Labels and words: The words you use matter.

Your words end up being used as labels. Be careful how you mean what you say.


What people mean with their words may be much different than how they are interpreted. An article written by The Eyeopener about Ryerson’s “dropouts” is a great example. When a student makes a decision to change direction, take a different career path, they may need to “drop out” of a class or possibly even need to drop out of an institution because there is a more appropriate program elsewhere. This can result in a label of “dropout” being applied to the student. When you hear that reference, does that create a biased impression of the person?

Labels Wordle

Another example is a personal experience. I was having a discussion about someone with autism. I referred to a person as autistic. Luckily, the person I was speaking with was very attuned to the words and corrected me. There is no such thing as an autistic person. Rather, there are people with autism. We were discussing the effects of the condition on the person, not labeling the person.

Recently, I was talking to a friend about someone recently diagnosed with a mental health issue and referred to them having been put in a “rubber room”. Worse, it was a text chat and no way for them to interpret my body language and understand that I was actually hurting because the person in the mental health facility is very close to me. My friend was quick to respond “Rubber room…Only the really well adjusted can afford to use terminology like that. And you all wonder why we, the injured, don’t ask for help.” So insensitive of me, especially when the person I was chatting with was a close friend and I knew they had experienced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Mean what you say and remember words matter.


I believe that most people have no malice or mean intent with their words. We occasionally slip back to a time in our lives when words had much different connotations than today. Keep in mind that your meaning may not be received the way you intended. We all have different life experiences and apply filters through which we see and hear.

Picture of wood cut with wordsTake the word retarded in the context of a person’s mental development. When someone called you “a retard”, it was meant to be an insult. Eventually, that became the standard interpretation. Over time, “retarded” became developmentally delayed and today, we recognize everyone’s personal learning styles are different and we respect that everyone has different skills to offer.

Today, we would say people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. Although personally, I don’t like to say disability. What may appear disabled can lead to strengths in other areas beyond what “normal” people are capable of. Maybe a term like “people with exceptional abilities” would be a better moniker.


No labelWords like “Retard, Schizo, Autistic,” quickly become labels applied to individuals. Next time you find yourself labeling a person with a symptom or condition, think about how you would feel if someone identified you by something other than your name.

For example, Refugees. People are coming to Canada to seek refuge and find safe haven. The want to be able to dream of a future where their families can live without the fear of armies who are trying to eliminate a whole demographic. Sure, New Canadians bring some challenges with them. Just like our grand parents and great grand parents who came from places like Europe, Korea and other countries over the years and are now part of the Canadian fabric. These people who “threatened our jobs” in fact created opportunities for ALL Canadians.

What’s that old saying? “Don’t judge lest ye be judged“. Think twice before you start applying labels to others.

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1991, March 4 was a magical day!

March 4, 1991 was a scary yet magical day.

March 4, 1991

I was working in Mississauga, Ontario and living in Barrie. In those days, I was the night leader at an A&P store. My shift was 11pm to 8am. It was a little over an hour’s drive to work on a good day. Going to work was fine but then the weather turned bad. Snow and freezing rain. It was getting messy. And then the call came, it was time!

My wife had gone into labour. Her past experience was 37 and 27 hours labour. Plenty of time to get home? What was supposed to be an hour and bit drive took 4 and half hours. Luckily, my friends were able to get Denise to the hospital and took the older two children home with them. By the time I got to the hospital, it was after 6am. By then, Denise was in hard labour. 

Ashley, Brett and Dana in March 1991.We had gone to pre-natal classes because this would be my first time as a natural father and it would help me know what to expect. For the most part, it did. Except, I had no idea my wife had such an extensive vocabulary and now it was all my fault!

A Miracle Happens

Ashley born 1991 and now an adult.Ashley Danielle Clermont came into the world. At approximately 4pm March 4, 1991 my daughter was born. Ironically, what I remember most is she had a mouth full of crap! Hmm…some things never change? 🙂

I changed that day. I believe I started to become a better father. I now had more of an understanding of what my wife was feeling when dealing with the children. It’s amazing what God does in your life. Ashley was a gift from God that would change my world forever.

Happy Birthday

All of that to say, happy birthday princess!

Lot’s of love,



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Traffic Flow, who should come first, people or vehicles?

Traffic flow is a challenge these days. Who should be priority? Pedestrians or vehicles?

Traffic Flow

New York City trafficThere are three types of traffic flow to consider:

  1. People
  2. Motorized vehicles
  3. Bicycles


Who takes priority?

