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Be The Best.

The Devil Wears Chipmunk

You may have seen the movie or read the book (sorry, neither for me – or at least I won’t admit it), The Devil Wears Prada. From Wikipedia:

The Devil Wears Prada is a 2003 novel by Lauren Weisberger about a young woman who is hired as a personal assistant to a powerful fashion magazine editor, a job that becomes nightmarish as she struggles to keep up with her boss’s grueling schedule and demeaning demands.

Ok – so Prada is a high end Italian clothing brand worn by the ‘devil boss’ – basically akin to a wolf in sheep’s clothing. So in essence, regardless of what things look like on the surface, the true nature of the person or situation or chipmunk lies beneath. This little guy looks very cute. However, as he’s ripped up the yard, dug holes through the flowerbeds and eaten the bird food on a continual basis despite mutliple attempts at behaviour adjustment, this Devil wears Chipmunk. Cute but a bad dude.

You built these planters for me to dig right?
Who me? Bad? What?

The point is, things aren’t always what they seem. Yah, I know even right now, you’re empathizing with this creature but if you saw his/her (who knows?) evil ways you would come to my defense very quickly.

We live in a world where opinions and judgments are being made so quickly I get nervous we’re not really getting to know people. I know when folks didn’t understand who Chris was and his ‘body of work’, they could easily make judgments. In most situations if we truly find out more about a situation we will find common ground or understanding. In the odd case, we’ll also see the devil in a chipmunk – but that’s much more rare than usual. (Editor’s note: Yes, I’ve named it Lucy Fur)

See, this is what happens when I have to many observational/thinking moments drinking coffee (or whatever) in the backyard. 😉

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Be The Best.

Nomenclature Culture

If you’ve read a blog post or two of mine you might pick up that I like words. I like word play and also the history of words. Scrabble was a family favourite and my Mom (Chris’ Grandma) loved to play although she was ‘creative’ with some words she would put down on the board. ‘I’m sure this is a word’, she would say with a devious twinkle in her eye. In the days before Google, that was an easier path! We had many laughs about those games and Chris, Max and other grandkids were learning all the while.

Nomenclature is a body of names in a particular field and really a systematic approach for definition and creation of terms. The fields of medicine and geography are some leading examples. In essence it allows a broad group of people to speak the same language even if they don’t speak the same language. This kind of systematic coding allows for quicker digestion and understanding which builds on communication.

I believe there is a lot of cross over from scientific thinking like this into the business/management world as well as personal and family development. For example, if an airline starts to refer to ‘passengers’ as ‘customers’, this can evoke an entirely different view of who and what that entity is. You can see in this simple example it FORCES the viewpoint of humanity into what previous nomenclature would have categorized as a more functional asset without evoking the same emotion.

The nomenclature of a family or business is the approach to the creation and use of language that builds culture over time.

Words have never been more powerful. Why? Words force you to associate meaning with that word and from that meaning comes emotion and from that emotion comes action. In these times of worldwide stress we may feel less than able to invoke change. That’s not true. With every ‘thank you’, quick reach out or touch base with a friend, support to a community group or other form of specifically chosen word and deed we are imposing a more positive nomenclature into the fabric of our network. That in turn creates a ripple effect.

I’ve been both on the receiving and giving end and it is powerful. When Chris passed there was an avalanche of support (words and actions) for our family. Words are powerful. The use of a specific body of words that are positive and thankful and sincere in intent, ignites understanding, emotion and action – and is the true power of communication – regardless of language.

Ok – way too deep. Probably too much coffee on a rainy Sunday morning. I’m going back to watching some NHL playoff hockey in August where key nomenclature includes PIM, Penalty Box (Sin Bin) and GAA. Have a great week.

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Be The Best.

Biking Birmingham (video)

A day does not go by without thinking of Chris that is for sure. Over ten years later – that does not change. For anyone going through loss – yes it stays with you but YES you can be happy again too. It is one of many paradoxes that are very real.

One thing you learn early on is that you gotta get up, make coffee and get rolling…some days more literally than others.

Birmingham, Michigan is a beautiful mini city and we took advantage today of the amazing weather. Hope you are enjoying your summer too – and for those in the Southern Hemisphere – your Winter days!

