March 2012

Making lemonade

Change comes in two flavours. Good and bad. That’s it. Good change — like finding a new job, buying a new house, booking a vacation — is quite welcome. Naturally, bad change isn’t. The first reaction is to fight to keep the past alive where things were safe.

After getting stabbed, I spent a lot of energy worrying the guy was going to stay in jail for a long time. Writing letters, getting phone numbers, visiting police…

Of course, it serves no purpose. We spend a lot of energy preserving the past after unwanted changes. It’s a natural reaction, but it’s ultimately useless. Preserving the past, to avoid a new reality is futile. That’s why the past is the past, the present is now and it dictates the future. [Side note: Temporarily holding on to the past is healthy if it leads you to accept what’s happened]

By far the best thing I did after the stabbing, wasn’t to write letters or get angry. It was to write a simple blog post. I got to hear from people saying it changed their habits. It made them safer — walking in groups, keeping their iPods off and increasing vigilance. Not only on that street corner, but where ever they go. In a small way, that post allowed me to accept the past, start moving on and help my small part of society grow.

Focus on tomorrow

When change happens you have two choices — fight to preserve what was or fight for a chance to transform and grow. Only one of them really prepares a stronger tomorrow. There’s an opportunity to not only change yourself, but also those around you.

There’s always an opportunity to make lemonade, no matter how bitter the lemons appear to be.

(Photo credit: Erich Ferdinand)

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Fabrice Calando

Would you like to speak at Social Media Breakfast Montreal (SMBMtl)? Now’s your chance!

The Social Media Breakfast was started in August 2007 by Bryan Person in Boston. Since then the event spread to over 40 cities including here in Montreal.

The event is a huge success.

It started in December 2009 and I remember attending what I recall was the second SMBMtl at Bside bar (a bar at 8 am!) to listen and converse with Mitch Joel. Since then then there have been more than a few world-class speakers, including:

The event has also grown-up and moved from the bar floor to La Bistrote where Chef/Owner Dana Elsliger serves some of the greatest breakfasts you’ll ever eat.

I was lucky enough to both speak and attend the event. It’s been a great opportunity professionally as well as personally. It was there that I met and solidified relationships with Mark, Adele, Sebastien, Karima-Catherine, Ray Hiltz and many more.

Your turn

I’m now thrilled to be able to help Jeff Taylor keep the SMBMtl rolling. Along with Luis and Andrew from KAI Design we’re helping promote, organize and find speakers/sponsors for the event.

And that’s where you fit in.

If you’re interested in presenting or sponsoring the event, drop me a word!

See you soon!

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Hack Your Life Project | Healthy mind, healthy body

I’ve been wanting to wake up earlier. This past week was dedicated to testing out options that should make it happen and make it stick. The process isn’t quite over, but it’s on it’s way.

Testing options allows you to find the best way to change a behaviour. Going “cold turkey” rarely works. When was the last time you met a smoker for who quitting cold turkey really worked? Testing allows you to play around and tweak different elements to determine what aspects are easier to change and where you’ll need to work at it. A “cold turkey” attitude relies on one big motivational push. It’s not that it can’t work, it’s that it’s that much harder to tackle one big item. The first time you fail, the whole is harder to keep on track than the element.

#HYLP Challenge #12: Healthy mind, healthy body

Healthy mind, healthy body is a saying that gets thrown around a lot. Quite simply, to be well-rounded, humans need to stay health physically and mentally. One feeds off of the other. Of course, our lives get busy — there’s work, kids, blogging, house hunting, groceries, family obligations, commutes. While they’re all important, they take away time from you. Time you need to focus on your physical health as well as the mental.

This week will be about finding that time. Setting some moments aside to focus on physical health as well as mental health.

Why?

This challenge couldn’t have popped up at a better time (does that even make it a challenge?). Ever since everything changed, I haven’t been able to workout and my new schedule has made it harder for me to read. Part of last week’s challenge was exactly that — getting back on track.

It’s is quite self-explanatory. Health isn’t simply a physical thing, it’s mental as well. It’s not about the bare minimum it’s about being complete.

Past challenges

If you’re new here, on the first week of January I started the Hack Your Life Project. Each week I challenge myself to explore the details of the programmable system that is my life and stretch its capabilities, as opposed to most of us, who only prefer to learn the minimum necessary. I no longer want to breeze through my life, but take control of it.These are the past challenges:

  1. Hack Your Life Project | Get rid of excess clothing
  2. Hack Your Life Project | Turn off the electronics
  3. Hack Your Life Project | Hello stranger
  4. And then…everything changes | The happyness metric
  5. Hack Your Life Project | Do
  6. Hack Your Life Project | Weekends and evenings
  7. Hack Your Life Project | Take a break
  8. Hack Your Life Project | Be decisive
  9. Hack Your Life Project |Set your limits
  10. Hack Your Life Project | Give a fuck
  11. Hack Your Life Project | Test your life
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Missing out

No matter how many members Facebook has (close to 1 billion), it’s not uncommon to meet someone who doesn’t have the time or doesn’t see the the value of being active on various social networks. To be blunt, if you resist social media, you’re missing out on great opportunities. To hide behind (legit) concerns of privacy and lack of time is one thing. But the reality is, you’re missing out on:

The difference

Of course all this was possible before social media. People found jobs, met new people, donated to charities, funded businesses, published books, grew their business, shared ideas… What’s the difference?

