I Survived and now Walking To Fight #BladderCancer

Walk to fight Bladder Cancer

September 23rd I will be walking to fight #bladdercancer in the annual Bladder Cancer Canada Awareness Walk.

I have walked in Kenora for the past three years, my summer residence community and "hometown". As Chair of Bladder Cancer Canada, I thought it was important for me to walk in the largest event in the country and return home to Toronto for the September event.

Toronto Walk

Deanne Puder is doing a masterful job of organizing the Toronto event, along with former supporters of the walk and our Bladder Cancer Canada Co-Founder David Guttman keeping her informed on best practices to date.

Corus Global

I am also delighted that Corus/Global is continuing as our national media partner. Troy Reeb has been our master of ceremonies in Toronto the past few years. Alan Carter of Global News will be taking on emcee responsibilities this year. It is great to have Alan on board and we extend thanks to Corus/Global for their much-valued continued support.

Why Walk?

Why Walk?  As a survivor of #bladdercancer, I was fortunate enough to have found out about Bladder Cancer Canada, very early after my diagnosis. The website offered some great resources, and Tammy Northam, the executive director, was very helpful in getting me started on setting up a fundraising walk in my summer residence of Kenora Ontario.

More than that - Bladder Cancer Canada truly makes a difference in the fight against #bladdercancer. They remain focused on patient support, raising awareness about the disease and funding research.

Earlier this year I became Chair of Bladder Cancer Canada's board of directors. I humbly take on this responsibility after the leadership of Ken Bagshaw and his predecessor Co-Founder of the organization - David Guttman.

I also remain inspired by Jack Moon, David's fellow co-founder, to whom I was referred to when I was "googling" and stumbled across the organization after reaching out to the American organization BCAN and the Inspire network.

By walking, and gaining the support of donors, I know that we will continue to build the impact that we have to provide for patients in the fight against bladder cancer in Canada. We will have more resources to raise awareness. We will have more resources to support our medical advisory and research boards and our Canadian researchers in the pursuit of finding a cure for bladder cancer.

I hope that YOU might consider SUPPORTING ME by joining me to walk in Toronto and/or supporting me by making a donation to my walk effort on my personal page at bccwalk.ca.

Thanks

Thank you for helping me and our volunteer board and patient support team make a real difference in the fight against bladder cancer.


Your Remote Office At the Lake

Hello out there Canada !

I'm re-issuing my "virtual office" blog post on working remotely at the lake - the remote office. I am also including a "video" produced last summer to help you think about how you might plan on working remotely this summer. Cheers to a great start to the month of July. Happy Canada Day long weekend.

VIDEO LINK HERE  

Ah summer...time to set up the virtual office.

A time when families plan to spend more time together with each other, extended families and friends. For many Canadians, it is a time to enjoy that special place known as the "cottage", "camp" or "cabin", depending on of course which part of this vast and magnificent land you might be headed to...the coast - lake - river - countryside - hills or mountains.

For me, that "camp" becomes my summer location and headquarters in Central Canada for the Devins Network. I get a smile on my face just writing that! It's the virtual office.

Even when I was still working full time at Molson Coors, I would make the weekly treck northwards to Kenora from Toronto late on a Thursday night and return on Monday.

Thankfully, I had the benefit of understanding and supportive colleagues and a CEO who knew that I was plugged in and accessible at all times, regardless of my physical location. Ground rules in that regard are critically important to make the model work. Establish that agreement early on so that the context is understood by your team and clients.

The remote or virtual office concept is being adapted and embraced by more and more individuals and businesses. I truly believe in this web-connected network society in which we live, if you've got access to the web, you are on the job; available and in touch.

Obviously, the truth is that virtual office or job locations are not for everyone. If you are an administration type, that requires physical files at your disposal, it's likely the case that you need to be next to those physical files. 

If you are on a production line or supervising production lines or operations, it is likely important that you are physically on the site in case troubleshooting is required.

However, if you can execute your responsibilities and fulfil on your accountabilities online, without requiring a physical presence - you can likely make the virtual office thing happen.

So what does a virtual office look like, feel like ?