Of course Ingrid, always thinking, took some water in her Be The Best water bottle. If you want one of your own, you can choose from a variety of colours/colors with all proceeds going towards Chris’ fund. We have a bunch of stuff there paid for by the family so you can enjoy, remember Chris and have the money go directly to Chris’ fund with tremendous help and support of the crew at Martket Branding .

Have a great week.

Be The Best store link.

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Let’s face it.

Part of this ’10 years later’ thing is that I read a few posts from the past. One I was thinking about this week came to mind as I was watching a little Premier League action last weekend. With no crowds and manufactured crowd noise it was an interesting watch but great to see live sports in any event. The way you face – is an expression I learned from Davie B (you know who you are) on the soccer pitch. The main point is that you may be turned around and facing away from your goal. That’s ok. That’s the direction you should play at the moment. Going backwards is a powerful method to move forward. Kinda sounds like pandemic recovery to me. Many times since 2010, we’ve had to play the way we faced. We needed to make a defensive move so we didn’t lose control. Ten years later, I see the wisdom from those words more than ever. Here’s the original post from 2011.

Football (Soccer ball)
Image via Wikipedia

One of the things I love about Saturday mornings is watching a little Premier League Soccer as the schedule permits.  With games as early as 5 and 7am, the timing works well with the newspaper and a good cup of coffee.

I love the skill, the speed, the set-up and I love those British announcers use of the English language.  Their phrasing and commentary adds a poetic quality to the experience.

We’ve played a lot of noon hour soccer with my work gang over the years.

It’s not quite at Premier League level…but you wouldn’t know it from the locker room stories told just after the match.

When you play sports and you are in the heat of the moment field-of-play one thing you’ll hear is players shouting to other players.  Usually instructions come in bursts of 2 or 3 repeats.  Move the ball, move the ball, MOVE THE BALL…all increasing in urgency.

Ok, that last one is what gets yelled at me a lot, so maybe I’m just sensitive.  Joking aside, I’ve wondered about this form of communication and liken it to military instruction in the heat of the battle.  You want to be clear about your communication and there’s no time to waste with niceties.

One of the most interesting lines I’ve heard a million times on the soccer pitch is, ‘the way you face’.

When you are playing soccer the objective is pretty clear.  You need to score on the opponent’s goal.  In order to do this you should be moving the ball forward toward the enemy’s net.

However, many times you don’t receive the ball in a position where going forward makes the most sense.

In other words, if you receive the ball and you happen to be turned towards your own goal, your natural instinct may be to make an immediate turn and try to push the ball forward.

That could be the worst move.

When you hear, ‘the way you face’, ‘the way you face’, ‘the way you face’, it’s a reminder from your teammate to gain control of the ball and move the ball in the direction you are facing at the time which may appear counterproductive but ultimately allows your team to go forward.

I’ve thought about that phrase a lot in the game of life.

Sometimes turning too quickly and trying to push forward to the opponent’s goal is not the right move.

Playing the way you face, ie passing the ball ‘backwards’ before your team moves the play forward again protects possession and ultimately provides a greater opportunity to score.

Too heavy on the soccer analogies?

I think I may get another Americano and watch game 2 of the Premier League.

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Be The Best.

Father’s Day 2020

First a Happy Father’s Day to my Dad, who many know as Rev. Jake.

A sprightly 89 years young, this guy plays tennis, ping-pong, rides his bike, drives, plays the guitar and reads like a librarian on pandemic lockdown. He could have a conversation with you about world politics, current events or history. Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Chris also loved his Grandpa. He LOVED the beard Rev Jake grew for a Christmas event. He LOVED the trucker hats. So Chris got one too. This vid below is a walk I took with Dad just a few months after Chris passed. I’m wearing Chris’ shoes and Dad is wearing Chris’ hat. This is what guys do and how they show respect.

Rev Jake poses with Chris’ hat.
From Sept 2010

To see more on trucker hats – have a read here.

A Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads. Of course, this is a poignant day on the calendar as it’s easy to think of what could have been and what things would have been like with Chris still with us. I still feel that in 2020 of course. That said, we look back at the memories, share the stories and laugh more than cry as we continue to aim for living BeTheBest values. Which reminds me, I have some push-ups to do. Have a good week.

