Strategist and connector at the intersection of business, technology and social change. Passionate about finding ways to best connect, organize, discover, and share the world's information. Interested in companies that focus on using technology and design thinking to improve the way businesses and/or nonprofits run.
Information Technology and Services | Vancouver, Canada Area, CA
Strategist and connector at the intersection of business, design and social change. I bring along proven skills in the areas of strategic planning, business/non-profit development, project management, sales and social media.
**Seeking opportunity in companies that focus on using technology and design thinking to improve the way businesses and/or nonprofits run. Interested in working in sales & business development capacity.
Specialties: Business development, Strategic planning, Project Management, Sales, Customer Service, Social media
2011 - Present
Board Member / British Columbia Council for International Cooperation
BCCIC is a coalition of 34 British Columbia international development organizations and provincial branches of such organizations committed to achieving sustainable global development. Joined the board of directors to help establish the strategic direction of the council for the next 3 years. Was recently appointed Treasurer.
Vancouver Chapter Co-President / Engineers Without Borders Canada
• Led the growth and operation of the local professional chapter through recruitment, project support, program development, and broad network communication • Implemented a document management software solution that improved team efficiency and was adopted by 6 other Chapters across Canada
Recruitment officer / Global Agents
• Dedicated to finding innovative and sustainable solutions aimed at eradicating extreme poverty. • Helped as a volunteer to market the non-profit organization for its main program. • Prepared promotional videos and presentations to engage our target audience.
Team Leader / Global Agents
• Lead a team of novice bike riders down the Pacific Coast from Vancouver to Tijuana. • Taught my team the basics of bike mechanics, helped create a positive learning and team environment, and helped them overcome the physical and mental challenges faced by each rider throughout the trip. • Organized the trip with my co-leader from start to finish and raised funds to create awareness of global poverty.
Sales Associate / The North Face
• Consistently achieved my sales targets and provided customers with a personalized shopping experience • Learned to become an effective salesperson with customers in the store and on the phone • Communicated closely with store manager and learned many aspects on how to manage a retail business.
Club President / Queen's University Outdoors Club
• Managed a team of 8 and organized weekly trips for the 200 university students in the club • Executed a marketing plan that more than doubled the membership registrations compared to the previous year.
Lab Technologist (summer contracts) / ABC Group
• Lab Technologist at ABC Group, a plastics manufacturing company. Worked with project engineers in designing effective ways to test various raw materials and automotive parts. • Involved with several projects for major companies like General Motors, Toyota, and Honda. • Learned the different manufacturing processes and operated some of the machinery. • Participated in conference calls with the companies mentioned above and communicated closely with project engineers.
Simon Fraser University
Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.)
1) Rich => Allows users to tap into any form of content 2) Active => Allows users to actively construct knowledge as part of a process 3) Social => Allows users to share opinions, receive feedback, and get a sense of where they fit in the world”
“If we could offer a top quality education to everyone around the world for free, what would that do?
1) First it would establish education as a fundamental human right, where anyone around the world with the ability and the motivation could get the skills that they need to build a better life for themselves and their communities
2) It would enable life-long learning
3) Enable a wave of innovation
“The mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting.” ~ Plutarch
The online world is moving at an increasing pace. More and more tech startups are taking off in a historic period dubbed the 'Golden era'. Since the start of the internet in the 90s, we have seen three generations in the tech world: Web 1.0, Web 2.0 or social, and now Mobile. The paradigm shift towards an online social environment has connected us more than ever before, and the ongoing surge of innovative ideas taking shape are creating some noticeable trends, all converging towards a more connected and unified world. Among these are three trends I wish to discuss. 1) Shift in how we aggregate information. We are finding new ways to discover, organize, connect, and share the world’s information. Advancements in the field of nanotechnology are resulting in drastic increases in computing power, enabling companies to analyse vast quantities of data. New tools are enabling us to link and visualize information to increase our knowledge. There are an increasing number of companies that aim to filter and connect the wealth of information that surrounds us. Companies like GOOD, a global association of individuals, businesses and nonprofits, or big companies like Google, which is shifting from an "information engine to a knowledge engine". People want to learn more and understand more easily.
2) Shift in how people connect and interact with one another online. Online Social networks have shifted the web from an ‘encyclopedia of information’ to a ‘social environment’. Companies like Facebook are "leading a social movement by building [...] technology that gives people the power to share and make the world more open and connected" (Facebook). The rise of web 2.0 has created this need to participate and engage with others online.
3) Shift towards “using the internet to get off the internet” (Meetup). Some argue that the internet has brought great social isolation, while others believe in its power to bring us closer together. At a time when “we expect more from technology and less from each other” (Sherry Turkle), we often forget how important the real face-to-face interactions are. The ability to successfully combine technology with social capital, to come together and act, is the next big step. As Meetup CEO Scott Heiferman states, "In the 21st century, the technology for how to combine is the mother of all awesomeness".
Understanding to Action
In order to go from an idea to action, there are certain steps to go through. The increasing number of social networks and tools are, if used appropriately, enabling us to understand quicker, allowing us to engage online with people from around the world and act on our ideas faster than ever before.
Hierarchy of Understanding
When analyzing the trends in the tech industry, it is important to understand how these fit in the big picture. Looking at the diagrams below, we see the different levels of visual understanding, and how one might observe sets of data and experiences leading them to action.
Looking at this ‘hierarchy of understanding’, we can connect the dots and see how the trends of today follow the path from data to wisdom. For example, in recent years, we have seen a sharp increase in the use of visualizations to express more clearly the data/information we want to convey. In addition, the increasing use of high performance computing (HPC), in part due to advancements in technology and the widespread adoption of cloud technology, is enabling us to analyze and add meaning to vast amounts of data. Social Curation tools like ‘Pearltrees’ are enabling users to not only discover and organize web content, but it promotes collaboration towards greater understanding of the subjects that interest us. As for the shift from information to knowledge, we see the online education movement is rapidly growing, and an increasing number of individuals of all ages are becoming more knowledgeable.
