AI unlikely to take jobs
Contributed - Jul 17, 2019 - Columnists

Photo: Alex Kotliarskyi, Unsplash

By Steven Globerman
Troy Media

Ever since the Industrial Revolution, the automation of tasks once done by humans has raised fears about machines putting humans out of work and creating mass poverty. Happily, history has repeatedly proven the doomsayers wrong.

While automation has certainly led to declines in entire industries (and employment in those industries), the relationship between automation and overall employment growth has been strongly positive over time.

There are sound explanations for this positive relationship.

Steven Globerman

One, automation increases labour productivity and therefore raises the income levels of workers.

Resulting increases in income translate into increased demand for all types of goods and services, which obliges businesses to hire additional workers.

Second, automation directly increases the demand for labour skills that are complementary to the development and efficient utilization of new technologies.

For example, consider accounting and spreadsheet software packages that have made labour-intensive bookkeeping and data processing occupations increasingly uneconomical. At the same time, such software has created enormous opportunities for individuals who can use the software to perform new tasks or existing tasks such as project and supply chain management more efficiently.

Notwithstanding historical experience, the latest generation of automation, broadly referred to as artificial intelligence (AI), has many sounding the old alarm bells about machines taking jobs away from humans.

For example, Elon Musk, the controversial CEO of Tesla, warned that robots will be able to do everything better than humans. Crucially, Musk and others who think like him draw a distinction between automation in the past, which was largely about mechanical power replacing human muscle, and AI, which is about making machines both stronger and smarter than humans.

Many computer scientists, including Canadian AI expert Yann LeCun, caution it will take decades to build AI systems that are even close to human-level intelligence. And even as machine-learning technology advances and enables computers to make increasingly sophisticated decisions, new opportunities will emerge for humans to employ automated intelligence to do wholly new workplace activities and do their jobs more effectively.

AI-equipped computers are being used to identify the likelihood of individuals currently or prospectively experiencing health problems using real-time data transmitted from smartphones and wearable devices. This technology frees up time for health-care providers to develop personalized therapy protocols and educate their patients in how best to utilize those protocols.

The data collected is being used to train computers to diagnose and predict health problems. It’s also facilitating the development of new treatment protocols and techniques for managing patient care. This, in turn, is increasing the demand for biologists, statisticians, computer programmers and laboratory technicians, among other occupations.

Leveraging the benefits of automation requires individuals to acquire new skills. However, the extent and urgency of educating and training workers shouldn’t be overestimated. A recent study of 32 developed economies estimated that about 14 per cent of workers might see their jobs entirely restructured in terms of tasks or significantly downsized as a result of computer automation.

There’s also usually a lengthy period between the introduction of an innovation and its widespread adoption. One comprehensive study of 15 major technologies estimated an average lag of up to 50 years between the introduction of technologies and their broad-based use. That suggest new generations of workers will have ample time to equip themselves with the skills needed to use AI technology to their advantage in the job market.

Baseball great Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” This is a useful reminder amid the dire predictions of Musk and other doomsayers.

History suggests AI will create more and higher-paying jobs for Canadians. That seems a safer guide for policy-makers and employers than predictions about human intelligence getting automated out of existence.

Steven Globerman is a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute.

Health Flows finds balance
Contributed - Jul 17, 2019 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

By Tom Kernaghan

Relax, release, and recharge. If this sounds straightforward and doable, then you already have an idea of how Jolanda Himmelstein works and what she offers. For Himmelstein, a multi-skilled holistic practitioner and owner of Health Flows, balance and well-being do not have to be complicated or out of reach. It is about addressing whatever is keeping our energy from flowing nicely. But then, she has been on the path of supporting people for years.

After growing up in Switzerland, Himmelstein studied in Germany, Taiwan and China, and also taught in Hong Kong and Singapore. Her passion for Asian culture and her life as a mother inspired her to explore the mind-body connection and how to encourage a person’s innate healing powers to bring balance to any disharmonies. She has certifications in sound therapy, Jin Shin Jyutsu, Access Bars, foot reflexology (RCRT certified) and is an experienced Qi Gong teacher. Fluent in four languages, Himmelstein originally loved working with children and adults as a language teacher. Today, describing herself as a “global citizen who endeavours to listen to the voice of her heart,” she offers illuminating classes and workshops to help others get in touch with themselves and pursue ongoing health and well-being.

