Even though being a good speller has lost its ranking in school, we can hope there is one group of artisans that still finds spelling important…the tattoo artist.

Nanette L. Avery - Author
K is for Knowing When you can Help

K is for Knowing When you can Help

Posted by martin.parnell |

You may well have heard of the best-selling book P Is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever, written by Raj Haldar and Chris Carpenter and illustrated by Maria Beddia. Published on November 13 2018, it takes an amusing look at the way so many of the rules of spelling the English language are broken. 

The New York Times described it as "A raucous trip through the odd corners of our alphabet." And, according to Foreword Reviews, STARRED Review, it enables us to "Explore the many quirks and anomalies of English spelling and pronunciation in an A-to-Z tribute to some of the most unconventional words in the lexicon.” 

Having browsed through some of the pages, It really does make you realise how difficult the English language is when it comes to learning to read or write it. It gives wonderful examples e.g: T is for Tsunami, K is for knight, G is for gnat etc. It made me consider how tricky it must be if someone is trying to enter the workplace when they come here from other countries and English is not their first language. I wondered if there is a way that, as work colleagues, we might help. 

I spoke to my wife, Sue, as she was an elementary school teacher and has taught hundreds of young children to read and write. She told me that when it comes to these anomalies, you have to forget about  the rules, like vowels in syllables, the silent “e”, consonant diagraphs and blends etc. because there are certain words that just have to be learned individually as none of the rules apply. 

She did say that telling  her pupils that to think of the letter “Y” as an extra  vowel sometimes helped and making list of words that didn’t follow the rules and have them on display was a useful visual aid. But she admitted, that’s not something that would really be appropriate in the workplace. Then she reminded me of something some friends of ours did, which helped the husband with his spelling and better command of the English language, when he arrived in Canada from Tanzania and was looking to gain employment. 

Every evening they would play Scrabble. They allowed themselves 9 tiles, as opposed to the usual 7, so that they could complete the game more quickly and it really helped him in reading, writing and most of all, spelling. If you have colleagues who need help with spelling, why not spend part of your lunch break over a game of Scrabble or maybe invite a group to a Scrabble evening in your home? 

If you do know someone who could use a little help with their spelling, here’s an article you may want to share with them. Entitled 19 Practical and Fun Ways to Improve at English Spelling, it was published inJuly 2014 by Oxford Royale Academy. 

“English is often cited as one of the hardest languages to learn, and one of the aspects that gives it this reputation for being tricky is its spellings.

English spellings are full of contradictions and exceptions, meaning that it’s sometimes difficult to apply logic when you’re unsure how a word should be spelled. For example, the word “phone” sounds as though it should begin with an ‘f’, and the word “knock” doesn’t sound as though it should have a ‘K’ at the beginning. The shortcuts can seem few and far between when you’re trying to learn spellings by rote, but a combination of plain old repetition and the tips and tricks in this article should help you make rapid progress.

1. Learn the rules

Because of its aforementioned exceptions, learning the rules of English spellings may be easier said than done, but you can at least start to identify common patterns and combinations of letters so that you can begin to guess how a word might be spelled. These could include common endings such as “-een”, “-ough”, and “-tion”, words beginning with a silent K or G, and even homophones (words that sound the same but have different meanings and/or spellings).

2. Learn the exceptions to the rules

Once you’ve learned a rule, make sure you also learn its exceptions. For example, an oft-quoted rule is “I before E except after C”. This is not universally applicable, however, so you’ll need to learn the exceptions to avoid tripping up, such as “weird” and “height”. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to learn these exceptions – it’s a matter of being aware of them, trying to remember that a word may not conform to the rule you’ve learned, and memorising the words that don’t.

3. Crosswords and code words

Puzzles are a good way to make your brain work harder and improve your general knowledge, but they’re also a good way to improve your spelling. Crosswords give you a series of clues that you must fit into overlapping horizontal and vertical boxes, while code words look similar to crosswords, but involve working out which numbers stand for what letters (meaning that you have to make deductions based on known recurring letters, such as words ending in “-ing”). If you get the spelling wrong in either a crossword or a code word the other words won’t fit, so it’s a good idea to have a dictionary beside you.

4. Watch English television with subtitles

You can get better at spelling without even realising it by learning while you’re watching television in English. Simply switch the subtitles on and you’ll see how the words you’re hearing should be spelled. They’ll be moving too fast for you to make notes, but you’ll learn through osmosis, and this will help you identify instances in which a word you’ve written “just doesn’t look right” – so you can then look it up to find the correct spelling.

5. Read

Another fun way of learning spelling without even realising it is to read plenty of things in English. Simply being exposed to English words on a regular basis will help new spellings sink in and improve your vocabulary, but reading things you enjoy will make it much easier to absorb this new information. You could start by trying to read the English version of a book you already know and love in your own language, as the plot and characters will already be familiar to you, freeing up some of your mental capacity to concentrate on unfamiliar spellings. Then you could introduce even more English into your daily reading by keeping up to date with English-language magazines and newspapers, or news websites.

6. Mnemonics

Memory aids – or mnemonics – are a useful way to help you remember trickier spellings, although if you try to remember too many of them you’ll probably end up confusing yourself. When it comes to memory aids, the simpler and more memorable, the better. For example, you could remember the word “separate” by reminding yourself that it has “a rat” in it. Another mnemonic helps you remember how to spell the word “piece”: “a piece of pie”. And yet another helps you with “hear” (as opposed to “here”) – you “hear with your ear”. You could even make up a little song to help you with particularly difficult spellings. You probably learnt the letters of the alphabet using a tune when you were little, so you could try a similar approach by setting the letters of a difficult word to music to help the spelling stick in your mind.

7. Break it down into syllables

For longer words, it can sometimes be helpful to break the word into syllables to help you remember the spelling. Many people get confused with the word “several”, for example, because it looks and sounds similar to “separate”. We’ve already seen how to remember “separate”, but you could remember “several” by breaking it down into “sev-ER-al”. “Desperate” is another tricky one because it sounds as though it should be spelt in the same way as “separate”, but breaking it into syllables helps you remember that it’s “desp-ER-ate”.

8. Word of the day emails

Word of the day emails are useful for learning new words, but they can also help you learn spellings. Such emails are generally geared towards helping you learn more unusual words – words that most British people don’t even know – but there are some dedicated to learners, such as this English \learner’s Word of the Day from Merriam-Wester, which teaches you the various meanings of words and the contexts in which they can be used, as well as the spelling and pronunciation (click on the red audio symbol to hear it spoken). Collect your Word of the Day emails in a dedicated folder on your computer so that you can look back over them, or add each new word to a Post-It note and stick it to your mirror so that you see the new words when you’re getting ready to go out each morning.

9. Spelling competitions with friends

Do you know anyone else who’s learning English? If so, why not challenge them to a spelling competition? Take it in turns giving each other a word to spell and you’d be surprised how much this cements your knowledge. The competitive element will make it more fun, as well as helping things sink in more easily. You could start by each making a list of the spellings you find trickiest, using a dictionary to help you compile the list if necessary; then try to learn them by heart, and finally swap lists to test each other.

10. Online spelling quizzes

If you don’t have a friend to hand who’s willing to have a spelling competition with you, you could instead try one of the plethora of online spelling quizzes to put your spelling skills to the test. Here’s one example from The Guardian, but if you Google “spelling quiz”, you’ll find plenty more. Don’t forget to look for the correct spellings of any you got wrong, and perhaps make a note of them for future reference.

11. Don’t rely on the spellchecker for the answer

Spellcheckers may not find all the errors, as they won’t pick up things you’ve spelt incorrectly but that are still valid words. For example, you might have written “four you” instead of “for you”, which is incorrect but still won’t register with the spellcheck because “four” is still a word. Similarly, you might try writing a word, see that red squiggly underline and get the spellchecker to correct it for you – but it might not be correcting it to the word you intended!

12. Put posters and flashcards up in your room

A quick search of Google images for “English vocabulary poster” reveals hundreds of posters designed to help you get to grips with English vocabulary, and these will also help you learn the spellings. If there are certain spellings you’re particularly struggling with, you could even try making your own poster for tricky spellings. Put it up in your room and study it for a few minutes each day. Try covering up each of the spellings and attempt to recall them without looking.

13. Writing spellings out several times

It sounds dull, but one tried and tested method of learning spellings is to write a word down several times. You can look at the original word for the first two or three times, then cover them up and try to write the word again two or three more times without looking at your previous attempts. Sometimes there’s no substitute for such repetition when learning spellings, boring though it may seem at the time!

14. Learn plural versions

Learning the plural version of a word sadly isn’t as simple as adding an ‘S’ to the end of a word. You can get better at spelling plurals by learning rules for the different plural versions of words, which vary depending on the ending of a word and its origins. For example, the plural of the word “berry” isn’t “berrys”, it’s “berries”, and the plural of the word “knife” isn’t “knifes” (“knifes” is the third person present tense form of the verb “to knife”), it’s “knives”. This handy article from Oxford Dictionaries will help you learn the rules.

15. Get the pronunciation right

Sometimes, mispronouncing words can lead to spelling errors, because you try to spell the word in the way you think it sounds. Many English people are guilty of this too, so don’t despair if you find yourself doing it! For example, many people think that the word “espresso” – the coffee – is pronounced “expresso”, and spell it as such, or that the word “clique” is pronounced and spelled “click”. Even if the pronunciation is correct, it can still land you in trouble. For example, some people struggle to spell “Wednesday” because it’s pronounced “Wensday”. In this example, the tip we mentioned earlier about breaking it into syllables may prove useful: “Wed-nes-day” might be easier to remember than the word as a whole.

16. Write lots

We’ve already recommended reading regularly earlier in this article, but writing regularly in English is important too. If you don’t use the spellings you learn, you’ll quickly forget them. Look for opportunities to write in English, such as writing letters to British friends, blogging, or writing essays in English. Look up any spellings you’re not sure of as you go along. The more you use the words you’ve learned, the more confident you’ll become.

17. Don’t read bad English

Internet forums and social networking sites are a hotbed of poor spelling and grammar, so frequenting English-language sites like these will do you as much harm as good. People make less effort with spelling and grammar when they’re on the internet, and pick up bad habits from other users, perpetuating common spelling errors and creating new ones. If you’re trying to learn English and get better at spelling, it can seem a good idea to hang out on English-speaking sites and chat to English-speakers, but in fact you may end up learning incorrect spellings without even realising it. So, try to limit your exposure to English to high-quality written sources, such as newspapers, magazines and books.

18. Keep a notebook of spellings

Keeping ongoing notes will help you see how far you’ve progressed. Every time you encounter a word you find difficult to spell, jot it down in a notebook. This gives you a quick reference guide of spellings you know that you personally find hard to remember, and it’s probably going to be quicker than trying to find the word in the dictionary”.

