An Aus-some trip around the world

It’s not very often that I find a serendipitous link to describe so cleanly the relationship between my last three trips. So, I could not help but share with you my aus-some last month.

In the space of 4 weeks, I was at South By Southwest in Austin Texas for a manic few days at the Interactive conference.  Then I hit the slopes at St Christoph, near Innsbruck in Austria for a joyful week of family holidays.  Finally, I sparked off down under to do some sales training in Melbourne, Australia (this week).  A veritably aus-some trip.

Here are a couple of visual representations of the journey.

Aus-some: Austin, Austria & Australia, The Myndset Digital marketing

 

And a different representation, for the fun of it:

Aus-some, Austin, Austria and Australia, The Myndset digital marketing

Could this be part of some higher cosmic sense, or just plain silly?

Looking out for the Signs in Your Life

Ski Lift Shot - Peace and Love Symbol Sometimes there are wonderful messages that pop up in your life.  I am not thinking of the messages on email or Facebook, etc.  I am thinking of the random ones that you have to look out for.  
There I was, taking a chairlift at the Combloux ski resort and thinking peaceful thoughts, including my upcoming trip to New York to see the Dead.  It was a fancy new six seater chair lift and I happened to pick the seat with this little peace symbol in front of me.  How often one passes through a day and we don’t recognize the signs!  Anyway, I thought I would share this with you and encourage you to find the little signposts in your life, too!

Skiing Principles for Life

Skiing Principles for LifeI was fortunate enough to have learned how to ski very young. In fact, my first real season of ski was spent in 1972 here at Gstaad (Switzerland) where I have joined my father for this Christmas.

With skis that bespeak my age of yore (2.03M Got Principles?Salomon tapered skis that weigh a ton), I still had immense pleasure to glide down the slopes once more. With time for reflection in the chair lifts and a magnificent scenery of white-tipped mountains, I pondered life. And, I came up with a few ski-induced principles for life.

Skiing, like life, is ultimately an individual experience. Even when you think you are skiing with a group, the levels are always different and you frequently get split up by the lifts if you don’t get lost on the slopes.

Even if you choose to ski “hard all day,” you may never really enjoy the ride, much less the view.

Skiing well demands years of learning and some humility.

You must learn to fall.

Good preparation is vital for a good day.

Off-piste Ski PrinciplesThere is the beaten path and the off-beat path, with predictable profiles or results for both. Skiing the groomed paths is akin to taking the path of traditional values… of the known, of the safe, of certain aesthetics; but, it also suggests to me the easy life: minimal bumps. The “hors piste” (ie backwoods) for the “hors catégorie” or life’s fringe material. The risk takers, the long-haired folk… possible entrepreneurs.

It is a sport to be enjoyed by both sexes equally, and all ages can get a kick out of it. It can also be a family affair, a great spot for pals to get together; even a way for someone to find solitary time (take a long walk up a random mountain with skis on your back!).

Some slopes look so easy far afar, but once you are on them, you see that the slope wasn’t greener (colour code given to easy slopes on ski maps). .

There are protocols to follow, but these are more or less respected according to the culture (especially with regard to queueing, for example).

The activity of skiing is enhanced by the after-ski, where you are left being you, with time to chatter, to reflect and eat well.

Skiing is expensive.

And, on another note:

Yodelling is good for the heart.

Wear protection especially when you don’t know what you are getting into.

Pee in the snow. Leave your “footprint”.

Go easy with the powder.

Renting is likely to be cheaper than buying — unless you know you are in it for the long haul.

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Of course, I could bore you with how skiing is not like life…seasonal, elitist, ski tickets grow on trees (as far as kids are concerned…).

And what of being inherently painful? Putting on those boots on the second day after skiing, where the bottom of the calf muscle feels like it was hit by a hockey puck.

Anyway, some cause for thought.

Will Live Earth encourage the sports world to go green?

