December 21, 2011

Story update and thoughts of a busy schedule

This post will serve as somewhat of a sounding board for me to organize my thoughts, as writing often does for me.

I think I'm going to have to scrap my current short story idea. While there are a lot of new elements that I've incorporated into it (namely the sexual aspect), I feel that not all of it flows particularly well. It's kind of like I've got pieces to a puzzle but it's not the puzzle I was actually working on at the time. I'd like to take those pieces and reorganize them into different stories so I can make something I'll actually be pleased with. I'm still highly interested in completed either part of a story or an entire short story this holiday season, but it's going to have to wait a little bit.

I'm committed to the fantasy genre and to developing memorable characters and settings inside of it. It's very much a work-in-progress most of the time, but eventually I want to push the envelope in a tasteful and intriguing way that calls some things we accept as certainties into question. In all likelihood I'm going to have to expand my writing repertoire by reading more and choosing what I read carefully. I recognize that may take a while and will continue writing in the meantime to try to improve on that front as well.

In other news, I've been giving increasing thought to things and hobbies I've always wanted to do but have never taken up either because I felt I didn't have the time or because I didn't have as strong of an interest at that time. However, I'm wondering if some of it might be too much on my plate right now. The MBA program keeps me plenty busy. Combine that with curling, writing, music, and a social life, and you've got one hell of a tough schedule to keep. What will likely happen is that the focus will shift back and forth continuously in such a way that I focus on a given two or three of them at a time. Only time will tell.

December 19, 2011

Thoughts on growth and holiday expectations

Ah the holidays...A time of family, togetherness, gifts, and...Oh yeah, exams. So many of us have them. So many of us have had them. In my case, I have probably had over 40 of them by now. They usually fall on my birthday (Dec. 17th). But not this year.

That makes me think. The past years have seen a lot of changes for a lot of people. In my own life I've had a big shift in outlooks and attitudes over the past 6 years or so. I also did a lot of growing up and I've still got a lot of growing up before me. I've noticed that the same can be said for other people too and I think that's a good thing.

The change has indeed been growth. Sure, not everyone's circumstances changed for the best at all times. Bad things happened to me, bad things happened to others. I think we all came out stronger for it in the end, though.

Christmas is the one holiday where everyone is supposed to be happy. For that reason, it makes sense why we started doing New Years resolutions. People who aren't happy see that as a time to make a change in their lives. Still, I think that sometimes too much attention is paid to those traditions. Maybe it should be less about forced happiness for some people and more about some type of reflection, noticing that even if things aren't going that great for you that there is a better outlook in the future. After all, when you look at the past and consider the bad things that have happened, we all got through them before so what would be so different about this time?

For those of us who are having a good holiday season (and oh boy am I ever!), carry on and enjoy the festive spirit.

Life is about finding something that makes you happy in any given situation, no matter how challenging it might be. In that way, we can all relate no matter what condition we're in. I think it's the outlook that's most important. If you've got a positive outlook then you'll find more good in the world whereas if you're outlook is negative you'll focus on the bad. People find what they expect to find. Situations, life, and the holidays flow like a river. I've said it before and I'll say it again: We're in a boat and we're floating down that river, so try to enjoy the trip, okay?

December 14, 2011

Excerpt from my new short story

Warning! The following is not PG, proceed with caution.

I’ve been a father and a husband.
I’ve been widowed before too.
I’ve loved and been in love and know enough to know that there is a difference between the two. My first wife, Carolyn, was kind and gentle, worthy of any man’s devotion. Initially, I could not reciprocate her love for me. Our marriage was a political one, an alignment of Duke and Duchess to strengthen ties between neighbouring provinces and the realm as a whole. It was only when my wife had fallen ill that I began to truly love her. But as I’ve stated prior, I was not in love with her.
The difference between loving and being in love – I have often wondered if it lies within the stirrings of one’s inner being, the drive to want and need a person wholly, or is it in the intent; that vessel of the mind that allows one to truly fall in love. I have been wondering that since I met Jasmine, around a year after Carolyn’s passing.
It began first as lust and casual dalliances, but evolved into somewhat else. Certainly not love. But there was a dependence growing between the two of us like a sweet addiction. That addiction soon bore fruit in the form of a child: my little angel, Rebecca, the third of the three women most important in my life. But even Rebecca, in all her splendor and my glory at having had her, was not what eventually made me fall in love with Jasmine. I can’t explain it other than to say that it fits. The chemistry between us is undeniable and, though I still grieve for Carolyn, I have never been happier in my life.


She smiled and then we kissed, her tongue darting between my lips as my hands caressed her, helping her out of the gown. Our lips parted and she flung herself on the bed, slipping off the rest of the gown, lying naked before me. Her body was beautiful and my pulse quickened at the sight of her. At once, I tore off my shirt and undid my breeches with difficulty, finally managing to get them by my hard phallus. As I sank into the bed she spread her legs and then I finally took her.
And fast.
Our lovemaking was at once a race and a long-distance run. The pace was excruciating. We were insatiable. Again and again, I took her from every possible angle to every possible climax, holding off on my own until I finally spent myself and my seed within her.
That was the first of many such dalliances.

December 11, 2011

Update, plus figuring out what I'll do with my free time

My final exam is tomorrow at 4pm so I'm less than 24 hours away from freedom. It's going to be a tough one but everything will work out fine. The free time I'll have after this will be formidable. Invigilation leaves you with free time too. Which brings me to what I'll end up doing with all this free time. Funny, sometimes my thoughts are actually simple.

Good news for those of you who actually enjoy my writing. It's highly likely that I'm going to start writing another short story on Tuesday. It'll probably fall somewhere within a ten page limit with what I have planned so it won't be too much of an inconvenience for anyone to read. Look for more outlandish ideas and themes to be presented. Unlike the last one I wrote, which was based off a close friend's dream, this will be purely from my own mind so there will be more flexibility in terms of what I can do with setting and characters. Look for that to be done in short order if I'm not too busy.

It's my birthday this Saturday! This can only mean one thing: Drinking. All day. I've nothing formal planned at this time so if anyone wants to hang out or drink or whatever, it's probably better to get in touch with me over the phone. If you want to talk to someone coherent I would call in the early afternoon.

I think my plan for getting a keyboard for the purpose of eventually learning the piano might be getting the green light too. I'm half-considering waiting until Boxing Day or something to get a better deal on it. We'll see how that works out.

This will be by far the most free time I've had since September 1st. Chances are it might be a shock to my system to not be constantly on the move or doing work for classes, etc. It's a time to catch up on things but also a time to have some fun and pursue some hobbies I can't normally pursue during the semester. Things likely only get busier from here on out so it's best for me to savour each moment as they come. Hell, the same can be said of any situation in daily life, I guess.

That's about it for the update. Hopefully next time I post it will be a snippet of my new short story.

December 7, 2011

Ethics of Self-advertising

Recent developments and stirrings I've noticed in other people has compelled me to ask the question: "Is it enough to be good at certain things or should we make concious efforts to advertise ourselves?" The crux of the matter being whether or not its acceptable to possibly be seen as cocky or relying on others' observations. It's a difficult question to answer that requires a precarious balance between the two positions.

On the one hand, if you don't tell people that you're an excellent surgeon, guitarist, lawyer, or what-have-you, how would they ever know unless they were looking specifically for a good surgeon, guitarist, or lawyer? People find what they expect to find when they're looking for something. If you don't tell them what to look for, who will?

The other side of the coin is that, while this is great and socially accepted for products and whatnot, it might not be as acceptable for people. There is a big danger of being seen as a narcissist rather than someone who's good or confident. This might lead a lot of people to decide never to really advertise themselves. But is that so wise? Yes, I think that being seen as a narcissist is a bad thing, but I wonder if the risk of not being seen at all is worse. What is it that they say? Any press is good press?

But is that the name of the game we're playing? I would argue that it is. The world is becoming smaller and smaller with new technologies propelling us further and further every day. In such a world, where communication is ubiquitous and paramount, can we afford to not convey position?

I think the risk has to be taken. Is it vanity to want to be recognized for something you do well? Some people say yes. The question seems pointless so I'll just agree with it. Sure. Whatever. It's vanity. But we can be vain just as surely as we can be human. Why hide it? If you're worried about it, the best thing to do is try to establish some middle ground where people know about whatever unique skills you have but wouldn't call you an asshole for talking about them. And if they still think that you're being a douche then they're not worth it anyway. If anything it helps you recognize who you want to be around and who you don't.

So I guess to answer the question I somewhat posed above, I think that a middle ground should be established but I don't see the problem with people advertising themselves a little bit. Can those advertisements sometimes be in bad taste? Absolutely. And not everyone will agree with them or even like what's being sold. But think of it like this: If you see an advertisement on TV and you decide you don't like the product you don't buy it, right? Well, if people don't like what you're selling they won't bother with you anyway. So why not advertise yourself a bit? What's the worst that can happen?

