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

True leaders allow for growth
Myrna Selzler Park - Mar 01, 2021 - Columnists

Photo: Phillip Belena, Unsplash

The world presents a different perspective when you are face down in a snowbank.

The lesson? Well, take a lesson when you want to learn something new.

I did. Last week, I took a cross-country ski lesson and got the perspective of an untethered marionette as my arms and legs were flailing in all directions.

It was cold. The skis were long and skinny. No balance for this puppet. The 30-year-old bamboo ski poles from my garage were not an asset.

But the sky was a brilliant blue. The snow was crisp. My body was deliciously warm from all the effort. My face, chilled by the cool air, shone with a smile as bright as the winter sun.

Back and forth in the track. “Run, run, run, get up some speed and then lift your leg behind you.” The instructor is encouraging. “Squish the bug,” the instructor tells me, an image he gives his younger students to create the vision of pushing off.

The thrill of trying something new is dampened by the realization that I am a rookie. I prefer skill. But if I only do things I am good at, my life will stay pretty much the same. I have that human desire to continue to evolve. I also have the human desire not to look foolish.

“It’s the start that stops most people.” So said Don Shula, a successful coach in the National Football League.

When we are starting something new, we experience three primary emotions: cynicism, fear and acceptance. This description of emotions tied into some other reading I was doing about the 10 Rep Rule. We do:
• 10 reps for feel
• 100 reps for momentum
• 1,000 reps for mastery

This rule suggests if you try something new, commit to doing it 10 times over 30 days. After 10 repetitions, you will have a good idea if you like the activity. Know that before 10 it is easy to quit—a cynical attitude with no results, no rhythm—“conscious incompetence.” After 10 experiences, it is easier to compare how you feel pre- and post-effort. At this point, it is fair to decide if the experience is worth the effort.

Years ago, I committed to running. Before I would go to sleep at night, I would tell myself what I would say in the morning to propel myself out of bed. The alarm would ring. I would roll over. Then a voice in my head would say: “It’s OK, Myrna, you can stay in bed. You don’t need to run.”

Two deep breaths.

“But if you don’t run, everything stays the same.” Sigh. My feet would hit the floor.

If there is value in the experience, commit to doing it 100 times. After 100 times, you will have momentum.

After 100 runs, I could see and feel the progress. I could not go away for a weekend without my running gear. I made all kinds of accommodations to stick to my commitment because it felt good.

The sore legs merged into muscle. The burning chest became a regular breath. Skin covered with glistening white salt crystals from evaporated perspiration would wash clean and feel smooth and pure.

I knew I was a faster, better runner than all those people sitting on their couches watching TV. Not faster and better than most runners, but faster and better than I had been the first 10 runs.

I was enjoying the journey. The fear of being a “bad” runner was a distant memory.

With the comfort of the rhythm of 100 more attempts, mastery will evolve on the path to 1,000 repetitions.

The 1,000 repetitions make you who you now are. You now can accept the new you. You are different from the person who struggled to complete the first 10 efforts.

As leaders, we need the patience and perspective that gives our people the grace to move from 10 clumsy attempts to 100 pretty proficient efforts to 1,000 competent activities.

Be the gifted leader ready to catch the untethered marionette:

Encourage through the clumsy.

Coach through to proficient.

Mentor to be an unstoppable master.

It will give them and you a new perspective.

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]

Natural wine grows in popularity
Shannan Schimmelmann - Feb 26, 2021 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

Appealing to the conscious consumer, natural wine is one of the most exciting styles of wine in the world right now. Although there has been a surge in interest, natural wine is not a new phenomenon. Despite its growing popularity, natural wine still only represents less than 1% of all the wine in the world.

What is ‘natural’ wine?

Natural wine has no legal, official or regulated definition, but winemaking philosophies are commonly centred around sustainability, organics and biodynamics with little to no chemical or technological manipulation. You may also have heard of natural wine being referred to as ‘minimum intervention,” “low intervention” or “non-invasive.”

Natural wines can range from wild and funky to complex, while others are very normal in style. Natural wines run the full gamut, including white, orange and red wine and Pétillant Naturel, also known as Pet Nat, a natural sparkling wine also affectionately referred to as “hipster bubbles.” Due to the labour-intensive techniques used, natural wines are often made in small quantities.

