Welcome to the jungle of WHY
Myrna Selzler Park - Jul 13, 2020 - Columnists

Photo: edinburghmuseums.org.uk

The machete flashed in the sun as I slashed a path through the jungle green.

My hair was plastered to my head; sweat stung my eyes; my breathing was ragged; the machete slippery in my hand.

But I forged on. I didn’t look back. I knew my people would follow.

Why?

Because they knew my WHY.

I awoke from that dream at 3:13 a.m. Heart beating. Breathing ragged. I had just fallen asleep after hours of flipping and flopping like a fish struggling for air. My brain was unknotting the ideas I had about being a good leader in the business I had just started.

I knew what; so did they.

I knew how; so did they.

Now, I knew what it was, what it is, to be a good leader: show them WHY.

As a leader, I know my WHY.  I know why I spring out of bed in the morning.  I know why I wake up at 3 a.m. and take notes about solutions to challenges brewing in my subconscious mind.

To achieve my WHY, I need help. But for others to commit to work on my WHY, I need to know their WHY and see how the two can align to help them with their WHY.

That is my job as a leader.  I need to know the barriers to my people’s success.  I need to know their challenges. I need to know the things I control that slow them down, and I need to fix them.

When interviewing, I never want to feed job candidates the answers to my “skill-testing” interview questions, so my first questions are about their WHY.

Who are they?

Why are they here?

What do they hope to accomplish in their career, in their life?

What do they hope to accomplish within my business?

The more they talk, the more I can see if they can fit into my organization.

If I can see overlap between their WHY and mine, and if I can see that working on my WHY moves them closer to theirs, I share my vision, my dream for changing the world.

I watch them closely. Do their eyes get brighter? Do they lean into the conversation? Do they say “Yes, but…”?  or do they say “Yes, and….”?  Can they see parallels from their own life experience that will feed into our compatible WHY?

We can all wander off our WHY. Maybe we think it is too big, too grand — the impossible dream.  The negative self-talk spiral starts. It is our job to shake off those thoughts, lift our heads high and keep moving.

As leaders, if we wander off, we will derail the WHY of those following us. We must be true to ourselves, true to the story we told them.

Sometimes, I will set out to motivate someone. I remind them of their WHY, reflecting their own greatness that will get them there. I will push them toward something, such as a training program, if I think it will contribute to their bigger WHY.

My goal is to help them to connect the dots between their motivation and their inspiration so they land in a place where they can be more productive, more purposeful in fulfilling their life.

If my people have not tasted the inspiration, the breath-taking challenge of their WHY, they may not understand this. But they will understand because I will be their role model.

Wayne Dyer explains the difference between motivation and inspiration.

“Motivation is when you get hold of an idea and carry it through to its conclusion, and inspiration is when an idea gets hold of you and carries you where you are intended to go.” 

I want my people to be inspired to accomplish my WHY and their WHY – inspired to run behind me as I clear the jungle path. Maybe even seeing far enough ahead to have a sharpened machete ready for me.

 

Myrna Selzler Park is a lifelong entrepreneur who works with organizations and individuals to turn their passion into impact. As former owner of Century 21 Assurance in Kelowna, Myrna uses her experience to build value in organizations. She is certified in behaviour and motivation analysis, emotional intelligence, as well as being a growth curve strategist and a certified value builder advisor. As a wannabe athlete, Myrna has run several half-marathons, deadlifted 215 pounds and has now put her mind to becoming proficient in Muay Thai kickboxing. She can be reached at [email protected]

Lower that stress level
Contributed - Jul 08, 2020 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

Emotional Freedom Technique, commonly known as EFT tapping, or just tapping, is a powerful tool to get past psychological blocks. That said, it should not be confused with tap dancing. I made this mistake early in my career when an audience member came up to me afterward and told me that she kept expecting me to start tap dancing.

EFT is referred to as tapping because the tapping motion of two fingers stimulates high concentrations of nerve endings, or acupressure points. This sends a soothing signal via your nervous system to the amygdala (pronounced uh-MIG-duh-la). The amygdala region of the brain is associated with processing emotions. It is often referred to as the “smoke detector” of your body because it is like an alarm system that alerts you to threats, real or perceived.

