Whoops! Michael Ondaatje and Me…

Have you ever had any mortifying moments of embarrassment? I’ve had plenty of them. It’s funny how we remember forever such moments and the feelings we have around them. The other day I was reminded of one such time.

I was taking a leisurely stroll exploring my new neighborhood. The air was crisp, clear and sunny-a taste of spring hopefully around the corner. On my way back  home, I stopped in front of TYPE, a small independent bookstore.

michael ondaatje3

I stepped inside. Listening to chatter between the sales woman and customer, I wandered the aisles glancing at the racks, shelves and tables full of new books, celebration cards and knickknacks of various kinds and uses.

And then, I stopped at the table displaying a book of poetry by Michael Ondaatje.

michael ondaatje

I flipped its pages, deeply sensing the book would be dedicated to his late friend and collaborator, Barrie Nichol, otherwise known worldwide as bp Nichol. It was.  (bp was my creative writing prof when I returned to university as an adult in the mid 80’s. )

michael ondaatje2

Memories start spilling out…

Reading those two names reminded me once again of the time when Ondaatje caught me unprepared for class.  But first, the background.

I was enjoying this particular course focus on early Canadian Literature since nothing like it had been available when I studied the subject in high school twenty years earlier. We read groundbreaking early Canadian books including Wild Geese by Martha Ostenso. At the time, I was also taking three other demanding courses: Media studies, Logical Thinking and Writing, and an intensive hands-on art course called Line and Form. Each prof gave us assignments to complete during Xmas break: a take-home exam from Media; a quiz for logic; creation of art pieces for a portfolio; and the reading of a short book called Tay John by Howard O’Hagan.

Did I mention I’m also a wife and a mom to four children, ranging in age at that time from 2 1/2 to 13 years? Needless to say, I had to set priorities. As an avid reader, I figured that I could read the book quickly at any time, so the decision was to leave it til I could take the time.

So, to continue…

We are back from Christmas break. I’ve arrived early to take my regular spot, a seat at the front of the very small classroom, facing the podium. Our prof steps up as usual to begin her lecture, but instead proceeds to introduce the already well-known author Michael Ondaatje, who, she says, is the world-renowned Tay John expert. “Wow!!’ I thought. “Who knew?”

Then I look again at the book’s cover…Tay John2

It reads, “Afterword by Michael Ondaatje.” How nice! Impressive, I think.

Tay John2

Ondaatje nods, walks up to the lectern – which is only about six feet a way from me – leans in, and begins… He says Tay John is a mispronunciation of the french Tête Jaune (Yellow Head), referring to the hair colour of the protagonist who is the result of a rape of a Native woman. She was impregnated. Before giving birth, she died and was buried on a hill. Legend goes that her child arose as a toddler out of the earth – and strode away.

Since I have not yet read the story, I am listening so carefully my mouth drops open with  surprise. Unfortunately, Ondaatje’s attention is caught by the movement. He leans further forward on the lectern. “And if you haven’t read that,” he roars at me (or so it seemed), “you haven’t read far, because this piece of information appears on page TWO!”

I was mortified. Completely. I felt my face burn. All I could think of was that he didn’t know me, nor my name, nor did he read or grade my exams. Those facts saved me.

A few years later, I graduated on the Honours List. And was armed with yet another story to share with you.

Life is like that, isn’t it?

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Michael Jackson Eulogy: “I didn’t Know …”

michael jacksonExtravaganza and spectacle aside, there is no question that anyone listening to the eulogies for Michael Jackson learned a lot more about the man.

I certainly didn’t know he donated hugely to widespread charities and causes; that he laughed – a lot;  that he was a caring and excellent friend and mentor; that he loved his family as much as they say he did; or that his very favorite song was “Smile”. (I also didn’t know that this song was written by Charlie Chaplin.)

EulogyIf you think about eulogies, consider this question: why is it we only get the fuller picture of  any person – whether a celebrity or not – at their funerals?  

