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Devotion on awakeness , three big daily reminders


When you wake up tomorrow, look up to God. Look around to his world. Look ahead to your life that day. And ask God to awaken you.

Scott Hubbard wrote an article on awakenessinspired by a quote from Clyde Kilby, “I shall not fall into the falsehood that this day, or any day, is merely another ambiguous and plodding twenty-four hours, but rather a unique event, filled, if I so wish, with worthy potentialities.” In the article, Scott models how to come alive again to the wonder around us. He reminds us, “This is the day that the Lord has made — a unique day, a meaningful day, a day that comes to us from the hands of divine love.


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Sharper Image Story

I got this really interesting story this morning from the purveyors at Hustle, it is long, interesting, cool and worth sharing. Enjoy. 

Timothy Ross



How one man built The Sharper Image into the world's wackiest gadget store

It took a marketing genius to build the kingdom of flashy gadgets — and a $229 air purifier to take it all down.


The Sharper Image was a kingdom.

It was a kingdom where you could, in an afternoon trip to the mall, purchase an electric nose trimmer ($39), a motorized surfboard ($2,450), and a bulletproof raincoat ($400), then take a ride in a $1,500 massage chair while being serenaded by a bird-calling robot.

It was a kingdom once described as the “breast implant” of retail, a place where man and child alike could bask in the artificial glow of flagrant consumerism.

This is the story of the man who founded this great kingdom — and how one flashy gadget ultimately led to its downfall.

King Richard I

Richard Thalheimer had all the trappings of a world-class salesman.

Born in 1948 in Little Rock, Arkansas, he spent his youth working odd-jobs in the toy section of his father’s department store. He went on to study psychology and sociology at Yale University, where — during his freshman year — he sold enough encyclopædias to buy a brand new Porsche.

In his early 20s, Thalheimer ventured to San Francisco and started a wholesale business that catered to the then-burgeoning photocopier industry.

“I named it The Sharper Image,” he says, “because I thought that my paper and toner would help people make good copies.”

Left: A young Richard Thalheimer poses for a yearbook photo; Right: In the early days of The Sharper Image (via SF Examiner)

While running The Sharper Image, Thalheimer enrolled at Hastings Law School — but making physical deliveries to businesses in the Financial District every afternoon between classes began to take its toll.

“I was completely taxed,” he says. “So I thought, ‘Why don’t I try mail-order?”

The million-dollar running watch

The mail-order catalogue — a publication that lists products and allows customers to order them remotely via mail or telephone — had been around for a century. As early as the 1880s, Tiffany’s and Sears were hawking their wares in 300-page booklets. 

But in the 1970s, the mail-order industry was having a renaissance moment: Roger Horchow had just launched the first luxury color catalogue without a physical retail location, and Joe Sugarman was running the first-ever mail-order magazine ads — beautiful, full-page photos with poetic product descriptions.

Thalheimer wanted to try his hand at it. But first, he needed a product.

At the time, Seiko had just rolled out a first-of-its-kind fully digital watch — but at $300, most runners couldn’t afford it. Coincidentally, Thalheimer came across a small booth at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where a man was selling a “very similar” product for $35 wholesale.

He struck a deal with the vendor and bought out a full-page ad in Runner’s World Magazine, offering the watch for $69. For the copy, he chose to feature his friend, Walt Stack — a “legendary, fully-tattooed 70-year-old” who was known around San Francisco for his crazy daily routine, which included a 17-mile run across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Left: Walt Stack on his daily 17-mile-run in the ‘80s (Eric Risberg/AP); Right: Thalheimer’s first Sharper Image ad, for the Realtime watch, starring Stack (Courtesy of Richard Thalheimer)

At a cost of $1k, the ad netted Thalheimer $10k in sales (about $5k of which was profit). He repeated this process — each time, with better results — and by the age of 27, he’d made his first million dollars. 

By 1979, Thalheimer’s system of advertising was so successful that he decided to launch his own catalogue high-tech gadgets nobody knew they needed.

The Sharper Image catalogue

Thalheimer embarked on a quest to find the most unique products on the market — things that “other people didn’t sell.”

“At the Consumer Electronics Show, everyone would gravitate toward the big guys, Sony, Panasonic,” he says. “I’d go straight for the little booths, the people selling things nobody had ever heard of.”

The first catalogue contained 25 items, including the first cordless phone, answering machine, and car radar detector. He avoided superfluous adjectives in his copy, and focused on the features that made the products exceptional.

Very quickly, his experiment began minting money: The first year, sales topped $500k; the second year, they reached $3m; by 1980, $12m. Soon, the catalogue was being sent to 3m people around the world, at a cost of $1.4m per mailing.

He catered specifically to the 20% of Americans who had credit cards, and offered them a 1-800 number to place orders over the phone. In a small San Francisco office, with a staff of 5 or 6 people, a dozen orders were processed every 60 seconds.

The Sharper Image catalogue featured products like the Snore-No-More ($59) — a device that shocked snorers with an electric pulse (via Flickr user Mike Mozart)

The Sharper Image struck at the right time.

In the 1980s stock boom, flashy gadgets and conspicuous consumption were in. “He who dies with the most toys wins” was the ethos of the decade.

Thalheimer expanded into physical retail, opening stores in well-to-do enclaves across America. In New York, bankers dipped in to peruse $1500 massage chairs; in Hawaii, tourists fawned over electric nose hair trimmers and talking scales. By 1985, The Sharper Image was grossing $100m in sales — with no outside capital or debt.

At the company’s helm, Thalheimer was what the New Yorker described as the “very model of a major entrepreneur:” Tanned and muscular, deliberate and tenacious, and infallibly gifted at curating ridiculously niche gadgets, like a mini electric fan on a necklace (priced at $49, it sold 10k units a month).

“I can see the future,” he toldan LA Times reporter in 1984, “I know when a trend is coming and when it’s leaving.” In an AP interview, he hailed himself as a “marketing genius.” Nobody could disagree.

When The Sharper Image IPO’d at $10 per share in 1987, the chain, and its outspoken CEO, seemed incapable of failure. That is, until the ‘80s ended.

Do I really need that gadget?

In the early ‘90s, the economy weakened and sparked a recession: Suddenly, conspicuous consumption was out and frugal environmentalism was in. 

The Sharper Image tried to switch gears by selling more “socially responsible” products (like Birkenstocks, vitamin energizers, and benches made of recycled plastic), but the strategy had a limited effect.

Between 1989 and 1991, sales fell by 28%. Staff was was cut by 20%. Stock tumbled to $2. And for the first time in company history, The Sharper Image posted a loss.

