Breaking your cherry…..(marathon style)

T-Minus 5 days until the start of my first marathon – Chicago – There are a million questions going round in my head and for anyone who has ever trained for a marathon or any endurance race they are they following:

Have I trained enough
Have I trained right
What if I get cramp
What if I need the toilet
What if I don’t finish!
What if I’m tired before I start as my coral is near the back!
What if What if What if…..

I seriously have run out of running Mojo, its supposed to be a glorious taper time…. but I cant even be bothered to run the 3 mile taper runs this week! Its a real force to put the trainers on a get out the door! I just want it to be over! But I also want to enjoy it and its way too late to worry about the training. I’ve got up to 16 mile runs, I know its 10 miles short of the distance but I was soooo bored running in 90 degree heat and I didn’t feel it was lack of fitness it was more lack of motivation. I live on a small island so the scenery whilst beautiful is the same and when you have to run in the dark (as its too hot for distance running in the day) there is not much to see. I have listened to all of my music so many times that Im sure i’m not even listening to it anymore. Therefore I have run out of running mojo. Yet I am excited for this coming weekend! I am now committed to the fact that my time wont be quick, in fact it would rival that of a slug wading through glue, a determined slug at that and thats where I think Chicago will come into its own. The crowds the scenery, the other runners, the atmosphere will hopefully allow me to forget that at 17 miles this is further than I have ever run before. That at 18 miles my legs will be hurting, That at 19 miles there are still 7 more to go! So please Chicago if you see a man wearing a 640 challenge running top on with the name Chris on cheer loud for me I will be a hurting but determined slug.

Ticking the marathon bucket list box whilst doing it for a great cause is also the most motivation I will need on the day! http://www.facebook.com/640challenge part 2 here I come!

Small goals can turn into big things – 640 Challenge!

I have heard the saying from small acorns come large oak tress and understood its meaning but never did I think I could plant those acorns or that one I planted would grow into something far reaching.

A short while ago I embarked on a life style change that would reduce my weight. Its not that I was massively unhealthy I just enjoyed my food and wine a little too much. Because of that my exercise revolved around walking to restaurants!

I found myself in Macys in downtown Miami circa end of 2013, I needed some new work trousers and as I went through the rack I picked off the trusted pair of 42 Long. For a good time I had always fluctuated between a 40-42 inch waist. At 6ft 4 I didn’t think there was anything wrong with this. It didn’t hold me back, or so I thought.

It wasn’t until I entered the changing room and realized that these 42 inch waist trousers were at least 2 inches to small! OMG how had this happened…. Now most men will not admit they are unhappy about there weight, it a girls thing, but it was at that exact moment when I realized that “Macys” no longer did trousers in my size, that my true feelings about myself came to fruition. I hated being “big” I had been deluding myself about being tall and healthy, all my family are big, I just don’t have time to exercise etc etc etc… My own sense of self confidence was getting lower and lower because I wasn’t happy about the way I was starting to look. You would see it in photos and simply say, right I will start the gym on Monday. You never did.

Although most men will not talk about their own demons in regards weight I believe we are truly just as susceptible to conformity of body image as women, we read the male version of the magazines and social media influence of the “beach bod, men’s health cover” so we always think we are fat too! Notice that’s the first time I have used the word fat. It’s a horrid word as its connotations are so negative and the stereotypical perception of a fat person is that they are lazy or stupid. This is a huge error in judgment; I work long hours and don’t think I’m stupid I had just lost a sense of “healthy” balance in my life. You just don’t notice until you notice (If that makes sense!). My snoring problem was out of hand, my energy levels were low and my metabolism had slowed right down. All precursors to depression and further weight gain. Only an individual can stop the unhealthy living and they do need support when they really mean to take control.

My Macy’s moment was my point of self realization that I had to take control, I had avoided the scales for months but I needed to see what I had become. Nearly 320lbs.

Wow 320lbs heart attack central aged 35.

Now there are thousands of inspiring stories out there of amazing people who have taken control and dropped weight and many of them have kept it off. Those that have I guarantee made a life style change. That’s what I did.

