If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.

Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood
If you Need an Excuse to Curl Up with a Good Book - World Book Day

If you Need an Excuse to Curl Up with a Good Book - World Book Day

Posted by martin.parnell |

As both an avid reader and author, I spend a great deal of time with books, they form not only part of my professional life, but are a great source of entertainment and relaxation. I usually have a fiction and a non- fiction book on my bedside table and more in the lounge, where I enjoy sitting in my favorite chair, by the window, with a cup of tea and my latest tome. 

And so, today is of particular interest to me, as I like to find out what is going on in the world of books and reading, and this day reminds me to do some research into the ways in which World Book Day is being recognised around the world. 

To tell you a little more about it, it’s easier for me to refer you to some facts found in a recent post on Calendarlabs.com:   

Today and every year, 23rd. April is World Book Day. 

UNESCO undertakes the responsibility of the event with the aim of instilling reading habits among people, especially the youth. It also highlights the various issues surrounding authors, publishers and other related parties. Since Copyright is a big issue in the world of books and writing, there is always a focus on the issue on the World Book Day. That's why, in many parts of the world, this day is also known as the World Book and Copyright Day. 

The first ever World Book Day was celebrated on April 23, 1995. The date as decided by UNESCO as it was also the death and birth anniversary of William Shakespeare, a world famous author. The date also coincided with the death anniversary of Miguel de Cervantes, who was a noted Spanish author. Some other well-known authors whose birth or death anniversary falls on this day are Maurice Druon, Josep Pla and Halldor Laxness. 

The idea of the day was taken from a Spanish tradition. April 23rd has always been celebrated as "The Rose Day" in Spain. On this day, people exchanged roses for showing their love and support, much like the Valentine's Day. However, in 1926, when Miguel de Cervantes died on the day, people exchanged books instead of roses in order to commemorate the death of the great author. The tradition continues to this day in Spain and that's from where the idea of the World Book Day originated. 

There is also the tradition of organizing a reading marathon spanning two days in Spain, at the end of which an author is given the coveted Miguel de Cervantes prize by the King of Spain. In Sweden, writing competitions are organized across schools and colleges. In UK and Ireland, the day is celebrated on the first Thursday of March instead of April 23. to avoid a clash with St. George's Day 

Another interesting fact, one of the world’s bests known writers, William Shakespeare, was born on April 23rd, 1564 and died on April 23rd. 1616. And so, why not take a little extra time to settle down with a good book or read an article about what’s trending in the literary world. 

Although we all love to read the latest best seller and those recommendations from our local book store, this is the ideal time to try something in a different genre than you would normally read, perhaps a historical novel, some sci-fi, short stories, some poetry or a graphic novel. There’s so much material to enjoy and you can always check out your local library to see how they’re commemorating World Book Day. 

If you have children, one of the best activities you can do today – share a book with them. Happy Reading!

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. 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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I meet people and they become chapters in my stories.

Avijeet Das
How to Connect by Making the Right Connections

How to Connect by Making the Right Connections

Posted by martin.parnell |

It’s extraordinary how sometimes you meet someone and, through a series of connections, it can lead to an amazing opportunity. 

Three years ago at my year-end fund raiser in Cochrane, raising donations for Free to Run in support of a kayaking and camping trip for Afghan women and girls, I met Umair Khan. 

I next met up with Umair at an event organized by my friend Gitti Sherzad, who appeared in my TEDx talk and had founded Pillars for Afghanistan, an organization that was raising funds for an orphanage in Kabul. 

On April 4th I went to The Art of Leadership for Women Conference at the Telus Centre in Calgary. I had been looking forward to this event for months and the main reason was that Malala Yousafzai would be speaking. Malala’s story had been an inspiration to me as I traveled to and from Afghanistan running marathons in support of the women and girls who run for freedom and equality. 

Malala was born in the Swat district of northwestern Pakistan, where her father was a school owner and was active in educational issues. After having blogged for the BBC since 2009 about her experiences during the Taliban's growing influence in the region, in 2012 the Taliban attempted to assassinate Malala on the bus home from school. She survived, but underwent several operations in the UK, where she lives today. 

In October 2014, Malala, along with Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi, was named a Nobel Peace Prize winner. At age 17, she became the youngest person to receive this prize. Accepting the award, Malala reaffirmed that “This award is not just for me. It is for those forgotten children who want education. It is for those frightened children who want peace. It is for those voiceless children who want change.” 

Arriving at the conference I not only wanted to hear Malala speak but I was hoping to meet her and give her a copy of my book “The Secret Marathon”. As it turned out, I learnt that Umair was not only going to be at the event, but is a close friend of Malala’s Father and had been at Malala’s side when she was in hospital, after having been shot by the Taliban. 

Umair told me that I was to connect with him at the end of the event and he would try and arrange a meeting with Malala. At 4.30pm I waited at the designated spot and

after 30 minutes, Malala appeared. She was with two of the conference organizers and Umair. They walked over to me and Umair introduced Malala. I gave her a copy of my book and I mentioned to her that if she ever wanted to run a marathon I would be happy to send her my training program. 

It was a meeting I will never forget, however it didn’t just happen by chance, it was because I had met Umair three years earlier and we had become friends. 

When you make connections it can be the beginning of a journey. Be open to the people you meet, you never know where it will lead and for me it led to meeting Malala.

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. 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 will be days when you don’t think you can run a marathon. There will be a lifetime knowing you have.

Anon
How to Enjoy a Challenge from the Comfort of your Armchair

How to Enjoy a Challenge from the Comfort of your Armchair

Posted by martin.parnell |

Next Monday morning, April 15th. I will pour myself a cup of coffee, turn on the TV and spend a few hours indulging in one of my favourite pastimes, watching thousands of amateur and professional runners from all over the world braving hilly terrain and varying weather in an attempt to complete the Boston Marathon. 

The event is hosted by several communities in greater Boston in eastern Massachusetts and is always held on Patriots' Day, the third Monday of April. Begun in 1897, the event was inspired by the success of the first marathon competition in the 1896 Summer Olympics and is the world's oldest annual marathon. The course runs from Hopkinton in southern Middlesex County to Copley Square in Boston. 

There are some incredible stories connected to the race and the history behind it. One of the most well-known is that of Kathrine Switzer. For many years, women were not allowed to officially enter the Boston Marathon. In 1967, Kathrine Switzer, registered as "K. V. Switzer" and became the first woman to run and finish with a race number, despite an infamous incident in which race official Jock Semple tried to rip off her number and eject her from the race.  

In 1996 the B.A.A. retroactively recognized as champions the unofficial women's leaders of 1966 through 1971. In 2015, about 46 percent of the entrants were female. Roberta "Bobbi" Gibb is recognized by the race organizers as the first woman to run the entire Boston Marathon (in 1966) although women were not officially allowed to enter until 1972. 

In 1980, amateur runner Rosie Ruiz crossed the finish line first in the women's race. Marathon officials became suspicious when it was discovered that Ruiz did not appear in race videotapes until near the end of the race. A subsequent investigation concluded that Ruiz had skipped most of the race and blended into the crowd about one mile (1.6 km) from the finish line, where she then ran to her false victory. 

Ruiz was officially disqualified, and Canadian Jacqueline Gareau was proclaimed the winner. Gareau was acknowledged publicly with a medal ceremony a week later. Her time of 2:34:28 was a course record. Gareau went on to place fifth in 1981, and second in 1982 and 1983. There are a number of other Canadian runners who have made an impact on the event.

In an article posted in Runs & Races April 20th, 2018, Anne Francis not only celebrates Canadian Krista DuChene and her astonishing third-place finish that year, but also goes on to recognize other Notable Canadian podium finishes in Boston Marathon history:

Odette LaPierre: Odette LaPierre of Charny, Que. placed third in 1988 (2:30:35), fourth in 1987 (2:31:33) and eighth in 1989 and 1992. She also competed in the marathon at two consecutive Olympics, in 1988 and 1992.

Lizanne Bussieres: Ste-Foy, Que.’s Lizanne Bussieres placed third at Boston in 1986, and also competed in the Olympics in 1988 and 1992.

Art Boileau: Art Boileau of Edmonton, Alta. was second in 1986 (2:11:15), in between representing Canada in the marathon at two consecutive Olympics, in 1984 and 1988. 

Jerome Drayton: Drayton is the last Canadian man to have won the Boston marathon – in 1977 (2:14:46), after placing third in 1974. His Canadian marathon record of 2:10:09, set in 1975 during one of his three Fukuoka Marathon wins in Japan, was finally broken in 2018, 43 years later, by Cam Levins in 2:09:25. 

Gerard Côté: Côté won Boston an astonishing four times and was a major presence at the race throughout the out 1940s. His wins in 1940, 1943, 1944, and 1948 were all with times between 2:28 and 2:31. Three of his victories came after battles with the legendary Johnny Kelley for the title. Côté was also third in 1946, and fourth in 1947, and sixth in 1949. 

Johnny Miles: Miles won Boston twice: in 1926 and 1929, setting a course record both times. His 1929 time was 2:33:08. The 1926 race was Miles’ first marathon, and he had never actually raced a distance longer than 16K. He had to ask his neighbours to help him pay for the cost of a train ticket to Boston.

Tom Longboat: Longboat was one of Canada’s best known and most gifted runners, winning Boston in 1907 with a time of 2:24:24, setting a new course record by more than five minutes. Longboat captured every Canadian record from the mile to the marathon at some point during his career.

But, one Canadian runner I’d like to focus on is Ronald J. MacDonald. MacDonald won the second-ever Boston marathon, in 1898, in 2:42. The field that year was 25 runners. MacDonald was born in Fraser's Grant, Antigonish County, Nova Scotia. His father died at sea when MacDonald was twelve years old, after which his mother relocated the family to Cambridgeport, Massachusetts, where relatives were living. MacDonald worked as a telephone lineman, and later in the family lunch store on Cambridge Street. In 1897, he enrolled at Boston College as a special student. 

On April 19, 1898, Ronald MacDonald joined 25 other runners in Ashland at the start line of the Boston Marathon. He was 5’6" and weighed 142 lb (64 kg), and had curly light hair. It was his first marathon and he raced in bicycle shoes. MacDonald ran the whole way without taking any fluids. He ended up finishing in 2:42, the fastest of 15 finishers, three minutes faster than Gray, 13 minutes faster than the previous years’ time, and a time considered a world best at the time for a distance of about 25 miles (40 km). 

Ronald MacDonald represented Canada at the 1900 Olympic Summer Games held in Paris. MacDonald ran the marathon, but finished the last of 7 finishers. He complained that the top 3 runners, who were French, had cut the course, and that only he and an American actually completed the whole course.

In 1901, MacDonald returned to the Boston Marathon with confidence stating that he would win and break the record of Jack Maffery, another Canadian, who had run 2:39:44 the previous year. MacDonald joined 37 other runners that day and ran as part of the top 4 for most of the race. Unfortunately, MacDonald was seized with cramps and had to retire from the race, reported to be due to a sponge soaked with chloroform he unknowingly accepted from a spectator. 

