Are You Networking or Connecting?

7 Steps to Staying Calm During Opportunities and ChangesHave you ever gone to networking events and been completely turned off? Does being handed a business card by someone without even so much as an introduction feel like being spammed? When that happens all I want to do is Delete, Delete, Delete!

Are you frustrated when going to networking events doesn’t bring results? Networking should be called relationship building. During a recent Vancouver Entrepreneurs meet up we were challenged to introduce ourselves as our name and our profession then not to talk about businesses at all! Then ask a unrelated question of whom we met.

Hi I’m Alfred, I am a Kinesiologist. What do you enjoy doing when you are not working on your business?

The purpose of this was for us to connect with our peers on a deeper and more spiritual level. We were also tasked to ask “how can I be of service? What is your greatest challenge?”  If we could make a connection or provide someone with assistance we needed to do it right there an then.

That evening I felt more connected to the people at my table than those I would normally meet a networking event. It is important to build relationships with as many people as you can. Perhaps those we meet might not be able take advantage of our services or products, but they might know of others who may. Alternatively maybe, just maybe there is a way that you can connect them with others who can help. Think about creating long term meaningful relationships.

Learning How to Run Again with Neurokinetic Therapy

Part of my professional development  is attending several continuing education sessions each year. Both the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s  (NSCA) Provincial Clinic and Neurokinetic Therapy (NKT) Level 1 were recently held in Metro Vancouver.  My mind tends to run into overdrive after these workshops trying to figure out how to improve my client’s performance as well as my own.

In the last the 30 years I have participated in several sports including biathlon and cross country skiing, which I excelled at.  I have also completed a couple of half-marathons, one full-marathon and three distance mountain running courses. During that time I had a few injuries and previous to that two fairly serious surgeries; most recently an odd ankle left sprain. At the NKT Level 1 course I discovered how these injuries affect how I move as well as how my body has probably compensated all these years. Having other practitioners do a full-body muscle testing and resetting using Neurokinetic Therapy lead to several revelations.

Injury and Surgery History

  • 1976 and  ~1980 right abdominal surgery
  • ~1982  head injury – not sure about concussion
  • 1990 – 1999 right patella femoral syndrome
  • 1992  – right tibial fracture from cross country skiing
  • 1998 – right hamstring strain
  • 2002 – possible concussion
  • 2005 – right hip pain prevented me from running for several months
  • 2012 – left inversion ankle sprain, minor mva as driver, left dorsi flexion sprain

Neurokinetic Therapy Discoveries

  • 10 different muscles compensating for left psoas (important  for creating stability during walking and running; attached to the diaphragm which is used for stability and breathing)
  • weak distal fibers of left and right hamstrings
  • left and right quadratus lumborum inhibited – right was due to scars (important for side to side stability during single leg stance)
  • right psoas inhibited by right quadratus lumborum which tilted my right pelvis forward
  • right tibia lateral rotation – foot turned out due to facilitated lateral gastrocs (calf) and inhibited medial hamstrings
  • obturators facilitated (creating a hip jam) and inhibiting rectus femoris (quadriceps that crosses the hip and knee)
  • occipitals facilitated and inhibiting deep neck flexors
  • pectoralis minor both sides – doing a lot of work, including preventing same side rotation (spring energy storage and release during running)

The nice thing is that the human brain and nervous system are very plastic, which means they can change and mold easily to new inputs. These systems change faster than ligament, muscle and tendon, however propioceptive nerves run through all of the above including scars.

Our bodies adapt to get the job done. The motor control center governs how we move. Trauma to the body such as surgeries and injuries change our movement patterns on subtle levels that to most people are imperceptible unless we are highly in tune.

During the last two weeks my only training has been specific self-myofascial releases and immediate strengthening exercises related to retraining my body to use specific muscles as they should be along with relatively easy 30 min runs at zero percent grade on a treadmill.

Missing the opening of the Grouse Grind a week ago because I was out of town made me very eager to try the Grouse Grind on Friday.

Learning to Run By Feeling

Although the motor control center is adaptable it needs a lot of  repeated input to create ingrain a pattern so that it feels normal and become subconscious. Have you watched a child learn to walk? How many trials does it take? Do you still think before you start to walk? The pattern is now subconscious.

