Books are a uniquely portable magic.

Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Keep Calm and Read a Good Book

Keep Calm and Read a Good Book

Posted by martin.parnell |

With the current COVID-19 pandemic affecting all parts of society, I thought I’d write a blog unrelated to business, but of a rather more general subject.

In these times of working from home and self-isolating, many of us have to look to how to fill our leisure times that doesn’t require contact with others. No more frequenting the gym, the cinema, our favourite restaurants and bars. 

One activity that many of us enjoy but often wish we could spend more time doing is reading. Now may be the time to take advantage of more time on our hands and hit that book pile. 

If, by any chance, you tend to read the same genre and are looking for something a little different, I thought I’d’ make a list and offer up some ideas. However, my wife, Sue is a more avid reader than I am and so I thought I’d pass this over to her and ask her to come up with some titles: 

Sue’s suggestions: 

 Fiction 

 Title                                                                       Author                                      

                                   

  • The Cuckoos Calling                                       Robert  Galbraith 
  • The Children Act                                            Ian McEwan
  • A Complicated Kindness                                 Miriam Toews
  • The Invention of Wings                                  Sue Monk Kidd
  • Flowers for Algernon                                      Daniel Keyes
  • The Child Finder                                            Rene Denfeld                 
  • The Shadow of the Wind                                Carlos Ruiz  Zafon
  • Deadly Virtues                                               Jo Bannister
  • The End of the Line                                        Stephen Legault
  • Perfume                                                        Patrick Suskind
  • Incendiary                                                     Chris Cleave
  • 11/22/63                                                       Stephen King

For murder mysteries, anything by Henning Mankell, Linwood Barclay or Michael Connelly. 

Non-fiction

Title                                                                            Author 

  • Dead Wake                                                      Erik Larson 
  • Isaac’s Storm                                                   Erik Larson 
  • Seabiscuit                                                        Laura Hillenbrand
  • The Underground Girls of Kabul                         Jenny Nordberg        
  • All Over But The Shoutin’                                  Rick Bragg
  • Mennonite in a Little Black Dress                        Rhoda Janson

 

Humou

Title                                                                             Author  

  • A Spot of Bother                                                Mark Haddon
  • Blott on the Landscape                                       Tom Sharpe
  • A Short History of Tractors in the Ukraine             Marina Lewycka 

 

Classics

Title                                                                            Author 

  • Tess of the D’Urbavilles                                     Thomas Hardy 
  • The Black Tulip                                                 Alexander Dumas
  • Gulliver’s Travels                                              Jonathan Swift 
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles                           Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 
  • Madame Bovary                                               Gustave   Flaubert 
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray                                Oscar Wilde 
  • The Stepford Wives                                          Ira Levin   

 

And so many more, it’s very hard to select just a few.

Hope this gives you a few ideas. Keep well and read on!

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Achieving gender equality requires the engagement of women and men, girls and boys. It is everyone’s responsibility.

Ban Ki Moon – Secretary General of the United Nations
The Secret 3k – Safe Races, Safe Spaces

The Secret 3k – Safe Races, Safe Spaces

Posted by martin.parnell |

On Wednesday, March 4th at 3.30pm a group of students, teachers and parents lined up outside Ecole Notre-Dame des Vallees School in Cochrane, Alberta. They were all there for one reason: To participate in The Secret 3k.

The Secret 3k, now in its third year, was inspired by film-maker Kate McKenzie’s documentary film “The Secret Marathon”, in which she and I traveled to Afghanistan to support that country’s first female marathoners. Since its inception, The Secret 3k has grown to become an international movement with 15 affiliated events across Canada and 12 countries participating around the world. 

“While filming a documentary in Afghanistan” Kate said, “I was inspired by such brave women and girls who fought for equality and at times, risked their lives for the freedom to run outdoors. When I returned to Canada, I was struck by the stories of so many women who told me they didn’t feel safe to walk or run at night right here in Calgary. 

The Secret 3k was launched to reclaim safe public spaces and champion gender equality here at home. We’re excited to have The Running Room and Girl Guides of Canada joining us for The Secret 3k because it will help us to reach one of our goals of making a difference here in Canada to promote safe and inclusive spaces and empower young people to be part of creating that change.” 

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Set Goals, Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Outstanding Results” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” was released in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

As The Secret 3k was about to start at Ecole Notre-Dame des Vallees, one of the students did the count down from 10 and we were off. Everyone ran and walked at their own pace along the Bow River pathways proudly wearing their “EQUALITY” bibs. One kilometre in we spotted a herd of deer and a buck. Amazing. At the turn-around spot I waited for all the participants to pass then I headed back. 

As the students crossed the line everyone cheered and gave each other hi-fives. They were thrilled that they had completed 3 km and done something to help others. In this case it was supporting three very worthwhile causes: The Girl Guides of Canada, Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan and the Marathon of Afghanistan. 

As the students, parents and teachers headed off home they all said that they wanted to do it again next year. 

The run / walk takes place during the week of International Women's Day and celebrates gender equality and creating safe and inclusive spaces. Next year's event will take place on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. 

See you there.

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Scientists may have sophisticated laboratories, But never forget 'eureka' was inspired in a bathtub.

Toba Beta
How Solving a Problem can Inspire a Successful Business

How Solving a Problem can Inspire a Successful Business

Posted by martin.parnell |

I have just read an article, posted this past Wednesday, 26th. February, on the Love Money website, written by Natalie Marchant. It is entitled “Eureka moments that led to world – famous businesses. ”Eureka is a word, commonly used to celebrate a discovery or invention. It is an exclamation attributed to Ancient Greek mathematician and inventor. According to history, he reportedly proclaimed "Eureka! Eureka!" after he had stepped into a bath and noticed that the water level rose. 

This led him to realise that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged. He then realized that the volume of irregular objects could be measured with precision, a previously intractable problem (This revelation is not what is known as Archimedes principle - that deals with the up thrust experienced by a body immersed in a fluid). 

Marchant’s article takes this idea and applies it to the ways in which some people have had such a moment or a need to solve a problem, which has led to some of today’s best known businesses. 

Marchant lists 20, in all, some of which are commonly known e.g. when IKEA's Ingvar Kamprad thought there was a market for a different kind of furniture, Sir Richard Branson was emboldened by the unexpected success of Tubular Bells, Airbnb's Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia came up with a business as a way to pay the rent and Microsoft's Bill Gates was inspired by a new computer to write a programming language. However, Marchant also explains the way in which other successful businesses got their starts. 

I would like to share some of them with you: “Nissin's Momofuku Ando saw a quicker way to make noodles. His name may not be widely known outside Japan but he is credited for helping transform the global instant food industry. The entrepreneur was inspired to make pre-cooked instant noodles after seeing ordinary people queue for a hot bowl of the Japanese staple in post-war Osaka. He went on to found Nissin Food Products, famous for the Cup Noodle. He died 2007 aged 96 – two years after seeing his instant noodles sent into orbit on US space shuttle Discovery.  

World Foods founder John Mackey became inspired by the power of organic eating after dropping out of college and becoming a buyer for a vegetarian co-operative. He and his then-girlfriend Renee Lawson Hardy decided to open their own natural grocery store in the ground floor of a house in Austin, Texas. The pair then teamed up with fellow store owners Craig Weller and Mark Skiles, began selling meat, beer and wine to expand their clientele, and Whole Foods Market became a resounding success.

Sara Blakely, was selling fax machines when she had the idea that prompted her to found shaping underwear firm Spanx. Having bought an expensive pair of white trousers, she wanted a seamless look so she took a pair of tights and chopped the feet off to wear underneath. Realizing that the improvised undergarment flattered and smoothed her shape, Blakely took the $5,000 she had in savings to create a patent and founded Spanx, now a leading underwear brand. 

Not a vast amount is known about the notoriously reclusive chief of UK-based online gambling site Bet365, Denise Coates. What is certain is that her gamble on in-play betting markets changed the face of the bookmaking industry. In 2000, while working for her father, who ran a chain of betting shops, she set up Bet365 after realizing that every minute of play was a possible gambling opportunity. Coates is now worth an estimated $8.1 billion (£6.7bn), according to Forbes. 

Nick Woodman dreamed up the idea of the GoPro camera after a surf trip to Australia and Indonesia in 2001. He needed a camera to document his trip, and strapped one to his arm. But Woodman soon realized that he had to make the camera, its casing and the strap all in one, so knocked up a prototype using his mother's sewing machine and a drill. GoPro is now the world's leading action camera brand, selling 11 million units in 2017 alone.  

Toms CEO Blake Mycoskie founded his shoe business after traveling to Argentina in 2006, where he met a women working with a voluntary group distributing shoes to children. But he realized that this charitable giving model was unsustainable as children soon grew out of them. So he set up Toms and came up with the "One for One" business model, which saw his company donate a pair of shoes for every pair sold. Toms has now given away more than 86 million pairs to children in need worldwide. 

WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum was born in Ukraine before moving to the US as a teenager. He went on to work as a computer programmer at Yahoo! with Brian Acton, but the pair left in 2007 and spent the following year traveling. Both were also turned down for jobs by Facebook. But it was in 2009 when Koum bought an iPhone and realized the App Store was about to spawn an entire industry that was the turning point. The pair went on to develop WhatsApp, which they sold for $19 billion (£16bn) to none other than Facebook in 2014.  

Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann came up with the idea for the virtual pinboard app while working at Google. But he wanted to build products, not just look at spreadsheets, so he quit – and then the economy collapsed. He eventually teamed up with a college friend and they built catalog app Tote. The pair then move on to building Pinterest, with Silbermann explaining: "I'd always thought that the things you collect say so much about who you are." The app now has more than 322 million monthly active users.” 

If you have an idea that comes to you, out of the blue or is the result of successfully solving a personal problem, don’t be afraid to try turning it into a business. There may be hundreds, if not thousands of people trying to solve that same problem and, not only could you be helping them, but helping yourself to become a successful entrepreneur.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Set Goals, Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Outstanding Results” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” was released in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.