When I was young, it was rare for families to have one car. These days, there are often more than two in many driveways. Apartment buildings were rarely more than 10 stories. Now, they are often three or more times taller. Bicycles were one gear and now more likely have 21 gears. With such exponential growth, we’re all fighting for space and priority.


Photo of pedestriansAs cities run out of space to expand, the only way to go is up. Apartment buildings are now almost cities within a city. In metropolitan areas, a city block seem like a half kilometer long. For many senior citizens and people with challenges walking, going to the next cross walk can take “forever”.

We hear of pedestrians who are hit by cars because they were crossing in the middle of the block. A motorist may feel that it’s the pedestrian’s fault but would you want to take a half hour to get to the other side of the street?

We need to find a way to make city streets safer for pedestrians.

Motorized Vehicles

When I started driving in 1979, we thought there were a lot of cars then! I would love to know the numbers but I believe there are at least twice as many cars today or more. Back in those days, I could travel from one end of Hamilton, Ontario to the other and never hit a red light if I got the timing right. There were four main arteries running east and west that I used, and the speeds varied by 1 or 2 miles per hour. You just had to remember which road you were on. North and south didn’t work as well until the expressways were built in the last few years.

I work in Toronto now and live in Barrie and have never had that non stop experience in either of those cities. I can actually still do it in Hamilton. If the speeds were adjusted like that in Toronto, I wonder if it would actually work?


In larger metropolitan areas like Toronto, bikes are becoming more common and I believe should be encouraged. How do we do that? Increasing the number of bike lanes?

Personally, I believe they are a vehicle like any car. In the city, many go just as fast. What I resent is that many seem to believe they are above the law. I have almost been run into on paths and in crosswalks. If you live in Toronto, how many times have you seen bikes run through crosswalks to make a left turn into a bike lane?

Pedestrians or vehicles?

Something needs to be done to protect pedestrians before someone is hurt badly or even killed. It’s time someone started coming up with new ideas. For example, when Weber’s had a problem on Highway 11 north of Orillia, the company bought a bridge from the province and moved it to facilitate pedestrians crossing above highway to get safely to their store.

What if local Chambers of Commerce worked with businesses to build bridges for pedestrians? Do you have other ideas? Don’t just complain about problems. Take ideas to your municipal government representative and business organizations!

Make it a great day,


P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for people who run for government positions. I’m thankful for people who offers solutions rather than just complaining. I’m thankful for the bus drivers who relieve me of the stress of commuting.

What are you thankful for today?


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Fake it until you become it.

Fake it until you become it. Confidence isn’t something you are born with. It’s a learned behaviour. What are you willing to do to become more confident and successful?


Confidence is the feeling that you can do something well or succeed at something.

Fake it!

Success quoteMelanie Pinola gathered some great TED Talks in a post on The first one, number 10 at the top of the post is by Amy Cuddy and she does a great job of discussing the importance of “faking it” for as little as two minutes and how it can change your life.

There are many books on personal development with great suggestions on changes you can make that will lead to a change in you. All require you being willing to “fake it” until the behaviours become part of you, or fake it until you become it. Many people spend so much time debunking these authors and I believe it’s because they fail to “fake it” with any consistency.

Here are 5 of my favourite books:

  1. Awaken The Giant Within, Tony Robbins.
  2. The Leader Who Had No Title, Robin Sharma.
  3. Start With Why, Simon Sinek
  4. The Secret Language of Leadership, Steve Denning.
  5. 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John C. Maxwell.

None of these books are the definitive answer. Each of these books have great suggestions. It’s up to you to find those nuggets of information that will help you become the person you want to attract.

Don’t fake it until you make it, fake it until you become it! Whether it’s to attract people to your business or that special someone into your life, the change starts with you. What are you willing to do?

Become that person you want to attract into your life.

Make it a great day!

How much justice can you afford?

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for four seasons. I’m thankful for the people in my life. I’m thankful for opportunity to grow.

What are you thankful for today?

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Relationships and Communication: Make It Safe.

In order to have good communication in relationships, you need to create a safe environment where all are comfortable enough to be honest and speak their minds without fear of repercussion.


We have many different relationships:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Romance
  • Business
  • Work

Parents with daughterWhether we like it or not, relationships require work. Each has a different dynamic. It’s ironic that we typically give a lot of attention to building romantic relationships that lead to developing family and friends. When we start a new business, we work hard to develop relationships with our clients to further our goals and objectives. We develop relationships with our co-workers and employees to achieve combined goals and objectives. 

