No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.

John Keating – Irish politician
How to Choose the Right Words if You want to be Memorable

How to Choose the Right Words if You want to be Memorable

Posted by martin.parnell |

Usually, I write my weekly blog, look to see if I receive any comments and then, within a couple of days, I’m thinking about what to cover in the next one. But not this week. 

Last Tuesday, I posted a blog about the Four-Way Test, 24 simple words that form the motto by which Rotarians strive to live their lives and it got me thinking about how certain words, mottos, sayings, phrases and slogans can affect us and the way we view things. 

I’m sure you’ve all heard the quotes: 

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
– William W. Purkey

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”- Mava Angelou

"That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

For some reason, quotes like these have been repeated over and over again. They resonate with us at certain times and seem to portray exactly what we might want to say. I also got to thinking about the way Mission Statements are written in order to define your purpose, inspire and still be attainable and Vision statements that are focused on the future and express the values and hopes of your business.

If we have a business, we look for the most impactful way to advertise our products and services. We seek to come up with slogans that people will remember and recognise asconnected to our product. Wouldn’t it be great if we could think of a slogan as memorable as one of these?  “For Everything Else, There’s MasterCard”, Ronseal – “It Does Exactly What it Says on the Tin”, Nike – “Just Do It” and Apple’s “Think Different”.

The way we use words can express our feelings, our opinions and our values. That’s why we have to choose them carefully. So much damage can be done to us personally and in business if we are not conscious of the way our words can be interpreted. We all know that words can be misinterpreted, especially if they are written down.

As Alyssa Mertes explains, in her article “Top 10 Effective and Ineffective Advertising Slogans” on the Quality Logo Products website September 2011, sometimes companies get it wrong. 

From her piece, I’ve chosen these examples:

“Volkswagen:  “Relieves Gas Pains.” 

Whether or not it was intentional, there’s a very distracting double innuendo in their slogan. Humor works well for an advertisement or slogan if that’s part of the brand’s personality. However, Volkswagen has never been known to be particularly comical as a company.

Old Spice:  “Smell Better Than Yourself.” 

This slogan is a real head-scratcher to say the least. How can you possibly smell better than yourself? It is strongly implied that, on a basic level, you don’t typically smell all that great. After using Old Spice products you’ll smell better, but by how much? There’s way too much thinking behind this slogan.

Hoover:  “It Beats as it Sweeps as it Cleans.” 

Nine times out of ten, a catchy song can make even the worst situation a little bit better. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with “It Beats as it Sweeps as it Cleans.” The jingle is extremely strange and lacks any kind of rhythm whatsoever. Just like your Aunt Cheryl when she tried doing the Cha Cha Slide at your wedding.”

Whether we are trying to convey the aims of your business, your organisation or other aspect of your life, we have to make sure we are conveying the right message and it pays to make it a positive one and ensure that it doesn’t offend or make false claims. 

If you are engaged in writing a slogan, a statement about your business or some other avenue you are pursuing, it really wouldn’t hurt to go back to the words of that Four –Way Test and use them as a guideline: Is it the Truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

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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There will be days when you don’t think you can run a marathon. There will be a lifetime knowing you have.

Anon
How to Enjoy a Challenge from the Comfort of your Armchair

How to Enjoy a Challenge from the Comfort of your Armchair

Posted by martin.parnell |

Next Monday morning, April 15th. I will pour myself a cup of coffee, turn on the TV and spend a few hours indulging in one of my favourite pastimes, watching thousands of amateur and professional runners from all over the world braving hilly terrain and varying weather in an attempt to complete the Boston Marathon. 

The event is hosted by several communities in greater Boston in eastern Massachusetts and is always held on Patriots' Day, the third Monday of April. Begun in 1897, the event was inspired by the success of the first marathon competition in the 1896 Summer Olympics and is the world's oldest annual marathon. The course runs from Hopkinton in southern Middlesex County to Copley Square in Boston. 