The paradigm shift towards the creation of online social environments is not only allowing us to better connect with friends, family, colleagues, or complete strangers, but it provides a space for us to participate in discussions and share our ideas. Our commitment level is totally dependent on us. As the plot on the right illustrates, social networks provide us with a number of opportunities to engage, mostly online. This obsession with the online world, some say, has created a divide in our identity, our real and virtual self. With mobile being the next generation in the internet world, how will Web 2.0 companies shift to this new paradigm?
The shift to mobile gives us the best of both worlds. We can access information online, participate in online social environments, and participate in offline activities. We don’t want to lose our online presence, but we seek the real face-to-face connections and realize their importance to our well being. Companies like Meetup have an important role to play, as it uses the power of web technology to organize people and get us off the internet. It uses a blended approach, where the core values of Meetup are the offline experiences we have and connections we make, while still being able to engage with members online.
Below is a quote from Steve Jobs that has affected my way of thinking. There have been numerous articles written about him after his death, many discussing whether or not he was a great leader of our time, or simply a very good business man who was promoting consumerism. Either way, he has inspired many of us, and we will continue to learn from him in years to come.
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it; they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.” ~ Steve Jobs
I find this quote very meaningful. There is an enormous amount of data and information in our world today, and we need to continuously educate ourselves so we can better connect the dots. Easier said than done, collecting bits of information from our experiences and those of others is the key to connecting ourselves and connecting the wealth of ideas that are all around us. Given the amount of data present today, very little of that data is actually presented in a way that we would consider useful information. To this extent, not many people are able to properly interpret that information to reach a greater understanding of the issues at hand.
In the book 'Think and Grow Rich', Napoleon Hill states that "the imaginative faculty functions in two forms. One is known as 'synthetic imagination,' and the other as 'creative imagination".
SYNTHETIC IMAGINATION: Through this faculty one may arrange old concepts, ideas or plans into new combinations. This faculty creates nothing. It merely works with the material of experience, education and observation with which it is fed. It is the faculty used most by the inventor, with the excerption of the 'genius' who draws upon the creative imagination when they cannot solve a problem through synthetic imagination."
CREATIVE IMAGINATION: Through the faculty of creative imagination, the finite mind of humankind has direct communication with Infinite Intelligence. It is the faculty through which 'hunches' and 'inspirations' are received. It is by this faculty that all basic or new idea are developed. It is by this faculty that thought vibrations from the minds of others are received. And it is through this faculty that one individual may 'tune in to,' or communicate with the subconscious minds of others. […] This faculty functions only when the conscious mind is vibrating at an exceedingly rapid rate, as for example when the conscious mind is stimulated through the emotion of a strong desire.
Mark Kramer on shared value “The nonprofit consultant and co-author of a controversial article says working toward the greater good can benefit the bottom line”
The following is a paraphrase from the interview. Kramer discusses the issue of corporate social responsibility (CSR), saying “classic CSR is about not getting caught doing something wrong. It is about reducing your environmental footprint, worrying about the labour conditions in your supply chain, which are often the result of external pressure from the government, from activist organizations, and it is often seen as a cost, or a constraint, or a limitation on business. It is adding to the cost of the business, and is more often than not used for reputation management”.
He proposes the idea of shared value, which consists of finding new ways to promote new markets, new products, new activities, and to differentiate your company based on the social proposition as well as the economic one. This shift in mindset takes time, as it is a culture change within a company that should resonate will all employees.
During the interview, Kramer claims that dozens of CEO’s of large corporations are on board the idea of shared value, and some proclaim that their company is already doing that to a certain extent. This shift in mindset seems to bring hope in the value that corporations bring to society. Given the size and influence that many corporations have, can we trust them to follow through with the idea of shared value, or will they continually strive to pursue greater economic gain, and go against the ideology of a just society? Are corporations purely ‘evil’ and need to be shut down (according to many protesters in the occupy movement), or will they play a major role in the recovery of the financial crisis?
Our time is limited, and the need for change is pressing. I wasn't sure if I was ready to publish this entry, thinking I needed more time to learn, but then I realized that there is no better time than now, and that these issues need to be addressed today. This blog entry attempts to highlight and reflect on some of the problems present in the world today. There are several generalizations; my hope is that you read this entry without jumping to conclusions, but rather to take it as it is and reflect yourself on the issues brought forward.
1) The world population and our economies are rapidly growing, but our understanding of the world and the people in it are not evolving at the same rate. 2) Religion tends to unite us as a nation, but tear us apart as a human race. 3) There is a lack of communication and understanding amongst people of all corners of the world. 4) There is a lack of unity and collective knowledge. We have a difficult time piecing together the big picture. Self-interest still seems to be the dominant incentive towards our actions. 5) It seems on average there is a lack of curiosity and desire to learn about the world we live in.
Civilizations across the planet have evolved tremendously over time, and new discoveries are constantly improving our understanding of the world we live in. We are connected by our histories, our cultures, our beliefs, and the stories that have passed on from one generation to the next will continue to fuel our unwavering belief in human potential.
Despite this potential, we are seriously struggling to create a more peaceful and environmentally conscious world. A lot of us are working to solve these problems, but as a whole, we are unable to piece together the big picture. The fear and guilt created by our societies are leading us astray, and preventing us from understanding how to live. Often, "fear leads to anger, anger to hate, and hate to suffering". Many of our thoughts are idealistic. We envision how people should think and act, and we want them to change overnight. The realities of our societies are that change takes time. We need to work with the current systems and formulate an action plan that will actually change things. We are always trying to come up with new ways to make a difference. I realize it is important to do that, but it is also necessary to look all around us and use the enormous wealth of information and knowledge that we already have. We are surrounded by it everyday! It is time that we connect the dots. Most importantly, people are overlooking the obvious. Everyone jumps to conclusions about everyone without really understanding each other. It is not always about reading books, articles, watching videos, it is about meeting someone face to face and trying to understand why that person thinks a certain way. Most of us are unable to understand our family and friends, so how are we supposed to understand people that live across the world from us? That is without a doubt the main problem our societies face today. We always try to put a number on things, to quantify them in some way. There is no mathematical equation to understanding people. I agree with Einstein when he claimed that “the geniuses of the art of living are more necessary to the dignity, security, and joy of humanity than the discoverers of objective knowledge”.