Some great tips that reinforce the idea that although English spelling can seem a struggle at times there’s no need to despair. The more a person is exposed to English, the more they’ll learn, and the easier it will become and, as a friend or colleague, you can help them in the process.

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 will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.

John C. Maxwell - Author
Can Carrots on Tuesdays help you Focus?

Can Carrots on Tuesdays help you Focus?

Posted by martin.parnell |

As someone who works as an author and speaker my days are pretty varied. For most of the time I work alone and the rest of my days are spent making individual and conference calls or going to meetings with clients. My speaking engagements are usually in the evenings and my writing can be done wherever I happen to be, as long as I have my computer. Most days, I can fit in my running and other exercise and don’t even have to leave the house. I don’t have a set routine. 

But, for some people having a set routine is essential to getting their work done. It helps them prioritise and avoids procrastination. They can determine times of day when they are most productive and by keeping to a routine it relieves the mental stress of when to do certain tasks. 

However, there are people who take having a routine to another level. A recent article, posted by staff on the Love Money website, entitled  The world’s most successfulpeople's surprising workplace habits tells us about some company leaders who have quite diverse routines which helps them concentrate on their work. These include what they wear, what they eat and other little idiosyncrasies. 

Here are just a few of them: 

Many top bosses choose to simplify their work day by opting for a 'uniform'. Fashion designer Michael Kors, for instance, likes to sport the same style of black crewneck sweater every day. Other successful people who appear to wear the same clothes to work every day include Mark Zuckerberg, Segway inventor Dean Kamen, Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld and director/producer Christopher Nolan. 

Dr. Anna Akbari, the founder of sociologyofstyle.com,  keeps things simple by eating the exact same breakfast and lunch every day, which helps her free up time for more important decision-making. The late Steve Jobs had a similar approach and would often eat the same foods for weeks on end. At one time, the Apple CEO's skin reportedly turned orange from eating too many carrots. 

Jack Dorsey, the Twitter co-founder and CEO of Square, works ridiculously long hours but manages his time super-effectively by theming his days. Monday is Dorsey's management day for instance, while Tuesday is devoted to product development. 

Mark Parker, the CEO of Nike, has a little trick to ensure he's using both sides of his brain during brainstorming sessions, meetings and so on. The sportswear boss uses a notebook in which he devotes pages on the left-hand side to formal business note-taking and the right-hand pages to sketch whimsical creative doodles. 

Dan Brown, bestselling author, has a unique way of coming up with ideas when he's working on his novels. The Da Vinci Code writer hangs upside down. Brown is a big fan of so-called 'inversion therapy' and believes he comes up with his best story ideas while hanging precariously on his trusty inversion table. 

Although many successful CEOs will mull over ideas while sitting comfortably at their desks, Virgin boss Richard Branson likes to walk around to generate his best ideas. Branson's way of working is actually backed up by science. A study conducted by Stanford University researchers in 2014 found that people's creative output increased by 60% when they were walking.” 

I’m not suggesting you change your wardrobe or eating habits and I, for one, have no intention of trying to work while the blood drains to my head, but there is one idea that may prove more accessible to those of you in positions where you have people in your employ: 

According to the same article, “Flipping the conventional hierarchy on its head, one of the biggest names in technology today,  SendGrid CEO, Sameer Dholakia is an advocate of 'servant leadership'. Coined by business guru Robert K. Greenleaf, servant leadership is all about sharing power, being humble and putting the needs of others first.” 

This obviously works for Dholakia as he is one of the tech world's most admired bosses with a 98% approval rating on Glassdoor, a website where employees and former employees anonymously review companies and their management."

Nat Berman, on the Money Inc. website, writes, in his article “10 Things You Didn’t Know about Sameer Dholakia”,  SendGrid culture revolves around the four H’s – Happy, Hungry, Honest, and Humble. Though Dholakia has stated that “Humble” is his favorite H, he protects all of company culture. He even calls himself a Chief Cultural Officer, and views the preservation of company culture as one of the main jobs of the CEO.

Another of Dholakia’s traits that we all might try to emulate, he “Strives for a Balanced Life. The days of a CEO are incredibly busy and he travels all over the country. Of course, he also has a family that he must devote some time to. This is why he picks out a few activities to do with his kids, and sets aside an uninterrupted time to do so. This helps him renew his focus for when he returns to the grind of being a CEO.” 

So, whether you work alone or with others, lead a company or are just starting out, having a balanced life is one routine we can all strive for, whichever way we achieve it.

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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The volume of your impacts is measured by the direction of your movements, the passion with which you inspire and the attitudes by which you make an influence!

Israelmore Ayivor - Author and inspirational blogger
Challenge your Business to Make an Impact on the World

Challenge your Business to Make an Impact on the World

Posted by martin.parnell |

Today, November 27th. was the birthday of  both film actor and martial artist, Bruce Lee and musician Jimi Hendrix. Whether or not you were fans of theirs, one cannot deny that they made a memorable impact on the world of entertainment.

Sadly, neither are still with us and neither is someone else born on this day, whose work had a significant contribution to the world. I am referring to Swedish astronomer, physicist and mathematician Anders Celsius.

Celsius was born in Uppsala, Sweden on November 27th 1701. In 1730, Celsius was the first to suggest a connection between the aurora borealis and changes in the magnetic field of the Earth.   He founded the Uppsala Astronomical Observatory in 1741, and in 1742 proposed the Celsius temperature scale which bears his name. In 1725 he became secretary of the Royal Society of Sciences in Uppsala, and served at this post until his death from tuberculosis in 1744. 

These men worked in very different fields, but each made an impact on the times in which they lived. When I look at the world today, it is interesting to consider those men and women who are making an impact, both diverse and wide-ranging, and will probably be remembered for their work in years to come. 

I’m sure we could all name some in politics, the arts, sport and other areas.But I am going to focus on businesses where people are making a big difference. 

I looked at the Inventshift website and found an article by Kerry Needs, posted on November 28th. 2016, entitled “Conscious business: 10 social enterprises that are making a lasting impact”.  Needs chose these particular organisations as they are “making some serious noise in the world, and changing the lives of thousands of people worldwide.”

I have chosen five of them to share with you:

TOMS

TOMS was created in 2006 when Blake Mycoskie befriended children in a village in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need, creating their famous ‘One for One’ mantra. So far, TOMS has given 60 million pairs of shoes to children in need.

Charity: water

Charity: water is a social enterprise that allows access to clean, safe drinking water for developing countries. Scott Harrison, a former club promoter, decided to solve one of the world’s biggest problems - that there are 663 million people on the planet that don’t have access to clean water. Charity: water have recently developed their own virtual reality film, The Source, with more than 10,000 people viewing the premiere.

Envirofit

Envirofit is less than 15 years old, but has revolutionised the developing world by changing the way energy products are developed. With a goal of improving harmful traditional cooking methods, Envirofit innovated a product line of aesthetic, high performance cookstoves tailored to the needs of customers. Envirofit improves fuel use by up to 60% and reduces carbon emissions by 80%, a benefit that is now serving over 5 million people worldwide.

Terracycle

Terracycle has become a leading force in the recycling industry, by transforming hard to recycle waste. They do this by reusing, recycling or upcycling the products, instead of using it for landfill or incinerating it. They partner with brands around the world to offer free recycling programs, and then use the money for charitable projects. To date, 63 million people in 20 countries have helped to collect and recycle enough waste to raise over 15 million dollars for charities around the world, and Terracycle has won over 200 social enterprise awards worldwide.

d.Light

d.Light was founded by Ned Tozun and Sam Goldmun in 2004 after Sam witnessed a teenager get badly burnt by a kerosene lamp in Africa. d.light is a global leader in solar power, having sold more than twelve million solar light and power products in 62 countries, and is improving the lives of over 65 million people. Their aim now is to reach 100 million by 2020.

Of course, for many people in the workforce, they are not in a position to make a change that will have a global impact or that will reverberate around the world.

But, it is worth looking at your business and see if there is even a small step you could take towards improving things for those around you. It’s from thinking of ideas that might improve things on a small scale that ideas for a wider impact can grow. What simple action can you take? How could it benefit a wider group? Do you consult others with regard to making improvements?

It’s surprising how inventive people can be when asked. Who knows from where or from whom the next great idea might come? An idea that will not only be of benefit now, but have a lasting impact on the lives of many.

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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The Right To Play Red Ball is a symbol for the power an individual can have in inspiring and mobilizing a community.

Johann Olav Koss, Norwegian Olympian and Humanitarian
Acknowledging Those who Inspire can Lead You to be an Inspiration

Acknowledging Those who Inspire can Lead You to be an Inspiration

Posted by martin.parnell |

It may come as a surprise to many, as it did to me, that yesterday, November 19th. was International Men’s Day. Celebrated in over 70 countries, Men's Day was conceived on February 8th 1991 and inaugurated in 1992. The longest running celebration of International Men's Day is Malta, where events have occurred since February 7th 1994. 

According to Wikipedia, "The Six Pillars of International Men's Day, include focusing on men’s and boys’ health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality, and highlighting male role model. It is an occasion to highlight discrimination against men and boys and to celebrate their achievements and contributions, in particular for their contributions to community, family, marriage, and child care. The broader and ultimate aim of the event is to promote basic humanitarian values.” 

When I read this, it got me thinking about some of the people I have met who have held up these values and there is one, in particular, I would like to mention:      Johann Olav Koss.

At the 1992 Olympic Winter Games in Albertville, Koss won the gold medal in the men’s 1,500 m and a silver in the men’s 10,000 m. Two years later at the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Koss won three gold medals, setting world records in the men’s 1,500 m, 5,000 m and 10,000 m events.

In 1992, the Lillehammer Olympic Organizing Committee launched Olympic Aid, a humanitarian program created to support children in war torn countries. In 1993, Koss traveled, as their ambassador to the country of Eritrea in northern Africa.

Koss dominated the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, and donated $30,000 to Olympic Aid. In an emotional press conference, he asked his fellow Norwegian Olympic teammates to donate as well. In all, he received $18 million from the Norwegian people over the next 10 days.

Koss returned to Eritrea in 1994, bringing a planeload full of sports equipment (over 10 tonnes). Although he was criticized at first by the Norwegian press for bringing soccer balls to a country in need of basic necessities, Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki thanked him: “This is the greatest gift we have ever received. For the first time, we are being treated like human beings — not just something to be kept alive. For the first time, my children can play like any child.”

On 19 December 1994, having retired from speed skating, he was named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, as the organization’s “special representative for sports.”

In 2000, living in Toronto, he took over Olympic Aid from the Lillehammer Olympic Organizing Committee and moved the organization to Toronto. Koss transitioned Olympic Aid from what was essentially a “fundraising vehicle” to an international non-governmental organization (NGO), renaming it Right To Play and was the chief executive officer  from 2000 to 2015.