November 30, 2011

Professional Development Write Up: Networking Seminar

Darren Sears recently gave a seminar on networking to the MBA Professional Development class. Much of the focus was initially on dispelling myths about networking while clarifying the actual processed that are at play in effective networking. To that end, a handout entitled “The Branded Networker” was given out that contained numerous examples and exercises designed to facilitate the study of networking. As well, the seminar had an unintended side effect in that it made me consider how I differentiate myself and how that can be used to aid networking.
            Five popular networking myths are as follows:
1.      Networking doesn’t work.
2.      Networking just happens.
3.      Only outgoing people can network.
4.      I don’t have time to network.
5.      Networking only happens at events.
Darren’s presentation aided to dispel these myths. In response to the first myth listed, he pointed out that people are often afraid to network or get discouraged because they don’t see immediate results. Networking, he explained, is like farming in the sense that you are cultivated relationships for later use; The relationships frequently don’t pay off immediately. In response to the second myth listed, the handout states, “Networking is not a spectator sport. It’s not enough to just show up. You have to follow-up.” The follow-up can be almost as important as the initial contact between people and perpetuates any relationship. In response to the myth that only outgoing people can network the handout states, “Good news for those on the shy side. People at networking functions are expecting to be approached.” People who think they do not have the time to network may think that they are not experiencing a positive return on their time invested in the process, but in reality are attending the exact same networking functions and stagnating. In response to the final myth stating that networking only happens at events, the handout states that networking not only happens at events but anywhere and anytime people meet together. Networking is not so much about how many people you know but how many people know you.
            An activity we performed called “Sharpen the Nail” made me think about ways in which I differentiate myself and their effect on my environment and networking. It is very simple to describe yourself as honest, reliable, or any other token adjective. Everyone says they are honest and reliable. That doesn’t differentiate anyone in the long run. What is more useful was what this exercise had us do: think about our past experiences and how we got to this point in our lives and then attempt to come up with four terms to describe yourself, placing them on a figurative diamond. I, for one, would like to emphasize the things that make me different from other people while letting the more obvious aspects of myself pass unspoken, being legitimized by my actions rather than my words.
            My diamond described me as being a people person who is adventurous, eclectic in my interests, and creative. I was labelled as a people person because I love to be social and meet new people. The adventurous tip of the diamond is because I enjoy travelling and have been to South Korea to live and teach English. The eclectic tip of the diamond describes how I have interests in Business, Chemistry, Music, and Writing. My undergraduate degree focused on Chemistry, I’m currently in a Business degree, I aspire to learn how to play the piano, and I enjoy writing stories, novels, blogs, and poems. I am creative in the sense that I enjoy writing and music and the deep thoughts and feeling they instill within me. This all may seem like a pat on the back to myself (and it is) but I think it’s far more effective than saying that I’m nice, honest, reliable, dependable, funny, or anything else like that. It’s not so much about the bragging. It’s about forming connections with people and making a lasting impression. I’ve a much greater chance of making a lasting impression by focussing on what differentiates me rather than the qualities that make me similar to so many others.
            Since re-entering school in the MBA program, I’ve given a lot of thought to differentiating myself from others. I want to be seen as different and great in so many ways so I form a lot of connections and have employment opportunities when I finish the program. I think that others can benefit from this differentiating way of thinking as well. If you make legitimate efforts to hammer home certain aspects about yourself to others, you might just see a change in yourself, even if it’s not true to begin with. In that respect, I see the “Sharpen the Nail” exercise as being extremely helpful in my life and the MBA program. Hopefully it will prove to be helpful to me in the workforce as well. I like the Tyler Milson that I’ve created. That doesn’t mean that I won’t stop trying to improve him. But I’ve got to say, looking back on how things have went for me in this term and the recent past, so far so good.

November 25, 2011

Rambling that turned into thoughts about writing

I'm at the point where I can feel the break. So close and yet so far away...I can taste the things I want to do. Somehow, I know that first bit of freedom is going to either be spent very drunk or doing absolutely nothing at all. Either way is fine with me.

I'd like to have some time to pursue my special "projects." Not only the ones that I had mentioned in a previous post of mine but maybe even just some small term things like day projects.

One thing I'd really like to do is write another short story in the near future. I had great fun with the last one. Last time I was taking someone else's ideas and world as inspiration. This time I'd like to use my own ideas and come up with something just as, if not more, outlandish than before.

What I really want to do is write something that effectively calls religion into question. I have no quarrel with religion per say, as long as it lets me do my own thing (You're on notice, Jehovahs). I'd like to call it into question because it evokes such strong feelings in people. You want to write for yourself because there's a good possibility that no one else will appreciate your thoughts and what they mean to you, but if you've got the chance and you think that even one other person might read something you wrote, you want to provoke an emotional response in them. That way they get more invested in what you write. But here's the thing: you have to do it in a way that most people will be able to comprehend. That's the tricky part. I guess what I'm saying is that I don't think these things should read like a Greek manuscript but I think it's important that they're not too simple either.

One trick I learned from trying to write more in the first-person perspective is to pick a main character who has a good education or is smart so you can be legitimate when you're describing the things that he or she sees. If the observations don't fit the intelligence of the character it's weird and you might as well be writing in third-person. The other side to that is that you can make things purposefully obscure by using younger characters or those lacking intelligence to mask some elements of your plot and story. That doesn't really interest me, however. Maybe it's the scientist in me, but I like to write things from a logical point of view and work with characters who are smart and can make those observations and logical decisions. In that way some of myself will always end up in whatever I write. I can see why people might mistake some characters for being analogues to me in some of my work. Perhaps I can differentiate them a little better to make them a bit more distinct...

Anyway, I'll be looking for some inspiration in the coming weeks, especially once school is done. Here's hoping that I'll find some and be able to remember it long enough to make it into something awesome!

November 21, 2011

How to better differentiate yourself

I've given some thought to differentiating myself lately. A session that we had at Professional Development had the fortunate side effect of making me really think about this type of stuff.

So often you see everybody else saying obvious stuff like, "I'm reliable," or, "I'm an honest person." Well, of course you are. Everybody is. Or, more importantly, everybody claims to be. I want to highlight that I think I am too but I don't make a habit of stating it. I'd prefer to have that type of information pass unspoken in an effort to legitimize it. What people really need to do is to take a look at themselves and find out what makes them different.

We pretty much did this in the seminar I was at and we found four words that ended up describing me. I was adventurous in that I enjoy travel, eclectic in that I try to embody the "best" of all my interests, creative because of how I like to express myself, and a people person in that I enjoy meeting new people and being social. Already we can see that this is way better than honest and reliable. In looking at yourself this way, suddenly you're not just part of the herd but someone that really stands out. How many other people can say they have the exact same four words that describe them for the same four reasons? Not many, I'll bet.

Since going back to school I've given a lot of thought about not repeating what I had done in the past. Not that I made any mistakes, really, in the way I have acted and presented myself in the past, but I find that I am a different person than I was three or four years ago (Hell, even two for that matter) and I have to show that in making an effort to not be the same. So whereas before, when I would have presented myself a certain way, I may not choose that presentation anymore. That's not to say that the past isn't a component of who I am today, because it totally is. I'd like to believe that I can keep improving this Tyler Milson thing and make a really good one that is always improving. Hopefully I'm right. And you know what? So far, so good.

November 12, 2011

My 'Life' To-Do List

I've noticed with the small amount of free time I've been given recently that there are a great many things I would like to do at some time. The only problem is that, at present, I've not the time to do any of them.

With the exception of this 1.5-2 week period, school has taken up a lot of my time this term. The bright side to my current position is that there's finally a light at the end of the tunnel. Well, halfway through the tunnel there's a skylight, more like. Be that as it may, there will be a repose and I've been wondering what I will choose to do with that repose. To that end, I've been trying to come up with things I'd like to do but haven't done yet. Some may be possible over a Christmas break, some might not be. I'll at least start a list that I might be able to go back to at some point.

This one's recurring so whoever's reading these on a regular basis won't be surprised that much: I'd like to learn how to play piano. This one definitely isn't something that can be done over the Christmas break. I want the ability to be able to play at least "recreationally" well. Like, to be able to sound something I hear out and make an approximation of what it might sound like on piano. Maybe I could play for other people at parties or something. I think it would be pretty cool. I like piano pieces. I find them quite a bit more moving than some of the contemporary music that's out there. Maybe it's that it's more focused or evokes more feeling. Who knows?

I'd like to finally make some headway on the novel that's in my head. I know this could happen at any time, but I'm reading all the time for school that I often don't feel like looking at more words - even if they are my own. I've got this thing all planned out and executing it just seems like such a daunting task. I guess that might mean I'm not a true writer. People would say, "If you like writing then write and stop complaining about it." I think that's an uninspired commentary that a lot of people would have about me. The thing is, I don't want to just do one thing. So naturally I'm going to end up taking shit about a variety of topics from a variety of people. But you know what? I've probably got a lot more different things on the go right now than they do so I don't expect them to understand. People can get tunnel vision sometimes. Add on to that the fact that we only see what we expect to see and...Well...That's that I guess.