Social media starts whereas other media stops. And that’s really where the difference lies. Social media points you towards more; more acquaintances, more knowledge, more questions, more serendipity… just more. Whereas traditional media aims to stop you…the question is answered then and their, they tell you what’s important, they ask the questions.

As Seth Godin points out, Britannica is stopping print production in favour of digital. Compared that to Wikipedia. The difference is at it’s core. The encyclopedia aims to answer all the question — the definite answer. Wikipedia aims to start the answer and links towards more.

The same goes for Kiva, Kickstarter, Facebook, Pressbook, YouTube, LinkedIn, WordPress…

Don’t criticize more and miss the opportunity.

(Photo credit: Marcus Hansson)

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The kids can't write

Current generations will often say about younger generations something to the effect that kids can’t write. They write in SMS language:

  • C u L8tr
  • lol
  • ?
  • kk
  • r u ok?
  • going 2mro c u thr

And so on… The brevity of mobile phone text messages and the instant nature of communications have made it that sentences are out; abbreviations, pictograms and slang are in…

Every generation has it’s “thing”

How are they going to communicate, find a job and stay in touch if they can’t write? Communication channels are increasingly varied. There’s text; but there’s also video, audio and photographs too. As communications get more varied, one form isn’t more important than the other.

The great thing about culture is that it’s constantly changing. Hair length, trains, cars, the Internet were all criticized and popular music and movies are constantly under fire. Your parents, aunts and uncles had a problem with what you were doing, just like you have a problem with the next generation’s habits.

What’s interesting is that whatever is frowned upon is usually what envied. More communication, more freedom, more choices, more options…”more” leads to criticism.

What can we do about it?

“More” allows for more opportunities to stand out. Communications are changing and are now cheaper than ever and ideas can spread faster. Where do you stand? Seth Godin said it best:

One way to work the system is to work the system. The other way is to refuse to work it.

As systems — like communications — change you can really do two things about it.Work it or refuse it. When I first started working most of my colleagues would shoot out one-sentence emails to colleagues, superiors and suppliers. I would form full-bodied messages starting with “Hi So and so” and ending with “Thank you, Fabrice” — I always felt I got a better service than my peers. I refused to work the new system and it worked for me.

Work it or refuse it. Complaining does nothing.

(Photo credit: Casimiro Zmtih)

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I spent this past week looking for a charity. Not a charity to simply donate to, but something to support when and where I can. I think apathy is one of the biggest roadblocks to hacking your life. To put it simply, when you stop caring, you give up and that’s when you get in trouble. Spending time and energy on causes and issues that are important to you, gets you comfortable with caring…caring about others, caring about yourself.
Kiva - loans that change lives

I’ve decided to invest more time with Kiva. I’ve invested there a couple times in the past, but I want to do more. If you don’t know it, it’s a non-profit organization that lets individuals (you) help create opportunities for others around the world through micro-financing. It’s not about charity, it’s about investing in others, their ideas and their businesses. You get to invest as little as $25 in projects and change the world.

Check KIVA out today!

#HYLP Challenge #11: Test your life

I recently came to realize (accept) that the morning is when I’m most productive. That goes for writing this blog as well as at work. To be able to do more, if feel I need to wake up earlier and structure my day differently. There are two ways to go about it: blindly and simply set the alarm earlier or testing different methods. The first option is simply guessing and intuition. By testing, I can find the best option and make it stick. Think about the last time you wanted to change something. Did you just go at it or did you figure out what works best?

Why?

A lot of our lives are spent with tests. There’s school exams, driving tests, marketing campaigns, web analytics, citizenship tests, personality tests, Internet speed tests and love tests. Tests determine what works and what doesn’t to ultimately improve performance. The thing is testing can help you change and improve your life as well. Why not use the concept of tests to your life? Want to change? Why leave something something so important up to chance, luck or intuition?

This week, I’ll be testing and tweaking to improve, perform and deliver.

Past challenges

If you’re new here, on the first week of January I started the Hack Your Life Project. Each week I challenge myself to explore the details of the programmable system that is my life and stretch its capabilities, as opposed to most of us, who only prefer to learn the minimum necessary. I no longer want to breeze through my life, but take control of it.These are the past challenges:

  1. Hack Your Life Project | Get rid of excess clothing
  2. Hack Your Life Project | Turn off the electronics
  3. Hack Your Life Project | Hello stranger
  4. And then…everything changes | The happyness metric
  5. Hack Your Life Project | Do
  6. Hack Your Life Project | Weekends and evenings
  7. Hack Your Life Project | Take a break
  8. Hack Your Life Project | Be decisive
  9. Hack Your Life Project |Set your limits
  10. Hack Your Life Project | Give a fuck
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Control

Humans are notoriously bad at determining what we can control in our lives.

