On Your Mark!

Yesterday was a frustrating day – I spent all day either in a car or in a car dealership.  I’m frustrated at being in Canada (Alliston nonetheless) and my inability to train with the High Park Demons.

I’m determined to make today a much better day.  I tore into the archives of some people that I take inspiration from – Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki to name two.  I’ve found a masters degree program that I would be interested in attending in 2012 (Luxembourg School of Finance), written web copy for the Gobi web site, looked at some auto loans, reviewed financial statements for hotels, and set up a few phone meetings today that could turn into substantial business before I leave for China.  Now it’s time to get back to work.

Seth Godin – May 29, 2009: The Difference Between Marketing and Sales

Marketing tells a story that spreads.
Sales overcomes the natural resistance to say yes.

If you don’t pay the salesforce (because you go direct, or you go free), then who is going to do that for you? The only answer that occurs to me is, “your users/fans/customers.”

This means that a critical element of any strategy that ditches the salesforce is to figure out how you will empower and encourage your customers to take their place. Easier said than done.

Guy Kawasaki – September 19, 2008: The Soul of Wit

According to a series of psychological studies discussed on Psychology Today, research participants are able to successfully communicate sarcasm and humor in a mere 56 percent of emails—and most of the senders had no idea their attemps were so ineffective.

How do you avoid this? The article gives some tips:

    • Read your emails aloud and listen for parts that could be confusing.
    • For important emails, walk away from the computer and come back with a fresh perspective.
  • Eudora apparently has a “Mood Watch” function, which highlights volatile phrases—one, two or three red chili peppers, depending on the burn.

This is a great reminder, especially when writing pitches or cover letters. Wit can be a great tool—as long as most readers get it. Clearly, subtlety is not the soul of wit.

Updated Message From Canadian Government For Those Living In Japan

Dear Canadian,

We all recognize the enormous impact the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and corresponding dangerous situation at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant has had on Japan and the Canadian citizens residing in Japan. The Embassy of Canada in Tokyo is working to provide the best possible guidance to Canadian citizens in Japan. To this end, we are updating Canadian citizens in Japan on current advice and information.

The travel warnings for Japan were updated on April 8, 2011:

Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant and surrounding areas:
The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) advises against all travel within 80 km of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.
Following damage to the Fukushima nuclear power station in Okumacho, Canadians are strongly advised to follow the advice issued by the Japanese authorities. An evacuation order is in effect for the zone within 20 km of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. Japanese authorities recommend that people between 20 km and 30 km from the plant remain indoors with windows and doors closed and refrain from using ventilation systems.
Given the evolving situation, Canadians located within 80 km of the plant are advised that they should, as a further precautionary measure, evacuate this area. The directions of the Japanese government and local emergency response personnel should also be followed by all Canadians in Japan.

Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures:
DFAIT advises against non-essential travel to Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures.
The earthquake and tsunami caused extensive damage to infrastructure in these prefectures. Ongoing reconstruction efforts are affecting telecommunications, transportation routes, emergency and medical care, as well as power, water, food and fuel supplies. Canadians in these prefectures should exercise caution, monitor local news and weather reports, and follow the advice of local authorities.

Northern Honshu:
Canadians should exercise a high degree of caution in northern Honshu.
In areas of northern Honshu less affected by the earthquake and tsunami, commercial means of transportation are available for travel. Canadians are advised to verify the availability of transport and other services, and confirm their reservations prior to departure, as there may be limitations in some regions. Water, food, and fuel supplies may be disrupted in some areas.

Canadians are urged to monitor our travel report for Japan for travel advice and advisories: http://voyage.gc.ca/countries_pays/report_rapport-eng.asp?id=140000

Information on radiation levels in Japan:

Following consultations with Government of Canada experts, and based on information available from the Government of Japan and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Government of Canada has assessed that at this stage there is no indication that there is a radiation health risk to Canadian citizens in Japan (outside the evacuation zone) and in other countries in Asia.

Based on current information, areas outside the Japanese evacuation zone are not subject to radiation levels associated with a health risk. Health risks still exist within the Japanese evacuation zone; therefore, Canadians should not enter this area and should continue to follow the instructions of local authorities.