Natural wine is characterized by:
• Grapes that are usually grown by small-scale, independent producers.
• Grapes are hand-picked from sustainable, organic or biodynamic vineyards.
• Fermentation occurs without the addition of yeast (native yeast).
• No additives are included in fermentation.
• Little to no sulphites are added during the winemaking process.

What’s the difference between natural and conventional wine?

Natural wines are distinctive for their difference in appearance, flavours and aromas in comparison to their more mainstream counterparts. Natural winemakers will use naturally occurring yeasts for fermentation, avoid adding large quantities of sulfites and opt not to remove any impurities prior to bottling. Wines are bottled unfiltered and unfined, meaning steps are not taken to clarify wine by removing dissolved solids.


Sulfites are a natural byproduct of fermentation, and yeasts that are present on all grape skins generate small amounts of them. Therefore, there is no such thing as sulfite-free wine. Sulphur, often in the form of sulphur dioxide (SO2), has been used as a preservative for more than 200 years. It inhibits mould and bacteria growth, stops oxidation (browning) and preserves the wine’s natural flavour.

Properly handled, sulfites are not toxic to humans or the environment, and many winemakers feel that they are essential to prevent oxidation and spoilage. For this reason, some jurisdictions such as the U.S. and European organic winemaking standards allow for the addition of strictly controlled amounts of SO2. Some winemakers add sulfites to their wines to keep them fresher for longer. Those extra sulfites are a point of contention in the natural wine world.

Organic and biodynamic farming

Organic and biodynamic farming are aspects of natural winemaking. Certification requirements for organic wine vary from country to country, with different entities having responsibility over certification worldwide. In Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is responsible for enforcing the applicable regulations through approved third parties that verify the application of the organic standards.

Generally, organic practices mean that the vineyard is farmed without the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers or herbicides. In some cases, wineries may be technically ‘organic’ but have chosen not to pursue certification. It can take up to three years to convert a traditional vineyard into an organic one. Certification also comes at a cost and often involves working through bureaucracy and government standards. Some wineries may also not pursue organic certification if there is disagreement over the government certification standards. Without certification, wineries cannot use the term ‘organic’ on their label.

Biodynamics is generally viewed as either an enhanced or more extreme form of organic agriculture. Biodynamics is based on the theories of philosopher Rudolf Steiner, which in relation to wine making results in each vineyard being viewed as a self-sustaining organism. Biodynamics attempts to bring the farming process more closely in tune with nature. Some believe that for this reason biodynamic wines are better at exhibiting expressions of terroir, meaning the smells, flavour and textures from which the grapes originate.

Natural wine has become one of the most debated and polarizing topics in the wine industry. Whether your preference is natural or conventional or you love it all, there is a diverse selection of great Canadian wine to suit everyone’s preferences.

Cheers and happy tasting!

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.


We should all be like Pete
Contributed - Feb 24, 2021 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

By Shawn Bonnough

“Pisco sour, mate?”

“Uhhh, OK!” I reply.

“Muh name’s Pete,” an always smiling Ozzie says to me as he hands me a drink.

I think to myself: I wish everyone was this friendly, confident, welcoming and genuine. Wouldn’t we all be a lot happier?

Like everyone does, I immediately fell in love with a guy named Pete.

Not because he was powerful, wealthy or because he was in a position to benefit me professionally, but because he was genuine, sincere, authentic and keenly interested in me as a person.

If you know Pete, then you know, that with enthusiasm, Pete always employs kindness, thoughtfulness, compassion and empathy, and will always see the slightly broken and bruised individual first who is sometimes scared, lonely, off balance and insecure.

Pete Dunn has the rare ability to dispel fear and doubt almost immediately and replace them with confidence and connection because of his limitless charm and charisma.

An Ozzie and a Canadian walk into a bar in Santiago, Chile….

After several dramatic blows to the business, and after recently losing my father, and struggling personally and emotionally, I was in financial free fall, and I was looking to slow my descent by latching onto a branch of hope, a new direction, any direction.

Sorely needing a shot of confidence and looking for new opportunities, my beautiful partner Barbara and I took a risk and headed to the Indigenous World Forum in Santiago, Chile. Not knowing what to expect, we walked into a conference of Indigenous world leaders and quickly realized we were in way over our heads.

I thought I just needed to grab a branch in this free fall, but I soon learned that I needed something else.