The Sharper Image saw a dramatic decline in the early ‘90s (The Hustle)

“The Sharper Image has become a cliche for the worst excesses of the last decade — the Donald Trump of specialty retailing,” wrote the SF Examiner. “Nobody needs what they sell.”

For a CEO of a publicly-traded company, Thalheimer was unusually involved in minute decisions: His penchant for controlling what color clothes employees could wear, how they decorated their desks, and what type of coffee mugs they used earned him a citation in California Magazine’s 1988 Worst Bosses in America list.

So, he decided to step back from day-to-day operations and go back to his roots: Finding wacky, one-of-a-kind products. It didn’t take long.

At a “hippie street fair” in San Francisco, Thalheimer stumbled across a blue gel shoe insert — the first of its kind. “I stood up in front of all my deflated employees, pulled this thing out of my suit pocket, and said, ‘This is going to turn us around,’” he recalls. “Everyone thought I was nuts.”

At $19.99 a pair, the inserts went on to become the company’s best-selling product, selling hundreds of units a day and adding 50% to their sales figures.

Several years later, in 2000, Thalheimer came across another game-changing product at a toy fair in Hong Kong: The Razor scooter. He negotiated an exclusive 24-month deal and sold a million of them in the first year. It was, he says, “a second lease on life” for the company.

Razor scooters revitalized The Sharper Image, but raised new concerns (via the AP)

Bolstered by the rise of the internet and online sales, the Razor led The Sharper Image to the best performance in its 23-year history. It was no longer just a place for “tech-loving snobs” to buy elitist gadgets.

But this success came with a looming concern: The Sharper Image was turning into what analysts described as “a one-product company.”

The air purifier that killed the company

Thalheimer had long operated by finding intriguing products elsewhere, signing exclusive distribution deals, and selling them under The Sharper Image brand name. But he knew that if it designed and patented his own products, margins could be higher.

In a secret location north of San Francisco, Thalheimer assembled a team of engineers and designers and formed Sharper Image Design to make gadgets in-house. 

“[It was a place] where where the inner child could come out in every man, with gizmos blinking and whirling,” later recalled an employee. “The only thing missing were white coats and propeller hats.”

The team churned out some 300 patents and 100 products, ranging from fogless mirrors to anti-snoring wristbands that jolted the offender with an electric shock.

But the crown jewel of the operation was a noiseless air purifier called the Ionic Breeze.

Ads for the the Ionic Breeze (via The Hartford Courant, 1999)

The Sharper Image put all of its resources behind the machine, taking out hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of magazine, newspaper and TV ads. Despite its $229 price tag, it became a smash hit.

By the turn of the millenium, the Ionic Breeze was so popular that it made up 45% of all of the chain’s sales. And as it turned out, this was a huge problem.

In 2002, Consumer Reports(a nonprofit product review publication) ranked the Ionic Breeze dead last in a feature on air purifiers, deeming it “ineffective.” Thalheimer was furious, and filed a lawsuit against the magazine, claiming it had “negligently disparag[ed] the product.” It was tossed out, and cost Thalheimer $525k in legal fees.

“We did a very stupid thing by making a big stink out of it,” cedes Thalheimer. “It was like suing Jesus infuriated them, and just led to more trouble.”

Three years later, Consumer Reports struck again — this time alleging that the Ionic Breeze didn’t just suck at purifying air, but actually emitted harmful amounts of ozone. Once again, Thalheimer took them to court and lost.

The blowback cost The Sharper Image millions of dollars in store credits and refunds — and soon, stockholders began to question Thalheimer’s magic touch.

Held at Knightspoint

In the Spring of 2006, a group of outside shareholders by the name of Knightspoint Partners snapped up 13% of the company.

Led by famed corporate raider Jerry Levin, the group demanded a shakeup of the board. At first, it seemed they genuinely wanted to help Thalheimer guide The Sharper Image back on track, but it soon became clear that they were gunning to oust him and remodel the company in their own image.

The Sharper Image’s “new image” included some poor decisions, like featuring Trump Steaks on the cover of a catalogue; meat packages started at $1k (The Hustle)

In September, Thalheimer was fired and forced to sell all of his remaining shares for a sum of $26m — a fraction of what his holdings were once worth. When he came into work the next day to gather his belongings, the door was locked. His desk, still covered with the wacky emblems of his career, his now occupied by Jerry Levin.

Knightspoint set to work recrafting The Sharper Image into a general electronic retailer, like Circuit City or Best Buy. Or, in Thalheimer’s estimation, “stripping away the imagination.”

By 2008, stock had plummeted to 28 cents per share. Within a year, The Sharper Declared bankruptcy, closed down all 183 stores, and laid of 4k employees.

The company, now run by an investor group, continues to exist online — but it’s a shadow of its former self. The weird gadgets have been usurped by USB drives and motion-activated light bulbs — and Thalheimer’s oddball charm is nowhere to be seen.

Richard Solo

Looking back, Thalheimer doesn’t harbor much ill-will. He runs his own gadget site, aptly named, and has taken up investing.

“My days are a lot more enjoyable,” he says. “It’s not as egocentric as being the head of my own company. But at this point, I’d rather be alone.”

He tells The Hustle that his net worth is “3-4x higher” than when he got pushed out, and that his studies of the stock market have earned him beefy returns of between 50% and 100% per year.

Thalheimer poses with a favorite from The Sharper Image catalogue (via Richard Thalheimer)

But Thalheimer hasn’t completely abandoned the kingdom.

At his Marin County mansion stands a lavishly-adorned suit of armor — a $2,450 relic from The Sharper Image catalogue. An old cordless telephone dangles from its ear.

It is a sight that can only be described as perfectly Thalheimerian: A blend of the old and the new, the eclectic and the cutting-edge, the blunt and the sharp.

Shop #onshrooms →

Weekend Recap

Miss an email this week? Here’s a rundown of our top headlines from the past 7 days:

1. WORDPLAY OF THE WEEK: You smoke, bud?

Canadians once again prove they’re chill after the country officially made weed legal for all uses on Wednesday, but some industry experts believe the share prices have gotten too highhhhhhhhhhhhhh, man. What a buzzkill.

2. OUR FAVORITE: The Palm Pilot is back -- but more useless than ever

All was a buzz as the Palm Pilot brand announced its new “ultra-mobile” Palm phone that is smaller than a regular cell phone and aims to eliminate digital distractions -- only problem is it has pretty much all of the same features as normal cell phones.

3. ‘TODAY I LEARNED’: That if a concert sells out, it usually means ticket prices were too cheap

As ticket scalpers and resell sites continue to run rampant on the industry-wide ticket inflation problem, Taylor Swift and her team concocted a strategy to help combat the issue… and so far, it’s working.