However, I had to admit what I had become, not just to me but to my wife and friend’s. I had to tell them what I wanted to achieve over the next few years. I wanted some quick wins for motivation but I needed long term goals. I wanted to enjoy life, diet exercise had to be enjoyable it had to become part of my daily routines without thought. It couldn’t be a battle. As food or the easy option would win!

We did a few things straight away:

  • Cleared out the cupboards at home of junk food – if its not there I cant eat it
  • Lots of fresh fruit prepared in bowls in the fridge to snack on when the cravings came.
  • Enter an 800m swimming race (Swimming is great all over exercise with little impact on joins)
  • Whilst I hate running enter a 5k race as the feeling of completing a goal would be worth it
  • Stop drinking alcohol during the week!

The first 800m swim was only 2 weeks after we did this but along with a few friends I did it, was slow, but it was great to take part and start a little training. The first 5k was a few months away and I needed to get off the couch!

I couldn’t run more than about 400 meters without starting to struggle which really made me realize how unfit I was. I can’t say how demotivating it is when you really struggle to do something when everyone around you looks like its no effort at all. That’s why I give massive credit to anyone out there putting one foot in front of the other regardless of their shape or size because you know what, they motivated themselves to do it mainly to benefit them, not for anyone else just for them. Anyways I get off track….

These swims and 5ks were the stat of things and I needed to enter myself into events to help me stay motivated and have a small goal to achieve. It also helped that a few friends did these events with me (obviously they were quicker but that didn’t matter). You will learn that the people who take part in running clubs or tri-athlon training or any endurance sport that they do it to compete with themselves, to better their own times so they are genuinely happy for you to achieve any of your own goals! You don’t have to beat anyone else, but you do have to beat yourself! There is always a reason not to get some exercise, so give yourself a reason make it enjoyable!

Fast forward to January 2015 – I have lost over 50lbs and embarked on the Guatemala trip as previously written about. Once I returned I kept thinking about how I could continue to support this project. I am not super wealthy with unlimited resources (far from it) so what could I do that would raise awareness and possibly raise funds for this project. I started tinkering with the idea that I could run a marathon, its been done a hundred times before but it would also give me a reason to run and continue training plus tick something I thought impossible off the bucket list. Then I thought I could do a half ironman, after all I like the swimming and the biking part of it! I organized a charity bike ride in 2014 which raised $10k for the local hospice care charity so I thought I could do that again. Then someone suggested cycling the blue ridge parkway. I had no idea what the was but it sounded fun – it turned out to be 470 miles from North Carolina to Virginia with the Appalachian mountains in between! Throw in the Cayman marathon for good measure. Each of these things were happening at great time intervals, literally once a month from august until December. So an idea started formulating…. It turns out the distance of all the events combined is 640 miles the exact distance from Grand Cayman (Home) to Guatemala…. Quite some coincidence…. So there you have it the small goals this year have turned into the 640 Challenge (www.facebook.com/640challenge).

So I get to continue a training plan, keep healthy, loose a bit more weight and raise money for a good cause. I also linked a local literacy cause “LiFE” literacy is for everyone, to be a joint benefactor of funds raised along with the Guatemala Literacy Project which links both ends of the challenge. To date we are near the $10,000 raised mark and with the prospect of “Pedal to the Point” race raising and additional $10k we are going strong. You can follow the fundraising here: https://www.razoo.com/story/640challenge

So the first challenge was the 470 mile bike ride and I have written a little write up of the experience below. In short is was brutal!

However I hope this missive gives food for thought that the small goals we set ourselves can and have led into something much bigger than I could have imagined – I have been on TV and radio locally promoting the cause, I have had people for all over the world offer support and donate. Two of the best things of all – these great causes get some needed funds and I get to feel great about my fitness and the journey this is taking me on Cayman, Miami, Chicago, Virginia, North Carolina, Charlotte, Guatemala – (editors note I self fund all the events so all monies donated go directly to the causes).

