an opportunity.

Alex Wilmot-Sitwell, EMEA President at Bank of America Merrill Lynch
How to be Flexible and Diverse when Developing a Strategy for Hiring

How to be Flexible and Diverse when Developing a Strategy for Hiring

Posted by martin.parnell |

I have just returned from a trip to Ontario and, whilst waiting for my flight to leave Sudbury airport, I picked up a copy of Northern Ontario Business. 

In it, I read an article by Lindsay Kelly, entitled “Employer toolkit promotes hiring by design” andsubtitled “Recommendations to aid Timmins employers close labour gaps”. Kelly reports that “The Timmins Employer Council has published a new guide to help local employers find and keep workers.”

I found the piece very interesting as the report addresses issues relating to the recruitment and retention of employees. Launched in May 2019, the Employer Toolkit outlines strategies employers can use to help close a widening labour gap.

Apparently, “Statistics show attracting and retaining workers is a growing problem in the area. According to a 2018 report published by the Far North East Training Board, 40 per cent of Timmins’ current workforce will retire in the next decade.”

Although the report focuses on the problems employers are experiencing in this area of Ontario, I know there are other communities where the same problems arise. Therefore, I thought I would share the rest of the article with you:

“Council co-chair Mike Resetar said there aren’t enough workers to fill current gaps, and businesses are struggling to expand because they don’t have the staff required.

"We've been seeing it over a few years with the number of retirements that were happening, and we were quite alarmed when we saw what the statistics were,” said Resetar, vice-president of human resources at the Timmins District Hospital.

“We're looking at 1,100 workers leaving the workforce, so in order to maintain current productivity or service, that's a lot of workers that need to be replaced.”

Jessica West, project coordinator, said that successful employers are seeking workers from diverse groups, including Indigenous people, persons with disabilities, newcomers and young workers.

“The general public, or many employers, may not realize how valuable these employees can be,” West said. “They shy away from targeting or attracting these groups, when they’re really valuable employees and they have great things to bring to the table.” There are sections of the toolkit dedicated to each demographic.

For example, hiring Indigenous people can mean lower recruiting costs because workers already live in the community and are likely to remain long term, the toolkit suggests. Having a more diverse workplace can also help create an inclusive community and bridge cultural gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations.

To make a workplace more attractive to Indigenous workers, the toolkit suggests implementing meaningful inclusion practices, training staff on cultural awareness, encouraging Indigenous employees to take on senior roles, and understanding traditional practices and community obligations.

Resetar said it really comes down to employers shifting their mindset during the hiring process. “We always want the perfect candidate with the five to 10 years' experience,” he said. “Maybe look at individuals with not as much experience and invest those monies in terms of training them on the job.”

Though the toolkit is still newly released, Noella Rinaldo, council co-chair, said what’s most important is that the community is now aware of the issue and talking about it. "I think there needed to be a realization of the problem first,” said Rinaldo, executive director of the Downtown Timmins BIA. “I think people were in the trenches and they weren't taking a breath to kind of look at the big picture, and this gives them the realities of the big picture.”

The hope is that now that people are aware of the issue, they will start to change their approach to hiring and work a little differently, she said. “We’re dealing with different age groups and they all have something that makes them tick and makes them want to stay,” Rinaldo said.

As a follow-up to the toolkit, the Timmins Employer Council is in the process of forming a task force, which will plan and implement city-wide projects to attract and retain a more diversified workforce. “It’s already attracted representatives from 38 groups, and new members continue to come on board.”

According to the article, the group’s first task came on June 25 when it met to develop a community-based labour force attraction and retention strategy.

If you are having problems recruiting new employees, it’s worth thinking about some of the comments made and one in particular by Noella Rinaldo: “You have to be very flexible. You can’t be a one-trick pony; you can’t do just one thing. You have to be able to work with every employee that’s there.”

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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Surely, anyway, a working day of eight or nine hours which is not split by a nap is simply too much for a human being to take, day in, day out, and particularly in hot weather.

