Cross-cultural Awareness in Business

“So are you religious?” asked Lenny, a Blackfoot First Nation elder who had leaned over and looked me in the eye.  Lenny and I were chatting about the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples after my presentation to the group of 13 Plains Tribes.

na-1407-1crowfootThe cross-cultural session had spent much time sharing historical stories of the local Indigenous culture and that of “Settlers” (folks like me). Clearly spirituality and religion played a huge role in both of our cultural ancestral trees.  We were looking for the common ground between Western Science and First Nation cultural perspective over land use.

I have been involved with First Nations through my entire career. I do my very best to keep an open mind and open heart to other perspectives. Here I learned more about the powerful use of oral tradition in passing on life and spiritual lessons through the 600+ songs in the “Beaver Bundle” of the Blackfoot.

When I flew home, I listened to Stephen Hawkin’s Universe in a Nutshell on the airplane. How do I juxtapose these two vastly different perspectives on things like the night sky? What science has “proven” and what First Nation’s “believe” and where neither can explain the other.

I don’t have the answer to my own questions. Probably won’t either. And I’m okay with that. At the end of the day, I feel that I am making a difference and am part of the solution moving forward. Regardless of religious, spiritual or scientific ideology. The most important choice I make is how I respond today to the challenges that were created from the past.

Feel the fear and do it anyway!

fnI co-presented at a two-day conference in Calgary this past month. Although I’ve been involved in the project that I was presenting on for more than one year, it was interesting to experience my own ‘nerves’ in the process. I really enjoy the opportunity of public speaking for this very reason. It elevates my game and heightens my awareness. I rehearsed. I visualized. I did it before I did it.

Deep down, I suspect that it is basic fear and a primal “fight or flight” response that is coming up when I have to do any public speaking. The best part is that the Agenda was set and there was no getting out of it – I was committed! As our turn to take the stage came up I simply relaxed into the situation, cracked a few jokes about my broken arm, and jumped into it.

Nothing bad happened. In fact, great new relationships were started and a whole bunch of informed questions were asked by a very engaged audience.

Feel the fear and do it anyway!

Hockey Day in Canada – Kamloops

blockersaveHockey Day in Canada was held this year in Kamloops. It’s truly a National Event and all the heavy weights of Canada’s Hockey World strode into town…from Lanny McDonald, to Ron McLean with Don Cherry – a “who’s who event” if there was ever one to be had!

My son Birch was invited to join the ProSmart group where half a dozen NHL’ers came out to run the local coaches through some practice drills and concepts. The whole event was top shelf with great leadership skills demonstrated and taught.

For me it underscores the real value that team sports give our youth. Another proud parenting moment is in the books 🙂

The Goal of This Human Adventure is Productivity

I loaded my Jim Rohn audio into my iPod this month and spent my vehicle time to and from work listening to his sage advice. Then I looked at my email and discovered Darren Hardy was first mentored by Jim and wrote a blog post about it. Coincidences like this always get my attention and I knew that this was the message I wanted to share this month.

Jim Rohn explains that “the goal of this human adventure is productivity; pursuing the full development of all your potential. To see what all you can do with all that you have been given.”

KonishikiIt made me laugh out loud because I remember one point in my younger years wanting to be a singer…ahhh, the “what you have been given” (or not) message became acutely accurate.  It’s the same reason why I’d suck at being a World Class sumo wrestler. BUT I do have many talents and am highly motivated to use them.

The challenge that Jim Rohn through out to Darren (and now me via his audio) is “Don’t seek security, seek adventure. It’s better to live 30 years full of adventure than a hundred years safe in the corner.”  Figure out what you are passionate about, have the talent to do and then take action towards it. Make a difference and make it count!

Video Marketing – Quick Tip

My business partner and I are fan’s of using video in our marketing and I know that many of you reading this are too. But have you ever stopped to think about the best place to put a video on your site? Or what size should your video be?

Wistia is a video marketing platform. We haven’t enough experience to really give proper feedback but I did want to share an really good and informative blog post with you that they published. Essentially they have been able to track the metrics on position in 7 zones and if your video is “above the fold” in Zones 1 and 2, then is will have the highest chance of being played.

Regarding size, both width and height that fill up, but don’t overwhelm, the screen area are the most effective. Optimally if you can publish your video’s 400-600px wide by 300-450px tall you will have the best results. Click here to read the full article.

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Never Quit Attitude of Theodor Seuss Geisel

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, floccinaucinihilipilification is the second longest word in the English language. It means an estimation of something as worthless. How often have you been on the receiving end of someone’s floccinaucinihilipilificating opinion? How did you respond?

dr-seuss_loraxAs this is the Christmas edition let’s look at an author that was rejected by 27 publishers before getting his first book published. Yet I’m pretty sure all of you have read the 1957 classic “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”.  Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, is the all time best selling children’s author in history. It’s hard to imagine the world without Dr. Seuss. What if Theodor had decided to quit after that 27th rejection?

What ever your passion, consider the decision that Geisel made to push on. The world needs you because you matter. I leave the last words to Dr. Seuss “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

Mission vs Vision

Do you have a strategic plan for your business? This month was a double down for me and strategic planning, the first go around as a participant and the second time as co-facilitator. The two engagements had me reflect on Scarecrow’s advice to Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz “if you don’t know where you are going, then any road will take you there”. It is critical for any organization of any size to have a strategic plan. Your strategic plan is the foundation for your mission, vision and guiding principles or core values.

llcfstratplanLet’s start at the top…people often confuse the difference between a Mission and a Vision. A mission is equivalent to a purpose. It answers why your business exists, what do you do and what makes you different? A vision statement is more loftier and in my opinion should be inspirational. It answers the question of where do you aim to be?  This is where you have the opportunity to integrate some of your core values such that you can attract people to your organization, such as employees, vendors, customers, board members, etc.

It’s important to recognize that when you are the owner of your own business, that your mission and vision will be unique to you. Don’t fall into the trap of simply reading someone else’s mission and vision and using it as yours. Everyone has a different purpose for doing what they do. By the way, don’t let size fool you either, some of the biggest companies have the simplest of statements, which I feel reflects in their way of doing business too. Take Wal Mart for instance, here is their Mission and Vision:
Mission: To help people save money so they can live better.
Vision: To become the worldwide leader in retailing.
You have to admit that Wal Mart is succinct and clear about who they are, why they are doing it and where they are going. Do not overcomplicate your messages!

herb-kelleherIf you are a business owner have you gone through a strategic planning process? Do you have a mission and vision statement? Do you know what you stand for, why you do what you do and where you are going? Of course, all of this is meaningless unless you take action, just as Herb Kelleher, co-founder of Southwest Airlines put it, “We have a Strategic Plan. It’s called doing things.”