On Tuesday, May 27th, 2014, I had the pleasure of facilitating one of my Ping-Pong team-building workshops for an organization in Calgary. I had been looking forward to this particular engagement for weeks and it was a great day of work and play.

That evening I received a voice-mail from my mother. In a sombre tone she gave me the bad news about my father. A few months ago, he had been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. Malignant mesothelioma is a type of cancer which occurs in the pleura, the lung’s lining. I called her back, and it quickly became clear that the time had come to return home. He was not doing very well. I was planning to get back to Ontario for the middle of June, but the nurse told her that if his children wanted to see him alive, they should visit as soon as possible.flight

It was time to come home. So I did.

I arrived home to London, Ontario less than 48 hours later from Alberta. On the busy Wednesday before my departure I managed to pack things up in my apartment for a sub-letter (thanks to the help of my great friends Sam and Amanda), free up my meetings and commitments, book the flight and get back home. It was an emotional and stressful time. That was the first day I had burst into tears in public more than once since I was a young child! As I did my banking and bought a ticket for my flight, I was comforted by people who allowed themselves to be humane, to help me get through the tasks that were necessary to get home.

I had been warned from my mother that it would be difficult to see my dear old dad the way he was now. It had been 5 days since he was able to eat or drink anything. His appetite was completely gone and if he could eat anything it made him nauseous. He had lost 30 pounds since I’d seen him 2 months earlier and 60 pounds from 6 months earlier.

Since the illness had become very aggressive Dad had been very weak, barely able to walk, sleeping most of the time and not very conversant. This is the antithesis of the Dad we know. Until two years ago at 76, he was still climbing on roofs to fix them, mowing the lawn, fixing cars and always talking up a storm with anyone who would participate and telling jokes or teasing. Although born in Portugal, Dad grew up largely in Brazil and adopted many of the then more liberal attitudes and values of Brazilian culture.  Dad is the kind of person that no matter what life throws at him, he could rally people and see the positive and humor in the situation. As I write this, I am complimented to feel the statement holds true here, “Like father, like son”.

Things happened very quickly. The next day, two of my three sisters arrived. The following day, my twin sister from Calgary. On the weekend, it was like we had a revolving door for cousins and friends who came through. As the Portuguese side of the family is quite large, many people came to see him. It was a beautiful outpouring of love, prayers and caring from people who’s lives he’s been an important part of. It was both exhausting and touching. Everybody including myself thought that he had just hours to live.

The day after my arrival, our wonderful nurse Dina attached some butterfly plugs that allow family members to administer medication to a patient who is being cared for at home. Normally this type of thing would make me squeamish. Yet it was no problem for me to learn how to do  it for my father. The hope was that with these new stronger medications he’d regain his appetite and be able to hold down some food and liquids.

And eventually, he did!Guinness

We tried all kinds of things to see what he could drink and keep down and amusingly it turned out that the best thing was Guinness! The next thing we knew guests were bringing gifts of Guinness in those tall, dark cans day and night. Several times when he’d ask, “Oh Boy, do you think I could have a sip of that black beer?”, I’d pour a 100ml portion for him to drink. We were thrilled to see that he could finally drink something!

Eventually the portions got slightly larger and he even tried to eat a little soup. And then it happened. On Thursday, June 5th I was awoken by my mother at 6:30am to these great words, “Could you wake up Honey. Your father is feeling particularly frisky this morning and wants an Egg McMuffin.” Of course I could. I could hear him talking up a storm from the bedroom which was a first since I’d arrived and the first time in more than a month. He sounded like himself! Lively, articulate, excited. He was talking non-stop all about food and the good old days working in construction. He was happy.

So a few minutes later I was on my way to McDonald’s to grab the same meal that I used to get before snowboarding in Alberta.

It just so happened that this was one of the final things that he was able to eat when he was losing his appetite. While inside I mentioned to the lovely lady in her 40s behind the counter how this was exciting for me as it was to be the first food that my father would eat in two weeks! I did not give her any further details yet tears came to her eyes. She replied, “I think I know what you are dealing with. I’ve just gone through it and my heart goes out to you and your father”. “What a sweetheart”, I thought as I felt a little guilty for upsetting her. It seems true that there is not a family who has not been touched by Cancer.