If your smoke detector goes off, it turns on your stress response, sending a cascade of stress hormones through your body. You may be experiencing a lot of this with the world events happening right now. It also turns off non-essential functions such as reducing blood flow to higher brain centres responsible for problem solving. This happens because your body is going into the fight, flight or freeze mode.

This system works fantastic except for two little glitches that have a massive negative impact on your life. One is that this smoke detector cannot tell the difference if there is actual smoke or if you are just thinking about smoke. Explained another way, it cannot tell the difference between feelings of future worry or past regret and real current problems.

The second problem is that 98% to 99% of the time, you are unaware that this is even happening because it is happening subconsciously. You are aware of your stress response kicking in if it occurs acutely, like if an angry dog runs at you or you narrowly escape a car accident. It is difficult to miss the racing heart, sweaty palms and shallow breathing. However, a chronic stress response is not so obvious. It can show up in health, financial or relationship issues.

It showed up for me in my health, finances and my relationship with myself in a big way. Six years ago, I was extremely sick, overweight, struggling with my income, and I was depressed. After extensive testing with a medical specialist, he told me he did not know what was wrong with me, and nothing more could be done. After going home and feeling hopeless, I got my poop in a group and found EFT tapping. How I discovered tapping is another story for another time.

Within three months of starting tapping, I was feeling more energetic, lost the excess weight, knew how to quiet my relentless inner critic and began the journey to becoming a now internationally certified advanced EFT tapping and certified matrix reimprinting practitioner. Matrix reimprinting is an advanced technique of tapping. I have a thriving private practice and have had the privilege of helping hundreds of others transform their lives. So much so that I regularly get texts and emails that make me cry with gratitude and joy.

Why is this information critical to you? Because learning and implementing EFT tapping is a game changer and often works when nothing else will. Knowing that it has worked for myself and others will give you hope that it can work for you, too.

If you are a heart-centred entrepreneur or corporate professional who wants to break through to your next level of success, I would love to connect with you. The most impactful thing you and others can do in times of crisis is to manage your stress well.

Anyone wishing to explore EFT tapping can visit www.sherrylukey.com for a free consultation.

This column was submitted as part of BWB Wednesdays.

Don’t ever stop improving
Myrna Selzler Park - Jul 06, 2020 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

Sweat flew as I twisted on my left foot and my gloved fist smacked the Thai pad with an orgiastic thud.

Sweat hung there in the air as the thud reverberated across the gym, folding into the echo of other thuds from other women twisting on their left feet and smacking the pads with their left hands. And then, their right.

Remember those great scenes from Rocky? The first Rocky movie. As the hook landed on Rocky’s jaw, sweat arched and flew, in slow motion.

I was in a movie all my own, but my opponent was tougher than Apollo Creed. My opponent was me—and my lack of experience and skill.

But I have Rocky’s drive—as do my training buddies, and coaches, at Pacific Top Team.

I am 60 years old. I just started Muay Thai, a nasty form of kick-boxing. The age range in my all-female class is 13 to maybe 45. I could be their grandma or mom. But who cares? I like this. No, I love this.

Why, my friends ask? Seems rather out there for someone “like me.” I love it because of the need for absolute focus and, with that focus, the rapid improvement in skill. I can see me changing mentally and physically.

There are several questions I ask myself:

How would a person who wants to excel at Muay Thai behave?

What would she do?

What would she think?

What goals would she set?

Because, given my age, time is not on my side. I want to get good, and I want to get good fast.

What is it about Muay Thai that appeals to my entrepreneurial brain? Building a business requires focus and skill. Like Muay Thai. Building a business takes time. But that time can be reduced by applying focus to develop more skill.

How would a person who wants to excel as an entrepreneur behave?

She would have clarity of purpose.

She would stay in the constraints of that purpose. She would have focus. She would know what she was doing and why she was doing it.

Then, the dream can begin to be realized.

What needs to be done to prepare for the day?

How would she interact with the people who are supporting this purpose?

What will she have accomplished at the end of the day? What good will result from these efforts?

What can be done tomorrow to advance the cause with more ease and speed?

For the past 20 years, I have hammered into my home family and work family the expression: How you do anything is how you do everything.

This message is burned into my subconscious. How I play at Muay Thai is how I play at home and how I play at work.

I have spent time reflecting and defining how a person my age would need to train, eat, sleep and think to excel at Muay Thai.