I'd like to get in a little better shape. That one should be something I'm doing already and can happen at literally any time. A few small problems, though. One is that my schedule is so dynamic it can easily throw off things like eating times and time that I have to do pretty much anything in a given day. The other thing is that I still like to drink because it's fun. People will say, "If you want to get in great shape, you can't be drinking a lot at the same time." This time "people" are absolutely right. So maybe that goal is a little unattainable unless I'm willing to commit to a change in lifestyle. At this point in time, I don't really see a change in lifestyle happening, so excuse me while I go grab another beer.

I'm sure there's more but I'm at a loss for what right now. So far I'll be playing the piano while dictating a novel to someone and drinking a bunch of beer, all while running on some crazy treadmill. Sounds like a pretty screwed up way to spend one's time. Then again, I wouldn't consider myself an ordinary person by any means, so maybe it isn't. 

November 2, 2011

Write-Up for Professional Development: UNB Counselling - Round Two

Continuing the second in a series of three seminars devoted to UNB Counselling and our careers, Rosemary Whitlock delivered a seminar that dealt with how our interests relate to our career paths. With that goal in mind, Rosemary had us complete two activities that discussed what we would do if we won twenty-five million dollars and another that discussed our interests in general. After performing these tasks, we were each given personalized reports very similar to what we had received in the seminar that dealt exclusively with personality except this report was solely based on our interests.

The first activity stated that I had won the lottery and stressed creativity in deciding what I would do with my winnings. It highlighted that relaxation time would soon get boring and that I would need a more concrete plan for the future. The way I described how I would spend my money is expressed in the following summary I wrote on the exercise sheet: "The first thing I would do would be to build my ideal home. It would probably be similar to a large manor with a rustic feel and a personal study that would double as an office. It would have all the amenities one would typically think of when picturing a “rich” home. After a while, I would go travelling all over the world. I would basically just go wherever suited my whims. Afterwards, I would put my money into safe long-term investments which I would run out of my study. I would write as a hobby in my spare time and have a vast library with which I could hone my skills as a writer." It was obvious that the activity was designed to help us more easily express our interests without the burden of money getting in our way. Personally, I’ve felt that I’ve always had a good image of what my interests are and don’t have very much trouble separating them from money. This is likely why I chose safe investments when describing how I would perpetuate the money. What’s the point of getting that much richer if you can already afford everything you want?

The second activity highlighted individual interests that each of us selected from a list or from what we had written in the first activity. We then compared those interests aloud and on a board in order to see if there were any notable similarities or differences. Some of my interests were financial planning, psychology, travel, foreign languages and cultures, writing, tourism, nature, and sports. Interestingly enough, most of my group’s interests were very similar to mine barring a few personal touches. Another noteworthy element of the discussion was that most people in the group elected for safe investments rather than riskier investments to perpetuate their wealth. It seems that the others felt the same way I did about having enough money to buy whatever I wanted.

Rosemary then explained that students often liked the results of either the personality evaluation or the interest evaluation but usually not both. I am inclined to agree with that statement as I personally felt that my MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) report listed occupations and information that I agreed with more closely than my STI (Strong Interest Inventory) report. The significance of the report in terms of the MBA program or future employment is obvious: it helps to discern where one’s interests lie and what type of occupation they might see themselves in based on those interests. Rosemary did stress that this was only one-third of a more complete picture that was yet to be painted and that we would get a clearer idea of what occupations best suited us after the final seminar from UNB Counselling.

The STI report considered numerous factors which were used to communicate which fields of work we might be most strongly interested in. The report broke us down into three of six general occupational themes which measure interest patterns that can be used to describe our work personalities. I had the greatest correlation with Social, Conventional, and Investigative. Artistic, Enterprising, and Realistic held the least correlation. The Social theme means that I value cooperation, generosity, and service to others. This seems fair, but I also consider myself quite logical and doubt I would be as altruistic as performing any of these tasks at great personal risk. That being said, the categories seem intentionally vague when compared to the MBTI test which described me more or less perfectly. The Conventional theme suggests that I value accuracy, stability, and efficiency. The Investigative theme suggests that I value independence, curiosity, and learning. I don’t disagree with any of the elements of the Conventional or Investigative themes. The themes were used to generate our list of top ten occupations based on our interests. My top three were Corporate Trainer, Marketing Manager, and Attorney. While the only position I can see myself in would be that of Marketing Manager, I do understand that the other two positions correlate with my interests quite strongly. The results of the test were also used to list our work styles, preferred learning environments, leadership style, risk taking style, and team orientation. Needless to say, it is a lot of information. To summarize, I fell into moderate strengths on the scale for each factor and thus was comfortable with some measure of compromise for the greater good. These results were used to generate a list of what my strongest interest areas are. Management, office management, writing and mass communication, taxes and accounting, and human resources and training were my strongest areas. I find that I agreed with this latter portion of the report much more closely than I did the former portion.

All in all, it seems that this report did shed some light on my career path but that light was like a match struck in a dark room compared to the MBTI report which was more akin to a bright flashlight in that same room. These results are to be taken with a grain of salt as it is impossible to perfectly summarize people on paper. Nevertheless, it is interesting and does give me some career options to consider in the future. I am eager to see how this will all be tied together in the third seminar.

Write-Up for Professional Development: Rivers Corbett

Rivers Corbett is an award winning entrepreneur most notably involved with Relish Gourmet Burgers in the Fredericton area. A graduate of the UNB MBA program in 1989, he is also the founder and CEO of Corbett Ventures, responsible for the Chef Group which includes The culinary Adventure Company, Relish, and Trivnet Media Systems. He has received numerous awards for entrepreneurship and has taught courses at UNB. On October 21, Rivers taught our MBA class about how to give an effective business presentation.

He began by explaining that the business team is the centre of success and that it is not so much the individual work but the synergy of those individuals that make a difference in the long-run. Continuing on a somewhat humble path, Rivers went on to mention that presentations must be concise with a very specific strategy and that if certain guidelines are not followed, one can easily lose business. Presentations should be no longer than fifteen minutes with the average length being twelve minutes. He also stressed the importance of doing ample research before-hand in order to make the presentation simple. By doing this research you can show the company in question that you’ve taken an interest in them and their goals and that you care about their pain points, the points of business that cause them to lose sleep at night. Before explaining the presentation itself, Rivers also took the time to note that the communication of ideas is central to a business presentation and, to that end, the ideas must be communicated using a universal language.

The goals of a presentation can be simply stated as establishing the sale (also called the lead), establishing trust, and building confidence in the idea being presented and the person doing the presenting. The first step in the presentation is reminding the audience about how they got to this point. In other words, explaining why the presentation is happening and the background behind it. This enables the less-informed members of the group to feel included and enhances the overall clarity of the presentation. It is also important to take the time to learn about some of the people in the room to make them feel more comfortable. The second step is to talk about their company in relation to yours. It is this step that enables you to communicate that you understand their company and their goals and objectives. This is also a point where the aforementioned research is very valuable. It is also the step where the key initiatives are identified in terms of what actions the company has taken or are interested in taking. The next step is to identify the pain points of the company. This step gives an opportunity to deal with that pain by talking about a solution that will benefit the company. In this step, testimonials can be used, highlighting how you have dealt with other companies’ pain in the past. It is an opportunity to understand the problem at hand and to meet in the middle to reach a solution. The next step is to outline the budget and cost in relation to the return on investment (ROI) that the company can expect to see using the proposed solution. Rivers stresses here that it is important to ask for the sale and not for the next date, meaning that it is not enough to merely perpetuate the relationship and that we should be actively seeking to close a deal as soon as it is feasible. This is a stage at which it will be important to involve decision-makers and influencers in the room into the presentation. The final step is to review what was just discussed and to talk about the next steps in the process.

In addition to the actual presentation itself and the steps therein, Rivers mentions that many people lose the sale by not performing adequate follow-up afterwards. As important as the presentation itself is, it may be equally as important to physically call the person who was presented to within a twenty-four hour period to review the information once again. This places a sort of unspoken contract into effect between the two and is especially important in Atlantic Canada where people tend to be a bit more conservative and may be less willing to enact plans without being pushed a little.

The final part of Rivers’ seminar covered some odds and ends and unveiled some more information regarding some of the concepts discussed. One of the more important points during this section of the seminar involved ensuring that we come out with the business message immediately in the presentation and continuously support it. He stressed that it is not necessary to talk about your own company more than is necessary. What will be more effective to have most of the conversation relate to their company. He highlighted the importance of ROI in getting people in the room to sign off on a deal. Finally, he recommends asking, “Does that make sense?” on a periodic basis to ensure that no one in the room gets lost during the presentation.

