Hanson does it all … her way
Kirk Penton - May 22, 2019 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

By Tom Kernaghan

“To be human is to have a limited understanding of what it is I think I see.”

This line, from one of Cherie Hanson’s many mind-jolting blog posts, says volumes about the awakening effect she can have on people. I’m going to go a little gonzo and put myself in the story, because to know Hanson is to know that she delights in connection and electrifying exchanges that push beyond convention and conformity. She is one of the most challenging, engaging and prolific individuals I have ever met, not just here in Kelowna, but anywhere.

Hanson is a spiritual fitness coach, poet, artist, blogger, playwright, director and producer; and a former choreographer, dancer, and English teacher. Her thought-provoking blog and Facebook posts inspire thousands and may even irk some, but they have certainly stopped my scrolling and reminded me that I may not be seeing the whole picture—personally, culturally or politically speaking. And yet, beneath her staggering urgency and bracing honesty is a playful humour that speaks to the thrilling potential of hope in all of us. If we dare to run with that responsibility! She also holds writing workshops, entitled Writing The Self, which are designed to help you find your authentic voice and make a plan to “rewrite” your future.

A self-described outlier (with which I would agree), Hanson has risen above many challenges in her life to find the joy of discovery through sharing and teaching. With multiple degrees, including post-graduate work in creative writing and contemporary poetry, she is armed with a power to wield words that feels fully aligned with her hard-won fearlessness. She is brilliant and tough—qualities I find encouraging, not intimidating … when I am willing to confront myself.

I’ll tie my first line into our last sit-down conversation. You called “bulls–t” on a limiting belief I had. I was intrigued, a bit annoyed and then grateful for the mental pathway you pointed out. And it made me wonder, what motivates you to be so frank?

Now is the time of a massive energy shift. The world has spun around in the same circles, the same patterns of war and recovery and yet we are not learning. We all share the knowledge that we are in a state of urgency.

All of the systems are imploding. The earth itself is headed into the extinction cycle. What is of paramount importance is for each of us to stop lying to ourselves, to stop doing the routine, repetitive self-comforting and self-destructive rituals in the face of monumental change.

I see my purpose in the midst of the arising chaos as that of a teacher.

When I was four, I put chairs in rows for my dolls and set up a blackboard. I knew I was on the earth to teach my stuffies.

I know about chaos and confusion and betrayal and fear of death. I knew as a child. I have served an apprenticeship in the methodology of grounding. One is only “safe” in a shifting world if one is able to let go of old victim scripts and clearly find a purpose.

It is a skill. And it can be taught. My calling is to help others find a footing in a shifting landscape. When the world that we know is disintegrating is when we most need to find out who each of us is, as a separate being. The mask must be discarded.

Anyone who follows you on Facebook will know the furious pace with which you post, particularly with respect to social inequities, political corruption and cultural stagnation. What bothers you most right now about the way people are (or are not) engaging with the world? Are people afraid of themselves, or too comfortable with complacency?

I am filled with compassion as I watch people who are “frightened out of their minds.” They are terrified. We know from scientific studies of the function of the brain that when fear is the trigger, the prefrontal lobes cease receiving information and the parent, the wise adult, is turned off. What we are seeing is frightened children whose early childhood damage is now running the show. The corporate control of individuals becomes easier, more pervasive.

In the deep south, the antebellum society kept a class of people as enslaved as when they were the peasants in feudal times. The system of slavery was operated by manipulation of hatred. The share croppers were told to hate blacks, to brutalize them. As long as rage can be successfully misdirected and encouraged, the human being cannot think like an adult. Nor can he understand that the power he feels in attacking another is not true power. In other words, the more unstable the world appears to be, the more volatile the human emotions become.

My goal is to educate, to present petitions for action, to post success stories of people working together for the greater good. I know what is happening, and it is not something that draws me in emotionally. I just do what I am called to do and release a need to see an outcome.

You have another two-day writing workshop, Writing The Self, coming up on June 22. Tell me about this event and what people you want to discover though the experience.