I actually wrote it down.

I thought about muscle tone across my trainer’s shoulders and wondered, what does a person need to do to achieve that?

Twenty push-ups at every bathroom break? Then, 30?

Maybe I need to get advice.

I am considering a new business venture with partners. I have been reflecting on how I need to act in a partnership to make it successful; what do we need to agree on to maintain focus, clarity and peace within the group.

Just like I ask my Muay Thai coach for suggestions as to how to improve, I ask people within this unfamiliar business space for suggestions, recommendations, thoughts and concerns.

I love the parallels between personal and work experience. It gives me comfort and direction when either world becomes muddled.

For now, I’ll go practise a round kick.

Myrna Selzler Park is a lifelong entrepreneur who works with organizations and individuals to turn their passion into impact. As former owner of Century 21 Assurance in Kelowna, Myrna uses her experience to build value in organizations. She is certified in behaviour and motivation analysis, emotional intelligence, as well as being a growth curve strategist and a certified value builder advisor. As a wannabe athlete, Myrna has run several half-marathons, deadlifted 215 pounds and has now put her mind to becoming proficient in Muay Thai kickboxing. She can be reached at [email protected]

Don’t let self-doubt decide
Myrna Selzler Park - Jun 29, 2020 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

Rita has the secret to your business success.

Thousands of business books profess to have the secret. Workshops are built around that premise. And then there are business gurus. Lord, there are so many so-called gurus.

And then there is Rita.

She has never been in business.

She has never read a book on business.

She never attended a business workshop and certainly has never listened to a guru.

But, if you are like Rita, you will succeed in business, and in life.

Rita personifies where there is a will, there is a way.

Six hours after hernia surgery, one dramatic fall to the pavement, one shaky walk with support on both sides, my 85-year-old mom had to go to the bathroom.

I helped her off the couch.

America’s Got Talent applauded in the background.

She collapsed back on the couch, unable to support her own slight body weight.

She did not look upset.

In fact, she looked puzzled. This is not how she did life.

I suggested I get an office chair and she could wheel herself to the bathroom.

Office chairs don’t have brakes and on a hard surface, a chair could go on a runaway. A chair could turn into a race car.

She sat quietly thinking.

“I could crawl.”

“Your knees will hurt.”

But, I thought, if you do fall, you are closer to the floor and won’t hurt yourself.

She lowered herself to the floor. Kneeling upright, she teeter-tottered toward her goal.

The area rug ended. She clutched the “wheelchair” and rolled, still on her knees, to the bathroom.

She grabbed the bathroom vanity and hoisted herself up onto her goal with a sigh of satisfaction.

Oh, my, she should have been an entrepreneur—that kind of determination would have really got her places.

That determination always got her where she wanted to go.

Still on her knees, she crawled back into the living room.

Self-reliant. Resourceful. Confident.

My mom.

America’s Got Talent gave her a standing O.

One of the challenges many entrepreneurs face is overcoming self-doubt. Lacking confidence in ourselves and our abilities can slow an entrepreneur, even to the point of wanting to give up. Being absolutely determined that I could succeed, I would succeed was critical to my success.

As a new entrepreneur, when I doubted myself, I called people who believed in me.

Suppliers, clients and even former staff would remind me that I was succeeding and I could go to greater heights.

Further along my entrepreneurship path, I connected with four other entrepreneurs and we met monthly to discuss our businesses. We set goals for the next month and held each accountable, And if something came up between our meetings, we could call and get advice.

These two systems gave me clarity and reminded me of the tasks I needed to complete and the bigger vision of why I was in business. And the self-doubt diminished; the determination strengthened.

Rita didn’t have self-doubt. When all else failed, she crawled. Will you?

Myrna Selzler Park is a lifelong entrepreneur who works with organizations and individuals to turn their passion into impact. As former owner of Century 21 Assurance in Kelowna, Myrna uses her experience to build value in organizations. She is certified in behaviour and motivation analysis, emotional intelligence, as well as being a growth curve strategist and a certified value builder advisor. As a wannabe athlete, Myrna has run several half-marathons, deadlifted 215 pounds and has now put her mind to becoming proficient in Muay Thai kickboxing. She can be reached at [email protected].