As example, immediately after my brother, sons and I gave eulogies for my father in an overflowing funeral chapel in 1999, people came up to say, “I didn’t know…” or “I had no idea…”.  The son of my dad’s close friend admitted that, although he’d known my dad for most of his life, he now realized how much he could have learned from dad’s wisdom and only wished that he’d asked him more questions when he was alive.

MINING YOUR HUMAN RESOURCESTruth is, how much do we really know about our family members, friends, colleagues and acquaintances? Why don’t we know more about each other’s  wonderful qualities and rich resources?

A friend whose son invited her to a hugely successful community event he was instrumental in developing admitted, “I didn’t know he was into this.”

There are strategies to get to know each other better.  As a radio interviewer with a significant Curiosity Factor, I ask questions in advance of each broadcast logo-radio-show7about the guest’s history, background,  philosophy, and experiences. 

By honoring the individual with my full attention – listening without distraction  my guests know I’m interested – and respond accordingly.

I transfer that interest to anyone I know and to people I meet. Not only have I found within them so much useful information, their personal experiences resonate with my soul.  They also offer tons of skills and lessons that I can apply to so many aspects of my life.  And, hopefully, I return the favors.

Lessons Learned

1. Meaningful conversations  include  ideas, philosophies, and psychologies (not only a list of previous and upcoming events and gossip).

2. So much is learned by exploration and digging deep.

 3. Most people have abilities, talents, experiences and knowledge that their personal and professional networks don’t know at all.

 The next consideration is, “How much do we know about ourselves?” That’s a question for another time….

Creatively Yours,

Nellie Jacobs

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Through her Igniting Imagination programs and services, creativity consultant Nellie Jacobs stimulates creative-thinking, providing tools to individuals, organizations and companies to help ‘mine’ hidden or latent human resources for the personal and professional betterment of all.

All Igniting Imagination with Nellie Jacobs talk radio episodes are numbered and archived for your listening pleasure, inspiration and convenience at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Igniting-Imagination.

Seasons 1 and 2 guest photos, profiles, topics and links to their episodes are posted on at www.ignitingimagination.com. Just follow the links.

Twitter:@nelliejacobs                                                                                                                    Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/nelliejacobs

Does the ‘Law of Attraction’ Really Work?

Napoleon Hill-Think and Grow RichAfter years of hearing/reading about it, I finally bought and just finished going through Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich.” 

The points Hill makes are as relevant today as they were in 1937 when the book was first published. Without doubt, the key messages throughout his book are the source of so many current bestselling self-help books/programs such as The Secret, the genesis of the Master Mind movement, and the ideas behind the Law of Attraction.

logo-radio-show7Does the Law of Attraction really work? In Episode 3 of my Internet radio show,  entrepreneur and consultant Karen Fraser discusses “Making Opportunity Knock”.   I decided to take notice of  any opportunity I was attracting. 

Here’s how the stars aligned recently:

Two week-ends ago I discussed a need for an honest-to-goodness marketer to help me implement and promote the vision I have for products and services.  How would I find that person?

Read on …

Typically, I look after my little grandson on Wednesdays. Last Tuesday morning (two days after the discussion about marketing) I was called in because his regular babysitter was ill.  Later that afternoon I picked up a telephone message inviting me to be a participant in a full day marketing workshop the very next day.  I was able to take advantage of the opportunity because I didn’t have to babysit that day.

The workshop, hosted by Conext Inc., was excellent. Not only did I learn a lot about marketing from the workshop facilitator, I also learned a good deal of information from the other participants. 

Whitby Chamber of Commerce Logo Sept 07For example,   Teresa Shaver, Membership Development Manager of the Whitby Chamber of Commerce and Dave Stell, Communications Specialist with the Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade  both explained that Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade are basically the same entity, depending on how they originated, and that they each offer a multitude of benefits to business members who sign up (including networking events and group insurance rates).

Ajax Pickering Board Of Trade new logo - small

Follow-up: I’m meeting with Eric Gilboord, the marketer who impressed me that day. 

Lesson Learned:

1. Be clear about what you want and state it in some form or other.

2. Opportunities will come knocking – and offer many possibilities; if you keep your eyes open and your wits about you, you will identify them.