Anon.
How to Deal with Summer's Challenges in the Workplace

How to Deal with Summer's Challenges in the Workplace

Posted by martin.parnell |

In many parts of Alberta, we are still waiting for summer to properly arrive. Where I live, we’ve experienced plenty of rain and not many of those glorious, long, hot summer days. Still, whereas some of us are longing for those lazy, hazy days, for some, Summer can be quite stressful if they have to endure a daily commute and work in sweltering conditions.

I found an article by guest writer Jesse Wood, CEO, eFileCabinet on the Entrepreneur website, who addresses some of the issues that might arise during the summer and solutions to dealing with them. Entitled The 6 Worst Office Problems Employers Will Face this Summer and How to Solve Them, I’ve picked my top three: 

 “1. Auto commutes on hot days

Hot weather has been scientifically proven to increase levels of aggression - hence the terms "hothead" and "heated" and their relevant connotations.

Given the uptick in summertime temperatures, commuters can expect to both display more bouts of road rage and to be on the receiving end of these tantrums more frequently come summertime.

This is no small problem, AAA reports that eight out of every 10 drivers has expressed "significant" road rage, including but not limited to, deliberate tailgating, purposeful blocking of other vehicles and intentional thumping of other cars’ bumpers.

And that’s just the beginning: Between commutes to and from the office, there are eight or more hours of workplace labor subject to the residual effects of road rage, threatening to escalate tensions among coworkers.

Solutions? Meditating during your lunch break can prevent a bout of road rage on your return commute, which is likely to be more stressful than its morning counterpart. Step outside, sit down on the grass and focus on breathing deeply for 10 t-15 minutes. This will lower your heart rate and give you a good dose of sunshine before your return to work for the afternoon.

2. Thermostat wars

Contrary to popular opinion, thermostat wars aren’t just a problem in households - they also cause disagreements in the workplace. And although many employees remain silent on the issue, everyone has a very different idea of what constitutes an ideal temperature at the office.

The differences tend to be split between the genders, as well, with men preferring cooler temperatures while women prefer warmer ones -- further fueling the age old battle of the sexes.

If you work better on the cooler side of thethermostat and others don’t want to turn down the temperature, you’ll have to implement a solution to not be that guy (or gal) who applies deodorant at his or her desk.

This will involve exerting as little energy as possible. Although research suggests that sitting too much at work can be harmful, summertime demands we preserve our energy for staying active outside the office and fully enjoying all the season offers.

Solutions? Try to use the fax machine, printers, scanners and any other device that requires you to move around the office as little as possible. Another strategy is to move closer to these items in the office, provided space is available near them.

However, one study suggests that centralized printers and work devices can lower productivity, rivaling the water cooler as the location of choice for office banter.

Solutions? A case can be made to HR directors that workers should have access to a greater number of printers, scanners and fax machines. This will not only reduce the likelihood of distracting conversation and the number of steps employees must take each day to complete tasks, but also help employees not work up a sweat while jaunting to and from centralized printers, fax machines and scanners.

3. The countdown to leaving the office to enjoy the weather

If you’re watching the clock at 4:50 p.m. in the wintertime and counting down the seconds until you can leave, imagine how intense the urge to leave will become when the summer sunlight pours through the pellucid clouds and beams through the window pane by your desk.

If work circumstances allow it, put on those headphones and listen to a wintertime playlist while crunching numbers or drafting up that report. This will keep you focused on what’s in front of you at your desk, not the sunshine you’re missing outside.

Additionally, reserve your paid time off for summer. It may be tempting to schedule time off as soon in the year as possible, but you’ll thank yourself later if you save it for summertime.

Solutions? Try closing the blinds while at work. This can prevent you from being enticed by the beautiful distraction of sunlight, and suffering the potential sunburn that comes with it, given how windows allow the passage of light.

Additionally, make an extra effort to simplify your workspace to streamline workflow; this can mitigate the need to stay late to wrap up projects. Changing the way documentation is handled in the office is another good place to simplify your workspace.

Poor workflow can lead to increased time spent on administrative work, forcing employees to work longer hours. Keeping files organized and in a secure digital format can significantly improve this. It saves employees from having to sift through endless stacks to find files, as well as losing files or having to reproduce the information from the lost documents, only to find they’ve just been misplaced. The more efficiently employees work, the more likely they are to leave the office on time to enjoy those beautiful summer evenings.”