What HAS happened every time I teach the writing retreat is people are no longer in the dark about what they are doing in their lives and why they are doing it. I have spent nine years as an academic, and I research to discover valid information. Family imprinting; ancestor’s trauma, brain function; the effect of our social amoeba upon us is all necessary information. I have watched people understand for the first time in their lives that they are not solely responsible for their life path. And it is only then that they can move forward with confidence. When we all can be so bold and brave as to walk on the earth without a mask, we will no longer fear one another.

I am working with a prize-winning editor, Elee Kraljii Gardiner, on my book Walking the Streets of Blood about my personal experience during the Paris Attacks in 2015 and tying it back up to my ancestors’ story of trauma damage. I ask: When does brutality become the norm? There are also YouTube interviews of me during the attack.

I’ll quote two lines from your blog: “I am as you find me” and “my mind constantly amuses me.” Let me flip those over and ask you to share something amusing people likely wouldn’t see or assume about you upon first meeting.

I am as you find me is a direct recognition that how you respond to me is coloured by the experiences in your childhood. It is why we react automatically to certain qualities or behaviours of another person. Until we have mindfulness practice as part of our operating system, we are unable to bypass automatic activation responses. For me to be authentic, I know that I cannot rely on other people to tell me how to be good, virtuous, attractive, acceptable.

The more I understand not to take anything personally, the more confident I become in being who I am, and—surprise, surprise—the more people trust me.

My trigger-quick sense of the absurd can remove the sting from any situation. This morning I was describing that during my elementary years we practiced curling up in a ball under our desks when the teacher yelled “FLASH!” I explained that I could understand how much easier that made it to scrape us up after the blast. These are the thoughts of an eight-year-old laughing at the futility of adult responses.

And how you respond to this interview is none of my business.

This column was submitted as part of BWB Well-Being Wednesdays.

Think about financial health
Special to Okanagan Edge - May 17, 2019 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

By Troy Media

FP Canada’s Kelley Keehn served in the financial industry for more than 10 years but decided at that point to become an educator instead of an advisor.

She has written 10 books on financial literacy, appears on television programs, has done thousands of interviews and sits on numerous financial boards. Her primary role now is consumer advocate for FP Canada, which certifies the more than 22,000 financial planners in Canada.

We sat down with Keehn to talk about why people need to get involved with their financial health as much as their physical health.

Why are Canadians so deeply in debt?

Keehn: The number one rule of economics is that incentives drive the market. Right now, Canadians owe nearly 180 per cent of their disposable income. That means for every dollar we bring in, we owe nearly $1.80. To give you some perspective, in the 1980s, when interest rates were in the double digits, we owed just 66 cents for every dollar of disposable income.

Keehn

When money is thought of as ‘free’ or ‘cheap,’ we use debt for consumption. Renovating the kitchen, checking off the bucket list and more. Plus, it’s the norm today. We see our peers, friends and family buying new cars, new stuff and enjoying life–often on credit.

This would not be the case in the 1980s. Your friends would have thought you were nuts to take out a double-digit loan to finance your wants. I don’t think they even had lines of credit back then.

Canadians also don’t have adequate emergency savings to weather inevitable financial storms. So when something comes up in their life, they often must fall back on credit or, many times, high-interest-rates credit cards or even payday loans.

An FP Canada survey revealed that one in five Canadians will have to liquidate assets in order to help pay off debt this year and, one in five Canadians couldn’t last a week without going into debt if they lost their primary source of income. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada revealed that even families with $100,000-plus in household income, 20 per cent have used a payday loan.

If a person is in deep debt, what steps should they take?

Keehn: Just like getting into better shape, there are three steps to help you start.

1. First, weigh in. What’s the situation at hand? What do you owe? What are the interest rates? What’s your minimum payment? So many people don’t take a snapshot of where they are.

2. Next, what do you own? What are your monthly bills? What are the costs to service your debts? Do you have an emergency account? Cash on hand or in your home?

3. Next, you need to count your financial calories. Going to the gym is great, but we know what you eat is more essential to losing weight and getting healthy. Bringing in more income to help pay down your debt is also a terrific focus, but often, as we get more income, we spend more and our expenses increase.

I encourage my readers to try my 30-Day anti-budget. I don’t think traditional budgets work. They’re like diets. They only work for the short term. You and your family need to track your spending for 30 days, twice a year. This is an exercise in awareness and behaviour change.

