Wow! Half Way Through Fizz Mind 2018

Wow! We’re halfway through Fizz Mind 2018. That’s 3 Fridays of meditation class, and 3 to go.

It’s a big group, around 60+ people. We’ve got the UBC Fizz – Year 2 Cohort, 3 Professors, and 5 volunteers.

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Best Moment So Far

I loved the eyes, and body-language on day 1. At the beginning of the session the group was all loose, and cool, with learning about mindfulness. Then I got up, told them that this class was about experiencing mindfulness, and that our first meditation would be starting now. There was — mild shock <smile> ❤

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What Are We Really Doing?

The sessions have 3 sections – Sit, Circle, and Explore.

In the Sit section we meditate. On day 1 we learn about: the Structure of a meditation, Aspiration, Posture, Technique, and Review. Then we do a couple 1 minute meditations and a big 3 minute meditation. I love how long that first 3 minute meditation feels. It’s a big deal! On day 2 and 3 we increase the time to 12 minutes. It’s a guided meditation and a few minutes of silence. No one complains that it’s too long.

In the Circle section we do a technical review of the meditation. In particular we’re interested in three things: our ability to focus on the breath, our ability to be mindful of our process (that is noticing when we lose focus on the breath and bringing our focus back to the breath), and how we feel in our body. Each student gets 30 seconds to a minute and we go clockwise in the circle once or twice. In this way we support each other in collecting and sharing “meditation data”. It allows us to improve our technique, set expectations for experience, and feel comfort in our similar responses. Note, that we have experienced meditators who have volunteered to lead the sit and circle sections. We are 4 groups of ~15 people each. Thank You John, Noreen, Ross, and Katie.

In the Explore section we do career planning exercises. For Day 1 and Day 2 the Sit and Circle dominated the hour. In day 3 we did a quick mind mapping exercise called the Work Life Manifesto and had a group chat.

In the next three sessions the meditation will shift to the practice of “Open Awareness”, add a few more review points, and we will do a couple 5 Year Planning exercises from “Desiging Your Life” and “Iain’s own design/hack”.

Creating the Container — The weirdest, and/or most uncomfortable, thing we do is reading a statement at the beginning of each class wishing all people to be “Well and Happy”. I do this because I want to set the tone for everyone that this work is a big deal and that we are trying to be in a perfect world for this hour. We want to create space so that we can relax and regroup. To support that we need to say something strongly memorable, and something that we can’t argue with.  So … we practice doing a very memorable thing — that is wishing everyone to be well and happy — for 6 weeks. It feels great to do this.

The Reading Stack

The core practices in the workshop are supported by the following books: “Mindfulness in Plain English” (Sit), “The Way of Council” (Circle), and “Designing Your Life” (Explore). More detail can be found in “The Breath of Awakening” (advanced meditation technique), and “Joyful Wisdom” (Open Awareness).

Inspiration for maintaining a regular meditation practice can be found in the following books “The Art of Communicating”, “Self Reg”, “Joy on Demand”, and “Search Inside Yourself”.


The Quest University connection.  It’s very cool that two of our volunteers, Ross and Katie, participated in the February workshop in Squamish.

I wrote in detail about the Q Mind and Fizz Mind project here

One More Thing

A big Thank You to Andre Marziali for supporting this class/experiment.

A big Thank You to Bonni Ross for her support and guidance in developing the content of this class.


Wow! We Found A Hummingbird Nest

Bodi and I found new friends in Hay Park this year.

Over the course of a few weeks, I photographed a hummingbird and then it’s babies. 

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# The Hummingbird
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# Babies – Two Beaks Together

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# Babies – Two Beaks Apart

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# It’s Tiny — the hummingbird is on a branch a little left of the nest.
(nest is ~2 inches in diameter ) 

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Mind 2018 — Sit, Circle, Explore (Meditation, Mindfulness, and Career Planning)

My project for 2018 is the development of a workshop that Mashes-Up Meditation, Mindfulness, and Career Planning. The activities are meditation sit, meditation circle, and exploring career planning through sketching. In short “Sit, Circle, Explore.”

My intended audience is University Undergraduate Engineers of the creative type, the kids that take Engineering Science degrees. The first prototype of the workshop was hosted at a liberal arts college which has an exploratory educational style like Engineering Science offerings.

My core reading stack is “Mindfulness in Plain English”, “Way of Council”, and “Designing Your Life”. There are lots of tidbits borrowed from the late Namgyal Rinpoche, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, Bonni Ross, Chade-Meng Tan, Stuart Shanker, and more.

