Let me start by saying that Moana is one of my favourite Disney movies. The animation is incredibly detailed. Each main character has great depth in personality and complexity. And the storyline fit everything together like a challenging, but satisfying puzzle.

Perhaps my favourite part of the movie is Moana herself. The movie is acclaimed by children and parents alike for showing this brave, adventurous and outgoing girl following the path she is destined to make – sailing beyond the reef and restoring the heart of Te Fiti, helping demigod Maui and saving her entire village.

Almost everything about it is perfect.

But there is one problem.

When we watch animated movies we understand that we’re in a world where “reality” is stretched…sometimes more than a bit. In the movie Moana, we see the coconut tribe and don’t think to ourselves “Oh, that can’t be real!” because we’re already in the realm of make believe.

That being said, there are other things that are very similar to reality which help us relate to the characters and story. Often, these similarities are how individuals interact with each other: how Moana’s loving grandmother encourages her, how her father tries to keep her from going astray from his plan and how Maui grows by rethinking Moana and her destiny.

The movie’s writers painstakingly detailed ‘reality’ in character interactions, yet I struggle with the villagers’ interactions with Moana. Think about this girl from their point of view – a little pain-in-the-ass soon-to-be-ruler has a mindset that everything that the island has known and loved is wrong, she’s always disobeying authority and only when forced into a situation does she even consider listening…when her elders are watching.

Let’s pretend that the villagers followed the same social cues as in the ‘real world’. Would they really think it’s adorable how her only friend is a stupid chicken? Would they be so subdued when the future ruler of their world wants to follow a make-believe story? When crazy-adventurous-uncontrollable Moana comes back from her three-day disappearing act would they all run happily to the beach and sing songs? Would they be eager for Moana to be their supreme ruler? Likely not.

The way our world sees children who are adventurous, outgoing and spirited is quite different. And it’s pretty frustrating. First, we tell all of our friends and family about how these sorts of children can’t follow rules. We blame their parents, who we feel must be bad parents since they obviously can’t control their child. We blame society – the world around us that encourages this type of behaviour. Often we blame the child: “the one with too much energy”. And then label children as being “hyperactive”, like it’s a disorder.

This is the problem with Moana. We like to think that our community supports adventurous children, that we all love each other and get over our subtle differences to make a better world together. But that’s not reality.

Reality is we want children to be controlled and follow the path we’ve already planned out for them.

It’s time to forget about ‘spirited’ misconceptions. Forget the plan you think is right – it’s wrong. Forget the oceans and walls you’ve created – adventurous children can climb every wall and cross every ocean. Forget your real-life foes you’ll face when you trudge off the beaten path – most people don’t deserve your love.

Grab your child firmly by the hand and let them take you on an adventure to restore your heart and community.

There is no wall.

The only wall is in your mind and heart.

Push through. Even if it’s a baby push.

Every day.

Pushing leads to momentum.

Momentum leads to change.

If you give enough, you will be known as someone who always gives.

If you keep enough, you will be known as normal.

Don’t be normal.

I believe that we are becoming increasingly incapable of understanding opinions that differ from our own, and are unwilling to change our minds. Humanity has become exceptionally good at creating towering walls to hide our fear of “being wrong” that also hinder us from understanding others’ points of view.

The cover-ups continue as we build walls higher and wider, even though we know that eventually the walls will crumble.

I recently had a conversation with someone who thinks that president Obama is Jesus Christ. I was told that Obama is incapable of making mistakes and everything he has done over the past eight years has been correct. When something went wrong, it was the fault of external forces. The person I was talking with was unwilling to say that Obama was imperfect, even with evidence proving otherwise.

Since Obama’s term is already done (he’ll be in vacation mode for the rest of the year), let’s ask a few questions. What happened to improving America? Have we reduced poverty? Has race relations improved? What about America’s foreign policy? How do other countries view Americans today? Is the dream of America’s founders still alive in our time? Is America more united than eight years ago?