Through a blur of insecurity, fear and doubt, a great big bright smile emerged from the group. A hand was extended from a stranger who felt like an old friend, providing with abundant reassurance that everything was going to be OK.

The warmth of an old friend you haven’t met … yet

If optimism and enthusiasm were the hallmarks of youth, then Pete was easily the youngest guy in the room. From the first smile Pete always felt like the old friend you could always pick up the conversation wherever you left off, even though we had just met.

I watched Pete engage everyone with that same comfortable enthusiasm and a warm bright smile, making them each feel like they were the only person in the room and the only person that mattered at that point in time.

With ease, confidence and vigour I watched Pete work his way around the room engaging each individual, not to tell them about Pete, but rather to genuinely learn about them as a person, and every one of those people were happy to oblige and gush about themselves.

I watched how each person fell in love with Pete, and I said to myself: I want to be in a band with him. The trouble was that neither of us were musical. So we decided to do what we knew how to do. We were teachers, trainers, motivators and kindred economic developers. We loved to build the human spirit, and we loved to build community-based economies, so instantly Pete and I were connected.

Pete has a passion for helping people. We shared an understanding that some groups of marginalized people, sometimes, just needed a warm smile, a helping hand and a little bit of confidence in order to change the trajectory of their future, to change their life and, often literally, to actually save a life; working in communities with projects that actually lowered tragically high suicide rates.

Oh Canada

“My beautiful bride and I are going to see you in Canada, mate!”

And suddenly there they were. Pete and Colleen arrived in Kelowna. I can’t remember when I was so excited and full of hope not only to connect with two wonderful people, but to build something great together. So, pulling out all the stops, I doubled down on our current economic development project and invited other heavyweights from across the country to come to our location to meet the legendary Pete Dunn.

As always, Pete did not disappoint. He made everyone in the room feel listened to, feel important, and with his own gentle and enthusiastic way he seemed to gently lead the meetings while giving hope and inspiration that our collective time was well spent as we drove toward a beautiful future, together—a future that might help the planet, the people and the prosperity of everyone involved.

The Special Ones

You can always spot those happy, golden people. We call them the special ones.

These special individuals have a twinkle in their eye because they live in the moment. These inspirational golden people do not dwell on past mistakes, but they learn from them. They do not worry about the future that they can’t predict; rather they deliberately walk in the direction if they want to go. Never a victim. Never a martyr.

Pete is one of those rare individuals who draws folks into his circle of influence not by force or persuasion, but rather because they want to bask in the warmth of that present moment, with a happy, golden person who makes you feel like everything is going to be OK.

The reality did not match the brochure

When originally extending the invitation to Canada with open arms I said: Yes, please come to Canada, Pete. Barbara and I have a beautiful bed and breakfast that we just opened, and you and Colleen will have an entire three-bedroom suite all to yourself. We just renovated it, and it is in a really beautiful country setting overlooking the creek. Pete said, “That sounds wonderful!”

Awaiting their arrival, I became a little nervous when the main guest suite was booked for rental from another party. My anxiousness compounded when the second guest suite available also booked for rental by a different third party. But that was OK, because I had a backup plan for the backup plan.

I had hoped that Pete and Colleen would not complain about the last tiny guest room that was still available for their visit. It would be saved just for them. Although it was not a palace, it was a single, non-renovated room with a tiny bathroom, but it would do.

The best intentions

Only days before the arrival of our Australian guests, my anxiousness reached a fevered pitch when my mother, who was bound to a wheelchair, arrived on our doorstep to occupy that one small remaining guest room.

My father had recently passed away, and my mother arrived, needing both the emotional support a ground-level suite—Pete and Colleen’s suite—for her wheelchair mobility. So she moved into the last available “indoor” guest room on our property.

With a chuckle in my voice, arriving home from the airport, I introduced Pete and Colleen to their accommodations on the back of our property—a somewhat dusty and a bit leaky, and a bit moldy, and far from palatial travel trailer in the backyard. This small, recreational camper was situated only 50 metres from an active bear den that had a stubborn mother bear and two cubs in it.

“Welcome to Canada, Pete and Colleen,” I said with a grin.