William Arthur Ward – American Author
How Changes in the Workplace may Affect Employees

How Changes in the Workplace may Affect Employees

Posted by martin.parnell |

Over the past few days, our town of Cochrane, North West of Calgary, has been experiencing a Chinook. One of the most striking features of this weather phenomenon is the Chinook arch, a band of stationary stratus clouds, which can look like threatening storm clouds, although they rarely produce rain or snow but can crate stunning sunrises and sunsets. So, what is the definition of a Chinook?

According to L.C. Nkemdirim, in the Canadian Encyclopaedia online, posted February 2006:  “In Canada, the Chinook belt lies almost exclusively within southern and central Alberta. The wind occurs in every season, but it is more distinctive and numerous in the winter, when the unseasonable warming it brings differentiates it from the normal cold winter weather.

A Chinook is a warm, dry, gusty, westerly wind that blows down the Rocky Mountains into the eastern slopes and the western prairies. The Chinook, a native word meaning "snow eater," belongs to a family of winds experienced in many parts of the world where long mountain chains lie more or less at right angles to the prevailing wind.

In south-western Alberta, one in 3 winter days is a Chinook day; its frequency drops to one in 5 in the northeast. The maximum daily temperature anomaly associated with the wind ranges from +13°C in the northwest to +25°C in the southeast. The temperature rise at the onset of the event is abrupt and steep; an increase of 27°C in 2 minutes has been observed.

In Scientific terms “The warmth of the Chinook is derived primarily from 2 non- mutually exclusive sources. Firstly, the replacement of arctic air (the mean temperature at Calgary's elevation is -24°C) by maritime air (-2°C) improves surface temperatures.

Secondly, if the down slope flow occurs following a loss of moisture through precipitation on the windward side of the mountain, the heat used to change the water into vapour (latent heat) is returned to the air parcel and warms it. The down slope flow leeward of the mountain warms the wind further, reducing its relative humidity sometimes down to 25% or less. Wind speed ranges from 16 km/h to 60 km/h, gusting to 100 km/h.

The Chinook melts snow, dries soil, desiccates vegetation and is a factor in soil erosion. Most people appreciate the Chinook because it is a pleasant break from the frigid winter temperatures characteristic of the region. However, a significant minority complain of discomforts ranging from headaches and earaches to depression and attempted suicide.” 

So, if you live in Alberta, you could define a Chinook as a warm wind that blows in, unpredictably, from time to time, causes changes for a while and then leaves. 

Sounds a bit like some of the people who might appear in you workplace. 

Apart from customers, a visiting dignitary or someone from head office, there are several ways in which the general flow of the workplace may be affected, by people who come and go, including part-time workers, multiple job holders, and those in short-duration jobs. Sometimes, production activities may require the bringing together of groups of individuals specific projects. Stages of projects change and this may require the addition of temporary staff or the letting go of those surplus to requirements. 

Certain types of work exhibit high pace of job and worker reallocation. There is more opportunity for “job hopping”, for promotion and other types of career opportunity and workers are more geographically mobile. Additionally, it may not be just the people who come and go that are causing the most significant changes in the workplace, they can also occur with the constantly advances in technology.

In a paper published in 2017, on the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine website, entitled Information Technology and the U.S. Workforce: Where Are We and Where Do We Go from Here? We are told:

“Technological advances can create enormous economic and other benefits, but can also lead to significant changes for workers. IT and automation can change the way work is conducted, by augmenting or replacing workers in specific tasks. This can shift the demand for some types of human labour, eliminating some jobs and creating new ones. Information Technology and the U.S. Workforce explores the interactions between technological, economic, and societal trends and identifies possible near-term developments for work. This report emphasizes the need to understand and track these trends and develop strategies to inform, prepare for, and respond to changes in the labour market.”

If you are a part-time worker, changes can be particularly stressful, as you may not be there, when changes are implemented. On theBusiness Daily website, onMay 25, 2017, Chad Brooks considers this in a study based on surveys of 1,500 U.S. adults who were employed full or part time or were self-employed. The article is entitled Change in the Workplace Stresses Your Employees Out Most and states:

 “While employers usually enact change to improve the workplace, new research shows it can actually have the opposite effect. A study from the American Psychological Association (APA) found that organization changes, such as restructuring, budgetary modifications, new IT or human resources systems, or new leadership, can lead to employees who are overly stressed, have less trust in their employers and have a greater desire to find new jobs.

Change is quite common in most workplaces. Half of the U.S. workers surveyed have been, currently are or expect to be affected by organizational changes in the next year. Employees impacted by change are more than twice as likely to suffer from chronic stress. Specifically, 55 percent of employees experiencing recent or current change reported prolonged stress, compared to just 22 percent of those who had no recent, current or anticipated change

In addition, workers experiencing change were also four times as likely to have physical health ailments – which could be any symptom, including headaches, stiff necks, dizziness or shortness of breath – as those who didn't face any workplace changes. They also ate more and smoked cigarettes more during the workday than they did outside of work.

Mental and physical health issues aren't the only problems organizational change causes. The study found that U.S. workers who reported recent or current change were more likely to have work-life balance conflict, feel cynical and negative toward others during the workday, and have lower job satisfaction and significantly less trust in their employers.

The research also revealed that employees experiencing change are more than three times as likely to look for a new employer in the coming year compared to those with no recent, current or anticipated change. 

Change is inevitable in organizations, and when it happens, leadership often underestimates the impact those changes have on employees," said David Ballard, head of APA's Center for Organizational Excellence, in a statement, "If they damage their relationship with employees, ratchet up stress levels, and create a climate of negativity and cynicism in the process, managers can wind up undermining the very change efforts they’re trying to promote.

The research found that the negative feelings could be attributed to a level of scepticism employees have in their employer when change is enacted. Nearly 30 percent of all the workers surveyed said they believe management has a hidden agenda for instituting change, with 31 percent saying they believe employers have different motives and agendas for enacting change from what they say publicly. Additionally, 28 percent believe organizations try to cover up the real reasons for changes.”

Whether the changes that take place are short-lived, like the Chinook or having a longer-lasting impact, people react to change in varying ways. 

For some, the appearance of a Chinook is an opportunity to throw off those winter layers and embrace the warm air. For others, it can bring on a debilitating headache. 

One thing we do know, as in a change in the workplace, that Chinook is going to occur at one time or another; it’s just finding our own way to deal with it.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Set Goals, Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Outstanding Results” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” was released in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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Every great move forward in your life begins with a leap of faith, a step into the unknown.

Brian Tracy, Speaker and Author
Running around the World – All 40,075 Kilometers

Running around the World – All 40,075 Kilometers

Posted by martin.parnell |

Sometimes you take a leap of faith and you have no idea where it’s going to lead. You make a decision that takes you out of your comfort zone and things are never the same again. 

This happened to me on Friday, December 20th 2002. It was a snowy day in Sudbury, Ontario and in the late afternoon I got a call from my brother Peter. After some small talk he came to the reason he called……… he wanted to challenge me to a marathon. Without hesitation I accepted and hung up. 

Now, the problem was I was 47 years old, over-weight and had never run. However, you never back-down from a challenge from a younger brother. That night I put on my tennis shoes, cotton pants, fleece top, toque and mitts and headed out. I ran one kilometer out and one kilometer back. It was terrible.

The next day I ran 2 kms out and 2 kms back and it was twice as bad. I realised I needed help so I joined the Sudbury Rocks Running club. Under the guidance of Vince Perdue and other members of the club, they taught me about what to wear, hydration, nutrition, electrolytes and pacing. My running journey had begun. 

Fast forward to 6.00pm Monday February 17th 2020 and I have just finished 15 km on the treadmill as part of my Boston 2020 training. Now, that was 17 years 59 days (6,298 days) ago and over that time I’ve covered 40,075 kms which happens to be the circumference of the earth. 

So what happened between that snowy day in Sudbury and yesterday’s treadmill run? Well, here are some of the adventures running took me on with RUNNING THE WORLD BY THE NUMBERS: 

  • 2.0 km           First run on December 20th 2002
  • 3.0 km            The Secret 3k, Global
  • 5.0 km            Footstock 5 km, Cochrane, Alberta
  • 10.0 km          Terry Fox, all over Canada
  • 12.0 km          Grim Challenge, UK
  • 16.0 km          Gorilla run, Calgary
  • 21.1 km          Ottawa Half Marathon
  • 42.2 km          Calgary Marathon
  • 42.2 km          London Marathon
  • 42.2 km          Marathon of Afghanistan
  • 48.0 km          Yukon Arctic Ultra
  • 80.0 km          Fernie Ultra
  • 82.1 km          Golden Ultra
  • 90.0 km          Comrades Marathon, South Africa
  • 100.0 km        Rarotonga Quest, Cook Islands
  • 106.0 km        Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
  • 126.6 km        Boston (2004, 2008, 2010)
  • 125.00 km      Canadian Death Race
  • 146.00 km      Sinister Seven Ultra
  • 160.00 km      Lost Souls Ultra
  • 193.00 km      TransRockies Stage Race
  • 1014.0 km      South West Coast of England
  • 10,550 km      Running 250 marathons in one year
  • 40,075 km     Complete Running the World on February 17th 2020 

So the first spin around the earth is done and it’s been a blast. Time to turn around and head back the other way. Who know what challenges and adventures there will be on the return journey.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Set Goals, Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Outstanding Results” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” was released in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story.

Josh Skipp
The Boys and Girls Club of Cochrane and Area

The Boys and Girls Club of Cochrane and Area

Posted by martin.parnell |

Fund raising for the 2019 Year End Run / Walk for the Boys and Girls Club of Cochrane and Area came to an end on January 31st. In total $9,250 was raised for “The Club” towards a target of $10,000. Donations came from across the community including Footstock Weekend, Downunder Travel, Rotary Club of Cochrane and Fenton Automotive. 

Also, a huge thank you goes out to the sponsors who included the Town of Cochrane, Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre, Cochrane Eagle, Cochrane Times, Ink’d Graphics, IMPACT Magazine, Cochrane Red Rock Running Club, Cochrane Library and Patsy’s Place. 

The Boys & Girls Club of Cochrane & Area (BGCCA) is a non-profit organization that serves youth and families throughout Cochrane and surrounding area for over 25 years. During critical out-of-school hours, BGCCA offers a safe space where children and youth can explore their interests, develop their strengths, and realize positive outcomes in self-expression, academics, healthy living, physical activity, mental health, and more. 