There are some incredible stories connected to the race and the history behind it. One of the most well-known is that of Kathrine Switzer. For many years, women were not allowed to officially enter the Boston Marathon. In 1967, Kathrine Switzer, registered as "K. V. Switzer" and became the first woman to run and finish with a race number, despite an infamous incident in which race official Jock Semple tried to rip off her number and eject her from the race.  

In 1996 the B.A.A. retroactively recognized as champions the unofficial women's leaders of 1966 through 1971. In 2015, about 46 percent of the entrants were female. Roberta "Bobbi" Gibb is recognized by the race organizers as the first woman to run the entire Boston Marathon (in 1966) although women were not officially allowed to enter until 1972. 

In 1980, amateur runner Rosie Ruiz crossed the finish line first in the women's race. Marathon officials became suspicious when it was discovered that Ruiz did not appear in race videotapes until near the end of the race. A subsequent investigation concluded that Ruiz had skipped most of the race and blended into the crowd about one mile (1.6 km) from the finish line, where she then ran to her false victory. 

Ruiz was officially disqualified, and Canadian Jacqueline Gareau was proclaimed the winner. Gareau was acknowledged publicly with a medal ceremony a week later. Her time of 2:34:28 was a course record. Gareau went on to place fifth in 1981, and second in 1982 and 1983. There are a number of other Canadian runners who have made an impact on the event.

In an article posted in Runs & Races April 20th, 2018, Anne Francis not only celebrates Canadian Krista DuChene and her astonishing third-place finish that year, but also goes on to recognize other Notable Canadian podium finishes in Boston Marathon history:

Odette LaPierre: Odette LaPierre of Charny, Que. placed third in 1988 (2:30:35), fourth in 1987 (2:31:33) and eighth in 1989 and 1992. She also competed in the marathon at two consecutive Olympics, in 1988 and 1992.

Lizanne Bussieres: Ste-Foy, Que.’s Lizanne Bussieres placed third at Boston in 1986, and also competed in the Olympics in 1988 and 1992.

Art Boileau: Art Boileau of Edmonton, Alta. was second in 1986 (2:11:15), in between representing Canada in the marathon at two consecutive Olympics, in 1984 and 1988. 

Jerome Drayton: Drayton is the last Canadian man to have won the Boston marathon – in 1977 (2:14:46), after placing third in 1974. His Canadian marathon record of 2:10:09, set in 1975 during one of his three Fukuoka Marathon wins in Japan, was finally broken in 2018, 43 years later, by Cam Levins in 2:09:25. 

Gerard Côté: Côté won Boston an astonishing four times and was a major presence at the race throughout the out 1940s. His wins in 1940, 1943, 1944, and 1948 were all with times between 2:28 and 2:31. Three of his victories came after battles with the legendary Johnny Kelley for the title. Côté was also third in 1946, and fourth in 1947, and sixth in 1949. 

Johnny Miles: Miles won Boston twice: in 1926 and 1929, setting a course record both times. His 1929 time was 2:33:08. The 1926 race was Miles’ first marathon, and he had never actually raced a distance longer than 16K. He had to ask his neighbours to help him pay for the cost of a train ticket to Boston.

Tom Longboat: Longboat was one of Canada’s best known and most gifted runners, winning Boston in 1907 with a time of 2:24:24, setting a new course record by more than five minutes. Longboat captured every Canadian record from the mile to the marathon at some point during his career.

But, one Canadian runner I’d like to focus on is Ronald J. MacDonald. MacDonald won the second-ever Boston marathon, in 1898, in 2:42. The field that year was 25 runners. MacDonald was born in Fraser's Grant, Antigonish County, Nova Scotia. His father died at sea when MacDonald was twelve years old, after which his mother relocated the family to Cambridgeport, Massachusetts, where relatives were living. MacDonald worked as a telephone lineman, and later in the family lunch store on Cambridge Street. In 1897, he enrolled at Boston College as a special student. 