Helping your children grow
Contributed - Jun 24, 2020 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

Do you remember a time when you were younger and you just wanted to be heard? But instead you were told to go to your room with the door closed.

The harder you cried, the harder you kicked the walls in anger and frustration, no one came. You continued to cry until you felt so tired you fell asleep forgetting why you were crying to start with. Over the years, many have started to ask if there are different approaches to teaching children. This has brought up many good questions about parents’ or caregivers’ own upbringing, such as:

• What if your parent or caregiver struggled to acknowledge their own feelings?
• What if they didn’t know how to help you?
• What if hearing you cry was bringing up stuff from their own past
• What if they didn’t know how to acknowledge these feelings you had, so you were silenced?

Our unique stories, generations upon generations of trauma, subconscious programming and experiences have shaped us to who we are today. The key to life is to understand who we are are while also striving to improve ourselves. This will create a foundation within to be able to be the best possible parent or educator.

It starts with expanding our awareness, understanding that our children are a reflection of ourselves and soaking up all experiences around them. If you are a teacher, caregiver or parent, modelling the behaviour you wish to see is the most important aspect of teaching. We have the ability to re-write our own story through teaching our future generations in a mindful balanced approach.

As we observe the children we care for, we strive to support their emotions.

We question ourselves: How do we handle our own emotions?

If we are frustrated, frazzled, angry, excited or happy, how are we moving through this?

What do we notice happening inside our bodies?

Do we notice physical changes when we are being triggered in our educating/parenting?

When we start to feel those “emotions” or “triggers,” what do we do?

How are we expressing to those around us in a safe manner?

These questions are very important, because when we can learn more about ourselves we start to form a deeper connection within. Those deeper connections make it easier for us to understand and support those around us. When we provide mindful activities and self regulation techniques into children’s lives it is proven to reduce anxiety and depression through sustainable self regulation and self worth. As we teach these techniques, we are not only helping children but also healing our own generational gaps.

Through my program at Kelowna’s Mindful Expressions Inc., I guide children, parents and educators through learning to connect with their mind-body, promoting a positive foundation for the future. By focusing on learning through play, teaching mindfulness, meditation, self regulation and self love activation, I provide a cohesive and supportive space to foster growth in all areas of a families life, starting with the children.

Want to join the movement? Ask me about my integrative curriculum focused on supporting families, daycares and pre-school facilities.

This column was submitted as part of BWB Wednesdays.

Faces of #OKGNtech
Accelerate Okanagan - Jun 16, 2020 - 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 Pam. Pam Boyko is the vice-president of operations for Bananatag. When she’s not helping her teams find success, you’ll find Boyko enjoying the outdoors with her husband and kids.

What do you enjoy most about your role at Bananatag?

Before becoming the vice-president of operations, I was one of the first employees at Bananatag. I built out and managed the sales and customer experience departments. What I like about where I am now is that I don’t focus on just one thing. I can have my hands in different departments and be involved in a lot of initiatives happening around the company.

How did you get into this kind of work?

I have a teaching degree and taught for a couple of years before transferring into radio sales. From there, I got a job in tech doing sales and business development. I knew I wanted to grow at Bananatag but didn’t necessarily know which direction. VP of operations was something that opened up and, with my experience in the company, felt like the right next step.

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

Start applying and get experience in entry-level roles with companies that are growing. There’s a lot of opportunity to expand your responsibilities. People I used to teach with have asked me how I made the jump into tech. The advice I would give them is to talk to people who have the career that you want. Connect with leaders or founders in the companies that you’re trying to work for. They’re pretty willing to have coffee with you and tell you about their business.

How did you first get involved in tech?

I got into tech through a friend who was in business development. I realized that I had a lot of transferable skills that would be applicable to that kind of work. My friend encouraged me to apply for a position that had opened at Vineyard Networks, where she was working. That was my first job in tech, through a connection I had made.

How do you like to get involved in the tech community?

I try to be a part of any opportunities for promoting women in tech. For a little while, I helped to organize a LeanIn circle for Kelowna. I also enjoy speaking to young women, specifically, about how I started in sales, which is a great career that isn’t always considered. During OKGNtech Live, I spoke to a group of high school students about my role and how I transitioned into it. I like to share my experience, since it’s a rather unorthodox path, to show that there isn’t one direct career path in tech.