This session was invaluable as it gave me an idea of how to conduct a business presentation from a successful entrepreneur in the Fredericton area. It is highly likely that I will be doing many presentations during my career and MBA degree. The skills and tips I have picked up from this session may be critical to my success in the business field.

October 28, 2011

The Solar System of Our Lives

Maybe we all have orbits. Some sort of weird system dictating who’s around us – who circles in and out of our lives and at what frequency. Do we have our own gravity? Is it some inherent quality that draws people together? Some would call it chemistry, some would call it fate. Some call it dumb luck. Who’s to say, really?

Whether cosmos or heavens, there are outside forces at work in our lives. You can believe in physics, spirituality, or none of the above. You can believe in waking up warm and safe, you can believe in a simple song that's dear to you. You can believe in anything but you must believe in forces.

Maybe we’re like planets. We’re spinning, never stationary, never looking in the same place for long. Eventually some other astrological body comes near and we are drawn towards it and then it departs and we’re in orbit again, waiting for the next event.

We're always changing. We experience our own personal ice ages, floods, heat waves, tornadoes, hurricanes, and any other maelstrom you can think of. But they come and they go. They come and yield to more temperate times.

If we’re planets, we’re seeing stars. We’re seeing light, we’re seeing hope, and we’re seeing the sun through that deep black blanket of space. Nothing travels faster than the speed of light so where are we off to in such a hurry?

October 25, 2011

Embracing Positivity: Update

A while I ago I wrote a post declaring that I was going to embrace positivity. My prediction at the time was that it would last and I'm happy to report that it has indeed lasted.

I want to take a moment to reiterate something: it's not that everything is sunshine and rainbows, it's more about seeing the positive aspects of situations. Even with a situation that is predominantly negative there is always something positive to embrace. For example, "It could have been worse," or, "Hey, at least we're not dead." And you know what? If we are dead that sucks but I won't have any time to think about it so why would I care?

I've found that some switch inside my brain has made me focus on the positive. I strongly suspect it's due to my new degree program and the fact that I'm not wasting away in some god damn call centre or dead-end job. However, this has trickled down even into social situations. I find the same things that used to bother me before don't bother me as much and I'm even more empowered to speak my mind, for better or for worse. I guess in a sense it's not really embracing positivity, maybe it's the fact that I simply do not care at all about negative things that happen because they can't help me. So I dismiss them. Figuratively. If there's a problem or something I'll deal with it but I'm not going to lose sleep over it. I refuse to let any of that stuff stress me out.

David Allen, if you're out there reading this, you've noticed something peculiar about it all. You've noticed that I seem happier and I seem luckier. We theorized together that it might be the happiness that makes people lucky. I don't know, maybe it's not worth analysing. But it is another positive and my policy dictates that I will take it.

In the end, why worry? What's the point?

October 16, 2011

Write up for Professional Development....on my personality?

Earlier in the year, UNB Counselling Services asked us to fill out a personality test online that would be used at a later date in order to help the MBA students better understand themselves and give them direction in terms of what careers they are searching for. It has been over a month since we have taken the online tests. Now an entire module concerning the results and our career path has begun to take root.

Erin Crossland began our seminar by explaining some critical facts about personality types using a plethora of handouts as an aid to summarize information. In short order, we were given a list of the four scales used to sort out our personalities. We were then told to fill out a sheet as a means of guessing where we stood on those four scales. Each scale is given weight in the form of a preference score, which has a maximum value of 70. Theoretically if you were exactly in the middle of the scale then you would equally exhibit traits of both categories on the scale. The first scale forces a choice between extraversion characteristics and introversion characteristics. Extraverts get their energy by using outside factors such as events or people. Introverts get their energy from within using concepts such as ideas, pictures, and memories. The second scale involved sensing and intuition. Sensors pay attention to physical reality while people who use the intuition side of the scale get most of their details from deriving the meaning behind things and their patterns. The third scale separates thinking and feeling. Thinkers care more about the logic behind a situation while feelers care about the emotional consequences of a decision or situation. The last scale involved judging and perceiving. People who use judging crave order and plan things out methodically. People who use perceiving are flexible and generally dislike planning. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test takes your answers to various questions and places you on these scales at certain preference scores.

My end result was a ENTJ type personality. It means that I scored higher on extraversion, intuition, thinking, and judging than on any other category. ENTJ types are outgoing, logical, and decisive. They lead by using concepts and excel at setting the appropriate goals for others. ENTJs have the tendency to take control of situations, using their intuition to drive them and aid in setting their goals. They are very logical to the point where we almost have a reverence for impersonal logic, as harsh and cold as that may be. I’d like to think that it’s not so much that we ignore other peoples’ emotions or that we’re incapable of sensing them in certain situations, but rather that we recognize them and tend to make the most logical decision anyway since it makes the most sense strategically. This may seem like a strength, and the ability to put feelings aside and focus on logic for a moment is indeed a strength, but it can be a great weakness too. One of the sheets that I was given lists this as a challenge my personality type must overcome. It explains, “You may make decisions based on logic or what you think you should do and neglect what is most important to you.” This particular quote resonated with me on a personal level as most of the mistakes I believe I’ve made in my life have more than likely been for this reason. The sacrifice of everything else for the sake of making the “best” decision. However, the personality report offers a solution: “Ask yourself what is truly important in the long term and whether this decision promotes that or is simply the most logical choice.” Simply put, maybe the most logical choice isn’t always the best choice for me.

The implications of this personality test can apply in a scholastic sense as well. In the MBA program we do a lot of group work. Naturally, being in a management program, we all tend to want to wrestle control from other people. The trick is striking a compromise. If we can better know ourselves and communicate that to others in a better way, perhaps we can work better together in groups by knowing what is most important to the people in each group. Certainly an understanding of our own personalities can aid us in knowing where to focus our energies and knowing which challenges may lie ahead for us.

The concept of the module and the seminar is extremely interesting. People naturally assume they know themselves implicitly. Sometimes you need to see something official written on paper to really drive a few of those ideas to the forefront in your mind. The knowledge that is gained from this process will help in a myriad of matters – not just in the MBA program or work. It helps in life in general. Whether that facet is family, friendship, romance, or any other type of relationship, knowing who you are and what you place importance on as a person aids you in discovering your strengths and weaknesses. As a true ENTJ, I like to know my strengths and weaknesses in order to form the correct strategy for myself. Knowing one of my biggest weaknesses quoted above, I can take that strategic view and ingest a little more emotion and feeling into it so that I not only do what’s right to satisfy the logical part of the situation at hand but also to ensure that I am satisfied emotionally from it as well. I guess it’s sometimes easier to be aware of everything else around you, be inward thinking, and still not take the action that satisfies your emotional needs. For me, that is the takeaway from this seminar: another option to cover for a perceived weakness and to turn that weakness into a great strength.

October 15, 2011

The mind as a weapon

The mind is a weapon.

There's a common belief in society that I feel is a misconception. It is the belief that there is a limited number of things that we can be good at. I'm not saying that if I asked someone they wouldn't tell me they think they can do a great number of things well because that wouldn't happen. I believe that there is a societal cause that makes people believe they can only be great at a few things.

I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I'm good at everything. I'm not. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I'm good at nothing. That's sure as hell not true. I'll mention upfront that I've got an ego and I recognize the effect it probably has on my perception. I like that about me. I'm great at more than a few things. I like that too.

Maybe the things that I'm good at might not be apparent to people other than myself. Granted, there are some activities that I do that no one else has seen. Take some of my writing for example. Not the stuff on here but the stuff in my personal collection. The novel I've begun to write is a great example. Thus far it dwarfs all my other works and has a lot of potential. It's very unlikely that someone will see it until I've got in the form I'd like to have it presented in. Other things might be more apparent. I'd like to think that I'm a deep thinker and a good strategist.

It's probably pointless to even argue this. Everyone is going to say something along the lines of what I've said. I have abilities few people are aware of and some that many people are aware of. We all do. Nice point of commonality there. My real point I'm hoping to drive home here (and I've stated this time and again) is that I think people need to be more self-confident in general and believe in themselves. The mind is powerful. As humans it's the most powerful weapon we have at our disposal. And it is a weapon. But you've got to be careful. If you let that weapon turn against you, it could really mess up your perspective. But if you look at situations as opportunities and your own potential as limitless, the mind is the weapon that helps you implement what you already know about yourself.

October 11, 2011

Excerpt from my short story

The following is an excerpt from my short story I wrote in collaboration with my friend David Allen. The idea was based on a dream he had. I had the nice little challenge of making a story out of it while trying to stay true to the original concept. Some modifications were made to adapt it to the short story format. Enjoy!

On the way back to the white house we noticed that the buzz and commotion inherent in the house earlier had returned. We entered to find a great congregation in the commons. It was the same as before: People talking lightly with that same eerie smile on their faces. I began to wonder if they knew any more than I did or if they held all the answers behind that casual ease with which they conducted themselves. I decided to listen to them a little more. Maybe there was something I was missing like some sort of undertone to the conversation that might light up a bulb in my head, making everything apparent.