The desire to avoid facts and others’ opinions isn’t just a government problem. Wanting to build a wall instead of talking openly and honestly is ingrained in us all:

“The (insert political party) is always right.”
“Syrian refugees are more important than other refugees.”
“It will never be my job to clean up after myself, no matter the rules.”
“The toxic waste we buried beside the waterway is safe.”
“The health care system of the 1900s is still perfect today.”
“Justin Trudeau is handsome and therefore a great prime minister.”
“I own a large house, but there’s nothing more I can do for those suffering in (insert far-off country here).”

It’s exasperating for me to understand these points of view when, after simple inquiries on my part, the walls continue to be built higher and higher.

We need to allow for openness and connectivity in healthy, productive environments, resulting in honest discussions and improvement in our communities.

Opinions should not be immovable walls. Opinions should be like oceans, wild and constantly moving. It’s okay to change our minds just like it’s okay for oceans to have waves. We should be constantly welcoming new information and adjusting our mindset.

My opinions, crafted from everything around me since before I was born, aren’t all correct, but are constantly evolving – like an ocean. I know that some of my opinions are certainly wrong and every day I reinforce some opinions and evolve others. I hope for wisdom and eagerness to determine when I should rethink my opinion and not only understand others’ points of view, but change my thinking to reflect a constantly evolving world.

A short video from eight years ago. Quite the promises…

Society mandates that personal success is the most important thing of life. “Society” says that we need to make the most money, have the most-perfect children, work for the best employer and have the happiest Facebook updates.

When we realize we can’t succeed at meeting the demands of a success-driven society it’s easy for us to alter our innermost beliefs to continue on our path to personal success. As we travel down this winding road, the scenery changes slowly at first, but more noticeable as time goes on. This is especially true when we face dilemmas. When something goes wrong, how do we react? Do our personal rules conform to what society tells us, or perhaps something greater?

Every day, we have choices to make. We can either do what’s best for our own needs or do what’s right. These are two very different paths that we can’t take simultaneously.

Choose wisely; take the correct path. And remember that this path is rarely the path of least resistance – it may be the most difficult challenge you will ever face.

Change can make things worse:

  • Change requires learning;
  • Change involves people telling you that you’re wrong;
  • Change means having less spare time;
  • Change makes you less comfortable;
  • Change is new and has never been done before;
  • Change takes work;
  • Change creates divisions among people;
  • Change alters beliefs;
  • Change takes time;
  • Change means rewriting very important documents;
  • Change has been tried before and has failed;
  • Change results in people leaving;
  • Change is different; and
  • Change can turn a good organization into a dead organization.

Change can make things better:

  • Change can bring more people to your organization;
  • Change can make customers buy twice as much as they used to;
  • Change can focus your business activities on your business’s true purpose;
  • Change can remove negative stigma in your community;
  • Change can bring relevance to your organization;
  • Change can lead to a revolution in your community;
  • Change can give people a better reason to shop at your store besides “it’s local”; and
  • Change can turn a good organization into a great organization.


A business card is an essential tool for anyone representing a business. It has your name, contact information and often a little something extra about what you provide that no one else can. It’s usually the first thing that people think of when it comes to business growth, and it’s usually the first thing produced.

Although a business card is essential, it’s not nearly as important as many other aspects of your business and its marketing plan.

I recently worked on a concept development project for a large regional organization. About 30 minutes into the project briefing, I realized that although my client had a well-thought-out campaign strategy, the lack of focus on the organization’s true growth potential was unnerving. Yes, the marketing campaign was almost sure to hit its objectives, but the organization’s operations plan was non-existent, leadership was failing employees, customers didn’t see any value in their experience, and the year-over-year trend analysis means that in five years, the organization will close shop.

Why do some businesses spend so much time, money and energy to market a product to new customers when the organization itself doesn’t have a strong foundation to stand on?

Start with extinguishing internal fires and building a strong foundation for your business. Have a plan. Have leaders believe in it. Hire passionate people to believe in it. Then tell everyone in the world about why they should believe in it too.

