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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Very Literate....still not reading...is this you?

I promise not to get snarky. But on the other hand...sometimes it's the ones who aren't afraid to be jarring....that get the proper attention.

Let me just spit it out. My beloved country of Canada has spent billions and billions of dollars and millions of man hours and decades of effort to establish and maintain our publicly funded educational system. 

We, as in most of us Canadians are, .... a  very literate nation.

We know how to read. We can count really fast. We know how to print/write/type words to express ourselves  quite clearly.

But what is it....this vague feeling that brings me despair....it makes me queasy....I feel uneasy.

I feel like Canada has built up a massive infrastructure to accommodate a brilliant and well educated populace....but bam......so few of us are taking good advantage of it.

Canadians, once they start their work careers are not inhabiting the lively campuses of our colleges and universities. We are not engaged in ardent discussions about issues or inventions or scientific or philosophical principles.

Once folks start a career they seem to allow themselves to be lulled by a perceived smoky  prosperity into passivity and a destiny malaise. They feel like it is too late to really become a mover or shaker. Then we conveniently forget how to learn. We forget how much we used to love learning and discussing and upsetting the status quo. We forget the excitement we used to feel when we first discovered our chosen fields.

We become obsessed with creature comforts....more channels, trendy throw pillows and the best Keurig. We think the world will fall apart if we don't take the right vitamins or eat organic lettuce. We join the best gym.

We content ourselves with making a stylish living....and surround ourselves with a million ways to calm and entertain us.

Canadians are reading.....social media posts and little else. Popular Literacy is not the same as real literacy which empower creative and inventive thought. Do we read/write anything of substance? Do we treasure those who write well?Do we revere those who know how to get us to think in new and creative ways? Do we value those who invent new ways of living or creations that inspire? Do you have a favorite author? We have forgotten the beauty of a well timed written opinion supported by diligent research.....because that would just take too much time.
 We seek entertainment.... but not anything factual please. 

We are single-handedly responsible for killing the newspaper industry in our beloved Country.
Sorry folks, but Online newspapers have not adequately filled the gap.Too much click bait....not enough quality content. Most Online mag or paper subscriptions pale in comparison to what we used to read in person, hands on....in black and white.

Let's be frank. Social media has replaced real news media
Who cares about fact checking when we have really cool Emoji's?

Few of the humans I see and interact with on a daily basis are even remotely engaged in learning anything other than social niceties.

( I honestly apologize that I don't yet have the statistics to back up this unease....as the feeling is very strong and disquieting.)

I see folks all over my city lining up patiently for lottery tickets,buying smokes, and beer and liquor. I see them lining up for hours to go see a movie or a rock/pop concert. I see them wandering the malls. I see them walking their pure bred dogs with religious regularity. I see them shopping for cars and waiting nervously at the bank to apply for yet another credit card or figuring out how to finance another new SUV or Cuban vacation.

I am stumped. The bookstores in my town are gorgeous.... full to the brim with all manner of intelligent inventions and discussions. But it is the Starbucks attached to the book store that has the longest lines and most fervent following. Craft breweries draw their faithful drones. The college library is open to the public....but inhabited mostly by furtive young students studying for exams. Mainstream folks are not present by and large in our institutions of higher learning. Why is this so? 

No really, I do actually want to know. I want to know how to integrate the general public into lifelong learning and perpetual intellectual discovery. I want the mind of my city to stay relevant .....to be alive and fruitful and creative and to design new and imaginative things.

Churches are filled with social engineering.... no quiet study of doctrine or church history.
Church has become a BBQ or a Tea party with those who think they've arrived. We care more about the cushiness of the pews we sit on, than what is being taught from the pulpit. We care more about the
fashion statement of the pastor's wife than the scripture verses being quoted by the speaker. We don't take what he says seriously anyway. If he's wrong....well then really......so what? We don't know the bible well enough any more to even detect if the verses are being misquoted. Our passivity and naivete have made us ripe for false teaching..

Ok ok......Let's rest from that train of thought.