To my surprise they were thrilled. Pete pulled out the lawn chairs and made it look like he was relaxing in a fancy resort. Every time I visited them in the back of the property, it looked like they were relaxing on a stunning Caribbean vacation even though they were just stuck in a tiny trailer in the woods. I would periodically find Colleen basking in the sun and reading a good book. They always have this resilient ability to make the best of every situation while also making everybody feel a lot less anxious, because they lived in that present moment so thoroughly.

30-second moment of change

Rather than focusing on what was missing, Pete and Colleen always focused on what we had. We had each other, we had nature, we had my mother and another mother (with two cubs). All on a beautiful five-acre, fully wooded property with a beautiful creek, walking trails, a house full of guests, and my wonderful mother needed my understanding, patience and connection right now!

To my delight they immediately bonded with my mother, nicknaming her “Smiley.” Even through her pain, she always found a chuckle and a smile. Living 60 years with a man who took care of her every need, she was terrified of life. Mom needed a hand to hold and a reason to smile through her tears. Pete knew exactly how to help people find their smile. He had been doing it for a lifetime. Pete knew that my mother needed some emotional support, and he took time out of his day not as an obligation, but as a delight to find time to make her smile.

In my shame, my deepest thoughts were dark and bitter after losing my father, and I didn’t know how to deal with my mother’s emotional pain in addition to my own.

But every time I looked up there was Pete, smiling and supporting both of us with a big hug and a kind word.

Pete never knew the deep positive impact he was making. Pete was there as a wonderful warm coat of emotional support.

With Pete’s bright light shining on my mother during such a dark time it allowed me to see the situation differently, and in my 30-second moment of change I realized that maybe I, too, could connect with my mother. Maybe I, too, could laugh with her like Pete did. Maybe I, too, could connect with her like Pete did. Maybe I could see past a lifetime of family baggage and stop seeing my “mother” but rather see a delightful woman, a friend who was in need of some emotional support. Maybe I could see differently. Just like Pete did. The gift of sight. Thanks Pete.

Perfectly imperfect

I realized suddenly Pete had been doing this his whole life. Walking to a grocery store and meeting a stranger, Pete would shine his warm light by raising the conversation and asking better questions in a sincere way and really “listening” to the answer.  When I asked Pete why he tries so hard to engage everyone in his vicinity, he replied without hesitation.

“Eight billion potential friends, mate,” he said. “I don’t have enough time to meet them all.”

Colleen called last week and said Pete was just diagnosed with a terminal Illness, known as bulbar-onset ALS, a form of motor neuron disease. There is no medical cause and no cure. First believed to be a stroke, he was formally diagnosed in September last year, and due to his rapidly declining health he entered palliative care.

Not Pete. You have the wrong guy, my mind said. Pete can walk into a business meeting and with his charm and his smile be the warm, empathetic problem-solving light. Pete can walk into any family gathering or any group without any obvious effort at all and be that light that people crowd around.

It settled in that Pete isn’t perfect. But I also know for a fact that Pete is always “perfectly imperfect.” Maybe if I let go of my frustration for COVID-19 isolation, maybe if I can let go of my resentment for my lack of connection with friends and family, maybe during this spiritual famine I can let go of the idea that it is up to other people to make me happy and make me feel loved. Because honestly, that’s how I am feeling. I have been running my victim and martyr patterns relentlessly lately. And I know for certain that if we all shine a little brighter with a lot less judgment, like Pete does, the world would be a lot better place and we would be a lot happier in the process.

Ever since their visit, I have tried to remember to be a little more like Pete—to practise more empathy, to try and be a little more patient, to be a lot more enthusiastic, to worry less, and try and solve more problems for more people. I would be a lot better off to be a little more like Pete. Maybe if I “do unto my neighbour” we would all have the warm light of happy, golden people around us because we are all someone’s neighbour.

Maybe I can be like Pete did. Maybe I can be a little bit gentler on myself and others. Maybe I can stop feeling sorry for myself in my isolation, and I can get busy meeting those eight billion potential friends.

Maybe, like Pete Dunn, I can also be perfectly imperfect.

This column was submitted as part of BWB Wednesdays.

Orange wine the robust choice
Shannan Schimmelmann - Feb 09, 2021 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

Orange wine is trending for so many reasons, my favourite being that it is for adventurous souls that love diversity. There is a surprising range of colours, flavours, textures and styles of orange wine. It’s my go-to wine choice when I’m in the mood for something robust, bright and bursting with fruit, floral flavours or interesting spices.

