Category: provokes my thoughts

Perfectionistic Ideologies ≠ Progress

I’m very passionate about making a difference. My passion is to build high quality buildings that drastically increase comfort and quality, while lowering energy consumption.

I love getting things done and driving change forward. In my opinion, the passive house standard is a very good starting point.

No idea is ever bulletproof, but many times, trying to chase a perfect ideology (the perfect house, with the highest comfort, with the perfect materials, the best energy performance and the least possible embedded energy) leads to progress paralysis. Rather than actually executing on what we have, our minds get hung up with choice overload and we just walk away from progress all together – turning back to just the “same old, same old.” Has anyone else experienced this?

Should we not celebrate that some of us are actually executing? It might not be perfect, and things can be improved, but at some point we need to make decisions and just do what we think is the best solution given the current situation.

If You Could Choose, Where Would All Your Tax Dollars Go?

… what would it be?

I had a great conversation with Dave Klassen (who owns and operates Newport Landscaping) recently about taxes. It all started when I mentioned that I listen to CBC radio. In Dave opinion thought CBC is a complete waste of the tax payers money. Which brought me to a great question: If we only had one choice of dedicating our taxes to just one cause within the state, what would you want it to be?

At first we came up with job creation, and I think this would be the first choice for most people. But thinking about it further, I don’t trust people and the government enough to not just create jobs through tax funding that are only sustained by the input of tax money.

My final conclusion was, that I would want all my tax money to go towards manufacturing and innovation to boost productivity, so that Canada can compete internationally and sell its products abroad. In essence, isn’t that the only way that we can really increase this countries net worth?

This is all I wanted to leave you with today. Think about it: If you had the choice, where would you want all your tax dollars to go to?

As further reading, I recently found a great article in the Globe and Mail. It is titled: “Canada’s Innovation Window of Opportunity”

Owning a Business as an Introvert

“It appears to me that you are an introvert. How do you deal with that when running your own business?”

This question was asked to me at a recent entrepreneurial event, at our local library.

image by rionda

The answer I gave was relatively simple: “I am introvert. I’ve always been relatively shy about hooking up with other people. I’m aware that this is my personality and that it can be an issue in business. But I noticed in the past that every time I step out of my comfort zone good things happen. Also, being a bit more careful about throwing myself out there, generally prevented me from getting into business situations that are too risky [and not my nature].”

I’d like to elaborate on this topic a bit more and then rap it all up at the end with a great post from Steve Blank that I recently read.

Stick to yourself

I am an introvert, but that’s okay. I stick to it. I don’t think this really keeps me back from doing business. I might not be as “out there” during a networking event and working the room as Gary Vaynerchuk would. I am a bit more shy when I comes to cold calls and connecting with new people. I feel it every time I pick up the phone or introduce myself to someone new. In these situations, I keep reminding myself that my head will certainly not be cut off and the other person or party will most likely not even notice anything. Even if you are rejected, who cares? You just go on to the next person or situation.

I also make an effort to learn how to overcome this. Currently I hold a part time position as “sales rep” (trade broker with the charities division with Tradebank Canada) which is very much against my personality, but it teaches me how to deal with my feelings in the types of situations that I would naturally avoid.

Step out of your comfort zone

I use the feeling of shyness as an indicator that I’m about to step out of my comfort zone and into the zone where good things will happen. So I’m afraid about the step, but excited to know that good things will happen when I do this. Thinking about the good opportunities and possibilities that will open up on the other side encourage me to keep going.

It doesn’t hurt to be a bit “conservative”

Lets call it “conservative”, as in “not jumping the gun too fast”. Considering the consequences an action or decision might have before I do it, will make my business smarter and more secure and will most likely provide for a less bumpy ride. Just keep both extremes of this habit in mind: overdoing the thinking might stifle growth and slow you down, underdoing it will make you appear to be inconsequential.

What is actually important as an entrepreneur?