Back home that morning was one of the best I can remember in quite some time. Sitting at our old dining room table, father and son together, I saw my father eat! He ate 3/4 of a Sausage and Egg McMuffin and also had a couple bites of a hash-brown and a  full “double-double” coffee. He even sent my twin back to get him the apple pie that I forgot! We were thrilled.

With a few tweaks to his medication, his diet has continued to come back and we have enjoyed listening to some of his high-energy conversation that we were so used to. We have tracked almost everything he’s eaten or drank since then and he has regained some strength. The doctor had told us that the steroid he was taking would give him this boost. Be it artificial or not, I’ll take it! I really feel that the combination of family love, the new meds and his increased desire to live, brought my father back to life.

I’m not sharing this story to gain your pity. Rather it’s a story of love and celebration. Despite how my father’s illness affected our entire family and continues to be very emotional and challenging for all of us, I have found some very positive moments during this time. My hope is that this story offers other people experiencing something similar to celebrate what moments they can with their loved ones in such challenging situations.

Since arriving home and getting past the initial crisis stage I have enjoyed some of the pleasures in life that I have at times overlooked.

Some Unexpected Gifts from being here now:

flowers– having the entire family together for an extended time for the first time in over a decade
– the laughs we have shared playing cards or with my twin’s dogs
– the flowers, the endless Portuguese cakes and prayers and unique healing methods that have arrived
– having time to practice juggling 5 balls – a challenge that has been facing me for 15 years
– having started to play the piano using a fascinating technique that is becoming part of my work
– for the first time in my life, actually noticing just how beautiful flowers are

And, of-course, I’ve had some great conversations with my father, my sisters and my mother since I have been home. To some extent with all of the traveling that I have done over the years, there are sides of me that they had never heard about or known of. Now, as we band together to celebrate the life of my father, it seems fitting to share a little more of myself with the people who brought me into this world and have contributed so much to who I have become today.

(I just opened a bottle of Guinness with a letter opener)

So now here we are. Antonio, Jaoquim Esteves has gained 15 pounds and we are spending the days together In London and eating like kings. Last week he had me cook him an octopus and his brother brought over a cooked organic rabbit. Both were delicious although I’ll leave the octopus to a professional next time. We even got out of the house to visit his favorite Portguese restaurant called, “Nova Lisboa” in south London. As one of the first 20 Portuguese people in this city and the first President of The Portuguese Club of London, my father has been frequenting this establishment for over 30 years. He,  like his son, loves people and a good celebration. So this Saturday, he has arranged for about a dozen of us to share a roast pig!

I’ve always sought the right life / work balance but not always been able to achieve it. Until now during this unique time, I have forced myself to resist chasing after work. I know that these precious moments are numbered and can’t lose sight of that. While I do need to continue to build my business, that can wait a month or two, or 6 or 12. On the scale of my life it’s really insignificant. My business will be around as long as I like. But my father will not.

A good friend, Trent from Calgary correctly told me during a phone call last week, “Tony, there’s no greater call for you to answer than what you are doing now”. Thank you Trent. You’re right. I think I’ll stay put for the summer. My family needs me in Ontario and I’m honored to be here.

Looking forward, I have got some serious exercising and much more writing to do, and many books to read. Bring on this ultra-unique summer in my old hometown of London, Ontario. I am grateful for every minute here, even the tough ones. I have certainly felt misplaced since arriving, but it’s becoming clear that in fact I’m exactly in place.

Dad is back in the garden! June 19th, 2014

Dad is back in the garden! June 19th, 2014

 

An update. My dear old Dad passed away on July 15, 2017 peacefully at home. He is still thought of and loved daily.

Because of this article, I was contacted by a mesothelioma cancer survivor and asked if I could share this link. If you or a loved one would like some legal resources on mesothelioma, in the USA, please visit HERE.

todoWhat tasks are you avoiding?

Do them NOW to create your own good luck. Today’s post is how this has recently worked for me, some of the benefits that I’ve enjoyed, and why my image has now had about a half million views online.

Last week after doing some tasks that I had been avoiding, I was rewarded with multiple pieces of good news. The first one was mostly just entertaining, the second one quite profitable.