640 Challenge Part 1 – Blue Ridge Parkway 470 miles in 4.5 days!!!!

“Well it was a ride of two halves the first 236 miles while tough were enjoyable as my bike was working fine. Then the gods of destruction decided it was going way to well and that the challenge needed to be harder. Nevermind the fact that we were already spending 10 hours a day in the saddle, forget that some of the climbs went on for 15 miles! Really it didnt matter that we were covering over 10,000 feet of elevation in every ride… so just to make it interesting the rear hub in my wheel (Which is a new ceramic hub) failed, the bearings went… no matter we have a spare wheel. Unfortunately the cassette on the spare wheel was only a 26 compared to the 30 I did have. (the cassettes were not compatible to change over…) so now hills were slightly harder…. then the cycling gods decided that it was still too easy so around mile marker 236 the chain decided to twist itself around and rip off my rear deraliure. Never seen that happen, but without changing the whole groupset which is not a roadside repair, my bike was done. Enter, top gear style, the spare bike. whilst a nice “specialized”  bike it was unfortunately a 54. A tad small for me. So with the seat post extended and the front stem at its max we managed to get some sort of fit. as you can imagine by the time we had set that bike up put my pedals on it etc.. we had spent nearly an hour at the side of the road. that day I still had 80+ mile to complete. I was cycling alone, uphill, slowly and now had saddle sore, neck issues and hurty knees! That day took nearly 13 hours to complete. I then got a chest infection from being so hot and cold all the time. the next morning was agony to get up and I had 115 miles and 4 pretty epic climbs to get through!  somehow and I really don’t know how I managed it in around 10 hours which everyone one surprised about. If it hadn’t have been for the charity it would have been game over! Feeling like death warmed up I retreated straight for a hot bath and cream application to places we cant mention. Im not kidding when I say everything hurt, the bike fit was so bad it put pressure in all the wrong places! Knees especially bad. 

The final day was 75 miles and the 3 highest peak of the blue ridge. I was crying at breakfast as i felt so bad with my cold/chest couldn’t bare to put my bum on the saddle or even think of cycling uphill! Then one of the guys changed my saddle for a brooks saddle, it would put pressure in different places so I thought it was worth a try. Well I can only say that saddle was the comfiest thing I have ever sat on, pure joy! it lifted the spirits and the same chap (Piers Dryden of Ogier) rode the first 30 miles with me at my snails pace and got me over the first two peaks. I started to feel allot better knowing I only had one more climb then 20 miles of downhill so I told him to go on and that I would be fine now. He was a legend, I pulled myself up the last 10 mile climb with an average gradient of 10%. Then settled in for 20 miles of downhill!! I hit 54mph!  past the finish and collapsed. 

Feeling quite euphoric at the end of it I really didn’t relish the actual accomplishment until i was wrapped up in blankets in the back of the bus.  Your brain will give up 10000 times before your body will. There were times I was very close. If my bike had held up it would have been easier but still gruelling. When your not used to hills they become demons!”

Part 2 640challenge – Chicago Marathon 11th October….eeeeekkkkk

470 miles in 4 days complete!
470 miles in 4 days complete!
Carolina State line Pic
State line in the 640Challenge Top!
chirs running SS
Training at a local running event
Before my self realisation moment.....
Before my self realisation moment….. 300+lbs

You have been doing conferences all wrong – Try this!

#SHRM15

So I am currently stuck in the Las Vegas Airport – don’t you just love when they don’t tell you about a schedule change, which causes you to miss your flight! So I have a 7 hour wait plus I missed my connection so have to overnight in Miami before flying home. Trying to see the upside in every situation I thought I could bang out a couple of missives. Mainly because the people I met at this years SHRM15 conference were simply amazing and some of the best bloggers in the country.

