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As a 12 year-old who had never ventured onto something more exhilarating than bumper cars (I was even afraid of the Ferris wheel), you may ask how, back in 1977, I ever came to be on the Zipper ride that had set up in the mall parking lot in Fredericton. It’s a question I still ask myself, although I think my older bother’s influence had something to do with it. We lost everything we had won at the sleazy midway that day, as well as all the money in our pockets. I also lost all interest in ever again getting on any “two-axes of motion” rides.

Over the years and as my kids have grown, I’ve managed to make it onto Ferris wheels, the Tilt-A-Whirl, and even some motorized swan-boats. 🙂 As an engineer, I could analyze any ride and figure out how it would break and the consequences of the failure. Yup – I was a wimp when it came to rides. Funny thing is, I’ve downhill-skied some treacherous places and used to drive a dirt-bike like a maniac. So maybe the fear was more of the pot-smoking thugs that bolt the rides together with duct tape and bubblegum.

This summer while on vacation, we took the kids to Wonderland (Canada’s largest amusement park). As I analyzed rides the first day, I saw a couple of them that I could see myself riding, including a couple of roller coasters. The coasters were ones that went up and down but there was no spinning or crazy loops. Some were old wooden coasters that were limited in capability, one had these train-like cars suspended from above that felt quite safe. In all, I made it on to 4 roller coasters that day, each one more adventurous than the last!

We returned the next morning. My wife and son had plans to ride “Behemoth“, the highest roller coaster in the park at 230 ft. It reaches speeds up to 127 km/hr in 3.9 seconds, hurtling down a 75 degree cliff at the start. It pulls 4.5 Gs. My daughter and I were the only two sane ones not going on this ride. We did a couple of the other rides and another roller coaster that had heartline rolls (yeah..those are not for me). During this time my wife was taunting my daughter, ultimately making a bet with her that she would eat a Big Mac (wife being a holistic nutritionist, it’s like a vegan agreeing to eat a bacon explosion) if smart-like-dad-daughter would ride Behemoth with them. She wasn’t even trying to convince me, knowing that my logical mind would calculate the risk of dying and conclude that dying was not worth any bet she would make.

And then, out of nowhere, I just said to my daughter “I’ll go if you go”. What? Who said that? What was I thinking? This thing is freaking 230 ft tall. The seats look like those old plastic chairs from the high school cafeteria. And wait a minute – THERE ARE NO FREAKING SIDES ON THE CARS! Oh yeah, and no seat belts, shoulder harnesses – just this little post with a cushioned mushroom top to hold the wanna-be-astronauts in their seats!

The 30 minute wait to get on this thing was giving me too much time to think about it. I watched the people getting off – most seemed to be having fun, but a few didn’t look too happy. No…a better description was that they had seen the devil, and he wasn’t nice! That was going to be me. Why did I agree to this?

My final calculation was this: This thing runs all the time. It hasn’t had an accident yet (so…is it due for one?). What’s the chance that the cars fly off the rails while I am on it? What’s the real chance of me dying while riding this thing?

I concluded, like most things in life, the fear in my head was way worse than reality. I got on. The terror of the 230 ft climb was only numbed by the realization that the other side of the hill was going to be much worse. And then, we were flying – I mean… I don’t recall touching the seat for the rest of the ride.

But I had a blast! And I will go again.

Now where’s that next fear I need to tackle?


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Dealing With Small

Small Animal

Many people are fed up with big business (the “factories”) and are deciding to take their purchasing/eating/dealings to smaller local businesses. There is friction in moving away from large businesses to the small local business that we need to understand and deal with in advance, lest the issues come up later.

1) Convenience: Many times the local business or producer does not have a storefront in your neighbourhood. We may need to travel to get to their place of business or where the service is offered. Chances are they aren’t open 24 hours a day, and likely not even 7 days per week.

2) Selection & Diversity: Many small businesses will specialize in a specific market segment as they are not trying to be all things to all people. As long as we remember that we are not at a supermarket and set our expectations in advance, this is avoidable.

3) Process: “Mom and Pop” shops won’t have a process for many things that big businesses do. Their daughter at the cash might not know how to deal with our traveler’s cheque (check) because she’s never seen one before, and HQ (Mom or Pop) didn’t think to write a process for her. And if we’re trying to do a B2B transaction, and our B is much bigger, trying to force our process on them is going to be painful for them.

4) Price: We should expect that items that don’t come from the large factory are going to cost more. “Artisan”, “hand crafted”, “free-range” are all monikers that should have us realize that our purchases will cost more per item than similar stuff from Costco or Walmart. While it sometimes may seem “expensive”, looking at it in the bigger picture (health + environment + economy) can illuminate that the price is fair.

We’re dealing with these people because we’re looking for something else, something that doesn’t come from the factory. Minimizing this friction is quite simple – we need to educate ourselves about the new way of dealing with small and expect some inconvenience in doing so. In essence, we need more understanding and tolerance within ourselves. Kind of like how we deal with small children and small animals. Which makes it even more worthwhile…

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I was introduced to the concept of “scanners” recently through triiibes. Barbara Sher is the lifestyle coach, speaker,and author who coined the phrase. “Scanners” are people with a wide variety of interests…who find it hard to specialize. Here’s a good description from getmotivation.com :

Intense curiosity about numerous unrelated subjects is one of the most basic characteristics of a Scanner. Scanners are endlessly inquisitive. In fact, Scanners often describe themselves as being hopelessly interested in everything (although, as you’ll find out, this isn’t so). A Scanner doesn’t want to specialize in any of the things she loves, because that means giving up all the rest. Some even think that being an expert would be limiting and boring.

It might be why I find so many things interesting. I’m always afraid that I might be missing out on something else to do. I know when discussing specializing and focusing, I always tend to think that the person who does so misses out on a whole lot of other life events.

Apparently there is a fair bit of detail and strategies for scanners in her book “I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was”. Sounds like one I need to read next as I’d like to figure out how it plays against being in the flow state (Can scanners still reach flow?)

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Seth GodinSeth Godin’s post today is spot-on whether you are making a product or delivering a service. What story do you tell? Is it aligned with what the company is really about? And is that story something that will resonate with the customers you are trying to attract?

On top of that, I really like the product he mentioned because of what it does for the people of Africa. Reminded me of this dripit article I wrote some time back:


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