Over time, we often become complacent, or lazy, in relationships and forget the importance of good communication. We start to expect people to just understand. When we reach that time that we recognize a problem, do we make communication safe?



Communication Ground Rules

  1. Shut up and listen.
  2. Do NOT judge.
  3. Seek understanding. (That means questions without judgement!)
  4. Watch your mouth. (I recommend reading the “Secret Language of Leadership by Stephen Denning.)
  5. Watch your body language. (See point #2.)


ListenOften, people that think they are great communicators are actually the worst. They think they communicate more because they always hear themselves talking. Truly effective communicators do far more listening. Have you ever caught yourself thinking “this is nuts and makes no sense at all”? We make judgements because we either are so focused on being right or we don’t understand the other person’s perspective. Take the time to understand the other perspective and you may even find yourself taking the other side. That’s OK!

Watch Your Mouth

Words matter. We understand the words we hear because we frame the context with our experiences. For example: “Well, that really blew up in my face!” may mean a work project failed badly to you but someone from a war torn country may subconsciously relate that to a very physical memory and produce such a strong reaction that they miss some of the message while they process their feelings. While you may have been acknowledging an error you made, you may have triggered a “fight or flight” reaction in someone else.

Be Aware Of Your Body Language

Words are important but is your body language congruent with your words? Your conscious mind will tell you that you are willing to hear the other person’s point of view but your subconscious mind may well send a different message through your body. Is your body tense? Are your arms folded across your chest? Although your words are telling the other person you are willing to hear their perspective, your body just told them you are ready to pounce and not really receptive to what they have to say. Again, I recommend Stephen Denning’s “Secret Language of Leadership”.

Make it Safe

In an ideal world, take your critical conversations to a neutral environment. Try to find a place that isn’t perceived as being one person’s domain.  If there are tables, try to make sure they are round. Regardless of the shape of the table, ensure there isn’t the perception of a position of power. For example, if it’s a boardroom situation, put people in positions of authority on the long side, not at the “head” of the table.

Communication is difficult at the best of times. Are you really open? Pay attention to the other people and be aware of their reactions to you and your words. Cede control of the situation to someone else so that all can feel safe and not be as wary of how “the boss” is going to react.

Show me you value my input. Help me feel safe enough to express myself without fear of repercussion.

Make it a great day!


P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for honest input. I’m thankful for my ears. I’m thankful for you.

What are you thankful for today?


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It’s Just A Word! Except, it’s not.

It’s NOT just a word!!!!

What’s in a word?

Consider these two sentences:

  1. I could kill you right now. 
  2. I’m really frustrated with you right now. 

Some would say they mean the same thing. No they don’t. Say the words and really think about how they make you feel.  Your rational mind will tell you they mean the same thing but your feelings are a better reflection of what your subconscious mind is thinking. 

I think George Carlin’s “Seven words you can’t say on TV” example of the “f” word is a great example.  He replaces the word kill with the “f” word.  “Sherrif, I’m going to kill you now.  I’m going to kill you real slow.  Now substitute the “f” word and all of a sudden the whole situation is actually hilarious!

Just words.The point I’m trying to make is that a word is not just a word.  Each has it’s own meaning and is powerfull in it’s own right.  Words change how you feel and therefore how you act.  Don’t be careless with your words, they could cost you your life both literally and figuratively. I highly recommend reading Tony Robbins’ “Awaken The Giant Within” for a detailed discussion of this subject.

Remember, the next time you are in a heated discussion, the words matter.  It’s NOT just a word!

Make it a great day,


P.S.  What am I thankful for today?  I’m thankful my wife is safe at convention.  I’m thankful I’ll see my grand daughter tomorrow!  I’m thankful for the fresh cut grass. What are you thankful for today?

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MLM: System v Style

MLM or Multi-level Marketing companies have a system in place that should make it easier to achieve success. The challenge is how to make the system work with your individual style.


Any successful MLM company must have a system in place that will duplicate easily if they are to achieve any level of success. In order for the company to succeed, they need you to succeed.

An example of a system might be:

  1. Expose someone to your product or service using a tool.
  2. Put your prospect on a three way call with someone who will invite them to sign up or come to the next event.
  3. Invite people to a local business meeting where they can learn more.
  4. Invite them to a major regional event where they can meet successful people in the business and learn more.
  5. Invite them to the next national or international event.