Focus was placed mainly on my right side because it seemed to have the most challenges. By opening up the joint capsule  I feel  there is significantly more mobility in my hips than before.   At the NSCA clinic Dr. Mike Young, CSCS, PhD, Fitness Coach of the MLS Vancouver Whitecaps delineated that speed and power is a function of intramuscular co-ordination while Dr. Keith Loshe of UBC pointed out that for learning to happen performance will initially decrease.

Each spring I look forward to trail running on the North Shore and challenging myself with the Grouse Grind – nature’s stair climber of 2.9 km with 2800 feet elevation gain. Average time to complete is  an hour and half and recommendation is two hours for a very novice hiker; my best last year was 35:32 minutes.

 Learning how to move my body differently meant I anticipated an initial decrease in performance even though the Grouse Grind and I have met 150 times due to reduced intramuscular co-ordination. The first few steps were a bit hesitant because I wasn’t sure how to  move my new body uphill fast.

The terrain starts out on a gradual incline during which it is possible to jog or run, however it quickly becomes steeper with larger steps and rocky terrain to overcome. Movement should feel light, effortless and joyful; this how my hips now feel. I could easily bound up a two to three stairs at a time, however my cardiovascular system just wasn’t able to keep-up.

As the climb continued I was concerned about more extreme ranges of dorsiflexion and how my left ankle would hold up.  It wasn’t until after the 3/4 mark that I dropped my heel and felt a bit of twinge. The only thing to do is continue on and make sure to always keep on the balls of my feet. There were two other times when I went into full dorsiflexion; one of those times  took my breath away – ouch!

Near the top my left ankle felt like it could go into spasm if I went any faster. Calf spasms are very painful and debilitating, something I really didn’t want. The opening Grind of the season is always completed by feel and meant to set a baseline for the rest of the season, so time was not a factor, only feeling.

Cresting the top my lungs were burning and left calf and ankle were aching. For those unfamiliar the Grind participants can purchase a Grind Timer card to swipe at the top of the bottom to record their times. The clock stopped at 45:24 with an average heart rate of 179 bpm.

Lessons From the First Grind

This was a good season opening time for me which I am happy with.  There were several key learning opportunities for me:

  1. Left calf and ankle to need more mobility and conditioning
  2. Need greater lateral stability
  3. Need to improve power-endurance at anaerobic threshold

For learning to occur a skill has to be repeated fairly soon after. The second Grind two days later was a little different. I incorporated more lateral line stability by releasing upper upper trapezius, scalenes and sternocleidomastoid (side of the neck to shoulder responsible for left to right rotation) and doing some side-bends to strength quadratus lumborum for side to side stability. Just before starting the Grind I released my left lower leg to reduce the chances of a cramp and provide me with more dorsiflexion capability.

There were no problems with dorsiflexion on the way up, though I was still cautious and aware of making sure to step properly. During the last quarter there was slight feeling of possible left calfcramping. During the way up I even tried to keep my heart rate down, but it did creep up to 184 bmp to pass the long-weekend.

With a time of 43:53 I am definitely on track to my goal of a sub 35 min this year. However, I am still trying to figure out why my left calf is taking most of the load. Perhaps it is weakness in the hamstrings?

Now it is time to add more specific strength training two days a week to support my efforts on the Grind. I am even considering  entering Seek Peak trail run again – 16 km from Ambleside Beach up to the top of Grouse Mountain.

Read more about the Grouse Grind

Read more about Neurokinetic Therapy

How to Achieve Business Goals Like an Olympian

Throughout the London 2012 Olympics, which are heading into their second week we have witnessed feats of extreme dedication and human drive. These athletes have not become overnight successes, many toil  for a decade or more in their sports before finishing on the podium. What they do have in common is the intense desire to achieve success and the knowledge that this is their time to shine, to lay it all on the line.

How can we harness the same dedication, perseverance and patience to achieve our own entrepreneurial goals?

Start with a Long-Term Plan – Finish with Today’s Plan

I remember starting my business with plan which had the next 3-5 years outlined with specific steps and performance measures. This is very similar to the way high performance athletes train. Each Olympic cycle is called a quadrennial, which is broken down into smaller and smaller segments until the details for each training day are specified. Do the same with your business. How often are you taking the time to sit-down, review, adjust and plan?