Hopefully, you won’t have to deal with any of these issues, but just in case, I hope this proves helpful and with reference to the quote, at the beginning of this piece, see my blog posted on June 12th. 2018 Why Sleeping On The Job Can Be A Good Thing

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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God, it was hot! Forget about frying an egg on the sidewalk; this kind of heat would fry an egg inside the chicken.

Rachel Caine - American writer of science fiction
If you can't Stand the Heat, you Need to Have a Plan

If you can't Stand the Heat, you Need to Have a Plan

Posted by martin.parnell |

Most of us look forward to the long, warm, sunny days of summer. However, it’s not so great when the temperatures rise to such a degree that it’s a challenge to perform everyday activities. 

Now, as you know, I have a tendency to take everyday issues and try and relate them to a business setting. So, I looked at Health Canada’s website to see what advice they give for dealing with a summer heat wave. Maybe I could apply them to situations in the workplace when “the heat is on”? 

Under their section on Safety Tips, I came across these words of advice: 

Prepare for the heat - In business, there should always be a plan in place to deal with times of crisis – if you don’t have one – make one. 

Pay close attention to how you and those around you feel - In business, see how times of stress are affecting your employees. By keeping them in the know as to what is going on and how it’s being dealt with can alleviate some of their anxiety. 

Stay Hydrated - In business, keep providing the support that’s needed, so that employees don’t flag and become overwhelmed. 

Stay Cool - In business, this is not a time to panic. Look at the situation calmly and tell yourself it’s just a hitch and with a calm head you can get through it. 

Avoid exposure to extreme heat when outdoors - I’m not sure about being outdoors, but, if you can pre-empt any issues that might occur, try and nip them in the bud, before you enter the crisis stage. If you don’t see it coming, stay focused, get advice and above all, be flexible. 

One other thing I feel worth mentioning, for some people this time of year can cause an increase in symptoms for many conditions. As Lauren Gelmen writes, in The Reader’s Digest, these include Eczema, Asthma, Migraines, Rosacea, Autoimmune Diseases and even kidney stones. 

Try to keep this in mind, some of your employees may be dealing with more serious issues than you know and not everyone is rejoicing in the thought of those long, hot summer days and nights.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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Some people have a way with words, and other people...oh, uh, not have way.

Steve Martin-American actor, comedian, writer, filmmaker, and musician
How to Make the Right Impression with the Correct Use of Words

How to Make the Right Impression with the Correct Use of Words

Posted by martin.parnell |

As a professional speaker and author, I always endeavour to ensure that I am making the correct use of words and phrases. Therefore, I was interested to read the issue being addressed by The Media Coach, Alan Stevens, (alan@mediacoach.co.uk) in his latest post on 21st. June. 

Alan is well known for his sound advice and insight into the workings of the media and the ways in which speakers can improve their presentations. His posts are always enlightening, amusing and well-worth a read. These are his thoughts on this particular subject:       

Are you a pendant? No of course not, since that's a piece of jewellery. However, you may be a pedant, concerned about the correct usage of words. I admit to slight tendencies in that direction, though the fact that every week someone spots a typo or grammatical error in this ezine means that I'm not too fussy at times. Anyway, here are some words that speakers use incorrectly from time to time (not you of course). 

  • Disinterested/Uninterested. The former means impartial, the latter means unconcerned. A football referee should be disinterested, but not uninterested. 
  • Flaunt/Flout. Flaunt means to show off, Flout means to ignore. 
  • Imply/Infer. You imply something by your speech or actions, but you infer omething from what you hear from others. 
  • Tandem/Parallel. In tandem means one after another. Parallel means side by side or simultaneously. 
  • Literally/Figuratively. Literally means something actually happened, so "I literally died" is clearly not true (unless one listens to ghosts). 
  • Bated/Baited. A fisherman waits with bated breath to see if a fish takes a baited hook. 
  • Foreword/Forward. A foreword is the introduction to a book. Forward is a direction. 
  • Appraise/Apprise. If you make a judgement, you appraise. If you are simply informing, you apprise. 
  • Principal/Principle. The former means most important. The latter is a fundamental belief. 
  • Ironic. This is commonly mis-used to mean co-incidental, when it actually means "counter to expectations" Here's a perfect example, from Peter Sellers in Dr Strangelove: "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room." 