Follow the system and the work is easier.Most systems are similar but all MLM’s have one. Remember that when you are exposing someone to your business opportunity, it has to be something they can see themselves doing. At the end of an exposure, they will ask what they have to do. The answer should be “Can you do what I just did to you?”. If the answer is no, there are two possibilities. Either the business is not for them or maybe you didn’t follow the system as well as you think you did.


The system is the system and you really shouldn’t mess with it. Style, on the other hand, is very individual. Most systems leave room for style. For example, the tools and delivery systems could vary.


  • Flip books
  • Online Video
  • Brochures
  • PowerPoint Shows


  • One on one, in person
  • Social Media
  • Email
  • Networking groups

We all have a personal style. Don’t make the mistake of trying to be someone you are not.

Your business sponsor may have a preference for meeting groups and using PowerPoint Shows. Their sponsor may prefer meeting one on one with a flip book. Maybe you grew up in the digital age and are used to less than 180 character Tweets.

Decide what style you are comfortable with and then choose the tools and delivery methods that work for you. Keep enough of an open mind to consider making changes in your choice of tools and delivery methods but whatever you do, use those within the system.

Leadership style

What will your style be?

Make it a great day!


P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for individuality. I’m thankful for great leadership. I’m thankful for opportunity.

What are you thankful for today?

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What are you thankful for today?

Thanksgiving is originally a day to be thankful for a good harvest and the blessings of the past year. 

On January 31, 1957, a proclamation was issued stating Thanksgiving was to be “A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.”[1]

What am I thankful for today? 

5 Things I’m Thankful For

  • Faith
  • Family
  • Food
  • Water
  • Freedom

Thanksgiving isn’t about football! This is a time to be thankful for the abundance you have been blessed with in this life. As Canadians, it’s easy to take for granted our farmers who feed us and the water this country has been blessed with. So many countries can’t even trust the water from their kitchen taps. Just ask the student who stayed with and was amazed we would even consider drinking tap water. And freedom? Just ask migrants from around the world who come here if they would rather go back to where they came from.

What are you thankful for today-


(A special thank you to April and Andy from for this photo and for helping us with re-arranging finances to make it a little easier to take the time to enjoy our home and this beautiful world that surrounds us.)

Why say what I’m thankful for?

This is a short blog because I just wanted to say thanks. If you have been reading my blogs for any time you will note that I sign off each one with three things I’m thankful for that day. Some are trivial, some are major. By ending the blog and starting my day that way, I focus on the positive and that “infects” the rest of the day.

Make it a great day!


P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for Canadian Tire. I’m thankful for wrenches. I’m thankful it was a beautiful sunny day.

What are you thankful for today?

1Description of Thanksgiving in Canada from Wikipedia.

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Loss of a child: Five years later, life goes on.

The loss of a child is one of the worst things that can happen. When do you “get over it”?

Never. You never get over the loss of a child, but you do get through it.

Loss of a child.

The loss of a child disturbs our perception of “the natural order of things”.

Who’s loss is it?

We lost our son when God called him home. His journey was prolonged and painful but he was so strong as he battled for his life. We chose to believe it’s our loss, not our son’s. If you are a believer, you have to accept he is where he should be. He’s in a better place. By the way, it’s OK for me to say that as a parent who has lost a child, but I wouldn’t recommend a comment like that to another grieving parent, especially when the pain is new and overwhelming. I couldn’t have said those words five years ago.

The Journey

graphic of cancer cellsOur son was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer. Apparently less than 1% of 1% of all cancers. My wife called me about seven years ago asking me to come and take him to the hospital. He was having chest pains and having difficulty getting his breath. He was 22 years old. After hours of sitting in emergency, they finally took him in and it took until the next day to determine he was bleeding internally. The next day, he was transferred to a regional hospital with more expertise in Thoracic surgery.

When the surgeon opened his chest, he discovered a tumor the size of a plum. The surgeon was concerned that it was very likely cancer and how bad this one was. We came home and both of us had laptop computers and started researching in the hopes of finding positive outcomes. After 10-15 minutes, we both turned off the computers. Almost everything we read pointed to negative outcomes. Few articles we read pointed to more than 3-6 months.

Picture of young man in hospital with daughter after loss of his lung.Medical professionals had to remove another tumor that had regrown and our son went through multiple sessions of chemo-therapy in the first year. Doctors advised his treatments would likely have killed most people, About 6 months in, our son had a lung removed to get at more cells and clear the path for radiation in addition to more chemo. Around July of 2010, there were new tumors in his head. The cancer had spread and was now starting to cause so much more pain. His mother took him into emergency to treat pain and consider further options. That’s they day he turned to his mother and said he just didn’t want to do any more.