Understanding others starts by understanding ourselves. Most often, what you do serves as the proof of what you believe. Jacque Fresco, the founder of the Venus Project, explains it best. The following is a paraphrase.
“Freedom of choice means without influence. All of us are influenced. All our choices are driven by the culture we live in, by our parents and the values that dominate. When these choices are questioned, people get defensive and think: "who the hell are you to tell me what to think?". A lot of people are not responsible for their answers; they are victims of their culture, meaning they've been influenced by their culture”.
Ultimately, we all want to search for truth. We are surrounded by information about everything, including how to live. Truth cannot be taught. It is important to inquire, to doubt, and to be skeptical of all that is believed all around us. There is a short quote that stuck in my mind that says: “Inquiry is difficult; belief is cheap. […] You cannot get truth from others, you will have to find it yourself”.
Next, I want to quickly touch on the topic of religion. Religion tends to unite us as a nation, but tear us apart as a planet. Why is that? Why is it that around 80% of Americans are Christians, around 80% of Indians are Hindus, and around 97% of Iranians are Muslims? Are we predestined to follow a certain religion? Is it embedded in our DNA? Is there a correlation between our religious beliefs and how intelligent we are? I mean there are millions of extremely intelligent individuals that follow each religion, so why are there such disagreements? Are we so stubborn and narrow minded that we cannot bother trying to understand each other? I think the problem is that we are taught to believe a certain way, from one generation to the next. How many tears have to be shed, and how much blood has to be spilled in order for us to realize that we are one? We are all unique (which is the reason why people are so fascinating), but we are one in the sense that the actions taken by one person have an impact on the whole planet and consequently everyone on it. Civilizations are advancing in many ways, but it is too bad that it takes problems for us to wake up and change things. "We have to learn to identify and break our own indoctrination if we expect to move forward at all as a civilization". The topic of religion is very taboo, and people shy away from talking about it amongst each other. From my understanding, there are beautiful notions in almost every religion. In fact, many of those notions are the same, or similar. We keep on focusing on the differences and label each other, labels that most often have bad connotations. We want to believe in something so badly that we push aside our rationality.
The other weekend, I felt something very powerful. I volunteer as a ski patroller, and on a Sunday afternoon, I took care of an accident that ended up affecting me a lot. A 12-year-old boy had fallen down on his wrist in the middle of a ski run. After a short inspection, I had come to the conclusion that his wrist was probably broken. The kid was calm and so innocent looking. His mother was standing beside us, and I started asking her questions about her son's medical history. She told me he had just overcome 7 years of chemotherapy for leukemia. He has spent more than half of his life going in and out of hospitals. He was so happy to snowboard for the first time in years, and he ended up breaking a bone. It sucks, yet this is nothing compared to the pain he had already endured. My point is, everyone is different. Some people are very fortunate, while others do not have the same chance at life. There are so many illnesses, accidents, and natural disasters in our world today. Life can be precious if you want it to be, so why do we end up spending a large portion of our time disagreeing with each other, creating arguments and fighting with one another?
This question has preoccupied me for quite some time, and has led me to think whether disagreements are honest or not. First, I want to talk about perception. Understanding others is a battle of perception. I was reading a Marketing book a little while ago, and the authors explain it best in the following excerpt:
“All truth is relative. Relative to your mind or the mind of another human being. When you say, “I’m right and the next person is wrong,” all you’re really saying is that you’re a better perceiver than someone else. Most people think they are better perceivers than others. They have a sense of personal infallibility. Their perceptions are always more accurate than those of their neighbors or friends. Truth and perception become fused in the mind, leaving no difference between the two.”
It is important to be confident about our own views and opinions, but it is equally important to understand how others perceive the same issues, and why.
Disagreements happen all the time, whether it is about politics, religion, morality, or plenty of other reasons. “Disagreements usually persist, and often become stronger, when people become mutually aware of them. […] Many people dismiss the arguments of others, often on the grounds that those others are less smart, knowledgeable, or otherwise less able”. The problem is that people are more eager to speak than they are to listen. It should occur to people that they may be wrong; others may well know things that they do not. I also find it really strange that “more social shame falls on those who agree too easily, and so lack the courage of their convictions”.
One question that people should think about is whether our differences in beliefs depend on our differences in information? People are exposed to a topic in many different ways. Human belief is not only formed from an individual’s experiences, general attitudes, and information received, but also from random influences such as the person’s mood, or the way the topic was framed. All these, along with people’s tendencies to think they reason better than others, can be the causal factors associated with disagreements. For more information on the rationality of disagreements, read a research paper called ‘Are Disagreements Honest?’, written by two university professors (you can find it by googling the title).
Despite the wars and the hatred present in the world today, things are moving forward; it is not really an option to think otherwise. Having said that, big changes have to be made. People's mentalities are changing for the better, slowly but surely. The problem is that we all expect everyone to change all of a sudden. We keep on blaming everyone back and forth because this whole idea of caring about each other, no matter where we live in the world, is relatively new to us. We are at the stage where people think: "I care about you, but you don't care about me...so screw off!" Of course, that is a generalization, but you get the idea.
In the end, we all want to belong. From blood, to religion, to national identification, we all want to be a part of something, some place. Our sense of belonging will never stop, it is in fact necessary, but is it so hard to believe that we all belong together on planet earth? There is a quote I found in my readings that says: "The world is divided because man is divided; man is divided because the world is divided". It is time for everyone to realize that; it is the key to empathic sensibility in the biosphere.
When you break it down, understanding someone starts by caring about that person, listening to them, seeing the beauty in them, and appreciating the small things. Curiosity without assumptions creates the path leading to empathy.