 By the time he retired as CEO, the organization was running programs in 19 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America and the Middle East. With over 300 volunteer athlete ambassadors from more than 40 countries, as well as a staff of specially trained coaches, the organization uses play to educate and empower over a million children, using play and sports, both inside and outside the classroom.

Right To Play focuses on quality education, life skills, health, gender equality, child protection and building peaceful communities. In addition to working with children, Right To Play advocates with parents, local communities and governments to advance the fundamental rights of all children.

I have been privileged to meet Johann, through my work as an athlete ambassador and fundraiser for Right To Play. Hearing him speak passionately about the power of sport as a way to educate has been a great inspiration.

Of course, there is a long list of men who have had a positive influence on me from childhood, to the present day. Some have been on a personal level and some through business or my fundraising activities.

Whatever gender you may be, please take a moment to consider the men who have had a positive effect on your life and, if you have the chance, tell them.

Best of all, think of ways you can incorporate the “The Six Pillars of International Men's Day,” into your personal and business lives and become an inspiration to others.

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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Art and science have so much in common- the process of trial and error, finding something new and innovative, and to experiment and succeed in a breakthrough.

Peter M. Brant - American industrialist, art collector and philanthropist.
From War Hero to Nobel Prize winner, Discover the Artist in the Man

From War Hero to Nobel Prize winner, Discover the Artist in the Man

Posted by martin.parnell |

This past weekend, people across Canada have been commemorating the lives of those who fought, died and still serve in the armed forces. November 14th. is the anniversary of the birth of a well-known Canadian who was not only a pioneer in medical research, but also a war hero. 

According to his biography, as posted on The Nobel Prize website: “Frederick Grant Banting was born on November 14, 1891, at Alliston Ont. He was the youngest of five children of William Thompson Banting and Margaret Grant. Educated at the Public and High Schools at Alliston, he later went to the University of Toronto to study divinity, but soon transferred to the study of medicine. In 1916 he took his M.B. degree and at once joined the Canadian Army Medical Corps, and served, during the First World War, in France. In 1918 he was wounded at the battle of Cambrai and in 1919 he was awarded the Military Cross for heroism under fire. 

When the war ended in 1919, Banting returned to Canada and was for a short time a medical practitioner at London, Ontario. He studied orthopaedic medicine and was, during the year 1919-1920, Resident Surgeon at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto. From 1920 until 1921 he did part-time teaching in orthopaedics at the University of Western Ontario at London, Canada, besides his general practice, and from 1921 until 1922 he was Lecturer in Pharmacology at the University of Toronto. In 1922 he was awarded his M.D. degree, together with a gold medal.”

However, it was earlier, that Banting had become deeply interested in diabetes. Dr. Charles Best, then a medical student, was appointed as Banting’s assistant, and together, Banting and Best started the work which was to lead to the discovery of insulin, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 1923, which he shared with J.J.R Macleod, Professor of Physiology at the University of Toronto,

When the Second World War broke out, he served as a liaison officer between the British and North American medical services and, while thus engaged, he was, in February 1941, killed in an air disaster in Newfoundland.

What caught my interest as I read about Frederick Banting, was not only his experiences in the First World War or achievements in the field of medicine, but the fact that he was an artist of note. I found a detailed post entitled  The determined painter: Sir Frederick Banting by J. Lynn Fraser on the CMAJ website (October 05, 2010) which  gives details about the way in which Banting applied his observational skills as well as his penchant for detail and note taking, as both scientist and physician, to a variety of artistic pursuits. 

Fraser writes: “He had hoped to pursue art full time after his 50th birthday, but died in an airplane crash in Newfoundland at the age of 49. What remains of Banting’s artistic efforts is a legacy of hundreds of paintings and sketches of wilderness scenes, rural and town landscapes and the human form. They demonstrate Banting’s capacity for intense observation and his desire to improve his skills as an artist even under harsh conditions. 

In 1923, Banting stated that “If a man thinks hard enough he can accomplish any rational task.” Banting’s achievements in science, and in art, were founded on hard work and the belief that he could overcome obstacles. In the case of art, the obstacles included learning the necessary skills.” 

We learn that “As a youth he became interested in pyrography, the art of burning images into wood. His great nephew, Bob Banting reports that his uncle made objects from wood throughout his life and was constantly whittling, as well as sketching. Banting began painting water-colours in 1920 to pass the time while waiting for patients. After his scientific success, painting became an escape from the fame and attention that the reticent he disliked so intensely.” 

We are treated to some fine example of Banting’s artwork and Fraser ends by saying: “Banting embraced challenge both in his scientific research and in his art. In both realms his methods were methodical, determined and inspired by a love of discovery. “Scientific research,” Banting said “is nothing more than the endeavour to unfold the secrets of nature. When once the law underlying natural phenomenon is understood, we are placed in a better position to govern those phenomena.”  

Art, like science, was another secret landscape Banting wanted to explore.

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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Remember, making mistakes is part of the process. The key to success is to make mistakes quickly, and recover quickly, and keep forging forward.

Kevin J. Donaldson Business Coach and Author
How to be Positive about Making a Mistake

How to be Positive about Making a Mistake

Posted by martin.parnell |

Every day, my wife and I eat our meals sitting at the dining table and enjoying the view across the Bow River. The only exception to this ritual occurs on Saturday mornings, when I’ve been for my long run, soaked in the hot tub and had a shower, whilst my wife cooks up a wonderful full English breakfast.  Along with our mugs of tea, we put our meals on trays and head downstairs to sit by the fire and enjoy one of our favourite pastimes i.e. watching Premiership soccer, from England. 

We are both keen soccer fans and support different teams. Although we love to watch the games, which we prerecord, sometimes, it can be extremely frustrating when you see the chance of a goal wasted, especially if the team you are rooting for loses, as a consequence. Even worse is if a player is unfortunate enough, as we saw in a game last week, to score an own goal! 

However, despite their obvious disappointment, all the players can do is learn from their experience, be gracious in defeat and look forward to the next game. I’m sure there have been times when most of us have  missed that opportunity to do something amazing or made a mistake that has affected an outcome and if not, I’m sure there will come a time when that may happen. But, it’s how we deal with it that really counts. 

Firstly, it’s important to accept your error, owning up to something can be very cathartic. Secondly, instead of dwelling on your mistake, you need to see if there’s a way to put it right. This may be easier said than done, but it’s definitely worth a try. Thirdly, if there’s no way to make things right, you will just have to accept the situation and move on. 

Also, it’s important to learn from your mistake. How would you do things differently? If there is a lesson learned from the mistake, why not share it with others? Not only will it help them from making the same error, but it will let them see that to be at fault isn’t necessarily the worst thing that can happen. 

Of course, if the mistake affects a client, it’s even more important to be up front about it and to show that you are making every possible effort to rectify things.

If you are a leader it is especially important to be upfront about any errors you have made. It shows that it can happen to anyone and can be a chance to discuss ways to fix things and might be a way of allowing employees to help you come up with solutions. 

If, however you have an employee who continually makes the same mistakes, it needs intervention, perhaps additional training and some mentoring. Looking on the bright side, sometimes, a mistake made can lead to some creative thinking, when it comes to fixing the problem. It could even lead to a better way of doing things. Whatever happens, fortunately, it’s not often that a mistake is so devastating that it can’t be rectified and a solution found. Especially if you share the problem and look for support. 

My team may have lost last Saturday, but I’m sure they’ll look at the reruns, identify where they could have done better, rectify their mistakes, bounce back and score that winning goal, in the near future.

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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It’s OKAY to be scared. Being scared means you’re about to do something really, really brave.

Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass
How to Embrace Being Scared at Halloween and in Business

How to Embrace Being Scared at Halloween and in Business

Posted by martin.parnell |

This week, people in many countries, including Canada, will be celebrating Hallowe’en. According to Wikipedia: “Halloween or Hallowe'en (a contraction of Hallows' Evening), is a celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide, time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed.

On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. 

It is widely believed that many Halloween traditions originated from ancient Celtic harvest festivals. Others believe, however, that Halloween began solely as a Christian holiday, separate from other ancient festivals. Traditionally, Halloween activities include trick or treat, attending costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfires, telling scary stories, and watching horror stories.”

 So, what is it that makes people want to dress up in crazy costumes and either scare or be scared? I read a post from the WebMD archives entitled “Why do Thrill Seekers Love Being Scared? “ It explains that “Virtually everyone knows what it's like to feel really scared: A pounding heartbeat. Faster breathing. Nervous perspiration. Butterflies in the stomach.

But whether that fright is caused by watching a nail-biting horror movie, listening to a spine-chilling story, or prowling through a dark-as-night haunted house on Halloween, some people actually revel in feeling frightened.............. Experts believe that it's not uncommon for individuals to push the envelope, seeing how much fear they can tolerate, and ultimately feeling a sense of satisfaction when they're able to endure the anxiety.”

Frank Farley, PhD, psychologist at Temple University, tells us "There's a long history of people being intensely curious about the 'dark side,' and trying to make sense of it. Through movies, we're able to see horror in front of our eyes, and some people are extremely fascinated by it. They're interested in the unusual and the bizarre because they don't understand it and it's so different from our everyday lives."

Farley, former president of the American Psychological Association, has studied people who have what he calls "type T" (thrill-seeking) personalities. These men and women thrive on the uncertainty and the intensity associated with activities that most people consider to be hair-raising -- from riding roller coasters to bungee jumping. According to Farley, “some people enjoy the physical sensations that can accompany being scared -- from the adrenaline rush to the racing heart to the perspiring palms.”

For more than two decades, Glenn Sparks, PhD, has studied the way men, women, and children respond to terrifying images in the media. "Some people have a need to expose themselves to sensations that are different from the routine," he says. "While experiencing a frightening movie may have some negatives, individuals often derive gratification because the experience is different."

Several studies have shown that males like scary films much more than females do. "It's not that they truly enjoy being scared," says Sparks, professor of communication at Purdue University. "But they get great satisfaction being able to say that they conquered and mastered something that was threatening. They enjoy the feeling that they 'made it through.” Quite commonly, at the end of the terrifying movie, an individual may walk out of thetheater with a profound sense of relief, adds Sparks. "He may just be happy that the film is over."

As for children, an event like Halloween can provide an enjoyable and safe way to explore and experience fear, knowing that the goblins and witches stalking their neighborhood are only make-believe. Leon Rappoport, PhD, describes Halloween as something akin to an exorcism, allowing children to work through and release pent-up emotions and anxieties.

"They're being given the license to probe at least the superficial anxieties about magical transformations, which, in the imagination of a child, are not completely foreign," says Rappoport, professor of psychology at Kansas State University. "The experience provides a sort of relief in much the way that an exorcism could be said to do."

