Faces of #OKGNtech
Kirk Penton - Nov 05, 2019 - Columnists

Image: Contributed

A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable, and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.

Our community is strong and growing with record speed, and maintaining connections through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic. We’ve got a plan.

Introducing “The Faces of #OKGNtech,” a showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth and more excitement. Follow along on the blog and on Instagram at @OKGNtech to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.

Meet Chloe. Chloe Popove is the CEO and founder of Another Room as well as a public relations and marketing freelance agent. When she isn’t trying to sew cannabis culture into the travel and hospitality industry, you’ll find Popove lost in the latest Neil Gaiman novel.

Where do you work in the Okanagan?

I am the CEO and founder of a company called Another Room, but I also do some freelance public relations and marketing work. I’m self-funded, so freelancing helps to support Another Room. I’m working from home in my pyjamas, mostly.

Tell us a little more about Another Room.

Another Room sells travel accessories for the discerning cannabis consumer. We’ve recently expanded to offer city guides, along with editorial-style content that covers topics like travel regulations, the best portable munchies and how to cure jet lag. Behind the scenes, we’re developing what we’re calling The Super Market—a B2B platform that will serve the hospitality space.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Using my imagination and being creative; being OK with trying something new and failing. I like being able to work and partner with people who are up to really cool s–t.

Can you speak into your own entrepreneurial journey? Is Another Room your first business?

I’ve tried a lot of different things, and I’ve just gone with what feels good. I used to own an online consignment store called My Modern Closet. Then I moved on to “Girls Who Say F*ck,” which was an experiment in trying everything: marketing, consulting, media, public relations, seeing how quickly could we become Instagram celebrities and having really bold conversations. From there, I started Another Room. I’ve never been afraid to bounce between jobs. That mentality generally has a negative connotation, but it’s provided me with a lot of varied experience with a lot of different people.

What advice would you give to someone that is interested in getting into the line of work that you’re in?

Try jobs in various industries before running full speed at something. Or, f–k it, run full speed at something. Just be willing to fall flat on your face, spit the dirt out and keep moving. Decide why you want to get into the industry and then let that percolate. Start talking to people about the jobs they’ve had. Find out what it’s been like when someone else started a similar company. Find mentors.

Can you speak to the value of mentorship?

Absolutely. I have a few people that I respect and can turn to that I call coaches. As a human being, you live in your own bias. Having coaches removes a huge ego piece that comes with running a business. There are people who are really good at things that you’re not. It’s cool to have someone come in with a birds-eye view and give you feedback.

Do you think anything is missing from the OKGNtech community?

Besides somewhere to get dumplings? A place for creative freelancers to connect and help each other. I think more people are deciding to freelance, and that community needs a place where they can bounce ideas off of one another, somewhere they can express problems that they’re having and other freelancers can help find a solution.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received or would like to share?

Figure out your “why” before making a decision. Slow down, in the least cliche way possible, think about the “why” of your decisions and what you’re hoping to get out of them. When my brain is stretched too thin, I find sitting down with a cup of beer, tea, water or smoking a joint and journaling helps me to focus and evaluate my choices. When you write down why you’re stressed about a decision, it doesn’t live as a constant loop in your mind anymore.

Who inspires you?

I want my answer to be Lizzo, because she’s been inspiring me lately. Markku and I will listen to her whole album as we drive in from Westside Road. Other than Lizzo, everyone that I’ve been around lately has been kicking ass. Lots of people quitting their jobs and just going for it, which I love.

Music is life for Mazerand
Tom Kernaghan - Oct 30, 2019 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

“Be the composer and conductor of your own life.”

For Serge Mazerand, music itself is life, as our essence is vibration. A pianist, composer, keynote player and the award-winning author of the delightfully inventive book 7 Keys to Serenity: Creating Harmony Within, Mazerand knows the magic of music lies in its power to heal us by connecting us to our true selves. It is a journey he knows very well.

Mazerand began playing piano as a young boy in France, learning the work of masters such as Schubert and Chopin, but like many of us he went on a detour into the world of practicality and business, which took him through 30 years of corporate life in marketing. In 1996, feeling the call back to his musical roots, he bought a grand piano and became inspired by his other love—nature.