A lot of people realize that things need to change. Movements have been created, addressing problems, even proposing some viable solutions. However, the crux of the matter is our inability to truly understand and appreciate people for who they are. That is the barrier that prevents us from bridging the gap between what is and what it should be.
I named this blog entry "Connecting the dots" for a reason. I mentioned above that we are taught to believe. That is true for religion, but it is also true for everything else. We are taught that certain products are amazing, that certain services will solve all your problems, and most importantly, that certain people are right. Whether someone is right or wrong, you cannot accept it to be that way until you have made an informed decision yourself because a lot of the information, as we all know, tends to be biased. There are pros and cons for everything. It is necessary to think analytically, and play the devil's advocate in order to truly understand the reasons and implications involved. You don't form an opinion based on one view, but rather a multitude of views. There are numerous people out there that express their strong opinions regarding world issues, people who all have insights on what needs to happen, some may be good and others may not. My intentions in writing this entry are not for the readers to pick sides, but rather to help them ask themselves the pertinent questions.
Throughout this entry, I have quoted a few of the individuals that have challenged my way of thinking. However, my sources of inspirations are countless. Listening to your family, friends, and the face-to-face encounters with complete strangers are what shape our overall mentality. Reading will only get you so far. “Words mean whatever you want them to mean; they don’t have any content of their own”. Whether people are well educated, illiterate, wealthy, homeless, healthy, or ill, they all have their own story to tell. I have never met someone that I couldn't learn from.
We are on the verge of a great transition in human life. The world population and our economies are growing at an alarming rate, especially in many Asian countries, China and India in particular. The problem is that our understanding of the world and the people on it are not evolving at the same rate. Change takes time, I think we can all agree on that. The fear is that we reach the point of no return; it is a reality we cannot ignore any longer. We need to be very careful of where we are heading next. The following is a quote from Carl Sagan, a world famous astronomer:
“We are capable of using our compassion and our intelligence, our technology and our wealth, to make an abundant and meaningful life for every inhabitant on earth, to enhance enormously our understanding of our planet and our universe.”
I've repeated myself regarding the notion of understanding people. I am by no means an expert. In fact, I am relatively young and lack at lot of the wisdom that older people have attained throughout their lives. I will be trying to better understand people my whole life...and THAT is the best part.
I want to leave you with an amazing video, showing how breathtaking the earth is, and how fascinating people are. We are the most remarkable species of all.
"Everything has been figured out except how to live." - Sartre
Last summer I decided to kick things into higher gear and bike down the Pacific Coast. I'm an '09 Queen's university graduate with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Although I enjoyed my studies, I decided to travel for a while and fulfill one of my goals, bike touring. Prior to my trip, I continued to discover this beautiful Canadian land I now call home. It was time to pay a visit to our fellow neighbours, the Americans and the Mexicans. I saw lots, met tons of people, and riding down was an amazing way to capture the whole experience. The next two blog entries describe part of the trip I was so fortunate to go on.
The whole team faced numerous challenges throughout the trip, some that were expected, others that were not. Although some challenges were similar for some people, many were rider specific. The physical challenge proved to be very difficult and a bit unexpected by most riders. The lack of training was evident and caused some problems, especially during the first few weeks. I remember the first day, which was only 48 kilometers, being very exhausting for my team. I was unimpressed with the speed and the overall fitness level of the riders. As a result, a ride that I thought was going to take at most 3 hours ended up taking about 5 or 6. I think some of the riders at that point were already asking themselves the same question: "What did I get myself into?!" Fortunately, even after a rough start, that question was quickly erased from everyone's minds. As the days passed, the riders got better and better, and I was very happy to see those improvements and eager to think that at some point we would all be able to ride together as a team.
Despite what it looks like from the map and unlike what some people might think, going down the coast is not all downhill, far from it! The coastal highway is full of ups and downs and strong winds that want to blow you off your bike. On top of that, it rained almost everyday during the first 2 to 3 weeks, and staying warm and dry proved to be challenging for all of us. There is nothing worse than biking in the pouring rain, and waking up the next day only to find out that the dark clouds are as furious as the day before. The team kept strong nonetheless, and although the weather was a constant problem, the morale of each rider stayed high. As for me, worrying about the team was always on my mind, but that did not take away the fact that I was actually enjoying myself. Rain or shine, I was ready to face the challenges mother nature put me up against.
The physical challenge was one thing, but the mental challenge was another. We faced some tough days, especially at the beginning, and I think a lot of the riders had not really been in a situation like that before the trip. It was interesting to see everyone's reactions and how they dealt with the challenges encountered. The team was not expecting the days to be so long. A lot of the time, we would leave at around 9:30am and arrive in the evening. Some days we would arrive even later and therefore had to face the darkness. I remember one of the long days where we spent about 11 or 12 hours on the road. We had to climb some difficult hills, and the California sun was beating down on us. It was a beautiful day, and we took a LOT of breaks, including a 2 hour lunch break right before the biggest hill (not the best idea, but in retrospect, we were all hungry and needed some energy to conquer the hill). I pushed the team to keep moving, but riding in the dark was inevitable. Once the darkness had set in and the moon was shinning with all its might, we were all determined and eager to reach the campsite, where our driver was waiting for us with a cooked meal. Although that seemed easy enough, Trasey, one of the riders, had a bad eyesight due to a serious eye infection that occurred during her trip in Africa a few years back. As a result, she could not see well at all in the dark. To further complicate things, some of the riders did not have any lights, despite me telling them on several occasions. Our pace was fairly slow and we were constantly waiting for the last rider, so I decided to move forward with Trasey, and leave Pamy, my co-leader, with the rest of the team. Trasey was following me very closely, and focused on my back light, which was pretty much the only thing she could see. Although I was a little worried about her, and always looking at my speedometer to check how much distance we had left, I was also appreciating the calmness of the night and attentive to the little animal noises surrounding us. In the end, we all made it safely to the campsite and had a well deserved meal accompanied with some beers to top off the day. After a quick discussion around the campfire, we all crawled into our tents, and left the campsite to the creatures of the night, raccoons and animals alike. Happy with our big day, we all fell into dreamland, or "Lala land", as Maddy would say.