Research from David Zald, professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, shows that people differ in their chemical response to thrilling situations. One of the main hormones released during scary and thrilling activities is dopamine, and it turns out some individuals may get more of a kick from this dopamine response than others do. Basically, some people’s brains lack what Zald describes as “brakes” on the dopamine release and re-uptake in the brain. This means some people are going to really enjoy thrilling, scary, and risky situations while others, not so much.” 

In business, things can get scary too. You only have to Google “The Scary side of business” and you will find pages and pages of articles about the scarier aspects of being in business or creating a new one. But there must be a reason why so many people are prepared to confront these issues.  

Perhaps you know someone who thrives on the scarier side of business? The person who will leave things to the last minute, take the extra risk when pitching an idea, push the limit when negotiating a contract? Whether you are involved in business, running your own or thinking of starting a new one, aspects of it can be scary. 

But there may be a positive side, for instance, if it forces you to be more creative, work collaboratively to reach your goal, invent new ways of doing things, perhaps use skills you didn’t know you had. Also, that rush of Dopamine helps in focus and attention. 

None of us can live without encountering some fearful situations but maybe, like those who will be enjoying the spirit of Halloween, we should embrace them and enjoy that rush of Dopamine, though for some, once a year may be enough!

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, is being 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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Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.

Charles Swindoll, Author
The Pace Bunny of Afghanistan: Supporting Girls in their Quest to Run

The Pace Bunny of Afghanistan: Supporting Girls in their Quest to Run

Posted by martin.parnell |

Arriving in Afghanistan, I was looking forward to running with Zainab, the first Afghan woman to complete a marathon and the person who had inspired me during my recovery from a clot on the brain. However, two days before the race I had been told by Taylor Smith, Program Director for Free to Run, that Zainab had other commitments and would be unable to participate in the race. I was very disappointed. However, I knew there was a large number of Free to Run Afghan girls running their first marathon and I wondered how I could help. 

Then a brain wave hit me, why not be the very first “Pace Bunny” in the Marathon of Afghanistan. I put this to Taylor and she thought it was a great idea. The night before the race I made a set of bunny ears and a time placard. I knew that was going to be an incredibly difficult course. The maximum elevation is over 11,000 feet (3,360m) which means the oxygen level drops from 21% to 13.7%. Also, the course is extremely hilly and the elevation gain / loss over the 42 km is 3,723 feet (1,135m). This would be a challenge for me and the girls. So with the cut off time being 8 hours I made the “pace bunny” time 7 hours. Go Bunny Go. 

The next morning, at the Band e-Amir National Park race start area, I met up with Hassina, Free to Run Kabul Field Officer. She agreed to be my “Assistant Pace Bunny” and pointed to a group of girls who would be running with us. We got together and I gave them a pre-race talk. 

The Start 

There were six other girls, 2 from Bamyan, 2 from Herat and 2 from Kabul and I explained to them that we would let the other runners go ahead. I also explained that as we did this we would shout “Hey Ho, Let’s Go!” They were all very excited. There were speeches from Stephanie Case, founder of Free to Run and the Governor of Bamyan said a few words and then at 9.10am, James Bingham, Race Director, did the countdown 5….4….3….2…..1 and we were off. 

The first part of the race was a 2 km out and back and at the completion of each km I yelled out “Hey Ho” to which the girls replied “Let’s Go!” Then we headed up on the first of many steep climbs out of the numerous valleys in Band e-Amir. 

7km Check Point 

Check points were located every 7 kms and things were going pretty well with the group as we approached the first aid station. The route had been tough. My only concern was that one of the girls was complaining of back pain so I suggested she drop out at the next check point but she said no. I knew there was a sweep vehicle behind us and that she would probably take that before the next check point. The group kept moving forward and were on track up to the 10 km point. The course was marked with wooden planks, laying at the side of the road, with black arrows painted on and we had been following them diligently. 

At a fork in the road we followed the arrow pointing left and continued for 2 kms down a path. Then we heard yells from across the valley and people were waving at us to come over. The girls and I trudge across a marshland and met up with the race volunteers. They told us that someone had turned the plank around and that we were going the wrong way. 

14km Check Point 

This was a disaster and I was pretty mad. There was no way we would complete the marathon in 7 hours. It would be tough enough for the girls and I to even make the 8 hour cut-off without this, as some of them were, by now, struggling with the terrain and physical issues. At the 14 km check point I shared my feelings with the volunteers. I asked that they pass along a message to James Bingham, Race Director, to extend the cut-off to 9 hours.

21 km Check Point 

We continued on and reached the 21km, half way check-point in 4hrs 30mins. However on my GPS it said 23kms, due to the detour. I knew at this pace we had a chance. The first half had been brutal, stunning views but it had been a tough slog up and down the steep, dusty hills. We had been told that the second half would be easier but I had my doubts. James Bingham had said the course had “Rolling Hills”.

As we left the 21 km check-point, I noticed the group had become smaller by one. I had lost sight of the girl with the bad back and another girl had started to lag. 

A key milestone on the route, at the 26 km point, is the arched entrance to Band e-Amir National Park. It was a long straight climb from there and as I reached the top of the hill I looked back to the arch and couldn’t believe my eyes. There, in the distance, was the girl with the bad back. It had been 20 kms and 4 hours since I had seen her and she had kept going on her own and not given up. I decided there and then that I would try and get her, and the other girl who had fallen behind, across the line before the hoped for 9 hour cut-off. 

28km Check Point 

I continued to the 28 km check point and told Hassina that I was going to wait there for the two girls and that she was to take the rest of the group to the 35 km check point and wait for me there. 20 mins later the two girls caught up and told me they wanted to continue. The girl who had been way back could speak a little English and she said her name was Sonya, she was 14 years old and lived in Herat. She told me that the other girl was Anita, 16 years old, also from Herat and her sister. Unbelievable. 

We had 3 hours to do 14 km. The girls were struggling but they plodded on. We arrived at the 35 km check point but no Hassina or the other runners. She had done the right thing and not waited for us. Every so often we would do a “Little Run”, maybe 100m just to keep some momentum going. We had an ambulance following us and I asked the girls on a number of occasions if they wanted to get in but they always said no. 

The Finish 

The last 3 kms were downhill and we had 55 mins complete it. The girls were getting excited and wanted to get their medals. The sun was setting as we rounded the last corner and then we heard the cheers and yells. The three of us ran across the finish line with hugs and tears all round. Sonya, Anita and myself had finished in 8 hours 46 minutes and were told that race director James Bingham had approved the 9 hour cut off limit. We had finished with 14 minutes to spare. I saw Hassina and the other girls and we were all extremely happy and relieved. 

It had been an amazing day and in total 20 Free to Run women and girls completed the marathon. The resilience, persistence and determination shown by these women and girls is an example to the rest of us. 

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, is being 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 must open the doors and we must see to it they remain open, so that others can pass through.

Rosemary Brown, Canadian politician, activist
Why October is the Time to Celebrate Women and Girls

Why October is the Time to Celebrate Women and Girls

Posted by martin.parnell |

I am always noting the different celebrations taking place nationally and internationally , so I was interested to learn, on the Government of Canada website, that: “October is Women’s History Month in Canada, a time to celebrate the achievements and contributions of women and girls across the country and throughout our history.

This year’s theme is #MakeAnImpact, in honour of the women and girls who’ve made a lasting impact as pioneers in their field. Whether as business leaders, politicians, researchers, artists or activists, these women of impact have helped shape Canada into a thriving, diverse and prosperous country through their achievements and desire to make a difference.

As part of this year’s celebrations, we will be launching Women of Impact in Canada, an online gallery that celebrates the achievements of more than 100 women and girls through photos and biographies that capture some of their many successes.”

I will be interested to see who they include in their online gallery. If you look at the Canada’s History website, some of the Canadian women who made an indelible mark on history include: 

Doris Anderson (1921–2007)

Doris Anderson was a long-time editor of Chatelaine magazine and a newspaper columnist. Through the 1960s, Doris Anderson pushed for the creation of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, which paved the way for huge advances in women’s equality. She was responsible for women getting equality rights included in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and sat as the president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women. Anderson was also an officer of the Order of Canada.

Ga’axstal’as, Jane Constance Cook (1870–1951)

Kwakwaka’wakw leader, cultural mediator, and activist. Born on Vancouver Island, Ga’axstal’as, Jane Constance Cook was the daughter of a Kwakwaka'wakw noblewoman and a white fur trader. Raised by a missionary couple, she had strong literacy skills and developed a good understanding of both cultures and legal systems. As the grip of colonialism tightened around West Coast nations, Cook lobbied for First Nations to retain rights of access to land and resources. She testified at the McKenna-McBride Royal Commission of 1914 and was the only woman on the executive of the Allied Indian Tribes of British Columbia in 1922. A fierce advocate for women and children, she was also a midwife and healer and raised sixteen children. 

Viola Desmond (1914–1965)

Challenged segregation practices in Nova Scotia. Long before the modern civil rights movement in the United States, a black woman from Halifax took a stand for racial equality in a rural Nova Scotia movie theatre. It was 1946, and Viola Desmond, a hairdresser, caused a stir by refusing to move to a section of thetheatre unofficially set aside for black patrons. Desmond was dragged out of thetheatre and jailed. While officials denied that Desmond’s race was the root of the issue, her case galvanized Nova Scotia’s black population to fight for change. In 1954, segregation was legally ended in Nova Scotia. 
 

Margaret Laurence (1926–1987)

One of the giants of Canadian literature. Born in Neepawa, Manitoba, Margaret Laurence graduated from United College (now the University of Winnipeg) and lived in Africa with her husband for a time. Her early novels were about her experience in Africa but the novel that made her famous — The Stone Angel — was set in a small Manitoba town very much like the one she grew up in. Her work resonated because it presented a female perspective on contemporary life at a time when women were breaking out of traditional roles. Laurence was also active in promoting world peace through Project Ploughshares and was a recipient of the Order of Canada. 

Agnes Macphail (1890–1954)

First woman elected to the House of Commons. Agnes Macphail was born in rural Ontario. While working as a young schoolteacher she became involved with progressive political movements, including the United Farm Women of Ontario. She also began writing a newspaper column. She was elected to the Commons as a member of the Progressive Party of Canada in 1921. Her causes included rural issues, pensions for seniors, workers rights, and pacifism. She also lobbied for penal reform and established the Elizabeth Fry Society of Canada. She later was elected to Ontario’s Legislative Assembly, where she initiated Ontario’s first equal-pay legislation in 1951. 