4. OLD DOG, NEW TRICKS: The ‘Real World’ returns... on Facebook?

The world’s first hit reality show announced it is coming back to a cell phone screen near you. The old format will come with some new interactive surprises, and air on Facebook’s new premium content platform, Facebook Watch.

5. TECH TROUBLES: Lime tried to sue San Francisco for getting snubbed on scooter permits

After being denied the highly anticipated San Francisco scooter permit, Lime filed for a temporary restraining against the city, in hopes that it would delay scooter releases for the 2 companies that did receive permits.

Now Playing Now Playing:
The Masterplan, Oasis. Everybody’s got one.



Now, back to the corn field

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Expectations vs Reality of Past

Gleaning some info from the archives answer came across this get insight. - Tim



By Andrew Pastor, portfolio manager

In the 1930s, Winston Churchill had left politics and was teaching a class at Cambridge University. He started a lecture with the following question, “What part of the human body expands to 12 times its normal size when subjected to external stimulation?” The class gasped, it was the 30s after all!

Churchill pointed to a young woman in the class, “What’s the answer?”

Blushing, the woman replied, “Obviously it’s the male sex organ.”

“Wrong! Who knows the correct answer?” asked Churchill.

Another student answered, “It’s the pupil of the human eye which expands 12 times when exposed to darkness.”

“Of course!” replied Churchill. He then turned to the first student and said, “Young lady, I have three things to say to you. First, you didn’t do your homework. Second, you have a dirty mind. And third, you are doomed to a life of excessive expectationsi.”

In this commentary I want to discuss investor expectations. If you’re reading this there’s a good chance you believe the future will be similar to the recent past. If that’s the case you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

We believe that over the next decade equity returns will likely be lower, and the ride not as smooth.

A rosy future

Schroders recently interviewed 22,000 investors in thirty countriesii. According to the study, the average investor said that they expect their overall portfolio to return 10.2% per year over the next five years. If we assume that the average investor holds a mix of 70% equities and 30% bonds this would suggest that investors are expecting a stock market return of 13%/yeariii. (Remember this number as we’ll be referring to it later).

Why are investor expectations so high? It probably has something to do with their experience over the past five years. Here’s a list of stock markets and their annual returns since 2013.

(12/31/12 TO 12/31/17)
NASDAQ Composite Index 19.49%
The Nikkei 225 Index 19.06%
S&P 500 Index 15.77%
The CAC 40 Index 11.42%
Deutsche Boerse AG German Stock Index 11.15%
Shanghai Composite Index 10.43%
S&P/TSX Composite Index 8.62%

Source: Bloomberg LP.

The past five years have been favourable for investors. Prior to this period, investors were still fearful about the future and valuations were low. Today investor sentiment has improved resulting in higher valuations which has boosted returns.

To predict is human

When people make predictions about the future they often draw from their recent experience and extrapolate it into the future. Behavioural economists call this the recency bias. It creeps into our daily lives all the time.

Think about your favourite team. At the beginning of the season it gets off to a strong start. They win the first three games and you’re already booking the day off work for their celebratory parade. You forget (or at least try to!) that the regular season alone is 82 games long and they haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1967!

When it comes to making investment forecasts, our recent experience also tells us little about the future. As I will explain later, the experience of investors over the past five years is an aberration not the norm.

The super-forecasters

In previous commentaries we’ve discussed the follies of forecasting. We explained why financial experts are almost always wrong about the direction of the stock market, interest rates or commodities.

But there’s a small group of forecasters that has consistently been able to make more accurate predictions. A Wharton professor named Phil Tetlock wrote a book called Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction which studied the behaviours of these super-forecasters.

What can we learn from Tetlock’s work? Instead of making predictions based upon their recent experience (the inside view) the super-forecasters use history as a guide (the outside view). They ask whether there are similar situations in the past that may provide insight into what may happen in the future. The idea being that what’s happened over long periods is likely to be more relevant than what’s happened most recently.

Let me illustrate the concept with an example.

Big Brown

One of the most coveted prizes in sports is the Triple Crown. A horse must win the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont over a five-week period.

In 2008 Big Brown was the horse to beat. He’d won the first two legs of the Triple Crown by a significant margin. Shortly before the final race his main competitor, Casino Drive, had to drop out due to injury. Horse racing experts predicted that Big Brown was going to win by a landslide. When the bets were placed Big Brown had a 75% probability of winning the Triple Crown.

What happened on race day? He finished dead last.

After the race was over, questions emerged. Was Big Brown injured? Did the jockey change the strategy for race day? Perhaps the horse was fatigued from the grueling race schedule?

The truth is that Big Brown’s defeat shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone. It’s a classic case of people forecasting based upon their recent memory (the inside view) and ignoring history (the outside view).

The inside view was that Big Brown was undefeated, he’d won the first two races by a wide margin and the competition was weak.

The outside view asked one important question: What happened in the past when a horse won the first two legs of the Triple Crown?

It turns out that from 1950 to 2008 there were 20 horses that had won the first two races. Only three (15%) went on to win the Triple Crowniv.

Big Brown was always a long shot to win. Even the professionals fell victim to recency bias in predicting the future.

Fighting the last war

GraphicA classic example of “inside view” behaviour can be observed through investor expectations over time. History has shown that investors consistently look in the rear view mirror rather than out the windshield. After the market has had a strong run investors expect the good times to continue forever.

1999 is a good example. During the tech bubble investors were asked what they expected stock markets to do over the next 10 years. The least experienced investors (those who’d invested for less than five years) expected annual returns of 22.6%. Even the most experienced investors (those who’d invested for more than 20 years) were expecting annual returns of 12.9%. Not surprisingly the returns over the next decade were subpar and investors were left disappointedv.

Conversely, following a market correction, investors reset their expectations and are more apt to believe stocks will have low returns forever. Here’s a look at how investors behaved during the last downturn.

In the years leading up to the financial crisis investors piled into stocks. From 2005-2007, U.S. investors put $256 billion into equity funds. In 2008, investors pulled almost all of it out ($254 billion) in a single year, cashing out their investments at the bottom of the marketvi.


Where are we today? After nine years of rising stock prices, investors have very ambitious expectations for the future.

The outside view

Let’s take what we learned from the super-forecasters and apply it to the stock market. If we want to set reasonable expectations about the future we should start by looking at how the stock market has performed over long periods. The U.S. market has the longest history so it can be used as a proxy for equity returns.

Since 1928, the average annual total return of U.S. stocks is 9.4%vii. Let’s call this the base rate. If history is a reasonable guide, investors should expect a similar return.