I have run the Boston Marathon 3 times. The last time was when I had qualified with a time of 3:43:43 on marathon number 188, when I was aiming to achieve my Marathon Quest, to run 250 marathons in one year. 

I am currently in training for the Edmonton Marathon, this coming August, with the aim of qualifying for the Boston Marathon 2020. If I achieve my goal, it will mean I have run it in my 40s, my 50s and my 60s. 

Meanwhile, on Monday, I’ll just sit back and watch others attempt to run this prestigious event.

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. 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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No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.

John Keating – Irish politician
How to Choose the Right Words if You want to be Memorable

How to Choose the Right Words if You want to be Memorable

Posted by martin.parnell |

Usually, I write my weekly blog, look to see if I receive any comments and then, within a couple of days, I’m thinking about what to cover in the next one. But not this week. 

Last Tuesday, I posted a blog about the Four-Way Test, 24 simple words that form the motto by which Rotarians strive to live their lives and it got me thinking about how certain words, mottos, sayings, phrases and slogans can affect us and the way we view things. 

I’m sure you’ve all heard the quotes: 

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
– William W. Purkey

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”- Mava Angelou

"That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

For some reason, quotes like these have been repeated over and over again. They resonate with us at certain times and seem to portray exactly what we might want to say. I also got to thinking about the way Mission Statements are written in order to define your purpose, inspire and still be attainable and Vision statements that are focused on the future and express the values and hopes of your business.

If we have a business, we look for the most impactful way to advertise our products and services. We seek to come up with slogans that people will remember and recognise asconnected to our product. Wouldn’t it be great if we could think of a slogan as memorable as one of these?  “For Everything Else, There’s MasterCard”, Ronseal – “It Does Exactly What it Says on the Tin”, Nike – “Just Do It” and Apple’s “Think Different”.

The way we use words can express our feelings, our opinions and our values. That’s why we have to choose them carefully. So much damage can be done to us personally and in business if we are not conscious of the way our words can be interpreted. We all know that words can be misinterpreted, especially if they are written down.

As Alyssa Mertes explains, in her article “Top 10 Effective and Ineffective Advertising Slogans” on the Quality Logo Products website September 2011, sometimes companies get it wrong. 

From her piece, I’ve chosen these examples:

“Volkswagen:  “Relieves Gas Pains.” 

Whether or not it was intentional, there’s a very distracting double innuendo in their slogan. Humor works well for an advertisement or slogan if that’s part of the brand’s personality. However, Volkswagen has never been known to be particularly comical as a company.

Old Spice:  “Smell Better Than Yourself.” 

This slogan is a real head-scratcher to say the least. How can you possibly smell better than yourself? It is strongly implied that, on a basic level, you don’t typically smell all that great. After using Old Spice products you’ll smell better, but by how much? There’s way too much thinking behind this slogan.

Hoover:  “It Beats as it Sweeps as it Cleans.” 

Nine times out of ten, a catchy song can make even the worst situation a little bit better. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with “It Beats as it Sweeps as it Cleans.” The jingle is extremely strange and lacks any kind of rhythm whatsoever. Just like your Aunt Cheryl when she tried doing the Cha Cha Slide at your wedding.”

Whether we are trying to convey the aims of your business, your organisation or other aspect of your life, we have to make sure we are conveying the right message and it pays to make it a positive one and ensure that it doesn’t offend or make false claims. 

If you are engaged in writing a slogan, a statement about your business or some other avenue you are pursuing, it really wouldn’t hurt to go back to the words of that Four –Way Test and use them as a guideline: Is it the Truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

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. 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 only tests worth passing are the ones we set ourselves.

Gemma Malley, The Resistance
How to Test your Business and your Life in 4 Simple Ways

How to Test your Business and your Life in 4 Simple Ways

Posted by martin.parnell |

At last week’s Rotary meeting, three new members were inducted. It’s always a pleasure to see people take that first step on their Rotary journey. From now on, they, along with all Rotarians, are required to observe certain traditions, one of them being to join in with the reciting of what is known as “The Four-Way Test.”

The story behind the Four-Way Test begins with Herbert J. Taylor. It was in 1932 that Taylor was appointed President of a Chicago cookware distribution company, Club Aluminum Products. His main task was to save the company from bankruptcy. He believed himself to be the only person in the company of 250 employees who had hope. His recovery plan started with changing the ethical climate of the company. 

Taylor gave this explanation as to how he would achieve his goal: “The first job was to set policies for the company that would reflect the high ethics and morals God would want in any business. If the people who worked for Club Aluminum were to think right, I knew they would do right. What we needed was a simple, easily remembered guide to right conduct - a sort of ethical yardstick- which all of us in the company could memorize and apply to what we thought, said and did.

I searched through many books for the answer to our need, but the right phrases eluded me, so I did what I often do when I have a problem I can't answer myself: I turn to the One who has all the answers. I leaned over my desk, rested my head in my hands and prayed. After a few moments, I looked up and reached for a white paper card. Then I wrote down the twenty-four words that had come to me:    

  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?

I called it "The Four-Way Test" of the things we think, say or do."

So, how did The Four-Way Test become part of Rotary?

In the 1940s, Taylor was appointed an International Director of Rotary. He offered the Four- Way Test to the organization, and it was adopted by Rotary for its internal and promotional use. Taylor gave Rotary International the right to use the test and the copyright in 1954. He retained the rights to use the test for himself, his Club Aluminum Company and the Christian Workers Foundation. Since then, the twenty four word test remains a central part of the permanent Rotary structure and is held as the standard by which all behaviour should be measured.

But it’s not just Rotary that has recognized the test as a measure of good behaviour. The Four-Way Test has been adopted and promoted around the world and is used in myriad forms to encourage personal and business ethical practices. For example: NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin planted a Four-Way Test pin on the Moon’s surface. 

The Four-Way Test has appeared in gymnasiums, courtrooms, and labour contracts. The Ghanaian judicial system displays the test is on billboards in court premises in Ghana.  Today, the test appears on highway billboards, in schoolrooms and halls of government, and on the walls of businesses the world over.

And it’s not just with businesses and other organizations that The Four-Way Test has been used and promoted. Some Rotary clubs have encouraged its use in schools as a learning tool and have had an excellent response through the essays and other projects done by the students, based on its principals.

The Four-Waytest can be applied to almost any aspect of life. It is a measure of honesty and fairness. On a broader scale, it can be used to promote fellowship, community spirit and concern for others.

It may only consist of twenty-four words, but The Four-Way Test is something for us all to live by.

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. 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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For those lucky enough to be baptized with a middle name, they don’t ever have to wonder what it would be like to be without one.

Franklin P. Jones - Reporter, Public Relations Executive and Humorist
What's in a Middle Name and Why do you Have One?

What's in a Middle Name and Why do you Have One?

Posted by martin.parnell |

Today, March 19th. is Saint Joseph’s Day. Wikipedia states that “The Feast of Saint Joseph is in Western Christianity the principal feast day of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and legal father of Jesus Christ. It has the rank of a solemnity in the Catholic Church. It is a feast or commemoration in the provinces of the Anglican Communion, and a feast or festival in the Lutheran Church. 

Saint Joseph's Day is the Patronal Feast day for Poland as well as for Canada, persons named Joseph, Josephine, etc., for religious institutes, schools and parishes bearing his name, and for carpenters. It is also Father’s Day in some Catholic countries, mainly Spain, Portugal and Italy. The 19th of March was dedicated to Saint Joseph in several Western calendars by the 10th century, and this custom was established in Rome in 1479 by Pope Pius V.” 

Now you may wonder why this is of particular interest to me. The reason is because my middle name is Joseph. It was given to me when I was baptized into the Catholic Church. In many countries, it is customary for a person being baptized or confirmed into the Roman Catholic Church to adopt the name of a biblical character or saint as it is meant to engage the patron saint as a protector and guide. I use it on official documents and I sign my name with a “J” in the middle. 

Other people may have a middle name for a variety of reasons. Perhaps it is part of a family tradition, a name in memory of someone or being named after a family member or friend. Of course, it can simply be because the parents like the name. 

I found an article on mentalfloss.com. by Sean Hutchinson, August 2004 in which he asks “Why Do We Have Middle Names?” and he tells us some of the history behind the practice: “The phrase “middle name” first appeared in an 1835 Harvard University periodical called Harvardiana, but the practice dates back much further.

In ancient Rome, having multiple names was an honor usually bestowed upon the most important people—like Gaius Julius Caesar. The fad died out only to pick back up again in Western cultures in the 1700s, when aristocrats started giving their children lavishly long names to indicate their place in society. Similarly, lengthy Spanish and Arabic names adopt paternal or maternal names from previous generations to trace the individual’s family tree. (In other cultures, like Chinese, there are traditionally no middle names.)

The three-name structure used today began in the Middle Ages when Europeans were torn between giving their child a saint’s name or a common family name. The practice of giving three names eventually resolved the problem with a formula: given name first, baptismal name second, surname third. It branched to America as immigrants arrived: Adopting a trio of labels became a way of aspiring to a higher social class.

Nonreligious middle names—often maternal maiden names—gradually became the norm, and by the Civil War, it was customary to name your child whatever you liked. Middle names had started to become more or less official by World War I, when the U.S. enlistment form became the first official government document to include space for them.”

So, if you are given a middle name, are you legally bound to use it? This question was answered by trial attorney, Mark Wheeler, in July 2017, on the Quora website: “If you are signing a deed, or any to be recorded document you must use your full name. Banking practices have dictated this modern trend. Ancient practice only required a person’s mark. Then first and last names were used. And now, full names are the norm. I would guess that the future holds some type of biometric application like an RFID chip or a drop of blood. Nothing is more individual than DNA (in the case of identical twins I would perceive the addition or an eye scan).” 

You may love your middle name so much that you would rather use it than your given first name. However, you may not like it at all and want it removed from any legal documents. This can be a lengthy process as one contributor to Reddit showed when listing all the documentations that he had to change:

  • SIN
  • Health Card
  • Driver's License
  • Some banking information
  • Citizenship card
  • Passport
  • University records
  • High school diploma
  • Online banking
  • PayPal
  • Vehicle ownership
  • Insurance (Home and auto)
  • Utilities
  • Telecommunication
  • Employer's records
  • Pension plan
  • Various organizational memberships
  • Subscriptions”

And someone else noted that there is a fee of $137 just to have it changed on your birth certificate.”

So love it or hate it, you may want to stick with that middle name that was given to you by a person or persons with the best of intentions and it might be fun to find out why it was given to you in the first place.

Martin Joseph Parnell

About the Author

Martin J. 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. 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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All answers to why are information. All answers to how are knowledge.