Nellie McClung (1873–1951)

Novelist, reformer, journalist, and suffragist. Nellie McClung was a leader in the fight to enfranchise North American women. Her efforts led to Manitoba becoming the first province to grant women the right to vote in 1916, followed by Alberta and Saskatchewan. After a move from Manitoba to Alberta, she was elected to the Alberta Assembly as a Liberal member for Edmonton in 1921. In the legislature, McClung often worked with Irene Parlby of the governing United Farmers of Alberta party on issues affecting women and children. Both were members of the Famous Five. McClung was also the first female director of the board of the governors of the CBC and was chosen as a delegate to the League of Nations in Geneva in 1938. 

Thanadelthur (1697–1717)

Peacemaker, guide and interpreter for the Hudson’s Bay Company. Thanadelthur was a member of the Chipewyan (Dene) nation who, as a young woman, was captured by the Cree in 1713 and enslaved. After a year, she escaped, and eventually came across the HBC York Factory post, governed by James Knight. Thanadelthur stayed to work for Knight, who needed a translator to help make peace between the Cree and the Chipewyan for trading purposes. Accompanied by an HBC servant and a group of friendly Cree, she went on a year-long mission into Chipewyan territory. She brought the two groups together and — alternately encouraging and scolding them — brought about a peace agreement. The HBC records refer to her as “Slave woman” or “Slave woman Joan.”

Justice Bertha Wilson (1923–2007)

First woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada. Born into a working-class family in Scotland, Bertha Wilson trained in law in Canada. When appointed to the high court in 1982, she already had a track record as a justice with the Ontario Court of Appeal, where she was known for her humane decisions in areas such as human rights and the division of matrimonial property. During her nine years on the Supreme Court, she helped her male colleagues to understand that seemingly neutral laws often operated to the disadvantage of women and minorities. She thus helped usher in ground breaking changes to Canadian law. 

And there are many more, writers, politicians, artists, explorers, athletes, artists and entrepreneurs, all pioneers in their field, who have helped shape Canada. 

October 11th. will be celebrated, internationally, as the Day of the Girl. The International Day of Girls initiative began as a project of Plan International, a non-governmental organization that operates worldwide.

The observation supports more opportunity for Girls and increases awareness of gender inequality faced by Girls worldwide. This inequality includes areas such as access to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, and protection from discrimination, violence against women and child marriage. The celebration of the day also "reflects the successful emergence of girls and young women as a distinct cohort in development policy, programming, campaigning and research.”

International Day of Girls was formally proposed as a resolution by Canada in the United Nations General Assembly. Rona Ambrose, Canada's Minister for the Status of Women, sponsored the resolution; a delegation of women and Girls made presentations in support of the initiative at the 55th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly voted to pass a resolution.

On October 4th. I will be acknowledging not only the women and girls who have played an important role in the history of Canada, but of all the women, through history and across the world, who have fought to improve the lives of others, in a variety of ways.

I will also be thinking about the women I will be meeting as the flight I am on will take me first to Frankfurt, then to Istanbul and finally to Kabul, where I will meet up with an inspiring group of women who are trying to make a difference in the lives of women and girls, in Afghanistan.

These are the inspirational leaders of the future. Women like Zainab Husseini, who overcame numerous obstacles to become the first Afghan woman to run a marathon,

I will meet up with Stephanie Case, whose organisation Free to Run, is providing access to sport in areas where it would normally be unavailable to women and girls.

October is here so let’s all take a little time to pay tribute to all the women and girls who make a difference in our lives and the lives of others.

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, is being 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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Big results require big ambitions.

Heraclitus Greek Philosopher
12 Actions Result-Minded People Implement

12 Actions Result-Minded People Implement

Posted by martin.parnell |

Result-minded people know where they are, where they want to go and how to get there. Will there be challenges, set-backs and obstacles along the way? Probably, but that doesn’t stop them. 

Below are 12 actions these people implement and how they can help you to become more result-minded:

1. They set a challenging goal 

Decide what it is you want to accomplish. Goals come in various sizes and there’s no “one-size-fits-all”. You don’t want your goal to be too easy, as that will leave you with little sense of achievement. On the other hand, one that is unrealistic could well lead to lack of completion and a total loss of confidence. My rule of thumb is a 50/50 chance of success.   

2. They establish the “Why?” of the goal 

Having a strong reason for setting your goal is critical. You may want to earn a promotion, move to another job or accomplish a personal ambition. I have always found that people get more satisfaction when they set a goal that will also impact others, whether it’s helping them move forward, proving a benefit to the company or your colleagues. A strong “Why” will get you through the tough times.

3. They determine the “Gap” 

The Gap refers to the measurement of where you are now to where you want to be. When you are considering this, it is always wise to give yourself a timeline. Make sure you know when you want to have completed your goal.

4. They make a comprehensive  plan 

Planning is the key to success. What resources do you need? Where can you find them? What are potential road blocks? You may not be able to plan for every eventuality, but being extra diligent, in the planning stage, will give you confidence as you move towards beginning your action. Do your research.

5. They ask for support 

Results-minded people don’t hesitate to ask for help. The key is to take every opportunity to share your vision with individuals and groups who can have a positive influence on the outcome. If you do your job they will want to be part of your team.

6. They “Chunk-Down” the goal                                                            

Sometimes a task can appear to be so overwhelming that it’s hard to get started, but, I believe almost anything is achievable if you take it one step at a time. Rather than be daunted by the whole task, look at it in doable, “bite-sized” chunks.

7. They measure their progress 

Keep track at each stage. Are you on course? Are adjustments needed? Reflecting on your progress will help you in the difficult times when things are not going to plan.

8. They communicate their progress 

Share your progress, whether good or bad, with your team and supporters. Communicate on a regular basis. People are invested in you and your goal. If things are off track they will want to help.

9. They deal with obstacles and set backs 

Result-minded people know one thing for sure, there will probably be obstacles and setbacks. In fact they accept this as part of the process, not an anomaly. What matters is, how they deal with them. You need to stay positive, ask for support when appropriate and don’t lose sight of the end goal. 

10. They celebrate their achievements 

Don’t get caught up in the “Results-Treadmill”. Take time to celebrate each milestone along the way. Share these success with people who are involved in your journey.

11. They learn from failure 

Result-minded people aren’t afraid of failure. As Nelson Mandela said “I never lose. I either win or learn.” What did you learn? How would you do things different next time?

12. They look for what’s next 

After a goal is completed there can be a period when you experience a feeling of deflation. So much work went into achieving your goal, but now what? Result-minded people take time to reassess their position and look at making plans for the next step on their journey.

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, is being 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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Recognition is the greatest motivator.

Gerald C. Eakerdale author
How a Little Recognition can make a Big Difference

How a Little Recognition can make a Big Difference

Posted by martin.parnell |

On Sunday, I was excited to read the following headline, on the CBC website:

Eliud Kipchoge sets new world record in Berlin marathon win.

I continued reading: Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge set a new marathon world record, winning the Berlin race in two hours, one minute and 39 seconds. The 33-year-old broke the previous world record set in Berlin by fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto in 2014 by one minute and 18 seconds.

"I lack words to describe this day," Kipchoge said after becoming the first person to finish a marathon in less than 2 hours and 2 minutes. "They say you miss two times but you can't miss the third time," he said in reference to his two previous failed attempts to break the world record in Berlin.

As a marathon runner myself, I was awed by this man’s achievement. I know that there is always a team of people, behind the scenes, that are needed to help make results like this possible. Unfortunately, these people, rarely get a mention. I decided to find out who, in Eliud’s case, those people might be.

I read about Peter, a physiotherapist and life-long friend of Eliud’s who looks after his well-being, in Kenya. I read about his coach, Patrick Sang, who obviously deserves a great deal of credit for ensuring that Eliud is prepared for race day. Also, Kipchoge has diet plan which was in part developed by Andrew Jones professor of applied physiology at the University of Exeter.

I then turned to Eliud’s Facebook page and was delighted to see this entry:

Today the 16th of September 2018, I ran a world record in Berlin, it couldn’t happen without the support of the following: My gratitude and honor goes to:

1. My family: I thank my wife (Grace) and my kids (Lynne, Griffin and Jordon) for the overwhelming support they gave me for the last 4 months of training, you always inspire me and you are my ignition key.

2. Coaches: My coach Patrick Sang is my all-time coach and supporter, he is my life coach not forgetting his two assistants (Meto and Koech). You made this day realizable.

3. Global Sports Communication: This is a wonderful management, led by director Jos Hermens and Valentijn Trouw, and all entire team, you are such a wonderful management company.

4. Nike: Nike company led by Phil Knight and sports marketing Capriotti, not forgetting the innovation and design team. On the other hand the physiologists led by Brett Kirby, thank you for the support for over 15 years

5. NN Running Team: You are such a wonderful team and the spirit of bringing teammates to the sports is overwhelming.

6. My training mates: Kaptagat team, you are such a wonderful family, I like you all, I wish everybody all the best in the coming races. Cheers brothers and sisters, teamwork is the key.

7. Isuzu company: It’s a wonderful local and international car manufacturer, you gave me another leg to train on by providing all my transport. I will always be with you. Tuko Pamoja Safarini.

8. My fans: I totally respect all my fans across the globe, from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and all social media. You always push me ahead.

In one word ‘Thank you’ all and God bless you all. 

This was very heartening to see that Eliud had taken the time, on this very special day, to recognise and thank those who support him. 

As someone who is frequently in the public eye, I understand the importance of giving credit to those people who may never be seen as part of what I do, but, nevertheless provide an essential support system that enables me to undertake my initiatives, follow my dreams and succeed in completing my goals. 

I always try and make sure I give them credit for their input, whether it be for a sporting activity, my coach, Malcolm Kent, my family doctor, Bill Hanlon, my physiotherapists, Serge Tessier, my chiropractor, Greg Long etc. or in my professional career as a speaker and author. I thank them at each opportunity. 

This is important. People invest time and effort to ensure we have every chance of success. It is essential that we recognise this and put it into practice, in the workplace. Whether you are working on a project, setting up new initiatives, planning an event or any action that requires the efforts of more than one person, no matter how small their contribution, they need to be recognised. A thank you goes a very long way to creating a positive atmosphere, a sense of well-being and will encourage continued support in the future. 

Let’s face it, there are not many people who work totally alone. Most of us receive support in one way or another. It may be from a colleague or team member, a partner, a parent or other family members. 

So, take the time to thank them, whenever you can.

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, is being 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 13 is unlucky, then 12 and 14 are guilty by association.

Mitch Hedberg American comedian
How to use the Right Number and be Lucky in Business

How to use the Right Number and be Lucky in Business

Posted by martin.parnell |

Today is my 13th. wedding anniversary. Some people consider 13 to be an unlucky number, but I have to say that wasn’t the case, as far as the past year was concerned. Sue and I ticked along as normal and, I’m happy to say, nothing untoward happened in our lives (Unlike 2015 which, to quote Her Majesty the Queen, was our “annus horribillis”). 

