Early Rider bike for my boy

EarlyRider

Early Rider bikes are the coolest kid starter bikes out there. These mini kids bikes are designed and manufactured in the UK out of birch wood giving them a very natural look and feel. I see these kick bikes rolling around all over Squamish with kids grinning ear to ear.

Good thing my boy’s too young to read this blog. If he could, he’d know what he was getting for his 2nd birthday.

The ads that Early Rider has produced for their bikes are great. They’ll easily bring a tear to your eye if you have little kids. Check them out below.

Husky Ad

Hair He Comes Ad

What is Product Management?

A few years ago I took Pragmatic Marketing’s Product Management course. I took this while working on the Product Development team at Central1. It was a great course that taught the The Pragmatic Marketing Framework (see image below). It provided a standard language for the entire product team and a blueprint of the key activities needed to bring profitable, problem-oriented products to market. This framework was used as a guide to build all kinds of banking, payments and insurance products to market for Credit Unions in Canada.

Each of these boxes below is an activity with objectives and tools to help you meet those objectives. You can use them all or only a few depending on your needs. The tools and templates you get on this course are worth the price alone.

prag framework

I would recommend the course to anyone interested in learning about some great tools and techniques for helping you focus, build, launch and market your products.

For a quick simple overview of what product management is, the team at Brainmates has put together a simple slide deck and i’ve embeded it below for you.

Bye Bye MS Word, Hello Linkedin Resume Writer

If you’re like me, you probably have a half a dozen versions of your resume sitting in a MS Word doc somewhere on a file server, on your computer or in Dropbox. When someone asks you to send them your resume, you either look through these folders to find the most recent version or you search your Gmail account for the last company you sent it to. Either way, for me, every time I finish a job or contract, I’m updating my MS Word based resume. It doesn’t take a lot of time but it is tedious for me because my most up-to-date resume is now my linkedin profile.

resumeLinkedin has had for a while a PDF download(image on right) of your profile but it was pretty generic and if you wanted to customize it, you had to have Acrobat or convert it to Word. It was okay but Linkedin Labs has a whole new solution.

If you have an up-to-date Linkedin profile, Linkedin Labs has built a resume builder that pulls all of your profile data into a web app that allows you to format your resume using pre-built templates and easy to use drag and drop sections.

In short, you can produce a beautiful resume in just a couple of mouse clicks and export it to PDF to share.

Here’s a resume I just created in about 15 seconds.

Try it out for yourself at http://resume.linkedinlabs.com

Establishing a Startup Ecosystem in Squamish

Business Startups are the economic engines that drive innovation and progress in today’s hyper-connected global economy and it’s Startup Communities that are at the center of this revolution.

Startup communities are entrepreneur ecosystems. They’re being created around the world in small and large cities like Boulder Colorado, Vancouver, Iceland and Russia to name just a few. These communities are driving innovation, creating jobs and invigorating small business energy. Simply stated; start-up communities attract and breed entrepreneurs who go on to build companies like AirBnB, Dropbox, Sendgrid and many, many more.

Squamish is a small town with big ideas currently going through a transformation. It was once a forestry town that’s now transforming into an outdoor recreation tourism destination. It’s challenged in finding ways to create local jobs and to evolve into a sustainable, self sufficient community. The population is growing quickly but the local job market is not keeping pace.

English: Squamish main street taken by Jess La...
Squamish, BC

Squamish is my community, I love this place and I want to see it succeed and prosper. It’s beautiful and has the ability to provide what I consider the best work-life balance opportunity in Canada.  That may sound biased but for me and many others, it’s the truth. There’s an abundance of great activities at our doorstep and this is what mainly brought me to Squamish in the first place. However, the challenge to completing the work-life balance equation is local jobs. Like me, there are many people that commute to Vancouver or Whistler for work and therein lies the challenge.

How do we create jobs and transform Squamish into a great place to live, work and play?

The solution to me is simple in theory. Jobs come from businesses and businesses come from entrepreneurs so it seems logical to me to find, attract, nurture and support entrepreneurs. One proven way to do this is by establishing and growing an inclusive startup ecosystem.

Startup communities are not something new. Author, entrepreneur & investor, Brad Feld is the co-founder of TechStars; a mentor-driven business accelerator in Boulder Colorado that has succeeded at building one of the most successful models for startup communities. Boulder has an incredible Startup Community. Brad’s authored several books including Startup Communities, Do More faster, and Venture Deals.  All great books I have read and that have inspired me and given me great knowledge and guidance on this subject.

“The effect on the local startup community in Boulder has been even more amazing than we anticipated. Boulder has developed a culture of sustained mentorship, where new founders place great value on seeking out mentors, and experienced entrepreneurs generously offer their time and expertise. This mindset makes the community better as a whole and it helps everyone in the community be more successful.”

To get a better understanding of exactly what I’m talking about, this great video gives a quick explanation of what a startup community is and what it needs to be successful. These lessons can be applied in Squamish or anywhere, to establish a local vibrant startup ecosystem.