What’s the best piece of advice you like to share?

Being right is not always the most important thing. I’ve been in a lot of situations where I have a pretty strong opinion about what is right, and I try to get that across at all costs. However, I’ve learned that there are timing and circumstances where it’s not always ideal to try to push those opinions through.

What would you like to see more of in our community?

I think there is more opportunity to bring employees and leaders together from companies who aren’t founders but are early-stage employees like me. Now that there are more growth-stage companies, there is an opportunity to bring more of those individuals together.

Who inspires you?

The people who I’m inspired by are those who are successful but still have a good balance between work and home life; they aren’t sacrificing in either direction. They feel confident in their life and what they’ve chosen to do. I always want to ask successful people if they’re happy, but you don’t get to know that answer until you get to know them.

Helping women find themselves
Tom Kernaghan - Jun 10, 2020 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

Often the best way through the hardest decision is to take the gentlest route. For Barbara Wellborn of Summerland’s Wellborn Bodyworks, that means looking inward and finding a new direction toward self-care. With 20 years of experience in spiritual coaching, massage, meditation, deep energy work and aromatherapy, Wellborn guides women to the clarity and confidence they need to release the trauma of the past, move forward at a crossroads, and create the life they deserve with the grace and self-awareness needed to continue on their journey.

Wellborn understands the pain and difficulty of change. After struggling with personal and professional challenges during her younger adult years, she listened to the universe and chose a healthier path. After learning to honour her true self, she answered the call to help others live better lives in the present. Today she offers long programs and short courses for individuals and groups, focusing on the uniqueness of each person and the obstacles they face while blossoming into their truth.

One of the most telling comments I read about you is that you are “wise to the human condition.” What a beautiful endorsement. Tell me about the time in your twenties when you realized you couldn’t continue living the way you had been. And what was one of the first things you did to shift your life and move in a healthier direction?

Thank you! I am deeply honoured by that comment. Having gone through my own healing process, I have come to realize that all of the experiences that I have had over my lifetime brought me to who I am today. Each of these experiences have given me the compassion to understand what others are going through and the ability to approach them with empathy.

When I was in my late twenties, my world was unravelling. On the outside I presented well, but on the inside my life had reached a crossroads of epic proportions. My marriage was dissolving due to an affair, my husband and I had to file for bankruptcy because of crushing debt, and my first business was failing because the market had changed and I failed to adapt. I desperately tried to cling to what I knew, but every joint in my body was screaming out for change. I was in unbearable pain that kept me awake at night, endlessly allowing me to mull over my many failures.

Through a series of synchronicities that only the universe could have planned, I was introduced to an energy modality that would change my life. I went from daily chiropractor visits to needing only monthly tuneups as I had a world of physical and emotional pain lifted from my shoulders. I was able to leave my husband with the wisdom to know that we had come together for a reason and to see the lessons I had come to learn. I could walk away from my old career with a renewed sense of purpose and embark on a beautiful journey towards becoming the healing practitioner I am today. I learned that our bodies have the amazing capacity to heal when we truly commit to living in the present.

Committing to my own personal recovery has taken me on a journey through healing the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of my being. I have healed familial patterns of pain that I carried forth generationally. I have healed past life pain my soul carried forward to heal in this lifetime. I have healed relationships at a soul level, coming to understand why each person in my life had to play the roles they did in order to heal all these different aspects of myself. It has been a fascinating journey that I am honoured to bring to the table to help others heal. We are more than just a physical body. Incorporating Eastern philosophy, ancient mystery school philosophies and modern philosophy has enabled me to touch into the deepest level of the psyche to bring about profound transformation for myself and others.

After your own experiences and 20 years of helping others find their way through personal challenges, you must have heard a great variety of stories, yet noticed certain patterns. Do you find yourself surprised after all this time?

There is not much surprise in what I do. Everyone has fascinating stories that come down to fairly predictable limiting beliefs that drive their actions and choices. So much of what we do is driven by unconscious patterns that were developed in childhood, carried forth in our DNA or even brought forth from previous lifetimes. Much like an iceberg, our lives are controlled by what is underneath, what we cannot or choose not to see; our consciousness is the tip of the iceberg, infinitely smaller than what lies beneath.