Before I left for SHRM15 (Which is the biggest HR conference in the world) I had already made up my mind that I was going to do this one differently. For the last couple of years I have attended this event in Orlando and Chicago and its done on a simply epic scale. 20,000 people hundreds of sessions and probably over 1000 exhibitors in the convention hall. It is mind blowing. But I think many people miss what a conference is all about. They spend hours ruminating over which session to go to, who is going to be good what topic they want to learn about . They busy themselves by scheduling everything so that their days are locked in, it’s almost like being in school. I have honestly seen draft fanatics spend less time figuring out their strategy than some of the HR folks spend figuring out their session planner. But they miss the biggest fundamental reason that we go to conference for. Meeting people!

I asked a colleague who was “locked In” how many people they had met or connected with their response “I haven’t time for all that I need to learn stuff”. Now forgive my cynicism but how much are your really going to learn in an hour session that would be worth more than connecting with an expert that you could pick up the phone to later down the line?

So I mixed it up:

  • I didn’t plan one session
  • I went to the networking sessions
  • I reached out to a couple of people I was interested in meeting as they would be at the conference plus they were also speaking
  • I let people know I would be there in case they wanted to meet me.
  • I only booked one evenings entertainment (A show, it is Vegas after all)

The result:

  • So much more relaxed
  • I met up with a great speaker buddy called Tim Sackett and we hit the convention center together. He is a pro at this and knows everyone so I got introduced to plenty of people as we hit the booths. Made some great connections
  • A by product of this was I was allowed access to the bloggers lounge, guess what I met more really interesting people who were the writers behind many of the blogs I read so for me it was like meeting celebs. I connected in person with around 10 members of our blogging community who we have swapped details and a few stories. Plus they were all interested in coming to speak at my conference in Cayman.
  • All of them are experts in different levels of HR and many have held the very top jobs in our industry so I f I need to learn something, guess what I’m picking up the phone.
  • It was interesting to hear who they were going to see speak and see them speak, so my sessions revolved around who was saying something the blogging community thought was interesting rather than just blindly picking horses (you get what I mean). In turn I attended several really interesting session that gave a different insight or some big data revelation’s.
  • I was invited for drinks with a few of them so I went, lets just say its Vegas, it got messy and we ended up in a penthouse suit of the cosmopolitan at a small private party!
  • I attended the international networking event – but I participated and did the “passport game” (You have a card and you have to get people from different countries to sign it then you put it in a draw for a prize) – I met a bunch of people from all over the world and guess what – I won a prize in the draw a new Ipad which was awesome as mine had just broken. I had done this event for the last 3 years and always just talked to the group I knew. So it paid off big time.
  • I met up with a couple of people who reached out to me on twitter, they were great meetings with something coming from both of them.
  • Within just 3 days I met more people and went to some of the best sessions I have been to simply by allowing myself to be flexible and understanding that I know nothing about where is going to be the right event or session.

So in summary I will never do a conference the old way, this one was so much more fun. Made more so by they accepting nature of a few new friends that allowed me to tag along, were accepting of the introduction and happy that I was happy to meet them.

Tim, William, Laurie, Jennifer, Dawn, Jess, Matt, Career builder, Mel, Sarah, Merren, Robin, Heath and the many others – thanks

“A cure for Sunday-itis” TEDx Talk done !!!

A cure for Sunday-it is!

TEDx Talk Bucket list done!!!

This week I did something that’s been on my bucket list since I saw my first TED talk a few years ago. There had been a few ideas bubbling up but this one seemed to catch the attention of the TEDx planning committee on the application.

For those who have yet to fill in a TED application form they are a load of fun! They take some time and require some thought but they are designed to look for something different so you cant cheat them!

Below is the outline of the talk I wrote but what I presented was very different to this and in a very different style. However it did give the cure for Sunday-it is!

TED.com will release the final video but the live stream version is still live at the time of publishing this and you can see it at TEDxsevenmilebeach.com watch online. I present at 2hrs 53.

I hope you enjoy it!

“I hate my job”

I admitted that to myself on a Monday morning sometime in the middle of 2006.

I had Sunayitis – do you know what Sundayitis is?

Well I’m sure there is a medical term for it but I call it “ The absolute dread of going to work on Monday” The feeling that what I am going to do tomorrow is going to sap the life from me.