In the 2018 Annual Report, Jill Bilodeau, Executive Director, stated that “At a glance, 2018 was our biggest year in terms of growth and expansion of our locations, programs, services, and the community we serve. As promised in 2017, our club increased its capacity while continuously providing standard, quality service to our dedicated community. 

After realizing the need of the community for a dedicated youth space, and with the overwhelming support of the community - we fostered The CLUB. The CLUB symbolizes more than a hangout place - it embodies our mission to provide youth with a safe, supportive place where new opportunities, positive relationships and confidence are found. 

As the first teen space in Cochrane and area, we are devoted to providing youth with services and support such as Life Skill Workshops, LGBTQ2S+ support, musical expression, all year outreach programming, tutoring, drop-in, and of course themed parties. We are especially thankful to the community for assisting us in providing youth with an inspiring place to face some of the most difficult challenges during their vulnerable years. We are grateful for each individual and organization involved in creating a vision for The CLUB. “ 

In 2018 there were 531 visits to The Club by Cochrane and Area Youth. In 2019 this figure had jumped to 2038 visits. 

It is very clear that the job is not done and I’m very pleased to announce that the “New Year’s Eve Martin Parnell Walk / Run” will take place on Thursday December 31st 2020 at the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre. It will be hosted and run by the Boys and Girls Club of Cochrane and the funds raised will allow them to continue to support the local youth into the future.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Set Goals, Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Outstanding Results” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” was released in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run. 

 

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A good name is rather to be chosen than riches.

King Solomon
Why Choosing the Right Name will Make You more Memorable

Why Choosing the Right Name will Make You more Memorable

Posted by martin.parnell |

I was browsing through the MSN UK website and came across this story about a baby rhino, born in Pembrokeshire, West Wales: The first rhino to be born in Wales is looking for a name – and the public is being asked to help. The young Eastern black rhino was born at Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo on January 16 to first-time mum Dakima after a 15-month pregnancy. 

Now staff at the zoo have asked the public for help coming up with a suitable name for the calf. In a Facebook post, they wrote: “He’s the first rhino to be born in Wales and we’re very proud of this. So, we’re after some name suggestions with a Welsh theme.  “This can either be a Welsh word or a Welsh name (we’d love to hear the meaning behind it).” Among the names being suggested were Glynn, Rhion and Llwyd, which means grey in Welsh. 

It reminded me of a blog I posted, in June 2016, entitled From Gerry to Humperdinck, it’s all in the name. The blog was all about choosing the right name for anything from a baby to the title of a book or a business. So, I’m reposting it here, for anyone who didn’t read the original: 

An item, on MSN UK, reported that a woman, in England had been banned from naming her baby daughter Cyanide. One can only imagine the problems it might have caused until the girl reached an age when she could, if she wished, opt to be called something different. On CBC Radio, recently, a lady phoned in and mentioned that she was listening along with her grandson, Beowulf.  Now, personally, I think that’s a fantastic name and, for me, conjures up an image of someone who is strong and adventurous. 

Gerry Dorsey was an English singer who, in the 1960’s couldn’t get a record deal. He changed his name to Engelbert Humperdinck and soon after was signed by Decca records. He had several top-selling hits in both the UK and the US. This got me thinking about names and how we can make judgements based on hearing them. This can apply to people, objects and businesses. 

There is a whole science devoted to choosing the right name and how to market it. Numerous articles have been written about the way the right name can quickly be adopted into our culture. It’s interesting how certain brand names become so familiar that we instinctively know what someone is talking about, when we say them e.g. Kleenex, Hoover, Jacuzzi, Thermos, Trampoline.

When the first Starbucks opened in Seattle's Pike Place Market, in 1971, it didn't sell coffee drinks, just beans. The founders considered naming it after Captain Ahab’s boat, from the novel Moby Dick, but, according to a Starbucks spokesperson, changed their mind when a friend tried out the tagline "Have a cup of Pequod." and, instead, named itafter Captain Ahab's first mate, Starbuck. 

The most difficult choices I’ve had to make, when naming anything, have been deciding on the titles of my three books and how to brand my business. I decided it would be best to create a tag line that relates to what I’m best known for, which includes completing numerous endurance events, running 250 marathons, in one year and is aligned to my promise statement i.e. “Set Goals, Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Outstanding Results.” After much deliberation I came up with the tag line ‘”Finish the Race Attitude” and the book titles MARATHON QUEST, RUNNING TO THE EDGE and THE SECRET MARATHON. 

What names strike you as “perfect” for a particular product or service? Do you use a tagline that reflects something about you or what you can deliver? Remember, it’s all in the name.

If you have a name that you think might be appropriate for that baby rhino, send your suggestion to info@folly-farm.co.uk or contact them via Facebook.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Set Goals, Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Outstanding Results” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” was released in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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Health is not valued ‘til sickness comes.

Thomas Fuller - English churchman and historian.
How to Deal with Sickness in the Workplace

How to Deal with Sickness in the Workplace

Posted by martin.parnell |

Recent news headlines are focussing on the corona virus, which originated in the Wuhan China. At the time of writing, 132 people are dead and more than 6,152 cases have been confirmed in mainland China and there are more than 90 confirmed cases in 19 places outside of mainland China. The World Health Organisation is monitoring the spread and we all hope that a cure can be found and, with proper action, its spread can be contained. 

In Canada, this time of year is called “flu season.” Influenza activity often begins to increase in October and November. Most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, and it can last as late as May. 

Now, the prospect you, or one of your workforce, being infected with the corona virus is probably pretty remote. On the other hand, many people may be susceptible to contracting flu and should take time, at home, to recover, in order to prevent the risk of contaminating colleagues. 

Unfortunately, most of us will get sick, at some time or another, whether it be due to the flu, a common cold, something more serious or we may need to take time off due to an injury. Most companies will have a sick leave policy, so that employees know what procedures to enact when they need to take sick leave. Employers should be supportive and enquire as to any support they may be able to give to a sick employee. 

So, how do you deal with the issues of sickness in the workplace? 

It’s a tricky subject, but I found a post by Gabrielle Lis, on the Return To Work Matters website entitled Top ten ways to reduce sick leave, she includes advice and provides some food for thought. Her “top ten” are as follows:

Have clear policies and procedures regarding work absence. Employees should know who to contact, how contact should be made (for example, whether text messaging, emailing or calling is appropriate) and when notification of absence must be made (for example, by 930am on the day of absence). There should also be clarity regarding requirements for medical certificates and methods for dealing with habitual absenteeism. Fairness and consistency are important. If you want people to respect the system, it has to be worthy of their respect.

Offer tangible support to those with an injury or illnessthat requires more than a day or two off work. Send a card from the whole team. Make a phone call and ask if there’s anything the organisation can do to help. Let the person know that they’re missed and appreciated. Most people feel vulnerable when they’re sick or sore and a kind word can do a world of good. Pragmatically, it is also likely to increase the person’s desire to return to work.

Switch on supervisors and managers to the most effective ways of managing and reducing sick leave. Help them understand that focusing on LTIs (lost time injury) alone will not achieve the results they want. Supervisors and managers who extend empathy, support and trust to workers tend to see better outcomes than those focused on meeting their KPIs (key performance indicators) at all costs. 

Make allowance for non-medical leave and flexible working arrangements, to enable people to balance their personal life and work without resorting to “sickies”. For example, studies have shown that sick leave rises during school holidays, when parental responsibilities compete with work responsibilities. Where appropriate, allowing parents to work from home as required during these periods can assist them to keep an eye on their kids while also ensuring the job gets done.

Have a positive working environment. People are much more likely to take a “mental health day” if they dread going to work. Happy workplaces are ones in which employees are listened to, workloads are achievable and fair, and social support is encouraged. When the workplace is a happy place, workers will want to be in it!

Address any concerns regarding job security. Workers who feel that their job is not secure tend to take more sick days than those who believe themselves to be in stable employment. Dealing with issues around job security in an honest and supportive way is the best option if their concerns are justified. If not, make sure they know it. A sense of security reduces sick leave.

Don’t let conflict fester in the workplace. Workplace conflict, including personality clashes, bullying and conflict between supervisors / managers and workers can be harmful if it is not dealt with quickly and effectively. Not only can festering conflict lead to short term absences. It can also contribute to stress claims and other psychological injuries, which tend to be complex, long-term and expensive. Actively manage conflict, and offer mediation where appropriate.

Acknowledge good work with verbal praise and / or financial rewards. No one likes to feel unappreciated. When people perform well, let them know. A person who feels engaged with their work, a person who knows them self to be valued, is less likely to take time off unless they really need it. 

Be accommodating. Sick leave karma can work for you or against you. On one hand, making modified duties available to someone temporarily unable to perform their regular duties reduces their need to take time off work. On the other hand, making a fuss about allowing someone two hours away from their desk to attend a psychologist’s appointment increases the chance that they’ll take the day off work next time rather than broach the subject again. When it comes to sick leave, you get what you give.

Don’t let breaches of your policies and procedures slide. People also need to understand that there are consequences associated with taking advantage of the system. Habitual absenteeism and other breaches should be dealt with swiftly, predictably and fairly. “

So, the most important action to take would be to have a policy in place so that all employees are aware of your company regulations with regard to sick leave and to ensure that every employee is made aware of its contents.

It’s also important to remember that, although you don’t want employees calling in sick when they are not, you don’t want them coming into work if they are genuinely ill.

Chris Fields,  an HR professional, with more than 13 years of experience as a former practitioner and current HR consultant, who has been listed by the Huffington Post as one of the “Top 100 Most Social Human Resources Experts to Follow on Twitter”,  addresses this in his article Sick but still at work? – The real cost of “Presenteesism”, on the eSkill website, March 2014. 

He writes that “Presenteeism” is when sick employees come to work: the act of being present when you probably shouldn’t be. He states that “Presenteeism may not be as honorable as you think—it has its costs.”

He goes on to write: If you search the Internet for “sick at work” or “presenteeism” you will find several articles saying that as many as 90% of employees go to work that they are sick or even contagious. Employees who are present while sick risk infecting other employees and their families, which only continues the cycle of illness and lost production. In short, presenteeism ends up costing the company more money in lost productivity than absenteeism.