What I have come to understand through many years of studying and working is that when we go through traumatic events, especially in childhood, our body has a splinting reflex that energetically holds that experience in our body’s tissue. If you have ever felt butterflies in your stomach when you were nervous, felt like you were punched in the gut when something made you angry, or felt the suffocating ache of grief in your heart when you lost someone, then you understand what I am talking about. For many children, this stuffing down of emotions is a survival mechanism that helps to keep them safe in the moment. If these are recurrent traumas, energy builds up in the area until there is a blockage. Our bodies, in their infinite wisdom, keep placing us back into situations to complete these emotions and heal ourselves. If we continue to stuff these emotions down, we eventually wind up with disease: liver issues related to unexpressed anger, stomach and bowel issues from unexpressed shame, heart and lung issues from unexpressed grief … the list goes on.

You ran a workshop last year called the “The Giving Tree: Debunking the Myth of Selflessness,” which urged busy women to start putting themselves first more often. Tell us about the myth and why many still struggle with the idea of selfishness?

I have made it my mission to help others like me to learn the art of being selfish. We have been taught that being selfish is wrong, that being selfish is a “sin.” I am a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother. I know a little something about self-sacrifice and giving endlessly of myself. A large part of what I do in my practice is to help women regain a sense of who they are, release old emotions that have locked them into repetitive patterns of self-sabotage, and rediscover who they truly are and what they want out of life. Too often, I have women who come to me with fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, debilitating migraines and various forms of cancer; women who have endlessly given of themselves to the point where there is nothing left to give.

I’d like to clarify what I mean by selfish. When we look at the boy’s character in the children’s classic, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, we see a caricature of what we have been taught selfishness looks like. At first, he loves the tree and he wants to play with her and spend time with her, but as he grows, this sense of entitlement and resentment begins to take over. He takes advantage of the tree’s generous nature because she has no boundaries. This was me. I had no boundaries and made it easy for others to take advantage of my generosity and compassion until I had nothing left to give. I had become a stump, just like the tree in the book. This is many women’s story.

When I looked up the meaning of the word “selfless,” the first definition I saw was “concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own.” That doesn’t sound too bad, something we might want to aspire to. The second one I saw was “having no concern for self.”  Hmm … less good. The synonyms ranged from lofty words like magnanimous, altruistic and “compassionate, right down to the heart of the matter, words like self-sacrificing and self-denying. When you dissect the word, being selfless literally means to be without a self.

To pay due diligence, I then turned around and looked up the word “selfish.” I saw phrases like “lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure” and “concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself; seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others.” One can see by our society’s definitions that the thought of being selfish might bring up some doubt as to whether it is a good idea or not. But interestingly, the synonyms ranged from the low end with words like narcissistic and egomaniacal to the other end of the spectrum, with words like self-regarding, self-seeking, self-centred and self-loving.

When we look at the word through these lenses, being selfish equates to having self-worth and self-esteem. When we can put ourselves first, it means that we care enough about our own well-being to know that we have far greater value and can contribute more to the world around us when there is actually something to give.

Share something about yourself many wouldn’t know—a fun fact, story or perspective. 

There aren’t too many people who know that I am a land healer. It wasn’t something that I really signed up for, but instead was called to do. In my travels, I have had many interesting and exciting adventures being approached to heal the places I am visiting.

One of the more amusing times was in Mexico, when I was visiting one of the great Zapotecan ruins. As hordes of people were streaming towards the grand step pyramids, I felt pulled to go off in the opposite direction. My travelling buddy and I walked to an area that suddenly was free of all other visitors but the two of us. My friend wandered off to take pictures of the landscape as I was drawn to what appeared to be an offering of flowers laying on the ground in the centre of what had once been a building. As I bent down to take a picture, I felt myself surrounded by a bunch of land spirits asking me to do a land healing. They had made sure we wouldn’t be disturbed.

I had read the location’s history in the visitor centre, so I knew that this was no small request: lots of tragic things had happened here. I started laughing and explained that I was on a bus tour and only had a few minutes before we would be departing. But they were really insistent. After a bit of negotiating, we agreed that I would do a quick healing. Once I was done, my friend came back from taking pictures and a group of people showed up as we were walking away. Spirit works in mysterious ways, and I just have to roll with it.

Needless to say, being in nature is one of the things I do to bring myself back into balance and to achieve well-being. Nothing makes me happier than hanging with the nature spirits!