I would have this internal dialogue with myself about all the ways I could get out of going to work tomorrow. I could be sick, I could arrange a meeting that would allow me a little longer lay in. Seriously this thought process would start as early as midday on the Sunday!

But why? I had been in the same field of work for 5+ years, I had been promoted, I ran teams and as my wife said “I was good at it!”

So why was I trying to not go and do something I was good at?

Eventually this Sundayitis became so severe that I had to do something, look for a way out change my career, because it became all-consuming. The inner dialogue was turning into a full on conversation on an almost daily basis

“Your back here again, you think that guy is a jerk, you haven’t done anything about this, your not going to do anything about this…”

So I had to make it stop!

This is where everyone needs that friend, mum , wife or person who is not going to put up with you whining and simply say.

“Its your life change it”.

Now that’s easier said than done, financial burdens are ever present and I wasn’t in a situation where I could just give up a good job. I had a mortgage, student loans and a passion for food, wine and fun!

My wife repeated the phrase why do you hate something your so good at? But this time I heard her….

We often listen but don’t hear, and significant people in our lives often give us great nuggets and we can miss them and I wish I had heard her the first time she asked this because it was the catalyst for me to shut up that internal dialogue.

OK – So I hate my job – but do I really hate my job or do I hate something else and it just relates to my job?

Hate is such a strong word but if you have ever suffered sundayitis it’s the only word that seem to be able to help define that anxious feeling in the pit of your stomach when you really don’t want to do something but know you have to do it.

I evaluated my job – and came to the following conclusions:

1 – I liked how I made people feel (I got them jobs!)

2- I liked helping people

3- I did make a difference

4- I needed more

Now it was point 4 that really got me excited, ok ok now I know I need more, fantastic I don’t hate my colleagues or my company I just need more….

Problem is I haven’t a clue what more meant…but I did know it had to be somewhere else. I had become so used to the bubble in which I lived that I hadn’t noticed that I had outgrown my bubble.

My bubble was defined by – my gym, my shops, my friends, my house, my environment it was all so safe, I needed an adventure.

The reason I was excited was that my “Spidey sense” was in full gear telling me this was going to happen. I just didn’t know when or how it would happen. So My wife and I started making plans, with no idea how, where or why we would do these things they were just plans, dreams, paths to follow.

We started by looking at selling our house and buying some property in Spain… we even took a trip there three times looking at property trying to figure it out.

But then the universe made something happen. I got a phone call about a job in Bermuda….. WOW …. Adventure has come knocking at my door!

SO now its serious, we have a path laid out in front of us that could lead to something amazing…. So I had to ask Kym the question do you really want to do this? The reason I asked her was that my spidey sense was screaming that this was the thing for us to do, this was the right path, I would love my job doing somewhere exciting. So I asked her…. “Are you sure about going to Bermuda because if I go for this I am going to get it…”

Her response – “Where’s Bermuda”……

Two weeks later we were on a plane to Bermuda to go look – we rented our house and moved there less than one month after that trip.

We took a chance, we followed the Bermuda path

My gut had told me change was coming because I knew I needed change, but “spidey sense” had said look out for it because its there….

All through my career I have been listening to my spidey sense I just didn’t know it. My gut would tell me if this was going to be a great client meeting or if this project wasn’t going to work. Subconsciously I had changed the projects/meetings/events so that they worked.

This became even more transparent after we left Bermuda to return home.

Kym had a great job with John Lewis in the UK I was back inside my bubble and realize that for me it was a mistake to come back to the safety net of my bubble because it hadn’t grown but I had so now it was even more constrictive. I had traveled live in a different country met amazing people had actual stories to tell. Yet I was back – reverted to type – reverted to the same work in the same area with a lot of the same people which kept on saying why did you come back? I knew it was a mistake when I couldn’t answer them. I even turned down several options including working in the Cayman islands because Kym was happy so now I would allow her to follow her dream.

