First quarter inventory

It’s almost the end of Q1 2010, so in lieu of a New Year’s resolution list, here’s what this nomad has been up to:

I started New Years day flying to Istanbul, then the first work day of the year with a Vespa Ride across one of the Istanbul bridges and running around the city with a bunch of happy, curious Finns. I’m not missing organization meetings at all.

  • Ran 241km+ in less than 3 months over 30 sessions. Not bad considering my physiology was built to be a cyclist. In the process I dropped 3.5kgs. Not bad. This is for the Berlin Half Marathon. I’ve never run one before but was planning to go visit Berlin and this seemed like a nice avenue
  • 3 countries in 3 months – 2 of them new. Iraq called, Australia calls, Brazil calls, Portugal calls, South Africa calls, Spain calls, UK calls…you get the picture…
  • Started this bloggy with contributions from an amazing group of global ladies
  • Learnt how to make tahini (which is 1 cup of toasted sesame seeds to about 1/3 cup of olive oil). Sandwiches are happier.
  • Started studying German. The last time I looked at German was 19 years ago, but thanks to a very good high school education, all the frameworks for learning languages are still there, just needing a good dust-off
  • Discovered the magic of Chopin and Liszt

and of course I met some special fellow nomads. Check ’em out: from India we have Surya, from Finland, Minna and Marlon from South Africa.

Muxlim was kind enough to bring me over to dear Helsinki for a week and here’s what I learnt there:

  • Meetings can actually be productive! They are spaces where decisions are made, ideas are shared and not bogged down in details. Details part are hashed out in workshops or face-to-face so that no-ones time is wasted. Since the NY-UN days, I’d given up that productive meetings could be had (I was with Security there, and that Department was pretty good at moving things along. Perhaps it was because we had an efficient German at the helm, ‘eins zwei eins zwei, build an empire…’etc)
  • The importance of skill set complementarity. Everyone is good at something but there is no use trying to push something forward if the only people telling you you’re good are those who think the same as you do. We all have something to learn from one another and for me it took bringing business savvy folks/web developers/tech dudes/marketing magicians and so on to really appreciate this.
  • Finland is on the top of a lot of social indexes and rightly so. Open office floor plan versus cubicles = more collaboration, better concentration (less distractions) and a pool table thrown in reminds everyone to take time out, and not take themselves too seriously. A huge kitchen table makes lunch what it should be: social, engaging and a restful pause in the day. More on what we can learn from Finland in a later post.
  • The private sector ain’t so bad after all! My political science genes impounded evil corporations but over the last 3 years or so, I’m meeting more and more folks from the private side of the fence who a) care about making a difference versus the bottom line and b) who are making it happen.
  • How fun it is to work in small teams without having to go through pages and months of processes and bureaucracy. Ah so refreshing!

Building business: on the train. Mobile office anyone?

So what next?

  • Well if this half marathon goes well, then why let that all that running go to waste? Eddie Izzard has got me thinking about SportRelief and such. They focus on the UK, but seriously even little actions like running can contribute to a better community, a better world in some way.  Its just about bringing those beams of light together…
  • My partner in excellence, nomadic’ing and taking regular ‘dance’ breaks during the work day Lojo and I are finishing off our bizplan, our website/identity is in the hands of my good, longtime buddy Trevor and we are getting ready to make some big waves. Is it normal for business partners to dream about their inaugural TED talk? Note to self: when Lojo hasn’t drunk coffee for 10 years, its not the best idea to restart with Turkish Coffee. Unless of course you’re ready for literally jumping off the walls, flying off shelf energy…which is fun 😉

and, as always, more to come!


Cheering for Canada. Ok ok, others too…

I wish I was in Vancouver to see the games. I wish I had a TV right about now, just so I could cheer for the folks I know STILL competing and satiate my winter dreams. So, what does it take to be an athlete, what is that life like?…and why am I cheering for Canada? I was looking through and old workout book from 1997, this was a typical day:

  • Off ice (stairs) 20 mins
  • Bike (warm up & stretch (45 mins)
  • Hockey  – 75 mins
  • Run (cool down)  – 15 mins
  • Weights – 50 mins

Total time: 3 hours, 25 minutes.

Of course, that doesn’t include time to and from the

My field of dreams: yes, two hockey rinks, ice all around, 6 lane running track + weight room, massage every two weeks or so + ice baths on hand. Add snow+ mountains = pretty much perfect

Oval in Calgary, as well as dress-up, dress down time, usually about 15 minutes each way. It was truly the dream place to live and train at, and a shame that because of the global financial situation, the University of Calgary cut the women’s hockey funding this season. It symbolizes the end of an era, started by Shannon Miller, former National/Olympic team coach in 1995 and now at UMD, arguably the most successful women’s hockey coach ever. Her philosophy in starting the program was, ‘come here, and be the best you can be.’ She was also responsible for getting me to play college hockey in the US.

Imagine now doing this for 5-6 days a week, 8 months a year. Then imagine fitting in a day or two at the mountains for snowboarding on the weekends, if no games were on. In the remainder 4 months, you get one month off then its into summer training, consisting of long aerobic sessions such as 2 hour+ bike rides, plyometrics, weight/resistance training. I loved it. Between 1995-1999, that was what I got to do, in Calgary, Canada. I usually spent the off-seasons tagging along with speedskaters, who stuck around during the summer. Now as an Aussie, the Canuckers skated circles around me. That didn’t matter, I learnt to push and go beyond what you mentally and physically think you are capable of: life lessons which stuck. Not everyone of course would go crazy for this lifestyle, but everyone I knew back then did, and everyone I knew back then still remembers those days warmly.

Being an athlete means being disciplined. It means committing yourself to a goal that may elude you at any second. Out of the maybe hundred or so girls who came through the program in Calgary, there are but a handful still on the national/Olympic team. I met like minded folks from everywhere – many like me, coming from the Southern Hemisphere chasing a winter dream. No support from our countries, no sponsors. Huge personal sacrifices – live away from your family, sacrifice relationships or go long distance, be away from your friends, delay school or juggle with it, juggle work also. As an Australian, I knew there was no way I was going to get to the games based on qualification/tournaments. Canada and the US were just light years ahead. So why did I do it? For the same reason the crazy Aussie/Kiwi/South African speed skaters, the Jamaican bob-sledders (yes they do exist and yes they do say ya’mon) do it – because we love it we’re chasing a dream to be the best of what we choose to do, and have fun along the way.

I used to rock up to this entrance almost every snowy winter day...

I lived with speedskaters, with our landlords being the parents of this fellow. One of my housemates was constantly doing imitations – ie. mimicking the motions of speed-skating. He was a long distance skater, who truly gave it his all – no sponsors, no fixed address, just following his dream. Then one day, he switched to sprint distances and then…

I’m cheering for Canada because of all the light and possibility it gave to my dreams. I’m still competing, in different sports and in different ways, but some still continue that same regimen, 11 years on. Here’s one, below, Captain of Team Canada, who took me to see my first Calgary-Detroit game, who kept on going and continues to inspire. Everyone needs heroes. Sports psychologist Cal Botterill, whose daughter Jennifer continues to compete on Team Canada led me to “Way of the Peaceful Warrior“, which spurred me onto so much more – and its a book that has literally travelled with friends all over the world. It was a different nomadic existence, and one I miss and would love to relive in some capacity, though much has changed and many have moved on. Such are the journey’s of life.

taking us along the journey:

So,  GO CANADA and all the athletes who have ever trained or had anything to do with those Calgary Oval days! (and esp. Ms. Wickenheiser here, who proved that Superwomen do indeed exist).