In conclusion, (because I know we both really can't stand much more of this written conversation) I just want to say this. If my country stops reading and writing....and stops valuing those who do......we will become ( or perhaps have already become) a nation of hoodlums and scamps.

 We will hate the truth. We will hate kindness because it takes too long. We will hate thoughtful discussion because it isn't fun enough. We won't give credit where credit is due because the proper credit won't fit into our social media post's character maximum.

We will still be generous....but only with snarky comments and highly emotional critiques of how we hate each other's lives. We will have urgent and  vehemently strong opinions about all those things that.....really don't matter.

And to finally finish this blog post with a resolute thud....we will hate anyone who will tell us that we are missing the boat.....that the boat is floating away....to distant lands where words are still revered as powerful and minds are being nurtured to create and imagine.

Is it too late? I do not know. But for now...the boat is still within the boundaries of our harbor....Perhaps we can convince it to stay..... with words.


Saturday, November 24, 2018

Before You Become Self Employed

If any of you have read or listened to the teachings of Robert Kiyosaki, you will surely agree that he is a huge proponent of self employment. He declares that owning your own business is key in gaining wealth.

But today I just want to bring a few balancing thoughts to the table....before you quit your day job in a frantic rush to become self employed.

Self employed people require a certain skill set that not everyone has....and not everyone even wants the skill set that many successful self employed people retain.

What are some of these skills?

1/ The willingness and capacity to work extremely long hours without the guarantee of adequate compensation for your time.

2/ A personal life that allows for huge chunks of time dedicated to said "self employment".

3/ Many self employed people begin their self employed season of life with little to no financial safety cushion. It might become a nerve shattering, bone jarring, leap of faith into a world of risk. Are you ok with not knowing when you will receive your next paycheque? Or do you have other arrangements in place to pay the bills until your business can afford to pay you. Note... that self employment does not necessitate this kind of unpreparedness, but sometimes it does. If you are uncomfortable taking risks....think twice about self employment. Are you willing to bet 100% on yourself and your personal capacity to produce a good income for yourself and your dependents?If not....then stick with your day job until you are really really ready.

4/ Managing your own business requires an extremely high level of financial discipline. Are you good with money? Without the strictest of financial habits, your business will not be viable, and if, by some chance it becomes viable, it may not retain it's viability for more than 6 months. Will your business utilize leverage to bring it to the next level? How long could your business thrive if your account receivables were delayed payment by 60 -90 days? What would happen to your business if one of your main client accounts went bankrupt?  Businesses are connected to other entities and what affects those entities can deeply affect the success and longevity of your business.

5/ How good are you at saying no? Do you have the ability to focus 100% on your business? Focused people can sometimes be perceived as self centered or arrogant because they only have eyes for what concerns their business. But you must acknowledge that it is usually these special humans who can be singularly minded and goal orientated that accomplish great things. Focus requires a very high price to be paid in your entire lifestyle. There must be no compromise. All in. No turning back.
Are you willing to reject certain social expectations/ events to pursue your self employment goals? Do you have the character to graciously decline participating in groups or events that do not further your self employment goals? Can you handle it when people gossip about your stand-off-ish-ness and resent your total focus?

6/ Networking. If you are good at networking, you will be many hundreds of steps ahead of your competitors and can use referrals to your advantage in many departments of your self employed life.
You can be a brilliant inventor and creator, but if you can't connect with other good and ambitious folks, your hard work may never get noticed. Being self employed is not about becoming anti-social, but rather learning how to use social situations to further your goals.

7/ Self employment provides a certain kind of freedom that some folks relish. But at the same time, it requires that one is able to assess their own weak points in terms of what is required to make/keep their company successful. Do you know what your weak points are? Are you willing to learn from experts to compensate for these weak areas? Are you willing to read books, magazines, newspapers,websites etc and contact experts/professionals when you face questions that you are unable to resolve ? Are you willing to listen to audio books that build your knowledge base? Are you willing to attend seminars or three day events to build mastery in your chosen field?
Do you have the humility to work with or hire those who know more than you do? Where does continuing education fit in with your business plan? Even if you never utilize formal educational institutions, you must be always teachable....always willing to learn. Self led learning is key to continuing your learning trajectory. Pick good mentors who can help propel you forward.