Then you decide where to trim the fat. The last step involves getting help. Someone who can help you design a plan and see your blind spots along the way. When it comes to our health, we’ll hire a personal trainer or nutritionist. But so often, we won’t reach out to a professional like a certified financial planner.

The pros will help you map out a strategy for paying down your debt, maximizing investments, tax strategies, protecting your family during high debt years and so much more. If you don’t have money to invest, there are many fee-only CFPs who charge by the hour or financial plan.

According to another FP Canada survey, nearly 40 per cent of Canadians don’t feel confident about their financial future, nearly half don’t know how much they need to save for retirement and nearly a third are overwhelmed by all the options.

If someone is looking for a planner or wanting to shop around, we have some excellent videos and articles at www.financialplanningforcanadians.ca that will teach you the questions you’ll need to empower yourself when shopping for a pro.

How bad is financial literacy in Canada?

Keehn: It’s not great. FP Canada has surveyed Canadians twice and revealed both times that money is the number one source of stress over their health, career and relationships. While it didn’t delve into the literacy issue, anecdotally, I can attest that because Canadians don’t know what to do, it adds to driving that stress up.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada recently tested Canadians’ knowledge of HELOCs (home equity lines of credit) and they failed that test. We have a long way to go in improving our financial literacy.

However, that’s not the entire picture. If you broke your leg tomorrow, you don’t need a textbook on how to fix your busted limb. You need a skilled surgeon. Not enough Canadians are reaching out for help when it comes to their finances.

Another FP Canada survey found that one in three Canadians would fail the financial stress test—meaning they doubt their bank account would withstand a financial emergency such as a car repair or emergency vet bill.

What do we need to do to improve financial literacy? Is it important that we develop education programs for youth?

Keehn: We need to care and pay attention to our finances every day. There’s still so much shame and guilt about debt and one’s financial situation and lack of knowledge. People think, ‘I should know this or that.’ So apathy kicks in, and people often do nothing.

We used to whisper the word ‘cancer’ in the 1950s and today we involve our friends when we have a health issue and run for the cure. We used to take a doctor’s prescription and leave it at that. Today, we’re partners in our health and research what our doctor prescribes.

We need to get involved in our financial health as much as we do our physical health. You need a pro and to participate actively.

For our youth, many positive advances have been taking place. One initiative, Talk to Our Kids About Money Day, has 8,000 teachers on board across the country. They’re educating our youth on financial literacy issues and aim to make talking about money fun.

But there’s much work to be done.

Don’t overprice your home
Bill Hubbard - May 16, 2019 - Columnists

Photo: CTV

Most Realtors know that the most active time in a listing is the first three weeks. This is because the listing goes in front of all the Realtors and customers who have automatic searches set up.

All the social media advertising has it at the top in the beginning of the listing as well. If the house is priced properly in this stage of the listing it will sell.

After a couple of weeks, the activity starts to slow because all of the potential buyers have already considered the listing and decided it was not for them or did not see the value compared to other competing listings and bought something else. The only thing at this stage a seller and their Realtor can do to bring it in front of all the potential buyers again is reduce the price.

Studies have show that listings that are priced well in the beginning sell for closer to list price and sell in less time than a house that has been reduced in price.

The message is that good marketing only works with the right price.

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

Faces of #OKGNtech
Accelerate Okanagan - May 14, 2019 - Columnists

Image: Contributed

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

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

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

Meet Dan. Dan Rondeau is the founder of 925, an on-demand staffing platform connecting businesses to people looking for temporary, flexible work. When Dan isn’t helping people find jobs at the touch of a button, you will find him throwing a football at the beach with his girlfriend or riding around on his electric scooter.

We recently caught up with Dan to learn more about his business as well as his experience in the OKGN Angel Summit.

Where are you from? How did you end up here in the Okanagan?

“I grew up in a little pulp and paper town in Ontario called Thunder Bay. I hopped on an airplane at the young age of 19 and ended up in Fort McMurray for eight years. I spent one year in Calgary and then I came to Kelowna because I had fallen in love with the place five years earlier and I couldn’t wait to come back. I had come through here for one day and one day only, and I walked the boardwalk downtown and fell absolutely in love with it! I promised myself I would come back and I would either retire here or live here permanently and a short five years later I made the jump!”