In preparing for this profile, I noticed one term kept popping up: “gentle.” This appears to be not only an essential element of your approach but also something clients seek and appreciate. What, in your experience, is not gentle in people’s lives that they seek your services?

As we all know, not every experience in life is a gentle one. That in itself needn’t be a problem, as we sometimes grow stronger in the face of adversity. It only becomes a problem when a person loses a sense of who they are and believe what others say about them. This happens often during childhood. When people internalize others’ harsh opinions or judgments, they tend to become unkind towards themselves through their thoughts and actions, often unaware of the root cause of their behaviour.

I believe in creating a safe environment for my clients and students where gentleness is a crucial element. Any challenge that a client brings—be it physical, mental or emotional—can be seen as a hardening, a stagnation of energy. A gentle approach will encourage the innate healing powers within an individual to become stronger, similar to warm sunshine encouraging the frozen water in an icicle to melt and the water to flow again.

Your services all serve to restore health through awareness, harmony and transformation. One discovery in particular piqued my interest. The translation of Jin Shin Jyutsu breaks down into “human being,” “creator,” and “art.” I love this language connection suggesting people create their own lives through one or more of the modalities you offer. What’s the first thing you look for when an individual comes to you?

When I meet a client, there is more than one consideration going on at the same time. Firstly, I am always excited about meeting another fascinating human being who is led to my practice and ready for more harmony in their life. Simultaneously I learn about the obvious reason why a person comes to see me, such as a severe pain somewhere in the body. I observe and listen with all my senses to pick up some indication of the hidden reason behind that physical discomfort. Often there is an imbalance in the person’s life they are less conscious about, which needs support. This helps me decide which kind of treatment to start out with. Usually I receive more information on how to help an individual during the course of their treatment. This can lead to choosing some sound healing during a hands-on modality, for example.

Having lived in many cultures, you must have found some deeply common aspects of being human that connect us, even as our individual expressions of them vary. Fundamentally, how would you define or describe balance and well-being?

Allow me to answer this with a metaphor from my Qi Gong classes. We can find balance when we fully exhale what we no longer need and, reaching the turn of the breath, welcome the new breath to freely flow into us, with all the goodness from the earth and the universe (heaven). If there is no resistance anywhere in this process, we are living true to our heart, we are at peace and thus at home in well-being. Clothes, customs and beliefs can differ depending on culture, but essentially human beings are in similar situations, experiencing some hiccups, metaphorically speaking, and striving for balance and well-being.

I’m curious about your decision to move from Europe to Asia. What inspired you to embark on such a journey? Was it something about life in Europe that motivated you, something fascinating about Asia, or both?

It’s all a matter of perspective. For some of my friends in Switzerland, studying in Germany seemed unimaginable. Others felt living in Asia was a big deal. To me, none of those moves, which were motivated by a good university, Chinese language studies, and following my boyfriend (later my husband), were any different from someone choosing this career or that partner. However, it did take a great deal of effort to apply for immigration in Canada (especially since we needed background checks in half a dozen countries where we had lived), uproot our family in Hong Kong and move to Kelowna. But then again, it was just another stage in life. Personally, I am very grateful for all the stages that led me here to the beautiful Okanagan! I have happily put down roots in Kelowna. Will there be another move some time? Who knows?

As you may know, we like to finish our profiles with a fun fact about our members. Would you care to share something personal about yourself most would not know?

Over 20 years ago, when I lived in Singapore, I was on TV playing in the Pyramid Game, a local quiz show. I lost in the first round, but people recognized me in the street afterwards. All in all it was a very interesting experience!

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

Horgan: Libs failed forestry
Contributed - Jul 12, 2019 - Columnists

Photo: Western Forest Products

By John Horgan
B.C. Premier

British Columbia’s forest industry is facing difficult times. In the Interior, the end of the pine beetle cut, lower prices for lumber and back-to-back catastrophic wildfire seasons have led to a number of sawmill closures. This has created hardship for workers and uncertainty for the communities that depend on forestry for their livelihoods.

These are big challenges, but they aren’t new. Industry experts have been predicting pine beetle related closures for more than a decade.

The previous government failed to help the industry when they had the chance. Little was done to help companies adapt. Little was done to help forest-dependent communities prepare. Their inaction has compounded the difficulties forest workers and communities are facing today.

We can’t change the past, but we can make different choices—choices that support communities and renew the future of forestry in B.C.