The inspiration for this course came from a UBC Engineering Physics student group request for Mental Health offerings (in the fall of 2017). I heard of that request and thought that I could reframe my entrepreneurship workshops towards mindfulness.

Class Package – Q Mind 2018 – eBook (epub and pdf)

I captured the workshop in a blog format, and then archived it into an eBook.

Reading Stack

One More Thing – Next Steps

The first workshop ran for 6 weeks through January and February 2018. The next offering is planned for May and June with UBC Eng Fizz students.

Big Ideas – Steve Blank’s *State of Entrepreneurship* March 2018 ( Co-Founder Mag )

Steve Blank provided a thought provoking “State of Entrepreneurship” a few weeks ago. There is only one Steve Blank » CoFounder Mag

The biggest jolt for me was the sheer number of Unicorns (almost 200) and that they remain mostly “Founder Led”.

we went from zero to close to 200 unicorns …Almost all those unicorns are run by their founders. Big Idea!

it is a lot easier to train a founder how to execute than it is to train an execution person how to innovate.

This makes sense to me, since I’ve experienced that as the pace of innovation accelerates “execution people” struggle. His statement tells me that the pace of innovation has really ramped up in the last few years.

The second jolt was that entrepreneurs continue to “build what they want”.

They don’t really get out, and don’t understand who they are building it for or why they’re building it.

I thought this was only happening in companies I advise.  Good to know that I’m not alone 🙂 😦

The third jolt was that his US Government classes, Innovation Corps (I-Corps), have had more than 15,000 teams. So awesome!

The remainder of the interview is a great summary of the Steve Blank movement over the past ten years. It starts with what Customer Development is and how the “Business Model Canvas” & “Agile Engineering” helped complete the framework. Then moves to note that Continuous Innovation/Disruption is becoming more and more the new normal. Especially through the enormous funds available and the advent of ICOs.

One More Thing — I love the Old Guys complaining section where he notes that “Revenue & Profit” is not top of mind anymore. I too struggle with this change.

Today, entrepreneur skills are aligned to whatever metrics are necessary to increase valuation and fast liquidity.

# More – Fan Boy Memories

I’ve been a fan-boy of Steve Blank for over a decade. I can’t forget someone who gives me their “entire class slideware”. And when I send him my “variant” of the slides, he responds with “Iain, I can’t tell you how cool it was to see these slides.”

Calm Is A Big Word

“We skip over too much when we rely too much on language” — Dr Stuart Shanker

For example here is his definition of Calm.

More — A few years back I was introduced to the “Self Regulation” work of Dr Stuart Shankar. I really like how he explores the complexities of regulating oneself versus controlling oneself. Recently his book came out in paperback.

Thank You -— tip to West Van Schools Sandra-Lynn Shortall @SLShortall

Mentor Reading (Mentor Manifesto Deconstructed)

Question – Where can I find some great reading on Mentoring?

Answer: Way back in 2014 Brad Feld challenged himself to write a blog post on each of the 18 bullet points in The (Techstars) Mentor Manifesto » David G. Cohen (Techstars)

//enjoy \

“Mentor Manifesto Deconstructed”

Timeless Advice For Today’s Activists (Forest, Merton, Hahn)

Timeless advice for today’s activists.

Thomas Merton’s Letter to a Young Activist » Jim and Nancy Forest is an essay discussing a set of letters between Jim Forest and Thomas Merton during the Vietnam War.

you struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. The range tends to narrow down, but it gets much more real. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationships that saves everything.

That last sentence became for me one of the most important insights that I ever received from Merton: “In the end, it is the reality of personal relationships that saves everything.” I know it by heart and recite it often. It sums up incarnational theology. Words and slogans and theories are not nearly as important as how we see and relate to each other — the relationships we build — and not only with friends but with adversaries. In the context of peace work, it suggests getting to know, as best we can, the people and cultures being targeted by our weapons.

More — Christianity Meets Buddhism

I originally came upon this essay in a Buddhist book, Margaret Wheatley’s “So Far From Home”, and have always been curious about why she quotes a Catholic essay as the basis for her book.

It turns out that Jim Forest, a Catholic, spent a lot of time with Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist. In fact Forest toured Nhat Hahn around the US for a while. Here are 4 essays that discuss his work and time with Thich Nhat Hanh. Super interesting.