What inspired you to start your own business?

“To be absolutely honest, I used to think entrepreneurs were crazy. Why would you risk it all? I was a career guy, like steak and potatoes, blue-collar career guy and my family was always the same way. I decided to start this business because I saw a chance to build a legacy and I quickly realized I wouldn’t be able to do that by just punching the clock every day.”

Why did you choose to join an Accelerate Okanagan program?

“I had read the Airbnb story of how they started their business, and in there they talk about the accelerator they worked with, Y Combinator. So when I wanted to get my business up and rolling I was like, where can I find an accelerator? That’s where Accelerate Okanagan (AO) came up! AO has inspired me a lot. I came here with a dream, I had the idea for 925 in my head, and it was this place that really made it come alive.”

What advice would you give to someone interested in starting their own business?

“Swallow your pride, kick your ego to the curb, and ask for help. That’s the only way you’ll get anywhere if you’re starting a business. It’s realizing you can’t do it all and that it takes a team to get it all done. I encourage people to do it but do it with friends and people that believe in you. That’s the biggest piece of advice I could ever give to anybody wanting to be an entrepreneur!”

What is here in the Okanagan for an entrepreneur to take advantage of?

“The number one place I would send an entrepreneur would be Accelerate Okanagan! Then number two would be sending them to the Okanagan College to meet with the professors of the business school. I have found that really helpful! And then finally my number three would be the library because you learn more by reading books than you ever will out in the world.”

[Editor’s note: When we asked Dan what his favourite books were he mentioned: The Airbnb Story to learn about entrepreneurship, Extreme Ownership to learn how to push yourself, Sealing Fire to learn about teamwork, and Meditations to learn about how to run a business.]

Was participating in the OKGN Angel Summit a positive learning experience?

“The OKGN Angel Summit was one of the most exciting things I have ever done! It just pushed me as a person to become better, and it pushed me as a business owner to learn FAST about what it means to go through an investment cycle. It really allowed me to see my business through lenses I didn’t even think of before. It has opened up a world of possibilities on top of all of that. The people I met through the OKGN Angel Summit are some of the greatest people I’ve met to date.”

[Editor’s Note: Dan and the 925 team made it to the top five of the inaugural OKGN Angel Summit and won the People’s Choice Award]

The best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

“The best piece of advice I can share would actually be from Ted, my mentor at Accelerate Okanagan. Ted gave me some advice when I first started, and that is that in all of our lives we have five pillars of health: Financial health, physical health, physiological health, social health, and your emotional and relationship health, and if they all aren’t strong they will all crumble. It’s so important that you’re conscious of all your pillars and that you take care of them all as you are growing a business.”

What is one word that describes you and why?

“Excited! I see the good in everything and I always try and see the possibility around me. I haven’t always been this way. Positivity is like a muscle; you always have to work on it. There is always going to be something that’s not going right, but you have the choice to choose your perception. I’ve decided to make my reality a positive one.”

Do you and money get along?
Contributed - May 08, 2019 - Columnists

Photo: The Canadian Press

By Sharon Davison

Money is the last taboo. Try talking to someone about what they make, what they owe, or what savings they have or hope to have, and you will likely be met with a range of reactions or emotions. Ask them how their relationship with money is, and you might get a blank stare. We don’t want to talk about it and we don’t want to look too deeply, and yet we often want our relationship with money to be different in some way. Can you relate? Imagine for a moment that you are in a relationship with money. How would you describe that? Is it magical and transformative, tight and controlled, empowering and an adventure, or depleted and desperate? What kind of relationship would you like to have?

Psychologists know that struggles, conflicts and core issues around money have a great impact on our psyche, relationships and all aspects of self. The power of early experiences and deeply held beliefs about money, which are often inherited or learned early in life, is a foundation that our future relationship with money is built upon. When we are not happy in that relationship, taking some time to uncover this foundation can be the starting point to understanding and making change. Reconstructing a financial life through a more wholistic perspective can provide a healthy ground for new patterns, actions and money experiences.

With interest in law of attraction, neuroeconomics, neuroscience, the increasing numbers of people retiring, and the largest transference of money from one generation to another, there are many approaches for how to work with and relate to your money. One emerging field is that of money coaching. Rather than a traditional approach that might focus on planning investments, creating debt repayment or setting up savings plans, money coaching looks at your relationship with money through the perspective of wholistic well-being to live fully and abundantly in all areas of your life.