Of course, you may, already, be aware of all of these, but it’s always worth checking a correct pronunciation too. Even if you are using the right word, it matters that you say it correctly. 

Another issue is the common misuse of phrases. On The Inc.Life website, contributor, Christina DesMarai addresses this in her post on July 11th. 2017, entitled 43 Embarrassing Grammar Mistakes Even Smart People Make. Although, as the title suggests, DesMarai gives 43 examples, I will share 10: 

1. First-come, first-serve
It should actually be "served." Without the d, the phrase above suggests that the first individual who arrives will be the one who serves everyone, which is not the idiom's intent.

2. Irregardless
This is not a word. It's simply "regardless," as in "Regardless of what you think about grammar, you'll look silly if you use it incorrectly."

3. "Me" as the first word in a sentence.
I hear people saying things such as "Me and Brandon met at Starbucks this morning" all the time, even though it's always wrong. "Brandon and I met at Starbucks this morning" is correct.

4. Emigrated to
"Emigrate" and "from" always go together, as do "immigrate" and "to." To emigrate is to come from somewhere, and to immigrate is to go to somewhere. "Colin emigrated from Ireland to the United States" means the same as "Colin immigrated to the United States from Ireland."

5. Slight of hand
A "slight" is an insult, whereas "sleight" indicates dexterity or cunning. It's why "sleight of hand" is commonly used in the world of magic and illusion.

6. Baited breath
When I think about bait, worms and lures come to mind. The first word should actually be "bated," which stems from the verb "abate," meaning to stop or lessen. So, if you're trying to say that someone is holding his breath, you can see that "bated breath" makes the most sense.

7. Wet your appetite
"Whet" means to sharpen or stimulate. As such, the latter spelling is more appropriate.

8. Make due
"Due" means "owed," and that's not the intent with this idiom. "Make do" is the proper way to say that you're going to get along with what you have.

9. Peaked my interest
To pique means to arouse, so the correct phrase is "piqued my interest," meaning that my interest was stimulated. While the incorrect way it's written in the heading may suggest that someone's interest was taken to a high level, it's still wrong.

10. Per say or persay
Both are incorrect because the Latin phrase which means "in itself" or "intrinsically" is spelled "per se." The best communicators speak and write clearly and concisely and probably avoid phrases like this one anyway.

DesMarai asks the question: “When someone uses grammar incorrectly do you make an assumption about his or her intelligence or education?” She comments that “Like it or not, words, spelling, and punctuation are powerful and can leave a lasting impression on others.” 

Something to think about next time you’re writing or speaking and you want to get it right!

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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Renewal requires opening yourself up to new ways of thinking and feeling.

Deborah Day, Canadian film director and writer
How to Rejuvenate your Business if you Want it to Flourish

How to Rejuvenate your Business if you Want it to Flourish

Posted by martin.parnell |

At breakfast, this morning, my wife and I were looking out across our back garden and commenting on how lush everything is looking. It seems such a short time ago that the smaller trees were just spindly sticks, looking quite forlorn in their brown surroundings and now they are covered in rich foliage in a sea of varying shades of green. 

This should come as no surprise as it is something that occurs year after year with the deciduous trees, and yet it never ceases to amaze me how this transformation takes place. Of course, this couldn’t happen if the roots and trunk of the tree weren’t healthy. 

The whole process is a rejuvenation. New branches and fresh green leaves that keep the tree growing and spreading. It’s also something that happens in a healthy business. Core values and basic ethos may stay the same, but a company needs to rejuvenate, in order to grow and flourish. 

Trees need the right soil, light (sun) and water (rain) in order to flourish. Your company needs the right environment too. So, you need to provide that if you wish to develop and succeed.

Firstly, you may need to do an assessment of where your company is, at the present time. You could ask yourself the following questions. In order to help you with some answers, I have put references to previous blogs which can be found on my website: /blog/ 

Are you well situated, both physically and technically, to compete?