Orange wine is also known as skin-contact white wine, skin-fermented white wine and amber wine. It is a type of wine made from white wine grapes where the grape skins are not removed, the skins stay in contact with the juice for days and at times months. Conventional white wine production involves crushing the grapes and quickly moving the juice off the skins into a fermentation vessel. Grape skins contain colour pigment, phenols and tannins that some consider undesirable for white wines. On the other hand, red wine skin contact is a critical part of the winemaking process that gives red wine its colour, flavour and texture.

Photo: Contributed

Orange wine is one of the oldest styles in the world; Georgians were using pointy bottomed qvevri (pronounced kwev-ree) and clay amphorae, buried in the ground for temperature control to make wine in their homes starting around 6,000 BCE (before the common era).

Today, most orange wine producers follow natural practices. An interesting fact about winemaking is that skin contact is one of the ways you can naturally stabilize a wine instead of adding sulfur and other additives. To make orange wine, you first take white grapes, mash them up and then put them in a large vessel. Next, the fermenting grapes are left alone for at least four days to sometimes over a year with the skins and seeds still attached.

Because of the natural process that uses little or no additives, orange wine can taste very different from regular white wines and can have a sour taste and nuttiness from oxidation. On the palate, orange wines tend to be bold, dry and have tannins like a red wine. Orange wines pair well with bold foods, including ethnic and spicy foods such as curry dishes and a wide variety of meats, ranging from beef to fish and charcuterie.

Red grapes + long contact with grape skins = red wine
Red grapes + short contact with grape skins = rose wine
Red grapes + no contact with grape skins = white wine
White grapes + no contact with grape skins = white wine
White grapes + long contact with grape skins = orange wine
White grapes + short contact with grape skins = orange wine

Orange wines are touted as the fourth wine colour and appear to be growing in popularity in the Okanagan Valley, Canada and around the globe. A great option to keep in mind when you are in the mood to try something adventurous and bold.

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.

Don’t be a micromanager
Myrna Selzler Park - Jan 29, 2021 - Columnists

Image: Contributed

I can feel the tightness in my chest and the blood rushing to my brain. My fingernails leave trails on the desk as I push down the anger that is boiling up.

I am trying desperately to respond with patience. “If I recall, I said I needed this spreadsheet done today.”

My administrator nods. “You did. You told me what to do, but I didn’t understand what the result needed to be. And without that, your instructions did not make sense.”

My mind flicks back into the Rolodex of conversations. She’s right. I told her what to do; I did not tell her why I wanted it.

I breathe deeply, remembering the fish stinks from the head and I am the fish.

I explain why I want this spreadsheet, what I will use the information for.

“Oh,” she nods in understanding, “Then I need to do it this way.”

She is kind and astute enough not to remind me that my original instructions would not have achieved the desired outcome.

I am a big-picture thinker. I can instantly see the outcome. I can’t always see the path there.

She is not a big-picture thinker, but when I give her the big picture, she can find the path to get me there. Together, we are a powerful team.

That day, I learned not to ruin this magical relationship, and other future relationships, by staying in my lane and supporting others to stay in theirs. I quit being a micromanager.

There are several differences between a micromanager and a leader.

A micromanager tells his/her team what to do and how to do it. That’s what I did and where I went wrong.

A leader asks their team how it will do it and explains why this project—and the effort—is important. That is what my administrator taught me.

A micromanager wants to own everyone’s work. A leader wants everyone to own their own work.

A micromanager gives unclear instructions and delivers feedback after the fact.

A leader ensures their team is clear on their direction, and stays available and gives feedback continually.

A client of mine, a bank vice-president, had delegated an important task to one of her people. She perceived this person to be reasonably competent so did no check-ins over the six weeks given for completion of the task.

She never forgot the lesson learned when on the day she was to review the task before presentation to the board, she discovered it was barely started. A lack of clarity and no follow-through or feedback led to a dismal failure.

A micromanager gives no public praise or recognition.

A leader publicly acknowledges the successes they reinforced—behaviours such as team collaboration, calculated risk-taking, cross-team partnerships and, of course, outstanding individual contributions.

I recall asking my bookkeeper to reconstruct the financial statements. I had no idea how to do it, but I wanted to have all the costs from one department compartmentalized into one section of the financial statements so I could see the true costs of this department.

