Is it an HR or lawyer issue?
Contributed - Jun 01, 2021 - Columnists

Image: Contributed

Clay Williams and Tanvir Gill are business lawyers at FH&P Lawyers, serving the B.C. Interior with offices in Kelowna, Penticton and Salmon Arm. They are the hosts of “Law Talk,” a podcast that educates listeners on business matters including whether or not to incorporate, estate planning with a business and all other legal issues businesses face.

In this episode, Williams and Gill welcome in guest Kerri Lockwood to discuss the role of a human resources manager versus employment and business lawyers when it comes to several issues within the workplace.

They discuss the process of hiring and terminating employees, what has changed since the beginning of the pandemic and if Lockwood has any tips for business owners when it comes to dealing with employees. Lockwood is the people and culture manager at FH&P Lawyers.

Send your questions for any business law topics for Williams and Gill to [email protected].

Never hurts to play dead
Contributed - May 26, 2021 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

By Debra Kelly

When you’re hanging out with friends and sharing a few Coronas, the conversation can lead to some interesting wildlife stories.

Undoubtedly someone will always try and ‘one up’ the other to win the best ‘worst encounter with a bug or animal’ story. We Canadians can tell some great black bear encounters or moose tales, but Mexico animal stories win it all.

Everyone lucky enough to live in Cabo has experienced some crazy and scary encounters with a scorpion or giant spider, and with time the story gets more and more exciting. My lizard story is a good one.

My little dog Bruce loves to chase lizards and flies out the door each morning knowing their exact hiding spots. This particular morning he immediately found ‘big daddy’ basking in the sun, and he urgently escaped Bruce and ran as fast as his little reptilian legs would go and flew straight into the pool. I was barely awake and luckily happened to witness big daddy splash into the water. The instant he hit the water his body stopped moving. He definitely knew the dead man float. I was horrified and hoped to see him swim his way across the pool, but he did not. I searched my early morning brain and wondered: Do lizards swim? Thankfully he was not sinking to the bottom of the pool and still floating, but I couldn’t tell if he was breathing.

For a split second I thought of jumping into the pool to pick him up with my hands.

Nope.

I ran back into the house and found a broom knowing that with each second that passed meant life and death. I reached the straw broom under his lifeless body not knowing if he was dead or if he would spring to life the moment he was out of the water and race away. I gently laid him on the pool deck, and he lifted his head—yes—but it flopped back down, showing me he was certainly dead. I gave him lizard CPR, using the broom handle to give three short taps on his back, rested for three, and three more short taps on his back … over and over. He lay lifeless.

Big daddy lizard has lived in my outdoor terrace wall for years, and I do enjoy seeing him each summer. I have seen his family grow and even caught him sexing one of his females. Yes, I can report to you that I may be one of very few people in the whole wide world who has actually seen a lizard penis. This being a family story, I can only say it was exactly the same as a male dog. Really.

OK, so I decide to go back into the house and watch from a distance. It didn’t take long when he made a full recovery and scurried off to his nearby home in the wall. Happy ending.

Big daddy smarty-pants was playing dead the whole time.

Debra Kelly is an author, storyteller and motivator.

This column was submitted as part of BWB Wednesdays

Don’t let ‘what if’ become ‘if only’
Myrna Selzler Park - May 21, 2021 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

Have you wondered what your life would be like if you lived with a “what if” philosophy?

Would you belt it out with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, windows wide open, or would you look back with more than a few regrets because you lived with an “if only” philosophy?

I wonder:
• What if I could build a world-class organization?
• What if I could create a community where people build connections and share their strengths and uniqueness?
• What if I could make a grilled cheese sandwich without burning one side?

As a first-year university student, one of the first articles I read was about positive expectancy. It described me. For much of my life, I have awakened figuratively rubbing my hands in delight, wondering what the day would bring.

That feeling has ebbed and flowed over the years. Once it ebbed so slowly, I forgot that I had ever held those magical feelings. My life felt flat, the colours grey, my breath shallow.