The greening of sports

In the aftermath of Live Earth 7.7.07, it struck me that the sporting world could also take up the green cause in a more formal fashion. Live Earth apparently attracted an audience of 2 billion people. [As an aside, I would like to see some of the performers be greater role models in their personal lives.] The World Cup of Rugby 2007 in France, the Super Bowl (every year in the US) and the Football (aka Soccer) World Cup 2010 in South Africa would be great platforms to showcase that they care more than just the turf on which they play. Considering all the money involved in sports and the status symbols and opinion leaders that sports heroes represent, they certainly would have their fans’ ears. And they have the merit of a worldwide scope. I shudder to think of the impact on golf courses and the amount of water needed to sprinkle the greens. What about Formula One getting a dose of diesel?

Green Olympics

In an effort to find a down-to-earth incentive — beyond common sense — for the sports world to take up the mantle, it seems that, if the trends continue, the number of rained out games, parched grounds, melted ice rinks and so on will on increase, causing havoc to the schedulers not to mention ticket sales. In the anticipated climate changes, sports equipment will have to be adapted. Conditioning will be dramatically impacted as players will need to contend with enormous swings in temperatures. Stadiums will need to be adjusted to include air conditioning in the summer. This will all mean less dollars and cents for the owners. Not good business. So, should we not be seeing an Earth Fit 8.8.08 or a Green Dream Team as part of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing? It would be a great message if China, which along with the US are the two countries most responsible for carbon dioxide emissions, were to take up the cause more publicly. Politics and sports have a natural cause in this regard. I would like to showcase this site that seems to have taken the (China, speaking of the Olympics) bull by the horns: www.ecologysports.com.

The Green Dream Team

A potential Green Dream Team of sports figureheads could ally themselves across a number of sports. On the one hand, the sponsors of individuals could find the marriage of performance and the eco-cause of value. If Roger Federer chose to take on the campaign, Nike, Wilson (racket) and Rolex might all benefit. Among tennis’ former stars, John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova have already joined in the cause for clean water by being ambassadors for the (one of its originators is Johan Kriek). Maybe a quorum of past & present already in the making?

Another sport that needs to look the effects of the climate change directly in the face is skiing where, in the past season alone, there were seven World Cup events were entirely canceled for a lack of snow. In an icy cool show of support, there is news (from the BBC) of the 1km swim by the courageous Lewis Pugh in the Arctic, a sad statement that such a swim is even possible. And then there is my US hometown, Philadelphia, whose sports teams I all support (especially the bottom of the barrel in ’07 Flyers). The Philadelphia Eagles have made a happy marriage with the firey slogan “Go Green.” They are certainly setting a very good example as they have also officially joined the Stop Global Warming March.

In short, there are many people beginning to get on the bandwagon, but let’s push it up another notch and reach for the visibility that Live Earth achieved, but with another audience.

Winter Scandalympics 2014 Put In Sochi, Russia

What kind of backwater Put[r]in-ification allowed the Winter Olympics 2014 to be ‘offered’ to the backwoods–not to say backwards–town of Sochi? With a minuscule 7km of slopes, this is truly Putin’s backyard ski resort. A day of portent, the selection was announced on July 4th. Beating out the last two competitive bids of South Korea’s Pyeongchang and Austria’s Salzburg, you have to wonder what was the quid pro quo that would endorse the anti-democratic, amoral Putin regime. Was it the fact that he actually deigned to speak in French and English–by some reports, it was merely his presence in Guatemala (where the IOC met) that made the difference [of 4 votes]. Presumably he made some back pocket deals. No different from the 1980 Summer Olympics award to the then-USSR Moscow–boycotted by the US because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan–this selection smacks of sportolitics: politics in the highest order. I totally applaud Russian winter sport prowess and they surely should, at some time, host the Winter Olympics, but timing is everything. I am left wondering what might have happened had Putin lost.* Was it to gain Russian support of the US invasion/occupation/imbroglio in Iraq or more broadly for some concession with regards to US Middle Eastern policy? If 1980 was followed by glasnost, 2014 may be followed by glasshouse: a retrospective and transparent view of the malevolent, iron-fisted Putin legacy. A golden day for the Black Sea, A black day for the Free.

*When Athens lost the 2000 Summer Olympics bid, the country went on strike. Had Putin lost, Russia might just have closed down all ‘free’ media and killed the remaining independent journalists. After this vote of approval, he may feel the liberty to do so unsanctioned.