Over the long term, the stock market can’t outpace the growth in earnings and dividends of the businesses that make up the market. However, in the short term the market can fluctuate wildly for a multitude of reasons. When the returns of the market no longer reflect the growth of the underlying businesses within it, the market will correct itself. Higher returns eventually lead to lower returns in subsequent periods and vice-versa.

Over the past five years, the stock market has risen much faster than corporate earnings. Since 2013, approximately 2/3 of the S&P 500 Indexviii returns have come from multiple expansion not earnings growth. The market can’t continue to rely on multiple expansion forever.

It’s impossible to predict the short-term movements of markets. But we would probably all agree that we’re closer to the top of the cycle than the bottom. Equity valuations are higher than they’ve been since we started the firm in 2008. As such, annual total returns are more likely to be lower than their long-term average of 9.4% than above it.

Another way to think about investor expectations is to invert the situation. If you want to assume that the market will provide annual returns of 13% you need to make certain assumptions. Perhaps you think that the economy will grow faster than in the past? Maybe interest rates will go lower? Or you believe the P/E multiple will continue to expand?

While all of these are possibilities, they’re also unlikely. Economic growth over the past decade has been the second slowest period since the Great Depression. Interest rates might stay lower for longer but they’re already approaching zero. Valuations can always climb higher but they’re at the upper end of where they’ve been historically.

Where does that leave us? Over the next few years the market might continue to roar ahead. But it’s hard to make the case that equity returns over the next decade will be as strong as they’ve been in the recent past.

A bumpy ride

Up until now we’ve focused on stock market returns. The other part of the investor experience is volatility – how smooth or bumpy the ride is. At the same time that stock market returns have been pleasing, volatility has been unusually low.

Compared to other asset classes equities have proven to be one of the best ways to build long-term wealth. But the ride has never been smooth. Stock prices are quoted daily which means that investors’ emotions are constantly tested. This is the trade-off you make as an equity investor – superior returns in exchange for a bumpier ride.

What is a normal level of volatility? A simple way to measure volatility is to look at the annual drawdown. This captures the peak-to-trough decline of the market in any calendar year. Since 1928 the average annual drawdown is 16%ix. This means that in a typical year you should expect your stocks to move 16% from their highest point to lowest point. This is normal.

Over the past five years the average annual drawdown was only 8%x. In fact, the annual drawdown has been under 10% in each of the past five years. 2017 was an extreme example because for the first time on record, the S&P 500 Index delivered a positive total return in each and every month.

While volatility might be temporarily hiding, it hasn’t gone away. Going forward, investors should be prepared for the calm waters of today to inevitably be replaced by rougher seas.


Source: Bloomberg LP, price returns in US$.

We’re not the market

The discussion up to this point has been focused on return expectations for the overall market. As you know EdgePoint doesn’t own the market. We own a small collection of businesses where we have a proprietary insight. Perhaps we’re immune to the headwinds that other investors face?

The reality is that our investment opportunity set is less attractive than it was five years ago. When we buy a business today we need to make more aggressive assumptions about the company’s future growth and profitability.

For example, in 2012 we invested in Drew Industries, a supplier of components for recreational vehicles (RVs). The RV industry took a significant hit following the financial crisis with annual shipments down to 286,000. Because of that, we were able to buy the business at a 7% free cash flow yield (translation: our first year return would be 7% before any growth) and we would get any recovery in the RV market for free.

Today, Drew is trading at a 4% free cash flow yield and annual RV shipments are over 500,000, 30% higher than the previous cycle peak. Compared to 2012, the starting valuation is higher and growth prospects more muted. Drew might continue to be a good investment, though we no longer own it, but investors need to be more creative with their assumptions for the idea to play out.

Our promise to you

If we can’t promise that equity returns will be as good as they have been in the recent past what can you expect from us? Here’s a list of things that we can promise you:

  • We’ll operate in a narrow emotional band
  • We’ll own businesses that can be bigger in the future and not pay for that growth
  • We’ll try to capitalize on other people’s mistakes during periods of volatility
  • We’ll stick to our investment approach through good times and bad
  • We’ll treat your capital as if it’s our own, because it is. We’ve invested $160 million of our own money alongside you
    (as at December 31, 2016)

The glass is half full

If you’re still reading this commentary you might be feeling pessimistic about the future. You shouldn’t be.

Investors have four primary ways of saving over the long term – cash, fixed income, real estate and equities. Compared to the other asset classes we believe equities are the most attractive option. Inflation eats away at your cash, bond yields aren’t sufficient to offset their risk and Canadian real estate is more expensive than at any other time in history.

We’ve never been ones to sing the praises of the stock market. We own a concentrated portfolio of growing businesses where we have a variant view. The environment might be more difficult today but we continue to find many new equity ideas: 15 in our Global Portfolio and 10 in our Canadian Portfolioxi. If our proprietary insights play out as we expect, our portfolios should deliver higher returns than the overall market.

Our investment approach has built wealth over multiple decades and across various cycles. We continue to expect that our long-term returns will be pleasing.

Just don’t make the same mistake as Churchill’s student or you’ll be doomed to a life of excessive expectations!


iAn apocryphal tale taken from Barton Biggs, Hedgehogging (Chichester, U.K.: John Wiley and Sons Ltd., 2008).
ii Total investment portfolio returns: we’re assuming this is the return expectations of stocks and bonds in a portfolio.
iiiAssuming bonds return 3%.
vi2017 Investment Company Fact Book – Net new flow is the dollar value of new sales minus redemptions combined with net exchanges. Data for funds that invest primarily in other mutual funds were excluded from the series.
viiSource: Bloomberg LP, 12/31/1927 to 12/31/2017, total returns in US$.
viiiSource: Bloomberg LP, 12/31/2012 to 12/31/2017, price returns in US$.
ixSource: Bloomberg LP, price return, 12/31/1927 to 12/31/2017, in US$.
xSource: Ibid.
xiNames purchased in the Portfolios during 2017. Global names purchased in the Canadian Portfolio are excluded.

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Cost Cutting Tips


Here is some great tips to consider. It is interesting how the numbers add up.


one culprit is the famous Starbucks. 


Enjoy this parody 






"And your savings is ...
If you eliminated all of these costs, you would save $5,978.75 in just one year. That’s a lot of money to add back into your budget. But if you invested that money every year and earned 5 percent annually, you’d see even bigger long-term benefits.
After 10 years: $72,958
After 20 years: $165,667
After 35 years: $366,331
Even more impressive is how far that money can go in retirement. The OnTrajectory calculator shows that if you stopped investing money into your retirement fund at the $366,331 mark, and then withdrew 4 percent of your balance annually to help cover living costs, you’d still have a little more than $300,000 left by the age of 90. It might seem hard to believe, but that’s the power of compound interest."