Whilst we were back one of my best friends wife at 34 died within 18months of being diagnosed with Cervical Cancer. Around 2 weeks after the funeral Kym and I were sat in a pub on her 39th birthday and she said to me why are we not in the Cayman Islands? You see I had been so caught up in allowing her to follow what I thought was her dream that I never asked her if this was what she wanted. All the time her gut was telling her she was not going to turn 40 living in Birmingham. The death of a friend so young crystalized both our spidey senses and the next day I called back a man named Steve McIntosh who had asked if I would come to the Cayman Islands and inside of a week was on a plane to check it out.

That was 4 years ago.

I want to leave you with a final story that really emphasizes the importance of listening to your spidey sense

In September last year I was approached about going on a trip to Guatemala, from the moment this was mentioned that voice/feeling in my gut said yes, yup your going to do this and its going to be epic.

The trip was part of a program called the Guatemala Literacy Project (GLP) it’s a program that allows you to sponsor a child to go to school. To help break the cycle of poverty through education.

One of my friends who had done this trip before advised me to sponsor a child before I go as I would get to met them and their family when I was there and it would be an amazing experience. So for $70 a month I did.

That trip showed me what human beings can endure, how the human spirit can get through adversity, but more importantly it put my path through life on a path that affected someone else’s in a dramatic way. I returned having sponsored a second child knowing that the difference I had played in their lives was huge even though to me it was a small amount of money every month.

I had found my something more, through travel, adventure, charity and I have connected my spidey sense with real life. I’ve learnt to listen to that internal monologue and act on it.

I’m doing the same job I’ve been doing for 15+ years and I love it.

Stop using the internet to analyze every decision, use your gut instinct it will never let you down if you truly listen. Don’t miss a path lay the path as you go!

A quick friday thought that will make you feel old! Even if your only 35 (cough 37)

Millennials – we have all heard this but do you really know what it means? Well let me break it down:

  • An 18 year old entering the workforce today was born in 1997
  • They were 4 when apple released the IPod (2001)
  • They were 7 when Facebook was released (2004)
  • They were 10 when the first IPhone came out (2007)
  • By they time they took an interest in world affairs the financial crisis had past and growth had returned (2012) they were 15
  • Information has always been at their fingertips.
  • Multitasking is a way of life, not a new idea.
  • Sharing intimate information once deemed personal is now the norm.
  • These are our future leaders.

Training Gen x-ers (people in their 30’s/40’s) to be able to communicate effectively with millennial’s is one of the highest training areas in multinational companies. Poor communication with this group is leading to one of the highest low engagement rates and subsequent turnover issues we are seeing. Loyalty to a company is not as strong as loyalty to a brand. Employers without an employer brand do not attract the best.

Anyways happy friday I’m gong for a run listening to my walkman.

Be your own superhero

In 1983 a woman named Mary Manning a shop worker in Dunn stores in Dublin (kind of like marks and spencer or Macy’s ) started a strike that would allow her to meet world leaders like nelson Mandela, archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Irish prime minister and many others. What did she do?

She refused to sell Cape oranges.

You see at that time in South Africa there was apartheid, and her shop workers union had said they could abstain from selling goods that supported Apartheid. So she started a movement by saying no to cape orange sales. She went on strike for 2.5 years before the Irish government finally supported her action and embargoed South African goods that supported apartheid. She was only joined in her strike by 9 others. But what she and her fellow strikers achieved was simply heroic and worthy of super hero status.

But what intrigued me was why would a woman living thousands of miles away in a different country stand up for someone else.

She didn’t do it for fame or fortune she did it because to her it was a way she could make a difference.

I’m sure many of you have seen the film “the blind side” about the young African American (Michael Oher) who was homeless and taken in by the Toughie family in the mid west. There is a point in the biography and a great point in the film that shows you the moment when someone says… I can change this…

The point in the blind side is when Leanne Toughie (played by Sandra Bullock) looks back at Michael and tells her husband to turn the car around. She didn’t know or could have foreseen how this small action would lead to her eventually adopting and supporting this boy it was for her just the right thing to do.