As a parent, I had wanted to create that feeling of delight in my sons. While tucking my little boys in at night, I would ask them two questions:

“What was the best thing about your day?”

The intention was to give them a sense of satisfaction about their day.

“What are you looking forward to tomorrow?”

This was to create a sense of positive expectancy.

One evening, as I tucked my older son in, and asked these questions, he got quiet and paused. I was curious. He had spent the day with a friend’s son, double his age at 10.

“What was the favourite part of your day?” I prodded.

“Joey and I laid on the trampoline and looked at pictures in the clouds.”

My heart melted.

“What are you looking forward to tomorrow?”

“Joey said we could do it again.”

What if we could ask ourselves these questions?

What if, at the end of each day, we could remind ourselves of one lone thing we did that satisfied us? Brought us joy?

What if we could expect more joy, more satisfaction tomorrow?

And what if we could be bold and audacious? What if we ask ourselves: What if [insert secret desire, big hairy audacious goal, best vision ever here]?

I got to wondering, can we “what if” our way through life? Or will it fade away to “if only?”

The bedtime routine I shared with my sons reflected their innocence and willingness to explore the “what if.”

*************

As I mentored my people, I would ask them to recall the times when they had accomplished what they thought impossible.

I discussed this the other day with my younger son, now 29. He recalled the moment he was finally able to tie his shoelaces.

It can be that simple.

In the course of my consulting practice, I have encountered people who, from all outward appearances, had a dream job. They had great compensation, personal and professional growth, benefits. Yet, they were bitter. “If only I had left the job sooner, I could have …”

Even saying the words “if only” lowers our energy, elicits a sense of regret.

How can we push, maintain and grow the “what if” innocence of youth and delay the onset of “if only” that can accompany age?

We need to remind ourselves that more success and more good things are possible.

As leaders, we need to be the reminder or prompter of memories of the successes of our people.

Simon Sinek, British-American author, reminds us: “A leader’s job is not to do the work for others, it’s to help others figure out how to do it themselves, to get things done, and to succeed beyond what they thought possible.”

What if by reminding them of their successes, no matter how small they may appear, we can help them move into their “what if.”

Our people may need to be reminded that if they can do something small well, such as tie their shoelaces, they can move to doing bigger things with increasing success.

Then we propel that energy. The memory of those endorphins surging through our body into what we are looking forward to, our big “what if.”
• What if we could make that presentation with confidence?
• What if I could figure out the ins and outs of this bookkeeping transaction so everything balances?
• What if I could stay calm when I tell my client things are not going as planned?

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” Vincent Van Gogh observed.

What if we could do the seemingly impossible?

What if, in our unique way, we could fly?

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]

Should business build or lease?
Contributed - May 18, 2021 - Columnists

Image: Contributed

Clay Williams and Tanvir Gill are business lawyers at FH&P Lawyers, serving the B.C. Interior with offices in Kelowna, Penticton and Salmon Arm. They are the hosts of “Law Talk,” a podcast that educates listeners on business matters including whether or not to incorporate, estate planning with a business and all other legal issues businesses face.

In this episode, Williams and Gill discuss leasing a space or building for your business. Whether you are just starting out or have been in business for a while, knowing about how a lease works, the obligations of a landlord, the offer to lease and/or renewal of a lease is important.

There are several new buildings popping up across Kelowna with plenty of spaces to open your business. Williams and Gill will offer helpful information on leasing a space.

Friendship on a cold day
Myrna Selzler Park - Apr 23, 2021 - Columnists

Photo: Harli Marten, Unsplash

Friendship can keep you warm on the coldest day.

The spring wind congealed the cheese in his poutine and blew the dipping sauce for my yam fries off the table and across the gravel patio.

Our glutes froze to the concrete picnic tables outside the fast-food restaurant. Two of the three concrete seats were broken, so we sat beside each other.

We meet once or twice a month for lunch. I tease him that we should arm wrestle for the bill, but, usually, we take turns.

As a leader, I instinctively look for greatness, and, in this case, resilience, everywhere. I see it in my friend.

My friend is my former window washer. He is my “almost homeless” friend because when I met him, he was living in his 1981 van.