Since then Mazerand has been rediscovering his true self by composing music beside his beautiful river in the forest of Northern B.C., where he lives, imagines and creates a more meaningful personal life through his work, while discovering ways to connect with the community and the world.

His work and approach to life are utterly fascinating, so I was happy to connect with him and learn even more about how he plays his unique song.

Your story about leaving corporate life and returning to your childhood love of music resonated deeply with me. Tell us about this decision, how it felt and what universal message you can relay about that experience.

The decision took a few years to execute. I just knew I was not in the right place, and it took a few catalysts to help me take the necessary steps to extricate myself from the addicting milieu of luxury fragrances and all the perks that came with it.

Then, I ended up in what I call my “half-way house,” which was the fly-in salmon fishing resort I created in B.C. Close to nature and fishing, which I loved, but still a business since we catered to big corporations. Only after some 10 years of this did I decide to stop “feeding my ego” and instead “nourish my soul.”

The universal message is that each of us has a “mission” to accomplish when we are on our earth journey. Some know it early, some late, some never––in this life, that is. The challenge is to connect with our inner music and not to fall into the traps of ego.

The approach of your book—aligning keywords for personal transformation with the seven musical keys A through G—is a brilliant way to harmonize ideas, emotions and creative actions. How did that idea come to you, and how can it serve as a guide to others in composing and conducting their own song?

Creativity manifests in weird ways. For me, the process unfolded during the four years it took me to write the book, one idea calling another. It’s like a door opening to a room and then, all of a sudden, another door to another room and so on. The writing takes on a life of its own.

The idea of “transposing” the seven musical keys into keywords came right at the beginning, though, like a revelation. I knew I was on to something exciting. It is the same with composing music. The key, though, is to trust your higher self to guide you through the process and not let ego interfere.

Trust your power, and you can do anything.

Your work touches individuals, but you also do keynote performances for group events. How does the approach you take differ between the two, or does it?

It really is the same approach. Be authentic, leave ego aside, TRUST the source to help you say the right words or play the right music for a specific audience, and go with the flow. One can never go wrong by applying these simple principles.

What is the most gratifying feedback you’ve received from someone who has read your book and/or enjoyed your music, in terms of how it helped them on their journey?

Both my music and my book seem to resonate with people’s hearts. With music, I can see it when people cry. It is a release of pent-up emotional blockages that the music dissolves; a melody, a certain frequency that finds resonance with the strings of their hearts.

With the book, some people resonate with my interludes particularly. The most rewarding compliment I received was from a long-time music fan who told me that I had written the book like I play the piano, which is why it seems to resonate with so many readers. I suppose it is the rhythm and the sound of the words.

A musician friend of mine once said that if you truly want to understand a passionate and talented individual, just engage with their work. But is there something revealing many might not know about you—an interesting fact or fun anecdote? 

While writing 7 Keys to Serenity, I came close several times to abandoning the project, because I realized that I was not aligning myself with what I was writing. My higher self dictated the pages, yet I did not walk my talk, so to speak. But then, day by day, I began to change in subtle ways, and so the writing truly became a transformational process, which later gave me the confidence to tell potential readers that if the book managed to help me change my ways, it certainly had the potential to help them.

his column was submitted as part of BWB Wednesdays.

Market will require patience
Kirk Penton - Oct 25, 2019 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

We now have three quarters of 2019 under our belt, and sales activity in all three Okanagan Shuswap zones continues to soften ever so slightly.

The inventory continues to rise, which is good for buyers, but it is just a slight increase in inventory. The overall assessment of the market is that it is flat.

However, it is interesting that the year-to-date figures are rising slightly in the North Okanagan and the Shuswap but inching down in the Kelowna area.

As we go into the holidays the market will continue to slow based on the natural, annual cycle. Traditionally December is the slowest month of the year.

What this all tells us is that 2020 will continue on this relatively flat trajectory with nothing really exciting in either direction.

If Toronto and Vancouver continue to recover, we may see some positive effects in the Okanagan Shuswap buyer confidence by the last two quarters of 2020.

Bill Hubbard is a real estate broker and the owner and broker of a four-office real estate firm in the Okanagan-Shuswap. He has been in real estate for 28 years and has been an owner and broker in Vernon for 20 years. At almost 60 years old he is just as passionate about real estate as the day he started.

