Saturday, April 24, 2010


The Model
I think it was in the 70’s in my then position as director of marketing for our company, I wanted to create an ad to promote our line of fire fighters clothing. The brand name of the apparel was Chieftan and was manufactured in our plant in Scarborough. It was at that time the standard in firefighters protective wear.
Given the brand name Chieftan, we decided on an ad that would depict 3 fire chiefs, dressed in our fire fighting garments, and one Indian Chief in full tribal regalia. The catch line would be “3 out of 4 Chiefs prefer Chieftan”.
The studio creating the ad was told that the model for the Indian Chief must be a true native.
The ad was created and was as successful as we had hoped it would be.
Of interest was the fact that the model for the Indian Chief told us that he had never before modeled as an Indian.
While I don’t have a copy of the finished ad to show you, I do have a photograph of him, a head and shoulders shot, that was taken during the shooting, and which I kept. You will see that picture below.
You may recognize him because he is no longer an unknown!
He is an Oneida, born in Ohsweken on the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario, and is also the Acadamy award nominated actor for his role as Kicking Bird in the movie “Dances With Wolves.
There is also a more recent photo of him.
In case you still do not recognize him, his name is Graham Greene!
I am quite pleased to have the photograph of him in ceremonial dress!


Thursday, April 22, 2010


I am not quite sure why I am putting this in my blog, except that this has been and continues to be an important subject for me, and perhaps a reader sometime can find some help in these simple rules.
I have observed that stress is relative.
Whether it is someone in a senior management position struggling with huge issues, someone in a minimum wage category worried about paying the rent, or a stay at home parent with problem children, the stress can be equal.
At one time I was in a stress management position that threatened to destroy me, and I knew I had to find a way to deal with it.
There are lots of trite sayings and cliches that sound good but are not really helpful. I originally developed these 6 (and there are others I have not included here) for dealing with job stress, but I find they are also of great value in just coping with what life dishes out.
For anything to work, effort and discipline are required. I chose to call these “Rules” and treat them as “Must Do” in every aspect of my life – without fail.

1. Carry a 3 x 5 file card and pen/pencil with you at all times. When something occurs to you that needs to be done, make a brief note of it. Also make a note of anything you wish to remember later – someone’s anniversary date or birthday, etc. Keep the cards active until you have acted on every single item, and cross each out as you act on it. You will find several interesting things happen. Your list will include items as simple as “cut the grass” or “return the book” mixed in with major life and death issues – and – each will have equal importance in your mind until you have written them down. The simple act of recording them serves to free up your mind, and you will get relief from seeing how few are truly important. An added benefit is that your friends, family, co workers etc will be amazed that you remembered their birthdays or whatever. You will also find great satisfaction in crossing items off the list. Finally, you will see that there are items that will take lots of effort and time, and items that can be handled in less than a minute. When you have that small time window you can knock off a short task. The mind is a wonderful and terrible thing. All these must do’s scramble around in there continually sharing equal space. When you write them down you will find immediate mental relief because your subconscious no longer needs to keep them in the forefront. Just empty your mind onto paper. If you never do anything else, this one action will seem almost like magic – I guarantee it!
2. Never accept a load of stress on ego issues. When you find that something that is really bothering you is because your feelings are hurt – or any of the many things that can eat away at your soul, do not allow them any space in your life. Erase it from your mind totally and irrevocably! As someone once said "remember that what someone else thinks of you is none of your business".
3. Never let anyone take a bite out of your soul. All of us have at times chuckled at a nasty joke – perhaps something bigoted, or we have remained silent when our conscience says we should speak up. Generally this happens because we don’t want to make waves, or that we will look different, or that our opinion on the subject is not the popular opinion of the group.
We become that which we do not protest!
Take your stand! You will feel wonderful, and you will be surprised that others will admire you for it because they felt the same way but lacked the courage to do the right thing. If you do not act when the opportunity presents itself, you have lost a bit of your soul! In summary on this point, if something feels right according to your ethics and conscience, do it. If it feels wrong, never never never give an inch or an iota!
4. How big is this issue in the total span of your life? Do you remember times in your life when there were circumstances that made everything look impossibly bad. Things you were sure you could not endure. The future looked totally bleak. Then, later, you found that you could and did deal with it and it was not so bad after all. Yes of course there are issues that are desperately important, but the key is to identify them properly. Most issues however will be remembered later as only a tiny blip on the radar screen of your total life. Simply put issues into perspective.
5. What to do when you don’t know what to do. This one can be difficult for many people but it will come easier after the first few times. Whatever the issue is, just empty your mind on paper (or virtual paper). Write down everything that comes into your mind on the subject. Do not try to edit your thoughts or deny thoughts that are contradictory or are in some way against your nature. Just let it all out – including frustrations, anger, jealousy, bitterness,etc. Let it flow. No one else is going to read it, so you can afford to be brutally honest with yourself (harder than you might think because we lie to ourselves all the time!). You will find out what you really think about the subject/issue and you may be very surprised at the results. The fact is that you likely know the solution, or the actions required, but your inhibitors prevent you from even considering them. Whether it is financial, family, relationship, business, health or any of the other potential issues, this method is a remarkable tool.
6. Remember that success is good enough! No, that does not mean “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it”! It means simply that if you accomplish any of your stated goals, don’t berate yourself by thinking you could have done more or better. It does not mean you should not reach for the stars – you should. Each small success is a stepping stone to a greater success next time. Be content with yourself and remind yourself of all your successes. You have not failed even though you have more challenges to face, and face and overcome them you can and you will!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I met a man I had not seen in many years. I was surprised by how old and worn he looked and how closely he resembled his father. I imagined his thoughts. Then I realized (with horror) that this might very well be autobiographical!

His Father’s Image
Liar, he screamed!
This man, this creature,
this caricature you show me
Is not, cannot be my father
He was never so old
The lines in his face
never so deeply chiseled
His eyes never so dull
His hair never so snowy and sparse
It is a trick
cheap theatrics
nothing more than
a little spirit gum
and wax
take them off and it will be him again
firm and strong
clear eyed and steady
take it off I say
I am weary of your lies
Show me the truth, liar

silence was the rebuke
The mirror gave

Monday, April 5, 2010


A large truck from a garden center was transporting a load of young trees. There were cedars and birch and poplar, their roots balled and wrapped in burlap. With the roots facing the cab of the truck and the tops angled back, and as the branches moved in the wind, they looked like nothing so much as a group of children, waving to everyone from their school bus.
As I followed for some distance, this thought became more real, and I almost waved back.
Imagination took over, and I fancied that this was indeed an extra ordinary event in the lives of trees. Of all their kind through history, only a few have ever traveled anywhere.
So, it occurred to me that this load of adolescents, on their way to a new home, would have stories to tell of their travels. They would talk among themselves of the great adventure for the rest of their lives.
The end result was a short story for children titled “The Tree Story” (not very imaginative I know), and you can find it by title on the left side of the page under OTHER STUFF.