A friend contacted me online to tell me that I had been featured in a prominent business article. I wish that I could boast that the 300,000+ views that it had generated had to do with my witty discourse but that was not the case. Initially I was excited. “What was this about?”, I thought. Had I done something newsworthy?

But I got a little nervous when I read the title of the link to the article. “Top Rookie Manager Mistakes (That Make You Look Like a Jerk).  There was no interview but there was a photo. My photo! The final image of me below was used at the top of this very well read article.

I found this amusing as my friend and photographer Anthony DeLorenzo had mentioned to me a couple of years ago that this particular image had been around the internet with tens of thousands of views already. But this was the first time that it had ever reached me online. And even though it’s a ridiculous photo of me about to eat dirt, I must admit I got a kick out of knowing that it had been seen hundreds of thousands of times online. It was just a bonus that he happened to be trying out the burst feature on his new camera at the time.

Here are the images that led up to that accident. I can happily report that I was not seriously injured in the fall.

One lesson that I took from these photos and from my first real day of mountain biking was that if you don’t fully commit to something, there’s a good chance it won’t work out for you. I can remember going into that jump apprehensively, not really committing to the jump and splat! I wiped out.

Commit fully to what you believe, to get the results you want to achieve.

In the same morning I received great news from a colleague who had a potential facilitation gig for me using my Ping-Pong workshop. I know that this good piece of professional news could not logically be linked to the fact that I’d just knocked off a number of challenging tasks off my to-do list, but the timing of his offer was telling. DollarsMight there have been a connection to me clearing some things out of my mind to allow space for some more business and income? I think this could very well be so. Unfortunately for now, I can’t prove this. All I can do is tell the story…

I believe that somehow mysteriously amazing things happen once you clear the clutter in your mind or in your day-to-day business.

Do what you are avoiding doing to enjoy instant benefits!

 

The surfacing of this photo made me think of how my image also got used last year on CTV and was seen on international TV.

Listener.jpgLate summer last year I was contacted by friends again through social media as they reported having seen my face on TV. This has happened a few times as I’ve done a little acting, but now something was different. I watched this episode of, “The Listener” that they had indicated and indeed saw my face in a couple of scenes.

This was amusing as I had not auditioned for this job or even submitted my photo! Somehow the production company had obtained my image and used it without my permission. Interesting. Here’s that video clip.


When I spoke to my agent in Toronto to see about getting paid he thanked me for pointing it out. He was also unaware that my image was used! After multiple emails were exchanged between my agent, ACTRA and the production company, I was finally paid for the use of my photo. At under $300 it was not much but to date it remains the best paid gig that I never showed up or even auditioned for. Good times!

In other good news on that day I also was asked to deliver a demo presentation for a potential marquee client and I had a great walk / visit with my father.

I learned of the concept to do the things that you are avoiding doing from Robin Sharma’s book, “The Monk

Who Sold His Ferrari”. This is a book I strongly recommend. His work is for anyone who likes well written stories with practical advice on how to live a more meaningful and fulfilling life. Also check out, “Letters From The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari”.

People say that things happen in 3s so I wonder when and where my next high profile image will show up.

MonkWhoSoldHisFerrari

Read Me

While I’m entertained to see my smiling face ending up in interesting parts of our media-driven world, I look forward to seeing it when there’s a little more depth behind the story. Perhaps it will be from some of the work I’m currently doing or will be me promoting my upcoming book on the power of unexpected connections…

Until we meet again Internet, it’s time for me to take off.

 

I’m in the middle of my 10 day Image Streaming challenge now and it’s simply amazing! What is Image Streaming and why would I choose to spend time doing this?

get-into-the-depths-of-the-unconscious-paulo-zerbatoHere is my own description:

Image Streaming is a technique used to provide answers to profound questions utilizing the unconscious mind. During this process, participants somewhat dream while they are awake and are shown how to draw meaning from describing what they see in their mind’s eye. This is done based on a specific question that they choose to focus on.  It is an excellent way to get directly to the “third third” of creative ideas in a short period of time. Typically this is performed in pairs with one person recording information while the other person does the Image Streaming. Individuals can also do it with a voice recording device but the best results come from pair work. Finally, participants analyze what they saw and make sense of the metaphor that is inevitably presented to them.