I stood with the group nearest to me. They were talking about the picnic and how much fun it was. There was no talk of past and no talk of future. It was frustrating. I was curious and hungry for answers to my questions. Still, I was compelled to silence as if my speaking might break some tenuous covenant of the group, sending everything crashing down. A while later I snapped out of my thoughts to notice that Eve was gone.

Not knowing where to look or being able to remember where she had gone, I decided to continue listening to a few more groups. Some time later, the serenity of each casual conversation was broken by a piercing scream. It was a woman’s scream.


Damn it!

Several people ran toward the adjacent room that the scream emanated from. Someone called out, “To the kitchen!” Well, at least I knew a little more about the layout. I rushed to follow.

What I saw in the kitchen was a gruesome sight. Eve was dead. It looked like she had been stabbed everywhere. The amount of blood was surprising. It was still running out of the fresh wounds, staining the pristine white floors. The most eerie part of it all was that there was a smile on Eve’s face like she wanted this. Who would want this?

October 10, 2011

Does Thanksgiving mean that much?

Thanksgiving is upon us. The turkey has likely entered your stomach to be digested by the acids residing inside and the turkey hangover associated therein is soon to begin. We also have a week of eating that huge-ass turkey for every meal to be thankful for. But seriously, does all of it really matter that much in 2011?

The obvious answer is no. At least in Canada the answer is no. To most of us all it means is that a turkey is likely to be eaten and you'll have your Monday off of school or work or whatever. So what is the meaning of the holiday, really?

Well, I took a look on wikipedia and found a lot of boring stuff about people making successful voyages and celebrating their homecoming. Basically completely different than the American version (which I'm sure the vast majority of them could recite from memory as is it was a nursery rhyme. However, they think all of Canada is perpetually covered in snow and are barely even aware of its existence).

It's funny. Americans freak out about their Thanksgiving. We don't really seem to care other than the fact that it gives you a holiday. It's like one-fifth of a March Break or Spring Break or whatever retarded name you want to squabble over to call it.

Personally, I don't see the big fuss. Now, this isn't only because I already have Mondays off anyway, but rather, I never saw the importance of the holiday to begin with. I like having family suppers as much as the next guy but that's about all the day has to offer really. I don't know the history behind our Thanksgiving without looking it up. I daresay the vast majority of us don't. If you do go on Jeopardy or something, seriously.

I'm not trying to belittle everyone's celebrations. I just want to be that voice in the back of your head that says, "Is this really necessary?"

From a labour point of view, we need it. I've learned that Canada has one of the highest working hours of any first-world country. So we'll take all the days off we can get.

Now Christmas, there's a freaking holiday. It's awesome. You get a lot of days off, presents, and the religious aspect is satisfied if you're into that kind of thing. Hell, I'll even take Easter. Christianity has some kickass holidays. I'm spiritual but I'll just pretend to be Christian when they come along.

I'm going to lump Thanksgiving in with the likes of Valentine's Day (except for the massive depression that Valentine's Day has. It still kills less people than Christmas depression, but still). It seems like the drive to sell more turkey as Valentine's is the drive to sell chocolate, diamond rings, and condoms. So really, it doesn't have a whole lot of meaning anymore. I'm sure it did at one time but that time has long passed us.

Anyway, just a little bit of food for thought. Enjoy the day off and the nice meal. You've earned it, internet people.

September 29, 2011

Embracing Positivity

I have been in a fantastic mood for about a week and a half to two weeks now. I know we all have a tendency to focus on the negative things that happen to us rather than the positive ones so I thought I'd do a little piece on this to counter-balance the natural flow a little bit.

The first thing you're probably wondering is "why?" I have no idea. There was no cause. Nothing happened. Nothing triggered it - Nothing I was aware of anyway. All of a sudden I woke up one morning and felt like, "yes!" All of the negative things I had been focusing on seemed like distant memories and in their place, I was filled with happy thoughts and looking forward to all the positive things. That's how I want to be all the time. Only focusing on the positive things that happen and completely disregarding negative things because they don't do me any good in the long run. It's put me in a great mood and my self-confidence (which was already way higher than is healthy) is now rocketing into the stratosphere.

It's not like I'm blissfully unaware of negative things that go on around me, I just don't care about them. I see bad things happening to or around me and I think, "Just forget it, man. It's only going to bring you down so why focus on it?" I've thought of a decent way of putting it: Letting go. You have to let go of all the negative things, embrace the positive things. Otherwise, what's the point? Who in their right mind would want to go through a life focusing on negative things the entire time? Not me. That would be depressing. Life is a never-ending string of infinite possibilities.

A lot of you might be thinking, "Yeah, sure. He'll never manage to keep up this attitude." You're absolutely right. At some point, something incredibly shitty will happen that will make me depressed for a while. But eventually I'm going to get over it and focus on the good again. How you see things is a choice. It doesn't have to be one way or any other way. It can change and you can change it to suit you. Our beliefs affect how we act, how we act obviously affects those around us. If you've got a chip on your shoulder, I don't think people are going to be lining up to eat it. But if you can exude a little positivity, maybe - just maybe - you can hook up with some other elements that make your life more positive. Kind of like trading benefits.

September 27, 2011

Analysis of a character and a few parallels to myself

In an attempt to pay homage to a series of books I love (and one character in particular), I thought it might be a nice idea to write about the character Imriel de la Courcel from the Kushiel book series by Jacqueline Carey.

First, a little bit of background information (this will undoubtedly contain some spoilers). Imriel is the son of Melisande Shahrizai, a beautiful woman and deadly traitor to the realm of Terre d'Ange. It is important to note that the fantasy world Carey created is essentially an alternate reality Earth with the map intact. The main difference is in some of the social tendencies in the varying countries, their names, and the addition of some magic to satisfy the fantasy aspect of the series. Make no mistake though, the series is not really about the magic but about the characters and how they eventually find peace with their god Elua's most blessed precept: Love as thou wilt. The premise of the series hit home with me in a big way since, below the logic and some cynicism, I am actually a huge romantic at heart. That, and clearly this sets the stage for some fantastic characters with real emotions. Fast-forwarding a little bit, the series delivers in a big way. I should note that, for anyone thinking about reading this, there is a lot of erotic content in the novels but it all has real purpose and the focus is more on the characters than any of the sex per say.

There were many characters in the series that I felt were particularly engaging but one stood out in my mind more than any other: Imriel de la Courcel. To begin with, Imriel has endured much trauma, having been kidnapped by slave traders at a young age and sold into the possession of an evil mad man and his mystical cult who worship Angra Mainyu, the lord of darkness (or evil in this case). To that effect, Imriel has seen unspeakable horrors, much of which were sexually based. Eventually he is rescued from Darsanga, the country in which this cult dwelt, by Phedre and Joscelin who are two heroes of Terre d'Ange. The second trilogy of books is told from Imriel's perspective and sees him deal with his emotional issues and position as a Prince of Terre d'Ange while finding his place in the world. This leads to him discovering and uniting with his true love by the end of the series.

Imriel is a character who feels deeply, which is something I can identify with. He has a self-awareness about him that plagues him at times like a guilty conscience when he believes he is not as good as he can be. He strives to be good and to do the right thing and feels intense guilt when he does not adhere to his own moral code. Imriel is slow to trust others after his experiences in Darsanga and is understandably self-absorbed, frequently plagued with nightmares of the events that befell him there.

One scene in the fourth book really sticks out in my mind. Imriel had made friends with Eamonn, a huge kid about his age who is also a prince in his land. However, Eamonn is vastly different from Imriel. He lives a relatively carefree life and has a very optimistic outlook. One day, when Imriel and Eamonn were staying at Imriel's summer residence of Montreve, the two find themselves in a local tavern chatting up some of the village girls. Eamonn manages to successfully get one such girl, Jeanette, to sleep with him after some more or less witty banter and several cups of wine while Imriel presumably remained in the main area of the tavern drinking. They returned later with grins on their faces. Before Imriel left he asked Jeanette, "Why him? I mean...I just wonder, that's all." She responds by stating, "Because he is happy." She then goes on to tell him that she has thought about hooking up with him, hoping that she would be the one who could pierce his brooding shell, but realizes that she is simple and could never hope to do so. This is particularly revealing as it shows that Imriel notices there is a distinct difference between himself and Eamonn. He might not have been aware of exactly what the difference was but discovers that it is the fact that he is not happy, whereas Eamonn is.

The thing I love the most about Imriel is that he struggles. It might be the way he broods over every little detail, but everything seems to be an uphill battle for him. But he fights and he will not stop fighting until he can make something better of himself.

It's a breath of fresh air to run into a character that is so real and so heartbreakingly human. For those of you wondering, he eventually does end up being happy, although he goes through a lot of unpleasantness to get there.