Find the Internal Flame

Find an intrinsic reason to reach your goal. This will light the fire within that will burn no matter what others say or which obstacles you come across because it can’t be put out! It took Brent Hayden three Olympics to stand on the podium, that is 12 years. Since he was young double leg amputee Oscar Pistorius has had an intense desire to run in the Olympics; Friday he did and reached the semi-finals of the 400m in Track and Field! Having a meaningful reason for reaching your business goals keeps you motivated.

Set Performance Goals

Athletes set performance based goals, not results based.  To reach the Olympics athletes must meet specific performance criteria to qualify in events preceding. In a business goals of $X income or $Y profit (which are results) need to be broken down into what needs to be done on a daily basis to achieve them. For example how many widgets do need to sold or how many clients need to booked or called?

Be in it for the Long Haul – Celebrate Everyday Wins

Olympians don’t step onto the field of play without years of dedication to their sport. Entrepreneurs need be in it for the long haul. Starting and growing a business is not for the faint of heart, but it has been the most enjoyable part of my working life.

Sure, some businesses launch and have tremendous success early on, then they burn and crash like those rockets we made as kids. Instead ride a the wind like a kite. Keep your hands on the string, but as the winds change learn to change strategies with it so that you can soar for as long as possible.  Each day has at least one success; smile and celebrate it! Be patient, long-term success is much more rewarding.

Do Just Enough with Appropriate Volume and Intensity

Olympians do put a lot of effort into their training, however there is always a balance between stressing the body enough through training for it to both physically and mental adapt and incorporating appropriate recovery strategies. Entrepreneurs need to do the same to avoid mentally breaking down; they are notorious for neglecting vacation time.

There will be times in business when you have to do more work to get a project completed or launch new producted but, with appropriate planning you can add periods of recovery after these intense and volume laden times. Pushing too hard each day in training often leads to over training or injury which sets athletes back weeks or even months. The art is to do just do enough to keep the momentum rolling so that the joy remains.

 

Keep it Simple

Business growth always adds complexity. Greater complexity adds to the mental strain so, keep examining your business to create more simplicity.

Getting Re-AMPed About Your Business

Sometimes my entrepreneurial motivation wanes and I need something to fire me up again.  On Canada Day I was listening to a podcast about how to harness your inner athlete while heading to the Grouse Grind® where my inner athlete thrives. That day I took 1:45 minutes of my personal best to set a new one of 37:13, this places me in the top for 15 for my age group. I am AMPed!
The Grouse Grind® is 2.9 km climb with a 2,800 feet elevation gain, a small mountain which I have climbed over 100 times. I am striving to be among the best at this and it is something I know I can be a master at, it is also something I can do on my own and the purpose it is to build confidence that transfers to other parts of my life. 
Why? It is both a mental and physical challenge that I can complete and feel victorious every time,  especially on Sunday. The rush lasts several days which gives me confidence to complete other activities especially those related to my business.
How do we find the motivation? How do I reignite the passion for my business? What does being AMPed up mean? The term comes from Mark Margolies,  a sports psychologist who has worked with over 2,000 people. The podcast was an interview by Beth Beulow of the Introvert Entrepreneur (yes, I am an Introvert); she can be found on iTunes.

Autonomous

Entrepreneurs have a lot of freedom to do what we want to do.  Yes, sometimes there are certain constraints that we might “THINK” are limiting us; however maybe there other ways to get there? I am not working for anyone who is telling me what to do on a day to day basis or how to do it.  I have the freedom and autonomy to make it up as I go along.
My business can shift, grow and develop as its surrounding do the same.  I can shape it to be what I want.   After a great deal of thought I decided that my definition of success is to get the two locations Lifemoves® has thriving such that I have more financial  and time freedom.  Lifemoves® does not need to be a national or global brand, nor do we necessarily need to have our own facilities, because with that comes a lot more risk.

Mastery

What are we good at? What is your Hedgehog? Last week I had a good discussion with one of my employees who agreed that I need to delegate more.  Business leaders  need to give people the opportunity to do what they are good at so that they can be great masters at it while the leaders focus on the path towards the vision. 
As a business owner and clinician there are certain things I am good at, while others I am not good at. It is time to harness my strengths and really master those.