So why does this really happen?

There is plenty of research reflecting the fact that sick employees cost millions in lost productivity annually. Absenteeism is such a concern that many employers do not offer leave-of-absence or time-off benefits, which means that if an employee does not show up for work, he or she will not be compensated and/or could be reprimanded. Financial statistics claim that most workers only have enough in savings to last one month. So missing work is not an option without paid leave. Other companies offer paid time off, yet their employees feel the need to show up when they’re sick anyway. All of these factors lead to presenteeism.

Articles like "Why Your Sick Co-worker Insists on Coming to Work" on CBS News suggest that the reason is two-fold. On the one hand, companies do not offer paid time off to cover illness or the amount offered does not cover the amount of time needed to recover, so employees come to work when they’re sick. The second point the article makes is that many sick employees practice presenteeism because they have deadlines that no one else in the company can handle.”

In conclusion, he suggests “Companies need to do a better job of educating their employees about the cost of presenteeism, and letting them know that it’s best to take the time they need to get better, rather than come to work and risk the health of their fellow co-workers. Ideally your employees should be able to take time off without fear of losing their job, being excluded from major projects, disciplinary action, or losing out on pay.”

Inevitably, employees will get sick or injured, from time to time, but one thing businesses can do is to promote a healthy lifestyle and mental well-being. Also, be prepared. Just because one employee is off sick, you should have ways to deal with their workload, in their absence. For further information see my blog “Flu Season – How to Sub for an Absent Employee” posted October 2016.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.

Marilyn Monroe
Running Shoes are like a Business - They have to be the Right Fit

Running Shoes are like a Business - They have to be the Right Fit

Posted by martin.parnell |

Being known as someone who does a lot of running, I am occasionally asked to review running shoes, before they hit the stores. Such was the case, last week. The editor of a Calgary-based fitness magazine sent me a pair of shoes, asked me to try them out and write a review. 

After I had given them a good workout and was making notes about what I would write about them, it struck me that the points I look at, when writing a review of running shoes, could also apply to what one might consider, when setting up a business: 

  1. Are they the right size?   - I am a size 11 neutral. 

Deciding on the size to which you wish to grow your business may seem a no brainer. Doesn’t everyone want their business to grow as large as possible? Isn’t that a sign of success? Well, that may certainly be your goal, but it’s not necessarily right for everyone. The size of your business could influence many things. Ask yourself: Do you want to have the responsibility of a large premises, bigger staff/ workforce. Do you want to have to deal with the demands of a great range of customers? Maybe you would prefer to have a smaller operation, work for yourself, work from home or not want to have to deal with a number of staff. 

  1. Are they comfortable?  - When I first hold the shoes, I feel inside for ridges or rough spots in the stitching. Then I put them on and see if they are wide enough in the toe box and make sure the laces are not rubbing. 

When you are setting up a business, you need to feel comfortable in what you are offering. Do you have the right skills to cover all aspects of the business? If not, do you have the right staff to provide those skills? Do you know enough about the way to run a successful business? Have you set achievable goals? Have you secured enough funding to see you through the initial set-up period? 

  1. Is there enough support?  - Once the shoes are on my feet, I look for a certain amount of cushioning in the shoe, they need to be not too sloppy, but not too tight. What I call the Cinderella effect! 

When establishing a business, it’s a good idea to put some support mechanisms in place. These can be in various forms. For example, look at businesses similar to yours. Are they flourishing or failing and why?  Do you have a good team to cover marketing and promotion, who can deal with social media? Do you have all the equipment you need and someone to service it, if it fails? Do you have someone to help with technology, keeping it relevant and of value? Is your website current and informative? There are numerous websites that give constructive advice on setting up a business. Also, look for local business groups and attend their meetings. 

  1. Are there hot spots? - When running in new shoes, I’m always aware of any hot spots that may occur, places on the shoes that cause irritation or discomfort. 

When starting a business, it’s not always easy to foresee problems, but it’s a good idea to consider what could go wrong. One idea to help you with this is to talk to people, let them share their experiences. Ask about issues that may have arisen when they first started in business. Do they have any advice to give? Be prepared. If I have an issues with the shoes, I either pause or deal with it (maybe my socks have wrinkled or a lace has come untied) or stop altogether (nobody wants a blister form new shoes!). I’m not suggesting you give up on your idea for a business, but you may want to rethink your approach and take more time before launching yourself in to the business world. 

  1. Do they feel right? - The shoes have not only to fit well, but they have to feel right. They have to give me confidence when I’m running, put a spring in my step, not feel like a dead weight, and be right for my running gait. 

When a client considers using your business, they may be looking for a range of requirements. You have to be able to reassure them that you are “the right fit” for them. If that’s not the case, be honest. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, as that will be your downfall. Have confidence in what you have to offer. Be well prepared to deal with their enquiries. If you don’t know the answer to something, make sure you find out and get back to them straight away. Make them fully aware that you are prepared to work hard for them and have a professional approach. 

All of the above apply, not only when I’m reviewing a new make of running shoe, but also if I’m in a store buying a pair. At these times, there are two other aspects I consider. 

Price – For me, the comfort and support I get from a pair of running shoes is of utmost importance, but I also have to consider value for money. There are some pretty pricey shoes out there, but they’re not necessarily the ones for me. 

Don’t overprice the product or service you have to offer. Be prepared to be flexible if a client has budget restrictions, maybe you could offer them a repayment option or offer a consultation rather than the whole service. At the same time, don’t sell yourself short. If you value your worth, others will, too. 

Looks – What the shoes look like isn’t of great importance to me, but there’s no doubt that, when I initially approach those rows of shoes, in the sports shop, some have greater appeal than others.

Obviously you want to make your business appeal to new clients. Make sure your product or service is packaged in a way that makes it stand out. This is where social media and your website can boost your business. Ask satisfied customers to post a review. Keep current and use tools to advertise your business that provide clear, precise information on what you have to offer. 

Whether I’m out for a 10km training run or racing in the Boston Marathon, the shoes have to be right. 

It’s not the size of your business that matters, so long as it’s the right fit for the clients you wish to attract and the level of growth and success you wish to achieve.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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Retire from work, but not from life.

M.K Soni My Gems
How to Embrace Retirement with a New Sense of Purpose

How to Embrace Retirement with a New Sense of Purpose

Posted by martin.parnell |

The New Year is a time to look to the future and many of us will be setting new goals, personally or professionally. We will look forward to the challenges they will bring, despite the trepidation we may feel. For others, it may be the year when they are looking to leave the workplace and face another kind of challenge, the one of being a retiree.

To call it a challenge, may seem like an odd turn of phrase.  To some, not having to go to work every day may have the appeal of an extended vacation, all the time in the world to do exactly as you please, not be accountable to anyone, not to have to face that daily commute.

Of course, that’s all true, but there are other aspects to retirement that should be planned for, if you want it to be beneficial to both your physical and mental well-being.

It may sound great to have all that time to do as you please and you may see it as gaining your freedom. But what about when the “holiday” feeling has passed and your days stretch before you, waiting to be filled?

What about the things you lose? You will no longer have a schedule, no colleagues to bounce ideas off, perhaps your social life is diminished or you have less money to do the things you’d like to do.

Preparing for retirement is not an easy thing to do. None of us knows how it’s going to affect us, but it is something we should all consider before that “last day” arrives.

One thing you can do is to carry on a practice you will have used in the workplace i.e. set yourself goals. This will entail using strategies such as scheduling, budgeting and time management.

Even if you have a partner, you can feel somewhat isolated, especially if they are still working or have pre-established routines, some of which may not include you.  Of course this is an opportunity to share activities, but your partner may feel this is something of an intrusion. These are things worth discussing.

If your partner is still working, his can be a bone of contention. They will still be carrying on as usual, whilst you now have your freedom from work. Be supportive, look for opportunities to help them in as many ways as you can. Are there chores you can take over? Can you help them with their work. If your partner is running a business offer to do some volunteering in that business to help out when the pressure’s on.

Speaking of volunteering. Look for ways to support your community. Volunteer for the local food bank, see if your local senior’s home could do with some help.

 I  heard a wonderful story, on CBC radio, just thetheir day, about Betty Wilson, who goes into Belvedere Park School, Calgary, every Thursday, to read with the children. Betty will be 101, next month.

Retirees can often experience a feeling of loneliness and isolation, which is not good for their mental health. Volunteering, or finding a part time job, has the added benefit of being connected to other people. 

Volunteering will provide sense of purpose a person can feel by committing to charitable causes. It’s not only going to boost your psychological well-being, but it could improve your cardiovascular health and lower the risk of hypertension, too.

Studies show that seniors who incorporate a low to medium level of volunteering in their life report more satisfaction with life and fewer symptoms of depression than those who didn’t volunteer.

There are also organisations, such as Rotary, that offer friendship, connections and the chance to get involved in projects that benefit your community.

If you have an existing hobby or find you now have the time to start one, why not look for local groups that focus on that activity. Join a class and try something new, most community libraries can tell you where to find out about these things and many will provide workshops, talks, book readings etc. and are sometimes free to attend, especially helpful if your budget is now somewhat limited.

It’s also important to keep active. Look at the opportunities around you. Explore your local area by taking walks; join your local sports center or YMCA. Dig out your swimming gear or invest in a pair of snowshoes. Look for activities that are free or inexpensive, so that you do them more regularly.

Retirement can be a challenge, if you’re not prepared. You may feel a loss of identity or self-worth. But, perhaps if you consider some of the things I’ve mentioned, it may not seem so daunting and will provide you with the opportunity to experience new thing, find a purpose and lead to many years, feeling fulfilled and happy in this new phase of your life.

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It is far better to foresee even without certainty than not to foresee at all.

Henri Poincare The Foundations of Science
Look to the Future Now so that in the Future you Succeed

Look to the Future Now so that in the Future you Succeed

Posted by martin.parnell |

It’s that time of year when many people are making predictions about the future and several business websites have made their own, with regards to what trends to look out for, in 2020. In a post for FORBES, one of their council members, Marc Emmer, President of Optimize Inc., talks about of Top 12 Business Trends For 2020, including: 

“Streaming Wars. 