Our government is facing up to the challenges in the Interior forest sector. We are going to do everything we can to make sure our industry stays competitive, and the people and communities that count on forest jobs have a more secure future.

We’re putting people first and supporting communities through the transition. Community response teams are hard at work in communities affected by mill closures. These teams meet with workers and line up prospects for jobs and retraining. The goal is to create opportunities for people and help them stay in their communities over the long term.

Earlier this year, I challenged industry, labour, and First Nations and communities to work together to develop a new vision for the Interior forest industry at the regional level. This is not a Victoria-imposed solution. It is a locally developed vision for the future based on local timber supply areas.

If we want to restore public trust in how our forests are managed, we have to start by listening to people and communities. That’s why we are launching a public engagement on renewing the Interior forest sector. This consultation will start later this month and will include local stakeholder meetings as well as online feedback.

Value-added wood products are the future of B.C.’s forest industry. We are moving ahead with taller wood building construction, and we’re going to do more to encourage local companies, municipalities and First Nations to use engineered wood products for their projects.

The industry has renewed itself in the face of challenges before and will do so again. Together we can build a forest industry that creates thousands of good-paying jobs for local workers and First Nations, and supports communities for generations to come.

Change is never easy. There are no quick fixes. If we’re going to find solutions that work for everyone, we need to roll up our sleeves and face up to the challenges together. B.C.’s economy needs to work for ordinary people, not just the ones at the top. By working together to renew our forest sector, we can make sure people and communities benefit from the wealth our natural resources create.

Faces of #OKGNTech
Accelerate Okanagan - Jul 12, 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 Rocky. Rocky Ozaki is the co-founder of NoW of Work Inc. and the NoW-Academy. When he isn’t helping companies and startups to future proof, you’ll find him hanging out with his nine-year-old daughter, cooking with his crockpot or exploring the streets of Vancouver. 

We recently caught up with Ozaki to learn more about his new company and how he got started.

Can you tell us about the NoW of Work Inc and the NoW Academy? 

I am the founder of two companies. One is called the NoW of Work Inc., and the other is called the Now Academy. Through these two organizations, I help people and companies to future proof. We live in exponential times, and that can be stressful for people. I help organizations navigate this change by becoming more innovative and naturally agile so they can embrace the future.

What do you enjoy most about the work you do? 

I work with a lot of C-Suite executives, so I get to sit in a lot of executive boardrooms and educate people about the future of work. I teach them about how being innovative, more collaborative, and working within an ecosystem (and not a silo) can change the way they attract and retain talent. I really enjoy that “a-ha” moment that happens when I am teaching.

When you’re living in Vancouver with a nine-year-old daughter, you start to change as a parent, right? She came into the world, and I’ve started thinking about stuff like, what is her job going to be? Can she afford to buy a house in Vancouver? These are real questions, right? The world is moving so fast, and Canada is falling behind. 

When I can help compel people at an executive level to be more innovative and take more risks, that is super powerful because I know it will have an impact across the organization. Watching the companies I work with modernize faster, that’s probably the biggest reward that I get. I love that.

How did you get into this kind of work?

I was an executive HR and operations leader before I ever got into the tech space. So until 2010, I was in enterprise. I started seeing what was happening in Silicon Valley, and that’s when I made the pivot into tech and began to focus on the people and innovation side of things. 

I’m unique because I have been in an executive role in major organizations with thousands of employees, and then I pivoted and started to work in startups. I’ve had my own startup, worked with scaleups, worked with innovation ecosystems at all of our hubs around the country and beyond, and now I use all the experience and all those lenses. Having worked in both the enterprise and startup world deeply reinforced that I have the ability to bridge the two worlds.

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

To have a career like mine, you’ve got to be open-minded, you’ve got to be able to absolutely challenge the status quo, and you have to be resilient. If you don’t passionately believe in it, you’re going to have so many naysayers who are going to pull you down, so I just believe it. I practise it, and I believe it, and if you’re not part of our tribe that’s fine, I am going to keep going. Having that resilience and believing in it is what I would say to encourage anyone doing what I do.

What is one word that describes you and why? 

I am passionate. I am passionate about my role as a father. I am passionate about my role as a husband. I am passionate about my role in this world like I am passionate about what I do. I never go in and do things half-assed. I am constantly asking myself: How I am better? A better dad? A better husband? A better business? A better person! What I preach about I am passionate about. I don’t go up there on stage in front of people and say, well, I think you should probably do this. I am like, you should f—king do this!