Purpose

Knowing your purpose is really important. My purpose has been reignited while listening to several podcasts on business and strength and conditioning.  What is it? There several parts to my purpose:  to assist as many people as I can to lead physically active lives; to show them how to become physically and mentally resilient despite injury, disability or chronic medical condition; to show them what movement is all about; to provide others with the opportunity to do the same within my business. 
After all Lifemoves®’s purpose – is that movement is an integral part of life. I am AMPed about moving into the new space in North Vancouver. It will provide a more optimal environment to be autonomus, fulfill our purpose and be masters at what we do.
How are you going to get AMPed up about your business?

7 Ways to Choose Continuing Education

To become and stay a leader in your profession you need to continue to learn. With all the continue education opportunities available how do you choose?   Roger Takashashi, Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Vancouver Canucks and fellow Kinesiologist spoke at the 20th Anniversary of the British Columbia Association of Kinesiologists in November.  The crowd was mainly undergraduate Kinesiology students, though there were a few veterans who came to hear him speak.  His session was a question and answer format.  A key point he made was that his degree in Kinesiology at Simon Fraser University was the foundation to his current career, knowledge and experience. 
A university degree is not the end of professional training. If we stick to one field we have about 30-40 years of work to accomplish before we retire. The world is changing fast and so is the  body of knowledge. Takahashi explained that he is able to connect what he learned in his course work to what he does on a daily basis with NHL players. It helps him fundamentally understand how each each exercise affects his clients physiology, state of recovery and biomechanics.  I can relate to this. He emphasized that to stay sharp, competitive and prepared we need to be continually be learning. 
The average amount per employee that is provided in Canada for education and training is around $650 and great companies spend about 3% of their budget on training.  I often hear that continuing education is an expense; instead think of it as an investment towards future earnings growth. Investing in continuing education over the last ten years has made a significant impact on my income and success of my business. Many professions also have a minimum number of continuing education credits needed per year to maintain their designation.

How to Choose Appropriate Continuing Education

There is a plethora of continuing education courses now for Kinesiology, rehabilitation and fitness and I am certain the same is true for other industries. How do we choose, especially when our budget can at times be small.

1. Make a Someday/Maybe List and a Must Take List

Remember many courses and conferences are offered annually or semi-annually.  What are some courses that would be nice to take and what courses are must takes?

2. Follow Your Passion

 Is there a stream or specialty of your profession that you are passionate about? Make courses in that stream the priority. For me it is musculoskeletal, orthopaedic and neuromuscular disorders.

3. Figure Out What is Missing

Is there a piece of knowledge that you are missing that would add value to your client interactions? Take those. I found a solution to unlocking clients lack of mobility in 2007.I  found Fascial Stretch Therapy.  A friend and excellent Kinesiologist, Paul Turner of Three Peaks Kinesiology and I looked at each other and said “we have to take this.” Three months later we were in Arizona for Level I.

4. Figure Out How You Learn

Kinesiology education has a hands and experiential quotient, however there are plenty of other ways to learn some of the theory.  Are you a visual, kinesthetic or auditory learner? Most people are predominantly one, however they are also a mix.

5. Set an Education Budget, But Learn to Stretch It

If there is something you really want to attend figure out a legal and ethical way to make the additional cash to attend.

6. Will It Make an Impact? 

Will this new knowledge make an immediate impact on the way practice, run your business or add more value to client interactions? Pick the courses that you can experience immediate improvement in your practice. Sometimes the return takes a little bit of time. People will pay more when you add more value.

7. Find Free Stuff and Share with Others

 You don’t need to spend big bucks or travel the world. Though, travelling to out of town places is a great way to learn from some of the best directly and network with others. It easier to learn from your peers by connecting through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Also, you can easily learn by sharing blog articles, researching online, listening to free podcasts and attending webinars all on your own schedule.
Oh, there is also the library (physical and electronic). You can now download pretty much most things to a mobile device, laptop or table to take anywhere you are. Industry journals will also have CECs quizzes for you to complete. When you find something really neat, share with your colleagues.