This column was submitted as part of BWB Wednesdays.

Faces of #OKGNtech
Accelerate Okanagan - Jun 01, 2020 - 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 Brea. Brea Lake is the chief executive officer of Accelerate Okanagan. When she’s not leading her team, you’ll find Lake out on the lake, at a concert or exploring her creative side with some embroidery and mosaic art.

Where do you work in the Okanagan?

I work at Accelerate Okanagan. I started with the organization seven years ago as a community manager. It was such a great role to dip my feet in, make lots of connections and truly become an advocate for everything happening in OKGNtech.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I’m passionate about Accelerate Okanagan’s mission to give entrepreneurs the mentorship, connections and community they need, but I would also say I love the team and culture we’ve built over the years. Everyone is so bought into their role and how they’re working to support the growth of OKGNtech. We really have the opportunity to change people’s lives, and we get to see that direct impact.

What do you enjoy most about the OKGNtech community?

One thing unique to the Okanagan’s entire business community is the level of collaboration and support for one another. Often when I go into other regions, they’re fragmented and competitive. Our strength lies in our ability to collaborate. It’s our secret sauce. We look at the whole sum and try to grow the region together.

What learnings have helped you come into your role as a leader?

Something I’ve found that contributes to being an effective leader is to stop and notice. I used to think my job was to come out and share information and all my expertise and experience. But that isn’t what a great leader does. A great leader helps people find their own potential and their own solutions. That’s something I’m passionate about and working to further develop.

What’s something you’ve noticed about leadership in the industry?

From the early days of my career, and now as a CEO, there are a lot of male-dominated tables I sit at. We are starting to see the tides changing in tech, especially in the Okanagan, but that reality still exists and it leads me to speak up more. If the diversity isn’t there in the room, you need to be a louder voice and bring a different perspective to the conversation.

Leading Accelerate Okanagan, what was your biggest concern at the onset of COVID-19?

We needed to re-evaluate how we’re convening people, curating the right information and making it accessible without any in-person interaction. The support we were offering six months ago doesn’t address how companies are now reimagining their business models. So we’re adapting our offerings to meet the founders where they are.

What was your approach to managing an entirely remote team?

Having empathy towards everyone’s situations—hearing about where they’re at, gaining perspective and leading from that understanding. Things are changing so quickly, we don’t want to leave people out in uncertainty. I’m a very transparent leader, so giving as much information whenever I can helps people understand what’s going on.

Do you see this as a pivotal time for leaders?

After the first 10 days of working remotely, one of my coaches told me, “not everyone can steer the helm in a storm.” I often think about that. Times like these are where leaders really need to find their footing. You either come into it and figure it out, into the qualities you’ve been building for a number of years, or you run away and collapse.

What’s been your favourite piece of advice?

The best piece of advice I think about is to do something that scares you at least once a month. That’s how you continue to grow. I can be anxious or avoid doing things that scare me, but I’m often reminded of that advice. You don’t realize your true potential until you lean in and try something that scares you.

Holistic approach to anxiety
Contributed - May 27, 2020 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

By Tricia Veltri
Core Level Healing Therapy

Anxiety is becoming an epidemic in our culture.

According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada, “one in four Canadians will have at least one anxiety disorder in their lifetime.” This can be debilitating as people often experience sleepless nights, preoccupation of negative repetitive thoughts, or feel a sense of dread, worry or terror.

Along with the psychological symptoms, anxiety can present physically as nausea, sweating, diarrhea, shortness of breath, racing heartbeat and feeling constantly on edge.

Most of us want a quick fix, because living with anxiety can be unbearable. However, before you run to the doctor and ask for a “magic pill” that will ultimately just mask the symptoms, consider treating anxiety with a holistic approach.

In order to treat anxiety, consider your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being, here are five strategies you can implement on your own.

Learn to Say No

You have a thousand things on the go. When you’re running from one appointment to another, over-committing yourself and saying yes when you really want to say no, you are running on pure adrenalin. It is no wonder your mind won’t shut off and you feel completely overwhelmed. If you are a people pleaser this can be hard to do, as you fear rejection and abandonment. However, when you say no, you are really saying “yes” to yourself and your well-being. As a rule of thumb, I say listen to your body. If it is not a “hell yeah,” it’s a no.