The most important word in that sentence is “friend.” The almost homeless is an interesting sidebar, a distinguishing marker, like my friend who goes for a swim in the lake every day of the year.

Back then, a rattle-trap trailer was attached to the van. The child-like writing on the trailer’s 2×4 frame declared expertise: “Odd Jobs. Window Cleaning. Moving.”

When I saw his van, my first thought was “entrepreneur.” I called the number crudely etched on the greying boards.

Twice a year, for several years, Ron washed my office windows.

The first time he cleaned all 30 windows—inside and out—we had a disagreement.

We had met previously to discuss the terms of his services.

“How much would you like to be paid?” I like to know these things in advance.

Ron tilted his head, “Would $15 an hour be too much?”

“No. That would be fair. You’re supplying the equipment and the labour; all I’m supplying is the water and the dirty windows.”

He smiled, his blue eyes wrinkling and twinkling.

A day or two later, the windows were clean. Ron asked the receptionist if he could see me.

He rocked from foot to foot, looking apologetic as I met him in the lobby.

“I’d like to renegotiate the price.”

I frowned, raising my eyebrows.

“It took longer than it should have. I think you should only pay me $12 an hour.”

I shook my head.

“No, Ron, a deal is a deal. You negotiated $15 an hour. I’m paying you $15 an hour.”

He looked grateful, and sheepish.

As leaders, we set the tone. We “do what we say we will do” and model that behaviour. And we can expect the same from our team. This creates a culture of mutual respect.

During his window-cleaning years, Ron and I would sometimes bump into each other downtown. We stood on street corners, chatting about nothing in particular, smiling and enjoying each other’s company.

The “small talk” of leadership—getting to know the person beyond the role—that’s what creates relationships and a feeling of belonging.

Time moved on. Ron is no longer my office window cleaner. I sold the business. And I worried when I didn’t see his rusted-out van parked in quiet areas in the downtown core.

I called the cell number from years ago. I wasn’t sure I had the right number. There was no message. I hoped he had the same flip phone.

I left a message and, with some apprehension, waited for a return call.

Weeks later, a voice from the past was at the other end of the line. It was Ron. He was sorry. He is not good at retrieving messages, and it took him a while to even notice there was a message.

We have been meeting once or twice a month for about six months now.

When Ron has trouble with “the system,” he calls me and I help him or find someone who can. In return, he wants to clean my windows, but I don’t think the strata would approve.

Leaders and friends. They/we take care of each other.

Ron’s story is like so many others. He is respectful of his upbringing, but there are indications of how tough it was and how he went through some difficult years.

He never wanted to be a parent and wasn’t. Perhaps he was afraid he would repeat the patterns of his childhood.

While his friendship warmed me outside the fast-food restaurant, we decided to move out of the bone-chilling wind into the warmth of my car. We talked about carpool karaoke, the inventor of the zipper, the death of Prince Philip and what it would have been like to have been royalty—the chitchat of comfortable friends.

After one particularly funny moment, I slapped my hand on the console. “Ron, I have so much fun being with you. Thanks for being my friend.”

He reached over and touched the top of my hand.

“I like spending time with you, too.”

The cheese on the poutine softened. The warmth of the car mirrored the warmth of our friendship.

In search of my window washer, I found an unexpected entrepreneur, greatness and resilience.

While he doesn’t wash my windows anymore, he plays a more important role—spending time with him cleans my soul. He’s my friend.

 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]

Let life flow around pillars
Myrna Selzler Park - Apr 09, 2021 - Columnists

Photo: Hans Reniers, Unsplash

We are standing at her front door. I am saying goodbye to my friend, who is waiting for surgery for her broken back.

She is leaning on the door pillar, trying to stand erect. The cool, winter breeze moves around her.

Our conversation has revolved around cosmic 2x4s—you know, the experiences life throws at us when we are not paying attention to what is good for us.

The first cosmic 2×4 was the suicidal pain from a pinched nerve in my neck. The surgery to fix it did not slow me down one iota. I was not ready to learn what life was trying to teach me.