Like humans, money is both physical and spiritual in its form. It is energy. Money has the ability to bring us great good or great suffering, depending how we relate and work with it. An unconscious and unhealthy relationship can bring about personal and societal problems. Often what we think, feel and do with money is passed to us unconsciously and so we don’t know that we are not making our own choices and decisions but are being driven by patterns that are inherited and learned when our brains are young and absorbing everything around us. Despite our best efforts we may one day realize something is not working and want to examine what is impacting this relationship, rather than once again looking for another some “thing” to fill a void or believing we are “no-thing” without money and our material possessions. From a wholistic perspective we are physical, mental, emotional and spiritual beings; when integrated we are a healthy individual. At our core is a presence and awareness that unites all aspects of our self and is the source of all.

In the relationship with money and the physical self, it is important to know if our basic needs are being met, how much money do we or do we not have, and if our wants are being materialized. Mentally, we can look at what beliefs we have about money, what thought patterns repeat, and if we understand the influence that reactions have on our brain and body. Emotionally, we begin noticing what feelings and emotional energy patterns are present around money, what money memories are connected to our emotions, and what supports our current money relationship? Spiritually, we begin identifying the universal archetypes that show up in our life, any meaning and purpose connected to our money, and if there is an open flowing of intuition and spirit into our material world. We are connected spiritual human animals with a brain that reflects these aspects and their integration.

Science tells us that reality is not how we think it is and that our experience is influenced by other factors as part of a fabric of life interacting with itself. Better understanding of what blocks or conditions our experiences with money is important work for our times as we face economic uncertainty, fear in the world and a society extending itself into consumerism for meaning, value and self worth. You were not born to shop! It may be part of what you enjoy but it was never the purpose of being alive. Our purpose is not just to survive but to realize our potential and bring it into the material world. This truly is a rich life. You already have everything you need from source; you just need to move past the obstacles to manifesting and living it well. This is the work of money coaching.

Working with a money coach you will uncover core patterns and beliefs around money, you will understand personal energies and behaviours that are inherited, you will work with universal forms and language related to money, and you will identify living assets and purpose for living a life connected to source. You will identify where it is you are, where it is you want to be and begin that journey. Having a harmonious relationship with your finances is part of the mind/body/spirit connection for living a balanced and healthy life. Money coaching work can stand alone, or it can work well in tandem with traditional money professionals such as financial planners, advisor or debt consolidators and counsellors.

A journey such as this not only assists one in changing their relationship with money; it develops the ability for us to increase awareness, set intension, unlock potential and take action with purpose.

This blueprint can be applied to any aspect of living a conscious life of richness and meaning.

This column was submitted as part of BWB Well-Being Wednesdays.

Faces of #OKGNtech: Jamie Wood
Accelerate Okanagan - May 01, 2019 - Columnists

Image: Contributed

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

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

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

Meet Jamie. Jamie Wood is the founder of Sanga Living, where she does performance enhancement programming for high-demand, high-stress environments. When Jamie isn’t working with fast-growth companies from all over the world, you will likely see her with headphones in, riding her skateboard downtown.

We recently caught up with Jamie to learn more about her passion for the nervous system and stress management.

Why did you choose to call the Okanagan home?

“I grew up in the Okanagan, but I left right out of high school and started travelling. I officially moved back to the Okanagan maybe, like, two years ago, after being gone for 17 years. It was good to come back because Kelowna is just starting to really grow up. When I had left Kelowna, there wasn’t a strong entrepreneurial community here.”

[Editor’s Note: Jamie primarily lived in Central America and Costa Rica, but she also lived in Europe and Vancouver as well.]

Where did your passion for the nervous system and stress management come from?

“When I was living in Costa Rica, I had this really great amazing lucrative job in finance—like a dream job—but I ended up burning out really, really, really badly. I grew up in a family of investors and finance people and really wanted to be a part of that world. After burning out, I was convinced it had to do with my work environment versus how I was operating in the environment. I later realized that I had burnt out because I wasn’t taking care of my nervous system to be able to withstand that demand and pressure.