Can you speak to the value of mentorship?

The value of mentorship is priceless. I’ve circumvented a lot of mistakes and learning due to mentorship in my life. People talk about failing fast and failing forward, but you’ve got to take calculated failures, too, so where mentorship has helped me is using the wisdom of others to help guide me. Not necessarily make my decisions, but to help me choose a path. There is a certain value I place on experience, so I have always believed in that.

What do you love about the OKGNtech community?

I love that this community knows who they are. Who cares about other big tech centres, because you know who you are! The whole tech space is so good at democratization anyway. Anyone can win, and if the future is ecosystem driven and we have to work in collaboration to solve problems together and all that then in many cases the smaller jurisdiction can move faster. That’s what I love about the Okanagan community. It’s that you guys just get s—t done, right!? And it’s very clear who you are! You know your values!

What is something that people don’t know about you? 

When I was 10 months old, I was thrown out of the car going 60 kilometres an hour. My older three-year-old brother pushed me up to help me see out the window, and I fell out, and if it weren’t for a BC Tel truck cutting off traffic—because he saw me flying out—then I would have gotten run over! I ended up in ICU for a week, and I got off just fine. The doctors said because you are so soft and pliable—and since your spinal cord hasn’t connected yet to your brain—you won’t do damage to your nerves and all that because it hasn’t seized yet! That doesn’t actually happen until around two or three years old. So you have until then to jump out of buildings and s—t.

Adkin gets to real issue
Contributed - Jul 11, 2019 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

By Tom Kernaghan

It is never too late to become the person you are capable of being. But what is getting in the way of you reaching your potential? That is exactly what Annette Adkin of Pure Insights Counselling can help you to explore, reveal and ultimately move through.

For 28 years, Adkin has been helping individuals, couples, families and groups explore their stories, and create safe places to understand themselves and how they show up in their lives. She knows that none of us gets through life unscathed, and we are all trying to recover the parts of ourselves that did not get activated during childhood. We conceal our hurt by developing coping strategies to help us deal with painful experiences.

However, life’s painful events are often the catalysts forcing us to get past our old patterns. Adkin helps people identify those patterns, deal with their distress and take steps to create what they truly want in their lives.

Adkin is a registered professional counsellor through the Professional Counselling Association. She has studied social work at UBCO and Canyon College, child and youth counselling at Douglas College, and has had training in addictions and trauma at the Justice Institute. She stays current in her field through yearly supervision, training and workshops. Currently Adkin does individual sessions, couples, families and workshops in the community.

First of all, I love your clear and inspiring website! One line that leapt off the screen for me was the “struggle to maintain authenticity, access our abilities and remember our strengths.” So often our essential selves get lost along the way through life. What happens? Is it taken from us, or do we give it away?

Seventy-five percent of our emotional mapping happens before we’re six years old. Factors such as how we were corrected, whether we received love and affection, whether both of our parents were available daily, whether we could communicate strong or vulnerable feelings directly to our parents when they upset us, whether we felt significant and patterns of sameness (we watch our parents and get the download from their family of origin)—these all can play a role in coping strategies and communication patterns, etc.

We learn from our parents and life experiences. Perhaps we had a parent who over-corrected our behaviour, and so later on in our lives when our partner is angry and upset with our behaviour, we turn away from the situation or react to our partner without understanding our wound and how to communicate our emotional truth, or trying to understand each other’s needs based on our histories. While this allows us to avoid in the short term, these strategies get in the way of resolution and keep us from growing and healing in relationships.

If we stay in patterns, life will give us opportunities to grow, so it is helpful to understand our early style of attachment. Our model of early attachment influences how each of us reacts to our needs and how we go about getting them met. In a secure attachment, we are self-possessed and able to interact with others, meeting both our own and another’s needs. However, when there is an anxious or avoidant pattern from our childhood, we can project this onto a partner or we may seek to duplicate similar patterns, which end up feeling painful. Counselling is a great place to understand our patterns and find new ways to show up in life.

To a layperson like myself, it may seem that trauma and addiction are different challenges than, say, the feeling of being stuck and sad without an obvious reason. From a counselling perspective, is it helpful to make categorical distinctions, or is each person’s pain and struggle a purely a one-of-a-kind journey?

