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 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 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!


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.


Are you afraid of change? I don’t think that I am, but perhaps I’ve been avoiding it recently. In today’s Tony’s Tips Video my guest is first assistant director, John Board. I speak about how I’m about to shake things up in a big way in my own life. This comes from listening to my own advice in a recent blog post.

Shake Things Up

Shake Things Up

I am temporarily moving to Calgary, Alberta next week!

I expect that changing my space will positively change my experience and lead to some great opportunities. I believe that human face-to-face relationships are increasing in value as they decrease in frequency. So this trip will be highly valuable for me as I will get to re-connect with my fantastic, inspirational twin sister, Ayesha!

So goodbye for now Toronto. I’ll be back in August in time for Mindcamp.

Do you need to shake things up? What would that look like for you?


“Blog about your own interests” Ian Ord

While blogging about unexpected connections to help people with their goals and dreams, I also intend to take the advice of a very successful blogger and good friend, Ian Ord. He suggests that bloggers be sure to write about things that are important to them personally as well as professionally. Ian is a travel blogger who now lives in Thailand and is doing very well. He used his zombie blog post as an example. It had nothing to do with travel, but sent thousands of people to his page. After all, as Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you sell, they buy what you believe”. (See his inspiring TED Talk here). Very

So here is what I have in mind today. It is about my recent dining experience at this very unique restaurant called “ONOIR”.

At this restaurant – which has locations around the world – diners eat in complete darkness and are served by blind people. As expected, this was an amazing experience. Our group enjoyed some drinks in the softly lit lobby while we placed our orders. When our table was ready we were brought in by Gavin, our server through a door and into the blackness. When the first door closed behind us we went through the second door on our left. I immediately noticed two things: 1. That the blackness was extreme and that the room we were going into was noisy! It sounded like there were a hundred people in there.

EarWith a hand on the shoulder of the person in front of me, we were instructed to keep one shoulder on the wall as we were guided – in absolute complete darkness – to our table. It was a little uncomfortable to begin with but at the same time very stimulating. Gavin told us what to expect and gave us some guidelines. No problem. We were told that it’s common for people in this setting to speak louder than normally. It turns out that there were only 36 seats in this particular dining room which was one of three that they have.

Gavin would touch us on the left shoulder any time he had something to deliver to us and we’d meet his hand with ours. This worked well. I would not describe myself as ‘touchy-feely’, but when Gavin spoke to the group, he’d touch our backs or shoulders and could direct our attention with his physical gestures as well as his words. This was new for me, but it felt comfortable. I felt that I was really getting to experience a part of how blind people communicate.

Throughout the evening, I was happy to notice that it seemed my sense of smell was enhanced.nose

My roasted red peppers and grilled vegetables with goat cheese – appetizer was amazing but I found that I had to use my hands to be sure that I’d eaten it all. Buttering my bread roll was not the easiest either, but it was fun.  I could taste everything in more detail than normal. Looking up towards the ceiling through the blackness while people spoke to me felt liberating.  At one point I even had my arms sprawled across the table while people chatted away. In silence I enjoyed focusing my listening to different conversations at our table and around the room. I think that active listening is something that we most often take for granted.

A highlight of my fillet Mignon dinner was how by the end of the meal I could recognize the difference between stabbing a piece of meat or a piece of potato.  To start, I had to use my fingers to figure out what I was actually feeding myself. It was so interesting to be forced to pay attention to these other senses.

Our group of 6 became so comfortable at ONOIR that we sat and talked in the dark for another 15 minutes after we finished eating.

Aside from the delicious food and the totally unique experience, the service was fantastic and I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to experience what being blind is like for a couple of hours.


I am so grateful to have all of my senses and this experience has inspired me to do more with the gifts and abilities that I have available to me today. Despite the challenges in your personal, financial or professional life, I invite you to take some moments to be grateful for the gifts that you currently have.

Often we are so much more fortunate than we think we are.


Visiting my family in London, Ontario is something that I love to do, so I make time to do so often. Today, this VLOG stars my father as we got some exercise together.

Picture 5

When it comes to setting goals, you have a much better chance of accomplishing them if you have someone hold you accountable. That’s one of the reasons having a coach is so valuable.

This study also explains the value of writing goals down.

I hope that  you enjoy today’s 1 minute of life and don’t forget to spend time with your parents! Thanks for watching.

On an unrelated note, if you are at all interested in Neuroplasticity -the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life – check out this website: Lumosity. Here you can register to play some really fun games that The Scientists say will improve your memory and brain functioning. I’m hooked.

This week was an exciting creative ride as it was World Creativity and Innovation Week. I met so many people and learned a number of new things. I may write more about that later, but for today I’ve got a little video about what you can do when negative feelings start to feel overwhelming.

Down But Not Out Video

Down But Not Out Video

After inserting the video into this post, I saw how the YouTube image stabilization feature worked. While the image is slightly more smooth than the original, it caused some strange distortion – which I think is fitting for this post! Enjoy.

Back to the content. It’s simple. If you are feeling doomed, change your environment. Get


Don’t worry, be happy

outside, go for a walk, or treat yourself to a nice coffee or meal. While this might not be a permanent solution to your problem, it might offer you some instant relief. And if this little blog post helps cheer even one person up once, it will have been worth the time it took to create it.