I took some time, explained the why of my request, went through the existing statements to give some examples of how it could look.

It was a complex task, with a meaningful outcome. She thought about it. And thought about it. I knew it would take some time. Once she put her mind to it, she knew what she needed to do to get me the result.

Voila, mission accomplished!

High fives.


Public recognition.

Personal growth and increased confidence for my bookkeeper.

A micromanager is too insecure and self-absorbed to acknowledge their own strengths and the strengths of their people.

A leader is strength-focused and aware of their own strengths and weaknesses.

A leader stays observant in noticing the strengths and opportunities for growth with their team.

A micromanager doesn’t seek input from the team. The team is afraid to ask questions, seek clarity.

A leader listens to ideas from the front lines and even the sidelines. The team feels safe in challenging the status quo, the ideas of others.

I am in the midst of developing some new food products (I know, who knew?). I am surrounded by people who have different experiences with food.

At first, I was determined this product could only be made in a pie dish. Then, my team exposed me to small cookie sheets, larger cookie sheets, a variety of liquids. The product went from solidly good to absolutely brilliant and innovative.

Without my willingness to not “know it all,” none of this would happen. I choose to recognize and acknowledge the strengths and creativity of the people around me.

A micromanager focuses on the immediate. A micromanager is not interested in the growth and development of their people or of the organization.

A leader shares what success looks like. A leader knows that the better their people do, the better the organization will do.

I am forever grateful to that administrator and the lessons she taught me—about spreadsheets and communication.

It made me a better leader.

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]

Oak big part of wine picture
Shannan Schimmelmann - Jan 22, 2021 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed
This photo is from the Okanagan Wine and Orchard Museum. A visit to the museum displays the agricultural treasures that make our region and valley unique.

By Shannan Schimmelmann and Rhona Stanislaus

If you’ve participated in wine tastings, you’ve likely heard tasting room associates referring to some wine being barrel-aged in oak—French or American or a combination of both. But what are they actually referring to? Why oak? What’s the difference between French and American? Is one better than the other?   

Why oak?

The use of oak wine barrels dates back to the Roman Empire. At that time wine was considered safer to drink than water and was believed to provide much needed calories to troops. When the Romans were expanding their empire around the world they found they needed a more convenient method of transporting wine. Clay vessels had been used as far back as the ancient Egyptians and continued to be used through the Greek, then Roman Empires. As the Roman Empire grew, clay proved to be more challenging to transport. Palm wood barrels were considered as an alternative, but the wood was costly and difficult to bend. The Romans then discovered a small group that used wood barrels, commonly made of oak to transport beer.

Oak then became a popular material for wine barrels for a number of reasons. First, it was much softer and easier to bend into the traditional barrel shape than palm wood, thus the oak needed only minimal toasting and a barrel could be created much faster. Second, oak was abundant in the forests of continental Europe. Lastly, oak, with its tight grain, offered a waterproof storage medium. 

Today, oak is the gold standard when it comes to wine barrels. The barrel itself serves two purposes when it comes to the aging of wine: it allows oxygen to enter the wine slowly over time, imparting some of the flavour, or character of the wood into the wine. A new barrel is most effective at this as the effect diminishes with repeated use.

Oak offers three major contributions to wine:
1. It adds flavour (aromas of vanilla, clove, smoke and coconut)
2. It allows the slow admission of oxygen, a process which makes wine taste smoother and less astringent.
3. It provides a suitable environment for certain metabolic reactions to occur which makes wine taste creamier.

Most of the oak used to make wine barrels comes from two countries: France and the United States. The type of oak used has a direct influence on the flavour profile as does the climate where the oak grows.

French oak

Quercus petraea and quercus robur are the two types of white oak grown in France, with quercus petraea considered the finer of the two. French oak is known for its subtle and more spicy notes, firmer tannins but with silkier textures.

European oak is ideal for lighter wines, such as pinot noir or chardonnay, that require more subtlety.

American oak (Missouri and the Midwest)

Quercus alba, or American oak, is more dense and can therefore be sawn instead of hand-split. This involves less labor and expense. Therefore, American oak barrels are considerably cheaper than their French counterparts.