I was hit by a second cosmic 2×4 a few years ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. This one forced me to slow down and learn life’s lesson.

This friend was with me through the cancer experience and saw the changes I finally made.

We chat about the routine of life and the rhythm of living.

Years ago, as part of a leadership degree, my friend wrote a paper about routine and rhythm.

The analogy that came to her was the Parthenon. The pillars are the routine, but the life, the rhythm, is the flow between them.

This idea got me thinking about leadership.

As leaders, we provide the routine, the structure, the pillars, and when we share our compelling vision clearly, our teams can provide the rhythm in the spaces between these pillars.

If all we do is set the structure, setting our pillars close to one another, there is no room for our people to move, grow, and develop.

The poet Kahlil Gibran said it like this:

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”

We need spaces. And specific, clear roles and responsibilities.

In my business, I had three managers plus me. Everyone had a clearly defined role. Each acted as a pillar. The team we had built around the four of us was free to flow following the structure. They all had the right work to do, the work that suited them, and they got to choose their partners, their teammates.

Each department had a big picture. That was the pillar.

They knew what they stood for and what part of the business they were holding up. They had clear, collaborative goals. The details of how they would fulfil that big picture were with their people, their tactics, their goals. These details filled the space between the pillars.

Each department manager had knowledge and skills that were the pillars of their role. They coached that knowledge and skills to their team members, who created the rhythm of excellence.

For people to believe they have a future within an organization, we need to develop them, give them new learning opportunities, new responsibilities.

We need to stretch them so they either push us out of our roles or feel the absolute compulsion to be someone bigger somewhere else.

I had the trust—absolute implicit trust—that each of my managers would do the best they could in every circumstance. That trust created the space where ideas could flow, creating an ever-evolving rhythm of new ideas, new opportunities.

People behave differently when they know they are trusted. They take ownership of their work, and they know it matters.

Imagine the Parthenon, your organization, in the future—the pillars, the people, the vision you built standing strong. The gentle breeze of the lives, the careers, the products and services that have blown in and out have created full, rich lives for all you have touched.

Stand erect, like my friend with the broken back. Know what you stand for and stand for it. Only then can the flow of life breeze through the pillars of your vision.

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]

The storm of indecision
Myrna Selzler Park - Mar 31, 2021 - Columnists

Image: Contributed

My head snaps like a flag in the wind as indecisions storm in my mind.

• “Should I do this? Or not?”
• “Is this the right thing to say or is that?”
• “What should I do with my life/have for dinner?”

Indecision can sit heavy, like a coming thunderstorm, on our hearts and minds.

As I contemplated indecision this past week, I got to thinking that it does not exist; indecision is fear in heavy cloud cover.

There is an interesting coaching question I use and have had used on me. When posed with a difficult question from the coach such as:

“Why do you think….?”

I replied, “I don’t know.”

Silence. And then, “If you did know, what would the answer be?”

And I always knew.

• I did not want to know it.
• I did not want to say it out loud.
• I did not want to speak my truth.

I did not want to have words I was hiding from exposed to the bright light of day for all to see. More important, I did not want the words I was hiding from to be illuminated by the bright light of day for me to see.

It was easier to hide them under the dark cloud of indecision.

Sometimes, we hold having too many choices responsible for our indecision. “So many men, so little time” as the song goes. So many job applicants. Which one should I hire? So many marketing options. Which one should I choose?

• Indecision has allowed me to avoid having difficult conversations with a poorly performing employee.
• Indecision has allowed me to keep someone in a role for which they weren’t suited.
• Indecision has allowed me to postpone the inevitable.

One of my agents was not performing. We had trained him, offered him support and mentoring. From the outside looking in, it appeared he was behaving like a rebel without a cause.

No more wasting my time or my trainer’s time. The rest of the team needed to see that I was holding him to the same standard I expected from them.

I didn’t have indecision. I had fear—fear that I would lose an income generator. I imagined him abruptly pushing away from the table as the defensiveness rose, “I’ve done everything you said to do,” while knowing that was a lie.

