All that glistens is not gold

William Shakespeare – The Merchant of Venice
How to deal with the invaders in your own backyard

How to deal with the invaders in your own backyard

Posted by martin.parnell |

Last week, I found a card on my front doorstep, which had been left by a Weed Inspector, from Town of Cochrane Parks Department. It informed me that I have three invasive species growing in my garden. Had I been busted by a Baby’s Breath? Or, worse still, had the Bighead Knapweed dared to actually rear its ugly head? 

No, it was that femme fatale of the invasive species, the Yellow Toadflax, along with her partner- in- crime the seductively purple Creeping Bellflower. I had no idea that these plants could cause a problem, for either man or beast. But I know, now. 

To be honest, I had been quite pleased with my little wild patch, especially the Alberta roses, which dominate the area. I had been taken in by the splashes of purple and yellow that peeped through, adding more colour. 

But it just goes to show how one can be swayed by something that looks attractive, but can actually do more harm than good. Of course we see this everywhere. The attractive looking foods are often not the best, nutritionally and high fashion shoes for men and women can look wonderful but cause terrible pain. 

In business, too, we have to be wary of that “sweet deal” that ends up costing more than we bargained for or the very attractive contract that turns out to be a lot of hard work for very little return. This is where we have to learn to use various tools to establish facts and make sure we’re well informed. 

When it came to my patch of garden, those tools might have included: 

1. Researching what plants were in there.

2. Checking to see if they were doing more harm than good.

3. Not relying on first impressions. 

Fortunately, with an intense session of digging and hand-pulling, it didn’t take long to rid myself of the little invaders and I will definitely be on the lookout, to make sure they don’t return. 

So, make sure you check your garden and be aware when negotiating that next business deal. Weed out all the noxious elements. You don’t want the consequences of being ill-informed landing on your, proverbial “door-step”. 

Oh, did I mention Leafy Spurge? Now that’s one sucker you don’t want hanging around!

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It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.

Lena Horne - Jazz singer
In the Bag - 12 Essentials for the Road Warrior

In the Bag - 12 Essentials for the Road Warrior

Posted by martin.parnell |

On a recent flight to Toronto, I was reading an article in the Air Canada in-flight magazine, enRoute. The subject was an interview with a celebrity explaining which items they felt were “essential” to pack, when travelling. Personally, I don’t feel the need to splash out on a spray bottle of Evian water, essential oils for my cuticles or a spare pair of cashmere legwarmers, but it did get me thinking about the items I find I always take in my carry-on and are essential to me to make the experience a little more enjoyable. 

 I got it down to six: 

  1. A pen and paper - very handy for completing the customs card, on those international flights, filling in a crossword and jotting down notes when an idea comes to mind.
  2. A pair of good headphones - for listening to music or providing the audio for an in-flight movie.
  3. A book - not too heavy in either weight or content.
  4. A light jacket –  it can be used to keep the chill off, to roll up and place in the small of your back or a pillow (not provided on domestic flights)
  5. A pack of mixed nuts – a little in flight snack is always welcome.
  6. A small pack of wet wipes - you just never know when turbulence might hit and spills occur. 

 If I’m on a business trip I also ensure I’ve packed other “essentials”: 

  1. Sat. Nav. – with pre-programmed destinations e.g.  Hotel and locations of business meetings.
  2. Charging station – must be on top of this all the time. Computer, cell phone, camera battery and Garmin GPS have to be fully charged.
  3. Lap top – great to catch up on emails and get some work done.
  4. Running gear – if the weather’s good I’ll head out before breakfast for a 10 km run. Gives me a chance to check out the area.
  5. Camera - take it with me wherever I go.
  6. Swimming gear – at the end of a day, there’s nothing better than a swim, hot tub or sauna. Melts the stress right away

 Being on the road can wear you down but some preplanning and a conscious effort to give yourself some “Me” time will at least make it bearable and maybe even a little fun. What is one of your "Must Haves" when you are travelling?

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As with many things, hesitation is better than hurry.

Patrick Rothfuss
A Simple Life at a Luxurious Cost

A Simple Life at a Luxurious Cost

Posted by martin.parnell |

I recently saw a promotion for some cottages for sale, at a nearby resort. So, on Sunday, my wife and I decided to check them out. Our curiosity stemmed, partially, from the fact that some friends of ours are having a property built on the same development. We toured three different show homes, one of which we particularly liked and then looked at the promo package we’d been given. 

I’m sure many people have experienced the following: 

You look first at the basic price for the lot – seems pretty reasonable. Then you look at the cost of having your property built – maybe a little more than you had expected, but still within your range. Next you look at the “add-ons”, which you’d really like because they looked so appealing in the show home. Of course you’d really like a garage and if you have more than one vehicle, that’s going to cost even more. Oh and did I mention the condo fees, the utilities bills and the GST? Suddenly, you’re looking at something that would end up costing far more than you’d originally thought. It’s all the extras that, once seen, seem so necessary – but are they? 

Things that I, personally, would consider pretty essential would be a closet and doors on the washroom, but these were somehow missed, when one show home was built. In fact closet space seemed to be an absolute luxury addition in all the houses we saw, including a couple that were for sale. Many of the properties are now advertised for “year-round” living. They are very attractive, but not necessarily that practical for a permanent residence. 

One idea, for when you look to relocate, is to make a list, beforehand of all the details of your current home that you couldn’t do without and make sure they are included in the home you might consider buying. In fact, it would be an idea to do this when considering making changes in various areas of your life, whether it’s buying a car, taking a holiday or changing internet / cable provider. 

In the area of business it is critical to use this approach. For example, how many employees do you really need, is it essential to locate your office downtown? Maybe it is, but it is key to establish that any changes you make are beneficial. Sometimes it takes a lot of work to find the simple life you’ve been looking for.

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