"In dreams, we enter a world that's entirely our own" ~ Steven Kloves
First and foremost, I would like to apologize for not updating my blog throughout the trip. I had plenty of ideas, but did not have the chance to write them down at the time. Taking care of the team was a full time job, and the free time that I did have was spent relaxing or visiting communities (well actually not that much relaxing). Now that the journey is over, I have time to share with you some of my thoughts and stories from this wonderful trip down the west coast. I have decided to split it up into 5 blog entries, each of which have headings that best summarize the adventure my team and I embarked on during that month and a half. Enjoy!
The first section of the trip was not very scenic. This was due to the fact that we passed by Seattle, and therefore did not reach the coast until Bay Center. This tiny little town is located beside South Bend, the oyster capital of the world. The rainy weather also did not help. Having said that, Seattle was a beautiful and lively city. The large trees towering over the sidewalks keep the city in touch with the surrounding nature and make it enjoyable to walk in the streets. A trip to Seattle is never complete without visiting the world famous fish market. Full of energy, the guys working in the fish stands always like to put on a show and are quite entertaining. All the fish are fresh from the ocean, and their sizes are enormous! Make sure you check out the Pacific Oysters, I have never seen anything like it.
Some of the days, we rode along farmlands, and the roads were winding through the fields and forests of Washington state. One morning, the team got split up very early on, and although I knew the general direction, I must admit that I was a little bit lost. I stopped at a farm to ask for direction, but it seemed that no one was home. From past experiences, I know that farmers never really leave their land and therefore must not be very far. I looked like such a tourist with my spandex shorts and my clip shoes, but I was not ready to give up just yet. Quickly enough, I walked around and found the farmer, who was with his cows. Wanting to talk to him, I moved closer, and to my surprise, ended up stepping in a big puddle of cow shit. I cursed a little, but in the end, the farmer reassured me that I was going in the right direction. Despite the cow shit incident, stopping by that farm brought back some childhood memories that I treasure most.
Once we reached the coast, the views got a bit better, but the rain remained a nuisance. The whole team was looking forward to the beautiful sultry days everyone had promised us. We knew those days were coming, but we did not know when. Finally, along the coast of Oregon, the sun decided to shine and the coastal scenery that I had imagined was right in front of my eyes. I remember that exact moment like it was yesterday, and the team and I all had a big smile on our faces. We took lots of pictures and soaked in the sun for a little while before continuing on with our day.
After crossing over to California, the days gradually got nicer, although it was definitely not as warm as we had expected. During the day it was relatively hot, but at night, the cold ocean breeze took over and we were all happy to crawl in our sleeping bags. Northern California is so beautiful. Unlike the State that we all picture as being heavily populated and associate with Los Angeles and Hollywood, the whole northern part is a long stretch of wild coastline and fields of cows, horses, and endless prairies. Riding along those fields, I felt so free and far from the stressful life that I am used to. I only had one thing in mind, to run in the middle of a field and shout my thoughts of joy. I am not sure if my teammates quite understood what I was doing, but it totally made sense to me.
The day right before San Francisco, I decided to have a day to myself and bike at my own pace. A few hours in the ride, I stopped at a beach, where I decided to take a nap. It was the first nice beach we passed, so I thought it would be appropriate to check it out and soak in the sun for a while. Laying there in the sand, I was admiring the view and people watching. I was surprised to see that there were all kinds of people, kids, moms and dads, young couples, grandparents and groups of friends. It seemed that everyone was enjoying themselves. I managed to take a couple pictures, although I was not always very discrete.
Upon arriving in San Francisco, we crossed the famous Golden Gate Bridge. I must say it was quite impressive and was definitely a milestone in the trip. We were lucky enough to have a gorgeous day, and the San Francisco Bay was lit up by the sun. We had quite a few problems during the days prior to San Francisco and the team was split up for numerous reasons. In Sausalito, we were all reunited once again and ready to cross the bridge as a team. All the problems and pain that we endured until that point did not seem to matter, we were all comfortable with each other now and realized how beneficial this journey has been for our personal development. We knew nothing could stop us from continuing on and reaching our goal, crossing the Mexican border.
Laying on the beach and watching the sunset was always a good end to the day. Morroe Bay, a cool little town on the California Coast, had the best sunset of the trip. The whole sky was a combination of orange, yellow, and pink with some clouds. I was in awe. Unfortunately, we were lingering at the campsite, and not overlooking the bay, so i did not take any pictures. Instead, you guys are going to have to settle for a picture of a typical sunset on this trip. The picture below was taken at Huntington Beach, also known as "Surf City USA". I have heard of the place before, but did not realize how cool it really was. It's every teenagers' paradise and the three main activities are surfing, beach volleyball, and picking up beautiful girls. The waves are ideal for surfing, and a lot of the kids looked like pros and were just ripping it! For a lot of them, they live close by and surfing is a daily activity.
Oh and here are a few more sunsets I thought were pretty cool...
Alright, I think it's time to end this blog entry. I'm sitting at a cafe overlooking the Eiffel Tower right now, and it's time to go for a short walk.
Last summer I worked for Lululemon in Banff Alberta. First off, let me tell you that the landscapes in this region of Canada are absolutely breathtaking. The vast forested valleys and endless amount of wildlife are impressive and unforgettable. Below are two pictures that my friend Amelie Bourgault took in the Banff National Park.