Is your premises coping with demand? Is it time for a re-design? (Apr. 17th. 2018). Is your online presence up-to-date, providing the right information and will it appeal to potential customers? The introduction of new technology can be daunting for some employees See my blog entitled - From bins to strategies, how to accept changes in the workplace (Apr. 10th. 2017). 

Do you have the right staff to make progress happen?

Are your team leaders and other employees fulfilling their roles? Do you need to make changes – bring in more staff, offer incentives? - Count on the things that are worth counting (Feb. 13th. 2017) and Good management requires the skill of communication (Apr. 4th. 2017).

Are you keeping up with or surpassing the competition?

Are you gaining more customers or are stuck in a rut and need to make some changes as to how the company is promoting itself? - Take action now and boost your company’s success (Sep. 11th. 2016) and Juggling ideas to make you get noticed (Sep. 19th. 2016). 

Never be afraid to seek out the opinion of others, your workforce are a valuable resource when it comes to finding out what’s working or not. Don’t be afraid to ask for their input as the feedback can prove invaluable, even negative feedback can be of value - Why asking for feedback in the right way is of most value (Jan. 9th . 2018) and How to see negative feedback in a positive light (Feb. 12th. 2018). 

If you come to the conclusion that your business is ailing, don’t give up, as with that ailing tree, rather than just chop it down, see if it may be worth salvaging. After all, it may just need a little pruning or extra nourishing – How to diagnose and cure an ailing business (Mar. 14th. 2018).

I hope some of these blogs may be of use and may your business and just like the trees in my garden be rejuvenated and continue to flourish. 

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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Time is a created thing. To say 'I don't have time,' is like saying, 'I don't want to'.

Lao Tzu, Ancient Chinese philosopher and writer
How to Make Time for Success

How to Make Time for Success

Posted by martin.parnell |

One of the services I provide, in my professional capacity, is a workshop entitled “Unlock Your Potential”.  During the course of one of the sessions, participants are asked to set themselves a goal and to consider how they might achieve it. They are also asked to think of any obstacles they may encounter in the pursuit of that goal and what they might do to overcome them. One of the most common answers to this question is that they might not have the time required to complete their goal or, in fact, even get started. As with all things, if we truly want to accomplish something, we have to find ways to face the challenges they may incur and solutions for overcoming them.

When thinking about this blog, I remembered a quote I had seen some time ago that gave me pause for thought. It was written by H. Jackson Brown Jr., an American author, best known for his inspirational book, Life's Little Instruction Book and its sequel Life's Little Instruction Book: Volume 2 both of which made it to the New York Times best seller list. It reads:  “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein”.

On theEntrepreneur website, software engineer, author, blogger and founder of WanderlustWorker.com, R.L. Adams wrote an article entitled 15 Time Management Tips for Achieving Your Goals. I have selected 5 of them to share with you here: 

Schedule email response times.

Turn off your email throughout the day. When your email is pouring in, it's easy to get distracted. Schedule time to read and respond to emails. If there's something urgent, someone will call or text you. But when you have your email open, those distractions interrupt your thought flow and it's harder to get back on track.

Eliminate bad habits.

One of the biggest time-wasters we have are our bad habits. Whether it's Netflix binge-watching, excessively surfing social media, playing games, going out frequently to drink with friends, or so on, those bad habits take away the precious little time that we do have. Use your time wisely by eliminating your bad habits if you're serious about achieving big goals in life.

Take frequent breaks when working.

One study suggests that you should work for 52 minutes and break for 17. You might not have the luxury to do that. But you should take frequent breaks. If you're an entrepreneur working for yourself, this is crucial. It's easy to run on fumes and not even know it. Keep your mental, emotional and physical states at peak levels by breaking frequently.

Make to-do lists in the evening for the next day.

Every single evening before bed, make a list for the next day. Look at your goals and see what you can do to help move you closer. This doesn't happen overnight. It takes time. But by making to-do lists, you're effectively setting goals for the day. Daily goals are easier to achieve while helping to move us towards the longer and bigger goals. But that happens by creating to-do lists. 