Necessity driving startups
Kirk Penton - Oct 23, 2019 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

CALGARY — Canadians are increasingly starting their own businesses, but in many cases because they feel they have to, according to an international study on entrepreneurship.

The 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Canada report found that Canadians are among the most likely in the 49 countries surveyed to see themselves as having both the ability and intention to start a business. Canadians are also the most likely of the G7 nations—twice the rate of the U.S.—to cite “necessity” as the reason for doing so.

The necessity motive is defined as “no better choice for work,” write authors Geoff Gregson, Chad Saunders and Peter Josty. That means Canadians’ compulsion to start a business may reflect the impact of 2018’s macro-economic conditions, such as weaker consumer spending, trade uncertainty with the U.S., reduced government spending as a result of rising fiscal deficits, and effects from oil price declines and no new pipelines.

“This is quite puzzling,” Josty said. “We don’t really understand why. Is it the unemployment rate? We don’t know.”

He also said it is unclear where the necessity-driven entrepreneurship is concentrated: Alberta, Newfoundland, Yukon or other parts of the country.

Other Canadian entrepreneurs are driven by an opportunity or desire for improvement (the survey does not elaborate on the nature of improvement). In fact, Canadians’ drive for “improvement” was also the highest among the G7 countries.

Young people comprise an increasing share of business startups as well as the running of young businesses. The number of Canadians aged 18 to 24 who are either involved in startups or are operating young businesses increased from 4.9 per cent in 2017 to 20.1 per cent last year. At the same time, 14.7 per cent of that age group were running established businesses.

“Findings suggest that, while Canada continues to rely heavily on the entrepreneurial potential of the 25 to 54 age range, the 18 to 24 age group is becoming more active in entrepreneurial activity,” the report states.

Compared to other G7 countries, Canada has the highest percentage of entrepreneurs with either a post-secondary degree or some graduate study. Entrepreneurs in Canada and the U.S. possess much higher educational levels than Japan and the four European countries of the G7, the report found.

The number of women involved in startups and young businesses has steadily increased since 2016, while the participation by men fell in 2018. Male participation at 20.4 per cent is roughly three per cent higher than the female rate. Still, the 17 per cent participation by Canadian women in startups and young businesses is higher than in any of the other G7 countries: the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

The report found that Canadian women appear to have very positive attitudes towards entrepreneurship, seeing both opportunities to start a business and believing they have the skills to succeed. Women also have a lower fear of failure at business than men in Canada.

Josty said governments have focused on encouraging women entrepreneurs.

Yet our willingness and desire to jump into the world of entrepreneurship faces significant hurdles, according to the report. Canadians have the highest rate of businesses discontinuance—retiring, selling or closing—of any G7 country and also have a low rate of “established business activity” (in operation for more than three years).

“There’s a huge amount of churn going on,” Josty said. “The failure rate is very high.”

The report cites the lack of supports for entrepreneurs as one possible reason for this trend; education for entrepreneurs is rated as poor, as is support for the ability to bring research and development breakthroughs to market, and the shortage of financing for entrepreneurs. The authors say their findings “raise concerns over the context for supporting entrepreneurship in Canada.”

The report provides a total of seven recommendations to help develop a stronger entrepreneurial sector:
• More “policy attention,” like money and support, for larger startup teams with growth ambitions
• Targeted assistance for younger business owners
• Better entrepreneurship training at the post-secondary level
• Support export opportunities to help new and established businesses grow
• Support more entrepreneurial activity by employees
• Help women build entrepreneurial skills, as well as examining the high level of necessity-driven entrepreneurship
• Reduce regulations which may constrain new business activities in Canada.

Gregson is research fellow at The Centre for Innovation Studies (THECIS), a Calgary-based not-for-profit organization devoted to the study and promotion of innovation; Saunders is an assistant professor at the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business; and Josty is executive director at THECIS.

One house, two lots?
Bill Hubbard - Oct 22, 2019 - Columnists

Photo: The Canadian Press

Many years ago when contractors built houses, very often there was not a lot of focus on where the property lines were. Sometimes the surveys were done after the house was built.

Consequently, some of the houses in the older areas are built on two lots. Sometimes the lot line is running right down the centre of the house. When these houses are sold the buyer and the buyer’s Realtor have to be careful that both lots are put on the contract.