What happens when four S&P 500 companies launch a product into a crowded sector at the same time? A streaming war. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the average consumer will subscribe to three to five streaming services. From my perspective, this could be bad news for Netflix, which had the first-mover advantage but is now subject to new competition from Disney+, Apple, Amazon and others.

Tech under Attack

Once the darlings of Wall Street, tech stocks are under fire. In Europe, Facebook, Apple, Netflix and Google are under attack by EU regulators over privacy, and here, we're seeing some politicians propose antitrust action. In 2020, the California Consumer Privacy Act will come into play, which I believe could be a preview for what is to come at the federal level. Look for more breakup talk during the presidential election. 

AI Protects the Universe

Adversarial machine learning is being used to combat cybercrime. According to a Capgemeni Research Institute study, 61% of enterprises said they are unable to detect breaches without using AI. In 2020, AI’s most important application will be to protect us from hacks. Given its extremely high cost, I predict that AI as a service will emerge as a product used by smaller companies that can’t afford it.”

 Businesses’ Role in Social Change

Perhaps at no time in history have businesses been more in tune with their responsibility to protect the environment, ensure equality and advocate for social issues. While many start-ups and social enterprises have long sought out double and triple bottom-line results, there is a sea change underfoot where more traditional businesses are seeking out their purpose beyond making a profit.”

Now these, along with his other 8 predictions, Emmer sees as being of significance during the coming year and they certainly make interesting reading. 

However, if yours is a small business, you may ask how they will apply to you.

Therefore, you might want to consider what Kalin Kassabov,CEO of ProTexting.com, has to say, in the post entitled 5 Small Business Trends to Leverage in 2020, in the Inc. This Morning newsletter, published on 27th. December 2019. Kassabov makes the point that, although every small business may be unique, “If you have a small business, it's essential to keep up with the latest trends in technology, marketing, customer service and other areas that affect your business.” This will enable you to live up to customer expectations.

Kassabov reminds us that “A customer in 2020 is likely to be someone who uses mobile devices, orders many products online, is environmentally aware, enjoys social media and reads customer reviews before making decisions. If you want these customers to choose your business, you have to understand how they think.”

So, here are his list of trends that may affect your small business, in 2020:

1. Customers prefer businesses that are green and socially responsible.

Customers are increasingly looking to patronize businesses that follow sustainable, green and socially responsible practices. As Gallup reported earlier this year, younger customers of the millennial and Gen Z generations are especially concerned about such values.

Some of the ways you can demonstrate your commitment in these areas include:

  • Use local products as much as possible. For example, restaurants and food-based businesses can source foods from local farms.
  • Minimize packaging. Stores should encourage customers to use their own bags. Use recyclable materials for packaging.
  • Use green cleaning products.
  • Patronize green vendors and services.

2. Customer reviews will be more important than ever.

Online reviews are not a new trend, but they are becoming more crucial all the time. Customers trust reviews over ads or any other content businesses create themselves. It's absolutely essential to have your business listed on sites such as Google My Business, Yelp and others that are relevant to your business.

The best way to get positive reviews is to provide great products and customer service. Beyond that, it helps to nudge your customers and gently remind them to leave reviews -- whether you do this in person or via email or social media.

3. Traditional businesses are learning to leverage e-commerce.

When you think of e-commerce, you probably think of Amazon and other online retailers. The fact is, however, that many brick-and-mortar businesses are learning to profit from the e-commerce revolution. This can be a way to expand your business without the need for more physical space. Here are a few examples of how traditional businesses can expand online.

If you have a restaurant, you might bottle your signature salsa, curry sauce or salad dressing. You could write an e-book of recipes or the history of a certain type of food. Salons can sell beauty and haircare products. A gym might sell supplements and workout gear. 

If you don't create your own product, you could sell your favorite products as an affiliate. Affiliate marketing is an option for many businesses. No matter what type of business you have, you can either sell your own products or find products on Amazon (or another platform) to sell to your customers.

4. Businesses will use mobile marketing in several creative ways.

Mobile is one trend that will surely grow in 2020 and well into the future. Small businesses can take advantage of the popularity of mobile in a number of ways. For example:

  • Use geo-targeting to provide targeted ads to customers who are close to your business. 
  • Create an app for your business. You can then send out promotions and the latest news to everyone who has the app.
  • Leverage SMS or text message marketing to stay in touch with customers. With permission, you can send texts with your latest offers.
  • Accept mobile payments. Many customers appreciate the convenience of being able to pay via mobile using platforms such as Google Wallet, Apple Pay, Visa Checkout and others. 

5. Stories and livestream will dominate social media.

If you haven't been using Facebook or Instagram stories and livestream video, you're missing a couple of the major social media trends of the last few years. On sites such as Facebook, the main challenge is getting seen by your audience.

Rather than simply posting on your news feed, share stories on Facebook and Instagram. Livestreaming on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube is a powerful tactic for more visibility and engagement. When you post this type of ephemeral content, you can connect with your audience in a spontaneous and authentic manner.

You don't need to create long presentations. The best strategy is to check in frequently and provide the latest news so you consistently touch base with your customers.”

None of us can know, with certainty which particular trends will affect us, but it’s good to have some ideas to ponder over as we enter the next decade. I hope this blog has given you something to think about. As the old saying goes, “Forewarned is forearmed”.

Wishing you all continued success in the years ahead. 

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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The journey of a thousand miles begins with a one step.

Lao Tzu – Chinese Philosopher
The Decade by the Numbers

The Decade by the Numbers

Posted by martin.parnell |

As 2019 comes to an end so the clock ticks over into 2020. With this comes the end of a decade: 10 years / 3652 days. It seems like a heartbeat ago that I was standing on a road outside of Cochrane, Alberta, at 9.00am on January 1st 2010 at the start line of Marathon Quest 250. 

When we arrived at Highway 1A and Horse Creek Road, a group of friends from the Cochrane Red Rock Running & Tri Club were there waiting for me. They had decided to run the first marathon with me, it was -30C and I was pleased to see that the temperature hadn't stopped them. Mayor Truper McBride and some other town councillors were also there, as were news reporters from the Cochrane Times and Eagle and crews from CTV and CBC. 

Mayor McBride said a few words and Sue took some photos. In one of them, my five running mates and I smiled madly for the camera. My friends were smiling because they had one marathon to run and were feeling excited at the start line. I was smiling because that is what you do when someone says, "Say cheese!" Even now, when I look at that photo, I remember what I was really thinking: "What the hell am I doing?" 

So let’s see what happened between then and now with “The Decade by the Numbers”: 

1 Grandchild: Matthew age 5

2 Health scares: a clot on the brain and a stroke

3 Books: Marathon Quest, Running to the Edge and The Secret Marathon

4 Film Festivals: Cinefest, Edmonton, Zonta and Calgary Underground

5 Guinness World Records in Netball, Lacrosse, Indoor Soccer, Ice and Ball Hockey

6 Afghan women and girls running the 2016 Marathon of Afghanistan

10 Year end Events: Right To Play, a Playground, Free to Run and Boys & Girls Club

16 Minutes in TEDx YYC “Life is a Relay” presentation.

17 Countries participated in The Secret Marathon 3k in 2019

19 Minutes in “The Ageless Athlete” documentary

21 Hours to climb Mount Kilimanjaro (19,340 feet)

64 Years old on December 19th 2019

77 Minutes in “The Secret Marathon” documentary

250 Marathons run in one year

1,014 Kilometres run along the coast of England in 25 days

27,340 Children given the gift of hope from the $1.3m raised for Right To Play.

28,218 Kilometres run in 10 years (7.73 kms / day) 

As the next decade begins I’m looking ahead to see what’s coming next. On April 20th I’m running the Boston Marathon so it’s time to crank up the training program. This means heading out on a new journey, one step at a time. 

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.

John F. Kennedy
Martin Parnell’s 10th and Final Run Walk

Martin Parnell’s 10th and Final Run Walk

Posted by martin.parnell |

All good things must come to an end and so it is with my 10th and final run / walk on December 31st

Looking back, it was on Dec. 31st 2010 that I completed my 250th marathon of that year. Marathon Quest 250 was in support of the humanitarian organization Right To Play (RTP), raising $322,000 and giving the gift of hope to over 6,000 vulnerable children around the world. 

On that day, a group of us lined up outside The Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre and at 9.00am the gun went off. The route was “out and back”, along the Bow river and turning around at the old trestle bridge. The temperature was -27C but that didn’t stop hundreds of participant running distances from 2kms to 50kms. 

That was the start of the Annual Dec. 31st Run / Walk at the Sports Centre. From 2011 to 2014, the year-end events were in support of RTP but with the completion of the “Quest for Kids” initiative (10 Quests, 5 years, to raise $1m for RTP) I decided to support another deserving cause. In 2015 funds were raised for the “Sue and Martin Parnell Playground” built for Boma Africa in the village of Mto wa Mbu in Tanzania. Not only was a playground provided but also a giant bouncy castle, and classroom resources for the Lindsay Kimmett Kindergarten. 

The 2016, 2017 and 2018 year end events were in support of Free To Run, an organization that uses adventure sports to develop female leaders in regions of conflict. Funds raised from those three years allowed Afghan women and girls to enjoy kayaking, camping, figure skating and ice hockey for the very first time. 

Over the years there have been a number of highlights and lowlights. The highlights include the 62kms run by Ellie Greenwood over the 6hr event day in 2012, the running streak set by Hiro Watanabe from Edmonton who has run 50km every year and the support of hundreds of boys and girls, parents and grandparents who have come out and completed the 2km Cookie run at the end of each event. The one lowlight was in 2018 when the temperature hit -48C. On that day a number of us ran the loop however it was reported in the Calgary Herald that the penguins at the Calgary Zoo had to be kept inside because it was too cold. 

Finally to 2019 and the Dec. 31st, 10th and final year end run / walk and this time we’re bringing it home. We decided to support a local organisation and one that has always been close to my heart is The Boys and Girls Club of Cochrane and Area. All of the funds collected from the run will go towards operations and programing at the CLUB. The CLUB is a youth exclusive division of the Boys & Girls Club, which provides teens a fun, safe space to hang out, do homework or seek support. 

