September 11, 2012


Disneyworld in Orlando represents a special place and time in the lives of millions of visitors but even the Disney people can sometimes go above and beyond and make those same life experiences even more special. In a world of cynicism, poor service, unrealized promises, and negative press, Disneyworld is able to rise above the mediocre and show us how it should be done.

My sister's recent visit offers a perfect example of how customer service can cement a lifetime relationship. This summer, she and her husband took their three sons, three daughters-in-law and 5 1/2 grandchildren for a return visit to the Magic Kingdom. It was to be a grand trip to revisit a place where Jane and David and the boys had been 22 years before, on a previous family vacation - prior to wives and grandchildren.

In 1991, they bought multi-day family passes but had left one of the days unused. Jane had held onto the pass in the event that they should return at a future date. That future date turned out to be 22 years later! First of all, I don't know about you, but I never would have saved it and never would have found it if I did save it. Jane is obviously much better say the least. She took the unused passes to Florida and felt a bit funny at the entrance gates when she timidly inquired about the possibility of using these decades old passes - "would they even be valid for use 22 years later?"

Her question was met with a kindly smile from the "senior" cast member  (or is that Mouseketeer) at the ticket booth and an incredible reply, "Why, of course dear. You are more than welcome to use your passes."


And then the next question, "The boys were just children when we originally bought the passes, should we upgrade them to adult passes or can we transfer them to their own children?"

"Dear, Mr. Disney would never penalize children for growing up! The boys are welcome to use their original children's passes even though they are now adults."

WOW and WOW!

In a world where we love to blame government, big business, politicians, overworked servers, and unfulfilled expectations, here's an example of a huge corporation who has never lost sight of who they are and who their customers are. It's always the little things that make the biggest difference. It's the friendly smile, the caring attitude, the "going the extra mile" culture that cements a relationship between customers and companies forever.

It's nice to know that even though "Mr. Disney" is no longer on TV every Sunday night, he is still making kids matter how old they are.

August 5, 2012

Kenya and Habitat for Humanity

Jambo! As some of you might know, our daughter Tori is spending a few weeks in Kenya working with a team from Habitat for Humanity building a house for a family. She reports that they have arrived in Nairobi after stops in London, Athens and Istanbul and then a further 3,000 miles to the capital of Kenya where they met the rest of their team and spent Sunday resting and sight-seeing before heading off into the wilds on Monday.
To those of you that were kind enough to donate to the building fund on her behalf, I would like to pass on my gratitude and I'm sure that Tori will send you a report on her return. Internet access is hit and miss and seems to be centered in the major cities like Nairobi. She leaves after the "build" on the 17th and will spend a few days on Santorini before returning home and back to work. What an experience it will be.
There sure are great opportunities out there to make a difference in the world and I'm glad to see that Tori is taking advantage of one of them.

June 23, 2012


My Uncle Jim passed earlier today and the world is poorer for it. He was surrounded by family, prayers, and love. I wish I had been able to talk with him one last time and share a laugh and a tear. He was my favourite uncle, probably because I had spent some formative years in his company, and I am a better person for it. My thoughts go out to his wife, Ruth, his children, and his sister Mabel - your sadness is shared by many.

A few years ago, Uncle Jim was in the hospital and I penned a few thoughts at the time - they follow below.


March 1, 2008


Many of life's lessons are accompanied by either pain or laughter and frequently they arrive together. I learned recently that my Uncle Jim is in the hospital and he, unwittingly, was one of my greatest teachers. We were a lot alike I think, in that I recall much tut tutting from some of his sisters when he was young and single - it doesn't seem that long ago and like his nephew later, there may have been a dram or two involved to cause the tut tutting. He got past that stage and married a wonderful woman whom I remember laughing uproariously, when this little snot of a city boy drank an entire bottle of heavy cream found on her front porch, thinking it was milk. That same summer, my uncle had taken yours truly into their home to help with farm chores and a glorious summer it was (in retrospect). There was the day he sent me into an outdoor pen to grab a young calf and bring it into the barn. I walked in, grabbed it around the neck and pulled it through the gate, at which point the calf spotted freedom and made a bolt for the open highways with me holding on for dear life. My uncle stood in the gravelled yard and laughed his head off as I got dragged from one side to the other, like a rag doll. Every time he told that story over the years, he would add the line that I never let go of the calf and it makes me proud to this day.