DETERMINE THE WORKSPACE

Establishing your physical "workspace" is a critical consideration, in setting up your virtual office. A desk, chair, printer, filing space, office items, mouse, keyboard, clock are all important for your physical set up. Most important is an agreement with your family members of where you locate in their environment. You may have to take a call or examine something online at any point in the day. Having space that will allow for this and not cause friction with the rest of the family is key to happiness for those sharing your newly created office space.

A PHONE

Cell phones allow you to be in touch anywhere anytime as long as you have cell service. I find that more and more folks are leaving the landline behind and moving to cell phone only. Given that most families have plans for each member of the family - it has become the predominant device for contact...voice or text. As a solopreneur my cell phone is my phone for business and travels with me everywhere. Depending on how "remote" you are, you might need to do some research on network availability and service in your area. Most communities and service providers have figured out how to keep their permanent and summer residents connected.

COMPUTER

Hardwired to the net or Wifi will provide you with the connectedness you need to access your work team, clients, suppliers, colleagues, and prospects. If you don't have wifi you may actually have the benefit of a data plan and you can "hotspot" from your phone. Research most accessible and affordable options. Another critical consideration is your "back up". By this, I am referring to a  backup device. I stumbled upon a situation where my computer needed servicing. Having an Apple Mac Book it required being shipped away for several days. Thus, I needed to have a backup laptop, tablet or device.

WIFI

I have struggled year after year with just simply unacceptable wifi service from the local provider. I am now into my second summer with xplornet.com and find them to be outstanding. Currently, I have 20.7 MBPS down and  1.6 MBPS up. I have had better than than through the week.

DOCUMENTS 

Platforms such as dropbox, google drive, box, icloud and or various other clouds allow you to arrange your critical documents for access. You can also share and edit with teams via these platforms. It might take some getting used to but is really slick once you are operating in this space. This will also provide a safe back-up for you with access on any device if your primary computer or lap to go on the fritz.

FACE TO FACE

Facetime for Apple folks, SKYPE for just about anyone and many other video conference platforms like "Go To Meeting" allow you to conduct virtual meetings where you actually do have face to face ability through your computer, tablet or phone device. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and snap chat all have face to face capability as well.

VOICE TO VOICE OR SCREEN SHARING

Plenty of conference call platforms on phones and available today to ensure that you can remain connected and be engaged in meetings whenever that call might be on your calendar. I recommend securing a conference line so that you have it on the ready, rather than having to scramble if in need of convening a call with your team or clients. Join Me is a terrific service to share your screen with others via conference call. Webex or Zoom are also great services.

CONFERENCE ROOMS

Most hotels, and many local businesses offer up their conference space for use by individuals or small businesses. You don't have to look too far before finding something that will suit your needs. This is particularly important if you are need in several hours on a "call". It could be a major inconvenience to your family if you are set up in common space in your abode. Often times there is idle space in summer months in cottage country, the establishment might appreciate a few tweets, Trip Advisor referral or Facebook like or recommendation from you in return.

CALENDAR AND ALARM

Don't fall into a trap of getting distracted with what is going on at your virtual location environment. Have a calendar plan with "notifications" when meetings, calls or assignments are due. Since you are remote, you might sometimes be slightly adrift. Make sure you have a good system in place to stick with your business schedule, when required.

PLAN YOUR WORK WINDOWS

Put a plan in place to lay out your work each day. Rob Hatch at Owner Media has a good process that he talks about in his "work like you're on vacation" course. His suggestion is to lay out your work the night before, plan it, plan the outcomes and schedule that time free of distractions.

MAIL

Canada Post will allow for personal mail being forwarded, or how about having home office send you your mail weekly in a ground courier envelope. Many cottage communities also have local post office box availability. Depending on whether you know your community, or are just renting for the summer - don't just assume that your standard courier will be able to get to you. Talk to locals first. Remember that most cottage country areas do have a day or two delay in reaching you.

BANKING

There are now so many options to bank and complete transactions online. All of the banks and credit unions seem to have set up online banking ease. You can also utilize PayPal as a transaction service to pay online.

FEELING REMOTE AND AWAY FROM INFORMATION

Google it ! YouTube it ! There is no reason for you to feel out of touch if you are connected to the web in your virtual office.