Facing the Cold Hard Truth for Enough Growth

While supporters of the Occupy Wall Street movement complain of excess spending and compensation packages of corporations and banks I have been wondering what is Enough?  Part of question comes from trying to figure out how to protect my business and myself from the financial Aftershock.  To answer this I have to continually be ok with facing the Cold Hard Truth about my particular situation and the economy. To succeed I have to come to Common Purposes with my fiancée, my family, our clients and my staff.

All of these are books I recently read that have given valuable insight into how prevent personal and business financial crises, grow my business and lead into the next few years.  Does my business need to grow to become a large organization like some big box gyms with twenty or more locations? No, but a business does need to grow, evolve and remain profitable as the markets, society and environments change. This growth needs to be done at manageable so that the owner and staff stay sane and don’t have their own meltdowns.

Achieving Common Purpose

The original vision of Lifemoves, locations in at least one Fitness World in each community is no-longer. Fitness World’s new ownership and I were unable to come to agreement in May, so we are looking for new space and a new direction. This new direction has been set (which will be revealed in the appropriate time frame).  Engaging your team in discussions based on the question “what is next?” or “how can we improve?” leads to a two major values: 1. team members feels more valued because they are making distinct positive contributions; 2. the conclusions of the conversations become the common purpose.

On Friday, we had a very productive team meeting at a coffee bar that lead to an understanding of what our long-term goals and challenges are as well as knowledge of the steps needed to get there.

Facing the Cold Hard Truth

Growing up with parents who were both librarians (information junkies) and one who understood the power of databases (he created a school library system) means that I know the intrinsic value of having accurate searchable data. Our records give of an idea of what has happened in the business.  Accurate records enable a business to make appropriate analyses and decisions. Sometimes this data can be chilling.

Last year I hired a couple of new Kinesiologists with idea of floating the hourly rate with the current session fees that my other Kinesiologist was booking until the new hires were fully booked.  That all crashed when the original employee quit less than a month later taking much of that business with them. Action should have been taken a lot sooner to right this situation because it put Lifemoves in a financial hole that we dug out of, but it was an arduous and long task.

As we move from a single location to several remote locations I am thinking more and more about our records management system. How can maintain communications, accurate information and financial control?  I am always aiming to build this company so that we are mobile.  Adding more employees and more locations adds to the complexity of our systems. However we still need to continually evolve our records management system towards Canadian and ISO standards (which I discovered recently) while keeping it as simple as possible.  
Gaining the perspective of your employees also helps the business improve, create new initiatives and understand our strengths as well as our weaknesses.  Although, Aftershock primarily describes the future of the U.S. economy Canadians can still take home a few lessons from it.  The major one for me is how to position my business in the future. Health care will take hit in the coming years however, it won’t be as bad as discretionary spending such as retail. We need to shift further from a fitness company to a health care provider to continue to grow in a “melting economy.”

Figuring Out What is Enough?

Everyone will have their own determining factors for what is enough when it comes to life, money and business.   
  • Enough is being a market leader in several municipalities. 
  • Enough is being able to pay our accounts receivable on time.
  • Enough is being to able people full-time in a career which they are passionate about and in a company that they are thrilled to work for.
  • Enough is being able to provide appropriate benefits for our employees so that they are taken care of.
  • Enough is having zero commercial credit card debt – business and personal
  • Enough is having a flexible work schedule to enjoy recreational pursuits when I desire
  • Enough is being and to contribute more to my community
  • Enough is have $1.00 more than I need.
  • Enough is feeling like my family and I are financially secure and will be secure as we age.
  • Enough is having loving, trusting, mutually supportive and meaningful relationships.

Please share what enough and the cold hard truth means to you? How are you going to protect your business and yourself from the financial meltdown?

References

David Wiedemer, Robert A. Wiedemer and Cindy S. Spitzer Aftershock: How to Protect Yourself in the Next Global Financial Meltdown

How to be a Kinesiology Professional

The recent exposure by CTV of some Personal Trainers claiming to be Kinesiologists, when they are not, just to make a few extra dollars and the Occupy Vancouver/Major World city movement motivated me to seek further understanding about what it means to be a professional and how the financial markets have evolved or devolved.