As an entrepreneur you will work in and on your business. The more the business grows, the more you will (and should) work on the business and not in it. You might eventually have someone else to deal with reaching out to others on a daily basis. Your job is it to recognize business opportunities and guide your business towards it.

“Entrepreneurs are artists”

Steve Blank recently posted a short video of how entrepreneurs are artists. Their art is how to create business’ out of all the different parts and opportunities out there.

See for yourself:

Don’t let your shyness or introverted personality keep you from realizing your dreams and business opportunities and start painting a beautiful business. Rather, embrace and use this trait to your advantage.

Eco Insanity vs. Realistic Environmentalism and Real Solutions

Do you know any eco freaks? A Prius driving friend that is always trying to find the next stainless steal lunch box, recycled doodiddy, solar powered toaster? Fast to point fingers at companies or products that are unsustainable, and choose products that at least appear green. They don’t waste a single sheet of paper without scribbling on absolutely every blank space. Your friend is now even fully carbon offset as well. (*)

I must confess that looking back, I did have an eco insane phase in my life. I’ve been a person with an environmentalists mindset all of my life because I love nature, which manifested itself very early on in my life. During my “eco insane” phase, I did things that in hind sight seem over the top and ineffective. Some things I’m rather embarrassed about, some that I would and will still do today.

My observation is that in general most of the changes done in our live styles only touch the surface of the issue, or they might seem environmentally friendly, but are only a continuation of the same over-consumption and destructive pattern, just now with an “eco” label. Humanity destroys the environment, and leaves great devastation behind. In nature we could classify this as behavior as parasitism: a parasite that feeds of its host until the host dies (and with it, also the parasite). In nature on the other hand, growth is generally encouraged and desired. Growth promotes a more healthy environment.

So what is actually wrong?

Most so called “greenies” are not looking at the big picture. The changes that are being done just skim the surface. Many “green” products are either just “green washed” or they attack the issue at the wrong end and not at the root. Our lives need to become more like what they were 300 years ago. Garbage back then was biodegradable and not the kind of garbage that would stay around for hundreds of years.

An old concept + new technology

In nature, waste products become food for the next generation. When a plant dies, or the leaves fall on the ground, they become fertile soil for more plants. This is exactly how we have to look at our production cycles. The book “Cradle to Cradle” is all about this concept. Rather than being eco-efficient, which is just a slower way to pollute the earth, process’ need to be eco-effective and biologically regenerative. Once a product has reached the end of its life cycle, it needs to be either simply safely composted with no harm to the environment or fully put back into the industrial material cycle, and fully reused again.

Landfills would be a thing of the past. Giant compost heaps would be the only garbage that would exist. Giant Hybrids, which “Cradle to Cradle” describes as landfills which consist of valuable industrial materials mixed with compostable matter, would be a thing of the past.

If a product actually promotes healthy environment, then why not consume as much of it as we need? It would mean that you are actually doing good by consuming it.

Two Examples of Products that are eco-effective

Climatex: A Textile made by Gessner AG in Switzerland. The documentary “Waste = Food” uses this company as an example of what the concept it all about. When they switched their production of textiles, which traditionally uses an enormous amount of toxic materials, from environmentally unsustainable and polluting process’ to creating fully compostable textiles, the waste water that was coming out of the plant, became cleaner than on the input side.

Calera’s Concrete: This product actually sequesters CO2 from the atmosphere. Rather than using regular concrete which uses a lot of energy to produce, why not use this product which benefits the environment. I’m sure that having a forest rather than a concrete drive way would be a better solution, but unfortunately we can’t live without this product anymore, so why feel bad when using this?

I’d like to encourage everyone to watch this documentary (I’m sure I have posted the link to it before).

For more detailed information, I would also highly recommend the book “Cradle to Cradle”

(*) What does the company actually do with the money they are happy to take from your friend? What does the company actually do with the money? Have you ever asked them? Shouldn’t it be used to actively get CO2 out of the air?