So save the date: Tuesday, December 31st 2019 at the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre. Come on down between 8.30am and 3.00pm. Run / walk the 2km loop to 50km, it’s up to you. Registration is on the day with a donation at the event. If you can’t make it and what to help then click on: www.martinparnell.com and hit the big red “DONATE” button. 

This event is for everyone and you may even see a penguin.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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Age is whatever you think it is. You are as old as you think you are.

Muhammad Ali
The Ageless Athlete-Age is Just a Number

The Ageless Athlete-Age is Just a Number

Posted by martin.parnell |

In the fall of 2017 I was reflecting on my year of running and it had been a tough one.  It had started off in late May with the Calgary Marathon 150km ultra. This was to celebrate Canada’s Confederation and I could see no better way to celebrate than to run multiple loops around downtown Calgary.  

The race started at 6.00am under the Olympic Arch at Eau Claire Market and things went well for the first six 10-km loops but, as darkness fell, I started to feel cramping in my calves. Running at night is very different from running during the day. The light played tricks with my eyes and time seemed to speed up. I kept going but, try as I might, when I hit the 95-km mark I knew I had run out of time. I was really disappointed. I had not finished, but in the end, I was just happy to head home. 

The following weeks I licked my wounds but decided to sign up for another race, the Golden Ultra in September. My coaching buddy Malc Kent had tracked my running parameters in the Calgary Marathon and he wanted to do the same at this race. The Golden Ultra was a three stage event which included a 1km mountain climb, a 60km mountain trail and a 21.1 forest route. I finished all three stages inside the cut off times but only barely. 

I realized that I had reached a cross road in my running. I was getting slower and slower and it wouldn’t be long before making any of the ultra-cut-off times would be challenging. 

I had a decision to make. Either I quit and take up another sport (Pickle ball?) or try and figure out how to shake up my running. I decided to give running one more shot and came up with a personal goal unlike any other. In 2003, at the age of 47, I had set personal bests times for the 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon. Fifteen years later, in 2018, at the age of 62, I decided to attempt to beat those times. I called this challenge “62 beats 47”. 

To help me take on this challenge I partnered with my running specialist buddy Malc Kent and together we embarked on a journey to see if we could turn back the running clock. Can an old athlete use the latest training methods and techniques and regain his former speed?  “The Ageless Athlete” tells a story of how age is just a number. That we should not be constrained by what society tells us and that no matter what the outcome the human spirit will prevail. 

On Wednesday, December 11th check out the TELUS Original documentary “The Ageless Athlete” on Facebook and YouTube.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

John Adams, Founding Father who served as the second president of the United States, from 1797 to 1801
When you Write, you Have to get it Right

When you Write, you Have to get it Right

Posted by martin.parnell |

On Sunday, December 1st, I attended a screening of The Secret Marathon film, at the wonderful, old, Globe cinema, in Calgary. 

The film documents my trip to Afghanistan, in 2016, to run a marathon, in support of women and girls who are determined to have the freedom to run, in a country where their participation in sports is still, in most areas, forbidden. It was a wonderful evening; the film had to be shown on both screens, simultaneously, as there was such a huge demand for tickets. Thank you to all those who attended. 

Just prior to the event, I received a message asking me if I would be travelling from Edmonton, to attend. Also, at the venue, someone commented to my wife that they hadn’t realised we had moved to Edmonton. We had not and remain in Cochrane, just outside of Calgary, where we have lived for the past 14 years. 

All became clear when I read the Program Guide, which states that I am an “Edmonton – based marathon runner”. It reminded me of the of the film’s premier, at Cinefest, in Sudbury, Ontario. When the list of films to be shown was first released, it named ours as The Silent Marathon. We quickly got that rectified. 

Now you may think that, in the grand scale of things, neither of these issues are of great importance. But, over the years, I have had many articles written about me and it’s surprising how often statements are made that are inaccurate e.g. my age, where I’m from, dates of events, names of organisations for whom I’m fundraising and what they do etc. 

So, I asked myself, how is it that facts can be stated inaccurately, so many times? 

In my mind, it is the job of the author of the piece to do the checking. If you are writing about a particular person, contact them and ask them for details or, even better, send them a copy of what you have written in order to check the facts, before it goes to print. 

The same applies if you are writing about a company or any other issue. Contact someone in the know and get your facts right. When I write, I make every effort to do this. This is also one of the reasons why it is so important to give a credit to the author when you are quoting from someone else. Not only is it good practice to give them an acknowledgement for their work, but, if they have stated a fact inaccurately, it’s their responsibility, not yours. 

When you’ve finished writing about anything, why not try this simple tongue-twister to remind yourself: 

                 “Check your facts, before the fact-checker checks.” 

There are many articles written on the subject of fact checking and “fake news” and how, in extreme cases, it can ruin reputations, smear companies etc.  But, on a personal level, when I have read a piece and found it to be inaccurate, it makes me wonder about other work by the same author. 

Get it right and people will trust what you have to say.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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Words are the source of misunderstandings.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
It's the Way we Interpret that Defines Results

It's the Way we Interpret that Defines Results

Posted by martin.parnell |

Our son, Calum, was recently visiting from Wales. One weekend, he was telling my wife, Sue, about a friend of his who was taking part in the Newport (Wales) Photomarathon. This is a photographic competition with a twist.

Typically you have a set period of time to take a set amount of photographs, on specific topics in a set order. With prizes given on the best interpretation of these topics. Participants need a sense of creativity and an eye for a good photo! Photo marathons have proved popular around the world on every continent, with regular events in Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, the Czech Republic, France and Russia, as well as Wales. After the Photomarathon day, all the images are collated and printed and a panel of judges meet to decide the winners. Often, the photos will then go on show in a free public exhibition.

For this year’s competition, the subjects given were:

1. This is me now           2. Reach          3. Three is the magic number        4.Mirrored

5. The perfect place       6. People powered         7.Yellow          8.Heart of a lion

9. Space and time          10. A rusty ramshackle     11. Undercover      12. Make a change

Sue suggested it would be fun if she and Calum tried to complete the requirements of the competition, even though they wouldn’t be able to enter. And so they did. Calum has a great eye and imagination, his friend is more technical and Sue just snapped away and enjoyed the challenge. What struck them both, when they looked at their photos, as well as those that Calum received from his friend, was the way in which they had all produced such a wide range of images, on the same topic.

It’s often the case that a group of individuals can have very different takes on the same thing, whether it be something they’ve seen or read, or even instructions they have received. This is great when you are looking for ideas for a project, ways to approach a task or input to invigorate your business. On occasion, as in the photo marathon, this can lead to diverse and exciting results, but there are times when it’s very important that everyone interprets things in the same way. This is of particular importance, in business, if you want to work together, collaborate on goal setting or present a united front.

At these times, you cannot leave things open to interpretation you need to be precise and accurate in the information you give and make expectations clear.

For his article, Make yourself understood, for Smart Business, Curt Harler asks the question “How can a corporate executive reduce the chances of being misunderstood (or misunderstanding what is said) in conversations with employees?” For answers, he asked Robert Serum, vice president of Academics and International Programs at Northwood University, Midland, Michigan these are some of them along with Serum’s responses:

What is the difference between misinterpretation and miscommunication?
Suggesting a fundamental difference would be contrived at best. Some would suggest that miscommunication is a form of misinterpretation that falls into one or more of several defined categories, such as bypassing or polarization. Even in the field of art, many critics would say no interpretation is really wrong, and that, once published, the artist has no more interpretation authority than the critic. Humans have a unique ability to communicate across time and great distance. 

Which is more prevalent and why?
If you accept the slight limitation above, then misinterpretation is more prevalent and miscommunication might be seen as a subset. 

Is this because people miss inflections or body language?
Those are factors, but there are many examples of miscommunication that don’t depend on either. For example, you and I work together, and I invite you to lunch at the Holiday Inn tomorrow. You ask the time, and I say, ‘Let’s meet in the parking lot at 11:45.’ The next day, you are waiting in the company lot and I’m waiting in the Holiday Inn parking lot at 11:45. Nobody’s wrong, but nobody asked, ‘Which parking lot?’ We have completely ‘bypassed’ as sender and receiver. 

What are the main ways communications go wrong?
Communication tends to go wrong because of unexamined assumptions. Both parties assume understanding was perfect and perhaps neither has asked, ‘What is going on here?’ Every form of miscommunication is exacerbated by data overload and the increasingly complex environments in which we live and work. 

What can I do to be more receptive?
Ask questions out loud … and ask yourself follow-up questions. If you don’t know the answers, check back. And don’t forget eye contact. 

How do you handle a case where it becomes obvious your worker did not really understand what you meant in a conversation?
Always take responsibility yourself, because you are one-half of every miscommunication. Your employee will be encouraged that you are comfortable commenting on your faults and will probably also take responsibility. Then ask the employee, ‘How could we have prevented this.’ If you don’t get a good answer, suggest one. 

We mentioned e-mail. Does the Internet make it easier or more difficult for a supervisor to communicate clearly with employees?
Both. E-mail is a written record that you and others can re-examine when there is uncertainty. E-mail also adds dramatically to the numbers of direct communications most of us have every day — some of them to the other side of the globe. So the magnitude adds to both the better and the worse. On balance, I come down on the side of ‘better,’ but I worry that it can replace too much necessary face-to-face communication. Face-to-face communication almost always tells us more.”

So, in whatever way you may be communicating, whether it be spoken or written, it’s important to ensure that there can be no misinterpretation, otherwise, you may end up with results and responses as diverse as those presented at the Photomarathon and this may lead to confusion for both your colleagues and your clients.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.

Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa
Time to Celebrate the Men and the Children in our Lives

Time to Celebrate the Men and the Children in our Lives

Posted by martin.parnell |

Yesterday, November 19, marked International Men's Day (IMD) - a day that has been celebrated for more than two decades.

According to The Telegraph newspaper: “Each year, International Men's Day shines the spotlight on men making a difference and the issues men face globally and IMD can be an important catalyst to opening up discussion around the unique struggles facing men. While it is not currently recognised by the UN, requests for an IMD date back as far as the 1960s and according to organisers its purpose is to "encourage men to teach the boys in their lives the values, character and responsibilities of being a man."