Raheel Farooq, Kalam - Teacher and writer based in Pakistan.
How to Embrace being Questioned and see it as an Opportunity

How to Embrace being Questioned and see it as an Opportunity

Posted by martin.parnell |

The other day, I was reminded of a quote about looking at a question as an opportunity rather than a challenge. It’s true that, in some circumstances, we tend to see a question, whether it’s about our work, our opinion on something or a decision we make, as a challenge to our capabilities. It can make us feel vulnerable. We will often go on the defensive and feel we have to justify our actions or our choices. 

Instead, we might try to see it as a great opportunity, a chance to demonstrate how we work, shares our experience and our line of thinking. It’s also an opportunity to educate, especially if, in business, we have a particular expertise. 

If someone questions you in anything you do, it is also a great opportunity to evaluate your work, your company and your decisions, but, you should not be afraid to stand by what you have said or done, especially in business. Your actions would have been based on your knowledge, experience and training. Do not think that because someone questions you, you have done something wrong or they are not happy with your way of thinking. Take it as a sign that they want to know more. 

We are told that we should not be afraid to ask questions. It’s a way to increase our knowledge, understand another person’s point of view and a great opportunity to rethink the way we might do things and increase our skills. 

In education, students are encouraged to ask questions in order to learn. This is why it’s important to ask the right questions. See my blog dated June 12th. 2017 Get the best answers by preparing the right questions. 

I have also written about the use of surveys and questionnaires to receive feedback from customers. It’s important that they are invited to question us about our decisions. This enables us to explain what’s happening and why we have taken a certain path and introduced new innovations. It’s the way a client can gain a deeper insight into the way a company works. By answering questions, it gives us the opportunity to share our decision- making and promote the improvements we have made in order to become more efficient and improve our services. 

So bear this in mind, if we are being encouraged to ask questions and see this as a positive thing, then being asked should become the norm and we should see it in the same light.

Needless to say, there are times when we question ourselves, in which case you may want to take these steps before making a decision, making changes or introducing new concepts

  1. Know your facts – do your research
  2. Consult- either with your team, other colleagues or outside agencies
  3. Look at risks- could your decision jeopardise the work that is already in progress?
  4. See the end goal – and know when you’ve reached it.
  5. Consider how your decision may affect others.

When you have made your decision and acted upon it, evaluate – what are the consequences of your decision – did it prove beneficial?

Being able to question yourself and determine that you have made the right choices will give you confidence when being questioned by others.

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. 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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Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world.

Hillary Clinton
A Chance to Celebrate the Ways Women Improve your Life

A Chance to Celebrate the Ways Women Improve your Life

Posted by martin.parnell |

March 8th. is International Women’s Day. It’s worth noting the history of this event and why it is celebrated on that particular date. After women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia in 1917, March 8 became a national holiday there. The day was then predominantly celebrated by the socialist movement and communist countries until it was adopted in 1975 by the United Nations. 

Having this date dedicated to women, provides us with a great opportunity to celebrate all the women in our lives, whatever the role they might play. It’s well worth taking time to consider what those roles might be and how they affect us. They may be family members, friends, colleagues, people we meet at the various activities we take part in outside of work and home, our doctor, dentist, physiotherapist, bus driver, the list is endless. 

The first thing we need to do is to thank them for the contribution they make and let them know that it you appreciate all they do. If you are in business, you can celebrate your female employees by recognising them, not just in the workplace, but on social media. 

You can make a point of contacting your female clients on that day and telling them that you are thinking of them on International Women’s Day. You might like to hold an event for your female clients, perhaps organise a lunch or dinner for them or a gift of some sort. I would suggest a donation to a women’s charity, in their name would be one option. 

In March 2016, as part of an article entitled Ways Your Company Can Celebrate International Women’s Day, Katie Burke suggested amongst other things:

Make celebrating a team sport

One of the biggest mistakes companies make with women’s initiatives is only engaging women in the conversation. 70% of men believe gender diversity is important, and given that men represent 83% of C-Suite executives, leaving guys out of the conversation leaves a lot of opportunity for change and transformation on the table. Your success as an organization as it relates to inclusion is directly proportional to the degree that you make empowering women a core part of your business philosophy rather than a one-off network or affinity group for women only, so consider including all employees in your celebration, regardless of how you choose to participate in the day.”

Burke also went on to encourage discussion, in the section:

Start A dialogue

A quarter billion women have entered the workplace worldwide since 2006, yet the World Economic Forum’s 2016 survey shows women make as much money as men did a decade ago. The challenges for women in the workplace aren’t relegated to pay: only 14.2% of the top five leaders in S&P 500 companies are women. The numbers are staggering, but what’s often missing is a dialogue within organizations on how to make gender equity a priority.

Taking the time to engage in the discussion, to solicit ideas on what can be better, and create a meaningful space for men and women to share ideas on this topic is an easy way to make a big impact. We assembled a guide for companies to start this discussion for a Blog Club, so even if you don’t have time for a lot of planning, it’s easy and fast to host a meaningful discussion around the day.”

Finally, Burke pointed out the ways in which empowering women is good not only for your brand, but also your business:

“..studies show teams with more women perform better and companies with women in leadership roles outperform those without female leaders so everyone at your organization should have a vested interest in creating a workplace that actively empowers and engages female employees in a meaningful way. Whether you’ve been celebrating International Women’s Day for years or are just hearing about it for the first time this year, getting in the game is a great way to make your workplace and employment brand more inclusive.

If you’re still on the fence about jumping in, we created a Powerful Woman Playlist you can rock out to at work, an inspiration video of remarkable women, and a blog club discussion guide you can use easily today to celebrate. Start a dialogue, run an event, thank someone you admire, but whatever you do, don’t be afraid to get started–creating even one conversation or opportunity can have a huge impact on your candidates, customers, and your company’s commitment to women.”

So, as International Women’s Day approaches, these ideas may provide you with food for thought. Also, it’s important to remember that, whilst we celebrate women, we must make a concerted effort to ensure that we ( both men and women) provide them with opportunities, mentor them and inspire them in order that they fulfill their potential  and achieve their goals,

I would like to take the opportunity to recognise and thank all the women I encounter in both my personal and business lives for all the worthwhile, gracious and invaluable contributions they make.

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. 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 Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word 'crisis.' One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger--but recognize the opportunity.

John F. Kennedy
How a Crisis can be Good for Business

How a Crisis can be Good for Business

Posted by martin.parnell |

During the recent period of Chinese New Year celebrations, I was researching all things Chinese when, out of the blue, I came across the above quote. A crisis in business can be devastating, if not handled properly. It may arise from one single event or a series of them and could, in extreme, become a threat to an organization’s very existence. 

A crisis can develop over time and occur due to the failure of staff or management to identify when things are not working. It may also be due to one, unexpected, significant event. It’s important to be able to recognise when a crisis is developing and to deal with it, you need to have formed a strong leadership team, keep employees and stakeholders informed and deal with any media with an air of positivity and control. 

This will make sure everyone is kept up-to-date with what is developing and how it is being dealt with. In these days of social media, the way a crisis is handled can make or break a reputation, either of an individual or a company. Whichever way it manifests, it’s important to deal with it quickly and efficiently. This is why some companies have a Crisis Management Plan and can draw on it at any given time. If you do have such a plan, it’s important to keep it updated and review it at timely intervals. The implementation of such a plan can save a lot of time, stress and even money. 

Of significant importance is the ability of your company to recognise when a crisis occurs. It may not be as obvious as one might think. Also, there is a difference between a company that is failing and one that is facing a crisis. If you cannot pay your overheads, you have an unusually high rate of employee turnover, you cannot pay salaries to yourself or your employees and you’ve lost enthusiasm to promote your product, you may be failing, whereas, crises are deemed to be negative changes, especially when they occur abruptly, with little or no warning.

Crisis has several defining characteristics. Seeger, Sellnow, and Ulmer(Seeger, M. W.; Sellnow, T. L.; Ulmer, R. R. (1998). "Communication, organization, and crisis". Communication Yearbook.),  say, amongst other things, that three characteristics are that the event is

“1. Unexpected (i.e., a surprise)

2. Creates uncertainty

3. Is seen as a threat to important goals” 

If you are an employee, you may want to be aware of warning signs that your company is in crisis.

In a post on LINKDIN from Adjunct Professor, Academic Mentor, Education Technology Specialist, Court Mediator, Tom Moyer entitled : 12 Signs That Your Company Could Be in a Financial Crisis, Published on March 1, 2015, Moyer suggests the following may be signs that this is the case:

  1. Changes in organizational structure such as large department mergers, a marked increase in staff to manager ratio or a new and highly streamlined management team. These are often front-end attempts to right the ship and they sometimes work.
  2. A noteworthy increase in staff and manager stress levels evidenced by a big increase in workload, flaring tempers, increasing frustration with assignments and long work hours. While this can be a regular occurrence, a prolonged episode can be a glaring sign of trouble.
  3. Inadequate staffing of departments and scheduling - Staff are asked to double or triple up on workstations on a regular basis and changes in work assignments and rotations increase dramatically.
  4. Work backlogs - Despite best efforts, the work isn't getting done. Something has to give and as the backlog grows, so does the gravity of the situation and the number of mental meltdowns.
  5. Increased attempts at self-preservation which leads to turf wars, power struggles and infighting - This tears at the very fabric of organizational cohesiveness and it's sure to rattle the nerves of everyone involved. With this comes an inevitable drop in employee morale and productivity.
  6. Hiring freezes and unfilled positions - These are often last-ditch attempts to rebalance the company. The situation can be aggravated by increased employee turnover and unsuccessful recruitments which are driven by abysmal hiring pools for jobs with low salaries and lousy benefits.
  7. Hostile work environment - This is a term bandied about by stressed-out employees. While it conjures up an image of a slave-driving boss, it's often marked by a significant increase in disability claims for mental stress caused by moody coworkers and bosses, aside from a crummy work environment.
  8. Sacrificing customer service for economy - This only accelerates the slide downhill because without customers, you don't bring in money to pay salaries and keep the lights, heat and computers on.
  9. Sacrificing work quality by replacing humans with machines - Witness the endless maze of voicemail often encountered when contacting a cable provider or government agency and there's no chance of talking to a live person. Or think of an online return policy that makes it next to impossible for a wrong to be righted. If you're a customer and you can't talk to a human being to get things fixed, you're taking your business elsewhere.
  10. An increase in Human Resource issues such as questionable disability and workers' comp claims, an increase in personality clashes between staff and managers and a jump in performance improvement programs and harassment claims.
  11. Reductions in benefits and salary freezes that spark early retirements, mysterious resignations, unexplained leaves of absence and outright terminations.
  12. Mandatory work furlough days or use of vacation during slow periods when organizations can operate on thinner staffing such as Christmas and New Year.”

Moyer does point out that “Taken individually, these signs may not mean much, but together they can form a distinct picture of an organization in crisis.” And he suggests you may want to take action;

“So, if your company is in dire straits, think about what you will do now to avoid the calamity to come and set yourself up for a successful transition. Create a plan, make lifelong learning a priority and act pre-emptively to increase your odds of success. That way you'll be ready to jump into hyper drive once you know something definitive about your organization's plans. And there's no better time to start this process than right now.”