There have been situations in the past where the owner of a home discovers that the house they bought fits on two lots and only one of those lots was transferred into the buyer’s name. Therefore they literally own half a house.

The remedy for this is relatively easy as long as everyone understood what the intent was. Usually it’s a small fee for the lawyers to correct the mistake and transfer the second lot into the buyer’s name. This is one of the many pitfalls from which a licensed professional Realtor can protect their buyers.

Even if the Realtor makes a mistake, they are covered by their errors and omissions insurance that would likely help out in correcting the mistake. The research that a Realtor does prior to making an offer in most cases would catch this mistake.

Bill Hubbard is a real estate broker and the owner and broker of a four-office real estate firm in the Okanagan-Shuswap. He has been in real estate for 28 years and has been an owner and broker in Vernon for 20 years. At almost 60 years old he is just as passionate about real estate as the day he started.

Faces of #OKGNtech
Accelerate Okanagan - Oct 16, 2019 - Columnists

Image: Contributed

A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable, and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.

Our community is strong and growing with record speed, and maintaining connections through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic. We’ve got a plan.

Introducing “The Faces of #OKGNtech,” a showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth and more excitement. Follow along on the blog and on Instagram at @OKGNtech to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.

Meet James. James Schlosser is the senior manager of business developments and contracts at the BC Cancer Agency and he is also the co-founder and winemaker for Niche Wine Company. When he isn’t helping researchers and clinicians improve the availability of their research, you’ll find him honing his skateboarding skills, crushing some grapes or working on Arduino projects with his son.

Tell us about where you work in the Okanagan?

I work for the technology development office of the BC Cancer Agency. We’re responsible for commercializing any of the research that comes into the agency. So, if our researchers come up with an invention, or they have created some software, we will acquire patent protection, help to start companies or look at licensing out to pharma companies. What I love about my job at the Cancer Agency is that I get to support researchers in the Okanagan and throughout the province.

What are some of the goals of the technology development office at the BC Cancer Agency?

The patient journey is always top of mind and at the heart of everything we do. In order for cancer outcomes to improve, research has to be translated from basic research into something that can be given to a patient. For some things, it’s a shorter journey. Software and apps can be deployed relatively quickly. But something that involves diagnosis or therapy is going to be a much longer pathway. You need to get it through a lot of research stages before it’s able to impact humans. That’s what our office is there to do—help researchers through that process and ultimately improve cancer outcomes.

What are some examples of research that were born here in the Okanagan? 

The brachytherapy program, introduced to breast cancer treatment in B.C. by Dr. Juanita Crook, is really leading the way for the cancer agency provincially. Previously, women with breast cancer were treated using a linear accelerator. This required them to travel to Kelowna for a multi-day treatment. Brachytherapy is a half-day procedure that enables them to return home afterwards. The side effects are much more favourable, and the outcomes are equivalent if not better than previous treatment methods. The Cancer Clinic in Kelowna has goals to become a world-class centre for that kind of treatment.

What kind of experience do you have with being an entrepreneur? 

I’m the co-founder, winemaker, bookkeeper and dishwasher for Niche Wine Company. Owning a small business can be very challenging, but I love the act of making something and putting it out there. It’s nerve-wracking, but it’s my passion (and the wine helps). Making wine is a reminder of the passage of time. If I was only working with BC Cancer, I would likely go from season to season without really paying attention. With Niche, I am connected to the seasons from an operational perspective, so I find that I’m forced to live in the present moment.

What inspired you to join the Scale Up mentorship program with Accelerate Okanagan? 

Niche Wine Co. is a small operation, and over the last couple of years we have struggled with finding the time to work on our business in the broader sense. When you make a physical product, it can be easy to get trapped in the weeds of production. Working with a mentor on a structured program that supports not just myself, but the entire leadership team, really helped us to set and achieve big goals. We have increased our production by 40 per cent, streamlined our pricing structure and are now in the process of revamping our sales and marketing strategy. The third-party validation and support we have received through executives-in-residence at AO has really been amazing and a big part of our recent success.

What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?

It helps to have a scientific background or to have some scientific training. I wouldn’t say it necessarily matters which field, though. If you’re in physics, it would be just as useful for working at the BC Cancer Agency as genetics or microbiology would be. There’s also the business aspect. So starting off in a science program and then maybe doing some business courses or vice versa would be beneficial. Volunteering at the cancer agency so you understand how that whole system works would help as well.

