March book picks

Library Okagana save money using your library card why use a library pixabay.png

I’ve had money on the brain lately.

Saving cash is paramount to building wealth, so my library card is one of my favourite possessions. Many of my library choices this month focused on business and money. On the library receipts, along with the due dates, it shows how much I’ve saved so far in the year. I’m already near $1,000 saved in 2018. Thank you libraries!

Here are my favourite books from March.

The Narrow Road 
By Felix Dennis

Summed up as a brief guide to the getting of money, The Narrow Road is broken up into very brief nuggets of wisdom. The narrow road by felix dennis

Felix, himself a very wealthy media mogul, is stern and blunt with his advice. You can tell from the text that he does not suffer fools gladly. They are words from a realist and they are philosophical and practical.

I even cited it generously in my seventh speech for Toastmasters, which focuses on researching your topic.

The Simple Dollar
By Trent Hamm

The backstory is Trent the author found himself deep in credit card debt. One night, while sitting with his newborn baby, he had a come to Jesus moment re: money.

This book is his learnings and advice after paying off his debt and then saving enough money to leave his job to start a writing career. It started as his blog and grew into a book and profitable business.

I skimmed most of it, especially when the author followed his many rabbit trails. Still, it’s good advice from someone who managed to transition into a writing career.

Your Farm in the City
By Lisa Taylor

In the first few chapters, Lisa encourages us to dream and to envision.

I would love to have a small hobby farm one day, but it’s good to start small. This year, I have a little plot of land where I can make a little vegetable garden. Baby steps, right?

Your Farm in the City is an artistically laid out guide that covers a lot of topics in a way that’s very accessible for city mice like me who dream of being country mice.

I will be buying and adding to my resource library.

I’ll sign off with a few pics of my attempt to get seedlings started…




Beard Okanagan Writer Silver Star manly manliness growing a beard
Hanging in the chairlift at Silver Star Mountain near Vernon, a true ‘mountain man’

There comes a time in every man’s life when he must transition from boyhood to manhood. A time when he is whiskered away into a future fuelled by testosterone. A period in which he endures irritating growing pains; a hair-raising experience. You could even describe it as a spiritual journey — a soul patch.

If you haven’t yet guessed, I’m talking about the act of growing a beard. It’s a manly ritual I’ve recently suffered through.

I’ve never had an easy time growing beards. In my work life, I usually go through a two-year itch, where I desperately feel the need to simply move on to the next career challenge. In my beard-growing experience, I often give in to something similar. It’s a two-week itch, the most awful portion of time when I spend my nights violently scratching my face and my days resisting the urge to stop at the nearest store to buy a razor and dry-shave in my car.

This time though, I was compelled to persist. If I give up, I’d be reduced to a five o’clock shadow of a man.

I’ll admit that at first I was uncertain about the idea, but it has definitely grown on me.

Early on, I was encouraged in my decision when a random woman in a bar overheard my conversation about growing a beard and exclaimed, “Beards are SO in right now!” I guess some people just like big beards and cannot lie.

However, not being happy to only take her word for it, I turned to the Internet to find more encouragement to grow a manly mane.

Here’s what I found:

  • Beards are sexy: Studies have found that men with beards are generally perceived as more attractive, more masculine and healthier looking.
  • Beards are stylish: I’m in good company with celebrity men — Johnny Depp, Drake, Chris Pratt, Hugh Jackman, Ben Affleck, Brad Pitt, Kit Harington, George Clooney and Donald Glover have all had beards. The list goes on.
  • Beards can help science: Researchers have recently discovered the bacteria found in beards has antibiotic properties, and may lead to the discovery of new antibiotics.
  • Beards make excellent winter wear: A downy beard can protect you from windburn and keep your face warm and safe from the elements.
  • Beards are spiritual: From prophets to saints, gurus to yogis, poets to philosophers, some of the most spiritually in-tune men ever to walk the Earth stroked their beards in contemplation of the universe.

Sadly, the feedback on growing a beard hasn’t been all positive.