So recently Emma Watson used this quote in an address to the United Nations: “if not me who if not now when” And I wondered did people knowingly run this quote through their head when they make these life-altering decisions. None of them thus far knew it was going to be life altering but you understand my point.

“No one else is going to do this thing so do I care about it enough to do it?”

Many people look back and these deeds and think yep great wow but I never get the opportunity to do something amazing and I would say you do you just keep missing it!

That’s quite a bold statement.

Think about it – you have had opportunities in your lives right now that could turn you into a super hero, but you either didn’t recognize it or were not passionate enough about making a change, taking a stance or you just didn’t have the time to take it further….

That’s ok, we can’t do everything, there simply isn’t time but how do you recognize something you want to be passionate about?

Someone asked me about 7 years ago what I was passionate about?

I listed a whole bunch of things I liked but they pressed me. Ok but what really makes you passionate… I didn’t know and it wasn’t until I moved abroad that I realized I was passionate about adventure. Trying something knew, having experiences. You see I believe a passion is different to a hobby or doing something you like when you allow that thing to change your life or define you.

When I first met Derek Haines a British man who has lived in Grand Cayman for many years and now calls it home. I had no idea what I would learn from him.

I learnt that you do not have to be extraordinary to achieve something amazing. Derek was simply a man with a purpose. His passion is running and he uses that passion to support causes that he feels benefit others. So when at 66 he decides to run 6 marathons in a year I thought he was bonkers.

He raised over $1million and brought a whole community together that now has a the funds to build its own hospice care facility.

But whilst the fund raising is great that’s not what made him a super hero to me. It was two things:

he made it happen
he inspired me to put one foot in front of the other and start moving
Just over a year ago I tipped the scales at 310lbs

In the last 12 months I have completed 2 triathlons, 2 half marathons, a half iron man, and a whole bunch of 5 & 10 k races – I also lost 60+ lbs

I am alive again. Cayman, Derek a few close friends and my wife saved my life. I was destined for a heart attack. A sedentary life which would have cut short my passion. They are super heroes to me and they don’t even know it.

Derek was also a member of Rotary which is a service club, what I mean by that is they get together and organize projects that benefit the community and others. They identify the need. It’s up to you whether you take part.

Derek was part of a group that have been traveling to Guatemala as part of rotary for a number of years. I decided to join the group this year and 9 of us went on a self funded trip to Guatemala as part of the GLP.

Guatemala is a country less than a few hours flight time from us here. Yet the poverty in the rural areas are 3rd world. Until you have seen 3rd world poverty up close and personal it cannot be described.

The GLP tries to break the cycle of poverty by providing schooling, books and compute centers to schools and children that otherwise would not have access to it. It’s been going 17 years. It works.

Before I went – I learnt that most of the group who have been on the trip sponsor a child through school and the program. A friend who was going suggested I sponsor a child before I went as I would get to meet them and it would be a fantastic experience. So I did it costs less than one meal out per month and yet it changes this child’s life, when you do the math it’s a no brainer.

So what do all these examples have in common?

You have to put yourself out there in order to experience something new.
Only you can make it happen.
There are superhero’s amongst us their identities hidden to only those that they have affected.
You don’t have to wear a cape to be a superhero.
So you can be the difference without knowing it, we have so much opportunity right in front of us. Unplug – talk – go see – have an adventure because if I hadn’t tried something like the Guatemala Literacy Program my two boys might still be working in the fields for $2 a day. To them I am Batman.

Enid Blyton are today’s kids missing out?

A small missive today – I found one of Enid Blyton’s books, the faraway tree. I re read it in an afternoon. I was immediately transported back to my childhood when I read all her books from the Famous Five to the Secret Seven and then the tales of the enchanted wood series. I haven’t heard any young children that I know talking about these books. Sure there are great modern alternatives, but these books come from an age of innocence, they play on the fantasies of young children and for me gave me that escape that I would one day find an enchanted forest or solve a misery and be back in time for tea!

So to all the parents out there, introduce your kids to the far away tree and I assure you they will not need an iPad to get them into bed to hear the next chapter.