What do you love about the OKGNtech community?

Having a tech community is imperative for the Okanagan. This has largely been an agricultural, manufacturing, forestry and tourism-based economy. This transformation into a knowledge-based economy has been a game-changer for the Okanagan. The vibrancy about it … when I was growing up here, I never could have imagined how much opportunity would one day be accessible here. I really appreciate how UBC and Okanagan College are giving opportunities for students to see the Okanagan as somewhere they can have a career, somewhere they can stay. That’s something that wouldn’t have occurred before. OKGNtech is supporting the local youth in their ability to stay and improve the region.

What inspired you to work with Accelerate Okanagan, Interior Health and UBC to launch the Future of Health Cancer Care Forum?

I think that Accelerate Okanagan and the Okanagan tech community have attracted some really great minds from all over the country. There is also some incredible talent within the walls of Interior Health and UBC Okanagan. Creating an environment where these groups can connect has not been easy, but I am convinced that this kind of collaboration is what will spark innovation and really put the Interior on the map. I am really interested in seeing how all that talent can foster discussions.

What’s one word that describes you?

Jack-of-all-trades (does that count as one word?). I don’t like to focus on just one thing. I am curious and driven to understand how things work, and because of this I’ve developed a broad range of skills. I can code Arduino, make wine and ride a longboard. I mean, I am still working on my ollie. It’s probably fair to say that last one is a work in progress.

Find clarity in your life
Tom Kernaghan - Oct 09, 2019 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

Lorraine Richmond wants to know your story so she can help you break through it and tell yourself a better one—your truth. As a certified life and leadership coach also trained in the application of Conversational Intelligence, Emotional Intelligence and the Values Blueprint System, Richmond helps leaders to discover their values, purpose, and pathways to meaningful living and leading. To do this, however, they have to be prepared to break a few rules, challenge some assumptions and walk away from received wisdom.

The phrase of hers that stuck with me was “resolve the cluttering dissonance.” Focused on reaching clarity, identifying authenticity and moving people forward, Richmond aims to bring positive change to the world one person, community, and industry at a time.

Let’s leap right in and lay into lies. The aspect of your work that most fascinates me is what we tell ourselves and each other without examination or question. It seems to me that this very human tendency goes to the heart of what is keeping us from achieving the balance necessary for personal health, well-being and meaning. Why do we do this, and what have you found are some of the most common lies we cling to?

We are hard-wired with an addiction to being right. We want to believe the stories we tell ourselves. Because if we are not right, then our intrinsic value feels shaky, which highlights thoughts of insecurity, the imposter syndrome and the “never enough” belief.

Who wants that? Social rejection is believed to be feared more than death itself. So it has become an acceptable human default to simply allow our own ladder of conclusions to become our version of truth.

Here are some of the common lies we cling to:
• The cost of telling the truth is too high.
• Our perspective is the right perspective (or at least more right than the view of others).
• The success of a human being is based on performance, production, education, money, the approval of others or lack of same.
• We think we are good listeners.
• Failure of an endeavour is equal to a person being a failure (for life).
• We are not good enough.
• Things will never change.
• We can do this on our own.

I love your line, “Clarity is the foundation of success.” And yet reaching it is a challenge for most of us, in my experience. You have some effective tools and models—Values Blueprint, Bigger Game and Clarity Model—for helping people achieve clarity. Talk a bit about how these work or how you first approach a client.

When a client approaches with a need or request for a future desired outcome, it is my place to listen, to get them at a deeper level than they get themselves, to help them develop a strong awareness of their perspective of their reality. It is also my place to create a safe, trusted context where together we can create a values-based alignment, process, and strategy for their goals and agenda.

Prior to our first meeting, a few thoughtful questions are sent to the client as pre-work. One of the questions is this: What are your core values, those deeply held guiding principles (without using the words honesty and integrity)?

As a coach, I listen for these deep core values, personal meaning and what matters most to the individual. It is my job to make the invisible visible to the client. Once clarity begins to emerge, the decision becomes simple and clear. It may not be easy, but it is clear.