Anyways, getting back to Lululemon, I only worked there for about three weeks, but I learned quite a lot. I worked with about 25 girls, which sounds really sweet, but in reality, it was different than I had expected and not the right environment for me (and no, i'm not gay). You're probably thinking: "How much can you really learn at a retail store, especially for such a short amount of time?" Well, here is what I learned:
Throughout the two days of training, the store manager focused on goal setting. Although it seems self explanatory, the concept was fairly new to me. There was a study at Yale University (I think that's correct) showing that the 3 percent of the class that wrote down their goals in life earned 10 times more money after graduation than the remaining students combined. I didn't make this up, I swear. A lot of people wander through life without either knowing what they really want, or they realize what they want when it's already too late. Since I was a kid, people kept on telling me about their regrets, things they should have done at an earlier age. Well for many of us, our time is now, so stand up and make the best out of your life. I wish I had more experience to back this up, but i don't. Like some of you, i'm still trying to figure out what career path I should take. I've spent 20 years of my life at school thinking there's got to be an end to this. I have come to realize that the learning curve is endless. Knowledge can represent the cool things you learned in biology class, your ability to solve a simple equation, or understanding Einstein's quantum theory. However, I find that the best and most useful form of knowledge is what you've learned from the people you've met, family, friends, or complete strangers.
It is important to set personal, health, and career goals. The following quote was taken from the Lululemon website: "There is no manual for life. Who you are, where you go, and how soon you get there is up to you. Goal setting is a tool that helps you get what you want out of life. It's that simple."
Below are a series of questions that were given to me by my assistant manager. Read through them, and answer them as best you can. And don't wait till later, or you'll keep on forgetting. Do it now!
1) What are you willing to give your life to? 2) What are you willing to commit to every day? 3) What causes you do be inspired everyday? 4) If a wish could be granted, what would you wish? 5) What kind of difference do you want to make in the world?
"Dream big...even if you don't fully succeed, you'll learn so much along the way"
For as long as I can remember, nature has always been a big part of my life. I was lucky enough to have been born and raised in the countryside of Normandy, France. Surrounded by fields of cows (you gotta love the sweet smell of cow shit), I learned to appreciate the simple life and how to live in perfect harmony with the surrounding nature.
After I moved to North America, traveling and discovering new and exciting places with my parents, brothers, and friends is what fueled my interest of the outdoors. Whether it is the Florida everglades, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, the many canoe trips, or the beautiful Rocky Mountains, all those wonderful escapades into the wildlife, and many more, have been engraved in my mind forever.
The three pictures below were taken during my trip to the Grand Canyon with the Queen's University Outdoors Club. The sun was shinning during the whole time we were there, except on the last day, on our way up the canyon.
Here is a picture I took of my good German friend Axel Nernheim surrounded by the enormity of the canyon.
And who would have thought it snowed in the Grand Canyon. We were caught in a snow storm on the way up. We almost didn't make it out alive! (just kidding, we made it to the top just fine)
During my late teenage years, I discovered a new passion, mountaineering. It first started when I spent a week in the French and Swiss Alps with a company called UCPA. Until then, I had only dreamed of climbing mountains, and I was not at all sure if this dream would come true. My uncle would always tell me anecdotes about his climbing trips. He was the one who first introduced me to climbing. I remember him taking my brothers and I camping in the Pyrenees mountains, in Saint Lary. I knew that from there onwards, climbing mountains would be a big part of my life. This is what sparked this passion of mine.
Here is a picture that was taken of me standing at the summit of Mt. Bishorn, in the Swiss Alps.
After that, I continued to pursue my quest to conquer the mountains. A few years ago, I travelled to Nepal. I did some volunteering in Kathmandu for about a month and a half, then decided to spend two weeks trekking in the Himalayas. Surrounded by the tallest mountains in the world, I hiked up to Everest Base Camp, and was mesmerized by the beautiful views. Once I made it to base camp, I told myself: "I've made it up this far, what stops me from climbing to the summit of Everest?" Unfortunately, it didn't happen for obvious reasons, but at the back of my mind, I promised myself I would return one day. Plus my good friend Adam Mallory and his family all climbed Everest only a few weeks prior to my trek. So yeah, I had reasons to be jealous.
Here are two pictures from the Khumbu Region of the Himalayas. I took the first one from the top of a mountain called Gokyo Ri. The second was taken by my guide on our way down to one of the villages along the main trail.
Climbing can be really dangerous, yet people keep on coming back for more. The feeling you get from standing on top of a mountain is indescribable. Leanne Leduc, a climber for Summits of Hope writes it best when she says: "Mountains are magical places, full of power and grace. They never let me down, never cease to amaze me, and always leave me humbled and in awe. Mountains inspire me to dream, encourage self confidence and teach me immeasurable valuable lessons about the world and myself."
"Everybody has a mountain to climb" Summits of Hope
People in this world are fascinating. Regardless if they are good or bad, they all have their own story to tell.And yes, there are bad people in every continent, every country, and every city. However, I strongly believe that the majority of the people are good. This is apparent in every corner of the world. For example, I traveled to Nepal a few years ago, and I have to admit I was shocked by how much poverty there was. The busy and somewhat chaotic streets of Kathmandu are filled with homeless people that seriously lack hygiene and proper nutrition. The place doesn't sound very appealing, but let me tell you that the majority of the people there are genuinely nice, not just because they want your money, but because most of them live day by day and enjoy the little things in life. For many, these are people that are not too bothered by stress, or other complications of life, such as the need to consume. Like me, many of you have seen this first hand, and i'm sure you can relate to that.
Here is a picture I took of a group of kids that live in a very poor village south of Nepal.
Sometimes, enjoying the small things in life might be having a friendly conversation with your buddy...
A father spending some quality time with her daughter...
Or simply enjoying a glass of milk tea on a beautiful sunny day
Understanding people is very complex, probably more complex than anything I can think of. Misunderstandings happen all the time, in the past, present, and will continue to happen in the future. Unfortunately, it is unavoidable. It is often the cause of fights, hatred, and wars.
Everyone does things for a reason, good or bad. Most of the time, people truly believe they are doing the right thing. Some decisions are also the result of greed, money, laziness etc...
Talking about laziness makes me think of this picture I took while in Nepal. There's nothing wrong with a good snooze in the middle of the day :)
Before you get into an argument with someone, think about why that person is saying such things. Put yourself in their shoes, and try to understand their reasoning. More often than not, you will find that there is no need to start that argument in the first place. Also, people make mistakes, say or do stupid things sometimes, but they don't usually intend to. However, if the motives behind someone's arguments or decisions are bad, feel free to bust out your Kung Fu skills and kick their ass! (just kidding...violence is not the answer people). By now, you are probably tired of reading and me giving you advice, so get out there and see it for yourself.