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B Corps People Planet Profit


I discovered this certification this morning when I noticed a presention planned on Ottawa Business Journal, I noticed the BDC logo and it tweeked my interest. I learned that it dovetails nicely with our ESG / SRI philosophy and decided it was worth adding to this blog for sharing.


The B Corporations webiste is below, click to learn even more

About B Corporation

Locally we have a few business associations that represent our local business communities. Chamber of Commerce and various networking groups. Some like my friend David Annable have taken the certifcation approach to give consumers some additional assurance that the companies they are considering using that they with meet some good standards, have proper licenses, insurance, etc.

I think there is a place for all.

I have been a member of RIA Responsible Investment Association for a few years now and it gives me insight of what is happening in the Enviromental Social and Goverence "ESG " world of thought and action.

Professional associations like Advocis advocate for my profession

There is a number of other online social media spots were there is info on our firm and myself

Linked In profile


Facebook Business Page for Brock Shores Financial  #ImprovingFutures

Well there is some evaluation compenents to become B certified, will be checking it out and perhaps we will seek this designation for our business in the future. 


We envision a global economy that uses business as a force for good.
This economy is comprised of a new type of corporation - the B Corporation -
Which is purpose-driven and creates benefit for all stakeholders, not just shareholders.
As B Corporations and leaders of this emerging economy, we believe:
That we must be the change we seek in the world.
That all business ought to be conducted as if people and place mattered.
That, through their products, practices, and profits, businesses should aspire to do no harm and benefit all.
To do so requires that we act with the understanding that we are dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.

I think we could aspire to this declaration. When I started over 30 years ago I made a somewhat similar declaration idea, it is still hanging on the wall, let's see if I can get a picture of it added into this posting.

I certainly like the idea for business's that want to make a difference, like Natures Energy Water, one of the slogans we developed from the trailer business was "Be The Adventure", I liked that the B Corporations have in their slogans "B The Change" … what is important is that you "Be" not just talk about it , there is a promise that you will and are doing , so I encourage us all to embrace necessary change, engage the adventures that are in your life, be the adventure, be the change , let's hear your story !  

Let's make a difference

One Step At A Time!

Timothy Ross

CEO, Founder 

Brock Shores Financial

Chaga update, he is growing into a nice young cat. Lean and adventurous. Every morning he has a little milk with my cereal and today he must have wanted to go to work as he found a cozy spot amongst the papers in my briefcase. Chaga stands for healing properties that grow on the birch trees , a little inspiration
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Cannabis HI BUY ESG Evaluation

Click on the link for the full report from our Responsible Investing Association 


Investing Responsiby Cannabis


"On June 20, 2018, Bill C-45 – The Cannabis Act – was passed,with the expectation that Canadians will be able to legally consume recreational cannabis without criminal penalties by October 17, 2018. Canadian cannabis stocks surged on the news, with Canopy Growth gaining almost 6% in one day. Year to date,2 Aurora Cannabis Inc. and Canopy Growth Corp. have been the second- and fourth-most active stocks, respectively, on the TSX.3 Over the same period, stock prices for both companies have been volatile — Canopy’s price has ranged from as high as $47.76 to as low as $24.11. All this suggests that investors should exercise caution before jumping onto this bandwagon. But beyond concerns about volatility and returns, should responsible investors climb aboard?


NEI’s ESG Services Team has developed a position on cannabis by examining:

Where cannabis fits under our evaluation process by comparing it to products with some similarities, including tobacco, alcohol and prescription medicine.

The state of the regulatory and market environments.

The environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks that are most material to cannabis companies.


As responsible investors, we seek to generate sustainable value for shareholders and other company stakeholders, as well as for society as a whole. As such, we need to determine whether the cannabis industry has the potential to create sustainable value, which ESG risks are inherent to the industry and whether cannabis companies are adequately positioned to be responsible stewards of their products and services."

There is lots more in the report for consideration, 9 pages of 


Material Risks tht cannabis companies will have to prioritize ESG concerns top of mind

Environmental: Growing cannabis requires optimal conditions of temperature, humidity and light intensity; hence the bulk of cannabis is grown indoors (without natural sunlight) or in greenhouses. Both methods are extremely energy intensive, resulting in potentially large carbon footprints; and water intensive, resulting in environmental and social risk from wastewater discharge and drawing excessive groundwater in water scarce regions. Most cannabis companies that acknowledge ESG risk in their MD&A disclosure focus on environmental and climate change risks, which we view positively. Social: Quality control and product safety are the most significant social risks for cannabis producers. Cannabis has to meet certain quality standards — tested and monitored by Health Canada and the FDA — and must not contain pesticides, heavy metals, fungi or bacteria. Product safety has been under greater public scrutiny since medical cannabis provider Organigram (recently acquired by Canopy Growth) had to recall some of its products because of contamination with a banned pesticide.19 The company faces several class-action lawsuits as a result, after patients reported suffering from severe nausea after daily use of the contaminated product.The nature of the product presents a second significant social risk. The Canadian Medical Association has stressed the need for access to substance abuse and mental health services to be expanded. The federal government has committed $62.5 million to cannabis education programs for youth.22 In addition to federal and provincial contributions, cannabis producers will likely be required to contribute to education and addiction treatment programs, in the way that producers of alcoholic beverages participate in and spearhead programs for alcohol addiction and impaired driving education. Thirdly, cannabis companies state that a positive public perception is crucial to achieving the social licence to operate. We agree and, as such, identify responsible marketing and post marketing co-vigilance policies and practices as another key issue for cannabis producers. Governance: As stated earlier, cannabis companies have experienced unprecedented growth over the last year and, as a result, have found it challenging to scale up their corporate governance controls to keep pace with that growth. As the industry will be heavily scrutinized by regulators and may be prone to criticism from the public, cannabis companies need independent and qualified board oversight to provide accountability to stakeholders, including investors. Proper corporate governance controls can assist in bridging the credibility gap in this new industry.



I came across another commentary that wasn't focusing on the ESG aspects but the "new industry component" from Gaurdian that was recently put out, it's an interesting read ......