I am now off to solve a mystery 🙂

Getting out of bed!

Tough few weeks on the workout front and the whilst the weight is not being put back on the motivation to keep training is waning… however it is amazing how much better you feel once you have dragged your arse out of bed at 6am and done a 20K cycle…. It is not amazing how full you feel once you have eaten a whole box of malteasers buy 11am because you need the sugar mannnn!

Now having said all this we have today put in our submission to run the Chicago Marathon in October – which if we get in means many more torturous weeks of training for what will be my first full marathon. It’s been on the bucket list for years so I am hoping I get to tick this one! I just have to keep remembering how great it feels to accomplish a goal you set that you never though you would achieve. It keeps me getting up in the morning along with not wanting to go back to 300lbs!

So tomorrow morning I run – its just one step in front of the other and it does me the world of good

An Individual Can Make A Difference!

If your sat there thinking well that’s not something I can affect change in, I would bet you serious money that you would be wrong.

I have just returned from a trip to Guatemala to see how the Guatemala Literacy project actually works. I am a member of a local Rotary club here and as a club we support this project as part of our international assistance program. A number of friends in the club have also supported this project personally by sponsoring a child to go to school.

I have never really been involved with these sorts of project as I was of the opinion that its not something I can see so is it really having an effect? However I did sign up to support a child through school and was very keen to go and experience where my money goes and does it make a difference!

All I can say is wow! The Co-operative for education and the Guatemala literacy program really is breaking the cycle of poverty through education. We visited the homes of children in the schools, I say homes they were mud huts sleeping 7 to a room. The generosity of the people and schools was overwhelming and the thanks we got for the small assistance we provide made me certain that this is a project I will absolute continue to support.

Until you have seen 3rd world poverty up close and personal your definition of poor will not be enough, when you see how these children and adults endure pure hardship and still smile you will realize that the human spirit is stronger than anything you have imagined before.

Seeing a child go to school because of your support and be able to get a job just because they have finished school when a large percentage don’t in Guatemala totally demonstrates that you the individual made a difference plus gain a friend for life in the child you support and the thanks from the family is so rewarding.

So I urge any organization or individual that want to make a difference with there CSR budget, check out the Guatemala Literacy Project. Its freakin awesome! Check Out http://www.coeduc.org

Stand out from the crowd!

Every January, recruiters across the globe are deluged with people wanting a change in the new year. But how does that make you look, and are you prepared for the question “Why are you looking to move?”… “Because I’m bored” isn’t a good enough answer (although it may be true!).

So how do you stand out from the rest of the crowd? Well here are some top tips:

1) Apply for jobs that are relevant to your experience.
While not impossible, it is increasingly difficult to move to something new unless you are prepared to take a salary cut as your experience can often count for nothing if you are moving into a completely new area. Use your existing skills and experience to get that leg up.

2) Do your research
Make sure you know where your CV is going and why. Simply sending a CV to a company or agency is not enough. Write a concise cover letter informing an individual why you have selected them as the person who could help you most and what you bring to the table. Follow this up with a phone call – it’s your job search so be prepared to do some legwork. Once you have formed a relationship with your recruiter you will be more likely to be front of mind when an opportunity is presented.

3) We’re on your side
Reputable recruiters will do all they can to assist in the best possible way as they are rewarded based upon success. So remember they are equally disappointed if you don’t get the interview or job that was presented. Whilst they can do all they can to try to ensure success they don’t make the end decision so don’t blame them. Listen to all feedback and if none is forthcoming then change recruiters! Good recruiters will always feedback interview/CV comments both positive and negative so that everyone learns from each process.

4) People like positive people!
Don’t bring any of your personal problems to the interview, especially if the interview is quite relaxed and informal. No one wants to hire problems! Unless your personal problems are going to impact on your ability to perform your job, don’t discuss them. They are your business and talking about them makes you appear desperate/negative and not that focused on your work. So stay positive throughout.

I hope these tips help you! Good luck, stay positive and remember building good relationships is key.