Things you don’t control:

  • The weather
  • The other person’s mood
  • The stock market
  • The car in front of you in traffic
  • The result of the hockey game (unless you’re a player or coach)
  • The other person’s intentions
  • The other person’s reaction
  • How crowded the subway will be
  • Who gets cut from the team
  • The traffic
  • The election results
  • The last day
  • Your second chance

Things you control:

  • How you respond to the things above

Often you can do your part, but the danger is really when you spend your energy trying to control items that would fit in list number 1 and neglect the second. Sure, the items on list 1 are easier to identify and arguably more engaging but they divert your attention from what is really important. And that’s exactly the danger, spending your time and energy on things you can’t control at the detriment of what you can.

What do you control?

(Photo credit: David Goehring)

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Hack Your Life Project | Give a fuck

Sometimes “no” is simply the best answer. It frees up time to do your best work and, in the long-run, that’s when you’re the most helpful. What I like about last week’s “just say no” project is just how much it brought to my attention those situations where “no” is the way to go. What I find surprising is how, sometimes, it’s harder to say “no” to a friend than a stranger. In the past, I’ve often found myself saying “yes” to things I really didn’t want to do. Obviously not all requests fall in that category and I would have liked more situations to arise, but I’m aware of them now. Like with the previous “I don’t know” project I’m aware of the times I slip up and that’s what’s important.

As previously mentioned, the objective isn’t an outcome, but the process.

How did you find this challenge?

#HYLP Challenge #10: Stand for something

I once heard an interview with Sean Penn where he said:

My experience in life is, with great exception, is that I find I am extremely touched by humanity. I’m not so fond of humans.

This week I’ll be looking for a charity or organization to support. I’ll research, find and start supporting on an ongoing basis an organization that provides help to others. It can be the Red Cross, TED, the SPCA, the UN or something small and local. It doesn’t matter. What I want is that in the end, you associate me with it.

Why?

One of the biggest roadblocks to hacking your life is apathy. The process here is to get comfortable with caring. It sounds silly to say, but a big reason why people get stuck in systems they don’t like is because they don’t care — “It’s only a job,” “I’ll do it later,” “How has it always been done?”

Often it’s easier to care about the plight of others, than yourself. The goal isn’t to find an organization to simply donate too, but an organization to learn and grow from.

Be part of humanity, help others to learn how to help yourself.

Past challenges

If you’re new here, on the first week of January I started the Hack Your Life Project. Each week I challenge myself to explore the details of the programmable system that is my life and stretch its capabilities, as opposed to most of us, who only prefer to learn the minimum necessary. I no longer want to breeze through my life, but take control of it.These are the past challenges:

  1. Hack Your Life Project | Get rid of excess clothing
  2. Hack Your Life Project | Turn off the electronics
  3. Hack Your Life Project | Hello stranger
  4. And then…everything changes | The happyness metric
  5. Hack Your Life Project | Do
  6. Hack Your Life Project | Weekends and evenings
  7. Hack Your Life Project | Take a break
  8. Hack Your Life Project | Be decisive
  9. Hack Your Life Project |Set your limits
Read more

Passion at its core

Unexpectedly ask someone what their passion is and they’ll answer something like:

  • “I don’t know, I don’t have a passion”
  • “My family”
  • “I play soccer, so I guess I’m passionate about that”

Passion is a very hard thing to pinpoint. Some people are lucky and find it early on. Others take a while to find what they’re passionate about. And others never really stop to think about it.

Finding your passion

A few weeks ago we held a workshop at the office. All the employees came in for a week to meet, exchange and learn. The theme of the workshop was Finding your Passion so a handful of us were scheduled to give a short talk about our passion. Those talks had a snowball effect. By the end of the week, everyone wanted to share their passions. I must have listening to a dozen to two dozen speeches. I realized that everyone’s passion shared a common core.

The core of passion

What if all of our passions shared a common core and just manifested itself in different ways? All our passions shared two elements…that’s it just two. For some (most) one was stronger than the other, but both were quite apparent.

  • Helping others
  • Challenging yourself

That’s it. Most passions shared that week had these two things at their core. People are at their most passionate when they can help others and challenge themselves.

So when people say:

  • “My family”, what they’re saying is “That’s where I feel I help the most and grow the most.”
  • “I play soccer, so I guess I’m passionate about that”, what they’re saying is “winning and losing with a team is the greatest challenge, I can help my teammates.

In a way this closely mirrors Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s theory of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (Affiliate link). Flow is when you are doing your best work (whatever you feel work is). It’s when the challenge of the task just matches your abilities. The task is not so easy you get bored and not so hard you get nervous and feel inadequate, but just hard enough you feel challenged.

Your passion is the optimal experience. You challenge yourself and your abilities are what you can help others with.

(Photo credit: Stephen A. Wolfe)

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