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.

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

Refreshing View of the Working World – Managing Humans by Michael Lopp


I like that chapter 1 is titled “Don’t Be a Prick” «smile»

I’ve enjoyed Michael Lopp’s Rands in Repose blog for many years. Having read his blog I felt that there was no need to buy the book Managing Humans. I was wrong. I needed the book. The book introduced me to many blog posts that I hadn’t read before. Also reading a physical book is “different” than reading online, especially when I’m going to take actions based on it.

If you’re a manager, or mentor, then this is a great resource. Even if you’re not a software development leader, like Lopp, I highly recommend it.

Getting Started with Reading Lopp (aka Rands)

Here are two favourites

  • Stable and Volatiles — If you’ve ever built something then you’ve seen yourself in each role — stable and volatile. The excitement of getting into technical debt and the desire to never be in technical debt again.
  • A Nerd in a Cave — I got ideas from this «laughing»

Leadership & Working (by Iain)

This was first posted January 26, 2016

Last week I attended an excellent workshop on “Compassionate Leadership”. The whole point of the workshop was to have a discussion on what “Compassionate Leadership” meant to us. It was very interesting as we started with compassion being all “soft, nice, and comfortable” and finished up with compassion being “a dance between soft/nice/comfortable and hard/powerful/uncomfortable”.

Those discussions reminded me of leaderships books I’ve read, and found useful, in the last few years. These books all speak to the dance between “soft/nice/comfortable and hard/powerful/uncomfortable”.

Leadership BS (by Jeffrey Pfeffer)

This is a great book because Pfeffer lays out a very realistic description of the workplace. It is not a “pretty” description and this is why it is so useful. There is a lot of discussion around the interest of an individual versus the interest of the group. He notes empirical evidence that modern day leaders always focus on the individual first (i.e. themselves).

I wrote more here —

The Hard Thing About Hard Things (by Ben Horowitz)

This is a book written around Ben Horowitz’s blog. He was an early Netscape employee and is a Silicon Valley legend.

The reason I’ve loved this blog is that Ben talks about really hard things like “Demoting Your Friend”, “Firing An Executive”, “Managing Yourself”, etc. In most cases he describes the problem as — we got to this place because you ( the CEO ) messed up and not the employee.

He talks a lot about why CEOs make mistakes. For example, one of my favourite blog posts from Ben Horowitz notes that if CEOs were tested for CEO skills the average score would be 22%. That is “CEOs suck” and then he goes on to discuss why that is.

What’s The Most Difficult CEO Skill? Managing Your Own Psychology (Ben Horowitz)

If CEOs were graded on a curve, the mean on the test would be 22 out of a 100. This kind of mean can be psychologically challenging for a straight A student. It is particularly challenging, because nobody tells you that the mean is 22.

More here —

So Far from Home: Lost and Found in Our Brave New World ( by Margaret J. Wheatley)

This book describes how we can do our good work with dedication, energy, discipline, and joy by consciously choosing a new role for ourselves, that of warriors for the human spirit.

It is quite a “dark read” in that Marg Wheatley really digs into the dark corners of our working lives to set the tone for the challenge. Her picture of working is even darker than Jeffrey Pfeffer’s. (Whew) Again she speaks the truth of our working day challenges. That really helps. I’ve found the concept of a “Warrior For The Human Spirit” to be very useful.

The “good-reads” reviews are very good too. –

This book was recommended to me by Bonni. Thank You.


This is a very easy read for “Social Innovation” leaning people and a very hard book to read for “Entrepreneurship” leaning people ( like myself ). I’ve persevered and have come to understand him. I went to a talk by him, read the book, then mind-mapped the book, and took immense pressure from my daughter to understand him.

I really like that he talks about “acting like a group movement”. It is fascinating. I think all of you would like this book.

Here is the first chapter [link]

Fun With Freakonomics *Think Like a Freak*

Think Like A Freak is highly entertaining and informative like the earlier Freakonmics books.

It contains some very useful GEMS.

I especially liked the Incentives 101 summary on page 135.

Number 5 is so ….

5. Never, ever think that people will do something just because it is the “right” thing to do.

Incentives 101



I had the pleasure of attending a talk by Steven Levitt at UBC a few years back when “Think Like A Freak” came out. I’m glad I’ve finally read the book.