Falling on November 19 every year, IMD is celebrated in more than 60 countries worldwide including Singapore, Australia, India, the UK, the US, South Africa, Haiti, Jamaica, Hungary, Malta, Ghana, Moldova and Canada. This date falls on the birthday of Dr Jerome Teelucksingh, a doctor from Trinidad and Tobago who relaunched International Men’s Day in 1999.

Dr Teelucksingh said in a statement: "International Men’s Day is observed on an annual basis by persons from all walks of life, who support the ongoing effort to improve lives, heal scarred hearts, seek solutions to social problems, mend troubled minds, reform the social outcasts and uplift the dysfunctional. IMD is designed to promote positive role models in society and develop wholesome individuals."

Each year IMD has a different theme, with last year's being 'Positive Male Role Models'. This year's theme is 'Making a Difference for Men and Boys'. Warwick Marsh, coordinator of internationalmensday.com, said the inspiration behind this year's chosen theme is wanting to 'promote the need to value men and boys' and to help make 'practical improvements in men and boy's health and wellbeing'.

In September, my wife and I had the wonderful experience of taking our 15 year-old granddaughter to her first International Film Festival.  We spent Thanksgiving with our daughter and two of our grandchildren, in Montreal. On our return, one of our sons travelled from the UK and spent 2 weeks with us and, tonight, I’ll be on the ‘phone to our other son to chat about his new job and all things sport.

Our children and grandchildren are the most important things in our life. We share all their ups and downs, successes and disappointments, adventures and relationships and try to offer advice or sometimes just a listening ear. We are lucky. They are all in good health, have had or are having good educations and all have roofs over their heads.

Sometimes, we take a moment to remind ourselves how lucky we are that our children and grandchildren a have access to all of these benefits and be thankful. But, as we well know, it is not the same for all children. And I’m not just talking about children in third world countries.

Today, November 20th. is World Children’s Day. World Children’s Day was first established in 1954 as Universal Children's Day and is celebrated on 20 November each year to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children's welfare.

November 20th is an important date as it is the date in 1959 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It is also the date in 1989 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is 30 years since world leaders made this historic commitment to the world’s children, an international agreement on childhood.

It has become the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history and has helped transition children’s lives, around the world. WChildren's Day offers each of us an inspirational entry-point to advocate, promote and celebrate children's rights, translating into dialogues and actions that will build a better world for children.

This is a time to celebrate our children and a time to take some action to make a difference in the lives of other children, perhaps locally, nationally or internationally.

So, today, why not look for an opportunity to celebrate the men and the children in your life?

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation.

Robert Schuller - Pastor, motivational speaker, and author.
How to Make Preparations for the Future of your Business

How to Make Preparations for the Future of your Business

Posted by martin.parnell |

My wife and I have just returned from Montreal, where we enjoyed Thanksgiving, with family. We spent hours in the local parks with our two grandsons, enjoying the sunshine and the beautiful trees with their array of changing colours. 

Fall is definitely here and I was contemplating how this affects our business practices, particularly if you are self-employed or own a small business. I looked for articles on the subject and came across one in USA TODAY, by Rhonda Abrams, first published in 2017 entitled “6 ways to make the most of the fall season for your small business”, that provided some food for thought. 

 In it, Abrams provides some ideas on how to address this change in the season and how to prepare for the months ahead. Some of them you may well have already considered, but for those of you who took a late Summer break, or were looking for ideas to get you motivated, why not take a moment to read her suggestions:

1. Start working on holiday sales

If your business depends on the Christmas season, it’s time for you to go to work with a vengeance. If you sell to retailers, go out there and get orders. If you sell to consumers, start working on your holiday buys and merchandising. If you provide a service that’s in great demand during the holidays, start working on your marketing. Customers are already making plans. These next three months are absolutely critical to the survival of your company all year long.   

2. Attend or exhibit at trade shows 

In my business, our largest source of new customers, including our largest customers, comes from people we meet at industry conferences. Trade shows bring together a lot of highly targeted customers in one place, and most of those who attend conferences or trade shows are looking for new solutions and open to hearing about your product or services. There’s a trade shows for every industry – there’s almost certainly one attended by your target customers.

3. Summer businesses – build a reserve

Start putting money away in two accounts – a reserve account for slow months and a tax account, just for the IRS. Next, get a good contact management program and enter the information of all your summer customers. Make sure they hear from you now (“Thank you for your recent business”) and a few times over the next few months.  

4. Stay on top of suppliers

Fall isn’t only about you – your suppliers and vendors are also extremely busy this time of year. Make sure you communicate with your suppliers regularly so that you can insure your inventory and raw materials are there when you need them. And be sure to pay their bills on time, so they’ll fill your orders.   

5. Develop an annual business and marketing plan

If Fall isn’t your busiest season, it’s a great time to plan. Get your staff (if you have one) out of the office or warehouse and think strategically about ways to grow your business and the steps you need to take. Even if you work alone, create a simple plan for the coming year.  Remind yourself of your long-term goals. Why do you want to own your own business? Financial security? Time flexibility? Ability to use your skills? Remember and recommit to those goals.  

6. Take Action

Taking action — almost any action — helps re-motivate you. So today, do at least one thing that moves you forward this Fall. Call one new prospect or an old one you’ve been meaning to reconnect with. Make a lunch date with a potential referral source. Fix one business issue that’s been nagging you for a while. Sit down and come up with some marketing ideas.”

Although this was written some time ago, the piece is still relevant. It’s always worth taking time to make plans and prepare for the future.

In her 6th. point, Take Action, Abrams tells us to take action and offers up some ideas. Why not try and do all of them, over the next few days and weeks? Then you’re really being pro-active and can feel you’ve made a concerted effort to be prepared.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

 

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When he worked, he really worked. But when he played, he really played.

Dr. Seuss
How to Enjoy guilt-free Time Off, when you're Self-Employed

How to Enjoy guilt-free Time Off, when you're Self-Employed

Posted by martin.parnell |

Life has been pretty hectic, lately. I have travelled to Ontario for a Rotary conference, been to the Cinefest film festival, in Sudbury, for the Premier of *The Secret Marathon and, this past weekend, drove to Edmonton, Alberta, for the Edmonton International Film Festival, where the film received thePeople’s Choice Award for Best Documentary Feature. 

On Saturday, I fly to Montreal for Thanksgiving with family and, the following week, I’ll want to take some time off because our son is arriving from the UK and, as he’s a keen amateur photographer, we want to attend the Dark Skies festival in Jasper. 

This all sounds great and, so far, it has been. But, it’s unusual to have so many disruptions to my working life, in such a short space of time. Fortunately, I was able to combine visiting Sudbury, for Cinefest, with two Keynotes at Cambrian College, in the same city. 

This is a strategy I’ve used before. If I am going somewhere, for any reason, I try to make better use of the time, even if I have to tack on a day at the beginning or end, and try to use it for business purposes. This is of particular benefit to me, as I’m self-employed. 

When you are in this position, it can be hard to allow yourself time off. According to Kat Boogaard, in her article How to Take a Vacation When You’re Self-Employed, posted on the QuickBooks Resource Center website,  “only 57% of small business owners planned to take a vacation in 2014” and suggests it’s because  “Oftentimes, unplugging from your work seems like a larger hassle than it’s even worth.” 

So, how do you take time off, without feeling guilty or facing the prospect that your business will suffer, when you are self-employed? Personally, I make sure I’m organised. I plan well-ahead and make a schedule for the time I’ll be away. I look at the hours when I’ll definitely need to concentrate on activities that are not work-related and then see where things work-related will fit in. 

This works really well, when I’m just taking a few days, but what if you want to take a vacation, maybe 2 weeks in the sun, or heading for a campground with the family for some outdoor adventures? The same tactic can apply here, too. It’s all about planning, getting as much work done as possible, beforehand and being flexible. 

Another thing you might consider is to employ someone for a few hours a week to keep on top of things for you. It might be basic work that may not need your level of decision-making, but can help keep the general workload to a minimum. It may seem easier said than done, but there is good reason for ensuring that you take time off and recharge your batteries,  as Boogaard goes on explain, according to science: “Reaction times increase by as much as 40% following some time off. An annual vacation cuts the heart attack risk by 30% in men and and 50% in women.” 

This is supported by Francine Lederer, a clinical psychologist, telling ABC News: “The impact that taking a vacation has on one’s mental health is profound. Most people have better life perspective and are more motivated to achieve their goals after a vacation, even if it is a 24-hour time-out.” 

One of the added stresses of taking time off, if you are self-employed, is the notion that if you’re not working, you’re not being paid.  You are not, technically receiving “holiday pay”.  This is something else that Boogaard addresses: “Being self-employed doesn’t mean you don’t get any paid vacation time—you just need to figure out how to offer it to yourself. 

One of the best ways to do this is to build it into your standard fees. For example, let’s say at the beginning of the year you decide you want to offer yourself two full weeks of paid vacation throughout the next calendar year. At that point, you can calculate how many working hours you’re losing and multiply that by an estimated cost per hour. Then, you can slightly increase your fees and prices throughout the rest of the year to make up for that lost time.

While significant price jumps usually aren’t recommended, spreading a small increase out across the remainder of your working time can help you take some much-needed time off—without feeling guilty about lost wages.

Many self-employed people also have begun diversifying their income streams with products—whether it’s courses, ebooks, physical goods, or something else entirely. After your initial time investment, these are a great way to earn some passive income while you’re on vacation.”

With Thanksgiving nearly upon us and other annual festivities on the horizon, why not start thinking about how you are going to take time to unplug and not feel guilty about spending precious hours with family and friends? After all, you can’t get those times back, once they’re gone.

*The Secret Marathon movie is about my trip to Afghanistan to support women and girls in their struggle to have the freedom to run and partake in sports. My best-selling book The Secret Marathon, which includes chapters written by the girls themselves, is published by Rocky Mountain Books. 

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in the fall of 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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We are all different, which is great because we are all unique. Without diversity life would be very boring.

Catherine Pulsifer Author of Change Your Life
How to Make your Organisation more Diverse and Inclusive

How to Make your Organisation more Diverse and Inclusive

Posted by martin.parnell |

Each week, at the Rotary Club of Cochrane, a member is asked to speak for one minute on how they have been influenced by one of the aspects of the Rotary Four Way Test. 