"I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn't learn something from him" Galileo Galilei
For the past ten months or so, I have been working at the North Face, in Kitsilano, Vancouver. I have met some amazing people while working there, engineers, outdoor guides, athletes, moms and dads, even cute girls! Of course, there are also my co-workers, whom I appreciate and have learned a lot from, including my boss. People always complain about their job mainly because they hate their boss. That is not the case for me. My boss is easy going, caring, and a fun person who is always ready to boogie. Many of my co-workers come from different countries, yet they all share a common bond, the joy of living in Vancouver. Some are shy, some like to party, others like to play it cool, and unfortunately, some are German (just kidding Chris and Miriam, you're both awesome). And don't get me started about the Aussies, the South Africans, and the British…bloody hell!
North Face has given me a lot, although I have to admit, it is far from being my dream job. Come September, I hope to start a new job that many would say is more "serious". I have looked at and tasted the world of Engineering, and I have yet to find a position that would suit me. I know it would make some people happy, so I will for sure continue my search. I am also looking at other fields of work, which may be of better interest to me. I think the majority of the people would agree that "serious" work and fun are two things that don't go well together. I beg to differ, there's got to be a way to combine the two. I am reluctant to give up. Having said that, I agree that life is not always about having fun, in fact, it is very complicated. There are ups and downs, moments of happiness, and moments of sadness. Plus, there is always the need to make money. Oh money, wouldn't the world be a happier place without you. Life is about happiness (right?), not generating wealth marked by the size of your wallet. The two can co-exist, and my parents are living proof, but there seems to be a big misunderstanding amongst everyone regarding the importance of being happy :) I need to go to bed, so i'm going to stop writing. Besides, who am I to tell you about life, i'm just a kid enjoying the ride.
I talked about my brothers earlier, and now it is time to say a couple of words about my parents. I am writing about them not only because I want to, but also because it has to be said. Their knowledge and experience of life far exceeds my own, but here is an attempt to soar through the lives of these two amazing individuals I am proud to call my parents.
My father, Mr. Jacques Le Morvan, is a successful businessman who loves his family. He is very smart, active, caring, and funny (although that is debatable, he is also the master of lame jokes). Those are only a few of his personality traits; I could spend the whole day thinking of others.
One of the things I like most about him is his ability to switch modes between work and family. He knows when to be serious, but also when to have fun. Despite his often stressful but interesting career, the moment he comes home, his family is a priority.
For the longest time, it was difficult to understand my father. He kept on telling me to dream big, yet I had no idea what his dreams were. It seemed to me that the sole purpose of his career was to climb up the corporate ladder and make money to provide for his family. It has recently occurred to me that he is living his dream. His family, his career, and his hobbies are the source of his happiness. He thrives on making good changes happen and making a difference in people's lives.
My dad is a funny man in different ways imaginable. He always makes me laugh when we play golf and he misses his shot. His face expressions are priceless. It sounds mean, but I get a good kick out of it, and i'm sure my brothers do to. On the other hand, he makes me smile when he hit's a good shot. It's in the hole! Another moment i'll never forget is when he used to take us on tractor rides deep in the forests of Brittany. We would all put on our rain boots, and discover this beautiful land where my dad grew up.
Oh and I forgot to mention that my dad loves to eat, hence why my brothers and I love to make fun of his weight. You see that turkey in the picture, well believe it or not, it’s all for him; there is another turkey in the oven for the rest of us.
As for my mother, she is the queen of the household. She takes care of the whole family, especially my dad and my little brother, which is a full time job. She is constantly there for us, and always takes our side when problems arise. She is extremely nice, and also very gullible! She is a dedicated mother and teacher. Although she has stopped teaching German a while ago, she devotes her time keeping her husband in line and making sure her sons are well brought up. I think she has done a pretty good job. For the past several years, she has had an amazing hobby, quilting. At first I thought, this seems pretty easy to me, you just need a needle, some thread, and some pieces of cloth. I soon found out that it's a lot more complicated than that. She has become an artist, and her many masterpieces are proof of that.
The picture below was taken at my grandma's place. Like I said, my mom is the queen of the household. Don’t mind my brother, he always tries to ruin a perfectly good picture…just kidding :)
If you need some inspiration on how to be a good individual, you should meet my parents; they'll teach you the ins and outs on how to live a wonderful life.
Throughout this blog, I have been talking a lot about myself, so I want to change things up a bit. I'm going to tell you a little bit about my brothers, Yann and Romain. I must say i'm a proud brother. There is much to say, but i'm going to try and keep it short.
A quarter of a century old, Romain is quite possibly the nicest man you'll ever meet. I think that everyone who has met him would agree with me. He is a caring person with a big heart. He is currently finishing up his masters in finance, and is ready to discover the world and all it has to offer. The thing I appreciate most about him is his ability to relax and take it easy. Although he is a person with a lot of ambitions, he has a gift many do not have, the ability to keep things simple. We are different in many ways, but I have learned a lot from him and will continue to do so for the rest of our lives. Keep your head up Romain, great things happen to the ones that want it the most!
Now it's Yann's turn. Wow, i'm not sure where to start. Yann is the biggest troublemaker, most stubborn (he gets it from my dad), and most shameless person I know. Pardon my language, but he can also be a big asshole at times. I'm sure he himself would agree on that. Yet I love him to death. He is always on top of his game, and is very sensitive about his charming good looks, which he claims is the "money maker". Despite his few questionably bad character traits, he has the power to lead people. He always walks like he owns the joint, even if sometimes he doesn't really know what awaits him. I love that about him. He doesn't hesitate to make decisions, and goes straight for his goals without questioning himself too much. I have no doubt he will achieve his goals, although a bit more focusing and listening would help. Him and I bud heads sometimes, but our relationship in the end remains strong. I hope to keep it that way for a long long time. Run like the wind puppy!