Which leads me to the final part of Kennedy’s quote.

If your company is facing a crisis, once the issue has been dealt with, it can have a positive side. Valuable lessons can be learned from the way the crisis is dealt with.  It can actually lead to a better insight as to how the company functions and where weaknesses lie.

First, you need to ask these questions: Why/How did this crisis occur? Was it preventable? Did it develop over time or was it due to a significant event? What effect has it had on the company, its customers and employees? How can we prevent it from happening again and, if you have a Crisis Management Plan, was it implemented and was it effective?

It may lead you to take action resulting in positive outcomes. If you do not have a Crisis Management Plan, maybe it’s a good time to develop one. Perhaps you or your employees developed skills using initiative and creativity to solve the problem. It may have brought people together. It quite possibly gave you the opportunity to make changes that are beneficial, including ways to improve your company’s customer relations, productivity, efficiency and image. 

It can also help dispel any illusions you may have had about how you, your employees or your company reacted and it may provide the opportunity to set new goals and assess your values.

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. 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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Advertising is the ability to sense, interpret . . . to put the very heart throbs of a business into type, paper, and ink.

Leo Burnett - American advertising executive
Think Outside of the Box if you want to have More Influence

Think Outside of the Box if you want to have More Influence

Posted by martin.parnell |

I was listening to a recent episode of “Under The Influence”, on CBC Radio and presenter, Terry O'Reilly, was talking about someone he refers to as The Most Interesting Adman in The World i.e.  Albert Lasker.  In  O’Reilly’s words, “Lasker had a hand in influencing professional baseball, Planned Parenthood, North American breakfast , the American Cancer Society and not one, but two presidential elections. And he just happened to change the world of advertising in the process.” 

He lived from 1880 until 1952 and brands he helped launch nearly 100 years ago are still with us today. Lasker began his career at ad agency Lord  & Thomas, where he was introduced to co-founders Daniel Lord and Ambrose Thomas. Thomas took young Albert under his wing and began teaching him the ad business. One day during his apprenticeship, Lord & Thomas received a small advertising request from a company that made knitwear for infants.

It was run by a very difficult German man, so the agency sent young Lasker over to convince the clothes-maker to increase his budget. A nervous Albert Lasker made his pitch, but the owner was insulted the agency had sent over such an inexperienced man, saying, "They think because this is a baby business, they can send children over here!"Lasker began to fret, but then - on the spot - decided to repeat his entire pitch in German, the language he had learned from his father.

The cranky owner was won over by Lasker's chutzpah. Then increased his advertising budget. Lasker went on to impress his bosses with further successes. At only 23, Albert Lasker had already earned enough money from salary and bonuses to buy Daniel Lord's shares when Lord retired.

But the more Lasker learned about advertising, the more he believed agencies were leaving a lot of money on the table by not offering copywriting services. His instincts told him that what the advertising said was more important than just where it was placed. There was only one thing standing in the way of his success: Lasker wasn't exactly sure what made good advertising work.

He began analyzing all the advertising he could find, looking for an underlying theory. All he saw was advertising that announced new products or new ways to use old products. Then one day, the answer came to him, in the form of a Canadian named John E. Kennedy. He was a strapping 6-foot tall, ex-Mountie who used to write ads for the Hudson's Bay Company. The secret to advertising, Kennedy said, can be summed up in just three words: "Salesmanship in print."

Those three words would change the advertising world forever. "Salesmanship in print" was an epiphany to the advertising world in 1904. Essentially, Kennedy was saying that advertising had to persuade. It had to give people reasons to buy the product. It had to convince. Up until then, all advertising was just straight facts. Here's the product, here's what it costs.

Lasker decided to try out Kennedy’s idea. He knew of a washing machine maker that was spending $15,000 a year on advertising but wasn't getting much of a response. So Kennedy wrote a persuasive print ad that gave women reasons why they should buy a new washer. In the first week alone, the ad pulled in 1,547 inquires. Within four months, the washing machine company doubled its advertising budget.

Within 6 months, it was one of the four largest advertisers in the country. Within a year, its business had tripled and the company had to build a new plant to handle all the orders. Lasker was convinced. Writing ads was more important than just placing ads. With this new approach, Lasker went from strength to strength.

A small firm from Milwaukee called the B.J. Johnson Soap Company approached Lord & Thomas with a laundry product. Lasker felt the laundry category was too crowded and cutthroat. Do you have anything else, he asked? The soap company said yes, they had a bar of soap made from palm and olive oils. It was called Palmolive, but they didn't have much hope for it.

Lasker  created a campaign around the "beauty appeal" of Palmolive, rather than its cleaning qualities. Then he sent letters to 50,000 druggists telling them Palmolive was about to launch a massive coupon promotion and to get ready for a stampede of shoppers. The soap company immediately received one thousand orders from retailers.

One year later, the B.J. Johnson Soap Company was redeeming two thousand coupons per month. 99 per cent of drugstores were stocking Palmolive Soap. By 1916, Palmolive was the best-selling soap in the world. The B.J. Johnson Soap Company changed its name to the Palmolive Company. Lasker went on to have similar successes with Goodyear Tyres, Sunkist, Puffed Wheat and Sun-Maid Raisins, to name but a few.”

I find the whole story of Albert Lasker a fascinating one, partly because he was able to achieve all his many accomplishments whilst suffering from severe bouts of depression and crippling anxiety. 

Lasker  was able to make the most of every opportunity and persevered where others had failed. The way that Lasker was able to achieve such significant accomplishments was by not only using his initiative and incredible streak of creativity but also by thinking outside of the box.

This is not an easy task for most people. In fact, according to Jim Haudan Co-founder and CEO of Root Inc. In his article, 3 Ways to Think Outside the Box More Often, published on the INC. website, January 4th. 2018, Haudan explains:


“Thinking outside the box is supposed to mean confronting problems in atypical ways, thinking creatively and freely, and encouraging frequent challenges to the status quo. Outside-the-box thinking, in the creative words of Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino, is "constructive noncomformity" behavior. This is behavior that deviates from organizational norms or common expectations, to the benefit of the organization.” 

However, he reveals that “In a study of 1,000 employees in a variety of industries, fewer than 10% said that they worked in firms that encouraged nonconformity or thinking outside the box. Additionally, the Harvard Business Review conducted an internal study asking employees how often they saw senior leaders challenge the status quo or ask their teams to think outside the box. Only 29% said "often" or "always," 42% said "never" or "almost never," and 32% said "sometimes."

So, if you are someone who thinks that this strategy may work for you, Haudan tells you how you can “nurture the ability to look at things differently and encourage constructive nonconformity”. Here’s how:

  1. Question the status quo regularly. Make nonconformity the expected conversation. Ask "Why?" "How might we...?" and "What if...?" Put apparent conflicting issues side by side and begin to solve for them as a team. Conventional wisdom might say resolving conflicting issues isn't possible, but if you challenge "the way we do it today," you'll come up with new thinking.  Here's an example activity: Give your people the opportunity to imagine they work for your competitor, and their job is to attack your organization where you are most vulnerable. This is a great way to challenge the strategic status quo and identify new issues from a different perspective. 
  1. Take a wider perspective and oscillate between uncommon content!  Breakthrough thinking and creativity often come from making uncommon connections. Keep widening the lens aperture to take in different and broader perspectives that could make sense. The key is to oscillate between seemingly unrelated topics, concepts, or issues to find the uncommon connection that causes a different view or an idea to move "outside the box." Don't discount anything as unrelated or unconnected. 
  1. Draw a picture as a team. Draw a picture of your challenge and possible ways to solve it. You don't have to be Da Vinci. Drawing engages your right brain and can release the hold your logical left brain has on thinking about the issue or "the box" the same way. Metaphors are also very powerful tools for holding a lot of information in a small amount of space. The key is to engage your team in the process of visual thinking and visual iteration to encourage different views about how a solution could take a new path.” 

This may help you if you wish to succeed not only in marketing your product, but in many areas of business where a little creative thinking and a challenge to the status quo may help you come up with new and interesting initiatives.

To listen to the full podcast about Albert Lasker, Download S8E07 - The Most Interesting Adman in The World: The Story of Albert Lasker (An Encore Presentation) on Under The Influence on the CBC’s website.

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. 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 customer's perception is your reality.

Kate Zabriskie, trainer and designer - Business Training Works
How to see Negative Feedback in a Positive Light

How to see Negative Feedback in a Positive Light

Posted by martin.parnell |

Everyone loves a happy customer and the way we know if a customer is happy is from feedback. This may come in the form of written feedback, a passing comment or just the fact that they come back and use your company over and over again. We all love positive feedback, apart from making us feel good, it lets us know we’re on the right path and we’re doing things well and this is especially pleasing if it comes from customers. 

After all, we all strive to give our best and we know that a happy customer will most likely stay with you and give you repeat business. 

However, even in a perfect world, you really can’t please all of the people all of the time and nobody likes having an unhappy customer. The good thing is, if you are made aware of a reason why a customer is less than happy, at least it gives you the opportunity to do something about it. 

Complaints from customers should not be ignored, but dealt with as quickly as possible. It’s better to nip things in the bud rather than let them fester and grow into something that becomes a greater issue. 

Also, they should be used to identify areas in your business that might be improved. Of course, some complaints may seem trivial, but to the persons making them they are of importance. Peoples’ standards vary and what may seem perfectly acceptable practice to one, may not be to another. 

Bill Gates, Co-Founder of MICROSOFT, once said “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”. 

We should learn not to be afraid of a complaint and see it as a sign that we are failing, but be glad that a customer has taken the time to make their feelings known. They could so easily just take their business elsewhere and you would be none the wiser as to the reason why. If a customer complains, it is probably a sign that they wish to continue using your services but in one particular instance they are not happy with your product or service. 

If you do receive a complaint, try not to become defensive, rather, thank the customer for bringing the issue to your attention. If you do receive a complaint, ensure that colleagues, employees and your immediate boss are aware that there has been an issue, this will be valuable information that they too can act upon. It would not look good if the same issues kept arising. 

If you resolve an issue with a customer, do make a point of checking back with them, at a later date, to ensure they were fully satisfied with the outcome. It’s a good idea to have a process by which customers can offer feedback, both positive and negative. You might like to have a space on your website or send out emails to customers asking for their degree of satisfaction with your product and service. 

Some people can be reluctant to complain and so you might consider doing an anonymous customer survey. This will give them the opportunity to give honest feedback without any embarrassment. It may mean that you cannot resolve issues on a personal level, but at least it may bring to your attention certain issues that you were unaware of and enable you to rectify them. It could be that several people will raise the same issues. 

We all see our businesses in a certain light and we hope our customers see us in the same way. It’s important that we make every effort to ensure that is the case and customer feedback can go a long way to making that happen.

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. 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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It’s very hard to have ideas. It’s very hard to put yourself out there, it’s very hard to be vulnerable, but those people who do that are the dreamers, the thinkers and the creators. They are the magic people of the world.