Graphite Marketing can help make a plan that makes sense, and help people believe in your vision. It’s what I do every day. It’s how businesses succeed.

Do you believe in your business? Are you honest with your customers?

It’s time to put the horse before the cart. Let’s have an honest chat. Coffee is on me.

Do you think that positive change happens to you only because you waited for the right set of circumstances to present themselves? I wish it were always that easy.

Change is a concerted effort to make something special by solving problems. It’s about being realistic. It’s about complete honesty. It’s about battling conformity.

I’m not the first one to say that making things better is incredibly difficult. Being realistic, honest and a conformity-battler for just a day is exhausting and often fruitless, which is why we lack so many courageous leaders.

Why doesn’t the Government of Canada do something about missing/murdered Aboriginal women? Leaders lack courage.

How can a dysfunctional educational system take children hostage? Leaders lack courage.

Why doesn’t the charity sack the ineffective executive director? Leaders lack courage.

Why can’t your business meet deadlines? Leaders lack courage.

Our world needs more great leaders to heal our world. Fortunately, everyone has the potential to play a leadership role in making things better – yes, even you. If you can take the pain, you can take the change. Start today!

The only problem is, the solution to a happy life isn’t simple. It’s not free either. And there’s no guarantee it’ll even work.

Oops, did I forget to mention that in my headline?

Don’t you hate being promised one thing and told something else? There are a few phrases to define this tactic: clickbait, bait-and-switch, “Smoke and mirrors”, fraud.

Even worse, this stuff is sure to never go away. Why? Because it works. No one complains. And no one offers better solutions.

Fraud of all shapes and sizes (not just the online kind) is upsetting. And can hurt. I constantly hear stories from my clients about how they’ve been taken advantage of, and their hands are often tied.

So, what are we to do? Keep allowing it to continue? Heck no! Don’t click on baitclick headlines. Don’t support corrupt businesses. Don’t buy into sales that are obviously trying to switch the deal on you. Don’t immediately assume that the eight iPads that are being given away on Facebook are from Apple. Make educated decisions; Think before you act.

So, since I don’t want to be added to the long list of annoyances in your life, I’ll give you my solution to a happy life:

Be committed to always doing what’s right, push yourself to better yourself every day and enjoy the simple things in life. You will likely be happy and it won’t cost you anything. (Unless of course your simple things in life involve buying ice cream, then you’ll have to pay for the ice cream. I will not reimburse you.)

Last week I rediscovered this musical gem by Camper Van Beethoven and I can’t get it out of my head.

The lyrics are mostly nonsensical (and the songwriter admits it), but the part that really sticks with me is “Last night there were skinheads on my lawn. Take the skinheads bowling. Take them bowling.” Every time I hear these three lines, I think of two old guys sitting on a porch, rocking in their chairs, trading their life’s stories. The first guy complains that he saw skinheads on his lawn the previous evening. The second guy replies, in all seriousness, with his best solution.

For a moment it sounds like the right thing to do. Kids these days just need to keep busy and have fun doing things that won’t get them into trouble. Like bowling.

Of course, even though it may sound like a great idea, after little contemplation, you’ll hopefully agree that taking the skinheads bowling won’t be as successful as the old guy is thinking it will be.

How often do we come up with a “great” idea and proceed in making it reality without thinking it through? You can probably think of a few instances in your personal and professional lives that you’ve done something not because it was the best thing to do, but because it sounded good to others.

“Let’s partner with the humane society.” What if it kills more than half of the animals that it’s supposed to help?
“Let’s eat out tonight.” What about the budget and long-term goals?
“Let’s picket wind turbines.” What if you haven’t done any research and they’re used around the world for a reason?
“Let’s solve the problems of our youth in the way we think is best.” What if you know nothing of their issues?

There’s no harm in thinking things through and asking for opinions before deciding on a course of action. Create a plan, make it happen. Who knows, you may just do some good.

I make plans. I make them work. Call me.

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