When someone struggles with an addiction, they have experienced trauma. This term is fairly broad, as it encompasses responses to one-time accidents, natural disasters, crimes, and other violent events. It also includes responses to chronic or repetitive experiences such as ongoing conflicts, blocked communication, child abuse, neglect, battering relationships and endured deprivation. When people are stuck and feeling sad, this can be related to trauma, but they may just need to explore their histories or current relationships to get some perspective or learn ways to face the difficulties they are going through.

How would you define balance and well-being—broadly or with respect to your work?

Balance and well-being for me is categorized in four areas. One is love and belonging; who loves and supports me, and who do I love and support? Another one is power and recognition, which for me means feeling significant, keeping boundaries, holding our power, following our purpose and dealing with our feelings of unworthiness or shame. The third one is freedom of choice. We always have daily choices we can make. If there is no self-care, we will feel like a victim, discontented or frustrated. Finally, we need to have fun, or what I call “soul care.” This includes exploring what we enjoy and learning how to play. Examples are adventure, friendship and family time, hobbies, etcetera. When someone struggles with addiction, they are often trying to feel peaceful and at ease, but they haven’t found healthier ways to meet this need for fun and soul care.

In your video, you allude to a story behind your decision to become a counsellor. Would it be fair to say it’s a calling for you? Where did the passion for this path come from?

I laugh because my decision to become a counsellor came from my own dysfunctional patterns from my history. I have had to work on my own family of origin in order to feel like I can be helpful to others. I truly believe a good counsellor is willing to do their own work and practise what they are teaching. But I also know that I have always been a compassionate person and experience has taught me to be strong, to become a lifelong learner, to take care of my health (issues in the tissues), and, for the most part, to make daily choices that help me stay in a positive frame of mind. When I get off track, I know how to get back on track. The key is to take one day at a time and focus on our daily victories.

As you know, we finish each profile with a fun fact. Is there something personal you’d care to share?

A fun fact about my family history… My grandfather was from the Mauritius Islands. (I called him “Papa” because he was French.) He came from a large and interesting family. His father’s first wife died after having 10 children, so when her sister came over to help with the kids, my great-grandfather married her and together they had nine more children. So there were 19 children in total, which is crazy! Needless to say, I am sure there were some attachment issues.

This column was submitted as part of BWB Well-Being Wednesdays (on Thursday for this week only!)

Reasons for market optimism
Bill Hubbard - Jul 09, 2019 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

There is nothing in the statistics in the Okanagan Shuswap real estate market that shows us it will be be anything but flat … yet.

However, you can smell the recovery in the rest of the country, which will help our consumer confidence. Two years ago you could not find a single piece of positive news about the real estate markets in most of the major cities in Canada. Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver were all in a tailspin. Banks were clamping down on lending. The stress test made it tougher still to get a mortgage. B.C. and Ontario were clamping down on foreign investment. Interest rates were rising.

These are all indicators that the executives that sit in the banks’ ivory towers did not look favourably on the major markets in Canada.

However, notice what is happening now. On Sept. 2 the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp. is bringing in a very aggressive first time buyer’s program in which they will loan people partial down payments. Interest rates are coming down. Toronto and Vancouver are starting to show increased sales in certain segments of their markets.

It is too early to really to shout from the rooftops, but take a deep breath.

You can smell the recovery coming.

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 - Jul 08, 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 Gina. Dr. Gina Cherkowski is the founder of STEM Learning Lab and chief innovation officer and co-founder of EdgeMakers. EdgeMakers is an innovative education company that empowers teachers and youth with the skills, tools and mindsets they need to solve the world’s most pressing problems. When Dr. Cherkowski isn’t designing and innovating with her team at EdgeMakers, you’ll find her working on her newest passion project, STEAM360 Canada Foundation, a non-profit that helps underserved children get access to high-quality STEM, STEAM and Maker learning experiences.

We recently caught up with Dr. Cherkowski to learn more about the early days at STEM Learning Labs and what her new charity is all about.

What inspired you to launch STEM Learning Labs? 

“As a math teacher, I realized I was perpetuating the divide between those who got to know math and those who did not. If students didn’t have a certain mark we would say ‘You’re not welcome in this class,’ and there would be another option for them to do math down the hall. That just didn’t sit right with me. The research clearly shows that early math skills are the greatest predictor of future academic and future overall success. I just knew we could not continue to leave kids out, and I wanted to be a part of the solution.