Amy Poehler, Actress and Author
Sharing Ideas - How to get Comfortable Outside your Comfort Zone

Sharing Ideas - How to get Comfortable Outside your Comfort Zone

Posted by martin.parnell |

I was recently presenting a workshop on how to implement a Strategic Plan. As part of an exercise, I asked the participants to come up with discussion ideas for goal setting and action plans. Some of the attendees were very forthcoming, but others less so. I think there were two reasons for this. Firstly, they may simply have not had any ideas come to them, at that moment in time, but, secondly, I realise that some people are not comfortable articulating ideas aloud. 

I’ve been thinking about, why some people might find this type of exercise intimidating or perhaps think their ideas are not worth a mention. Contributor, Gabi Mostert, addresses this issue in a post Too Many Creatives Still FeelScared To Share Their Ideas, on thecampaign US website, March, 2018. and suggests these reasons as to why:

“We’re scared that they’re not good enough. We’re scared that if someone else adds to the idea, it’s not 100% ours anymore. We’re scared of negative feedback and sometimes we’re scared of those people stealing our ideas.”

In her article, Mostert is addressing the “creatives” in industry. But, reading it, I feel the content applies to many areas of business. Whether you are working in marketing, sales, IT or any branch of business, changes are constantly being made, with the aim of improving production and, therefore someone has to come up with ideas in order to make progress happen. So, what to do if you have an idea? Mostert speaks to this question and offers this advice:

“Every time you discuss your work with people, you get better at your job. You get better at articulating your ideas and selling them. In that way, when you present them you’ve had a bit of practice along the way.

Sharing ideas leads to a natural exchange, which makes people feel valued and opens a door for them to share their ideas with you. The more minds that come together from all different backgrounds, the better the chances of coming up with new and exciting work.”

This is why it’s important to get your ideas out in the open. Test your ideas on different people outside the workplace, they can often give a different perspective. They may be able to see the pitfalls and positives in a different way to the people you work with. No matter whom you share your ideas with, listen to all their feedback. Well- considered feedback can be invaluable and remember that if someone pitches an idea to you, it’s important you give genuine, thoughtful, constructive feedback to them.

As far as being confident in business is concerned, I did some further research and found some tips on the Entrepeneur website, from guest contributor, Anka Wittenberg. In her piece entitled:  7 Ways to Help Boost Your Confidence at Work,   August, 2015, Wittenberg tells us:

 “Building confidence does not require a complete personality overhaul. Instead, you can take smaller steps to become more self-assured and boost your confidence.” She then recommends some key actions you can take, in order to address the issue:

Push yourself out of your comfort zone.

Volunteer for a project that will help you build new skills. Apply for a job that feels like a stretch but matches your interests. Sign up to present or speak at an event and tackle your fear of public speaking head-on. 

Visualize what you want as a first step to meeting a new challenge.

For example, see yourself in the role you want to achieve. Golfers are routinely advised to picture where the ball should travel as part of their swing. By imagining yourself in the job you want, you can create that vision for those around you, too. Give yourself a head start by getting into character. Want to take an executive role? Be sure to dress, talk, and act like an executive.

Assess your competencies.

Write down all of the skills you bring to the table right now. Don’t forget to include broader talents that can help your organization succeed -- now and in the future.

Create your own environment.

Instead of moving on when a workplace doesn’t meet your needs, reshape it through your actions. Work with your team in a way that feels true and honest, sharing your competencies with complete confidence. In doing so, you will brand yourself within your organization and begin to attract people with similar values to your team. As your team expands to include more people with your mindset, your environment will evolve to one where you want to work.

Have others instil confidence in you.

People who are able to cut through bureaucracy and make decisions quickly are rewarded for having the confidence to get the job done. According to a study from Knowledge@Wharton and SAP, 62 percent of business leaders say they are overburdened with complicated process and this inhibits productivity and performance. Raise your hand to tackle a few of these projects. Once your peers recognize that you are a problem solver, they will instil confidence within you. Having others reinforce this belief will help you realize your potential. 

 Be the change you wish to see.

Once you’ve taken steps to build your own confidence, don’t forget to give someone else a hand up. Through peer coaching, you can partner with others to create a positive change.

Choose someone who works closely enough to see you in action. Each week, give positive feedback to one another on the strengths that you have each displayed. By refusing to accept self-critical behavior and helping one another to erase blind spots, you can enhance one another’s confidence. Better yet, you’ll be helping your peer advance her prospects while liberating talent that will benefit your organization. 

Of course, the reluctance to share your ideas may come down to a matter of personal confidence, or low self-esteem, rather than the ideas themselves. Here are selected extracts from an item Chris W. Dunn in Entrepeneur Magazine September 2016, “10 Things You Can Do to Boost Self-Confidence”, that may help:

“Visualization is the technique of seeing an image of yourself that you are proud of, in your own mind. When we struggle with low self-confidence, we have a poor perception of ourselves that is often inaccurate. Practice visualizing a fantastic version of yourself, achieving your goals.

Affirmations are positive and uplifting statements that we say to ourselves. These are normally more effective if said out loud so that you can hear yourself say it. We tend to believe whatever we tell ourselves constantly. For example, if you hate your own physical appearance, practice saying something that you appreciate or like about yourself when you next look in the mirror.

To get your brain to accept your positive statements more quickly, phrase your affirmations as questions like, “Why am I so good in making deals?” instead of “I am so good at making deals.” Our brains are biologically wired to seek answers to questions, without analyzing whether the question is valid or not.

Some of the harshest comments that we get come from ourselves, via the "voice of the inner critic." If you struggle with low self-confidence, there is a possibility that your inner critic has become overactive and inaccurate.

Strategies like cognitive behavioral therapy help you to question your inner critic, and look for evidence to support or deny the things that your inner critic is saying to you. For example, if you think that you are a failure, ask yourself, “What evidence is there to support the thought that I am a failure?” and “What evidence is there that doesn’t support the thought that I am a failure?”

Find opportunities to congratulate, compliment and reward yourself, even for the smallest successes. As Mark Twain said, “[A] man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”

Too many people are discouraged about their abilities because they set themselves goals that are too difficult to achieve. Start by setting yourself small goals that you can win easily.

Once you have built a stream of successes that make you feel good about yourself, you can then move on to harder goals. Make sure that you also keep a list of all your achievements, both large and small, to remind yourself of the times that you have done well.

Instead of focusing only on “to-do" lists, I like to spend time reflecting on “did-it" lists. Reflecting on the major milestones, projects and goals you’ve achieved is a great way to reinforce confidence in your skills.

Helping someone else often enables us to forget about ourselves and to feel grateful for what we have. It also feels good when you are able to make a difference for someone else.

Instead of focusing on your own weaknesses, volunteer to mentor, practically assist or teach another, and you'll see your self-confidence grow automatically in the process.

Self-confidence depends on a combination of good physical health, emotional health and social health. It is hard to feel good about yourself if you hate your physique or constantly have low energy.

Make time to cultivate great exercise, eating and sleep habits. In addition, dress the way you want to feel. You have heard the saying that “clothes make the man.” Build your self-confidence by making the effort to look after your own needs.

Learn to say no. Teach others to respect your personal boundaries. If necessary, take classes on how to be more assertive and learn to ask for what you want. The more control and say that you have over your own life, the greater will be your self-confidence.

People with low self-confidence see others as better or more deserving than themselves. Instead of carrying this perception, see yourself as being equal to everyone. They are no better or more deserving than you. Make a mental shift to an equality mentality and you will automatically see an improvement in your self-confidence.”

Hopefully some of these strategies will help. We all have experience and knowledge which we can apply to formulating ideas and we should not be afraid to use these skills in order to share them.

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. 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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Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.

Thomas Merton - American Trappist monk, writer and poet.
How to be Inspired and Channel your Inner Artist

How to be Inspired and Channel your Inner Artist

Posted by martin.parnell |

According to the National Day Calendar, January 31st is Inspire Your Heart with Art Day. Art is valued and appreciated for all sorts of reasons. Of the broad spectrum of art created in the world, the pieces that move us to tears or laughter can remain with us for a lifetime. Your Heart with Art Day encourages us to explore the many genres of art and let them inspire us. This is a time to ponder how art affects your heart. 

I know there are certain pieces of music that can make me want to get up and dance and others that can bring tears to my eyes. Some tunes remind me of my youth and others of people I’ve known. There are many books, both fiction and non- fiction that have had a profound effect on me. I enjoy visiting museums and art galleries where I’m often intrigued by some of the pieces that qualify as art. 

It’s good to try new things and so, on my last trip to Cuba I took my wife to the National Ballet to see their rendition of Don Quixote – it was a wonderful performance. I was amazed at the strength and athleticism of the dancers. I would definitely go to another ballet. 

I love to listen to Italian opera singer, songwriter, and record producer, Andrea Bocelli. Celine Dion has said that "If God would have a singing voice, he must sound a lot like Andrea," and record producer, David Foster, often describes Bocelli's voice as the most beautiful in the world. I was lucky enough to see Andrea Bocelli, in a one-night-only concert, in Las Vegas and both my wife and I were greatly moved by his magnificent voice. I’ve never been to an opera, but intend to do so in the near future. 

The calendar makes suggestions as to how we might observe this National day:

  • Visit an art gallery.
  • Read a good book.
  • Listen to music.
  • Attend a ballet performance
  • Start your masterpiece.
  • Teach someone how to play an instrument.
  • Attend an art lecture.
  • Explore a new technique.
  • See an inspirational film.
  • Share your art with others.  

You may not get around to doing most of these on January 31st. but maybe you could put some of them on your “to do” list for the coming year. You might even consider creating your own piece of art, alone or with a friend or family member. In the words of essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Every artist was first an amateur”

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. 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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O bliss of the collector, bliss of the man of leisure! Of no one has less been expected and no one has had a greater sense of well-being than... a collector.

Walter Benjamin – German Jewish Philosopher
How Building a Collection can be Good for Mind and Spirit

How Building a Collection can be Good for Mind and Spirit

Posted by martin.parnell |

The other day, I received a belated Christmas card from a cousin, in Australia. On the envelope was a very attractive Christmas-themed postage stamp. It reminded me of the stamp album that belonged to my Grandfather and was passed down to me when I was a schoolboy.

Unfortunately, it must have been mislaid during one of my many moves, as I no longer have it. The collecting of postage stamps is related to philately, which is the study of stamps and you may know someone who has, at some time collected stamps, as a hobby.

 I wondered if stamp collecting is still popular and whether or not the use of email and the diminishing of letter writing has affected this hobby. Well, according to lifestorage.com, stamps are one of the most collected items. Others include: comic books, coins and currency, vinyl records, classic cars, trading cards, dolls and toys, wine, fine art and jewellery.

Which led me to think about how other hobbies may have been influenced by changing times. I know some of the toys my siblings and I played with, as children, would now be highly-valued. Many things have become collector’s items due to their increasing scarcity, others due to their novelty factor. I know people who collect various objects, from theatre programmes to beer mats, old cameras to thimbles snow globes to blue glass bottles. 