Practise Self-Care

First things first: Self-care is not selfish. I recommend to all my clients to take at least 30 minutes of non-negotiable self-care time each and every day. This could be meditating in the morning or night, exercising, yoga, reading a book, taking a bath or spending time in nature. Ensure that you are getting enough sleep at night. Slow down, take some deep breaths and limit social media time.

Listen to Your Body

Sometimes anxiety can be a symptom of an underlying physical issue going on such as hormone imbalances, vitamin/nutrient deficiencies, chronic diseases, metabolic issues, side effects from medications or dietary issues. I highly recommend seeing a naturopath or doctor to rule out any physical causes of anxiety.

Watch Your Thoughts

Dr. Wayne Dyer says, “You create your thoughts, your thoughts create your intentions, and your intentions create your reality.” Our thoughts have incredible power over us, and anxiety is only fear, which stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. Begin to take an inventory of your thought patterns; do you have any evidence to back them up?

Know When to Ask for Help

If your anxiety is debilitating, is causing you to feel hopeless, is a result of trauma or PTSD or is causing extreme panic of fear, it is time to reach out for help. Therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) are effective treatments for anxiety.

You can visit my website at www.corehealingtherapy.ca for more information on how I can help.

This column was submitted as part of BWB Wednesdays.

Faces of #OKGNtech
Accelerate Okanagan - May 15, 2020 - 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 Lance. Lance Schafer is the general manager of product and technology for LotLinx, Inc. When he isn’t building and leading his tech team, you’ll find Schafer spending time with his family, reading science magazines or jamming on the bass in one of his bands.

How were you first introduced to the OKGNtech community?

It was a pretty chance encounter. The drummer of my band introduced me to Sheldon Gardiner, who then introduced me to Jeff Keen—the then CEO of Accelerate Okanagan. We had a few discussions from there and got offered a role as a mentor at AO. I hadn’t heard of mentorship programs like AO had, so I thought it was a great opportunity to meet people in the tech community.

Where do you work in the Okanagan?

LotLinx is where I work now. I started a company with a couple of founders that merged with LotLinx back in 2015. I took on the position of general manager of product and technology after the merge. The ability to focus on product and tech has been a real gift. They’re a super innovative company. It’s great.

Do you think there is anything missing from the community here?

I think the gap is attracting talent. That’s not unique to Kelowna, though. People love the city, but it’s hard to convince them to move here. They think it’s a small town where you can’t build a career. One of the silver linings of COVID-19 may be the realization that talent can be remote. It’s forced us to embrace virtual teams, improve management practices and communicate better.

What has been the best part of being an investor in the OKGN Angel Summit?

I’d been pretty disconnected from the tech community since joining LotLinx. The OKGN Angel Summit gave me an opportunity to reconnect. The $150,000 fund that is created is a pretty good investment for a startup, but what I was really excited to see were the side deals that started to occur. It feels like something much bigger is happening than it initially appears to be on the outside.

With your wife also participating as an investor, was there some friendly competition?

We have a fairly similar approach to investing, but every once in awhile we’ll disagree. Sometimes I think she’s joking with me. It’s caused a few spirited discussions on the way home from the investor nights. All in all, it’s been awesome doing it together. I recommend any investor bring their spouse to participate.

What do you think are some characteristics that make a good leader?

Most entrepreneurs are optimists. They’re trying to create something that’s better. A leader has to be honest with their team in terms of where things stand. It sounds simple, but it can be difficult to understand where things truly are and where you want them to go. The ability to have that vision and communicate it to your team, to investors, to customers, is paramount.

Have you utilized mentorship along your entrepreneurial journey?

Not as much as I wish I could have, in retrospect. I did have mentors, but they were mostly among individuals my age. I was looking at people who were in the same spot as me, not those who had grown and exited businesses. At the time, I didn’t think they could relate to what I was doing. I would have been able to move much faster if I had taken advantage of that.

The best piece of advice you’ve ever received? Or can share?

What you start with is not what you’re going to end up doing, and that’s OK. Especially if you’re not really aware of the industry you’re entering. That can throw people off because they get committed to what they’re doing, so don’t get locked into something. Be flexible. It’s easy to pivot out of a failure, but it’s not so easy to pivot out of success.

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