Clarity evolves in many ways. The greatest moment of clarity can be accessed in a conversation with a skilled coach who is fully present, listening to the vocabulary, nuances of language (verbal and body language) as well as to what isn’t being said. The power of clarity is in the relationship of the conversation.

An individual cannot be their own coach or play their best and biggest game by staying in their own mind. That would be like the manager of your favourite sports team volunteering to be the referee for the next home game.

Roy H. Williams wrote, “The risk of insult is the price of clarity.” This is a powerful quotation. Your willingness to face the risk of pushing past discomfort in order to grow in clarity, and to have your clients do the same, is as admirable as it is uncommon. Why is this important to you? Can you point to events or experiences in your life that impelled you to take this journey to help others?

All of science, nature and history show us that growth requires leaving what is currently familiar. That brings discomfort. It also teaches us that without continual growth, the satisfaction of a meaningful life will begin a downward spiral. Communication gaps occur, relationships grow distant, business partnerships break down, passion fades, businesses fails and well-being declines.

Name the elephant. Ask the tough questions. Face personal responsibility. This gutsy question of what you are pretending not to know belongs in the safe and values-based conversation with a trusted coach.

I feel richly blessed to have experienced the heights of meaningful leadership. I know what it is to inspire and influence a cultural change where deeply held values and meaningful purpose matter. I know what a genuine team and community looks and feels like. My life has been enriched with the euphoria of shared success and shared endurance of loss, grief and failure. I am rich in ways that money cannot buy.

The greatest catalyst for my call and purpose was a personal experience of deep and devastating betrayal within a high-leadership team.

To have willingly offered the best of my intentions, talents, strengths, time and full trust to a team of leaders for years and years and years, only to experience the slow dawn of realization that instead of mission-critical risk and sacrifice, there was actually an agonizing decay in the form of leadership betrayal and abandonment unlike anything any human being should ever have to experience.

I remember lying in bed night after night tormented by the indescribable physical pain of emotion, thinking: I will make it. This is as raw and hurtful as it could possibly be. I can do this. It will get better. And then the pain of emotional rawness continued to deteriorate layer after layer after layer, for a very long time.

Eventually, I resurfaced and began to breathe again. And therein lies another story. But this fascinating gift of real life catalyzed and re-confirmed my fiery commitment to be a voice and a stand, a partner to help others bravely face the dissonance they experience in life and in leadership.

The headline is this: Be crystal clear on your values and the meaningful purpose of your life.

The fine print is this: Your values and purpose will clash with the status quo, with societal or institutional standards that insist on a different agenda for your life. You will hit a crisis of values. There is a cost of pain, discomfort and risk if you truly step up to make a difference in the world in your unique way.

Language! As you might guess, words are important to me. I’ve apprehended you’re attracted to alliteration. Some would say that’s the playful and pleasing part, but this is serious business, in my view. As a speaker and coach, you know the importance of getting our message right. Talk more about the power of words and why every one of them matters.

“To get to the next level of greatness depends on the quality of our culture, which depends on the quality of our relationships, which depends on the quality of our conversations. Everything happens through conversations.” — Judith E. Glaser

I am fascinated by the neuroscience of why every word matters.

There are worlds in words. Everything lives in language. Our words hold the capacity to build or break trust. And without trust, there is no relationship or connection. And I once heard it said that a relationship without trust is like a phone without service, and without service you play games.

Life is too big, too juicy, too fragile, too messy and too wonderful to play games.

Our culture and our planet are in desperate need of values-based leaders to attend to the inner work so that they in turn can inspire and influence a culture of equality and meaningful purpose for all stakeholders.

We like to finish our profiles with a fun personal tidbit, something people may not know about you. Care to reveal a quick quirk about yourself?

I confess to being headstrong from birth, a coffee snob by choice and a non-conformist by accident.

This column was submitted as part of BWB Wednesdays.

Faces of #OKGNtech
Accelerate Okanagan - Oct 07, 2019 - Columnists

Image: Contributed

A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable, and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.

Our community is strong and growing with record speed, and maintaining connections through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic. We’ve got a plan.

Introducing “The Faces of #OKGNtech,” a showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth and more excitement. Follow along on the blog and on Instagram at @OKGNtech to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.

Meet Marissa. Marissa Young is the founder of Wildflower Healing Arts. But she isn’t always practising reiki and reading tarot cards. Young ensures she has lots of time to spend with her partner and their fiery daughter, Ava Rose.