The only thing I now collect are the number bibs from the various races I have completed. Fortunately, these can be put into a ring binder and only take up a small amount of shelf space. Tom Hanks, however, collects typewriters and has written a book about them. In 2017, he said “I probably have 250 plus typewriters in my collection, I would say 90 percent of them are in perfect, working order.”

I was interested to read an article on theodysseyonline.comJune 2017, that gives reasons as to support collecting things as a pastime, entitled Why Collecting Things Is A Good Hobby,.  

“For centuries, collecting has been a favourite hobby for many. When describing the definition of collecting as a hobby it includes locating, acquiring, seeking, cataloguing, organizing, maintaining and storing objects that are important to the collector. Plus the ranges of items that can be collected are infinite. In addition, collecting things is a good hobby and is very beneficial academically.”

Other parts of the article go on to explain some reasoning behind this, for example:

 “Often writers and artists are inspired by certain objects, walks on the beach often correlate with collecting items such as shells or driftwood which can lead to the creation of works of art.

Collecting certain items requires sorting items into categories or groups. Prime examples are coins and stamps. Organizing and categorizing skills are useful in many areas of academics like research work, studying for exams and large work projects.

The collecting of certain items can make history fun and exciting and give you an appreciation for art as well as increasing a person’s knowledge of history, politics and geography.”

Also, you may have to actively go and search for the items you collect. It may mean you have to make contact with others in order to acquire certain items. There may be a group of enthusiasts who share the same hobby as you. I wonder what items you might collect and what is their appeal?

Do you know someone who collects objects that were once considered commonplace, everyday items? Which items that are everywhere today but could become collector’s items for future generations?

You may not even collect objects, perhaps your passion is gathering experiences, like tackling challenging hikes, running a series of races, visiting certain places.

Whether it’s building a collection or some other hobby, it’s good to have an interest outside of your regular, everyday experiences. It expands the mind and can, in certain circumstances, lead to meeting people and being proactive.

Whatever your hobby, I hope it gives you as much pleasure as stamp collecting obviously did for my Granddad.

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. 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 a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

How to Look After Yourself and Look After One Another

How to Look After Yourself and Look After One Another

Posted by martin.parnell |

I was looking through some documents and came across a series of notes I’d made for a presentation I was to give to Cochrane Town Council, during their Health and Safety week. The title of my talk was “Look After Yourself, Look After One Another.”

I was aiming to convey the importance of taking care of your own  health, both mind and body as well  the well-being of those around you, whether those people be at home or in the workplace.

Reading them through, I realised that the messages I was sending are still as relevant today as they was then. For that reason, I thought I would use the headings as a basis for this week’s blog:

Look After Yourself

H - Healthy minds are as important as healthy bodies.

E- Eat a well-balanced diet, everything in moderation.

A- Achieve your goals, one step at a time.

L- Listen to your body.

T- Take time for yourself and learn to relax.

H- Help yourself and you’ll be helping those you love.

Look After One Another

S- Set an example in the workplace, by following guidelines.

A- Actions by you will affect others, so think of your co-workers.

F- Follow your instincts and use your initiative.

E- Experience counts, pass on your knowledge.

T- Teach your family safe practices, both in and outside of the home.

Y- You can make a difference!

All are important aspects to consider, but I’d like to concentrate on two specific areas.

The first is mental health. Fortunately, people are becoming increasingly aware of how mental wellness is as important as physical wellness and I’d like to share some suggestions from the UK’S Mental Health Foundation as to how to improve mental well-being:

1) Talk about your feelings

Talking about your feelings can help you stay in good mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled.

2) Keep active

Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate, sleep, and look and feel better. Exercise keeps the brain and your other vital organs healthy, and is also a significant benefit towards improving your mental health.

3) Eat well

Your brain needs a mix of nutrients in order to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental health. 

4) Drink sensibly

We often drink alcohol to change our mood. Some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but the effect is only temporary. When the drink wears off, you feel worse because of the way the alcohol has affected your brain and the rest of your body. Drinking is not a good way to manage difficult feelings.
Drink in moderation.

5) Keep in touch

There’s nothing better than catching up with someone face to face, but that’s not always possible. You can also give them a call, drop them a note, or chat to them online instead. Keep the lines of communication open: it’s good for you!

6) Ask for help

None of us are superhuman. We all sometimes get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things don’t go to plan. If things are getting too much for you and you feel you can’t cope, ask for help. Your family or friends may be able to offer practical help or a listening ear. Local services are also there to help you.

7) Take a break

A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health. It could be a five-minute pause from cleaning your kitchen, a half-hour lunch break at work, or a weekend exploring somewhere new. A few minutes can be enough to de-stress you. Give yourself some ‘me time’.

8) Do something you’re good at

What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? What did you love doing in the past? Enjoying yourself can help beat stress. Doing an activity you enjoy probably means you’re good at it, and achieving something boosts your self-esteem

9) Accept who you are

We’re all different. It’s much healthier to accept that you’re unique than to wish you were more like someone else. Feeling good about yourself boosts your confidence to learn new skills, visit new places and make new friends. Good self-esteem helps you cope when life takes a difficult turn.

10) Care for others

‘Friends are really important… We help each other whenever we can, so it’s a two-way street, and supporting them uplifts me.’ Caring for others is often an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you. It can even bring you closer together.

As this is, primarily a blog aimed at the field of business, my other area of emphasis is on the workplace.

In 2017 Julie Copeland CEO of Arbil, recognised that “The foundation of any successful workplace safety effort is one that encourages employees to identify unsafe behaviors and opportunities for improvement while also making well-informed safety decisions during daily routine tasks” and went on to post, on their website, “Top 10 workplace safety tips every employee should know.”

1) Be aware of your surroundings

This step requires knowing the particular hazards of your job or workplace. Once you’ve learned these risks, you are able to keep clear of potential hazardous areas, and potential hazardous situations. Also, always be alert of machinery.

2) Keep correct posture to protect your back

If you work at a desk, keep your shoulders in line with your hips to avoid back problems. If you’re picking things up, use correct form so your back doesn’t get hurt. Avoid stooping and twisting. If possible, always use ergonomic designed furniture and safety eqiupment so everything you need is within easy reach.

3) Take regular breaks

So many work-related injuries and illnesses occur because a worker is tired, burned out and not alert to their surroundings. Taking regular breaks helps you stay fresh on the job. One trick to staying alert is to schedule the most difficult tasks when your concentration is best, like first thing in the morning.

4) Use tools and machines properly

Take the proper precautions when using tools, and never take shortcuts. Taking shortcuts is one of the leading causes of workplace injury. It’s a huge safety risk to use scaffolding as a ladder or one tool in place of another for a specific job. Using tools the right way greatly reduces the chance of workplace injury.

5) Keep emergency exits easily accessible         

In case of an emergency, you’ll need quick, easy access to the exits. It’s also recommended to keep clear access to equipment shutoffs in case you need to quickly stop them from functioning.

6) Report unsafe conditions to your supervisor

Your supervisor needs to be informed about any workplace safety hazards or risks. They are legally obligated to ensure their employees have a safe working environment and will take care of the unsafe conditions and make them safe for you and your coworkers. 

7) Use mechanical aids whenever possible

Instead of attempting to carry or lift something that’s really heavy in an attempt to save a sliver of time during your workday, take the extra minute to use a wheelbarrow, conveyor belt, crank or forklift. Too many injury risks are involved with trying to lift something that weighs too much.

8) Stay sober

Around three percent of workplace fatalities occur due to alcohol and drugs. When a worker’s ability to exercise judgment, coordination, motor control, concentration or alertness is compromised, this leads to any number of risks for workplace injury and fatalities.

9) Reduce workplace stress

Stress can lead to depression and concentration problems. Common causes of workplace stress include long hours, heavy workload, job insecurity and conflicts with coworkers or managers. Take your concerns about workplace stress to your supervisor to see how they might help you address them.

10) Wear the correct safety equipment

If you’re not wearing the correct safety equipment for a task, you may get injured. Depending on the job, equipment like earplugs, earmuffs, hard hats, safety goggles or a full-face mask greatly reduce the risk of workplace injury.

Keeping safe and well is important because if we don’t it can have an impact on not only ourselves but those around us, both at home and at work. Some illnesses and accidents may be unavoidable, but if we try to be vigilant and actively work to take care of ourselves and others, at least we know we’ve given it our best shot.

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. 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 all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.

Bill Gates
Why Asking for Feedback in the Right Way is of Most Value

Why Asking for Feedback in the Right Way is of Most Value

Posted by martin.parnell |

Last Thursday, I attended the monthly meeting of the Cochrane Public Library Book Club. The members had read my latest book, The Secret Marathon and I was invited to go and speak to them about the book, the upcoming movie of the same name and to answer their questions. 

For me it was an enlightening experience. Usually, I meet people at book signings and other events where I am selling my books and the purchasers have not yet had a chance to read them. 

At the book club, I was hearing what people thought of the book, its contents, the layout and how the chapters from different contributors enhanced the story. I also heard about what things might have been added e.g. a map of the area in which the story occurs. I heard about which aspects of the book resonated most with people and which ones gave them most food for thought. I listened to suggestions and comments which will be of great value if the publisher should choose to opt for an updated version. 

I was delighted to hear that some people had been affected, emotionally, some had been inspired to take action and others had learned things they had not previously been aware of. 

All of the comments and observations were invaluable to me. They gave me an insight into how a diverse group of people perceived my work. It made me realize how important it is to ask for feedback. 

However, for some people that may be a little intimidating. If you ask for feedback, you would hope to get some constructive criticism, i.e. valid and well-reasoned opinions about your work, usually involving both positive and negative comments, in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one. 

In the workplace, it is important to find out how others evaluate your work and services, whether they be employees, colleagues, bosses or clients. The important thing is the way you go about asking for feedback and ensuring it is going to be valuable and help you improve. 

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. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

In an article in the Harvard Business Review, December 2014, entitled How To Ask ForFeedback That Will Actually Help You, Peter Bregnam recommends you take these steps, in order to help others provide the sort of feedback that would be of most value: 

Be clear that you want honest feedback. Let people know they’re doing you a favor by being truthful. “Don’t be nice,” you can tell them. “Be helpful”. Explain that you want to get the most out of the conversation, and it won’t work if they hold back. 

Focus on the future. Ask what you can do better going forward as opposed to what you did wrong in the past. When you ask people what you can do to be more effective in the future, they tend to be more honest. 

Probe more deeply. Don’t just ask once. Give people multiple opportunities to give you real feedback, to increase the chances they’ll feel comfortable doing so. It can be helpful to ask about specific situations — for example, what could you have done better in a particular meeting? 

Listen without judgment. Try not to judge any feedback you receive, whether it’s positive or negative. Thank people for being honest with you and let them know that you find their observations and opinions helpful. If they think that you really want the truth and you won’t react poorly to negative feedback, they’ll be more willing to be completely honest. If you get defensive about anything, they’ll stop and be polite. 