Having written this on a whim and without a plan, I know that I'm not doing the series or the character justice by the way that I've described things. Regardless, it means something to me because it makes me think and makes me compare myself to see how real I am - on the outside and on the inside. This is an introspective blog. Who else would write an introspective blog than someone who's a little self-absorbed, someone who broods a lot? I'm not afraid to admit that I do. This is probably obvious by this point, but I draw a lot of similarities between myself and Imriel. Clearly I've not been to Darsanga and have not and will not have even the slightest amount of misfortune in my life that he has, but this character feels on a scale that parallels my own. We might not feel all the same things, but we do feel them quite deeply. I think that's why I enjoyed reading about his adventures so much.

September 25, 2011

Second Write-Up for Professional Development

Qualitative research is a domain that is often ignored in popular academia. Most academics or research firms are more concerned with the collection and analysis of quantitative data and adherence to discrete methods. However, Dr. Van den Hoonard pointed out in her seminar on qualitative research that to pursue only quantitative solutions at the expense of qualitative ones may prove to be a grievous error.

Qualitative research has a deeply laid history. It began with the notion of positivism hundreds of years ago. Proponents of this ideal believed that reality was waiting to be discovered. Their studies were based on theories and hypotheses, cause and effect, and the exploration of social norms and laws. Above all else, positivists desired objectivity; this aspiration is also shared by those who practice qualitative research today.

There was a particular thought Dr. Van den Hoonard raised that resonated with me. She had quoted a passage, saying that if we believe a situation is real, it is real in its consequences. Thus, our own beliefs tended to affect the outcomes of various situations. The example she gave illuminated this fact: If a server believes that women are not as good tippers as men are, then that server will subconsciously give women worse service because that belief has festered in their mind.

This notion of our beliefs affecting outcomes is one that I would do well to heed in my life. I tend to have a very logical outlook on a lot of things. I will admit that my logic can be biased and, at times, that bias causes certain beliefs that manifest in my subconscious. Thinking along this thought pattern, I must be more willing to accept that people are good and have good motives or I may draw conclusions about them that are not fair by flawed tacit knowledge. If I was managing a company and I had some inaccurate belief in my subconscious, I would constantly seek to find problems with certain people working under me which would not be fair to them or myself since the person in question would be treated unfairly and also because I might miss out on opportunities to gain productivity out of that employee. It seems important that we take nothing for granted and try not to assume anything about people until we know it for sure.

Another portion of Dr. Van den Hoonard’s lecture focused on the students doing some qualitative research of our own – or at least the beginning steps of it. I went to the UNB Bookstore and observed people walking around the store and those who entered and left as well. I observed some things I may not have noticed before. I saw that many people walking into the store did so quickly and with purpose. Those walking out did so at a more leisurely pace and tried to appear as if they were busy with activities such as fidgeting with the bags containing their purchases or checking their cell phones. Very few walked in and out of the store at a leisurely pace and seemed to not busy themselves afterwards. I think that is one of the important facets of qualitative research: To be able to find things that you normally would not see unless you were looking for them. It is a skill we practice far too little in our daily lives and is something I believe can make me far more insightful as a person and a prospective manager.

Other concepts were discussed as well including sensitizing concepts and the composition of groups at firms or elsewhere. Civil inattention is one sensitizing concept that can be evidenced by anything such as people ignoring people who are having an argument or patrons in a cafe appearing to go about their routine even if another patron is doing something strange and interesting. There is a tendency to act like we ignore things because that process is more socially acceptable than involving ourselves in something that does not directly affect us. Another sensitizing concept is the fact that widows feel that they must keep up appearances to not seem overly depressed upon the death of their spouse for fear of driving others away. We also learned from qualitative research that ethnic groups identify themselves as separate entities both because they believe they are different and because those outside of their group perceive them as being different. Qualitative research seems like the study of what is normally unseen.

Social reality is constructed by social actors. That was the main message of the seminar for me. Things might not always be as they appear or we might not always see the true reality of a situation because the one that we have composed in our minds and beliefs is blocking our view of it. Qualitative research gives you an insight into this other world. I like to think of it as a breath of fresh air. I enjoy thinking outside of the box and employed inductive methods from time to time. As Dr. Van den Hoonard described, you get to take detours with qualitative methods that you cannot take with the rigidity of quantitative methods. These detours hold different truths that we may normally ignore. Ignoring these truths may prove quite grievous indeed as it holds the power to skew out view of the world into something we construct for ourselves – some type of fallacy – that may omit important details that we can use to enrich our lives and hone our skills as people in positions of authority. Many business topics are about the numbers. I think that if I am able to employ a qualitative look at things every now and then, I will be more successful in my MBA program and as a manager later in life.

September 24, 2011

So Complicated

As many of us know, I am a very complicated person. I want to take a moment to discuss the merits and detriments in regards to this innate quality of mine.

Being a complicated person means that I am a deep thinker. I consider myself to be very analytical and follow logic in a more or less iron-clad fashion. I am certainly capable of breaking the rules of this logic I have imposed upon myself since I am human but find that I do follow the trend more or less linearly. Although I am logical, I have the ability to think outside the box as well. There will always be certain constraints for any given situation but I like to think that I have the ability to bend those constraints to a purpose that is more pliable to my needs. If you sat me down and told me the rules of a game I would automatically look for any loopholes that might make winning easier. The same applies for getting what I want out of situations. I tend to gravitate towards other people who I find complicated. I think I need my mind to be occupied and that suits it well. People who are too simple (and maybe too well put together) are easy to figure out and therefore boring.

There are times when I wish I was less complicated. Things would be so much easier if I could flip a switch in my head labelled "simple." I wouldn't have to mentally go through all the combinations and permutations for a given event, I wouldn't have to have thoughts and feelings so complex that I cannot properly articulate them in the written sense.

People say you can't change who you are. I agree with that statement for any given time. I've mentioned in previous posts that I find the concept of identity to be fluid. In the same analogy, we can find our own personalities down the river at any given point. I think it's not that snapshot that really matters but the flow of that river. We should focus on how we got to where we are and not what we are. Maybe have a look at the why instead of the is.

In that vein, it seems kind of redundant to even talk about the merits and detriments of my being complicated. To address the why, I will say I am this way because it is necessary for me to be who I am. That, or I find it necessary and so I am.

September 17, 2011

Draft of First Write-Up for Professional Development

On the surface, the role of counselling in our lives seems arbitrary – much less in business. However, when one delves into the study of how counselling can improve our lives and perception, the topic has merit.

I must admit to being sceptical when considering the effectiveness of proper counselling. Despite this, I do see the logic in using it and the results it has on others. I’ve never been to a formal counsellor before. I’ve always assumed that I would be able to handle any mental hurdle that comes my way due to my ability in problem solving and because of my abundant self-confidence. During the seminar that Dr. Rice Fuller gave on Work-Life Balance, I was surprised by one piece of information that I learned.

I posed a question to Dr. Fuller asking his opinion on whether or not we should be more concerned with identifying problems and subsequently trying to solve them ourselves with little formality or if we should follow through on the status quo, which is to identify problems and then use established frameworks in an effort to derail them. He responded by stating that, in his profession, he has seen far more effectiveness using the existing methods than a more roundabout method. Having seen the results of counselling in people I know and others more anonymously, I am inclined to agree with him based on that empirical evidence. In reality, I was trying to steer the topic to some sort of new perception because we had discussed many similar topics until that point in the lecture. I wanted to throw in something completely alien to the concept and challenge the established notions. I was interested in the accountability of his stance and seeing if there were places that it could be broken down. Eventually he did yield on a point and agreed that many people will be able to identify their own problems and correct them themselves. However, he provided me with a counter-example that would play the role as an exception to this rule. He asked how we were supposed to handle outside factors that are not in our circle of control but had affected us nonetheless. As soon as he posed the question it was like a light bulb went off in my brain. I’m used to thinking inwardly and introspectively so it wasn’t natural for me to assume that outside factors could have a major influence on one’s state of mind. The example I had used is that, if I was getting stressed out studying, that I would eventually learn to take breaks and do something fun, thus increasing my own productivity in the long-run. However, if something had happened that was outside of my control such as someone dying or the actions of another person, it may not be that such a black and white response is applicable. I think that situation is the time when a counsellor comes into play. Simply put: they’re there to help with the problems in your life that you cannot solve yourself.

The topic hits home with me in a big way. In 2007, one of my closest friends from childhood died in a boating accident. The experience left me raw and more than likely depressed for a long time. I didn’t seek out counselling but I did talk to a lot of people about how I was feeling and why and eventually managed to make some peace with the event. Granted, it’s no cure, sometimes I do feel distinct sadness when remembering the event but I find I am now able to remember the good things about him instead of letting all the bad cloud my mind. If someone argued that I should have went to see a counsellor, they probably would’ve been right. But I was stubborn and knew I could deal with it in my own way. This was the exact type of situation that a counsellor would be most effective in and, had I gone to see one, I might have “gotten over it” much more quickly.