My days of being a wrangler came to a close when Uncle Jim decided that I should paint the farm house, a brick, 8 storey edifice that had faded wood trim at the very top, shrouded in clouds, or so it seemed to a young boy barely taller than the aforementioned calf. Up the rickety wooden ladder I climbed with paint can and brush held with the white knuckles of one hand and the other clutched to the rungs, as I pushed myself further skyward on wobbling legs. At the top end of the ladder, I had to stretch as far as I could and still came up short of the actual peak, but I stole a glance at the ground when I heard my uncle standing there laughing so hard he was crying - the very top never did get painted that summer, but many years later, I had a painting business with 5 crews working and I didn't allow them to leave the worksite without painting the very top, or I'd climb up and do it myself.

Another responsibilty, that long ago summer, was keeping the barn clean and I attacked the corridors with a push broom and much enthusiasm and he always expressed his pride in my efforts. Along with sweeping straw and hay, there was the need to keep various areas directly behind the cows and some hog living quarters, clean as well. This required the use of a shovel, a strong back and a concerted disregard for my sense of smell. Shovelling shit became my specialty and if you have read this far, you will see that that lesson was also well taught.

thanks Uncle Jim

April 5, 2012


Most of us have moved forward in our lives assuming that if we work hard and create successful lives, we will attain some level of happiness. Here's a very unique and intriguing twist on that supposition from Shawn Achor, who has spent his time proving scientifically that happiness is what leads to success. He's a terrific speaker with a great message and it's worth your while to give it a listen.
Also, I am going to accept the 21 day challenge at the end of the video - how about you?

March 8, 2012


Just a note to my friends - if you wanted to read MY SECRET MOTHER: an adoptee speaks to the girls who went away, it's on sale at 75% off until March 10.

Here's the link

March 5, 2012


If you are regular visitor to this corner, you may know who my friend Gord is. If not, let me give you a quick version. I have known Gord for over 20 years and a few years ago we decided to backpack the West Coast Trail in order to ward off an impending mid-life crisis (neither of us could afford the Corvette or the hot young thing??). The West Coast Trail turned into a life altering experience for me and a life-affirming experience for Gord.
You can always read about that stuff in my book - there's a link on this page.
Anyway, I hope you will give a thought, and a prayer if you are so disposed, for my friend. He was diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer's a few years ago. Today, he and his wife made a visit to the doctor and from there, Gord was driven to a long term care facility, where he will now spend his days and nights.
He is still lucid most of the time but requires constant supervision and care.

Hang in there buddy.