The wind blew the clouds of indecision. I stared fear in the eye and said what I needed to say.

“You have 30 days to get on track. Or you can no longer work here.”

I count silently after delivering big messages like this. It keeps me from rescuing, from filling the vacuum of silence that follows those moments of truth.

The room was still, like the quiet before a big storm.

He leaned in from across the table, his intense blue eyes tear-glinted with determination. Or was it fear?

“Tell me what I have to do,” he said. “Again. And I’ll do it.”

And he did.

As leaders, we bear witness to indecisiveness both in our personal role and our role as mentors of our people.

If we can recognize indecision as fear and have strategies to minimize it, we can help our people grow.

Indecision may show up as the fear of making the wrong decision. Our job is to coach people to clearly define the problem so they can create potential solutions. We must let them choose, and if they choose incorrectly, support them in clarifying:

• What they did right;
• What they should do differently next time;
• What they learned from the experience.

Let making mistakes be a process of learning, not an opportunity for blame and fear.

People can be afraid of failure and even more afraid of success. I used to tell my people they were going to learn and grow exponentially when we worked together. And because of this growth, there was going to be fallout, including outgrowing beliefs, behaviours and even people.

A Holiday Inn slogan from years ago sums it up: “The best surprise is no surprise.” Knowing what failure and success can look like removes some of the fear, the cloak of indecision.

All of us, particularly in our role as leaders, can be concerned about what other people think. We don’t want to hurt someone, but yet, we need to have difficult conversations.

Often, before I have a difficult conversation, I have a chat with myself.

I remind myself that although this difficult message needed to be delivered, it can be delivered with respect and compassion. I take a moment to shift from blame and frustration to a gentler disposition.

As the storm of indecision raged in my mind the past few days, I paused. In my mind, I can control the weather. As I looked at it, the circumstance, I asked myself what I feared, what was holding me back from making a decision.

I saw the fear. And as I looked, it dissipated. The truth was in plain sight. It was time for me to act on the truth and quit hiding from the storms.

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]

Know your whisky and bourbon
Shannan Schimmelmann - Mar 25, 2021 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

If you are a whisky drinker or bourbon lover, there’s a good chance you have heard it before: All bourbon is whisky, but not all whisky is bourbon.

There is often confusion over the distinction between each, with common errors made even by seasoned whisky drinkers. We want to level up your whisky knowledge and bourbon facts.

Let’s start with whisky, a spirit distilled from fermented grain mash. Grain varieties include wheat, rye, barley and corn, and are aged in wooden barrels. Whisky is made all over the world, and there are many popular styles, including Canadian whisky, Scotch whisky, Irish whiskey and American whiskey.

Whisky is known to aficionados as the ‘water of life’ and is one of the most expensive spirits on the market. There are many factors that determine a bottle’s price, which include age, rarity and uniqueness. The Macallan Fine and Rare 60-Year-Old 1926 became the most expensive bottle of wine or spirit ever sold, smashing auction records for a whopping $1.9 million on Oct. 24, 2019. This is the second time a vintage bottle of this kind has made history. In 2018, a bottle from the same Macallan batch broke the same record, selling for $1.2 million at Christie’s in London.

Travelling monks migrating from mainland Europe are said to have shared their knowledge of the whisky distillation process in Scotland and Ireland. The monasteries in Scotland and Ireland lacked vineyards and grapes, so the monks began fermenting grain, producing the first distillations of modern whisky. Around 1405, the first written record of whisky appeared in the Irish Annals of Clonmacnoise, a chronicle that documented events in Ireland from prehistory to A.D. 1408.

Did you know that John Molson, who is best known for brewing, is also credited with first introducing whisky to Canada in 1799? Canadian whiskies are often blended, multi-grain liquors with a large percentage of corn spirits, and known to be lighter and smoother than other whisky styles. Canadian distillers began adding rye grain to their mashes, and many people simply call this a rye. Canadian whisky and ‘rye whisky’ are used interchangeably.