Write down what they say. This tactic accomplishes two things. A little silence communicates that you’re taking feedback seriously and it gives those offering it time to think about what else they might say. Often they’ll volunteer a second — and very important — thought while waiting for you to finish writing. 

I was most grateful to the members of the book club for their honesty and insight. I learned a lot about what really resonated with a group who are avid readers and are happy to share their opinions. 

If you are an author, I would suggest you seek out your local book clubs and offer to go and speak about your work, if they were to put your latest book on their reading list. Not only is it a unique way to get feedback, but it gives the members a chance to meet the author and put questions to them in person. For me, it turned out to be a most enjoyable and worthwhile experience.

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Alice: How long is forever? White Rabbit: Sometimes it’s just one second.

Lewis Carroll – Alice in Wonderland
How Giving Up Time can Change your Life for the Better

How Giving Up Time can Change your Life for the Better

Posted by martin.parnell |

As its New Year’s Day, I wasn’t planning on posting a blog but an item on a recent radio program put a thought into my head and I’d like to share it with you. Radio listeners were invited to call in and say what they aim to give up, for their New Year’s Resolutions. 

Usually, when people think of giving things up,  at this time of year, they talk about those things that are generally regarded as bad for them e.g. too much alcohol, smoking, sweet or fatty foods etc. 

I was thinking, what if we tried to give up something that is very precious to most of us? I’m talking about time. I’m sure if you take a look at yourself, your friends, family and colleagues you’ll find most of them lead busy lives. Juggling things like work, housework, childcare, shopping, social activities, exercise, visiting friends and family................ The list goes on and it all takes time. 

But, what if we made a real effort to give up just a few minutes a day to ourselves? To escape into the pages of a good book, to enjoy a soak in the bath or take a short nap. There are so many things that just take a few minutes but can be of benefit to our well-being. We could also try and use some time as a chance to benefit someone else. 

You could call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, make sure you have time to read that bedtime story to your child or make the time to listen to what your partner has to say about their day. I’m sure you could come up with your own ideas as to how you could spend those precious minutes. But, just like giving up anything, it can be challenging. 

However, it’s something that can prove to be positive and if it becomes a habit, nobody’s going to complain about that. It’s funny how, once you make the effort to find time to do the little things, it can grow into finding more time for bigger things in your life. 

You may find you have an hour or two you could spare. This can be great for doing those extra things with family and friends, but also do think about volunteering. That’s something you could perhaps do together and is invaluable to those seeking support.

 However many spare minutes you may find in your busy day, I hope you’ll look back on them as time well spent. 

Happy New Year to one and all.

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. 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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Even beyond that sphere, the number 12 is ever-present. From a dozen eggs to the 12 ribs on the average human to the 12 inches that comprise a foot.

CBC News - Dec 12, 2012
On the First Day of Christmas, I Thought it was the Twelfth!

On the First Day of Christmas, I Thought it was the Twelfth!

Posted by martin.parnell |

If you’ve been out and about during the past few weeks, whether it be in stores, restaurants, cafes etc. you’ll have been aware of the tendency for the playing of Christmas music. One song that I have heard several times is The Twelve Days of Christmas. I must confess, I always thought this related to the last twelve days leading up to Christmas day itself. But I was wrong.

Apparently, the 12 days of Christmas is the period that in Christian theology marks the span between the birth of Christ and the coming of the Magi, the three wise men. It begins on December 25 (Christmas) and runs through January 6 (the Epiphany, sometimes also called Three Kings' Day).

Nevertheless, whether you relate it to the early days of the holiday or after 25th. it is still associated with the Christmas period. Now, as those of you who regularly read my blogs will know. I do enjoy taking a titbit of information and looking for a way I can relate it to business practices.

However, try as I might, I couldn’t think of anything to replace those seven swans a-swimming, let alone those 10 lords a-leaping. So, I decided to take a different tack and concentrate on that number 12.

Lo and behold, I found an article on the Job-Interview-Site entitled: The Qualities of a good Employee which “lists and discusses the 12 top qualities an employee has to possess.” Perfect! 

Now all you and I have to do is concentrate on one of these for each of the 12 days of Christmas and try to ensure that we put them in to practice each day of our working lives. 

Here they are: 

1. Communicator: Employers love to hire employees who have the ability to communicate well and express themselves in a clear manner, whether in writing or speaking. Inaccurate/inappropriate communication between employees can cause many problems to the company.

2. Self-Motivated: A good employee never hesitates taking responsibility or a more responsible position. They are also ready to work beyond the call of duty in order to meet goals or to solve problems, even if the job in discussion is not one of the regular works she or he is usually assigned.

3. Hard worker: There is no substitute to hard work. Although everyone seems to say that they work hard not many keep on working after being at the job for a while. So, one has to keep reminding oneself about the importance and significance of working hard as an employee.

4. Adaptable/decisive and effective learner: Employees who know how to adjust themselves to new environment, willing to learn new things (quick learners) and perform their best in changes are likely to be the best performers in any organization.

5. Team Player: Many companies consist of teams. Any company requires an effective team effort. An employer who can contribute is an ideal worker. Someone who is like a fish in the water (of the organization), who can perform well in a team will become a factor sooner or later.

6. Helping others: everyone appreciates a helping hand every now and then. Do not hesitate in helping out others. This make the person establish friendly relations with the coworkers and keeps the office running smoothly which in turn is appreciated by the employers.

7. Honesty: A good employee is honest about his/her work and qualifications. Self-criticism and willing to receive feedback (bad as good) is essential to become a good learner.

8. Ethical: Work rules are made to be followed. There is decorum of every place that ought to be kept. A good employee follows the policies of the company and inspires others to do so too.

9. Give credit where it is due: One of the most prevalent practices doing the rounds in offices today is stealing the credit of a job well done. A good employee will not only truthfully let the right co-worker have her credit but also share her own accolades with his team.

10. Polite: Being friendly and approachable will never harm. A good employee greets her co-workers a ‘good morning’, says little courteous things like ‘thank you’ and ‘you are welcome’. These things may appear insignificant but go a long way in establishing the person as favorite employee.

11. Disciplined and punctual: Every boss loves a punctual, disciplined and conscientious employee. Time is money. Coming late to office, taking unnecessary breaks, procrastinating and leaving earlier than the usual hours cost money to the company. No employer will ever appreciate this.

12. Avoid gossip: The person should always remember that she came to the office to work, to make a career. Do not spread office gossip or rumors. Respect the privacy of the co-workers. Safeguard and protect the confidential nature of office business and transactions.

I won’t be posting a blog for the next two weeks, as its Christmas and New Year’s days. I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours all the very best for the holidays, wherever and however you may be spending them and all the very best for 2019.

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. 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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Even though being a good speller has lost its ranking in school, we can hope there is one group of artisans that still finds spelling important…the tattoo artist.

Nanette L. Avery - Author
K is for Knowing When you can Help

K is for Knowing When you can Help

Posted by martin.parnell |

You may well have heard of the best-selling book P Is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever, written by Raj Haldar and Chris Carpenter and illustrated by Maria Beddia. Published on November 13 2018, it takes an amusing look at the way so many of the rules of spelling the English language are broken. 

The New York Times described it as "A raucous trip through the odd corners of our alphabet." And, according to Foreword Reviews, STARRED Review, it enables us to "Explore the many quirks and anomalies of English spelling and pronunciation in an A-to-Z tribute to some of the most unconventional words in the lexicon.” 

Having browsed through some of the pages, It really does make you realise how difficult the English language is when it comes to learning to read or write it. It gives wonderful examples e.g: T is for Tsunami, K is for knight, G is for gnat etc. It made me consider how tricky it must be if someone is trying to enter the workplace when they come here from other countries and English is not their first language. I wondered if there is a way that, as work colleagues, we might help. 

I spoke to my wife, Sue, as she was an elementary school teacher and has taught hundreds of young children to read and write. She told me that when it comes to these anomalies, you have to forget about  the rules, like vowels in syllables, the silent “e”, consonant diagraphs and blends etc. because there are certain words that just have to be learned individually as none of the rules apply. 

She did say that telling  her pupils that to think of the letter “Y” as an extra  vowel sometimes helped and making list of words that didn’t follow the rules and have them on display was a useful visual aid. But she admitted, that’s not something that would really be appropriate in the workplace. Then she reminded me of something some friends of ours did, which helped the husband with his spelling and better command of the English language, when he arrived in Canada from Tanzania and was looking to gain employment. 

Every evening they would play Scrabble. They allowed themselves 9 tiles, as opposed to the usual 7, so that they could complete the game more quickly and it really helped him in reading, writing and most of all, spelling. If you have colleagues who need help with spelling, why not spend part of your lunch break over a game of Scrabble or maybe invite a group to a Scrabble evening in your home? 

If you do know someone who could use a little help with their spelling, here’s an article you may want to share with them. Entitled 19 Practical and Fun Ways to Improve at English Spelling, it was published inJuly 2014 by Oxford Royale Academy. 

“English is often cited as one of the hardest languages to learn, and one of the aspects that gives it this reputation for being tricky is its spellings.

English spellings are full of contradictions and exceptions, meaning that it’s sometimes difficult to apply logic when you’re unsure how a word should be spelled. For example, the word “phone” sounds as though it should begin with an ‘f’, and the word “knock” doesn’t sound as though it should have a ‘K’ at the beginning. The shortcuts can seem few and far between when you’re trying to learn spellings by rote, but a combination of plain old repetition and the tips and tricks in this article should help you make rapid progress.

1. Learn the rules

Because of its aforementioned exceptions, learning the rules of English spellings may be easier said than done, but you can at least start to identify common patterns and combinations of letters so that you can begin to guess how a word might be spelled. These could include common endings such as “-een”, “-ough”, and “-tion”, words beginning with a silent K or G, and even homophones (words that sound the same but have different meanings and/or spellings).

2. Learn the exceptions to the rules

Once you’ve learned a rule, make sure you also learn its exceptions. For example, an oft-quoted rule is “I before E except after C”. This is not universally applicable, however, so you’ll need to learn the exceptions to avoid tripping up, such as “weird” and “height”. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to learn these exceptions – it’s a matter of being aware of them, trying to remember that a word may not conform to the rule you’ve learned, and memorising the words that don’t.

3. Crosswords and code words

Puzzles are a good way to make your brain work harder and improve your general knowledge, but they’re also a good way to improve your spelling. Crosswords give you a series of clues that you must fit into overlapping horizontal and vertical boxes, while code words look similar to crosswords, but involve working out which numbers stand for what letters (meaning that you have to make deductions based on known recurring letters, such as words ending in “-ing”). If you get the spelling wrong in either a crossword or a code word the other words won’t fit, so it’s a good idea to have a dictionary beside you.