The Key Points of making this a reality in any community

  • It takes long term commitment. (20 years) Creating a entrepreneurial ecosystem is a marathon not a sprint.
  • The entire entrepreneurial stack needs to be engaged.
  • Startup communities need leaders & feeders
    • Leaders must be entrepreneurs
    • Feeders are government, lawyers, accountants, angel investors, venture capitalists & educational institutions & marketers
  • Continually attracting and recruiting fresh people into the system

“In order for Techstars to be effective, there have to be the best mentors in the community who are ready and willing to participate and who understand the “give first” culture that is so important to successful startup communities. When you have a whole community behind you, rooting for you to win, and making connections for you—it’s a huge, unfair advantage.”

What’s being done for startups with Techstars in the past 7 years is fascinating and exciting in that the mentorship-driven accelerator model is and has been duplicated in over 1000 local communities around the world with great success.  Techstars has helped fund over 100 companies a year, and they have more than $70 million under management.

If Squamish wants to create a sustainable economy well into the future, it needs to look at new solutions for creating jobs and I feel that creating an active, vibrant startup community is a long term solution to our present day challenge.

Learn how to start a company, break into a new industry, write a novel, make beer & more.

Image representing Udemy as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Udemy helps students make moves. Whether you want to get promoted, break into a new industry, start a company, further a passion, or just accelerate your life, Udemy helps you learn from some of the most amazing instructors in the world, so that you can get there and get there faster.

Here are just some of the great courses they offer for aspiring entrepreneurs.

There’s more than just business topics on here too. There’s cake decorating, Beer making, how to juggle, how to write novel and even how to hit a baseball.

This site is full of great lessons for everyone.

Check it out and discover more courses here.

New trail running shoes

I finally bought new running shoes and had a chance to take them on a good trail run this past weekend in Squamish. I’ve needed new ones for a while now as my current New Balance runners have to put it bluntly; died.

I bought the New Balance MT10 minums shoes and I couldn’t be happier with them. These shoes are minimalist barefoot shoes which are a little different from what most people would consider running shoes. If you’ve never heard of minimalist barefoot shoes, they’re a bit of a paradigm shift from the typical raised padded heel shoes.

I was introduced to barefoot running a few months ago by a colleague that started running in barefoot running shoes and he loved them. The whole concept intrigued me as I love being barefoot. In the summer, I try to be without shoes as much as I can because it just makes me feel more connected to the earth. I even remember a trip I was on in Central America where I hiked all kinds of jungle trails without shoes on as it just gave me a better sense of control and traction on slippery, wet, muddy trails. It just feels natural to me. I started to do my research and learn all about barefoot running.

For the past half century, we’ve been led by a common misconception that cushioned, padded sneakers are better for us. Science now tells us that this thinking is wrong and that we need to re learn the skill of running and use our feet the way they are designed to work. There is a lot of great information out there if you are a runner that is interested in learning more. Just Google barefoot running!

I almost bought the Vivobarefoot Breatho Trail shoes for $90. I had ordered them back in May but they never came. I finally got a call from them telling me that they were out of stock and that I would have to wait till July so I bailed on the Vivo’s and bought a pair of New Balance MT10 minums shoes from the store on Robson in Vancouver.

I read this reviewthis one and this one and then saw the video below of pro mountain trail runner Anton Krupicka. I figure if this guy does what he does in these shoes, they are more than enough for me. All the reviews were very positive with most people saying that the shoes feel like slippers and that they are a great shoe for transitioning from padded shoes to barefoot shoes.

New-Balance-Minimus-MT10As the literature states; The New Balance MT10’s are a trail running shoe built for the most aggressive trails but designed with lightweight breath-ability.

Its fitted, odor-resistant upper lets you go sock less on top while the rugged Vibram® outsole provides the protection needed for running on trails. The shoe is also very light at only 175 Grams (6.2 oz).New-Balance-Minimus-MT10-2

Here is a quick snapshot of the features.

  • 4mm drop
  • Anti-Microbial treatment
  • Barefoot friendly internal construction
  • Flexible overlays in optimal areas
  • Lightweight and extra-durable, the Cushion-Pushin’ EVA (Ethyl Vinyl Acetate) midsole rewards and supports your feet with the ultimate cushioning system, keeping feet cozy while offering unmatched resilience.
  • Lightweight mesh upper

I’ve gone for two trail runs since I got them and i’m loving these shoes.

Both runs are on my home trails in Squamish where I generally run on logging roads and dual use mountain biking trails.  You can check out my latest run on Strava.

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Squamish Days & Logger Sports

This past weekend in our town was the 56th annual Squamish Days and Loggers Sports Festival.

Squamish Days is a weekend long festival that includes music & art events, children’s activities, a parade, wacky bed races, a 10K run, pancake breakfast and two world class Loggers Sports Shows. The logger shows are very cool with competitors from all around the world competing in all kinds of unique logging events like chainsaw chair carving, Axe throwing and tree climbing just to name a few.

It’s a great family event and all this logging and forestry stuff it reminds me of this little vignette from the 70’s called the The Log Driver’s Waltz. If you’re in your 30’s and 40’s and grew up in Canada, this one should be familiar to you.