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Be The Best.

What I believe

I was sent a link to a letter written by the President of Harvard University. (Thanks Grant!)

Lawrence (Larry) S. Bacow wrote a poignant piece identifying what he believes. This was written May 30, 2020 in light of the recent protests and violence in the US following the death of George Floyd. For me currently living near Detroit, his words (he references Detroit from the 60’s) are profound as we are living through history repeating itself in 2020. If you have 5 min, read through his entire letter. Here are some key statements:

I believe in the goodness of the people of this country—and in their resilience.

I believe that America should be a beacon of light to the rest of the world.

I believe that our strength as a nation is due in no small measure to our tradition of welcoming those who come to our shores in search of freedom and opportunity, individuals who repay us multiple times over through their hard work, creativity, and devotion to their new home. 

I believe in the American Dream.

https://www.harvard.edu/president/news/2020/what-i-believe

It is the final paragraph, however, that is extremely important for all of us; Canadian, American or any other citizen of the world. It is a call to action.

What we believe is important. Acting on our beliefs is critical. ESPECIALLY when we must believe that there are many more people in this world who believe in equality, respect and fair treatment for all – regardless of race, gender or political leanings.

As I continue to remember Chris in a more direct and public way throughout this year, I am thinking continually of what Be The Best really means. If I believe that, what are the actions that bring that belief to life? One simple one is to follow through on acts of kindness – not just think about them. Could be a spending time as a mentor, writing a note of support, or simply saying thank-you. Ok – and doing push-ups. That was a big part of the Be The Best thinking that Chris worked on. Those are the simple things that can bring beliefs to life. I’ll leave the closing to President Bacow. He’s stated it perfectly below.

I hope you will pause during these troubled times to ask what you believe. Even more importantly, I hope you will find the strength and determination to act on your beliefs—to repair and perfect this imperfect world.

This tribute video for Chris was put together for the Langley Thunder Lacrosse team and played in Chris’ honor. At about 1 minute 29 seconds you see a few seconds of an interview I did with Chris in prepping for college recruitment activity. If you want to see what he believed, have a view. Have a good week.

Originally put together April 2010.
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Be The Best.

Rough Patch – yes it happens.

Ten years ago I wrote a blog with ‘rough patch’ in the title. It was a rough day. Everything was pretty raw. It was also a day that provided a reminder of the thinking that has propelled us through the rough patches of life – business or personal. The power of decisions. Making decisions creates energy and gets things moving. If the direction isn’t exactly right, make another decision. Keep going. Whether it’s COVID, a business issue or a life moment – make a decision and keep going.

Original patch and sticker design – yup, still carry in my luggage!

The amazing thing about that day, looking back, is that it was the birth of the ‘Be The Best’ patch which I still have in suitcases and tucked in various spots. A massive thank-you to all those involved, with my nephew Steve L playing a big role. It’s a symbol of how we decide to live. Be The Best.

The blog is alive all year in 2020 as a remembrance of Chris and a chance to reconnect and share memories. I’m happy to connect with anyone who has a story or picture that hasn’t been seen in a while. Email me at randy@randinsystems.com or connect via the blog or LinkedIn.

Also – while supplies last, you can pick up an outdoor speaker, travel mug and of course Be The Best stickers and other stuff at Chris’ store. Our family has funded the store in cooperation with Brent Hoskins and Martket Branding. What that means is that every dollar, aside from a handling/shipping fee is donated direct to Chris’ fund at SFU. If you want to donate direct to SFU you can get a tax receipt. Only do that if you are looking to make a charitable donation in 2020 and have some room. As I said in the first 2020 post, this is not a fund raiser as much as it’s a celebration of Chris’ life and the legacy he has left. Plus, I needed some new Be The Best gear and wanted you to get some too!

These are very cool in black and white.
Nice gear. All paid for meaning when you buy the money goes to Chris’ fund. 😉
The Bluetooth speaker is on the left and the power charger on the right. We were pumping tunes outside this weekend. Wait, that just makes me sound old.

Here’s the ‘Rough Patch’ post from April 10, 2010.