The benefits of repeatedly Image Streaming include peace of mind, amplified creativity and it has even been documented to increase IQ!

From my own personal experience, simply amazing things happen while Image Streaming. Specifically, new business opportunities have come up, I feel extremely relaxed and am thinking more clearly. These benefits feel similar to how I’ve felt after a deep guided meditation however somehow even more practical. I think that’s because with Image Streaming I get to literally ask my unconscious mind ANYTHING I want to. And it turns out that my mind always has the answers. I also seem to have an increased sense of intuition which is extremely helpful when it comes to any type of decision making.

Image Streaming

Put your unconscious mind to work!

If you’d like a chance to try Image Streaming, come to the next Innovative Thinking Experience and we will take you through this and show you how it’s done.

The best description that I have of this process comes directly from the creator of this and many other fascinating techniques, Dr. Win Wenger. Here is a link to the description of it on his site.

Of course it can be a little shocking and surprising what I see inside my unconscious mind, but I’m willing to take that chance to increase my productivity and intelligence.

Are you?

Canmore Sunrise

Canmore, Alberta sunrise

Do you have fears? Of course you do. We all do. That’s part of what makes us human and what makes life so spicy and delicious!

In today’s short video I get to ride on a slope that was impossibly challenging and terrifying for me 12 years ago. That was the last time that I snowboarded on Paradise Cornice at Lake Louise Ski Resort in Alberta, Canada. It was an extreme source of fear for me as an inexperienced snowboarder. But to say that I snowboarded the last time is an overstatement. Petrified, I slid down on my bottom and felt my heart racing as I just hoped to not fall off the mountain and begged for it all to end.

But on this past December 27th the experience was quite different. After actually learning to snowboard in different countries over the past several years (please ask me about how amazing the snow is in Japan), snowboarding has turned into a passion for me. I not only successfully rode down this double black diamond run, but loved it! Now this previous fear has become something extremely enjoyable and is a source of inspiration for me. This inspiration has enabled me to expand my creativity and utilize more of my talents and abilities.

Can you think of a challenge or fear that you currently have that could eventually become a source of inspiration for you? Why not choose to play towards overcoming that fear in the new year to see how you might benefit?

Happy New Year!

 

My absolute favourite thing in the world to do is to snowboard. This was one of the reasons that I decided to move from Toronto to Calgary this year. I’ve been fortunate to hit the slopes 6 times so far this season and expect to have several more adventures in the near future.

Here is a video of what some friends and I have been up to so far.

 

Do what you love to do to feel truly alive!

Happy Holidays!

 

Creativity Feast Milan

Creativity Feast Milan

I was very fortunate to spend the past 11 days in Europe. I got to meet the friend who taught me to juggle over a decade ago and his wife as well as their new baby boy, Alec. Congratulations Jon and Elena! They are living in Santander, Spain and they showed us just how beautiful that part of Spain really is.

Next we popped into Milan to see some Italian friends and were treated to some amazing hospitality and very delicious food and wine.

And then it was time to get to Florence. That was the location of another very good friend’s wedding. I was an usher for this celebration and as such there was a suit rented for me. We all looked sharp and had a wonderful time. But on the following day, the suit got left behind with me by accident. The best man needed to take it back to the UK but with all of the goodbyes etc, it slipped his mind. I didn’t want to mail this thing to him from Canada! So what could I do?

Well, I knew that he and some other friends were flying back to England from Pisa, so I arranged to get myself there in another car. I did so and gave those friends a call. But there was no connection and no answer. “Hmm, how could I be sure that our paths crossed in Pisa so that I could make this delivery?”, I thought. “I’ve got it! I’ll juggle by the tower until they get there”. That would be hard to miss, right?

Knowing that they would certainly visit this heavily photographed monument, I decided to do so but also added a social media challenge to the situation. I posted a status update on Facebook that tagged each of the people in their car. The experiment was to see if they would just bump into me in the square or if they’d see it on Facebook first.

What do you think happened? This short video explains how it all rolled out.

While the computers in our pockets can be helpful, we don’t need to remain glued to them at all times. Keep your head up and have human conversations. You never know what you might find out.

Stay human.