"By now every reader will likely be aware that Canada is about to legalize the recreational consumption of cannabis in October, becoming one of just a handful of nations to have done so. A level of buzz (pun intended) surrounds the industry, currently with 118 licensed medical cannabis producers, of which several dozen are publicly-traded in Canada. The largest of these have posted spectacular returns, rising between 200% and 500% over the past year alone. One, by virtue of uniquely gaining a NASDAQ listing south of the border during the quarter, rose more than tenfold in its initial two months of trading. At its heights, the company, yet to turn a profit, had a market valuation greater than household Canadian names such as Loblaw, Fortis, Husky Energy and Canadian Tire. To a degree, the euphoria is understandable: it is uncommon to witness the birth of an entirely new industry. There are, however, periodic historical reference points, such as the rise of the automobile at the start of the 1900’s and the dot. com euphoria near the end of that century, and like all other precedents, the legalization of recreational cannabis shows potential. It is also worth revisiting how these prior episodes all played out, with an initial period of excitement that results in sharply rising stock prices, and a growing list of participant companies able to fairly easily attract investors into newly listed shares. Almost invariably, a level of industry overbuilding results, with too much capacity added from this initial group. From there, an interval of re-sorting takes place, as stock prices subside, weaker competitors exit or merge, and a much smaller collection of survivors move forward. For example, in the early 1900’s, during the initial days of transition from horse to car, there were an estimated 2,000 automobile manufacturers in America, but the list had been winnowed to essentially three over the next twenty years. Another example might be, the estimated 90 million miles of fiber-optic cable installed across America during 1999, in anticipation of a coming internet boom. The boom eventually did materialize, but for the first three years, 95% of this network lay “dark” and unused, and the major players backing its installation had ceased to exist. At this point, valuing these recreational cannabis producers requires making some assumptions on end market demand, wholesale pricing, and production costs. Beyond this, factors such as consumption growth, regulatory regime and international factors – both in terms of possible demand, and new competition – must be weighed. Finally, once all of this is considered, a view on valuation is required. Given the list of risks at the current stage, an ample margin for error should be demanded before moving forward with an investment. Simply basing an investment on an optimistic industry view alone can backfire, even picking the eventual winners is no guarantee of short-term profits. Consider those who bought shares in technology hardware company Cisco, commonly considered a provider of the “plumbing of the internet”, in the late 1990’s. These investors were correct in their estimation that the company would go on to prosper from rapidly growing data consumption: company revenues, at just over $12 billion in fiscal 1999, had risen to over $49 billion in the most recent annual set of results. However, a lack of discretion on valuation means these buyers near the peak are still looking to recoup their initial investment, over fifteen years later.

At Guardian, we look to invest in companies with sustainable competitive advantages, strong management teams, and a proven record of superior financial performance. These are necessary ingredients when attempting to value securities for consideration. By definition, this makes it difficult to commit to investments in brand new industries where there is an absence of reference points regarding pricing, costs, end market demand, to say nothing of regulatory constraints. Until these materialize, it is certainly possible that a chosen cohort of stocks continues to levitate, supported by faith and a lack of data to refute speculation. This therefore, is the essential difference: pot stocks – like cars and tech companies – represent a speculative bet rather than an investment. There will be winners and losers in this space; companies that learn how to operate publicly, stay onside with regulations, balance growth and stability, will be the winners. Which constituents of this new subset of healthcare companies will operate profitably and sustainably is unknown today. We want our clients investments to go up, just not “Up in Smoke”. 

Reading all this, I know a few people who have done very well speculating on their own in our community, so far. It reminds me of this song from Rascal Flatt's , it could be a two edged sword, out too late or staying too long. Courting pot stocks has a lot of ..... these days  


For here are some neat highlights that this charting company puts out that maybe of interest. ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​Happy Reading Tim Ross, Family Advisor ® Family Office providing Omega Stewardship ® 613-345-0016 Office 613-213-4625 Cell/Text ​ Helping Families Achieve ...Life’s Major Goals ® ​ OMEGA STEWARDSHIP ® * One Stop Process Driven Approach for Retirement & Income Planning * Personalized Tax Management Solutions for Individuals & Business Owners * Confidential Wealth Management Solutions ​ Mutual Funds through Professional Investments ​ Brock Shores Financial #ImprovingFutures ​ ​
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Marriage thoughts at Rotary Joke time

Got a copy of these tonight in my meeting notes from last weeks meeting. During our Rotary meeting, we have a joke master and Don DeGroot provided these for our enjoyment. 

The love of my life made me puff ball bread sticks tonight and a smoothie, that’s pretty good for a 9 pm snack on a Sunday night!


Answers to questions about Love and Marriage from six to ten year olds 

"You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming."
- Alan, age 10 ....... {Smart Guy}
"No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with."
- Kirsten, age 10

"Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then."
- Camille, age 10
"No age is good to get married at.  You got to be a fool to get married."
 Freddie, age 6 ......... {Even Smarter Guy}

"Married people usually look happy to talk to other people."
- Eddie, age 6
"You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids."
- Derrick, age 8

"Both don't want no more kids."
- Lori, age 8

"Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other.  Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough."
- Lynnette, age 8
"On the first date, they just tell each other lies, and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date."
- Martin, age 10

"When they're rich."
- Pam, age 7 ............ {Girls Sure Start Early}
"The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with  that."
- Curt, age 7

"It's better for girls to be single, but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them."
- Anita, age 9 .................. { A Lot Of Truth Here}
"Single is better, for the simple reason that I wouldn't want to change no diapers.  Of course, if I did get married, I'd just phone my mother and have her come over for some coffee and diaper-changing."
- Kirsten, age 10

"There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there?"
 - Kelvin, age 8

"Tell your wife that she looks pretty even if she looks like a dump truck."
- Ricky, age 10 ............... {Huh?}
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Harvest for Food Banks

Yesterday was a full day. I was in the field shortly after 8 getting setup. Robert Dentz and Bill lifted some more rows, they had done a number the afternoon before. People started driving in after 9. We were out of the field by 5. I headed to Prescott Food For All Food Bank with Megan with our final load, came back, cleared the field of pails and hauled the second trailer back for unloading of the pails tomorrow wrapped up just after 7, will get them back into storage and be ready for the next adventure tomorrow. We gathered over 18,000 pounds of potatoes and squash for local food banks and feeding organizations in our community of Brockville and Prescott. There had to be over 50 volunters assist throughout the day, maybe more.

Greg Houldcroft , Executive Director of Cross Town Impact stepped up another year to help get the word out and inspire youth and families to journey to the fields. This event started over 9 years ago when I coordinated with Highway Pentecostal Church to help glean the fields, that would put it around 2010.