This can all relate to business and my MBA program as well. Knowing how to handle personal issues both from my own experience and from my knowledge of the counselling options available gives me an unique skill as a manager. If someone under my supervision is plagued by personal troubles I will be able to more effectively aid them in restoring their mental health and thus restoring their productivity.

Being in good mental health is something that can aid in my own productivity as well. If I am able to manage my time effectively by doing such things as taking time to think about an important decision, taking the proper amount and types of breaks and vacations, or even just knowing that I can say “no” to something that I find unreasonable in the workplace then I will be more valuable to my employers. It’s important to know that you are an asset to your company, that you are valuable, and that you are respected as a person. All of these skills correlate in that sense. They are additive and have the capacity to improve and remain over long periods of time.

Although I already had a fine working knowledge of counselling and the role it can provide in one’s Work-Life Balance, I am glad that I attended the seminar as it did cast a few topics in somewhat of a brighter light to me. The seminar made me realize that I often neglect the role of counselling in events that we have no control over. A re-hashing of essential skills needed to be successful in time management and life reminded me how valuable I am as a person and of the worth I would have to prospective employers. The skills will make me a better manager someday and hopefully a better person as well.

September 15, 2011

You are all a part of my evolution!

I feel obligated to inform you all that you are all a part of my evolution. Every person I meet, everyone involved in my life in some way – you all serve to make me better than I am or could have been otherwise. The same goes from your perspective as well. Knowing me has made you a better person.

A shout out to four incredible people (in alphabetical order by last name):

David Allen

You’re an amazing person. You want the best things in life and you won’t settle for your close friends having anything less than the best either. Your commitment to excellence and the passion with which you pursue your endeavours will forever inspire me. I’m truly lucky to have a friend like you.

Tyler Brown

You’re an all-around incredible person. You’ve got so many attributes that stand out in my mind. You’re funny, easy-going, and a pleasure to be around. You’re one of those people that I know I will be friends with for the rest of my life no matter what happens or where we end up. I value that more than you know.

Danielle d’Entremont

Candidate for the most bubbly person I know, haha. You’re so fun to be around and have that unique capacity to make even the rainiest day seem a little less bleak. But more than that, you’re so human too, and it’s a very refreshing thing to see. I don’t have to worry about ulterior motives with you because, well, you’re just you and that’s just fine!

Aaron Volk

You’re definitely the most complicated person I know and in many ways a mirror of my own soul. I love that you’ve helped bring out some sides of me that were buried deep down. I’ve got to say that we probably have the most complicated relationship (complicated in a good way) but we know how much our friendship means to one another and that means we’ll have each others backs when push comes to shove. I’m very happy to have met you.

Now don’t feel bad if I omitted you. I didn’t want to sit here all night writing this. There’s obviously a ton more people who have made huge impacts in my life. I just wanted to give these four a special shout out for always being there and being committed to me. Whether it’s been visits or calls in times of distress or just plain old drinking and bad decisions, they all carry weight and you guys might not often be told how much worth you have to me.

September 13, 2011

Change in Tastes?

I've been noticing a few things lately. I've been reflecting (what else is new?) and I was thinking about how I'm reading stuff now that I never had an interest in before. I also thought about how my interests are so different than when I was eighteen or nineteen and even more different than when I was even younger. All in all I've got to say that it seems like it's all been a really fucked up process. I mean, how the hell does that shit change so much? Am I changed so much from that time? Well, let's analyze some things and check it out.

So as far as reading goes I started out reading a very specific book series that is actually a pretty easy read. You guessed it: It's the Anne Bishop books. But holy shit, they're amazing in their own way. I remember when it was described to me: "Yeah, the main character is Daemon and he's the son of Saetan, and then Lucivar is his brother and they're killing people left, right, and centre." I have to admit, it seemed pretty fucked up to me at the time but I think that's what drew me to the series in the first place. So sure enough, I started reading it and it was actually really fun to read and I found I loved the world that she managed to create and the three main characters that live in it. They're all so pure and they definitely don't fuck around. So fast forward a bit and now I've got a crapload of the books - all but one, actually.

Then I tried another series and it was just too brutal for me to get started. I didn't have the patience to read something more complicated. So I tried a different one and found it to be more manageable despite the slow start (more on this one later). I ended up reading the Night Angel trilogy by Brent Weeks and found it very compelling in ways. Overall, it was a nice story and there was a main character death in the middle of the series that really gave the whole story credibility. Just goes to show, it's not real unless someone dies. So I read that series too.

So I was thinking, "Great. Finished that. Now what the fuck do I read?" And that's when I found a sweet deal on a book at Christmas. It was Kushiel's Mercy by Jacqueline Carey. I already had one Carey book and I found it slow in the hundred pages I had already read. Naturally I had my reservations. However, the price was too good so I got the fucking thing as a Christmas gift to myself. And holy shit, what a good decision. It was the last book in the series but everything had already been established and it hit the ground running. Needless to say, I got hooked. After that one I read the first one in the series again. Fucking right. Now I love that series to death. There are so many things I love about it that I could never do it justice by explaining in this brief blog post. The fourth book in that series, though...Wow, what a fucking awesome book in my opinion.

Then I read a bunch of other shit. That was pretty good too. You know, trying to diversify and all that.

Currently, I'm back at a new Brent Weeks book and I've got to say that it's kind of pissing me off. Like, seriously. He goes and he explains shit. There's an island. There's a port. The land itself never means anything to the characters. It's like they're walking through a white room for the whole fucking book so far. Only when something is actually relevant to the story does it serve a purpose in description as land, or scenery, or whatever. But everything else? It doesn't fucking matter. It's like there's no point to it all. We could be in a desert, we could be in a rain forest, it's like with him IT'S THE SAME FUCKING THING. Really? Really, Brent? I understand fully that no one wants mundane details about buildings and stuff. I get that, I really do. But you can describe shit without going all Tolkien on our asses. You don't have to shove the description down our throat like a long marital aid. Just give the things some relevance. On the bright side, though, he's created a pretty original world with some really cool concepts and the characters don't seem that bland, so I do applaud him in that regard.

So that's the crux of the matter. Clearly my reading tastes have evolved. I can go back and read an author I've read before and find something that just pisses me off to no end. Now, all this shit was a lead-in to my other point, which is more general. If my reading tastes have changed, then who's to say that my taste in other shit hasn't changed too?

I think there's a lot of evidence for this: I'm now doing business and I started out in science, I'm actually reading quite a bit more than I used to and get real enjoyment out of it, I still write and probably just as badly (note I'm not even trying in this post), but I seem more commited to actually following through on the stuff I start writing.

As a person I think I've grown as well. Is growing the right word? I don't know. I'm different, I know that. I find I'm not as naive as I once was and, as a result, I'm not nearly as trusting either. I don't think my any means people are out to fuck me over but I am a lot more wary of the motives of people and what I show them about myself. That might explain a lot to a few of you out there who might have just gotten a big clue to something they've been wondering about.

I guess I don't know if it's growth and it doesn't matter anyway. It's a change. God knows I'm going to keep changing. It's going to be quite interesting to see where I end up next and in what context. Is my path going to continue linearly or will it meander? I'm not sure but I plan to have some fucking fun on the way.

September 11, 2011


A lot of people who know me would claim that I am a man who has no faith. They are partially right. I don't believe in a God persay, I don't subscribe to the notion that supernatural forces completely govern our life like some sort of fate. But I am a man of faith. I simply have faith in more solid concepts.

I've got faith in myself. I think it's the most important kind to have. No matter what happens to me I've got that boundless self-confidence and will always have some enthusiasm for trying to be better than I am.

People make a lot of mistakes. I often wonder things like, "Do they realize how stupid they're being?" Maybe they just can't see it from behind their faces. I don't know; I'm no fortune teller. But if I had to guess I'd say that people screw up because they don't believe in themselves. There's a lingering uncertainty there deep within, plaguing their decision-making process. It impedes their ability to see the obvious. It impedes their ability to see right and wrong.

I guess that all goes into perception too (as many things on this blog do). You might read this and think I'm being overly critical since no person has the ability to take everything from other perceptions and apply that to their own decisions. Maybe I am being critical. I do, however, think that I'm being reasonable. Especially if I know the person in question. If someone is making a decision that can potentially affect me down the road I want that decision to be made in the best confidence.

I think we need to stop looking to outside elements as a crutch and a source of strength. We need to look within. So many people can't see what's right in front of them. There's a lot of power there. People have the power to do good and change the world. Not the whole world, but someone's world. And sometimes changing one person's world means you saved that world. In that respect, I know I'm going to save the world someday. I believe.