I initially became a professor thinking that changing the curriculum would give teachers better tools and create more inclusion, but it turns out starting my own company is what got me the most traction. It gave me the opportunity to really disrupt things.”

[Editor’s Note: Hungry for more? Watch Gina’s Ted Talk.]

What did those early days at STEM Learning Labs look like?

“It started off with me throwing robots in the back of my car and doing free workshops and programs for schools and just educating people about what the acronym STEM even was. Then we grew from a team of one to a team of three, and we started doing after-school programs and summer camps. From there, all of a sudden, our team was 30 people strong and our programs were in demand all around the globe! It became increasingly obvious that we’d tapped into a global problem.

STEM Learning Labs started out just for kids, but it wasn’t long before I had demand from teachers. Teachers traditionally were not taught computer science skills and digital literacy, and because technology changes so fast there is something to learn all the time.”

Can you tell us about the latest merger between STEM Learning Labs and EdgeMakers?

“STEM Learning Labs recently merged with EdgeMakers, and we have now expanded into the U.S. We are in the process of adding innovation, creativity, critical thinking and entrepreneurship to our fleet of programming. These pieces will enhance our current STEM offering (we’re calling it STEM 2.0). We are now offering stand-alone curriculum so people who want to innovate and build creative capacities can do so through our STEM programming or they can do that through our EdgeMakers series programming. We are kind of were merging two worlds, and it’s fascinating!

My new partner, John Kayo, is an experienced business professional who wrote the curriculum on innovative thinking, entrepreneurship and creativity for Harvard University. He is also an active advisor to The World Economic Forum and is currently helping them ideate and construct the industrial revolution centre in San Francisco. As you can imagine, it’s amazingly fun working with him.”

What do you love most about your work? 

“I have a background is social justice and STEM education, which means I spend a lot of time exploring why people don’t have equal access and opportunities. Providing access to the kinds of programs and skills training the future will demand is the most exciting thing I do, and I love when I see we’re moving the needle on that.

Helping kids learn new skills, watching them light up with excitement, that’s just the best! I see the impact our programs are having in changing the way children approach math. These kids are moving away from feeling ‘stupid’ and are genuinely engaged and confident. I just love that!”

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

“You don’t have to have a highly technical background to learn about STEM. My team is made up of a diverse fleet of experts. Some of them certainly have a degree in coding or computer science, but some of them are students of the arts or other streams of science. You might not see yourself as STEM field material, but you absolutely are! There is space for everyone, so don’t be discouraged by the acronym. When you think about it, tech is in every sector.”

What is next for you?

“My husband has just overcome cancer. For the last year we’ve been fighting that battle, and he was just recently told he is cancer-free. When something like this happens, you can’t help but to evaluate your life. I’ve been taking the time to take care of myself and my family and spending more time just enjoying every day.

I love the work that I do because it’s meaningful, but I have also prioritized making sure that I’m spending a good amount of time with the people that I love. Supporting and nurturing that is really important to me because the first 40 years of being an entrepreneur I spent more time building the company then I did being home.”

What is one thing you can’t live without? 

“I thrive on helping people, and that’s why I became a teacher in the first place. So whatever it is I am doing, whether it’s entrepreneurship or I’m in the classroom, it always has to be at heart something that is helpful to humanity. I can’t live without that.”

Can you tell us a little bit more about STEAM360?

“I have seen that a lot of students from underserved and underprivileged areas that don’t have access to high-quality STEM experiences. Some schools don’t have the same technology as other schools. Some schools don’t have access to high-quality programming and equipment. These are things they need to succeed and engage kids in these kinds of learning experiences. You can’t be what you can’t see.

I’m so excited to bring programs and equipment to communities in need because it is sparking dreams they might not have otherwise had, and that is ultimately the goal of the charitable work STEAM360 will continue to support.”

Ananda finds path to peace
Contributed - Jun 26, 2019 - Columnists

Photo: Youtube
Shri Ananda, left, owns Wellness Realization.

By Tom Kernaghan

For Shri Ananda, the path to peace starts by journeying inward and holding a lamp to our lies. He has walked this road, knows the signs and carries a light to help others find their way toward healing. As a spiritual life coach and the visionary founder of Kelowna’s Wellness Realization, a multifaceted company committed to supporting peace, love, and self-discovery, Ananda understands there are many ways to find and tell our truths, but first we must awaken to the damaging stories we keep repeating and write new ones.