Can tell us more about your educational training?

I was working in Vancouver in the fashion industry, however it wasn’t what I was hoping it would be. I was at a point in my life where I wasn’t happy and found myself soul searching. I immersed myself in different modalities, one of which was tarot. I taught myself, and I’ve been doing tarot ever since. During this period of self discovery, my cousin had bought me a reiki session with Stacy Simpson. I just remember laying on the table and then I woke up completely covered in sweat. Stacy spoke the same language that I did and, after that I knew it was something that resonated with me. I ended up doing my reiki training with her. I still consider Stacy one of my greatest teachers.

What is reiki?

It’s a Japanese healing modality. It’s based on a holistic approach: emotional, spiritual, mental and physical. What it looks like is you lie down on a massage table and then the practitioner places their hands over different energetic points on the body. Every session is different with a client, some sessions we work on past life trauma, some could be focused on childhood trauma, grief, anxieties, a host of various issues. It’s not just the physical body we’re working to heal.

Where do you work?

My primary focus is my healing arts company. I offer reiki, tarot readings, training, sacred gatherings and ceremonies. Additionally, I do a little marketing work on the side with a company called BNL Media Consulting. Every now and again I’ll also help my friend, Jade Wolf, creating and decorating events for Wolfette Events.

What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur?

I had a really hard time working for people. I would always see ways that the business could improve, or ways that things could be done differently. I used to see it as a negative trait. I realize now that it was because I was a natural-born entrepreneur. I enjoy being able to create my own life. Now that I have my daughter, we’ve truly created this amazing lifestyle in the Okanagan.

Can you speak into the importance of the healing arts for entrepreneurs?

The healing arts are a form of self-care. It’s about checking in with yourself during the busy lifestyle that is part and parcel with entrepreneurship. Often times entrepreneurs are giving a lot of their energy, so the healing arts can be an opportunity to receive. To be able to have a space where they can openly receive without any judgment or worry can be quite powerful. As an entrepreneur, you have to find the balance between tending to your business and creating those periods of rest.

What do you love about the OKGNtech community?

There is this source of hunger, passion, inspiration and community that OKGNtech exudes. Those were all of the qualities that I wanted to embody, so I was naturally drawn to it. Being in that community helped to immerse me in entrepreneurship.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I’ve had this advice from multiple people throughout various chapters of my life: Take care of yourself first. I’m a giver. I like to help people. It’s easy to want to focus on business all the time, however I find that magic happens when I’m actually resting and aligned with my spirit.

As an entrepreneur, what has been your biggest lesson so far?

Patience, honestly. You always think it’s going to happen right away. You don’t realize how much time and energy it takes to be able to create a successful business. It took three years to get to where I am now. If someone has a passion for something, start today. Don’t hesitate. I never would have guessed that, 10 years later, after teaching myself tarot, I’d be having this conversation.

Terpstra is all heart
Tom Kernaghan - Oct 02, 2019 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

Dirk Terpstra knows that the way to a healthier, happier and more fulfilling life is through the heart. As an intuitive speaker, coach and HeartMath-certified trainer, Terpstra helps individuals and organizations discover who they truly are so that they can think more clearly, act more authentically and make decisions more consciously. He understands that life is not just about ourselves but about connecting with others.

As a former CEO of a multinational organization overseas and a longtime resident of the Okanagan Valley, Terpstra has had his share of experiences, both high and low, and he has learned what joy and resilience are all about.

In reading about your work, I was struck by the importance of recognizing our inner beauty in finding our well-being. And yet it seems so many of us lose touch with our essence between childhood and adulthood. What is getting in our way? Why are we losing this simple focus?

That’s a very good question, and the answer is simple—it’s us! We are getting in our own way. And yes, we seem to be losing touch with our essence when we grow up and go through life. This happened to me!

As a child I felt deeply connected with myself and with those around me, but most kids seemed to have other interests, and so I lost myself so that I would fit in. Then I saw children getting bullied at school, had rough experiences in the military and later learned how large corporations often do basically anything to boost their shareholder profits.

So now our external environment becomes the barometer for how we perceive life, and many of us feel the pain and begin to lose hope. But in this process, we forget that it’s not our environment that’s getting in our way, it’s us (and we use the other as an excuse for how we feel).