3. An opportunity becomes a reality if you follow up.

What is your experience with this concept?

Creatively Yours,

Nellie Jacobs

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Through her Igniting Imagination programs and services, creativity consultant Nellie Jacobs stimulates creative-thinking, providing tools to individuals, organizations and companies to help ‘mine’ hidden or latent human resources for the personal and professional betterment of all.

All Igniting Imagination with Nellie Jacobs talk radio episodes are numbered and archived for your listening pleasure, inspiration and convenience at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Igniting-Imagination.

Seasons 1 and 2 guest photos, profiles, topics and links to their episodes are posted on at www.ignitingimagination.com. Just follow the links.

Twitter:@nelliejacobs                                                                                                                    Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/nelliejacobs

Celebrating 2 Successful Seasons!!

To celebrate the completion of Seasons 1 and 2 of my Internet radio interview series, on June 9th, 2009 I was pleased to host a dinner for 14 show guests who lived in the general vicinity.
Igniting Imagination Guest Celebration Dinner June 9, '09

Igniting Imagination Guest Celebration Dinner June 9, '09

In this group photo, from left to right are:  Marci Segal, Kevin Loberg, Wendy Woods, Marty Lager, Sandy Naiman, Moira Sutton, Claire Sookman, me, Cliff Sutton , Sandy Offenheim, Thelma Barer-Stein, Marlene Walker, Joel Walker, Michele Mele and, in front, Marla Lukofsky. (Click on any photo to see an enlargement.)

On arrival, each guest was handed a place card with their name to reserve their spot at the dining table, a name tag, a pencil, and a sheet of paper with an icebreaker exercise.

Ice-breakers, name tags, etc. ready and waiting....

Ice-breakers, name tags, etc. ready and waiting....

Lesson Learned #1: We can have conversations with anyone if only we know what to ask.

The purpose of the icebreaker was to (1) give people an opportunity to meet and talk with everyone, (2) demonstrate how each of us has so many points of reference,  (3) open the door for interaction and exchange of information, and (4) indicate the various ways we are connected.

Lesson Learned #2: If you show a genuine interest, people like to talk about themselves and share their histories.

Whether guests were introverted or outgoing all bravely took part, fully buying into the concept. The hour before dinner was filled with laughter and conversation as all were busy talking, sharing, introducing each other and helping fill in the forms. It turned out that many people had much in common, several knew each other previously and some made connections for the future. By the time we sat for dinner, there was such a spirit, laughter and camaraderie that permeated the rest of the evening.

Mary Minaudo sent her regrets and this beautiful bouquet of roses-my favourite flower!

Mary Minaudo sent her regrets and this beautiful bouquet of roses-my favourite flower!

Try the challenge. Download the icebreaker: Radio Guest Celebration Dinner-Matching Game. Match the columns. I made the mistake of asking about allergies and food dislikes and received back a considerable list – which became part of the game.

Lesson Learned # 3: We’re aware of only a fraction of what there is to know about the people in our lives.

How well do you know your family members, colleagues or friends?  Interview them and create your own game. If you do it in the style shown here, you can have as many columns and categories as your wish. For example, in one column, list their names. In another, list degrees, qualifications, volunteer or work positions each person has held. In a third, list a current job title or theme and, in the fourth, such items as passions, positive characteristics, favorite pastimes, colours, foods, movies, TV programs or books.

Getting to know each other more deeply not only adds to the enjoyment of relationships, but is also a process that can  teach us a lot about ourselves.

Creatively Yours,

Nellie

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Through her Igniting Imagination programs and services, creativity consultant Nellie Jacobs stimulates creative-thinking, providing tools to individuals, organizations and companies to help ‘mine’ hidden or latent human resources for the personal and professional betterment of all.

All Igniting Imagination with Nellie Jacobs talk radio episodes are numbered and archived for your listening pleasure, inspiration and convenience at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Igniting-Imagination.

Seasons 1 and 2 guest photos, profiles, topics and links to their episodes are posted on at www.ignitingimagination.com. Just follow the links.

Twitter:@nelliejacobs                                                                                                                    Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/nelliejacobs