This may sound daunting, but Ananda can help. An inspirational speaker, storyteller, certified Kripula yogi, Komya Reiki master, musician, filmmaker and retreat host, Ananda has 25 years of experience in guiding people through their fears and out of harmful cycles. The author of the bestselling book The Road to Resiliency, his poignant tale of abuse and struggle, Ananda (née Troy Payne) has also found other forms of powerful expression through his band, Aside from Sorrow, and his award-winning film debut, Out of the Darkness. And there is more to come.

Shri, when I heard your story at BWB’s Storytelling Tuesday a couple years ago, I found it compelling and moving. Most of us have places in our past we avoid at all costs. What is it about pain and fear that we cling to them so fiercely, to the detriment of our well-being? What do we imagine will happen if we let go?

Fear is the expectation of pain. The pain may be psychological or physical.

Clinging to fear is based on habit, whether it is from a more ancient form of habit like instincts passed along for millions of years—the habit of involuntary reactions—or newer types of fear formed in this very lifetime. It is rooted in our lack of presence—the inability to be here in this moment. You see, each one of us has approximately 60,000 thoughts each day, so we are a little distracted. When we become emotionally hijacked with an energy such as fear, these thoughts take us to one of two places: past pain stories or future fear.

Fear being a habit can be broken, or the mind can be trained to see the world differently, without fear arising. The mind will draw a person back into the same dynamic over and over. The only way to get out of it is to interrupt the pattern and change your ways of thinking.

What also speaks to me about your story and work is the courage and calm you maintain. You seem to embody balance. What is one of the first things you look for when helping a new client face fear and move toward realizing their own wellness?

Thank you for those words. One of the first things that I explore with a new client is identifying their rituals of creating presence. Since we can only effectively work with the present moment, how do you find it or come into it? There are so many beautiful practices to finding presence or dropping into “heart space,” as I like to call it—the natural state of who we really are. A walk in nature, breathing and meditation practices, yoga, even art, food or music can help us arrive to the present moment.

I once read “writing is rewriting.” In my work, I am keenly aware of this truth. Life is an ever-changing story, and yours appears to be evolving in a rich variety of ways. What does change mean to you, personally and with respect to the world at large?

I like that you used the word evolving in your noticing. The change that unfolds in our lives as individuals and as a collective is our evolution. Think about it for a moment: the biggest shifts, growth and expansion you have experienced mentally, emotionally and spiritually were birthed from your ability to navigate your way through the change that unfolded in your life story. It is in our ability as a global collective to change the current systems, structures and stories on the planet that no longer serve us. The level or degree of change that we embrace collectively around those issues shows us our cultural and global evolution.

I see you have a new film in development right now. This is exciting! Tell us a bit about it, and how the community might help.

I am very excited to be working toward producing a feature film around healing the wounded child who resides inside of us—an archetype of our inner child. The wounded child is created by a childhood pain story that is unresolved or unhealed and impacts who we are as adults in almost every aspect of our lives. This film explores some powerful content, and I do need the help of my community to keep the project moving forward. At this moment I am raising funds to develop demo content and launch phase 1. To learn more about the film and how you can help, or if you feel called to donate, please visit

We like to finish our profiles with a fun fact or quick quirk about each member, something our readers may not know. Do you care to share?

I have such a love for songwriting and music that I have organized over 11,000 songs into more than 400 themed playlists. Music is one of the most powerful forms of storytelling we have.

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

No need to disclose death
Bill Hubbard - Jun 19, 2019 - Columnists

Photo: The Canadian Press

There was a court case recently that clarifies the law on whether or not a violent death needs to be disclosed when selling a home.

A B.C. Court of Appeal decision overturned a previous verdict that stated a violent death needs to be disclosed by the seller and the seller’s Realtor. The court found that they did not want to decide where the line is with stigmatized properties. What if there was a divorce or abuse in the house? Does that need to be disclosed?

The seller or the seller’s Realtor cannot lie when specific questions are asked, but they do not have to volunteer the information.

This is another item in a very long list of reasons why it is important to use a well-trained, professional Realtor to handle your real estate needs—someone who has the training to know what specific questions to ask.

(This commentary is not intended to be legal advice, and opinions should be clarified by a lawyer before reliance.)

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 - Jun 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 Larry. Larry Smith is an executive-in-residence at Accelerate Okanagan and president at Next Stage Consulting. When Larry isn’t helping entrepreneurs brave their biggest business issue you’ll most likely find him swimming, cycling, kayaking or hiking!