After burning out I tried to find help and there really wasn’t any. This was over a decade ago, and people weren’t even talking about stress, burnout and mental health at this point. People were just like, ‘Work hard, and if it doesn’t work it’s the wrong job for you,’ and I didn’t really like that answer. I wanted to be able to excel in any work environment I wanted. So that started over a decade-long process of understanding the nervous system within high-demand environments and how to effectively be in them and excel in them.”

Can you tell us about creating your company, Sanga Living?

“Yeah, so the company first started off as a retreat company that was directed towards North American people working in high-demand corporate environments. I would bring them down to Costa Rica under the disguise of it being a stress management retreat—which it was—but I was really testing theories around studying them and trying to find out what these people needed.

We have all been in that position where you’re thinking, God I am stressed. I am not dealing well. My quality of life is going down. I can’t focus. I can’t sleep. My mood has shifted, and now I don’t like my job! When you get to that point you end up taking a break for some self care, and in a way, yes, that can work, but it is a Band-Aid because you are reactive. If you walk off a plane and get handed a beer and shown a hammock, obviously you’re feeling good, so what I was really interested in was keeping up with everybody once they had left the retreat. What I learned was reactionary approaches to supporting mental health and to supporting the nervous system don’t work. You have to get in front of it.

After running these retreats for about four years, I learned that I needed to figure out how to provide effective programming for companies. I knew I had to do programming because some people can’t afford to go on a retreat and they need to be able to have these tools and ingrained training in themselves that they can take anywhere. Founders need foundations. Which is why it is super important that the founders understand how to operate, because then they just encourage and build that within their team.”

What do you enjoy most about your role?

“I really like being able to provide people with the knowledge and training to turn their s—t up. What is fascinating is a lot of people aren’t operating in choice. People think that they know how to manage stress or how to be a high performer, but if you’ve never had adequate training, then you don’t, right? When I am working with companies, obviously the impact is amazing, seeing shifts in people’s lives, developing that awareness and that knowledge. It’s all so rewarding, because once they have that knowledge it is up to them! They can take their training and apply it to any area of their life. A lot of the time people are like, ‘Wow this is super cool!’ and I love that, I really do.”

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

“I think that when someone is trying to build a business around mental health or performance—or really any business—understanding the problem is so important. Don’t assume you know the answer! There have been many times where I was like, OK, I am finally getting this, and then something would happen with one of my clients or something in my personal life and I would be like, I am not handling it well right now. Why is that? I think it is important to question yourself constantly. I am such a researcher. My favourite thing is to spend as much time as possible in countless pages of research, learning about the nervous system and learning about how you can optimize brain function when you support the nervous system. I am such a nerd for it.

Another thing I would say is put in your time! People forget things don’t happen overnight, and if you’re really passionate about something or if you’re really driven by something, follow that. I know it is a little cliche, but the only reason I have put over a decade of work to this is because I am really really interested in it. I live and breathe it. I am the first test subject every time. I don’t take anything at surface level, even if it is an amazing piece of research. I will read it all, and then I will question it all and implement it on myself. I never allow myself to get comfortable; I am constantly learning, reading and evolving.”

What do you love about OKGNtech?

“I love the big dreams here. I am really driven by really big massive goals and dreams that are kind of like laughable goals. Another thing that I love about the community here is that there are lots of people that are running companies or starting a startup that have that mindset where they are driven by something that is much bigger than themselves. I think that it is really neat to be in a community like that. It really drives innovative thought, it drives different thinking, it drives question, and I think that we need a lot of questioning, and that’s what I love, because you can find that here.”

What is the best piece of advice you can share?

“A piece of advice that I really live by is ‘We don’t rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training,’ by Archilochus. I find this to be true in everything. Most people tend to become discouraged because they believe they aren’t ‘good’ at something or aren’t capable of achieving what they want. It is a limiting belief self-imposed simply due to a learning curve and lack of training. People can feel like they aren’t able to succeed in various areas of life as if they aren’t designed for XYZ. That actually isn’t true; the only thing that is separating you from your success comes down to training. No matter what it is, if you want to become good at something … train. Develop a skill set that is so integrated into your knowledge it never leaves and no one can take it from you.”

