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Remembering our veterans: One veteran’s transformation

I’m not going to lie, this one had me tearing up.

Just in time for Remembrance Day next Monday (or Veteran’s Day for those of you in the US), Dégagé Ministries worked closely with Rob Bliss Creative to release this beautiful time-lapse video showing the transformation of Jim Wolf, a US Army veteran who has struggled with homelessness, poverty, and alcoholism for decades.

The video is shows how much of a difference a hair cut, and new clothes can make. For Jim, it’s also the starting point he needed to start taking control of his own life. Since the film was shot in September 2013, Jim has started attending Alcoholics Anonymous for the first time and is scheduled to have his own housing.

It’s really worth watching as we remember those now passed on and those who are still with us who sacrificed greatly for us all. Lest we forget.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! The happiness experiment

I came across this video a couple weeks ago, and it’s given me much food for thought since. And now that we’ve arrived at the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I thought it’d be a great thing to post in the spirit of the holiday.

So as you get ready for the time spent with family and friends, perhaps over a large feast of sorts, if you have time, check out this video. And for those of you not residing in Canada, it’s still a fantastic video carrying a great message and reminder of a special thing that carries a lucky byproduct: happiness.

I won’t say too much more. Just watch the video.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving, everybody.

Power of a thought

eeyore_snow“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.
“So it is.”
“And freezing.”
“Is it?”
“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”
― A.A. Milne

We’ve all had those times when we feel at our limit. We’re not able to keep up, and the smallest things trigger feelings of frustration or anxiety. At times like these, it can be difficult to find the lighter side of life; and even with the knowledge that all things must come to an end, no solace or comfort is felt. Sometimes, it feels that there really is no rest for the weary.

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Inspiring words from Bill Watterson to college grads, a tribute

Gavin Aung Than had always found his greatest inspiration and influence from Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin & Hobbes. Although Watterson retired more than ten years ago in 1995, when Gavin was still young, in the years that followed, Gavin began to immerse himself in the world Watterson had created and still draws inspiration from his favourite comics. Recently, Gavin took words from Watterson’s 1990 commencement speech to Kenyon College and brought them to life in a comic done in a style that mimics Calvin & Hobbes, as a tribute.

Watterson’s words themselves are thought provoking and inspiring – particularly for anyone in the process of figuring out the famous “what do I want to be when I grow up” and carving a niche out for themselves… So, most of us? The journey of self reflection and the pursuit of meaningful work certainly doesn’t stop after landing the first job and starting a career post-graduation. Usually, it’s only the beginning, and Watterson’s words reflect that.

Gavin’s tribute is beautiful. And it seems the world and old fans of Calvin & Hobbes think so too. The comic has since gone viral and been shared globally. It isn’t available in print, as it would go against Watterson’s own principles around licensing. However, you can see more of Gavin’s art and read about his tribute on his blog at Zen Pencils.

Inspiring words by Bill Watterson, comic by Gavin Aung Than

Lest we forget: Time lapse video of Korean flag illustration

This time lapse video shows the progression and completion of an incredible freehand illustration of the Republic of Korea’s flag, done by Korean artist, Kim Jung Gi.

The evocative image carries an equally powerful message: “Never forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of Korea’s independence.”

Seeing Kim Jung Gi’s illustration and video, I can’t help but think of the people around the world still fighting for their freedom, democracy, and voice. In these times for those of us living in a democracy, it’s important not only to remember, but also not to take it for granted.

Simplify

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Along with the buy ban, I’ve been focused on the concept of simplicity lately. The serene, nature-filled days of Tulum brought on a lot of thought and inspiration since returning home around how much more simply I could be living… and how much more space I could be creating in my life for new ideas, new inspiration, new activities… new priorities.

It was hard not to notice the sharp contrast between worlds. Of course things will always be very different on a vacation when compared with every day living. However, there was something about getting power from the sun, water from the rain, getting up with the sun, and getting in tuned with the moon and tidal patterns that are invigorating and pure. Life in the city means a whole other world of thought, decision-making, and priorities. The constant barrage of noise, cues of what’s important, things to buy, and conflicting things competing for your attention and time.

Coming back, I wanted to simplify and maintain some semblance of the connection I felt while I was away to nature, the natural cycles and rhythms of nature, and more space for more inspired thought.

All very conceptual and abstract, so naturally, the first place I started was… my closet.

Why the closet. I see it as a material symbol of how much clutter I have in my life. It’s also something I have to see and make decisions about daily. As a physical, tangible thing, I felt it would be worth attacking as a step towards the larger effort to simplify. Not a shelf, rail, or drawer was left untouched. On average, I purged a third to half of what I had, and the result has been incredibly liberating and eye-opening. I simply haven’t needed all these things – but better yet, someone else may have use for it. So the bag of clothes and other accessories are going to a Mennonite-run clothing drop-off location, whereas I have more space already.

Customer loyalty: When systems don’t match and the difference of a single person

airlineCustomer loyalty. A key component of many corporate marketing strategies and an important area of focus for most. It’s a key ingredient to a company’s long-term sustainability and a puzzle most attack through partnering up with customer loyalty companies to create programs – from large to small, simple to complex – to encourage customers to keep coming back. Yet, despite all of the planning, strategy, and systems that get put in place to enhance customer loyalty, it often all still comes down to the details and individual experiences. As a result, it really pays to invest in the basics:

  1. Make sure the loyalty program aligns with the product or service itself – activating loyalty rewards should be seamless and deliver the experience promised, otherwise, you could potentially do more harm than good
  2. Invest in the people at the front lines dealing directly with customers – at the end of the day, they are your biggest asset or liability when it comes to ensuring customer loyalty. A single person can make all the difference in a positive or negative way.

To highlight both points, I’ll draw upon an experience I had a little while ago with an airline that has engaged another company to run their loyalty program. Read more

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