We recently caught up with Larry to learn more about what inspired him to be a mentor and what he enjoys about working in the tech sector.

What do you enjoy most about your role as a mentor at Accelerate Okanagan?

“I think there are two pieces here. One is that, well, personally I enjoy the challenge. I like taking on situations that might not be easy to solve and helping companies get to a place where they are much more. The second thing is the relationships that you create when you move somebody from ‘Oh, this is not good …’ to ‘This is great!’ That relationship is quite cool. It’s super rewarding to take someone on a journey that is really quite tough for them at first and then see them develop over time.”

What inspired you to become a mentor?

“My journey to becoming a mentor has been multifaceted. First of all, I have experienced a lot of different things with my background of working with a variety of different companies, so it was important to me that I pass that knowledge on. I am also super passionate about learning and evolving myself and companies. I spend a lot of my time learning, developing, reading, understanding and attending leadership development conferences. I have also spent a lot of time coaching competitive sports, and with that I’ve never coached a game without thinking about the parallels to business. It’s all of those things that come back to me saying I have enough of a consulting skill set from all these things that I can reliably help people on their journey. And not to mention, I’ve personally had some of the best years of my development when I had a really good mentor, so I knew I wanted to be that for other people.”

Can you speak to the power of mentorship?

“Mentorship is an amazing thing. I have personally developed my skills significantly when I have had a really strong mentor, and that’s why I believe in it. There are just so many more resources for founders and young companies than ever before, and these resources can make the entrepreneurial journey so much more predictable if people utilize them!”

Why drives you to focus on tech specifically?

“My interest in technology started a long time ago when I realized that I was kind of good at computer science. Once I realized this was something I was all right at I got much closer to the space. At first, I really wanted to pursue a management track or a senior leadership track around technology.  So initially I focused on information technology, and then I saw that we were going to be going through a big revolution in terms of what the technology industry would do to our economy, and I just knew that I wanted to be right in the middle of that.”

Can you tell us more about your life outside of work?

“I like to spend my days thinking about business and trying to understand what would make people and companies perform at the next level. I also spend a lot of my personal time just doing simple things that recharge me and keep me fit. Some of my favourite ways to recharge are swimming, cycling, kayaking, hiking … all of those outdoorsy things! If I go hiking, I will put on my headphones in and play an audible book. So when I am out there one part of my brain is like ‘this is great, this is nature,’ and the other part will be listening to John Doerr’s Measure What Matters or a similar audible book. That’s the perfect example of the two parts of my brain right there!”

[Editor’s note: If Larry had to recommend one book to an entrepreneur, he says you should read (or listen to) Measure What Matters by John Doerr.)

Can you tell us about the importance of objective key results (OKRs) in business?

“I am a strong proponent of OKRs and what they can do for your business. I think OKRs break down some deceptions of business and about what really matters. So an example of a fallacy is that if we just work really hard and don’t give up it will all work out and that’s often not the case! Setting OKRs is all about choosing objectives wisely, which is a non-trivial skillset and then picking measurable results that will drive you towards those objectives. Developing that high order thought process improves the business acumen of all business people if they can master that skill set.”

[Editor’s Note: OKRs are a very useful tool that can be used within organizations to track and measure objectives and team outcomes. If you’ve got questions about OKRs Larry is your guy! Or if you’d like to, in the meantime read Measure what Matters by John Doerr.]

We know you have a couple of kids at home. Is there a parallel between raising teenagers and mentoring entrepreneurs?

“Yeah, for sure! So business is about a lot of strategy and all those big words, but it is fundamentally a lot about people and people’s growth. It’s about seeing where people are at and when to intercept them in the right way for them and to advance them in kind of actionable steps that will work for them. And that’s pretty true, I think, in developing people, whether those people are entrepreneurs or teenagers, right? It’s all about the people and the interactions and how you develop a relationship, and that can be a lifelong journey at getting better and better at those things.”

What do you think are characteristics that make a strong leader?

“Well, I think that it would be easy to say a good leader is someone who is able to set the right direction and bring out the best in people, but that’s kind of like the easy answer, you know, something a textbook would say. What I think really makes somebody a good leader is the ability to grow and take feedback, learn, and really reposition themselves. You’re constantly improving your swing as a leader, and I think that’s very important. A good leader does not let ego or greed or any other factors get in their way!”

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