"You may only be someone in the world, but to someone else, you may be the world"
People often ask me what my favourite type of music is. I always have a hard time with that question because the answer is everything. From electronic, to hip hop, to soft rock, to classical...the list goes on. Of course, I have songs that I prefer within those genres. Throughout the years, I have learned to appreciate music, and this is due to the people that surround me, my family and friends. Whether is it Tiesto that I started listening to with my good friend Morgan, Elvis Presley that my dad always dances to (it's a whole new style of dancing that my brothers and I call "Daddy dancing"), musicals that Molly is absolutely obsessed with, Jesse Cook that my older brother enjoys listening to while relaxing, Armen's inspiring tunes, ACDC which my little brother always likes to rock out to, Celine Dion that my mom sings along to with her beautiful voice, "La Companie Creole" that my awesome grandmother still dances to, or Mozart that my good friend's parents like to listen to while sleeping (Ben I thought that was weird at first, but I think it's awesome). All these moments, and many more, are priceless to me. I find music has the power to motivate, to give courage, to make us smile, and to stay in touch with our emotions. Now let me refrain what I said earlier. There is one genre of music that I have yet to appreciate, which is punk. I understand how the singers are displaying their anger through music, but that incessant yelling is really not necessary. I wonder what my grandma would think.
Singing, humming, and whistling have been a big part of my days during the past several years, and now more than ever. Whether it's in the shower, in the bus, at work, in a coffee shop, or in a club, there's never a bad time. Somehow, it always put's me in a good mood. My old housemates in Kingston would always hate me for disrupting their studying. Doruk would often have to hit his wooden sword against the ground to get me to stop humming in my room below. I didn't think I was that loud, but whatever. The best are the dancing and singing parties my housemates and I would have amongst ourselves in our tiny livingroom. I would bust out my moves which, despite what Molly thinks, are cool, and have fun. Doruk and Molly would do the same, although I think everyone would agree that Doruk's moves were worse than mine lol. Those crazy Turks!
Recently, I have been thinking a lot about taking singing and piano lessons. My voice isn't the greatest, some would even say that "je chante faux". It's time to prove them wrong. I realize that I'm a bit late, but I think now is better than never. I might even join my boss' choir.
Now before I leave you, I want to show some pictures that are top secret. I swore never to show these to anyone, but here they are. The first photo is me busting some of my moves. Now just to let you know, that was a while ago, and my skills have greatly improved since. The second picture is set in a club late at night with my little brother. It's fair to say my dancing had slowed down by that point, and there may have been some drinking involved.
Several weeks ago, my good friend Pavlos and I went to see a breakdancing competition. It was my first time attending such an event, and boy was I impressed. Throughout the competition, all the different "crews" battled each other and faced elimination until two crews remained. It was incredible how strong, energetic, and skilled the contestants were. Above and below are pictures that Pavlos Lagopoulos took. He was the unofficial photographer of the competition, which helped us skip the massive line and enter the sold out event. Good job Pavlos! For all you ladies out there wondering, yes Pavlos is single. I'm sure he'll be happy to hear from you :)
Watching these dancers put on a great show made me want to dance even more. For the past little while, I have been taking some salsa lessons downtown Vancouver with Dance4u. The teacher Ivan is an awesome guy who really cares about his students. I like salsa a lot, but more recently, I also wanted to learn a different style of dancing, Hip Hop. I figured it would broaden my skills on the dance floor. I attended some classes at Harbour Dance Center, and started meeting some cool people who share similar interests as me. The first class was fairly difficult for me because it was very different from what I was used to. I have only been to a couple of classes so far, but feel that I am learning quickly. Plus dancing all day while at work also helps, although I think my colleagues are starting to wonder about me. Sometimes I convince them to join me, but most of the time they smile or give me a weird look. Oh well! It's such a good feeling being able to dance around without caring what other people think. And I'm no John Travolta, not yet anyways :) I have stopped taking salsa and hip hop classes for the time being. With only two weeks away, I have to focus on organizing my bike trip, plus dancing has damaged my wallet a little bit.
Time to train! For the past month or so, i've been exercising quite a lot. I try to go to the gym 4 to 5 times a week, and I ride outside 2-3 times. Two weekends ago, the other riders and I biked to Horseshoe Bay, located about 25 km northwest of Vancouver. I put my legs to the test, and realized more training was in order. Although I am not familiar with bike touring, I have experience with xcountry racing, so I know what it means to commit to proper training. On the way back to Vancouver, I stopped by Lighthouse Park, which gives a great view of the city and the ocean (Strait of Georgia).
Since then, I have done several rides around Stanley Park, located just north of the downtown area. The scenery is awesome, and the loop is not very busy if I go during late afternoon. On May 16th, my team and I will bike up Mt Seymour and visit Deep Cove, a beautiful spot, which by the way is ideal for sea kayaking. If you're interested, check out http://www.deepcovekayak.com/. Hopefully, my team will be ready for a tough but rewarding day.
Since August 2009, I have been lucky enough to live in beautiful Vancouver, a city full of amazing people, and where the landscapes are breathtaking. Above is a picture taken by my roommate Adam Johannesson, an avid photographer who likes to kick it old school. If you want to check out his pictures, go to www.flickr.com/photos/adamjohannesson. Vancouver has a lot to offer. Whether you like to lie on the beach, or hit the slopes, there's plenty of ways to have fun and relax.
Here are some other pictures of Vancouver that I took the other day. The first two were taken from a bridge very close to my appartment. The others were taken along the beach on the way to Stanley Park.
This upcoming May 24th, a group of riders including myself are biking down the west coast from Vancouver all the way to the Mexican border. We are doing it with an organization called Global Agents for Change, which aims at raising money for great causes, microfinance and education projects. Micro financing provides small loans to low income households in order to spur entrepreneurship and move away from poverty. Education generation is an online community that provides scholarships for young developing leaders. For more info about the organization, please visit their website at www.globalafc.org. If you wish to donate to the organization, you can go to my donor page. Any donations will be greatly appreciated.