Bow River KayakingGood day! Here’s a short video of me in a kayak. On this day in Calgary,  Alberta, Canada. I learned the value of taking a break even when I thought I didn’t have time for it. Could you benefit from taking a break?

I’m heading to Italy this weekend for a good friends’ wedding and to connect with some of the most important people in my life.

Be awesome!

 

Thanks for watching. Please share this message if it speaks to you.

Tony Esteves

Getting out of one’s shell does not have to be an extreme event. You can experience desirable results with small adjustments in your behaviour or lifestyle.

On this beautiful June day in Kananaskis, Alberta I decided to try something new. In my case, it was somewhat of an extreme event. As I love the mountains I signed up for another hike with Meetup.com and went out with the intention of learning how to use a mountaineering axe.

Here’s a look at the video from that day. It was more challenging and more rewarding than I expected, and the views of the mountains from 2800 m were spectacular!

I challenge you to think about how you might try something new in your life or business. The benefits could be far reaching not only for you but also for those around you.

Tomorrow is the official start of the Calgary Stampede, so it’s time for me to take off. Thank you very much for reading and viewing. If you enjoyed this please pass it on.

Snow up topOne of the primary reasons that I came to Calgary this summer was to spend time in the mountains. I really love the mountains! I lived in Kananaskis, Alberta in the Canadian Rockies for a year and have also enjoyed living in or near mountains in Japan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. I figured that part of this year’s shake up should involve some mountainous experiences. With only brief visits to these mysterious mammoths in recent years I’ve missed them. Today I’ll talk about a recent hike I did with some fantastic outdoor enthusiasts in the stunning Canadian Rocky Mountains.

It should come as no surprise that it took just 17 days from my arrival in Alberta for me to get on a hike with a group of new friends who I met through Meetup.com. I found the group called, “CORA” – The Calgary Outdoor Recreation Association – and saw that they hosted multiple hikes and events. This particular hike looked challenging enough to be really interesting to me, so I registered and was put on the waiting list. I was impressed to see that the organizers require that you prove your experience level before being allowed onto the more challenging hikes. They seemed well organized and they were.

600_243411172I graduated from the waiting list to the ‘RSVP’d’ list and met up with the group at 8 am on a very rainy Sunday June morning at the University of Calgary. We carpooled out of the city and got to know each other a little on the drive.

Although I’ve done some moderate to advanced hiking in my life, I didn’t come to this one completely prepared. To date, all of the hiking that I’ve done in snow has been by surprise. But I covered the essentials with a new pair of hiking shoes and by bringing 3 litres of water, protein snacks and enough food for a horse. I was told to bring gaiters but didn’t own any (or even know what they were). I was told to bring waterproof clothes, but left my jacket in Ontario. I was told to bring micro-spikes, but also didn’t own any. How much snow could there be? After all it’s already June! It turns out that doesn’t matter at 2500 metres in the Canadian Rockies. There was plenty!

Fortunately, the group of friendly, advanced hikers were happy to share equipment and I was all decked out and ready to go.

Even before starting the hike I felt invigorated. It was exciting to drive towards the mountains, to see them getting larger, and then to finally be on a windy road that lead to our secluded trail head. There is just something about mountains that brings me to life no matter what the weather is saying. And on this day, the weather was crying! Yes, we were going to be getting wet on this hike but it didn’t matter. Everybody shared their enthusiasm for the opportunity to get to the top of Tiara Peak. It took us just 2 hours and 10 minutes to arrive to the top of Belmore Browne Peak, but then we had to decide if we could continue along the ridge and up towards Tiara Peak despite the poor weather…

If you can’t view this video, click here.

This was my first hike since Table Mountain in South Africa last year and I didn’t know or really even think about how my body would respond. From past experience, I have found that if I just feed the machine, it will produce. It did.

Without too many more words about this hike, I’ll just invite you to view my video about it. This video is a slideshow followed by some video clips of our adventure. We got thwarted very close to the summit due to some speedthunder and there was quite a bit of snow. Of course we wanted to summit, but when someone’s hair stands up – because the cloud that you are hiking in the middle of is so charged with static electricity – it’s time to head back down! So that’s what we did.

And by doing so, we were rewarded with some really fun glissading – sliding down some snow – as part of our descent. We enjoyed this so much that all 11 of us actually hiked back up part way to do another run, as the video will show.