[Editor’s note: Right now Jamie is starting to train for hand-to-hand combat!]

What is one word that describes you and why?

“Weird? Haha. Yeah, I’d say weird for sure, and why? I just look at the world differently. I look at the world from the nervous system. I’ve definitely stepped into owning weirdness, because, again, I think it allows you to think a little bit different. I think if you were to ask people that would probably be what they would say as well. They would say I am nice, and then they would say I am a little bit weird.”

Connect with Jamie. More about Sanga Living.

Biz 1-on-1: Vic Lebouthillier
Visland Media - Apr 30, 2019 - Columnists

Produced by Kelowna’s Visland Media, Biz 1 on 1 is an interview series that explores the lives of some of the most interesting business people in North America.

Host Randy Lennon sits down with CEOs and founders of a diverse selection of businesses, talking with them about their vision, passion, and experiences building and running their company.

The show covers a wide array of stories and although Lennon interviews business leaders from across the continent he puts a particular focus on people from the Okanagan Valley.

Originally broadcast on national television, Biz 1on1 has found a new home on Okanagan Edge, adapted for an online audience.

This week, Lennon sits down for a segment with Vic Lebouthillier, the founder of My Outcomes. The career entrepreneur has held nearly every role in business, from being the only employee to being the CEO with a staff of more than 50 employees. Throughout his journey, he’s noticed that no one was talking about mental health in spite of it being an enormous problem.

Market has predictable rhythm
Bill Hubbard - Apr 24, 2019 - Columnists

Photo: The Canadian Press

There are various economic factors that contribute to incredibly consistent changes in the Okanagan Shuswap real estate market cycle.

Basically, there must be reasons why people start to buy and why they stop buying at regular intervals.

Human beings have different risk tolerances. For instance, by 2012 buyers were few and far between. The market had been fairly stagnant for two or three years. Slowly, in 2013, we started to see cutting edge investors come back to the table. These are the people who have a high tolerance for risk. The market started to move.

As people heard the press reports of the market turning around, more and more people began to put their toes in the market. By 2015 and 2016 even people with very little tolerance for risk were jumping in. The year 2016 was the most active market we have ever seen in the Okanagan Shuswap. When things start to move too quickly, those savvy investors who jumped in first started to jump out. The next groups followed.

This cycle seems to take about nine to 12 years. The proof? The last five peaks in the Okanagan Shuswap real estate market are as follows: 1975, 1984, 1995, 2007 and 2016.

The market truly travels in cycles of nine to 12 years.

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

Biz 1-on-1: Natalia Sokolova
Visland Media - Apr 23, 2019 - Columnists

Produced by Kelowna’s Visland Media, Biz 1-on-1 is an interview series that explores the lives of some of the most interesting business people in North America.

Host Randy Lennon sits down with CEOs and founders of a diverse selection of businesses, talking with them about their vision, passion, and experiences building and running their company.

The show covers a wide array of stories and although Lennon interviews business leaders from across the continent he puts a particular focus on people from the Okanagan Valley.

Originally broadcast on national television, Biz 1-on-1 has found a new home on Okanagan Edge, adapted for an online audience.

This week, Lennon sits down for a segment with Natalia Sokolova, a business strategist and the managing partner of SGG World Sokol Family Office. SGG World focuses on industries and technologies that have the potential to have a major impact on society, including blockchain technology and the gamification of the world.

Faces of #OKGNtech
Accelerate Okanagan - Apr 17, 2019 - Columnists

Image: Contributed

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

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

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

Meet Josh. Josh Fraser is the founder and CEO of Estated, a company that ensures consumers have accessible and accurate property data. When Josh isn’t working hard building his company, you’ll find him reading, walking his dog Rupert or grabbing a coffee at Pulp Fiction.

[Editor’s note: You may recognize Josh Fraser from his previous company Data Nerds!]

We recently caught up with Josh to learn about his new business Estated and how he stays motivated.

Can you explain what Data Nerds was and why you chose to focus on Estated?

“Data Nerds was a data and analytics company that started in advertising and grew very, very quickly. However, while working on Data Nerds we found a much larger opportunity in real estate, technology, data and analytics, so we decided to put all of our eggs into that basket, and in 2019 we have changed everything over to Estated!”