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Be The Best.

Plans don’t work.

For those of you who know me you may be immediately question my mental state. What? This guy is all about planning. Has he had a mid life crisis and reversed his position? Ok, I did look at a massive gold chain and convertible mustang full of Detroit muscle, but I didn’t do either. 😉

And spoiler alert – I haven’t changed my position about planning – but I’m growing more interested in paradoxes and this is a great one.

The more you plan, the more pigs you may see flying. Just sayin. It’s that powerful.

A business colleague passed on a fantastic article about Dwight Eisenhower. A statement he used to use a lot was:

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”

How many times have you set a plan and then things change? If I’m honest, a lot or maybe always! However, having the plan in the first place has already forced us to think about WHY we are doing something. The HOW can change, the WHY should remain the same.

If you want more on the WHY – Simon Sinek is a great author and resource on that topic.

So – do plans change? YES

Should we stop planning? NO

Planning is an action word. It produces momentum. You can adjust along the way. We know about that as a family. We ALL know about that through this COVID19 crisis.

Stay safe and keep planning – even though things may not work out exactly as you imagined.

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Oh Mama.

I confess. I still watch Family Guy from time to time. Totally inappropriate and outrageous, it was a show that us three boys (Chris, Max and me) would utilize to work on our father/sons bonding while containing our misguided laughter. I hope that passes as enough of an excuse…

There was a scene that became hilarious in our home because it became real life. Remember that bit where Stewie couldn’t get his Mom, Lois’ attention? Here’s the quick clip to remind you. Ok, Ingrid (Max and Chris’ Mom and my long suffering wife!) had developed a unique skill living in a house with just guys. She could tune us out. I mean TOTALLY tune us out. She would be quietly reading a book while the three of us would be watching hockey, munching snacks, exuding bodily noises, laughing and even talking to her – she totally blocked it out. Big skill for sure.

So…Chris started doing the routine. Mom, Mum, ingrid, mommy, mamma, louder and louder – then INGRID! That usually got her attention. That ‘bit’ became comedy gold in the Friesen household multiple times per month. Author’s note: I never encouraged or endorsed this behavior. (mostly)

Just watching the clip again makes me smile as I think of Chris’ routine. The love that Chris and Max and Ingrid have is one that only exists with Moms and sons. Totally special and unique. To Ingrid and all the Moms out there – a very Happy Mother’s Day. May your memories bring you smiles and warmth as only a deep love can create.

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Be The Best.

Snow way

I told you I was going to throw every pun I could into the 2020 version of the blog and combine with as many Dad jokes as possible.

April 17, 2020. Yup.

Snow in April? Snow way! Yup, it’s true. For those of you on the West Coast – yah, you are laughing as you read this, physical distancing your way around Vancouver’s Seawall. I get it. I used to snicker at the weather in the east as well. I’m paying a heavy price now for all those years of jokes. 😉

In all reality, snow is not that uncommon in April – it just doesn’t feel right. That said, it comes and goes and we know that warmer spring and summer weather will follow. In recent weeks, I’ve had a chance to reflect and discuss Jim Collin’s leadership concept of facing the brutal facts, using Winston Churchill as an epic example. If you have 3 minutes, read this excerpt. If we are overly optimistic and have our hearts set on a date or outcome we have a much higher probability of being highly disappointed or worse. From a leadership perspective this can be a bigger concern. Leadership by personality will generally not be as lasting as leadership by facing the facts with the team. If we force ourselves to face the BRUTAL FACTS, we are more likely to be able to address those issues and then find a way to win today and then again tomorrow. It is a strange combination (duality) of having a longer term positive outcome (ie, we’ll get out of COVID, we’ll be happy again after loss) with the immediacy of dealing with the facts of today, ie, my income is dropping by x and I need to do three things per day to push forward and see how I can address that…or, I will not see my son again in this lifetime – how am I going to live the rest of my life? I know that’s blunt, but that is the kind of thing we must do, in my opinion. (Remember, I ain’t a doctor and I don’t even play one on TV).

So, weather (see what I did there?) you are facing sun, cloud, rain or snow today, I trust you can face any brutal facts in your situation and then prepare an action plan for dealing with those things.