NETWORKING GAPS

Pick your pathway and engage with folks through platforms existing on LinkedIN, Facebook, Twitter and Google + (to just name a few...). If you are remote, you may feel that you are disconnected from people. You can stay in touch through your networks. As part of your plan, you might decide to reach out to a number of people through the week. Drop those into your calendar with a purpose in mind. Check out profiles with your cottage community in their profile. A great twitter search tool for this is Audiense.

DISCIPLINE

Getting your mindset established from the get-go is most critical. Know when you are at "work" and when you are at "leisure". Plan your day, work your plan. Schedule appropriate amount of time for calls, email, social networking. Routine calls or meetings will make for better planning over the longer term. Discipline and planning will make this work with ease. Those early morning sunrises might make for the perfect time to wipe off the morning dew, grab a nice hot coffee, cup of tea, iced drink or smoothie on your deck or dock to check incoming mail and plan your day.

JUST A CALL OR EMAIL AWAY!

The biggest hurdle with establishing a virtual office is you getting your head around the fact that nothing is impossible to get done when you are remote. The other hurdle is getting those that you work with and support comfortable with the fact that you are achieving your goals and accomplishing the work that needs to get done; even though you are not physically at a location. No need to rub it in, but acknowledging accomplishments from your place away is a good reinforcement that the work is getting done.

Get your virtual office established and...enjoy the summer !

VIDEO LINK ALSO HERE - smiles.

@FergDevins @DevinsNetwork


Spring

Spring into Opportunities of Spring

As February evaporates, literally as snow banks shrink and streams and rivers flow, I am reminded of what spring brings by way of opportunity. It is time to spring into the opportunities of spring.

Re-Align

It is a time to re-align and set the stage for the hunkering down in the new year. Doesn't it feel like New Year's eve just passed? How are those New Year's resolutions holding up? Time to get them planned and executed.

Get Away

For many, this might be a time of escape, rejuvenation, refresh, contemplation, study, renewal. Snowbirds from Canada are renowned for the mid-winter escapes to southern climates as a bit of a kick start and dream of the summer ahead. The mid-winter vacation is a great bridge to the March thaw that we long for after months of snow and sleet and ice. Universities and Colleges across the land take "break weeks" for study and reflection. Soon into March, primary and secondary schools will have their March break vacation time to bridge from winter to spring.

That Special Project

Spring also brings an opportunity to look ahead at our projects for the spring, summer, and fall. What projects around the house will need tending too? If you have a recreational property or recreational vehicle there will be maintenance and tune-up required to get things up to snuff for enjoyment in the months ahead. What vacation plans are you putting in place that you've always dreamed of and will land this year?

Re-Connect

It is also a time of year to re-connect with family and friends and put your social calendar together. Perhaps it is dinner in or out with those you have not seen for a while. Perhaps a longer-term plan for an extended visit to the city or town, or at the cottage/camp/or cabin this summer. By taking the time in the spring to plan your social calendar, you'll be sure to harvest great memories in the weeks and months ahead.

That Desired Contract

Spring is also a time to make plans on the work front. What projects are due for the peak season of summer? What job prospects might you be considering? For university and colleges students, the summer job market is never hotter than right now, at break time to sneak in the interviews and applications with prospective employers for the summer.

De-Clutter

Finally, (although I'm sure you could add a lot more to this short list), spring is a time for de-cluttering. The old term of "spring cleaning" allows us to chuck those items that have just been hanging around too long. As the snow melts, neighbourhood garage and backyard sales emerge. Remember, "one person's garbage is another person's treasure", will likely fetch you a few dollars for that item that has outlived its welcome in your household.

Here's wishing you and yours well as you consider how you might spring in the opportunities of spring. Wishing you wellness and good plans for happiness and fulfillment this spring. Cheers !

@fergdevins


Santa

When there is no line at the mall to meet Santa

Ho Ho Ho. That is the wonderful cheerful sound of Santa when positioned next to the Christmas tree in the mall. The even sweeter awesome moment is certainly when there is no line at the mall to meet Santa.

Neil Pasricha, in his "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome" captures this moment of awesome.