Junkworld vs. Calmness and Renewal

Why is this world racing at the speed of light – or so they tell us – yet strength lays in the calmness and endurance?

I read this post on swiss-miss this morning:

“Daddy, What’s a Brand?”

We live in The Age Of Everything. Why commit? There are 80 milllion Millennials aged 9-28 in the U.S. alone. Half are already in college or the workforce, and the women will be a tornado. They group around shared affinity more than shared nationality, they’re prosumers not consumers, and they care more about peer recommendation than corporate reputation. They grew up in a world where change is too fast to process, but they know one thing: if you wait a minute or two, something better is sure to be along. They live on an IV drip of real-time connection, and are fiercely interdependent. If you’re a company, failing to consider their preferences would be, in their own vernacular, WOMBAT–a waste of money, brains and time.

I don’t understand that things move so fast, but we generally don’t take the time off to renew ourselves, which truly lays in calmness and just letting time go by.

How do things like this time-piece fit in with the junkworld of Walmart products?

Old Media, Give Me a Break

I was just skipping through the pages of Today’s Parent (a promo copy, I didn’t buy it), and there was a little article about research that had been done on kids who were able to play in the dirt and how they had much better immune systems as adults.

Did we not already know this? Seriously, is this news to you? I always feel so empty after reading these magazines. So many pages filled with stuff that is rarely ever new and does not inspire me in the least.

As the editor of these magazines, you have to come out with a full magazine every month and keep people interested, no matter what, even if there is nothing new happening.

We consume so much media today, but so little of it is necessary. I want quality not quantity. I might actually buy a bi-yearly parenting magazine, that had only the best stories, the best reports, that is inspiring and informative. But I guess there is no money in that for big business, probably enough money in it though for “small business” (or smart business).

I think it’s time we reevaluate our media consumption. Lets hang out with friends and our kids more instead of beeing filled up with junk non-sense repetitive media.

Is Meat the By-Product of Bio-Diesel and the Fashion Industry?

I found an article about a “Beef Bio-Diesel” Powered Train on mashable. I don’t think the economics really work. How many cows does it take to power the train? I assume this business model is fine, if we are using diesel trains anyways, and we can simply modify the trains to use less crude oil.

At which point does the meat become the by-product of bio-diesel though?

This brings me to another post published on ecouterre by Galahad Clark, the owner and director of Terra Plana. He talks about the fashion industry driving the cattle industry. Again, is meat the by-product of shoes and fashion?

I obviously am not an expert on this issue, but I encourage everyone to think about how everything ties in together.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you have any facts on this issue? Leave me a comment.

“Most Americans are Accidental Environmentalists”

I found this post on the website of Shelton Group. To me it sounds like the equivalent of “green is just a by-product” just from a consumer point of view. If a company is concerned for its cashflow and for the health of their workers and makes changes to accommodate that, they will most likely become greener and create greener products. If consumers are concerned for their and their families health, they choose “green products accidentally”.

Do you buy green products not for the sake of the planet but because you are concerned for your health?

A New Car for $2000

If someone was to ask you to build a car that is simple and extremely robust that has to have a ticket price of $2000 with no compromises of quality and features, would you just shake your head and walk away?

Exactly that was the task of Tata Motors of India (see the video at the end of this post). I think it is very remarkable that we (the humans) can put out such seemingly complicated tasks and achieve them. In this case, the car industry is trying to tap into the huge growth potential of the car market in India, but why can’t we use this same determination and set out for other goals? Provide shelter for the people, health care for the poorest, clean water. Should it not be possible to provide clean drinking water for every person on this earth within 5 years? What growth potential is that? Think about it?

Why I will not shop at Wal-Mart

This article at FastCompany sums up why I will not shop at Wal-Mart. It is literally backstabbing a business owner. Please take your time and read the article. It’s essential for us to know what is going on, in order to keep our jobs in the future.

Fast Company: The Wal-Mart You Don’t Know” by Charles Fishman

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