American oak tends to impart more obvious, potent/stronger and sweeter aromas and flavours. American oak is vanilla and coconut, sweet spices and offers a creamier texture. American oak is typically ideal for bolder, more structured wines, like cabernet sauvignon and petite sirah, that can handle American oak’s robust flavours and oxygen ingress. 


There is much more to oak than the distinction between French and American.

  • The age of the oak. The newer the oak the more oaky aromas and flavours imparted. By the fourth or fifth pass, negligible flavour remains.
  • Different barrel producers and different levels of toast: high, medium or light toast. The higher the toast—heating inside the barrel to char the wood—the more oaky the aromas and flavours.
  • The size of the barrel. The smaller the oak barrel, the greater the impact of oak aromas and flavours.
  • Some wines are aged in barrels for a few months, others for a few years.
  • Newer barrels deliver a stronger result, while older barrels are more neutral.
  • Common for winemakers to use a variety of barrels, including a mix of French and American, or barrels from other sources, such as Hungary and Slavonia.

Fun facts

Only about two oak barrels can be made per oak tree, which takes several decades to grow. Additionally, the process of coopering the wood into barrels takes great skill. For this reason, the average price of a new wine barrel costs the winery about US$600 to US$1,200. This adds about US$2 to US$4 in raw materials cost for a single bottle of wine.

While American and French oak are the two oak sources most used for wine cooperage, Slavonian (northeastern Croatia), Hungarian, Russian and Portuguese oak are still traditional in some wine regions. Similar to France, the type of oak grown in these countries is quercus robur and/or quercus petraea.

Beyond American or French oak, wine has also been aged in a variety of different wood species to varying degrees of success. Some of the more successful different species include: chestnut, acacia, Iberian oak and English oak.

 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.

Numbers can tell the story
Contributed - Jan 20, 2021 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

By Pamela Lynch

During a fire ceremony in Bali, a high priest chanted into the starlit night anointing us with a stream of blessings. The evening had begun as an illuminating and uplifting way to invite in the first year of a new decade in 2020.

We all looked quizzically at the priest and his wife as they placed coconuts into the fire’s bounty amongst the wood, flowers and notes illustrating what we wanted to release and bring in for the new year.

The solid foundation of the fire crackled and lit up the night during the priest’s incantations. We watched in dismay as our offerings that fuelled the fire exploded in a sea of burning embers and landed on us.

In retrospect, it was a perfect reflection of what awaited us in the coming months.

The promise and excitement of 2020 quickly dimmed as we all collectively reeled against multiple blows. It was the first time in history that humanity was focused simultaneously on the same thing.

We all felt our limitations and fears.

With the study of advanced numerology, I understand the significance of each number’s energy and how it personally relates to us. Numerology gives us insights into life’s cycles and the planetary influences for each day and season.

Since 2020 was a four-energy year, it was necessary to create whatever stability we could in a chaotic year. We saw the very fabric of our global foundation had structures that were weak and unstable. We experienced the dismantling of systems and found new ways to live.

As we enter 2021, a five-energy year, we are invited to carry our share of responsibility based on our perspective and create a life with deliberate intention. It is time to release the burden of judgment, shame and guilt. Just as 2020 called us to find our own sense of stability, this year is inviting us to embrace change with integrity, dignity and discernment.

As we move through the creative cycle called life with personal responsibility and devotion to the whole, we gain emotional mastery. Emotional mastery is the No. 1 skill that will easily guide us as we move forward into expansion and growth. It is forecast to be the attribute conscious leaders will seek when hiring people.

It is advantageous when we have information and tools we value, such as numerology and emotional mastery. We can interrupt the outside influences and adjust our inner awareness with a strong force energy called love.

While emotional and self-mastery will be top of mind this year, the five energy also invites fun, freedom and travel. If you find yourself at a fire ceremony in Bali, make sure you are mobile when the high priest places coconuts as a fire offering.

Pamela Lynch is a self-mastery coach for creatives, BrainGAME facilitator and advanced numerologist.

This column was submitted as part of BWB Wednesdays.

Do you find the time?
Myrna Selzler Park - Jan 15, 2021 - Columnists

Photo: Aron Visuals, Unsplash

Time slows as I adjust my goggles, lean on my poles and survey creation from a mountaintop.

The awe flooding through me slows time even more as I peer through ice-speckled goggles: azure sky, snow ghosts, sunlight sparkling on fresh powder.