Whether you plan to visit Santa at the mall, or just happen to turn the corner and see Santa at the mall - it is one of the moments for kids of all ages to experience during the holiday season.

I still think that best plan is to do a little research into Santa's hours at the mall. By assessing his very busy agenda, you might be well advised to get to the mall when he has arrived with his sleigh. Early visitors may have a shorter line in front of them.

Wishing you much happiness this holiday season as you experience your own awesome moments at Christmas.

@fergdevins


wrapping paper lines up

When the wrapping paper lines up

Sometimes the awesome moments during the holidays are small achievements. Do you ever catch your self in a moment of joy, or upset and realize what is causing your emotion is actually quite trivial in nature? In the ramp up to Christmas, one of those trivial moments could be that moment when the wrapping paper lines up, or doesn't.

You've selected the most amazing pattern to wrap your gifts. Upon wrapping you realize that the pattern won't line up. Well, with a little bit of maneuvering it will likely line up, but it adds a little planning and strategy to the simple task of wrapping.

When the wrapping paper lines up, you have a moment of joy. There is a sense of accomplishment. You might even lay a high five or bump to one of your family members nearby.

As Neil Pasricha points out in his "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome", wrapping is serious. However, let's not get caught up in these trivial moments of highs and lows of the season. Let us seek out our joy in not only when the wrapping paper lines up but some of those other moments of joy the holidays season brings:

  • When the lights all turn on when you plug them in the first time.
  • The beer in the fridge is still fresh.
  • Every seasonal apparatus working on batteries is still working from last year.
  • Your outdoor ornaments survived the summer shed storage.
  • Flights all arrive on time with family members returning home for the holidays.
  • Son or daughter's "last exam" isn't Christmas eve morning.
  • You remembered to put gas in the snow blower when you got dumped on Christmas morning.
  • Your Christmas paper napkins are in good supply.
  • Your wifi is capable of handling of your visitors of the season.
  • You remembered to PVR that new holiday tv special the night you were out for dinner.
  • You have enough kindling prepared for the increase in fires during the holidays.
  • Your BBQ tank is full, and a spare on hand.
  • Your hot water tank is in good working order, for added guests.
  • You remembered to re-print the holiday carols.
  • Your remembered your family member who is a vegetarian with an option for Christmas dinner.

May your holidays be happy and bright and may all of your Christmas's be white.

@fergdevins


Advent Calendar Traditions

Continuing on my seasonal posts of Holiday Awesome - inspired by Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome".

 

The Advent Calendar is one of those holiday season traditions that help us with the countdown to Christmas Day. The advent calendars have become a tradition that offers a token of joy during the 24 days leading up to the last "opening day" being December 25th. The origin is traced back to some point in the 19th century. It was originally a Protestant tradition when religious families would mark a line for every day in December until Christmas eve. Advent calendars were a countdown to the coming of Jesus Christ into the world.

 

On a more commercial front, it is always amazing each year, to see the new creativity that arrives on the shelves of gift shops and grocers as the advent approaches.

 

For a few years, I enjoyed sharing a tea with my daughter through mutually benefitting from gifting the David's Tea holiday collection. Naturally, if you search Google you'll find a wide and fascinating array of the "best of advent calendars for 2017"Chatelaine also offered up their choices for 2017 at "Best Advent Calendars".

 

This year my advent calendar is in tribute to our Toronto Maple Leafs. I arrived home from a business trip December 1st to find my advent calendar waiting for me on the kitchen table. It is a "limited edition" run full of assorted Lindt chocolate samples for the season. For every Toronto Maple Leafs advent calendar sold, the Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment Foundation will gain a $1.00 to invest in their community initiatives.

 

So, I'm counting down to Christmas with my Toronto Maple Leafs advent calendar and counting down to see if they will keep pushing for top of the league, to close out this calendar year. Go Leafs Go !

 

I hope you and your family are enjoying your own special choice of advent calendar as the countdown to Christmas this December has begun.

 

Ferg Devins

 

 


Christmas tree decorations

That Old Box of Christmas Ornaments

In today's post I refer to Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome" and his reference to "pulling out that old box of Christmas ornaments from when you were a kid".