On April 12, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency of Japan raised the alert level of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant from a 5 to a 7, according to the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale. While there has been some media comparison to the Chernobyl event, which had been put at the same level, this comparison should be viewed with extreme caution. Japanese authorities confirmed that this is a backward-looking assessment based on better estimates of the amount of radioactive contamination released in the early days of the crisis. It is not meant to imply that there has been a sudden change to the levels of radioactive contamination. Environmental radioactivity levels continue to remain very low outside the immediate vicinity of the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Information on the status of nuclear facilities in Japan can also be obtained on the websites of the Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

Potassium iodide (KI) is only needed in a worst case situation where there is a large amount of radiactive iodine in the environment. At this time, only people in the immediate areas of the Fukushima Power Plant might need this medication. The Government of Canada does not advise anyone to take KI. KI will be available from local health authorities in Japan if the need arises and should only be taken on instruction from the Japanese authorities.

Please visit DFAIT’s information fact sheet on Japan’s radiation levels for further information on health, potassium iodide and food safety: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/countries_pays/issues_enjeux/article-eng.asp?id=1106

Get prepared:

Are you and your family prepared? Learn more about emergency preparedness and how to create an emergency plan and kit at www.getprepared.gc.ca.

Connect with us:

Follow us on Twitter for up-to-date information on the evolving situation in Japan at: http://twitter.com/#!/DFAIT_MAECI

If your contact information has changed, or if your location has changed, please update your profile in the Registration of Canadians Abroad service on www.voyage.gc.ca/register or send an email to the Consular Section of the Embassy at tokyo-consul@international.gc.ca.

Please direct any questions you may have to the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo:

7-3-38 Akasaka, Minato-ku
Tokyo 107-8503, Japan
Tel: (011-81-3) 5412-6200

or to the 24 hour Emergency Operations Office in Ottawa at:

(613) 996-8885 (collect calls accepted)

Take care and stay safe,

Consular Section
Embassy of Canada
Tokyo, Japan

Take A Deep Breath

This past week has been a flurry of activity and it culminated a few hours ago with Heather and her coworker Mylene boarding a plane back to Sendai, Japan.  The reason that I decided to stay back was three-fold: make money, await word for a business trip to Asia, and to plan for a return to Japan in the near future.

I would say that I have managed to deal with the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear situation fairly well, setting up/marketing/running the fundraiser this past Friday turned out to be an amazing success, and helping Heather and Mylene organize and pack for their trip back this past weekend has been draining.

Right now I’m sitting at Earl’s Steakhouse at York and King in downtown Toronto.  I just had lunch and now I’m taking advantage of their free wifi to update this blog and get some work done.

Here are a few quick updates:

1.  Stories From Sendai – we raised a few thousand dollars for Habitat For Humanity to help rebuild shattered lives in Japan.  As a group, we experienced quite a bit of stress going through the process of envisioning the event, crafting a message, finding our hook, marketing, enchanting our wonderful volunteers, finding sponsors who were willing to step up to the plate, and of course the people who made the decision to come out for a great night of good beer and music.

I am grateful to all of the volunteers who lent a hand to help out, but there were three to whom Heather, Mylene and I owe a special thank you – Alz, Ngoc Anh, and Phil – without you we would not have been able to pull this off.

The question now for Stories From Sendai is how can we do more to help?  What is the next step?

2.  Gobi – now that all of the drama associated with the megaquake is over, I find myself needing some time to pause, take a deep breath, and think about where this whole thing is going.   I have three projects on the go right now but nothing has reached the point where I have to work on it full time yet.  Time will tell….so a little more waiting.

3.  Mental Health – while I was in Japan, I had the distinct “pleasure” of experiencing over 500 aftershocks in four days.  It got to the point where I wouldn’t worry about it anymore.  A 6.5 earthquake would hit and shake a building, people would scurry for doorways/under tables (you get the idea), and I would just stand there.  I guess you could say that very quickly I became an expert in structural strength of different buildings by the way that they moved and the sounds they made during an earthquake.  So this week I will talk to someone who will give me a new perspective on the past month and some coping mechanisms to move forward.

That’s about it for now.  I will post photo’s and video’s from the event once they are available.  Until then have fun!