Long story short about 750 words later: I know what invigorates me, it’s mountains. What invigorates you? Find what inspires you and GO DO IT! (or at least take the first step by signing up to that course / class / program / [fill in your blank] that you’ve been avoiding starting). It’s not selfish and it’s not wrong.

Exploring your interests leads naturally towards allowing you to make your greatest contribution on this planet.

600_243408162We all play and work at our highest levels when we are truly inspired by what we are doing.

Now get out there and PLAY!

600_243751992

After much contemplation and concern, I finally took off from Toronto on Wednesday, May 15th. I was moving out to Calgary, Alberta to visit my sister and to see what opportunities I could create for myself over the summer. Of course I was nervous, but I thought I could benefit by shaking things up.

Have you ever sat next to someone on a flight and just known that you could have a good chat with them? Do you more often feel the opposite? I’ve felt both but on that day I knew immediately that I could connect with the character who ended up sitting next to me. I’m intentionally one of the last people to get on flights as I like to reduce the time I spend in that giant metal tube. But this guy had me beat as he was one of the final passengers to make it to his seat.

Click the image to view the video

As he arrived he had a bag that needed to be passed over me to put at the foot of his seat. He said, “I’m sorry” as he squeezed past some other passengers jockeying for overhead storage space. As I stood up from my aisle seat I said, “Please don’t apologize. We don’t yet know how we might be able to positively influence each others’ lives”. He chuckled quietly and sat down.

Flow: The Psychology Of Optimal Experience

An older book worth reading

We didn’t speak for several minutes. I fell asleep after take off and got into my book called, “Flow – ThePsychology of Optimal Experience”. But shortly after that something magical happened: these two strangers on a flight from Toronto to Calgary… started a conversation! It was immediately interesting.

Several minutes into our talk he casually mentioned that he was a musician and told some incredible stories about sharing the stage with locals in the Philippines, auditioning in front of public officials in China and playing ping pong. I shared some travel stories of my own from when I did military logistics in Uzbekistan and my bike tour across Canada. The conversation was fast and I felt as if there was not enough time for me to communicate all that I wanted to. As we spoke I made a conscious effort to listen more than I spoke, which has been a challenge for me in the past. I was rewarded in those few hours by hearing and learning many things from an exceptional individual even though I didn’t yet recognize who he was.

We spoke about creativity, running, unexpected connections, cancer, entrepreneurship, cycling and many other things. It was invigorating! After reflecting upon this experience I found it ironic that during our talk I was in a ‘flow state’ which is when one loses sense of time because they are having an optimal experience. It just so happened that I would read about precisely that the following day in the book that was in my lap during most of our conversation.

This gentleman looked like he was in his early 50s and had clearly led an extra-ordinary life. There was something about his energy, and his conversation style that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. He was soft-spoken and full of vitality. It was a complete pleasure to have spoken with him.

Dan Hill

Dan Hill

Just before landing, I asked if I could keep in touch with him. He said yes, so I took down his email address and gave him my card.  As people were scrambling for their luggage I said to him, “Do you remember how I said that we might positively influence each others’ lives at the beginning of the flight?” He said, “Yes, I was just thinking about that.” “Well I think that’s what we’ve just done!”, I concluded with excitement that my earlier statement could not have been more correct.  It was a fun moment, and then he gone. He got swept away with the stream of disembarking passengers as I had to turn back to collect my – almost forgotten – bag.

Before I made it to the luggage carousel, I plugged his name into Wikipedia. I had to find out who this person

was. So I entered, “Dan Hill” into my iPhone. Ooooh it was Canadian award winning singer / songwriter, Dan Hill. Ah, I see!

This brought a smile to my face because I was then even more grateful that he had been so open and generous with his time and space. Here’s an entertaining story that he wrote for the Globe and Mail about how one of his Junos was stolen!

So the next time you are on a flight and feel like having a chat, be sure to do so. You never know who might be sitting next to you or how you might be able to positively influence each others’ lives.

His advice for me given all that we talked about was to finish my book! Thank you Dan. I am writing again and will do so this year.

Take Off

It is becoming increasingly clear to me that sometimes you really need to take risks to take off.