Once you change your environment, it will be easier to snap out of that nasty mood…

And this will allow you to get back to being the fantastic Self that you know you are. (even if you hide it every once in a while)



AmericanoAfter an early meeting this morning, I found myself enjoying a delicious Americano in the Balzacs coffee shop at the Toronto Reference Library. Today’s creativity challenge included being playful so after some hesitation I decided to strike up a conversation with the woman sitting next to me.

I asked permission to tell her a little about World Creativity and Innovation Week and she agreed. This started a very interesting conversation that lasted for more than 30 minutes. It turns out that this individual works at a local University. This was of interest to me as I see myself presenting my highly interactive workshops at local colleges and universities in the near future. During our conversation, we spoke about the importance of creativity in education and shared resources.WCIWlogo

I shared: – a tool to help one write daily. I also told her about my positive experience yesterday and how I first heard about The Academy of the Impossible. This was a direct result of my creativity challenge which was to be curious.

I learned about:

Subtle Technologies which, “brings people together to promote wonder, incite creativity and spark innovation across disciplines”. Amazing! I have found yet another world to explore.

Something called Peer Scholar. It is described as, “a powerful online pedagogical tool that helps develop your students’ critical- and creative-thinking skills”. I’m interested.

When it was mentioned that she had heard of Mindcamp – Toronto’s creativity conference – through someone who she knew at OCAD, I immediately knew that she was speaking about Kristen Peterson! She is a creativity and innovation expert whom I also know and is the Program Director for the CPSI conference 2013 – Creative Problem Solving Institute. Never mind the 6 degrees of separation, this was just 1. WoW. I literally started a conversation with a complete stranger in a coffee shop to find that we both had a strong interest in creativity and knew the same person. Not only that, but I enjoyed a great conversation and learned about some new things that might move my career forward.

How many other people are out there who we are this closely connected to at all times?

Once the sun came out this afternoon it was time to play ping pong in public for my real ‘play challenge’. I thought that this would be a great excuse to hand out some more of the fantastic little cards that I had for promoting WCIW and to speak to more people about it. I was correct.

A good friend of mine, Ryan Jeans kindly offered to help. He and I play a shocking amount of ping pong and he brought all of the equipment necessary to set this up in Yonge/Dundas Square – Toronto’s Times Square.

Security immediately asked us to move as we did not have a permit to do this but Ryan’s  persistence allowed us to legally play on the sidewalk. We dressed up to be creative and playful, and to attract some attention. Knowing that we would be photographed, I made a sign with #WCIW on it to encourage people to explore through Twitter.puzzle

Several people joined us as we listened to music, played ping pong and laughed. It was worth the effort just to have done it, and to have created some more awareness about creativity. Through today’s activities, I spoke to over 30 new people about World Creativity and Innovation Week and encouraged them to look up the events in Toronto. More than just enjoying myself (which I very much did) I expect to benefit from learning about the new ideas and resources that I’m discovering through the people who I’m meeting.

Thank you vanGrey for the logistics support and to Heather Glumac for the photography. This was such a fun day!

Tomorrow, the creativity challenge is to get out of my comfort zone…. I wonder what I’ll get up to. What will you do?

Happy #WCIW


Today was a pretty fantastic Monday. I started by attending the kick-off event for World Creativity and Innovation Week Toronto at the Centre for Social Innovation. There, “Serious Play” facilitators including Jacqueline Lloyd sat us down to play with Lego as a means to assist the F-You (Forgiveness) Project. It went very well as the 60 or so of us were highly engaged and playing while answering questions and challenges.

I decided to take on the WCIW challenge which in Toronto encourages people to undertake a different specific task or action each day. Monday’s instructions were to get curious. And so I did…

Please check out my short WCIW Video Blog. By taking on this creativity challenge, I had to be curious, and I had to speak to strangers. While wandering the streets and speaking to new people, I learned about something called the Academy of the Impossible. Thank you Todd. At first glance, it seems to be an organization that is very much in line with my view of the world and I can’t wait to explore it. AND I was given a free calendar while spreading the creative word. Bonus.

What an immediate, useful result to being creative and curious!

To summarize the Toronto Creativity Week challenge I invite you to try this:

         Monday: Be curious

               Tuesday: Be playful

                    Wednesday: Take risks – break out of your comfort zone

                        Thursday: Look for unexpected connections or make new ones

                            Friday: Do it differently

                                 Saturday: Switch your perspective

                                     Sunday: Don’t stop at just one idea

Curiosity earned me a free calendar today.

Curiosity earned me a free calendar today.

Be creative this week! It could lead to some fantastic things or at the very least teach you something about your own creative abilities and potential.

Have fun.

I’ve been avoiding video-blogging for quite some time now. And the funny thing is that I actually feel quite comfortable in front of the camera. I used to have a principal agent when I was acting professionally, and I still do background work through two agencies today.

So why would I not want to video-blog? It seems so obvious that it would be good for my business and many mentors have advised that I use this tool. Well likely, that’s the answer! Have you ever had a thought, or idea that you knew would be good for you to implement, but for some reason you kept making up excuses to not do it?

My First Time Video Blogging


Often we resist taking the very actions that we know will help us move forward! It’s a fear thing, but don’t worry. You can get past it.

I hope that you enjoy my first short video blog post from this snowy April 11th morning.

There will be more of them…