Why are you such a big advocate for mentorship?

“A big factor of getting Data Nerds name out there was the coaching I got from my mentors at Accelerate Okanagan, Fraser Campbell and Larry Smith. Connecting with AO and the OKGNtech community made me love Kelowna a lot more, and it helped me create a support network of other CEOs in town.

I would not be where I am today without accelerators like Accelerate Okanagan and Techstars. Accelerators are a great introduction to communities and to support systems, and they are also great for helping you make less mistakes. Building a company is a long journey filled with opportunities (good and bad). How quickly you can react and recover is key.”

What inspired you to start your own business?

“I love to spend money, and online advertising is probably the easiest place to do just that. Every year, there is almost a trillion dollars spent on advertising [Editor’s note: that’s right, a TRILLION]. I have always liked to spend money, and I’m good at it. Give it to me, and I will spend it as soon as possible.

When I was about 16 years old, I got into online advertising. I realized early on that there was a huge opportunity there, and it also kind of fulfilled my desire to spend money. Now I get to spend $350,000 a month … every month! I don’t have a traditional lemonade stand story. I just always knew that I loved spending money, and I found a way to fill that desire by starting my own business.”

What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur?

“I will be completely transparent. I don’t like being a CEO. I am a much better number two type of person. However, what I do love is I love team all-hands meetings. One of my favourite things is putting together a fantastic presentation and being able to see my team present to each other. Seeing my team grow through our organization, those are really proud moments for me.

Another thing I enjoy about being a CEO is the opportunity to talk to venture capitalists. It’s a different world and just a world that you don’t often think about, right? I’m talking about high-net-worth individuals (billions of dollars in assets), and I am doing that weekly. Working with successful people who are operating at a high level in terms of business and skill is just fascinating to me but also a huge driver and where I find optimism.”

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs out there?

“I have been thinking about this a lot lately. The best thing you can do is learn how to shorten the emotional oscillations that come with running a company. What I mean by this is learning how to stay on that even keel, because there are high highs where you are very excited, and everything is rainbows and unicorns, and then there is like bridge watch—like, I am going to jump off a bridge today because this is a nightmare. When I shorten those ups and downs and stay more even keel and level-headed, I make a lot better decisions.

Being in a negative headspace is just s–tty all around, for you and everyone around you, so just keeping that even keel is key. Don’t go too high. Don’t go too low. Stay even.”

What inspired you to start the Nerd Olympics?

“We wanted to build a community event that was our own. The Nerd Olympics was born while we were playing ping pong one day in the office and randomly deciding to create this event. We liked the name Data Nerds, and so we called it the Nerd Olympics.

The Nerd Olympics started out as a tech thing, but now it’s whoever wants to join. We invite our accountants, and lawyers and hairdressers. Everyone is invited. It’s just to bring the community together for a good cause and enjoy being outside!

[Editor’s Note: The Nerd Olympics raises money for Claire’s Place Foundation.]

What does success mean to you? 

“Something I am constantly debating is what does success actually mean. Is success selling my company for a billion dollars? Or making an X amount of money? Or is success to me doing exactly what I want? For me, success is simplification. I want to live in a place that smells good and own a lot of dirt.”

How do you stay motivated and grounded?

“Seth Godin is a huge idol of mine. I have been reading his daily blog for probably 10 years, and I’ve read all 27 of his books. At a conference I was at, he said ‘motivation should be like a shower. You should only need it once a day.’

I am a very driven person, so it doesn’t always resonate with people how I stay motivated, but it definitely comes down to my goals! I’ve had very ambitious goals for myself since I was 17, and I have always known what I wanted to accomplish. I would say I am about 10 percent of the way there right now.

Having your own routine is so important, and everyone’s routine should be personal. I used to think you had to wake up at 5 a.m. and read for an hour, then meditate, then shower and then work for 15 hours, then go to bed and that’s all you should do. But as I have gotten older, I recognize that every single person has their own way of doing it.

In order for people to stay healthy and motivated you have to invest in you. I have some simple rules for my life besides the big number ones: I want to live in places that smell good, and I want to own a lot of dirt. I know that if I can successfully do that for the rest of my life, I will be a very happy healthy and wise old man.”

All Columnists Stories