On April 19, 1898, Ronald MacDonald joined 25 other runners in Ashland at the start line of the Boston Marathon. He was 5’6" and weighed 142 lb (64 kg), and had curly light hair. It was his first marathon and he raced in bicycle shoes. MacDonald ran the whole way without taking any fluids. He ended up finishing in 2:42, the fastest of 15 finishers, three minutes faster than Gray, 13 minutes faster than the previous years’ time, and a time considered a world best at the time for a distance of about 25 miles (40 km). 

Ronald MacDonald represented Canada at the 1900 Olympic Summer Games held in Paris. MacDonald ran the marathon, but finished the last of 7 finishers. He complained that the top 3 runners, who were French, had cut the course, and that only he and an American actually completed the whole course.

In 1901, MacDonald returned to the Boston Marathon with confidence stating that he would win and break the record of Jack Maffery, another Canadian, who had run 2:39:44 the previous year. MacDonald joined 37 other runners that day and ran as part of the top 4 for most of the race. Unfortunately, MacDonald was seized with cramps and had to retire from the race, reported to be due to a sponge soaked with chloroform he unknowingly accepted from a spectator. 

I have run the Boston Marathon 3 times. The last time was when I had qualified with a time of 3:43:43 on marathon number 188, when I was aiming to achieve my Marathon Quest, to run 250 marathons in one year. 

I am currently in training for the Edmonton Marathon, this coming August, with the aim of qualifying for the Boston Marathon 2020. If I achieve my goal, it will mean I have run it in my 40s, my 50s and my 60s. 

Meanwhile, on Monday, I’ll just sit back and watch others attempt to run this prestigious event.

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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I meet people and they become chapters in my stories.

Avijeet Das
How to Connect by Making the Right Connections

How to Connect by Making the Right Connections

Posted by martin.parnell |

It’s extraordinary how sometimes you meet someone and, through a series of connections, it can lead to an amazing opportunity. 

Three years ago at my year-end fund raiser in Cochrane, raising donations for Free to Run in support of a kayaking and camping trip for Afghan women and girls, I met Umair Khan. 

I next met up with Umair at an event organized by my friend Gitti Sherzad, who appeared in my TEDx talk and had founded Pillars for Afghanistan, an organization that was raising funds for an orphanage in Kabul. 

On April 4th I went to The Art of Leadership for Women Conference at the Telus Centre in Calgary. I had been looking forward to this event for months and the main reason was that Malala Yousafzai would be speaking. Malala’s story had been an inspiration to me as I traveled to and from Afghanistan running marathons in support of the women and girls who run for freedom and equality. 

Malala was born in the Swat district of northwestern Pakistan, where her father was a school owner and was active in educational issues. After having blogged for the BBC since 2009 about her experiences during the Taliban's growing influence in the region, in 2012 the Taliban attempted to assassinate Malala on the bus home from school. She survived, but underwent several operations in the UK, where she lives today. 

In October 2014, Malala, along with Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi, was named a Nobel Peace Prize winner. At age 17, she became the youngest person to receive this prize. Accepting the award, Malala reaffirmed that “This award is not just for me. It is for those forgotten children who want education. It is for those frightened children who want peace. It is for those voiceless children who want change.” 

Arriving at the conference I not only wanted to hear Malala speak but I was hoping to meet her and give her a copy of my book “The Secret Marathon”. As it turned out, I learnt that Umair was not only going to be at the event, but is a close friend of Malala’s Father and had been at Malala’s side when she was in hospital, after having been shot by the Taliban. 

Umair told me that I was to connect with him at the end of the event and he would try and arrange a meeting with Malala. At 4.30pm I waited at the designated spot and

after 30 minutes, Malala appeared. She was with two of the conference organizers and Umair. They walked over to me and Umair introduced Malala. I gave her a copy of my book and I mentioned to her that if she ever wanted to run a marathon I would be happy to send her my training program. 

It was a meeting I will never forget, however it didn’t just happen by chance, it was because I had met Umair three years earlier and we had become friends. 

When you make connections it can be the beginning of a journey. Be open to the people you meet, you never know where it will lead and for me it led to meeting Malala.

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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