Category Archives: Culture

First Impressions of Peru

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I’ve been in Peru for a few days now so i’ve had a chance to adjust to the culture shock and acclimatize to the altitude in the mountains.

In my first day in Peru, I wrote down some first impressions I had about traveling to a new country and checking out the city of Lima.

Here is a short list of thoughts I jotted down on my iPhone while I was in a cab heading to Arequipa:

1) Traffic is crazy all the time

2) Driving into oncoming traffic is a common driving tactic

3) Ceviche is amazing and possibly my new favorite food. In coastal cities like Lima, the seafood is incredibly fresh.

4) Scotia bank is everywhere. Apparently it’s the third largest bank in Peru.

5) People here work incredibly hard. Everywhere you look, people are doing manual labour, running businesses or doing insane feats like pushing a car down the street with no help.

6) Big brands really do exist everywhere.

7) Google Maps is amazing. I found google maps cars mapping out the city everywhere.

8) Learning some of the language is really important. Not just for safety but also to engage with the locals. Walking into restaurants, I was embarrassed that I couldn’t understand what people were saying to me.

9) As my good friend Ana says, travelling is kind of like being on a roller coaster. You just have to go with the flow and take the good with the bad.

10) Antibacterial Wipes or wet ones are a god send. Especially when on planes or if its been ages since you’ve seen running water.

And finally, here is a thought after being in the mountains for a few days:

11) Altitude sickness really will kick your butt. I thought I would be mildly affected but it ended up hitting me hard. There is nothing more humbling then getting winded after walking one city block. A peek into old age I suppose.

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Say Yes More

Like most people, I have a pretty packed schedule. Lot’s of meetings, projects, social events and of course a bit of networking. I keep my life pretty structured so I can try to pack as much as I can in. To be honest, this can be boring and predictable.

I had an epiphany last week when I was at a networking event and a bunch of friends I know invited me out for dinner with them after. I politely declined (as per my usual response) and said that I had an early morning squash game. As I grabbed my coat and walked out the door, I had this feeling of regret for not being spontaneous and just going out for dinner. Who know’s what could happen. Maybe I could have engaged in a great conversation which sparked a new business idea. Or maybe I listened to somebody talk about their life and got a boost of inspiration. Or maybe I could stumbled upon a new job opportunity. Who knows? The thing is, I missed out. Real networking happens when the cards get put away and you really get to know people over a drink, a coffee or a late night meal.

Some people might say that I simply have a case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). And maybe I do. But I realized today that for me, this is a pattern. When you structure your life too much, you miss out on opportunities to engage with awesome people and do spontaneous things. Who know’s what waits for you just around the corner at the local coffee shop or restaurant. Could be an adventure!

So the next time somebody asks you out for a social event on a whim, do yourself a favour and say “yes!”.

10 Gift Ideas For That Entrepreneur In Your Life

Finding the perfect gift for your friends, family or significant other this holiday season can be stressful. How many times have you asked yourself “What do I get for the person who has everything?”.

Well, today I’m going to make your holiday shopping just a little easier.

Here are 10 gift ideas that are perfect for the entrepreneur or business person in your life. And hey, who says you can’t treat yourself to something special?

1) Audible Membership

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What better way to kill time on the bus or commute into work then to listen to an educational or fun (fiction) book? Catch up the latest best sellers while on the go. And if you work from home, you can load up your ipod with audiobooks and go to the gym!

2) Tim Ferris’s new book “The 4-Hour Chef

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I haven’t read this book yet but based on Tim’s last two books, I am looking forward to diving in. This book has been highly publicized and looks to be a great read.

3) Gift Card to App Sumo

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App Sumo is the candy store for tech entrepreneurs. Similar to other daily deal websites such as Groupon, Living Social and Ethical Deal, App Sumo offers great deals on software, education and web tools. I’ve scored some awesome deals this year.

4) An e-reader

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E-readers have been out for awhile but the new versions this year are great. The Kobo Mini and Kindle Fire HD are my picks.

5) An ergonomic chair for the home office

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This one doesn’t sound sexy but don’t knock how your productivity can increase with a good working chair. I went to a local ergonomic chair store and was amazed at the difference that a good chair can do. Talk to one of the ergonomic specialists at your local chair store and they can set you up with the perfect chair.

6) Digital magazine subscriptions

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Magazine subscriptions can be a lame gift. But now with most magazines offering digital versions through the ipad or other tablets, you can give somebody a few magazines for cheap.

7) Jet Bags

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Jet Bags are an ingenious invention. A worry free way to travel with wine or liquor bottles in your suit case.  Jet Bags consist of a plastic “ziploc” type bag with an absorbent cloth layer inside. If the bottle breaks, the absorbent layer will soak up all the liquid (750ml) and keep your clothing and other luggage items safe.

8) Membership to Lynda.com

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Okay, giving somebody education as a gift seems like a boring idea. But what better way to kick off the new year then with some shiny new skills to improve both productivity and profitability? Lynda.com has a wide selection of courses ranging from SEO to Adobe Photoshop. This one is on my list for sure!