The most popular form of American whiskey is bourbon. Bourbon’s main characteristic is its sweet flavour, but it also has hints of smokiness due to the charred oak aging process. Bourbons made with higher proportions of corn are generally sweeter than those with more abundant doses of rye. Aside from being sweeter than most Scotch whiskeys, bourbons are often heavier in texture and offer notes of toffee, cinnamon and vanilla.

The fermentation process makes bourbon unique compared to other types of whiskeys. The fermentation process begins by mixing mash from an already fermenting batch, a process known as sour mash, which was developed by Dr. James C. Crow in 1823. After the mash is completed, the barrel aging process begins. Bourbon is aged in new, charred, white oak barrels and distilled to no more than 80% alcohol, or 160 proof.

The name “bourbon” was officially given in 1840, when a distiller by the name of Jacob Spears was the first to label his product “Bourbon Whiskey.” Prior to this, it was often labelled “Bourbon County Whiskey” or “Old Bourbon County Whiskey.” By the 1960s, the United States Congress had declared bourbon whiskey as the country’s official distilled spirit and established the regulations that had to be met in order to be labelled a bourbon. Like most whiskies, bourbon has its unique taste and colour, made possible with the specific rules set for all distillers. Every distillery in Kentucky and other states must observe the government’s strict bourbon production rules in America.

Rules for making bourbon:
• It must be produced from at least 51% natural corn.
• It should be aged in a new, unused, charred barrel.
• The barrel aging begins at more than 125 proof.
• Bourbon should be bottled between 80 and 160 proof.
• It should not have any additives like flavour and colour.
• The whisky should go into the barrel at 62.5% alcohol by volume (ABV) and into the bottle at a minimum of 40% ABV.

Bourbon is an iconic American spirit, but it wasn’t always thought of so highly. There’s a growing popularity of bourbon enthusiasts. Two common bourbon terms are white dog and fake tan.

White dog: Sometimes referred to as white lightning, it is un-aged bourbon. Before bourbon is left to age in an oak barrel, it is the fresh whiskey off the still. It is a clear grain spirit that some distillers have started packaging for sale. It’s called white because it hasn’t browned in a barrel. The flavour is corn-forward and lacks sweetness and tannic body.

Fake Tan: Though adding artificial caramel colouring to deepen flavour is a banned practice in the bourbon world, some drinkers insist there are distillers who give their bottle a “fake tan.” Why? Whiskey goes into a barrel as a clear spirit and comes out somewhere on the yellow-gold-brown spectrum. The longer bourbon ages in a new charred oak cask, the deeper the hue. Many drinkers equate age to quality, and a deeper colour is a desirable trait.

We have only touched on a few terms, but there is an entire world of whisky and bourbon lingo. For whisky and bourbon enthusiasts in the Okanagan, there are several local whisky tasting societies that were formed by groups of enthusiasts who gather to share their knowledge and appreciation of various distilled spirits known around the world as whiskey (or whisky). Further, there are a variety of courses, events and festivals held throughout the year by local distilleries each offering incredible tasting experiences and tours that explore the elements of craft whisky production. We encourage you to check out the Craft Distillers Guild of British Columbia and visit a local distillery.

Shannan Schimmelmann first fell in love with B.C. wine and spirits while studying hospitality at Camosun College in Victoria, and she has spent the past two decades exploring more than 100 wineries and distilleries in B.C. and beyond. She is a business leader and consultant skilled at partnership development, export strategy and supply chain management. She has an MBA from Royal Roads University, a wine business management certificate from Sonoma State University, a restaurant management diploma from Camosun College and Canadian Wine Scholar WSET-1 accreditation.

Vision will overpower doubt
Myrna Selzler Park - Mar 16, 2021 - Columnists

Photo: Joshua Hoehne, Unsplash

The clatter of the dice rolling across the Monopoly board fills me with exhilaration.

I loved playing Monopoly—rolling the dice for opportunity, collecting groups of two or three coloured cards, strategizing, negotiating with my siblings, collecting “huge sums” of rent, owning the board.

And to make it even more profound, when I was 10, I saw my first real estate sign while in the big city. My initials, MLS, were on that sign. I inhaled the beginnings of a dream.