4. Watch English television with subtitles

You can get better at spelling without even realising it by learning while you’re watching television in English. Simply switch the subtitles on and you’ll see how the words you’re hearing should be spelled. They’ll be moving too fast for you to make notes, but you’ll learn through osmosis, and this will help you identify instances in which a word you’ve written “just doesn’t look right” – so you can then look it up to find the correct spelling.

5. Read

Another fun way of learning spelling without even realising it is to read plenty of things in English. Simply being exposed to English words on a regular basis will help new spellings sink in and improve your vocabulary, but reading things you enjoy will make it much easier to absorb this new information. You could start by trying to read the English version of a book you already know and love in your own language, as the plot and characters will already be familiar to you, freeing up some of your mental capacity to concentrate on unfamiliar spellings. Then you could introduce even more English into your daily reading by keeping up to date with English-language magazines and newspapers, or news websites.

6. Mnemonics

Memory aids – or mnemonics – are a useful way to help you remember trickier spellings, although if you try to remember too many of them you’ll probably end up confusing yourself. When it comes to memory aids, the simpler and more memorable, the better. For example, you could remember the word “separate” by reminding yourself that it has “a rat” in it. Another mnemonic helps you remember how to spell the word “piece”: “a piece of pie”. And yet another helps you with “hear” (as opposed to “here”) – you “hear with your ear”. You could even make up a little song to help you with particularly difficult spellings. You probably learnt the letters of the alphabet using a tune when you were little, so you could try a similar approach by setting the letters of a difficult word to music to help the spelling stick in your mind.

7. Break it down into syllables

For longer words, it can sometimes be helpful to break the word into syllables to help you remember the spelling. Many people get confused with the word “several”, for example, because it looks and sounds similar to “separate”. We’ve already seen how to remember “separate”, but you could remember “several” by breaking it down into “sev-ER-al”. “Desperate” is another tricky one because it sounds as though it should be spelt in the same way as “separate”, but breaking it into syllables helps you remember that it’s “desp-ER-ate”.

8. Word of the day emails

Word of the day emails are useful for learning new words, but they can also help you learn spellings. Such emails are generally geared towards helping you learn more unusual words – words that most British people don’t even know – but there are some dedicated to learners, such as this English \learner’s Word of the Day from Merriam-Wester, which teaches you the various meanings of words and the contexts in which they can be used, as well as the spelling and pronunciation (click on the red audio symbol to hear it spoken). Collect your Word of the Day emails in a dedicated folder on your computer so that you can look back over them, or add each new word to a Post-It note and stick it to your mirror so that you see the new words when you’re getting ready to go out each morning.

9. Spelling competitions with friends

Do you know anyone else who’s learning English? If so, why not challenge them to a spelling competition? Take it in turns giving each other a word to spell and you’d be surprised how much this cements your knowledge. The competitive element will make it more fun, as well as helping things sink in more easily. You could start by each making a list of the spellings you find trickiest, using a dictionary to help you compile the list if necessary; then try to learn them by heart, and finally swap lists to test each other.

10. Online spelling quizzes

If you don’t have a friend to hand who’s willing to have a spelling competition with you, you could instead try one of the plethora of online spelling quizzes to put your spelling skills to the test. Here’s one example from The Guardian, but if you Google “spelling quiz”, you’ll find plenty more. Don’t forget to look for the correct spellings of any you got wrong, and perhaps make a note of them for future reference.

11. Don’t rely on the spellchecker for the answer

Spellcheckers may not find all the errors, as they won’t pick up things you’ve spelt incorrectly but that are still valid words. For example, you might have written “four you” instead of “for you”, which is incorrect but still won’t register with the spellcheck because “four” is still a word. Similarly, you might try writing a word, see that red squiggly underline and get the spellchecker to correct it for you – but it might not be correcting it to the word you intended!

12. Put posters and flashcards up in your room

A quick search of Google images for “English vocabulary poster” reveals hundreds of posters designed to help you get to grips with English vocabulary, and these will also help you learn the spellings. If there are certain spellings you’re particularly struggling with, you could even try making your own poster for tricky spellings. Put it up in your room and study it for a few minutes each day. Try covering up each of the spellings and attempt to recall them without looking.

13. Writing spellings out several times

It sounds dull, but one tried and tested method of learning spellings is to write a word down several times. You can look at the original word for the first two or three times, then cover them up and try to write the word again two or three more times without looking at your previous attempts. Sometimes there’s no substitute for such repetition when learning spellings, boring though it may seem at the time!

14. Learn plural versions

Learning the plural version of a word sadly isn’t as simple as adding an ‘S’ to the end of a word. You can get better at spelling plurals by learning rules for the different plural versions of words, which vary depending on the ending of a word and its origins. For example, the plural of the word “berry” isn’t “berrys”, it’s “berries”, and the plural of the word “knife” isn’t “knifes” (“knifes” is the third person present tense form of the verb “to knife”), it’s “knives”. This handy article from Oxford Dictionaries will help you learn the rules.

15. Get the pronunciation right

Sometimes, mispronouncing words can lead to spelling errors, because you try to spell the word in the way you think it sounds. Many English people are guilty of this too, so don’t despair if you find yourself doing it! For example, many people think that the word “espresso” – the coffee – is pronounced “expresso”, and spell it as such, or that the word “clique” is pronounced and spelled “click”. Even if the pronunciation is correct, it can still land you in trouble. For example, some people struggle to spell “Wednesday” because it’s pronounced “Wensday”. In this example, the tip we mentioned earlier about breaking it into syllables may prove useful: “Wed-nes-day” might be easier to remember than the word as a whole.

16. Write lots

We’ve already recommended reading regularly earlier in this article, but writing regularly in English is important too. If you don’t use the spellings you learn, you’ll quickly forget them. Look for opportunities to write in English, such as writing letters to British friends, blogging, or writing essays in English. Look up any spellings you’re not sure of as you go along. The more you use the words you’ve learned, the more confident you’ll become.

17. Don’t read bad English

Internet forums and social networking sites are a hotbed of poor spelling and grammar, so frequenting English-language sites like these will do you as much harm as good. People make less effort with spelling and grammar when they’re on the internet, and pick up bad habits from other users, perpetuating common spelling errors and creating new ones. If you’re trying to learn English and get better at spelling, it can seem a good idea to hang out on English-speaking sites and chat to English-speakers, but in fact you may end up learning incorrect spellings without even realising it. So, try to limit your exposure to English to high-quality written sources, such as newspapers, magazines and books.

18. Keep a notebook of spellings

Keeping ongoing notes will help you see how far you’ve progressed. Every time you encounter a word you find difficult to spell, jot it down in a notebook. This gives you a quick reference guide of spellings you know that you personally find hard to remember, and it’s probably going to be quicker than trying to find the word in the dictionary”.

Some great tips that reinforce the idea that although English spelling can seem a struggle at times there’s no need to despair. The more a person is exposed to English, the more they’ll learn, and the easier it will become and, as a friend or colleague, you can help them in the process.

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. 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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You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.

John C. Maxwell - Author
Can Carrots on Tuesdays help you Focus?

Can Carrots on Tuesdays help you Focus?

Posted by martin.parnell |

As someone who works as an author and speaker my days are pretty varied. For most of the time I work alone and the rest of my days are spent making individual and conference calls or going to meetings with clients. My speaking engagements are usually in the evenings and my writing can be done wherever I happen to be, as long as I have my computer. Most days, I can fit in my running and other exercise and don’t even have to leave the house. I don’t have a set routine. 

But, for some people having a set routine is essential to getting their work done. It helps them prioritise and avoids procrastination. They can determine times of day when they are most productive and by keeping to a routine it relieves the mental stress of when to do certain tasks. 

However, there are people who take having a routine to another level. A recent article, posted by staff on the Love Money website, entitled  The world’s most successfulpeople's surprising workplace habits tells us about some company leaders who have quite diverse routines which helps them concentrate on their work. These include what they wear, what they eat and other little idiosyncrasies. 

Here are just a few of them: 

Many top bosses choose to simplify their work day by opting for a 'uniform'. Fashion designer Michael Kors, for instance, likes to sport the same style of black crewneck sweater every day. Other successful people who appear to wear the same clothes to work every day include Mark Zuckerberg, Segway inventor Dean Kamen, Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld and director/producer Christopher Nolan. 

Dr. Anna Akbari, the founder of sociologyofstyle.com,  keeps things simple by eating the exact same breakfast and lunch every day, which helps her free up time for more important decision-making. The late Steve Jobs had a similar approach and would often eat the same foods for weeks on end. At one time, the Apple CEO's skin reportedly turned orange from eating too many carrots. 

Jack Dorsey, the Twitter co-founder and CEO of Square, works ridiculously long hours but manages his time super-effectively by theming his days. Monday is Dorsey's management day for instance, while Tuesday is devoted to product development. 

Mark Parker, the CEO of Nike, has a little trick to ensure he's using both sides of his brain during brainstorming sessions, meetings and so on. The sportswear boss uses a notebook in which he devotes pages on the left-hand side to formal business note-taking and the right-hand pages to sketch whimsical creative doodles. 

Dan Brown, bestselling author, has a unique way of coming up with ideas when he's working on his novels. The Da Vinci Code writer hangs upside down. Brown is a big fan of so-called 'inversion therapy' and believes he comes up with his best story ideas while hanging precariously on his trusty inversion table. 

Although many successful CEOs will mull over ideas while sitting comfortably at their desks, Virgin boss Richard Branson likes to walk around to generate his best ideas. Branson's way of working is actually backed up by science. A study conducted by Stanford University researchers in 2014 found that people's creative output increased by 60% when they were walking.” 

I’m not suggesting you change your wardrobe or eating habits and I, for one, have no intention of trying to work while the blood drains to my head, but there is one idea that may prove more accessible to those of you in positions where you have people in your employ: 

According to the same article, “Flipping the conventional hierarchy on its head, one of the biggest names in technology today,  SendGrid CEO, Sameer Dholakia is an advocate of 'servant leadership'. Coined by business guru Robert K. Greenleaf, servant leadership is all about sharing power, being humble and putting the needs of others first.” 

This obviously works for Dholakia as he is one of the tech world's most admired bosses with a 98% approval rating on Glassdoor, a website where employees and former employees anonymously review companies and their management."

Nat Berman, on the Money Inc. website, writes, in his article “10 Things You Didn’t Know about Sameer Dholakia”,  SendGrid culture revolves around the four H’s – Happy, Hungry, Honest, and Humble. Though Dholakia has stated that “Humble” is his favorite H, he protects all of company culture. He even calls himself a Chief Cultural Officer, and views the preservation of company culture as one of the main jobs of the CEO.

Another of Dholakia’s traits that we all might try to emulate, he “Strives for a Balanced Life. The days of a CEO are incredibly busy and he travels all over the country. Of course, he also has a family that he must devote some time to. This is why he picks out a few activities to do with his kids, and sets aside an uninterrupted time to do so. This helps him renew his focus for when he returns to the grind of being a CEO.” 

So, whether you work alone or with others, lead a company or are just starting out, having a balanced life is one routine we can all strive for, whichever way we achieve 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 – 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. 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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