Five Years Later

Oh, I forgot to tell you, his daughter was three when he was first diagnosed with cancer. Not only were parents losing a child, a child was losing a parent. I have to say, we weren’t feeling God’s love at the time.

Luckily, a friend convinced my wife to go with her to Connexus, a “church for un-churched people”. Whatever she heard that day resonated with her and she continued. Eventually, I started going with her. It’s my belief that God was making us aware He was walking with us through this journey and regardless of our how much we believed we hated him for taking our son, His love would help us get through this pain and life would continue.

We came to accept the inevitable outcome and recognize the importance of remembering there three other children and a grand child that needed us to love and support them as they experienced this journey in their own way. Everyone grieves differently.

Our loss November 26, 1986 - October 10, 2010

About six months after our son died, the other kids started getting back to living their lives. I think this was after they decided Mom and Dad were OK. One left to start her career as a high school teacher. Another left for University out west where she certified to teach kyaking and climbing. The youngest moved to Montreal in the hopes of learning French.

Five years later, we all choose to live life each and every day. We don’t know when we will run out of time. The death of our son made us understand that every second of every day is precious. My wife and I also believe that we have a responsibility to show others that regardless of challenges we face, God is with us and you will get through. Eventually. Timing and paths are different for everyone.

We will never get over the loss of our son. We got and continue to get through. He is a part of who each of us are. In that way, he will live forever. 

Five years later, the sun rises each day. OK, sometimes it hides behind clouds! It reminds us that there is much to do. I always say “any time I’m on the top side of the daisies, it’s a great day”!

Whatever you are facing this day, my prayers are with you.

Make it a great day,


P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for you taking the time to listen. I’m thankful for the support of my wonderful family. I’m thankful for a beautiful reminder of our son, our granddaughter.

What are you thankful for today?

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You’re a great teacher! Now, can you teach the teachers?

You studied hard and you have become a great teacher in your MLM business. Now it’s time to teach the teachers!

Becoming a Great Teacher

When you join a Multi-level Marketing (MLM) business, the first thing you need to do is learn how to teach others to do what was done to you. How do you do that?

5 Things to do and become a great teacher.

  1. Attend the regular business briefings.
  2. Attend the regular training sessions.
  3. Attend the special monthly/quarterly/annual events.
  4. Seek opportunities for personal development.
  5. Read 10 pages of a good book every day.

The main reason to join a MLM opportunity is because they have taken the time to develop solid systems. Are you willing to follow the leader?

Live eventBy attending regular meetings and special events, you will be exposed to people who have traveled the path before you and helped to develop the ongoing training and tools provided by your company. You will be exposed to great leaders that you can model and learn from. The real challenge is that leaders have a hard time learning to follow. In order to have the next leaders follow your path, you need to show them how it’s done. 

To be truly successful in business, you need to leverage the efforts of others. The flip side is that you have to accept that others are leveraging you and that’s OK. Rather than resenting the success of those who have gone before you, watch and listen to how they developed their business. Ask them for advice and guidance. True leaders love to help others succeed. Will you let them help you?

Don’t just learn how to sell your product or service. Learn how to teach others to do what you did, just like someone did for you. Become a human developer. 

There will be naysayers and dream stealers in your path. Don’t let those crabs pull you down. Show your followers how to find their happy place and stay focused on taking their business to the next level.

Becoming the Teacher’s Teacher

You are a great teacher! Your business has some legs and your team is productive. Now, how do you take it to the next level? You become the teacher’s teacher.

Not everyone in your organization is going to be a great leader or teacher. Remember the 80/20 rule. Twenty percent of your team will produce eighty percent of your income. Conversely, the other 80% of your people will produce 20% of your income. This is where you need to understand how to apply leverage. When you create leverage, it buys you freedom.

Identify the 20% of your team that will be the next leaders. You will know them by their ability to be self motivated and their ability to stay positive. These are the people who are willing to learn and want to teach.

Find mentors and other human developers to work with you and help you teach the teachers. Develop that next group of leaders who you can help to achieve their dreams. Teach them to teach their teams to develop and grow their own teams. Pay it forward!

Make it a great day,


P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for each new sunrise. I’m thankful for the people who have touched my life. I’m thankful for opportunities to grow.

What are you thankful for today?



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How much justice can you afford?

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