I’m late for a meeting, but I let the feeling wash over me before I cruise the freshly groomed run.

“You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” — Charles Brixton.

It’s January. A new year begins, and I am getting older.

It is a big, beautiful world out there, and there are so many ski hills I want to ski (50, to be exact), flowers I want to pick, trails I want to meander, columns I want to write, business adventures I want to be part of.

There are people I want to influence me and people I want to influence.

Where will I find the time?

Business guru Anthony Robbins offered this perspective.

“Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year—and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade.”

I need to start. I refresh myself with classic time-management concepts.

First, the danger of perfection: I often talk about the Pareto Principle, the 80/20 Rule, which says we get 80% of our results from the first 20% of our effort.

To have 100% perfection, we would need 80% more effort. Sometimes, perfect is not worth it. I will not be explaining this principle to my neurosurgeon or my pilot.

Former U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower described his decision-making process like this: “The urgent is never important, and the important is never urgent.”

This view led to the design of the Eisenhower Matrix urgent/important quadrant. It is a concise way of looking at different work strategies for the best use of time.

Image: Contributed

When looking at Quadrant 1, I ask myself: Is blood spurting? If yes, then I do whatever “it” is.

Quadrant 2 represents tasks leading to the accomplishment of your long-term goals. An example would be like getting your income tax filed; it is important, but you do have a few months to submit it.

If you don’t, then it will move to Quadrant 1. On a personal level, going to the gym is important, but not urgent. It is a decision.

An example of Quadrant 3, “urgent but not important,” is other people’s urgent needs. In this case, teaching them to “fish,” as in solving their own problems, will remove some of the challenges from this quadrant. Some of your own urgent tasks can be delegated, such as getting your kids to shovel the sidewalk before the mail is delivered.

Quadrant 4 activities are distractions. Eliminate them. Distractions such as Facebook, surfing the Internet, chatting longer than you should in the office kitchen can all be eliminated or at least dramatically decreased.

There are apps that monitor your screen time and that can help keep these pervasive habits in check.

Time is the great equalizer. We all have exactly the same amount of time in our day.

“Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.” — Jim Rohn

Thinking about the matrix and my overwhelming desire to do so many things, I realize I can stack activities to increase the value and move them into another quadrant.

It is important for me to take each grandchild on an adventure before they graduate from high school. A few years ago I was exhausted but was debating whether I could afford the time.

My oldest granddaughter was graduating from high school that year. That goal moved from important to important and urgent. We had a great one-week vacation together.

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” — Michael Altshuler

I’m piloting my time, my life.

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]


Shamanism will lift the veil
Contributed - Jan 13, 2021 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

By Keyla Sereen Ohs

Shamanism is a way of walking upon the planet and a way of seeing things that our society has taught us to veil.

It is living a life divinely connected to spirit, to our earth, and in deep gratitude for the blessings our planet and community bring to us through our joint experiences. It is highlighted by the enactment of sacred ceremony, an art all but lost in only a few remaining cultures.

Shamanism is entering into an altered state of consciousness in order to transcend the ego and the thinking mind to connect with inner wisdom and higher guidance from the spirit world.

The practice of shamanism is the oldest practice of humankind, dating back over 100,000 years, and is practised all over the world in all cultures.

It’s a spiritual practice that Sandra Ingerman likens to being “gardeners of the energies.” Shamans “see” where the energies are disharmonious, whether that be in an individual, a community, a home, property, office or business.

What is a shaman? Shamans have been considered healers, knowers, seers of the dark and wisdom sharers.

A shaman is a master or mistress of entering the altered states and journeying into higher spiritual realms to help bring through higher wisdom, grace and guidance.

Spiritual guidance from higher realms, it is believed, comes into many forms, including that of animals, plants, trees, ancestors, star beings, elementals and teachers to be able to help us heal and bring guidance into our lives.

Non-physical spiritual guides or guardian angels are not in the thick of our world and can take an eagle’s eye view of the picture of the whole. They can see many perspectives on the human condition and see how we, as a community, can come together as a whole, or as an individual. They are guided by higher wisdom and understanding, and offer a more holistic perspective and guidance to share with their community and the individuals within it.

Keyla Sereen Ohs operates Sereen Spirit Healing & Retreat Centre in West Kelowna.

This column was submitted as part of BWB Wednesdays.

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