I wondered why the number 13 is considered unlucky, in certain countries, so I turned to Wikipedia to find some answers:   “The end of the Mayan calendar's 13th Baktun was superstitiously feared as a harbinger of the apocalyptic 2012 phenomenon. It is also considered unlucky to have thirteen guests at a table and any Friday the 13th has been considered an unlucky day. 

In fact, there are a number of theories as to why the number thirteen became associated with bad luck:

The Last Supper: At Jesus Christ’s last supper, there were thirteen people around the table, counting Christ and the twelve apostles. Some believe this is unlucky because one of those thirteen, Judas Iscariot, was the betrayer of Jesus Christ.

Knights Templar: On Friday 13 October 1307, King Philip IV of France ordered the arrest of the Knights Templar and most of the knights were tortured and killed.

Full Moons: A year with 13 full moons instead of 12 posed problems for the monks in charge of the calendars. This was considered a very unfortunate circumstance, especially by the monks who had charge of the calendar of thirteen months for that year, and it upset the regular arrangement of church festivals. For this reason thirteen came to be considered an unlucky number. 

Fear of the number 13 has a specifically recognized phobia, Triskaidekaphobia, a word coined in 1911. The superstitious sufferers of triskaidekaphobia try to avoid bad luck by keeping away from anything numbered or labelled thirteen. As a result, companies and manufacturers use another way of numbering or labeling to avoid the number, with hotels and tall buildings being conspicuous examples. Some will not have a thirteenth floor and hence no 13 button on their elevators.” 

Zoopla  found that more than a quarter (28%) of streets in the UK don't have a number 13 address, and some local councils have banned the use of number 13 in new housing developments. But while new streets can be built without a number 13, changing or removing it from an existing property is against the law.

In sports, the number 13 has a mixed reception: The number 13 was not used in the Indianapolis500 from 1915 to 2002.E.J.Viso, driving for HVM Racing, the 2009 IndyCar series season, drove a green number 13 car full-time, despite terrible superstitions about it in motor sports. The number 13 was not used in Formula One from 1977 to 2013. In triathlon, the number 13 is not used. As such, the numbering goes 11, 12, 14, 15 under the current numbering system. 

In some countries, different numbers are thought to be unlucky:  In China, the pronunciation of the word for the number 4 is similar to that of the Chinese word for death. Many buildings in China skip a fourth floor.  The number 9 is feared in Japan because it sounds similar to the Japanese word for torture or suffering. 

So, one might want to consider some of these facts if you have employees from overseas. Could you find out about unlucky numbers in other cultures? Also, if you have customers from those countries might it be worth avoiding days with certain numbers for doing business?   

Of course, one might also bear in mind the fact that countries, traditionally, have their lucky numbers, too. For instance, in China, the numbers 3 and 8 are very lucky are associated with wealth and prosperity. Could this mean the 8th. is a great day to conduct business with your Chinese clients? Who knows? 

And, not everyone considers the number 13 to be unlucky. In Italy, for example, it is considered good luck (whereas some Italians are superstitious about Friday the 17th because rearranging the Roman numeral XVII can create the word "VIXI"—translated from Latin to mean "my life is over").   

In the United States along with the UK, France, and the Netherlands the number 7 is considered to be lucky and, if you happen to know a Star Wars fan, remember to wish them a Happy May the 4th! 

Whatever your views on these numbers that may or may not be considered lucky or unlucky, in the workplace, it may just be worthwhile being sensitive to some of these beliefs and superstitions. 

As for me I’m going to celebrate my Anniversary by taking my wife out to lunch and remember the wonderful day we married –and today’s date?............. 9/11.

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, is being 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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But when fall comes, kicking summer out on its treacherous ass as it always does one day sometime after the midpoint of September, it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.

Stephen King, Salem's Lot
How to Accept Change and Embrace the Positives

How to Accept Change and Embrace the Positives

Posted by martin.parnell |

As we enter the early days of September, it’s time to face the fact that Fall is here. We always knew it was inevitable, but there is still a reluctance, amongst many people to face the end of Summer. 

Soon we’ll be padding around our homes in socks instead of bare feet, no more putting the laundry outside to dry on the washing line, some of us will be switching from the crisp white notes of a Chardonnay enjoyed on the deck to the rich ruby red hues of a Malbec, by the fire. 

But, it’s not all bad news. Who doesn’t like an excuse to sit by the fire with a cup of tea and a good book, whilst snuggled up in a favourite sweater and pair of cosy slippers? 

Perhaps just not yet. 

Any change brings its positives and negatives, depending on your point of view. Although it’s been great to wander around in shorts and tee-shirts, some people can’t wait to be done with the restless night brought on by the Summer heat and will be glad when temperatures fall, others embrace the fact that the children will be back in school and life can “return to the normal, everyday routine” that they experience for most of the year. 

We all face changes, throughout our lives, some of which are inevitable and some are unexpected and thrust upon us. Who would have thought that the wild fires in British Columbia would have made us question whether or not to venture out in the midst of August?

Change in the workplace can bring its own challenges, even though it can be for all the right reasons. 

If management changes, employees may have to accept that new leaders will want to make their mark and may institute new ways of working. If an employee leaves, it may take time to adjust to their absence and get acquainted with their replacement. If your company moves to new premises, it can take a while to get to know your way around. Where have they put the photocopier? 

If you take up a new managerial position, make sure you communicate well with your co-workers, forewarn them of changes to come and give them the opportunity for constructive discussion. If you are starting a new job, be open to advice from others and evaluate it according to your needs. If the nature of your job changes, don’t be afraid to ask for additional training and if a new employee joins your company, look for ways in which to mentor them. 

Some changes may affect just you personally, just a few of your colleagues or the company as a whole. Some changes may take time to get used to and others may suddenly make your working environment much more pleasant, your job much easier or bring a much more productive atmosphere. 

Whatever changes you may be facing, whether they are sudden or a long time in the making, try to see the benefits and, hopefully, they will outweigh the negatives. As Summer turns to Fall, it will take some adjustment but don’t worry, it won’t be long before we’ll be having to think about Winter and all that it brings!

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, is being 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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Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled.

Anne M. Mulcahy- Chairperson and CEO of Xerox Corporation.
Puppies and Perks, how to keep Employees Happy

Puppies and Perks, how to keep Employees Happy

Posted by martin.parnell |

At the weekend, I was browsing through the articles on MSN UK, when I came across a headline from Business Insider UK, 4 companies that give staff paid time off when they get a puppy.  I wondered if this was just some quirky gimmick, so decided to see if I could find any other articles on the subject.

It turns out there were several. Kaytie Zimmerman, wrote one in Forbes magazine in May 2017, under the heading: Puppy Parental Leave Among The Newest Benefit Offerings In The United States. We are told that this is the latest benefit policies being offered by some employers. As an example, Zimmerman writes about a company named BrewDog, a beer producer based out of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. They not only encourage having dogs in the workplace, but also offer a week paid leave for the adoption or purchase of a new dog.

In fact, according to a press release, BrewDog allows both. “Yes, having dogs in our offices makes everyone else more chilled and relaxed – but we know only too well that having a new arrival – whether a mewling pup or unsettled rescue dog – can be stressful for human and hound both. So we are becoming the first in our industry to give our staff a working week’s leave on us to help settle a new furry family member into their home.” BrewDog’s Puppy Parental Leave policy will also be available to employees in their new Columbus, Ohio, location, opening soon.

Zimmerman notes that: “Knowing that this benefit is offered in the United States, many can be quick to criticize the company, arguing that most companies do not have adequate leave policies for parents of human children, let alone canine kids. While it’s certainly a popular topic, pitting one week of puppy leave against six to twelve weeks of leave for a new child is not a fair comparison.

BrewDog touches on this type of argument in their press release: “Alongside this, we are also proud to be a Living Wage employer and offer sabbaticals for our crew as well as sharing 10% of the annual profits of our company between everyone who made it happen. Plus we embrace beer knowledge with the highest number of Cicerone-trained staff of any company in the world – and we also offer enhanced maternity and paternity pay for two-legged arrivals!”

As they announced, employees with new human children are given adequate leave to care for their new family member. It seems that it is possible to have a good balance of benefit offerings, as BrewDog has shown with their dog and parental leave policies.”

I must confess, I was left rather baffled. I asked myself, where does one draw the line? Is there a bias towards dogs? What if an employee obtains a new cat? Or even a goldfish or gerbil?

This got me wondering about perks offered by some other, better-known companies. In February 2017, The Team at Glassdoor, in their “Glassdoor Benefit Reviews”, listed the Top 20 Employee Benefits & Perks for that year.

Here are the top 10:

1. IKEA offers up to four months of paid parental leave to both part-time and full-time employees with at least one year of experience at the company, regardless of whether they work at a retail store or the corporate headquarters. 

2. Reebok encourages employees to reach their personal fitness goals by providing an on-site gym with Crossfit classes. 

3. Bain & Company, The Best place to Work in 2017, holds an annual two-day, global “Bain World Cup” soccer tournament open to all employees. 2016’s event was in Brussels. The 2017 tournament was held in Los Angeles. 

4. Goldman Sachs offers coverage for gender reassignment surgery, a benefit the company has offered since 2008. 

5. Facebook provides healthcare coverage and free housing for interns. Known for its competitive benefits package, many Facebook interns report earning more than $7,000 per month. 

6. Scripps Health cares about the wellbeing of its employees’ furry family members, offering pet health insurance for cats and dogs. 

7. Starbucks provides full tuition reimbursement for its employees, covering an online bachelor’s degree program through Arizona State University. 

8. American Express has a parental leave policy which offers up to five months of fully-paid leave for both mothers and fathers. Birthing mothers generally receive an additional 6 to 8 weeks under salary continuation for medical leave. Parents are also given access to a 24-hour lactation consultant, and mothers traveling for business can ship their breast milk home for free.   

9. Eventbrite helps keep employees healthy by offering a monthly $60 wellness stipend, which can be used on everything from gym dues to juice cleanses. 

10. Whole Foods Market offers a 20% store discount to all employees, including full-time and part-time employees.

It seems that some companies will go to extraordinary lengths to please their employees. I wonder if you have any ideas as to the “Perfect Perk” that might persuade you to seek employment with a particular company?

This doesn’t apply to me, personally, as I work from home, but I may not sharing this article with my wife and business partner, Sue, as I know she has a hankering for a house-rabbit!

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, is being 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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It's only gossip if you repeat it. Until then, it's gathering information.

Mercedes Lackey, Author
How to Ignore the Smoke and Evaluate the Fire

How to Ignore the Smoke and Evaluate the Fire

Posted by martin.parnell |

This year I’ve set myself a goal to better my personal best times I set, in 2003, for the 5km, 10km, half-marathon and marathon distances. I call it 62 (my age now) beats 47 (my age in 2003). I always enjoy my running, whether I’m training for a specific event or just my regular exercise, especially the longer runs. They give me time to think, make plans and reflect. 