Looking back at some old notes , we often stretched this into the colder months

Sent: Monday, December 2, 2013 3:08 PM
To: Leigh Bursey  Cc: Rodger McCabe  Subject: Re: ummmm.
Hi Rodger and Leigh, I did a site inspection this afternoon and met with the Dents, there is not enough left to make it viable to do anymore harvesting, what is left will remain for personal consumption and perhaps some secret weapon chips :) Interesting the Kale that is still left is in good shape considering the recent weather, very impressive cole crop.
Thanks for your help and interest, Together We Did Some Great Good, thanks again . Over 4 Thousand Tons of food. Tim
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.
Sent: Monday, December 2, 2013 4:41 AM
To: Leigh Bursey  Cc: Rodger McCabe Subject: Re: ummmm. 

That year Leigh had a car accident on the Sunday before this email. I missed seeing Leigh this year, however he was out for a bit in the morning and picked a few pails that added to the effort.

We had a beautiful day and were blessed with a great day and effort. The passing of the rain clouds was huge answer to prayer, early that morning it did rain a bit, fortunately not enough to stop the process. It had been wet leading up to the harvest, Thursday morning it ws hopeful that things would turn around as we would not be able to get on the fields on Saturday if it did not. Fortunatly Thursday and Friday the wind picked up and the sun came out to help allow the fields to get dryed out enough so Robert could dig the potatoes and then the volunteers pick and bag them .

There is lots of pictures on facebook, this link should take you there.

Greg has album at

There is also some video


Event Page yr 2018

Event Page Year 2017

Event Year 2016

Event Year 2015

Event Year 2014

Event Year 2013





We don't always get potatoes, in 2011 there was none. 

reviewed with Iris next weekend, for church harvest , Sat Oct 29
​- need shovel's, pitch forks, knives for processing
​carrot's, beets, cabbage, squash

Hotlist Task Created: Phone Call, no potatoes this yr. but other stuff
With: Dentz, Robert & Iris
Scheduled by: Tim Ross  Assigned to: Tim Ross  October 17, 2011

I believe I started this back in  2009 so we have about 10 years of harvesting under our belt at this point. I say about as over time our memories float around the beginning , going to search my archieves and confirm at some point :) 

In the year 2013 I wrote 

Year2014 - Tentative Date Set , Year 5 , it will be an all day event, come and go as you please. Rodger and I have worked the full day almost every time in the past , so it really needs a full day's effort and depending on the produce availability a few extra visits may be required to get it all gleaned.
There was about 5000 pounds of potatoes that we were unable to glean, plus beets , kale, squash , tons of stuff that we just didn't have the people power to glean. Hopefully next year with a greater outreach of volunteers, and expanded time line, that can all change, many hands make for light work.


so that is looking like year 2010 start harvest, the planning seed began in 2009 from a conversation I had with the Dents's that fall. 

So, looking like year Year 10 will be 2019, and for fun, lt's set a tenative date  Sturday October 12, 2019 with a rain date oct 19




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Last night there was a risk of frost, and it looks like at least another week of good “warmer” weather ahead with no risk of frost. So I went about the gardens and made provisions for the impending chill that would end the tomatoes, peppers and late squash from sudden destruction, I was Not concerned about the Kale, peas, garlic, potatoes ( we had already harvested them) onions, beets, lettuce ( newly planted) and the turnips. I forgot about the eggplant. While out and about we found some puff balls in various stages of development, I have been waiting for this kind of weather we’re these delectable fungus thrive, that was the big opportunity I waited patiently for. I had found two huge decayed puff balls in the meadow, one last fall and one this summer when I was sycthing. Opportunities, I knew they would return, just their nature. This morning I started cutting the puff balls up, the first one I was concerned That perhaps it was too old, one slice and the evidence clearly showed I was too late to be fit from that opportunity, but the next one I cut was ready and into the frying pan it went with a little coconut oil to get it crackling and my it turned out delicious. I put the other two big Balkan in the fridge and am planning on eating them and thinkin who might like to share a slice or two with. I offered a piece to our friend Anthony and he declined, wasn’t husband cup of tea, which surprised me as he was quite knowledgeable about the fungus world. I wrote this little commentary for two purposes, firstly to see who would like a slice of the opportunity, to try it, I know it’s good food and rare. Second to bring up an analogy that opportunities like this happen in our investment business every once in awhile, markets crash, decline and great investment opportunity is presented. I am getting the warning signs, and I am preparing for the call, the moment that you can pick in great abundance, with delightful extra profit. Doesn’t always happen, there was no frost this morning, it did get cold, was prepared, we did find some good stuff while preparing and I feel pretty good about the whole exercise, that’s kinda like planning and reviewing your plans when we are meeting discussing the future, are we on track, can we weather the frost, I get the idea, hopefully you get a little insight as well, as Mike says, the excersizes are necessary hard or spelled right, it’s a lot of mind over the matter. Sometimes you have to  Feel the pain, to get the gain, control your breathing, but breathe properly, do the exercise properly and enjoy the long term benefits and in the process correct long term problems that we gather through out our lives. 

I could go on :)   In the meantime 

So who wants a slice ? 





No frost today

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Starting Right Financial Advice

Basics We All Can Achieve


Ray Dalio has some great tips on what one should do, the title says Millennials, however this is a message many should aspire to. 

So no matter where you are in life, reset, restart, contact our team and get a review and clarity for your financial plans. Let’s put some action into #ImprovingFutures 


Timothy Ross

Founder, Brock Shores Financial



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Negative Overload - It Can Happen

A cloudy day is no match for a sunny disposition. William Arthur Ward

I seen a post on one of my friends feeds just now.  It reminds me of how I feel sometimes, there is a number of changes happening in our current economic and political landscape and doesn't seem to matter what you post , there is most often negative response.


This quote from Rana C pretty well sums it up

" We live in especially pessimistic times. We’re pessimistic about the environment, pessimistic about America, pessimistic about the government and education.

The resulting stew of negativity makes me worry that the future

Fortunately, research suggests things we can do help

Pay more attention to the positive, and help others do the same....
There’s one problem with the pessimist’s perspective: it’s wrong.

That negative dystopian soup is an illusion, the result of an unfortunate collision between a 24/7 news cycle and the brain’s tendency to hone in on any possible danger and ignore everything else. Overall, things on planet Earth are pretty good — or at least, in many ways, they’ve never been better. No country in the world has a lower life expectancy now than the countries with the highest life expectancies in 1800. More people around the world believe in gender equality than ever before, and more value religious freedom. Poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, child labor and infant mortality are all on the decline.

Stay out of the negatives "

Another friend of his reminds us of my mentor Nick's quote

"Optimism is the only realism. It's the only worldview which squares with the facts, and with the historical record." — Nick Murray, Simple Wealth


And to start it all off thismorning my word for the day was rather depressing, yet it is there.



1 often capitalized Weltschmerz : mental depression or apathy caused by comparison of the actual state of the world with an ideal state

2 often capitalized Weltschmerz : a mood of sentimental sadness

Did You Know?