The Four Way Test:

Of the things we think, say or do

1. Is it the TRUTH?

2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?

3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?

4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned? 

This week, it was my wife Sue’s turn and she chose to concentrate on the 4th. point: Willit be beneficial to all concerned?  

We have just returned from a Rotary Conference in Niagara Falls and the overriding message, coming from the leaders of Rotary is that all Rotary clubs need to focus on increasing membership.  This is an area where our club has already introduced initiatives to address the issue. 

Another aspect talked about, with regards to membership, is that it must reflect our community. This is certainly something that Sue and the other members of the Membership Committee are looking to address. As she said in her one minute talk, if we can make our club more inclusive and culturally diverse, it can only be beneficial to all concerned. 

I believe this applies, not only to Rotary, but to all businesses and organisations. I wanted to find out how organisations go about achieving this and so I went to the HR.com website and found a whitepaper on this very subject,  entitled Workplace Diversity and Inclusion: Emerging Awareness andBest Practices Report It is based upon survey of 450+ HR Professionals in Q4 of 2016. 

The Introduction states: “Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) continues to be a key focus for organizations, big and small. While attention to the topic appears to be widespread across the market, the motivations that lead organizations toward creating and maturing a D&I program continue to be unique. 

The purpose of this study is to better understand why organizations establish D&I programs, how D&I leaders feel about their program’s current performance, and what initiatives are being undertaken to advance their programs. One element that may be driving organizations is a growing awareness that workplace diversity produces bottom-line benefits to organizations committed to inclusion. 

We are also beginning to see an emerging landscape around the concepts of diversity and inclusion that is more complex than we might have anticipated.

Some believe that diversity alone is the primary goal, one that solving the issue of diversity doesn’t guarantee an inclusive culture. Diversity is about whom you hire, but inclusiveness is about a work environment of trust and involvement. 

Gallup has found that the employee engagement elements most strongly linked to perceptions of inclusiveness are, “someone seems to care about me as a person,” and, “my opinions seem to count” can be measured in terms of workforce demographics. Others believe this point of view leaves out the equally important

topic of inclusiveness. A recent Gallup article, for example, states the following: “Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.” - Mahatma Gandhi” 

The paper is wordy and full of statistics and you might like to take a look at it, when you have time. However, for the purposes of this blog, I will share with you a piece from Sharon Florentine Senoir Writer, CIO..com, posted  Feb 14, 2019: 

Diversity and inclusion 8 best practices for changing your culture. 

In it, Florentine quotes Sabrina Clark, associate principal at SYPartners, a consultancy that specializes in organizational transformation. 

 “A strong diversity and inclusion strategy can help your organization attract top talent and drive innovative results. Here’s how to launch a D&I initiative that works. 

Research shows that even just the presence of physical diversity results in better performance and for companies that are data-driven, that extra performance boost can be extremely motivating,” Clark says. “It’s also the fact that companies that lack diversity are being called out publicly, and may even be losing business, not to mention falling behind when it comes to recruiting. Even Google is starting to show signs that their lack of diversity is affecting them.”

As 2018 research from McKinsey shows, greater diversity in the workforce results in greater profitability and value creation. The same holds true at the executive level, as McKinsey found a statistically significant correlation between diverse leadership and better financial performance. Companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity at the executive level are 33 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile. When it comes to gender diversity, companies in the top quartile are 21 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile, according to McKinsey’s research.

While financial performance is a major driver of D&I strategies, some organizations launching diversity initiatives in the face of government compliance regulations or to address shareholder pressure, Clark says. “In the UK, for instance, companies are required to publish their diversity statistics; there’s also been increasing pressure from shareholders and boards,” she says.

Current employees and potential hires are also raising the stakes, says Jeff Weber, senior vice president of people and places at Instructure. “More and more, when we’re interviewing, candidates are asking what we’re doing about diversity and inclusion. And it’s not just diverse talent themselves, and it’s not just millennials or Generation Z — we’re hearing this from white, straight men in the Midwestern United States.”

Organizations are also realizing that making diversity and inclusion a business imperative will help them avoid tarnishing their reputation, Clark says. “They’re thinking ahead, which is great, about what kind of company they are, who they want to be, and what their legacy will be. It’s going to continue to be important, and the voices demanding it are only going to get louder,” she says.

SY Partners has been initiating these hard conversations and investing in diversity and inclusion right alongside its clients. The following eight best practices for diversity and inclusion guide not just SY Partner’s client consulting, but its own internal business strategies, Clark says.

1. Establish a sense of belonging for everyone

For each individual to bring their best self forward, a sense of belonging must first be established. Having a connection to an organization or group of people that makes you feel you can be yourself not only results in greater engagement and creativity in the workplace, it’s a psychological need.

But these changes take time, and they aren’t always linear, Clark says. “A client once told me that you don’t just fast-forward to belonging. You have to go through the hard work of focusing on diversity and creating that inclusive culture so you can get to belonging,” she says.

It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, either — that’s why it’s so important to share best practices and be open to trying new things. “The good thing is that as you’re working on diversity, you can also work on inclusion, and vice versa. It’s all interconnected,” Clark says.

2. Empathetic leadership is key

Diversity and inclusion are often treated as a single initiative owned exclusively by HR. But for real change to happen, every individual leader needs to buy into the value of belonging — both intellectually and emotionally. Only when the entire C-suite steps up to own diversity and inclusion will a company’s D&I practices thrive.

“You have to make sure leaders are equipped to make the story their own, feel it within themselves and be able to explain why they care; why it matters, and why it should matter to their direct reports,” Clark says.

Part of this process requires tuning in to empathy; each person remembering a time when they were excluded, shamed, interrupted, and so on, so they can apply those lessons outwardly, she says. “Leaders have to feel it within themselves; then they can identify the relationship with feeling excluded or making others feel excluded. That’s a critical starting point,” Clark says.

3. A top-down approach isn’t enough

Top-down approaches drive compliance, not commitment. From senior leaders to frontline employees, every individual must see and understand their role in company culture. This means identifying differences in employee experience and values across the organization so that change can be made relevant for each person and knowing that lasting change must activate different parts of the system — top down, bottom up, and middle out — in different ways. 

4. Quotas don’t automate inclusion

Hiring goals may boost diversity numbers, but this won’t automatically create an inclusive culture. Too often, leaders focus diversity and inclusion efforts disproportionately on the employee pipeline, but the employee experience continues far beyond an offer letter. To retain and nurture top talent, it’s critical to take an honest look at the end-to-end employee experience, with an eye toward creating conditions that promote inclusion on a daily basis and designing ways to measure the impact.

“What you must understand is that this emphasis changes everything,” Clark says. “From sourcing and recruiting to hiring, onboarding, to the daily aspects of work, team-building, culture, from successes and failures, performance reviews, succession planning, mentoring — everything.”

Organizations must adapt their processes to scale diverse and inclusive behaviors. For example, in meetings: Who’s invited? Who gets to speak and how often? Are you leaving out anyone whose input would be valuable?

“You have to look at everything through the lens of, ‘Have I created conditions where every person can contribute in their unique, meaningful way and feel safe and secure doing that?’ and if you find places where that’s not the case, having the courage to admit that and work to change it,” she says.

That also means understanding how your teams work best, and when tension and discord are actually beneficial. “Recognize that sometimes the easy and fast way is not necessarily the right way, and that sometimes teams function best when there is a bit of tension, disagreement, back-and-forth,” she says. “Obviously, you cannot let things devolve into personal attacks, but know the difference between a healthy, stimulating exchange of every person’s ideas and a situation where people are being disrespectful because of who another person is.”

5. Inclusion is ongoing — not one-off training

It isn’t enough to teach employees what it means to be inclusive. Like any form of behavior change, inclusion requires individuals to identify key moments in which to build new habits or “microbehaviors” (daily actions that can be practiced and measured). And when these habits are put into action in an environment that supports honest conversations and healthy tension, real change becomes possible.

“One way to do this is to identify change cohorts within the organization outside of the executive or management level,” Clark says. “Then, you equip them with the skills and information to help them champion change within their departments, teams, working groups. This is much more effective than one-off training sessions which don’t move the needle; you want people to incorporate these ideas and beliefs into their daily lives.”

6. Maximize joy and connection, minimize fear

People are wired to react with fear and distrust when their beliefs are challenged. While fear can be a powerful motivator, it also encourages people to narrow their perspective — the opposite desired effect for creating a more inclusive workplace. Finding ways to frame challenges through a lens of possibility — and elevating the power of shared experiences and storytelling to do so — creates greater potential for positive change.

“Then you can focus on creating moments that continue the momentum,” Clark says. “You need to not only point out where there’s room for improvement, but spotlight the moments of success and celebrate them. One of our clients decided to do a commitment tree; every employee wrote down their personal, individual commitment to diversity and inclusion, and they put those in a very public place so they could see signs of their progress and celebrate those.”

7. Forget ‘fit’ and focus on helping individuals thrive

The norms, power structures, and inequities in society can easily become embedded in an organization — optimizing to hire, train, and reward people who “fit.” Creating a culture where every individual can contribute their full potential requires investigating the systems and processes in your organization to uncover sore spots and blind spots, and then finding ways to reimagine them.

“‘Fit’ can be dangerous, because it can exclude,” Clark says. “You have to first be able to identify and bring to life your organizational values, mission and purpose, and define ‘fit’ so that it adheres to those. You have to define it differently,” she says.

8. Consider your brand

As in any transformation effort, brand and culture are intimately connected. The products and services you put into the world reflect your values — and your biases.

In the journey toward building a more inclusive organization, it’s important to consider the relationship between what’s happening inside and outside your company. What is your brand saying about who you are as a culture? In what ways is your employee base not congruent with your customer base? What experiences are being left out or misunderstood?

“We see the work with diversity and inclusion as a transformation that’s required here,” Clark says. “It’s not just an initiative or a program; it requires investment from the very senior-most folks to the newest person in the door, and it requires real behavior change. It’s about how the entire company operates and the individual ways of working, communicating, contributing and even just being in the world.”

Not only are these issues that need attention in the workplace, but for any organisation that aims to grow and reflect their community at large.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in the fall of 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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