If you begin to understand and realize that life is always responding to you—it’s the law of (quantum) physics—then you watch what you’re sending out into your environment. By becoming fully present, you will allow yourself to make conscious choices instead of old running programs. But the key question here is this: How much do you appreciate the person you’re spending most of your life with? You!

A surprising fact I learned about your work is that the heart sends more signals to the brain than vice-versa. The science behind HeartMath is very intriguing. Tell us a bit about the intelligence of the heart and what drew you to this field of wellness?

OK, I will try to give you the short answer, although you might understand there’s a whole lot more to this. Learning about the science of the heart is providing me with many insights into who we really are. It’s much more than wellness for me. It’s all about the essence of life.

When I was interviewing author and scientist Gregg Braden, I was so impressed with the way Gregg bridged the science of who we are with the more spiritual aspects of our lives. It made total sense to me. Half a year later, I interviewed him for a second time, and shortly after that I interviewed Howard Martin, the executive vice-president of the HeartMath Institute, in Boulder Creek, Calif. That’s when I decided to change course in my life (again).

The heart, the brain and the autonomic nervous system are deeply interconnected, and for an optimal mental, physical or emotional performance these systems need to be in balance with one another. When we feel stressed, angry or even impatient, the rhythm of our heart starts changing and we lose that balance, that coherence.

This coherence is really important because it lies at the core of our capacity to intelligently manage our energy on a day-to-day basis. It’s fascinating to learn more about this process, and it’s very helpful and healing for individuals, organizations and even corporations around the world. I teach this process in my workshops.

You’ve worked with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While their stories may involve some of the most extreme of human experiences, what insights can you share from your time with them that might benefit those seeking a balanced stride through the stress of their everyday lives?

Yes, the work that I do with the veterans continues to touch me deeply on many levels.

I would like to say this: When we are exposed to stressful situations or trauma, and we don’t process and resolve it in that very moment, the energy gets stuck in our bodies. We start literally building a ‘pain body’ that doesn’t live in the present moment any longer. Our cells have memory and this memory keeps our body stuck in the past, physically and emotionally.

The most simple answer to your question is this: Breathe slowly and deeply through your chest, and become curious about what you feel when something happens. Don’t try to analyze, judge or resist it (and don’t resist any resistance). Just become curious about how you feel. Emotions are not who you are. They are just a chemical process in your body that can be changed with intention.

Having interviewed many accomplished and fascinating people, what would you say is the essential characteristic they share that drew you to them?

Simplicity, a deep love for life and gratitude. Life is simple; it’s only the seeker of life that makes it complex.

I’ve seen you a number of times now, and you’re always smiling. What’s the secret behind the smile?

Am I really? That must say a lot about you!

I was chronically sick as a child. I’ve witnessed multiple deaths and lost dear ones. And I’ve experienced what it feels like when death was knocking on my door. I also create amazing experiences, every single day. I have an amazing life. What’s not to smile about then?

This column was submitted as part of BWB Wednesdays.

Great program for buyers
Bill Hubbard - Sep 27, 2019 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

As of Sept. 2, there is a new program where the government will kick in up to 10 per cent on new homes and five per cent on pre-owned homes.

Although many of these programs really do not amount to much, this program will help a lot of people buy when they normally could not. Of course, there are a number of conditions. The combined household income has to be below $120,000. The mortgage has to be below $420,000.

There are also a few expanded definitions of a “first-time buyer,” which allows people who have owned before the ability to use this program. The important thing to note about this program is that it is an equity program. What that means is the government is either benefiting or losing based on the rise or fall of the market value of your home.

For instance, if the government matches your five per cent down payment to give you 10 per cent down, the government now has a five per cent stake in your home. There are no payments on the five per cent until you sell your home.

If the value of your home went up by $100,000 because of a renovation you did, the government will receive five per cent of that increase in value when you sell. If the market value of your home went down the government would also share in that loss.

This is a great program. For more information click here.

Bill Hubbard is a real estate broker and the owner and broker of a four-office real estate firm in the Okanagan-Shuswap. He has been in real estate for 28 years and has been an owner and broker in Vernon for 20 years. At almost 60 years old he is just as passionate about real estate as the day he started.


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