 

Whether it is the angel atop your tree, the "baby's first Christmas" ornament, the family pet, Mickey Mouse lights, your miniature Christmas Village, your favourite Nutcracker, a favourite ornament from a family member, the neighbour's ornament from year's gone by - memories adorn our Christmas trees each year.

 

That box of ornaments you pull out each year is a wonderful reflection of memories over the years that bring joy to the ritual of tree decorating.

 

As the scouts, markets and churches fill their parking lots and locations with the annual harvest of Christmas trees, may your own preparations to pull your box of decorations bring you much joy and awesomeness this holiday season.

 

@fergdevins


Fairmont YVR Christmas Tree

Hotel Lobbies and the Joy of Christmas

Keeping consistent with the Neil Pasricha, "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome", my post today is reflecting on the joy of Christmas while traveling.

 

When travelling on business, it was always interesting to see various states of decoration as the month of November progressed. It was particularly gratifying when met with a winter storm in November, to see a Christmas tree or decorations in the hotel lobby upon arrival. The warmth of Christmas decorations helped dismiss the incovenience of snow, slush, slow roads, heavy traffic and grumpy winter travelers.

 

Traveling to British Columbia this week, I arrived late on Sunday night and bunked in at the Fairmont Hotel at the Airport in Vancouver.

 

To my absolute delight, there was an "upside down" Christmas tree hanging in the lobby. There were also several other trees and decorations in the main lobby area. It is just such a wonderfully welcoming feeling to see these lobbies decorated for the season.

 

I truly think that hoteliers worldwide should take a bow for the work that you and your staff put into decorating your properties for the holiday season. Just know that the hard work does bring joy to travelers at this time of year.

 

Simply - awesome work.

 

@fergdevins

 


role of tape

Don't Sweat the Small Things like Tape

I had a good chuckle this morning, reading page 22 of Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome". It reminded me of how we sometimes let those little tiny nuisances cause us aggravation. In the grander scheme of things, shame on us for getting caught by "hang nails" of life.

 

In Neil's book, he refers to "finally finding the start of this stupid role of tape". Doesn't that statement just conjure up some recollections of when you were cursing that moment in the middle of wrapping? Or, perhaps you were sealing that envelope to send off to the family for the holidays. The tape issue is not just germane to the holidays. Gosh, any roll of Scotch Tape sitting in a drawer for a few months will likely have had its end disappear, causing you to remove your reading glasses and focus in on finding the missing end of the tape.

 

But really folks, given all that the world is facing, I am sure that you will agree with me that we can overcome this frustration and focus on things of more significance in our day.

 

However, finding that missing end of the tape can absolutely be one of those moments of awesome this holiday season and year round.

 

@fergdevins


Queen's Band Macy's Parade

Love a Parade

American Thanksgiving, no matter where you are in the world, will always be a morning to watch the famous Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. It is a spectacular production that has withstood the test of time.

 

In 1983, I was fortunate enough to have marched in the parade as a member of the Queen's University at Kingston - Queen's Bands. The photo atop was our pipe band contingent. Oh my gosh my feet were sore after marching around Manhattan with that bass drum strapped on.

 

Whether participating in or spectating at, a community parade is just simply one of the events of the holiday season and Christmas festivities that leaves us feeling awesome. Although not one of Neil Pasricha's references in his "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome", I did want to refer to the joy that a parade brings to the community. It is certainly a cultural event - lining up along the street, hand warmers engaged, hot chocolate in hand, lawn chairs in place.

 

Thanks to Retro Festive Pop Culture Christmas Store and the work of @RetroFestive and Damien Nelson, I have included a list of LINKS to Santa Claus parades in provinces across Canada this holiday season. Here's hoping that you and your family have an opportunity to take in the festivities and appreciate the fine work undertaken by parade volunteers and supporters coast to coast to coast.  Enjoy !

 

A big shout out to the I Heart XMAS blog and Damien Nelson for curating a list of Santa Claus Parades across Canada. Nicely done! Well done.

@fergdevins

Santa Claus Parades Across Canada in 2017

British Columbia

Alberta

Saskatchewan

Manitoba

Ontario

Quebec

Maritime Provinces and Newfoundland and Labrador

Territories