Turn off social media app alerts.

Incessant social media app alerts aren't helping you with your time. It's definitely hurting you. Turn them off. You don't need alerts every moment or to know everything happening with your friends. It's not important. What's most important is to have some peace of mind and be better able to focus on the task at hand.

Adams also addresses the issue of finding balance between your professional and personal lives:

“One of the biggest problems that most entrepreneurs have isn't just in how they can get enough done in such a demanding market, but also how they maintain some semblance of balance without feeling too overworked. This isn't just about achieving and going after goals around the clock. This is also about quality of life.

Balance is key. If you lack balance in your life, you're going to feel stressed out. Even if you're able to effectively juggle your responsibilities, without proper balance you're going to eventually reach your breaking point. So, it's important to not only follow a system that will help you get things done, but also one where you prioritize personal and family time.

Don't forget to do things like take a walk in the park or just sit and listen to your favorite music with headphones on, or paint a picture, go on a date night and so on. That's more important than you can think. And when you do that, you achieve some semblance of balance. Life is short. So don't ignore those things while you reach for your bigger goals”.

As inferred in the quote by H. Jackson Brown Jr, Adams, also, is of the opinion that :

“No matter who you are, your age, income, gender, race or religion, you have the same amount of time as the next person.”

If you find a way to manage your time effectively, there will be all the hours you need to achieve your goal. Don’t let the idea that you won’t have enough time prevent you from taking the first step. If time becomes an issue, find strategies to help you make time or manage, more efficiently, the time you have.

It would be a great pity to abandon a dream because you see time as a constraint. Many people have achieved great things without having any more hours in their day than you or I. Don’t be afraid to seek support in managing day-to-day responsibilities. If you share your goals, you will usually find people who are willing and able to help you achieve them. 

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

 

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Give me a good sharp knife and a good sharp cheese and I’m a happy man.

George R. R. Martin Author
You don't have to be a Big Cheese but Crackers will Help

You don't have to be a Big Cheese but Crackers will Help

Posted by martin.parnell |

I have just returned from a trip to the UK, where I visited family and friends in England and Wales. Whilst I was there, I indulged in one of one of my favourite foods, i.e. cheese.

When you mention British cheeses, most people probably think of good old English Cheddar, but it’s surprising just how many cheeses are produced there.

In Wales, the cheese making tradition goes back hundreds of years, but as farmers have learned to diversify, the country’s cheese output has grown to a point where you can easily stock a whole cheeseboard with everything from pungent soft cheeses to lemony blues and crumbly Caerphillys.

The Teifi company produces no less than 12 different cheeses, including eight different varieties of its acclaimed Gouda-style cheese with a dense, smooth and creamy texture, it’s sweet and mellow when young but develops qualities similar to Parmesan when aged. Another sought-after product is their Celtic Promise cheese – a mild Caerphilly-type cheese which has won more awards than any other cheese in Britain.

In England, you can find everything from Cathedral City, a brand of Cheddar Cheese to Cornish Brie, a handmade cheese made by Cornish Country Larder at their farm in Cornwall. Then there’s Double Gloucester, Wenslydale, Wookey Hole Cheddar, Dorset Blue Vinney, Sage Derby, Appledore, the list goes on. The British Cheese Board states that "there are over 700 named British cheeses produced in the UK."

Now I’m back in Canada and was delighted to find that my passion for the stuff can continue as, according to the National Holidays website, today, June 4th is National Cheese Day and they provide some of the history of cheese:

“Since cheese-making is a process that predates the written word, nobody really knows exactly when cheese was invented. While historians believe that humans began domesticating milk producing about 10,000 years ago, all that’s really known about early cheese-making is that cheese was made in Egypt and Greece for thousands of years.

Some historians believe that cheese-making may have been discovered accidentally when sheep herders stored milk in the stomach of an animal. This would have caused the enzyme found in the stomach of ruminant animals to coagulate the milk. The milk would have then separated into curds and whey. However, this is currently only a theory.

Historians know that by the time of the Roman Empire, cheese-making had become a widespread practice throughout most of Europe and the Middle East. There were hundreds of different types of cheese available to Ancient Romans and these cheeses were traded all over the Empire.”