When I was 24, I thought it would be interesting if my first sales job was selling commercial real estate.

I took a slow, thoughtful drive through an industrial park. I liked the thought of leasing and selling warehouses. I don’t know why; the small town I grew up in didn’t even have warehouses.

I compiled a list of businesses I thought I should call and decided to make 20 calls a day.

That seemed like a plan.

What I hadn’t counted on was the paralysis that struck me, from my guts to my dialling fingers. My fingers were as rigid as the pen I would struggle to write with if I ever talked to a real person, a potential client.

If I never talked to people, how would I ever sell or lease a warehouse? I didn’t see any other way.

I cut myself some slack. My first call, every day, was to a friend—someone who would go for lunch with me. That way, if I lived till lunch, if I survived making the other 19 calls, I had something to look forward to.

Every morning, I sat at my desk, took deep breaths, and talked to myself: “I can do this. I can. I’m just not sure I want to.”

I imagined the consequence of not making the calls truly dire.

I looked at my right hand. “Make the call, make progress.”

I looked at my left hand. “Don’t make the call, starve to death.”

OK. OK. I made the call.

And I called every morning for three months. My afternoons filled up with appointments. Appointments became clients—clients who wanted to lease or buy warehouses.

I have never forgotten the fear, the terror of starting something new. New and big, at least to my 24-year-old eyes.

Fast forward to the discomfort and the questions that come with being a leader wanting to build a tribe.
• What if my ideas don’t work?
• How much can I challenge the norm and not fall off the cliff?
• What if my peers criticize me and my ideas? Are they right? Am I just a dreamer?
• But what if I settle? What if I do nothing?

That last thought feels like a frozen Twizzler licorice worming its way through my body.

According to Seth Godin in his book, Tribes, a lack of faith holds us back. “…Faith that you can do it. Faith that it is worth doing. Faith that failure won’t destroy you.”

The faith we need to be leaders, to move as leaders, comes from developing a future we want to see, a future we want to share with our tribe. The faith will free us to do difficult things.

When running into obstacles, that faith will give us the strength to overcome them—to stride by them or push them aside.

We see the vision of our future hovering just above our horizon. We are living it and sharing it with our people.
• Is it the vision of the future that keeps the faith that we can do it?
• Or is it the faith that inspires the vision of the future?
• Or the ebb and flow between these two states of mind?

As I reflected on the faith, the vision required to go “where no (wo)man has gone before,” I wondered how I did it.

This is what I recall:

I took lots of deep breaths. I would breathe into the belief that I could (and would) do whatever it took.

I was careful with my self talk. If something was particularly difficult, I would tell myself I only needed to do it for another half-hour, till noon, for the next 90 days. I would allow myself to pretend the difficult tasks were of a short duration.

I used this same technique when running. I don’t need to run 10 kilometres; I only need to run to the next power pole. And the next. And the next.

When something stopped me cold, I would imagine I was Robert Frost about to choose a “road less travelled” and I would envision an even more exciting journey—and all the options this new direction provided. “This or something better.”

I made a date with myself every Friday afternoon at 2 o’clock. I created a spreadsheet with all the variables that would make me advance my cause, move closer to my vision for the future.

I didn’t allow any hiding places. And the places where I did not do so well, they went to the top of the list for the next week.

Being accountable to myself was far more powerful than being accountable to anyone else.

As I have matured, I have discovered the power of working toward a bigger purpose. Involving others in a bigger dream creates synergy and momentum. My dream helps them achieve their dreams.

“You know how they always say that things will work out for the best in the end? Well, if they are not working out for you right now, it means you are not at the end yet.”

The hours spent playing Monopoly as a kid were lessons that served me in my journey as a leader.

When I could not get Boardwalk or Park Place, I would own all the Railroads and do just fine. The vision stayed the same—only the journey changed. And that was perfect.

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]

Robotic firm ahead of its time
Accelerate Okanagan - Mar 02, 2021 - Columnists

Image: Contributed

The battle is on. Things are heating up. And our top six have been chosen.