I was one of the first kids in school to grow facial hair. I had a little peach fuzz mustache that became noticeable near the end of elementary school.

“What’s that on your face?” came the first innocent question. Followed closely by the smart-aleck comment “Why don’t you get a cat to lick it off?” It was probably uttered by some kid actually named Aleck who likely stole the cliché line from some outdated joke book.

The first time I truly tried to grow a beard was in college. It was a scraggly thing and I ended up looking more like Grizzly Adams than Brad Pitt. I inherited the nickname Mountain Man. Yeah that went over great with the ladies.

Thankfully, I’ve since learned how to properly groom myself.

More recently, there have been a few facial hair haters out there who have given me the gears for sullying my smooth baby face with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Why bother? they ask.

Beards are gross, they balk.

They criticize beards as a catch-all for crumbs, unwelcomingly rough and scratchy to the touch, and even downright creepy looking.

One of the lessons I’ve learned in life is that it’s impossible to please everyone. So to those who are downers on beards, I say make like a hair trimmer and buzz off.

Frankly, the case is pretty solid that beards are awesome.

They’re sexy, manly, spiritual and useful.

If you’re not yet convinced, look to the great Canadian symbol of manliness: the lumberjack. Can you even picture one without a beard? In fact, my plan this weekend is simple: I’m going to buy an axe and chop down a tree. Just for fun.

Bonus: What do you call a man who shaves 10 times a day and still retains a fulsome beard? A barber.

Note: This is the speech I delivered for project 2 on the Toastmasters Competent Communication manual — organize your speech.

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Here are a handful of jargonish terms floating around my head, and my off the cuff definitions.

Minimum viable product.

This is the bare minimum you can do to launch your product. For myself, I initially thought this would take a few days. Then I realized probably a few weeks. Now I’m thinking months. I’m sure soon, I’ll realize it can easily take years to develop everything needed for a minimum viable product. Then again, I’m a serial procrastinator.

Sales funnel.

I learned about this one as a “click funnel.” They drive customers toward a sale. The examples I keep coming across are either a tease, clickbait, or worth seriously considering. The best ones make me want to hit purchase right away. The persuasive ones are often legit brands or I’ve heard their names from trusted sources. Beware the sleaze though.

Business model canvas.

This bit of jargony jargon comes via a book called Win Big or Lose Fast and website, Strategyzer. I like the idea, which is business plans take so damn long to produce that the idea is old by the time it launches. Instead, check off the key elements that it’s a viable business and proceed quickly.

Lead generation.

My work in commercial real estate makes leads a must. They are a contact number, email or other information about a customer. Getting leads is both art and science, especially when you’re trying to fish them out of the social media sea. Big companies make millions of dollars off this, most interesting to me, Strawhouse HQ’d in Kelowna.


A potential client threw this in offhandedly during a strategy interview I was conducting. Create synergy between staff and customers. I think a better word may be ‘relationship.’ That’s at the core of good customer service. Let’s face it, relationships are hard in business (and in love) – we are constantly weighing our options.


From the archives

We all like to think we’re entitled to our opinion.

However, one of my old journalism profs would very much disagree. In fact, he’d tell you to take your damnable opinion and shove it deep into your … well, you know where this is going.

Columbia award



Way too many years ago when I was learning the ropes, the News 101 course at Humber College in Toronto was taught by gritty Globe and Mail reporter Carey French. He did not suffer fools gladly.

Mr. French insisted that opinions are not a right, they are earned. As one of the best in business, he’d certainly earned his stripes and his right to appear in the op-ed pages.

At the time, I’d wanted desperately to be a columnist. I thought my opinions mattered. (Spoiler alert: they didn’t.)

To my benefit, I had a weird sense of humour and a willingness to express it in ink. A senior student, who took on the role of opinion editor at the ol’ college rag, gave me the chance to pen a regular column in the Humber Et Cetera.

Hidden among the utter bullshit that spread across the page when I tried to express an opinion back then were golden nuggets.

One of them even earned me a coveted award from Columbia University in New York.

But since then, my opinions have gotten me into all kinds of trouble…