September 4, 2011

A Beautiful Dreamscape

Dreams are one of the more perplexing illusions that we, as humans, must innevitably deal with. Dreams are extremely variable and have been the subject of much scrutiny in our culture. Ancient shamans and modern scholars alike have spent countless hours trying to decipher the messages of dreams.

By popular convention, dreams are theorized to have little or no meaning in our current era. The prevailing opinion is that they are the product of neurons firing off in the brain during sleep. This process stimulates the mind, which makes sense of the events by creating an unique "dream space" in which the images appear to take on a pronounced meaning. While this argument seems scientifically valid, we must be open to the possibility that the conventional theorem may not be entirely correct.

It may be that the answer does not lie in the mechanism of the dream but in our own experiences in ascribing meaning to it. By this statement, I argue that something does not need to initially "contain" meaning in order to be meaningful. In fact, in many occurances, I find that the opposite prevails. In my own life I have had entirely random events occur, with myself at their center, and have only deciphered or placed meaning on them after the fact. Dreams, like so many other things in life, don't necessarily have to be about the content but rather about what those events or things mean to us as individuals. In short, it's not what you dream but what you make of your dreams.

In the broad spectrum of things, it is indeed unnecessary to try to find meaning in dreams. As individuals we will tend to place meaning of them anyway. Despite this, the study of the meaning of dreams is not irrelevant as it may provide a window into our own thought processes. Sometimes that window might be the only way to see things outside of your house; to see things outside of your own mind space.

You Can't Always Get What You Want...

A certain famous quote has been sticking out in my mind as of late: "You can't always get what you want but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need." I find the quote to be a maxim of sorts.

It might seem passing odd for someone like me, who usually gets what he wants, to think of such things. Though things usually work in my favor, there are a fair share of things that don't work out quite as well for me. I do hold that no matter what happens, I am given everything I require. Sometimes I'm simply given no more or no less than what is necessary.

A novel I read left a profound impression on me. The characters are more or less pious and find that sometimes The gods answer prayers sideways. I'm not zealous when it comes to religion but I do believe in unseen forces and in spirituality to varying extents. Though it shames me slightly to admit it, I take the notion as a sort of personal creed.

Maybe it's just my need for comfort when things go wrong or a human failing to need to believe in something other than myself, but I do find that those two quotes hold sway in my life. There is a certain grounding effect they have that I sometimes require. And who knows? Maybe my belief in them represents the You get what you need part.

August 31, 2011

It's An Interesting Feeling

In December of 2009 I had finished my final exam for my BSc. in Chemistry. Not wanting to yet enter the workforce and wanting to see something of the world, I had already decided to go to Korea. The waiting game was on.

Over the entire period of time I was to muse on what type of job I would want and where I would want to live. I spent some peaceful months avoiding real life; a respite from the harsh schedules of academia. I'll admit that I did not give my future much thought during that time. I was content to simply do nothing and enjoy what little nothing I could for so short a time. Then Korea came and I had finally discovered the answer to one half od my question. I knew where I wanted to live.

I had a fantastic time for the brief period of it I spent there and it taught me that I want to live in Eastern Canada. Doing what was the only other question I sought an answer to so I returned to pursue it.

In the time since I've been back I've applied for a boatload of Chemistry jobs but met with little success, not willing to move to Toronto or beyond. Eventually the funds remaining from my trip were running dry and I could afford to tarry no longer. Therefore, I took any job I could find and "any job" turned out to be a call center.

I'll own that the particular call center I worked at was one of the best ones around. Compared with others, the work and schedule were child's play. Still, I found that I did not like it and the stress it placed on me was considerable. So I left, though it may not have been the best call economically for me.

Around the same time I had a realization that, although I loved Chemistry and everything I learned in the degree, I didn't want to work in the field itself. I wanted something different. Something highly social that still made use of my scientific method and penchant for numbers. I decided that I wanted to take business.

There were two things barring my path: a prerequisite in some type of Economics class and the General Management Admission Test (GMAT). The Economics course is hardly worth mentioning for all the ease of it. The GMAT was way more of a bitch. But it was a bitch of my own creation.

Most people afford at least three months to study for the GMAT test, or at least that's what all the supportive literature says. I had given myself just over three weeks. Was I being crazy? Hell, no. Was I being cocky? Oh god, yes. And sure enough, with so little time to complete it, I achieved my goal of attaining the required score for my MBA program and beyond. I sure do like my ego boost.

So now we're here. It's upon us. Tomorrow I begin a two-year program that was almost two years in the making for myself. Will it be everything I want it to be for me? I sure hope so. I'm looking for a job I'll actually want to do when I come out of the program. This seems like my best bet. But, like anything, only time will tell. It's been a rather interesting road to this point, full of things I could never have predicted. I imagine that it'll be an even more interesting road as the stakes are raised again and I must rise to the occasion as I have so many times before. All in all: It's an interesting feeling.

August 25, 2011

My Dark/Light Sides

I've been thinking a lot on certain concepts related to the self. Perception and its derivatives have been on my mind as of late. Another concept I feel deserves merit that is at least related but may or may not fit into this category is the thought that everyone has their dark sides and their lighter sides. Otherwise put, we all fall into a certain shade of grey.

The way I like to think of it is that both the light and the dark make up the self and form some sort of grey area. No one is perfectly noble and none so evil. What I'm more concerned with is breaking down those components of light and dark. Realizing that I cannot do this for the typical person since it would require intricate knowledge of their inner thinkings that I'm simply not privy to, I figure I'll attempt to analyze my own light and dark sides in some sort of vain effort to provide a basis on which people may compare themselves.

As it may be more pleasant, let us begin by discussing the light. I'd like to point out that no matter who I'm dealing with or whatever the situation, I try to find some positive in that situation and also to love the moments it generates. This is obvious when good things are happening since it's quite easy to draw positive from preferable experiences. However, this aspiration of mine is tested when bad things happen.

Let's say someone says something that upsets me. I'm logical. I try to deal with it by assuming the person may have some good although possibly selfish reason to upset me. More appropriately put, I try to empathize with the person that is the source of my anger. I don't mean to make this sound easy. On the contrary, I find it insanely difficult. I've been slighted before by people I've been close to in a wide variety of situations and have been able to forgive those people in time. No doubt there will always be a part of me that remains bitter over the situation. In general, though, I don't see the need in perpetuating some type of conflict that holds no gain for me in the long run.

Now let's say something more serious happens. Like someone dying. That's basically the worst thing that can possibly happen. Naturally, if I was close to the person I would be quite upset. It may take a very long time but, over that time frame, I eventually do manage to look at the situation more objectively and find some good that came out of it, even if it seems like the bad far outweighs the good.

Maybe it's my vanity speaking but I would prefer to believe that I can maintain the capacity to love and to forgive in the direst of situations. God knows it's hard to do, though.

Now to delve into the dark. Like everyone, I'm sure, I have dark impulses and moments when my otherwise sunny disposition is rained on. I find that I can very quickly think of the most pragmatic end to a situation. Most often this would be the course of action that would hurt others and puts paramount importance on self-gain. I'm a very logical person which is my theory as to why I instantly arrive to this solution before I even think of the more noble solutions. I also find that sometimes my natural reaction to situations can be quite vengeful. Simply put: I am not to be crossed.

Let's say someone I care about has a problem. Being somewhat of a strategist, I would instantly think of how I could turn the situation to my advantage even at the expense of the person I should be helping. Now, to be clear, the vast majority of the time I will set that thought aside, pleased that I was able to contrive it, and help the person in the way that benefits them. But we do have our dark sides and that's one of the instances where mine does surface briefly.

Now if the situation is more personal then we have a much more interesting concept to discuss. If someone were to act against me and hurt me in some way I would immediately think about revenge before I thought of anything else. I have morals, I would probably end up taking the high road. But the thought and the desire to act on the person who hurt me would be powerful. I suppose the worst part of it all is that I can actually sit back and think of effective ways or situations to just utterly ruin the person, each varying on how far I would be willing to take it. I do derive pleasure in thinking up the scenarios and I think it stems back to my love of finding the most logical solution to things. It is a side of me that exists in abundance. But having the information is not the same as using it. Just because I see the ways in which to shatter a person doesn't mean that I'll do it or will even want to as time passes.

I like to think of dark and light sides not as opposing forces or hindrances but as thought processes that ensure I make the most informed decisions in my life. I'm not going to sit back and say that I'm a wonderful person who only does good things and never screws up. Nor am I going to say that I am indefinitely more prone to taking the darker course of action. I admit, the dark actions have a certain innate appeal to me as they tend to correlate more with my way of thinking. Naturally, I will initially gravitate towards those courses of action. But I would like to believe that I am adept at seeing all sides of an issue. If I always did the dark action then I would have no one around to care about and it would ultimately be self-defeating anyway. I guess the best way of putting it is something like this: I can be a great person to those who a great to me and have at least the potential to go darkside on anyone who decides to be a bastard to me. No matter how righteous or dishonourable you may be, I doubt anyone could say any different on the whole.