9) Moo.com Gift Certificate

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Business cards are essential networking tools regardless of how much social networking somebody does. A gift card to Moo will ensure that your gift recipient will be well stocked with cards for January.

10) A Journal

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Jim Rohn once said he bought expensive, high quality journals so that he could fill them up with ideas, notes and reflections that would be worth more than the cost of the book. Moleskine journals are fun and now Evernote has its own integrated version.

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A boost of inspiration – TEDx Vancouver Part 1

Last weekend, I attended the fourth annual TEDx event in Vancouver. As usual, the event was filled with great energy, inspiring speakers and of course ideas worth spreading. For those of you who don’t know, TEDx events are independently run speaker events that license the TED brand and feature a mix of live speakers at TED Talks. This year was especially neat because it was the biggest TEDx in Vancouver featuring an audience of over 2300 people.

Some of my favorite speakers this year include:

– Mark Brand – “The Impact of an Unconventional Solution”

– Robin Esrock – “Learn to Travel: Travel to Learn”

– Dr. John Izzo – “The Defining Moment for a Generation-In-Waiting”

Although the videos aren’t posted yet, if you click here, you can check out all the speaker bios.

In the meantime, check out videos of my favorite speakers from last year’s TEDx Vancouver lineup:

Victor Lucas – “The 3D Rules”

Romeo Dallaire – “The Frontier of Social Revolution”

Christopher Gaze – “Shakespeare is Everywhere”

Check back again for part 2 of this post where i’ll be posting some of my favorite photos and quotes from TEDx Vancouver 2012.

Wearing a Backpack with a Suit (and 8 Other Common Fashion Failures)

I’m going to take a bit of detour off the beaten track for my post today.

The idea for this post was born out of a casual conversation I was having with a friend of mine Kim (@iamkimu).  We were standing in a line up at Tim Hortons and at we both noticed a guy destroying his beautiful suit with an outdoor backpack from Mountain Equipment Co-op. We decided to come up with a list of 9 fashion failures that guys with suits frequently do.

This list is purely an opinion piece and if you want real fashion tips, check out GQ.

1) Wearing a suit and a backpack

This one is simple. You pay $300+ for a nice suit, get it tailored and it looks awesome. Then you ruin the frame of the suit by tossing a heavy backpack on it. Spend $60 and buy yourself a computer bag or nice leather attaché case.

2) White socks and black dress shoes

White socks should never be worn with black dress shoes. Unless your in grade 6 and also have braces and bad acne. That being said, your socks don’t always have to be black. A really good look is to have a sock with an interesting design that complements the shirt or tie.

3) Wearing a Livestrong (or other charity) bracelet with a suit

Okay, so Kim and I debated back and forth on this one but we decided that this one should be added to the list purely because while these bracelets are usually for an awesome cause, they sort of send out mixed messages. It’s like 99% of you is sending out the message that you’re ready to do business. But your wrist wants to party.  We recommend shelving the bracelet for more casual attire. Instead, wear a nice watch to go with your suit.

4) Wearing a suit that doesn’t fit properly (too big or too small)

This is one of my biggest pet peeves in regards to suits. If you’re going to spend the money on a suit, make sure it fits! A suit that’s too big looks like you’re drowning in fabric. A suit that’s too small….well probably sends the message that you haven’t bought a new suit in awhile. Plenty of tailors can alter your suit at a really affordable price. Also, when buying a suit, make sure the shoulders fit. Everything else can be altered.

5) Wearing two different patterns (suit jacket and pants)

Unless you want to look like your grandfather, then I wouldn’t recommend wearing two different patterns of suit jacket and pants. It can look mismatched or just old. The exception to this rule is if you are wearing a solid color pair of pants and a jacket with a pattern.

6) Wearing a sporty rain coat with a suit

Yes, formal looking raincoats can be expensive. But you can pick up a nice black or beige trench coat on the cheap these days. And it looks way, way better! A nice rain coat paired with a suit, really completes the look.

7) Wearing shoes without shining them (suede being the exception)

Kim wanted me to add this one as he keeps a private stash of shoe polish in his office. Scruffy looking shoes send off the amateur message to a potential employer or client. Give your shoes a good shine before heading out the door and you’ll complete the “power” look.

8) Wearing your cell phone on your belt

Okay, unless you work for the CIA and you need your phone at the ready all the time, then ditch the cell phone holster. It looks ridiculous, especially with a suit. Enough said.

9) Wearing a casual belt with a suit

I’m always amazed at how many people do this. They have an awesome suit (maybe a pinstripe) and then they ruin it with their weekend warrior Hollister belt. Make sure to get a good black or brown belt to go with your suit. And then it won’t look like your heading out for your first job interview.

I’ve love to hear your feedback on any men’s fashion tips (business/formal attire) you have. And the best tip will be posted as number 10 on this list with your name.

The winning tip to add as number 10 on the list was posted by “twocentsplus” who says “Short sleeve shirts should never be worn with a suit”.