The website also provides some “Cheesy Facts:

  • Roquefort, Brie de Meaux and Casu Marzu are cheeses that are illegal in the U.S
  • The European Union is the top producer of cheese in the world
  • On average, the French consumes about 60 pounds per person per year.
  • Germany comes in second with 53 pounds of cheese consumed per person per year.
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano, Camembert and Bavarian Swiss are the most popular cheeses in the world.”

On June 4, 2018, the Foodimentary website provided these tidbits of information:

  • There are over 2,000 varieties of cheeses.
  • The #1 cheese recipe in America is “Macaroni and Cheese”.
  • The terms “Big Wheel” and “Big Cheese” originally referred to those who were wealthy enough to purchase a whole wheel of cheese.
  • Chevre is French for goat and refers to cheese made from goat’s milk.

If you want to celebrate National Cheese Day, then all you have to do is to enjoy cheese in one of its many forms e.g. Cheese fondue, a grilled cheese sandwich or by sampling out a cheese you haven’t tried before. 

Just be sure that you don’t mix this holiday up with other cheese related holidays such as National Grilled Cheese Day, National Cheese Pizza Day or National Cheese Lover’s Day. After all, that wouldn’t be proper cheese etiquette.

About the Author 

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.

Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood
If you Need an Excuse to Curl Up with a Good Book - World Book Day

If you Need an Excuse to Curl Up with a Good Book - World Book Day

Posted by martin.parnell |

As both an avid reader and author, I spend a great deal of time with books, they form not only part of my professional life, but are a great source of entertainment and relaxation. I usually have a fiction and a non- fiction book on my bedside table and more in the lounge, where I enjoy sitting in my favorite chair, by the window, with a cup of tea and my latest tome. 

And so, today is of particular interest to me, as I like to find out what is going on in the world of books and reading, and this day reminds me to do some research into the ways in which World Book Day is being recognised around the world. 

To tell you a little more about it, it’s easier for me to refer you to some facts found in a recent post on Calendarlabs.com:   

Today and every year, 23rd. April is World Book Day. 

UNESCO undertakes the responsibility of the event with the aim of instilling reading habits among people, especially the youth. It also highlights the various issues surrounding authors, publishers and other related parties. Since Copyright is a big issue in the world of books and writing, there is always a focus on the issue on the World Book Day. That's why, in many parts of the world, this day is also known as the World Book and Copyright Day. 

The first ever World Book Day was celebrated on April 23, 1995. The date as decided by UNESCO as it was also the death and birth anniversary of William Shakespeare, a world famous author. The date also coincided with the death anniversary of Miguel de Cervantes, who was a noted Spanish author. Some other well-known authors whose birth or death anniversary falls on this day are Maurice Druon, Josep Pla and Halldor Laxness. 

The idea of the day was taken from a Spanish tradition. April 23rd has always been celebrated as "The Rose Day" in Spain. On this day, people exchanged roses for showing their love and support, much like the Valentine's Day. However, in 1926, when Miguel de Cervantes died on the day, people exchanged books instead of roses in order to commemorate the death of the great author. The tradition continues to this day in Spain and that's from where the idea of the World Book Day originated. 

There is also the tradition of organizing a reading marathon spanning two days in Spain, at the end of which an author is given the coveted Miguel de Cervantes prize by the King of Spain. In Sweden, writing competitions are organized across schools and colleges. In UK and Ireland, the day is celebrated on the first Thursday of March instead of April 23. to avoid a clash with St. George's Day 

Another interesting fact, one of the world’s bests known writers, William Shakespeare, was born on April 23rd, 1564 and died on April 23rd. 1616. And so, why not take a little extra time to settle down with a good book or read an article about what’s trending in the literary world. 

Although we all love to read the latest best seller and those recommendations from our local book store, this is the ideal time to try something in a different genre than you would normally read, perhaps a historical novel, some sci-fi, short stories, some poetry or a graphic novel. There’s so much material to enjoy and you can always check out your local library to see how they’re commemorating World Book Day. 

If you have children, one of the best activities you can do today – share a book with them. Happy Reading!

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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