One day, last week, as I made my way along the Bow river pathway, here in Cochrane, I thought about the joy of running on a summer’s day, without all the layers of clothing needed in the cold weather. Then I started thinking about the issues a long hot summer can bring. This was due to the fact that, I couldn’t help but notice the smoke that has made its way across the Rockies, from the BC wildfires. Many countries are experiencing these and other problems as there seems to be little respite from the hot temperatures. 

As I thought about the many residents who have had to evacuate their houses and face the loss of their homes and the dangers faced by the fire crews, it also brought to mind that old adage, “There’s no smoke without fire”. Now, I know that has nothing to do with the situation in British Columbia, but, as my mind wandered, I pondered on the actual meaning of the saying. 

The Cambridge English Dictionary, gives the definition: “If unpleasant things are said about someone or something, there is probably a good reason for it”. That being said, we all know that gossip can be a harmful thing and things can get misconstrued and blown out of proportion. In the workplace, this can be especially harmful. In fact, in some companies, office gossip is prohibited. 

However, I wonder if there may be occasions, in business, when it’s worth taking an objective view and listen carefully to what people are saying and see if there is a pattern or something in a rumour that could possibly ring true. I also wondered if one could argue that some gossip can have a positive side.

I discovered an article “Office Gossip: It’s Not All Bad” by Margot Carmichael Lester, on the monster.com website, she quotes several sources to back up this idea, for example:
Travis Grosser, a doctoral candidate in management at the University of Kentucky’s Gatton College of Business and Economics tells us that “Information tends to move through informal communication networks with greater speed than through formal channels. The timeliness of incoming information often makes the difference as to whether or not we can act on it.”

Joey Price, HR specialist and founder of Push Consultant Group, a career counselling company in metro Washington, DC. states:  “Say you hear someone is leaving the company, creating an opening you’d like to fill. This kind of information can allow you to prepare a case for why you are best-suited for a promotion or raise,”

Chris Perry, founder of Career Rocketeer, a career-development and personal-branding service in Parsippany, New Jersey states “Sometimes office gossip recognizes the positive behaviours of others within an organization. That’s a good thing. For example, say Marc gossips to Ginny about a big account that Rose just landed. Not only does this make Rose look good, but it could also be the motivation Ginney needs to enhance her own sales skills to compete. That helps her career and the company’s bottom line. This can also help link you with people on the rise in the company. It also gives you an opportunity to potentially help that person succeed in some fashion. This kind of support may be repaid to you further down your career path.”

However, as Travis Grosser warns us, “While you can benefit from sharing the latest gossip, there’s definitely a fine line between sharing information and playing office politics. Negative gossip is used maliciously for character assassination and to undermine the success of others. Any gossip that attacks another individual and is of suspect veracity is not very constructive.”

In fact, Grosser’s research found that employees who gossip the most tend to get lower performance evaluations from their supervisors. “Gossiping creates more informal power with peers, but is seen as subversive and negative by supervisors. To stay out of trouble, be sure to spread only positive news.” Perry supports this by adding: “You don’t want to be branded as someone who initiates or spreads gossip about the company or people in it. This will hurt the company and will hurt your reputation and personal brand.”

In summarising Grosser concludes. “Gossip—whether positive or negative—can be a diagnostic tool for managers and supervisors. The gossip that circulates within an organization is an indicator of how employees feel and what they are thinking about.
For example, listening to gossip prior to or directly after a major organizational change is a good way for managers to learn how employees feel about the change and how they are adjusting to it.

Since everyone gossips—even managers—it’s unrealistic to think that you can—or should—steer completely clear of the office rumour mill. It’s highly unlikely that gossip will ever be completely eliminated from organizations. Good gossip, however, brings people together, instructs them on the organization’s ideals and how things should be done, and holds people up for heroic actions.” 

These are interesting perspectives. In business, we all have to be aware of the danger of malicious gossip. In the extreme, it has been known to destroy reputations and even end careers. But, having read what these contributors have to say, perhaps we might look a little more closely and determine the cause of all that “smoke” that’s smouldering in our workplace.

Meanwhile, I’m hoping for clear blue skies in the coming weeks.

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, is being released on October 9th 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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Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.

Jim Rohn American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker.
Keeping it Simple is Never Stupid

Keeping it Simple is Never Stupid

Posted by martin.parnell |

As I mentioned, in last week’s blog, our daughter, Kris and our grandsons, Nathan and Matthew are here for a visit. It’s great fun having them to stay and, as I watch the way she interacts with the boys, it’s heartening to see our daughter passing on the lessons she learned from me and her Mum to her own children. Values that I learned from my parents and which still apply today.

Having them to stay is enabling my wife and I to do many things we wouldn’t normally do and it’s a joy to experience them through the eyes of the children. One great investment we made was the purchase of 2 plastic magnifying glasses, from the dollar store. I’d forgotten how much fun it is to go on a “bug hunt”. 

It’s been a very busy few days, so I hadn’t given much thought to this week’s blog. I came into my office, sat down at my computer and hoped I’d find some inspiration.  Nothing.

So, I decided to look back at past blogs and see if I might find a train of thought that would lead me to an idea.   I even went back to my very first blog, posted on 11th. April 2016, entitled “No you can’t …….Yes I can”. In it, I wrote about overcoming obstacles to turn a negative experience in to a positive one. 

When I wrote that first blog, I wasn’t sure if it was something I’d keep doing.  How could I come up with something new to say every week? Well, apart from a couple of weeks when I’ve been away, I’ve managed to do it. From that first one, I’ve somehow reached blog number 111.  

I was quite surprised when I realized the range of topics I’d covered, but one thing that struck me was, despite having posted that first entry over two years ago, the words still have meaning.

It’s the same with most of my blogs. The months and years go by, but the basic messages still ring true and can be applied as well today as they did when I wrote them. That also applies to the many articles from which I’ve drawn inspiration and information.  

Just like the ideas we passed on to our children, if a message has value and makes sense, it will stay relevant. So often, especially in business, we feel obliged to come up with the next innovative idea. To be constantly making changes to the way we do things.

With regards to some aspects of the way we do business, that’s important in order for us to move forward, especially in this time when technology is constantly asking us to embrace new concepts and we feel obliged to engage with all the nuances of social media. But basic, good practice and sound principals still have as much value as any technological advance and we must resist making changes just for the sake of it.  

This week, I am going to leave you with the hope that you might take a few moments to consider those valuable lessons that have stuck with you, over the years and think about how they have stood you in good stead whether that be in your personal or professional life, and about ways in which you might pass them on to others. 

For now, I’m going to do something for which we should all make time.  I’m going to go and enjoy the company of family, the beauty of this summer’s day, the laughter and love of children and embrace the simplicity of it all.

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, is being released on October 9th 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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I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.

Mother Teresa
How to Value Age-Diversity in the Workplace

How to Value Age-Diversity in the Workplace

Posted by martin.parnell |

Next Saturday, our daughter, Kristina is flying in with our two grandsons, Nathan aged nine and Matthew Connor aged four. My wife, Sue, and I have been making a list of activities to do with the boys that they will both enjoy. 

On a recent Skype, Matthew Connor told us that he wants to see dinosaurs. We could take them to the wonderful Royal Tyrrell Museum, in Drumheller, but it’s a long drive and although Nathan would love the exhibits, we’re not sure if Matthew Connor would enjoy the museum as much. So, instead, we’ll take a trip to Calgary Zoo, where they can see animals they’ve never seen before and explore the Dinosaur Park. 

Another attraction we recently discovered is a place called The Granary Road Active Learning Park, at 112 Street West, in Calgary. It’s a wonderful, outdoor activity park, with many features including: Frog pond fun pad. Orchard treehouse, Arachnid web, Ant farm adventure, Bee hive honeycomb, Bat cave hang out and lots more. 

We especially like it because there is plenty for both the boys to do, despite their five year age gap. Whilst Sue and I were compiling our list, that’s something we tried to bear in mind. What activities can be enjoyed by both a four year-old and a nine year-old?  

As parents and grandparents, it’s something many of us have to consider. Sometimes, though, it’s a little tricky and we have to arrange alternative activities for them and this would apply even more, if our 14 year-old granddaughter Autunm was coming too. Fortunately, the boys are used to doing things together and Nathan is very good at being a tolerant playmate to his little brother. 

Considering this made me think about the way employees interact, despite the possibility that there may be a vast range in ages. There is a lot to be said for having people of different ages working together. Older employees can share their knowledge and experience, especially when dealing with customers. Whereas younger workers may have new ideas to share, as well as an enthusiasm which may be waning amongst older colleagues. 

Older workers can act as mentors and explain the advantages and pitfalls of doing things a certain way, younger workers can demonstrate the most recent trends in social media and advances in technology. A leader can make the most of the diversity in age of their workers by being aware of the advantages of not only the different skills and levels of experience, but how different approaches can be utilized when dealing with customers. 

Try to motivate all employees so that they share the same values and goals, when it comes to the aims of the company. Bear in mind that your younger employees may be looking for advancement, either in your company or elsewhere. Older employees may have already reached the position they want to be in and be biding their time until they retire. You need to give the younger ones every opportunity for advancement whilst, at the same time, being sensitive to the position of their more experienced workmates. 

I found some very useful information, in an article entitled Tips for Managing an Age-Diverse Workforce by John Krautzel,posted on the nexxt  website, Feb 16, 2016, in which he wrote:

Today's workforce is stocked with employees of all ages, from millennials to baby boomers. Managers have to learn to deal with and adapt to the different mindsets, work habits, values and communication styles of each generational group. Consider these tips for managing an age-diverse workforce.

Promote Work-Life Balance

It is important for employees to be able to separate their work lives from their personal lives. Employees have different values and responsibilities at each stage of their lives. Offering a flexible work schedule or compensatory time benefits employees of all age groups, whether they are baby boomers taking care of ailing parents, Gen Xers facing their own health problems or millennials tending to their young families.

Offer Employee Enrichment Opportunities

Give all your employees the chance to enhance their knowledge and skills. When employees are offered self-enrichment opportunities, they feel valued and are more satisfied with their jobs, improving workplace morale and decreasing turnover rates. Require all managers to attend training that helps them identify generational differences and adapt to them.

Focus on Communication

While communication strategies differ among all generations, the central idea of a strong communication network is important to everyone in your workforce, regardless of their ages. Avoid making communication too standardized or formal within your organization, as it can be restricting. Allow employees to work on teams to open up the dialogue and recognize each other’s' strengths.

Nurture Employee Relationships

Encourage employees to bond and socialize by planning casual social activities, such as luncheons. Promoting social relationships between your employees leads to a friendlier and more enjoyable work environment for the entire workforce.