We met one-on-one with the 2021 OKGN Angel Summit’s top six to hear their insights into the summit and their final pitch for the top spot, which will take place virtually on March 18.

Meet Mike Boudreau, founder of TechBrew Robotics in Salmon Arm. Boudreau has developed an automated vision-guided robotics system that is able to locate and harvest mushrooms. We caught up with Boudreau to learn more about his inspiration behind the idea, his experience as an entrepreneur and his plans to go the distance.

What problem were you trying to solve when you started TechBrew Robotics?

TechBrew Robotics started as Technology Brewing Company, because we were brewing technology—that’s where the name comes from. We recently changed our name to TechBrew Robotics because robotics is what we’ve been doing for a while now. We were looking for projects that have repeat potential as it’s difficult to make money when you’re the first of something. When we stumbled upon the mushroom industry in 2019, we saw it had significant repeat potential. Picking mushrooms is a difficult job and has a lot of turnover. Seeing this, we felt that we should pivot and become a product company that addresses the needs of that market.

Why should your customer be excited about your product?

Just stand and watch a robot work. It’s mesmerizing. Even when I put a video on, people are just glued to what the robots are doing. We’re all fascinated by robots, particularly robots that can adapt to their environment, which is what we’re doing. Vision-guided means that it finds the mushrooms, and it goes and picks them. It’s a level of automation that’s still emerging, and we’re one of the pioneers in that space.

Tell us about the success you’ve found already

All of our systems are first-outs in the world, and they’re still the only pieces of technology that are capable of doing what they’re doing with (research and development), food-safe compliance and installation. For a small group of people in Salmon Arm, that’s pretty remarkable. When we first looked at the mushroom opportunity, in 2019, we realized that there were so many skeletons of attempted solutions in the industry. We said that the two problems we needed to solve were finding the mushroom and picking it without damaging it. If we could do those two things on a farm, we’d be able to prove to the industry that we weren’t going to be another skeleton. By 2020, we demonstrated that we could solve both of those problems. When we set up our custom-designed robots in two farms in the Fraser Valley, everyone’s heads were spinning. They couldn’t believe how fast we got there.

Why do you choose to grow your business in Salmon Arm?

Some investors have asked if we’d do better in Vancouver or Toronto. My general answer is no. Rush hour means having three cars at the stop sign ahead of you. It takes five minutes to get anywhere in town, we’ve got four distinct seasons, and you can afford to buy a home here. That all translates into healthier, happier people. The quality of life helps with creativity and the get-it-done atmosphere we have. There’s also an extensive manufacturing supply chain that exists in the valley, which we leverage. That’s why we continue to reside in Salmon Arm.

What kind of expertise is your team bringing to TechBrew Robotics?

Mechatronics—mechanical electrical software—is the sweet spot for robotics. We’ve got all of that. We’ve got machine vision expertise, a PhD in artificial intelligence and machine vision, a PhD and a master’s in mechanical engineering, and a couple of MBAs. As far as the academic side goes, we’re covered. We also have a lot of background in different industries, which gives us a broad perspective and an ability to come up with solutions quicker than most. We’ve got people from all over the world, too—Russia, Brazil, South Africa, Australia and they’re all moving to Salmon Arm to work for us.

What are your impressions of the OKGN Angel Summit so far?

Before I started TechBrew, I founded the Okanagan Angel Network years ago in Kelowna. Back then, it was more of a novelty. I’m really encouraged to see how active the community is now in Kelowna and in Western Canada as a whole. It’s great to have the OKGN Angel Summit here in the Interior of B.C. to educate on how to make an angel investment and how to receive an investment. It’s a marvellous model for the individuals on both sides of the table.

What advice would you give to the participants of next year’s summit?

Get the due diligence checklist first, and get to work on it. It’s a lot of work, but it’s very worthwhile to have in place regardless of whether you’re going in front of angel investors or not. It helps get yourself and your business organized the way that they should be.

For tickets, more information, and a complete list of the participating companies, visit www.okgnangelsummit.com.

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