We often hear of CEO’s being overpaid for underperformance or various people (not professionals) doing unethical things which have at times even been illegal, just to have “more”.

In his book “Enough” John C. Bogle describes mostly how the financial industry has gone from adding value to the investors to taking more value away from the investor as well as how professional standards have degraded. Through his vast experience and knowledge he also gives the reader a solid history of financial excess which has permeated CEO compensation in the USA. He also gives his own thoughts about how to turn this situation around.

On a sunny day in June 1999 I officially joined the working world to become a professional in the rehabilitation and health fields. Often the term professional is reserved for and only associated with lawyers, doctors, teachers, engineers, architects, accountants and others with similar designations. There are even special banking services for “professionals,” but only the previously described qualify. As a Practicing Kinesiologist with over 10 years of experience I consider myself to be a professional. Does having a particular degree and designation means you are a professional, while others with degrees are not? I agree with Bogle, who thinks that there is more to being a professional and that it is more about how you act than what your designations is that defines you as a professional or not.

Mariam-Webster Dictionary’s Definitions

Professional

“Characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession.” or “Exhibiting a courteous, conscientious and generally businesslike manner.”

Profession

“A calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation.”

6 Characteristics of a Profession

In Chapter 5, Bogle mentions how Daedulus examined professions in the 1940’s and then again in 2005. They go on to describe the six characteristics of a profession:

  1. A commitment to the interest of clients, in particular society in general
  2. A body of theory or specialized knowledge
  3. A specialized set of professional skills, practices and performances unique to the profession
  4. The developed capacity to render judgements with integrity under conditions of ethical uncertainty
  5. An organized approach to learning from experience, both individually and collectively and thus the growing of new knowledge from the context of practice
  6. The development of a professional community responsible for the oversight and monitoring of quality in both practice and professional educators

Is Kinesiology a Profession?

Yes, by the above definitions Kinesiology is a profession and I am a professional. Lifemoves was created to promote health, fitness and wellness opportunities for clients with medical conditions, disabilities and injuries. My inspiration was in 2000 when I noticed, during a volunteer practicum with an individual with a spinal cord injury that I noticed that there were very few fitness opportunities for individuals with medical conditions or disabilities. This has changed through the years, especially due to community centre revitalization projects however; there seem to be a very limited number of commercial centres with integrated facilities and programs. I stand by my professional ethics and place adding value to our clients’ lives at the forefront of what we do.

To become a practicing Kinesiologist we have a specialized knowledge and skill set that is obtained during a undergraduate degree as well by continuing our education throughout our career. I am connected with fellow professionals who take pride in what they do and who share their knowledge and opinions through discussions in various forums. I have contributed some of my knowledge by speaking at conferences and contributing to Kinnected, the BCAK’s member newsletter. The BCAK, which turns 20 years old this year, is our professional community that is responsible for oversight and monitoring of both those in practice and those who provide professional education.

What being a Professional Kinesiologist Means to Me

Kinesiology is not a job for me, nor is it a field that I intend to be in for a very short time. I chose a Human Kinetics degree for the specific reasons of helping others become healthier and improve their own physical performance. Lifemoves is my business and my full-time livelihood. Helping people move with greater ease is also my passion.

  1. Contributing to the wellbeing of Lifemoves clients, society and other Kinesiologist
  2. Sticking to my ethics and standards of practice
  3. Continuing to grow, challenge and improve my skills and methods of practice
  4. Ensuring that Lifemoves remains profitable so that we are able to grow and expand our services thus have the opportunity the provide more services to more people
  5. Respecting and valuing the members of our clients medical/health team – Doctors, Physiotherapists, Chiropractors, etc by maintaining open dialogue and communication
  6. Only recommending services and products that clients need while referring out when appropriate.
  7. Transparently communicating with clients and colleagues, which at times means admitting to my mistakes or the need for additional research
  8. Providing current knowledge and passing that on through communications with colleagues, team members and clients
  9. Providing timely communications, effective, innovative and efficient service delivery
  10. Taking care of myself so I can take care of others

References

Bogle, John C. True Measures of Money, Business and Life. John Wiley and Sons¸ 2009

Bogle’s Blog – John C Bogle Media

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