February 16, 2012


Here is a real live customer service story that happened to me today. It starts a few months ago when I was talking to a friend about his new eye glasses. They were pretty cool, and he's a cool kind of dude. I asked where he got them and he told me about an online company that was incredible in terms of service and price. I remembered my experience dealing with a big international company with stores in all of the shopping malls that promises service in about an hour. I had paid about $800.00 for a pair of progressive lens glasses and it took about a week to get them. I wasn't pleased with the constant up-selling for various coatings and whatever else they charged for, but I was leaving for Hawaii and needed them and didn't know any better.
My friend told me that he had paid 1/10th of that price!!!!
I was immediately suspicious of the huge price difference but filed the information for a future date. That future date arrived last July when my $800.00 glasses broke at one of the weld points and no one, including the company I bought them from, could fix them.
I went to my optometrist and had a check up and got my new prescription and went on line to Zenni and viewed the hundreds of pairs of glasses available, uploaded a photo of myself so that I could see them on my face and compare them with each other, found a pair that I liked and placed the order. They usually promise next day shipping but in the case of progressive lenses, it may take 2 to 3 weeks. A little longer than my former provider but the price, delivered, with the anti-scratch, anti-glare and a pair of clip on Polaroid sunglasses was a total of 75.00 - yep, you read that correctly - 75.00. What did I have to lose? If they lasted as long as the 800.00 pair, I was 700.00 ahead, so I ordered them and made do with an old pair of glasses until they arrived one week later (2 weeks earlier than promised) by air courier - all included in that price. I have been wearing them ever since and after a few days of making minor adjustments to the fit (yes, the 800.00 ones were fitted at the store) they have been great.
And then yesterday, one of the soft nosepads broke off and I couldn't figure out how to order a new set so I called the 800 service number on the website and talked to an agent. He asked my original order number, apologized for the problem and said that a lifetime supply of pads along with the small screw driver to install them would be in the mail immediately. No hassle, no charge, no problem, no pitch or kidding.
So, customer service, price and a friendly live voice - where would you go for your next pair of glasses? And no, I am not being paid or reimbursed in any way for this testimonial but it sure is the way to do business in today's overly competitive world. Here's their link again

February 11, 2012


Ok, guys - what if you started off February 14th by saying this to your significant other:


I'm not necessarily saying that I would start off the day that way - but what might happen if YOU did?

January 24, 2012


As you know, I hang out over at Book Mentor more than here but since this is more of a personal blog than a business one, it's one of the few ways I get to thank people. Sales of my three books have hit an all time high in January. No, I didn't make the New York Times list, nor is Oprah calling, but I have been pleasantly surprised at the 250% increase in sales over the previous three months - THANK YOU.
I suppose that one of the reasons is the increasing sales of e-readers and tablets, but that is also rubbing off in more sales of my first book, THE WEST COAST TRAIL: One Step at a Time.
Sales of MY SECRET MOTHER: an adoptee speaks to the girls who went away, continue to blow me away. Without any concerted marketing effort, people seem to be finding it and buying it. A friend told me a year ago that this book would be the one that might launch me as a bonafide writer, just because I was so reluctant to release it. I don't know if that is true but I do hope that people have found some comfort from it.
THE ONE HOUR AUTHOR: non-fiction book writing for busy people, is starting to get some traction and if I can get a few more comments from readers, I think it will begin to climb in sales, too. The neat thing is that Kindle sales represent about 60% of sales, but sales through Barnes and Noble and Apple are beginning to move up quickly.
It's a neat world, huh? I'm glad I'm around to witness the birth of an incredible upshot in communications - you too, I'll bet. More books, more authors, easier, faster and cheaper to find something to read. It's way better than reading the back of the Corn Flakes cereal box at the breakfast table when I was a kid.

January 9, 2012


I have been in many places, but I've never been in Cahoots. Apparently, you can't go alone.
You have to be in Cahoots with someone.
I've also never been in Cognito. I hear no one recognizes you there.
I have, however, been in Sane. They don't have an airport; you have to be driven there.
I have made several trips there, thanks to my friends, family and work.
I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump, and I'm not too much on physical activity anymore.
I have also been in Doubt. That is a sad place to go, and I try not to visit there too often.
I've been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm.
Sometimes I'm in Capable, and I go there more often as I'm getting older.
One of my favorite places to be is in Suspense! It really gets the adrenalin flowing and pumps up the old heart!
At my age I need all the stimuli I can get!
I may have been in Continent, but I don't remember what country I was in. It's an age thing.


Today is one of the many National Mental Health Days throughout the year.
You can do your bit by remembering to send an e-mail to at least one unstable person. My job is done!
Life is too short for negative drama & petty things.
So laugh insanely, love truly and forgive quickly!
From one unstable person to another...
I hope everyone is happy in your head - we're all doing pretty good in mine!