8/ How high are your accounting/bookkeeping skills? Do you need to hire reliable help? Keeping accurate books is key, as well as having timely financial reports so that you can make appropriate spending/saving/investing decisions for your company.

9/ Each business has it's own pace....it's own hum. Are you good at sensing when it's time to
rush and conquer new territory or when it's time for a short break? Do you have enough
financial wiggle room to finance your operations if you or your dependents catch an illness/ injury?
Pace yourself....but always move forward.

10/ Do you have a legal team that you can utilize to protect yourself, your family and your employees from liability? Does your business have the right structure? What kind of insurances do you need and when?

11/ My last point is this. Do you know what your exit strategy is? Do you want to build the company to a certain size and then sell it? Or is your company more of a "pop up shop" that will thrive for a short time before being shut down so you can pursue something else. There is no right or wrong answer in terms of exit strategies. These are only choices. Choices that you will need to make at some point or another in your self employed journey.

Well, that's all for now folks. Thanks for your time. It isn't hard to find many books that advise us what we "should" do in certain periods of our lives. But that is easy for anyone to do. What is good and sometimes more difficult is to take a step back and think first, before leaping into something for which we may not be prepared.

 Be blessed. Be courageous.Be productive. Be prepared.


Thursday, November 15, 2018

They're Not Homeless....Just Nomads

My city has a lot of homeless people.... they... I feel I shouldn't use that word "they" because
they are part of "us" of " we" that be.....here in my country...yes in my city.

I was musing last week about reframing the concept of homelessness.
Perhaps we may need to give up the traditional concept that "all" folks need a house in order to not be considered homeless. I mean....several ancient cultures were nomadic by nature and nobody dared call them homeless. They followed their livelihood...whether that was a gold rush or a herd of caribou or salmon run.

Maybe some folks are just not meant to set up a permanent residence. Maybe our government can set up ways that nomadic folks can still function with the benefits and credits that "housed" citizens have, and not be bound by the traditional strings of a permanent home address.

I had heard some years ago, that there was some kind of weekly welfare available to the "homeless" which folks could access even if they didn't have a regular housing situation. But I really don't know what the requirements were for that sort of income.

I notice that some of the nomadic folks who walk the streets of my city, are defiant and proud and  very precise about what they want from life.  They don't wanna sign any contracts....Now THAT I can relate to. They don't want to owe anybody. They also don't  trust the government....which also seems to work against them when they find that they need some special assistance that only the government is willing to provide. The levels of compassion amongst private citizens can change with the winds of trend...whereas the government is compelled by legislation to protect all citizens.

Many of the local nomads have a tight crew they run with. They know who they can trust even when they have no money. They know exactly where they can score free food without having to fake a "conversion" to some ideology. They know which shelters are safer than others. They know where
they can see a doctor.....no questions asked.

It seems to be bound up in our culture that folks need permanent housing to appear "legit" or even "respectable", But maybe that's just the real estate industry selling it's own hype. Is it perhaps that the "low or no cost" system that nomadic people observe just irks the folks that want to see us all paying more tax to big brother? Is it because we secretly resent those who manage to live more freely than we do?

Nomadic folks don't pay property taxes. Nobody collects property/income taxes from the man living under the bridge with the shopping cart. Nobody can charge rent to the young person sleeping on a public park bench.

But each and every one of these my nomadic countrymen/women was probably born in my country and has rights and privileges just like I do. They have a right to claim this land and all the ordained blessings of citizenship that we take for granted. Maybe it's time we stop punishing them with our contempt and give them some credit....for surviving the challenges they have faced and overcoming enough hardship to make it and survive through to another day.

Maybe we need a new virtual people group......"The Canadian Nomad."