Recognize Differences in Learning Styles

Employees of all age groups prefer to learn in different ways, so accommodate their needs. Millennials often prefer technology-based learning platforms with the opportunity for interaction, while baby boomers opt for traditional learning methods, such as handbooks and PowerPoint presentations.

Engage Your Workforce

Empower and motivate your employees by making them feel valued and appreciated. Ask older workers to mentor newer employees to share trade secrets and impart job-specific knowledge, and allow younger workers to take on challenging assignments that provide job satisfaction.

Celebrate Employee Achievements

Recognize the hard work of all your employees, whether the achievements are the result of team efforts or individual work. Send out a simple email to acknowledge success or distribute inexpensive achievement awards. This show of appreciation helps to improve the morale of employees of all ages.

There isn't one perfect way to manage your entire workforce. With each generation comes a new set of workers with personalities and work styles all their own. The key to managing an age-diverse workforce lies in recognizing the generational differences to address the values and expectations of each group.

I hope this is of some help if you have a workforce that is age-diverse. Meanwhile, I’m off to the local second-hand book store to stock up on books for the boys. 

Hopefully, I’ll find some they’ll both enjoy.

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, is being released on October 9th 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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My definition of ‘innovative’ is providing value to the customer.

Mary T. Barra, Chief Executive Officer of General Motors of Canada
Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want…

Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want…

Posted by martin.parnell |

Two weeks ago, I ran the MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op) 10km, in Calgary. I thoroughly enjoyed the race, which was well attended and well organized. One thing that’s great about this event is that it only costs $15 to participate. I have run many races, in my time, from 5kms to Ultra marathons and the price to register can vary from $30 to several hundreds of dollars. 

Of course, some of them, particularly the longer ones, have to provide aid stations and other support, but oftentimes, with the shorter runs, the money is used to provide runners with a race shirt or other memento and a finishers medal. My run on Saturday did neither, but I didn’t mind. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I can understand the value of having the shirt and the medal. I have some that I truly treasure, for instance, the ones from the Boston Marathon, the Comrades Ultra, in South Africa, the Kilimanjaro marathon, my rock from the Lost Souls 160 km, the Massey 5km I ran with my daughter, Kristina and the Marathon of Afghanistan, to name but a few. 

However, there are some races that I have run several times and it would be great to run them again, at a cheaper registration fee and forego the shirt etc. You see, I don’t always want all the extras. Sometimes, I just want the basics. Have you thought about this in relation to your business? 

New and existing customers might be duly impressed with any extras you can provide for them, additional perks that may make the deal more attractive. But, you know that in the long run, they will be paying for them in one way or another. It might be the cost is included in the original price, you may ask for a longer commitment from them or there may be some other way they can reciprocate. 

Some customers, however may not need these extras or perhaps would rather not have them. The reasoning for this may vary. Maybe it puts the cost out of their reach or perhaps they are just not what the customer needs. 

And that is perhaps the point you should ask yourself and be the focus of your research. What does this particular customer actually need? This could apply, in particular, to a company that is starting out or a small business that has to watch every dollar and yet still wants to engage your services. 

They might really appreciate the fact that you have made this consideration and are prepared to present a price that is more appropriate to them because they don’t need or want all the extras. Remember, that company could grow and become a valuable, long-term client. That would be the time to suggest they engage more of your services. 

If you are unsure as to what a particular customer might want, when you are packaging a deal, ask them. You might be surprised and their response could save you time and money in trying to work out what might be the best for them.  

“Know what your customers want most and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meet.” ~ Kevin Stirtz, Manager, Data Analytics Strategy Team – Thomson Reuters. 

Some people would argue that this is not the right tactic and your customer may not know what they need until you tell them.  That may be true if they have the funds to pay for the additional costs but not everyone will be able to and you could end up being perceived as too demanding or out of their league. 

It might also apply to a customer that has seen this tactic before, has all the services they require, at the present time, and knows you are doing this more for the benefit of your company than theirs. This idea brings to mind a quote by Annette Franz, founder of CX Journey, "What is necessary is to listen to your customers: understand their needs, expectations and jobs to be done, and design an experience that meets those needs.” 

And, if you are afraid that taking this approach might affect your profits, perhaps you need to look at your own production costs and see if getting back to basics, in some areas, might benefit your company, too.

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, is being released on October 9th 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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Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.

John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
How to Speak to the World through the Written Word

How to Speak to the World through the Written Word

Posted by martin.parnell |

I have been working hard, with my publisher at Rocky Mountain Books, on the manuscript of my next book “The Secret Marathon – Empowering Women and Girls in Afghanistan through Sport”, and things are, at last, coming together. So, two weeks ago, I took a break and my wife, Sue and I went on a road trip out to Victoria, BC, to spend some time with friends in their beautiful new beach house. I made the most of my time away relaxing, doing some trail running, exploring the area and catching up with my reading. 

Before I left I looked at the pile of books, sitting on my bedside table, trying to select which ones to take with me. I have a wide variety to choose from as I like to read a selection of genres, from business to historical fiction and science fiction to murder mysteries. I decided upon Single and Single by John Le Carre and Michael Connelly’s The Wrong Side of Goodbye. I also took The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway, recommended by Sue, who knows what I like to read and will often make suggestions. 

Talking of recommendations, in the recent July/ August edition of The Atlantic magazine, I spotted an intriguing headline: 

 What Book or Article Would You Make Required Reading for Everyone on Earth? 

I felt this was an interesting question  and decided to give it some thought. I began by considering the reason for m my selection.  Would it be to impart a particular message? Would it be informative? Would it be because it was a thrilling story? Would it be words of wisdom for a future generation? Might I even choose a picture book for those who do not have the advantage of being able to read? The questions were endless and I could think of books for every answer. In the Atlantic article, the responses were,  as one would imagine, very diverse, for example: 

Carey Cranston, president, American Writers Museum

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave illustrates the greatest heights and the lowest depths of America’s history and potential, while, better than any other work, showing the power of literacy—that when a person can read and write, he gains the ability to create his own narrative, and to shape his life and the surrounding world.

Michiko Kakutani, literary critic

Shakespeare’s collected plays. Four hundred years after the playwright’s death, his influence spans the planet. He was uncannily modern in his inventiveness and gift for engaging the popular imagination; in his depiction of spirited, independent women; and in his appreciation of the contingencies of life in a chaotic world reeling from accelerating change and loss.

C. W. Gortner, author, The Romanov Empress and Mademoiselle Chanel

An Inconvenient Truth, by Al Gore. Though not very sexy, it addresses the most vital and pressing issue we face as a species on our beleaguered Earth. If left unchecked, global warming will have devastating ramifications for every living being on this planet. We simply can’t afford to ignore it in the hope that it’ll go away. 

Kevin Kwan, author, Crazy Rich Asians

Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, is an astoundingly visionary satire published in 1932 that foresaw not just what’s happening today, but where we’re possibly heading next. 

C. E. Morgan, author, The Sport of Kings

The Mindbody Prescription, by John E. Sarno, saved my life. It explores how the subconscious mind can create physical pain as a means of avoiding emotional pain. This mind-body approach has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of the psychological origins of many ailments. A vital read for anyone suffering from chronic pain.

Esmeralda Santiago, author, Conquistadora

Men speak about peace but prefer war. Men head the majority of governments and control the increasingly lethal weapons, using women and gods as moral shields. Unsparing in its portrayal of men’s nature, The Iliad should be read by everyone who hopes to understand mankind.

There were also contributions by readers which included titles as equally diverse, from books by Dr Seuss to the writings of Maya Angelou.

I gave the question some thought and, quite frankly, struggled to pick one defining answer. I wondered what books my family and friends might choose. As anyone knows who has ever belonged to a book club, passions run high when it comes to what is or is not a worthy read.  Also, I go back to the reason behind the selection, which wouldn’t necessarily be based purely on the book being one you personally love.

So, as the dog days of summer continue, I leave the question with you.

Which book, poem, article, short story or other piece of writing would you want everyone to read?

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, is being released on October 9th 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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A tree stands strong not by its fruits or branches, but by the depth of its roots.

Anthony Liccione Author
If Your Business isn’t Growing, Look for the Root of the Problem

If Your Business isn’t Growing, Look for the Root of the Problem

Posted by martin.parnell |

I was listening to the gardening segment of a local radio programme and the guest expert was addressing an issue, raised by a listener who had called in asking about a problem with one of his house plants. It was soon established that the likely cause was “root rot”. 

Apparently, if the entire root system has already become mushy, it is too late to save the plant. However, if some healthy, white, firm roots exist, it may be possible to salvage the plant by replanting it, in fresh soil with good drainage. 

If your business is failing to grow, maybe you should look at its “roots” or foundations and try and identify the reasons why. This may prove to be challenging.

If you have good sales, a happy, productive workforce and satisfied customers, what can be the reason for this plateau and should you be concerned? 

Of course, you may be quite happy with the status quo. Perhaps you have achieved all you set out to do and feel it’s OK to be a bit complacent. But, is it really good for the company. Perhaps not right away, but eventually the “rot” will start to set in. 

You may lose the impetus to inspire employees who may then begin to look for new challenges elsewhere. A similar company to yours may be more pro-active and dynamic in marketing their product. Even regular customers may be swayed by a better deal. 

It could be that the issues are more practical. Have you failed to recognise the need to update the technology you use? Are other companies more proactive on social media? Do your employees enjoy the benefits that other companies can provide? 

Yours may be a well-established company that has a recognisable name and a good reputation but, in these times when entrepreneurism is encouraged and new companies are springing up all the time, it’s important to develop an awareness of the ideas that these companies bring. 

They will be looking to be recognised, establishing those same qualities that you value so greatly and will be eyeing your customer base. They will also be looking to recruit workers with experience in their field. These things are simple to analyse so that you can recognise how they might affect your company. 

Do some homework on other companies similar to yours, see how they operate and market themselves. 

With regards to your own set-up, it may be beneficial to take the following action: 

  • Look at the ways technology and social media can keep you current and visible.
  • Look at ways to update your brand in order to modernise your image.
  • Look at your customer base. Who do you sell to? Are there ways you might broaden the demographic? 

Ask yourself these questions: 

  • Do you make the most of the individual talents of your employees?
  • Are you even aware of additional talents they might have but you are failing to utilize?
  • Where customers are concerned, do you ask them for referrals?
  • Have you approached them to give constructive feedback? You can provide them with the opportunity to do both of these things, on your website. 

It’s a great feeling to be able to sit back and relax and know that your company is doing OK, but it would be an even more satisfying experience to know that it’s growing and developing in a way that is both rewarding and challenging to all concerned. 

It’s good to have goals, it keeps us rooted!

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential”. Martin 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. 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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