The word weltschmerz initially came into being as a by-product of the European Romanticism movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. A combining of the German words for "world" (Welt) and "pain" (Schmerz), weltschmerz aptly captures the melancholy and pessimism that often characterized the artistic expressions of the era. The term was used in German by the Romantic author Jean Paul (pseudonym of Johann Paul Friedrich Richter) in his 1827 novel Selina, but it wasn't adopted into English until the middle of the 19th century.


I had never heard of this word before, I wonder what tomorrow's word brings us.


Let the light in


Have a blessed day!

Timothy Ross


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Inspirational Tipping Point

My notes from IFB Ottawa Ccnference  last month that I attended as part of our professional development . 

An  encouraging session 

  • Tim


Simon Reilly, Leading Advisor

You can go out there and add value.

Cicero and Damenthosis, speech, let’s March

Get the why right or you will just do

We have a vocation not a job,  a vocation has it in your soul, the why you do it !

Passion and pulls you forward

Get rid of fear !

Inspire from deep within

We all have values inherent within you, tie values and inspiration together

If your acting tired, burn out, overwhelmed, no time, why would clients want to work with you, they will feel that from you

Feel you have time and money, make is

Wake up to gain additional understanding

We have to take responsibility, if it is going to be it’s up to me

Being, your soul

Bob Dylan , back seat driving quote Time magazine

Control I need to do it myself, need of approval and recognition, thoughts are a wheel of fortune, pick up the vibe , and they disempower themselves , and they start making mistakes , they will last 6 months if your lucky

We get distracted from making a difference by all the baggage we carry

Front seat driver or back seat driver

People walk through their days unconsciously

The emotions and belief systems get in the way

Leading Advisor , testimony from Robert Clark,   Millennium, extremely bright ,

We can’t superimposing judgements on them

Missy Pursley, became the leader as she got strong vision

He works for a short period of time, you don’t need a paid friend

Don’t need to be driven by the back seat driver, doesn’t need to be that way

We need to seize the day and see the people

Understand and discover how to get your needs met

People are getting overwhelmed with the decision processing

Work out business puzzles and solve them

Create the family office

Free book, presentation they did

97$ to get started , after evaluation to start,

Get changed at a cellular level, help get past hang ups that I have

So you don’t have to prove to much, just explain how it will happen

What ever you resist persists

What is out needs DNA ?

What is the story behind it? Step 1, Step 2

Work through the emotions and belief

Develop your conviction  

Your greater than your body, your mind ,!its your soul

We can provide extraordinary value to our clients

Say Yes

Good presentation, positive ideas , perhaps could benefit from this coaching going forward

Ted Talk Link

Thank you
Tim Ross, Family Advisor ®
Family Office providing Omega Stewardship ®
613-345-0016 Office
613-213-4625 Cell/Text

Helping Families Achieve ...Life’s Major Goals ®

* One Stop Process Driven Approach for Retirement & Income Planning
* Personalized Tax Management Solutions for Individuals & Business Owners
* Confidential Wealth Management Solutions

Mutual Funds through Professional Investments

Brock Shores Financial


Thousands of years ago, the story of Let's March was born. Two of the greatest public speakers of all time were Cicero and Demosthenes. Cicero was the greatest speaker in Rome; Demosthenes was the greatest speaker in Athens. After every time Cicero gave a speech, the audience would give him a standing ovation, wildly applaud, and say, "Wow, what an incredible speech." When Demosthenes was done speaking, the people would say, "Let's March."

Bob Dylan Interview -Time

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Leonard Cohen - Flame

Article - Romance, regrets and notebooks in the freezer: Leonard Cohen’s son on his father’s final poems


Enjoyable article , I remember how the kids grand father would talk the time he met Leonard Cohen in Montreal. Memories, he lived his music and it got  his spirit moving. I rather like many of Cohen’s songs, not realizing the poetic side of him. Reflecting know, it makes perfect sense. Maybe I should revisit my own poem book. 

Was he, in the end, a musician or a poet? A grave philosopher or a grim sort of comedian? A cosmopolitan lady’s man or a profound, ascetic seeker? Jew or Buddhist? Hedonist or hermit? Across his 82 years, the Montreal-born Leonard Cohen was all of these things – and in his posthumous book of poetry, given the Lawrentian title The Flame by his son Adam, all sides of the man are present.”


Will have to get this book for the library and glean some inspiration from it. Maybe I get two and send a copy to Maurice for his enjoyment. 

Timothy Ross


“He’d call himself slow. He’d write poems about how Leonard Cohen was a lazy bastard living in a suit”

Adam Cohen

Happens to the Heart

I was always working steady
But I never called it art
I was funding my depression
Meeting Jesus reading Marx
Sure it failed my little fire
But it’s bright the dying spark
Go tell the young messiah
What happens to the heart

There’s a mist of summer kisses
Where I tried to double-park
The rivalry was vicious
And the women were in charge
It was nothing, it was business
But it left an ugly mark
So I’ve come here to revisit
What happens to the heart

I was selling holy trinkets
I was dressing kind of sharp
Had a pussy in the kitchen
And a panther in the yard
In the prison of the gifted
I was friendly with the guard
So I never had to witness
What happens to the heart

I should have seen it coming
You could say I wrote the chart
Just to look at her was trouble
It was trouble from the start
Sure we played a stunning couple
But I never liked the part
It ain’t pretty, it ain’t subtle
What happens to the heart

Now the angel’s got a fiddle
And the devil’s got a harp
Every soul is like a minnow
Every mind is like a shark
I’ve opened every window
But the house, the house is dark
Just say Uncle, then it’s simple
What happens to the heart

I was always working steady
But I never called it art
The slaves were there already
The singers chained and charred
Now the arc of justice bending
And the injured soon to march
I lost my job defending
What happens to the heart

I studied with this beggar
He was filthy he was scarred
By the claws of many women
He had failed to disregard
No fable here no lesson
No singing meadowlark
Just a filthy beggar blessing
What happens to the heart

I was always working steady
But I never called it art
I could lift, but nothing heavy
Almost lost my union card
I was handy with a rifle
My father’s .303
We fought for something final
Not the right to disagree

Sure it failed my little fire
But it’s bright the dying spark
Go tell the young messiah
What happens to the heart

June 24, 2016

Flying Over Iceland

over Reykjavik, the “smokey bay” 
where W.H. Auden went
to discover the background
of all our songs,
where I myself was received
by the Mayor and the President
(600 miles an hour
30,000 feet
599 miles an hour
my old street number on Belmont Ave) 
where I, a second-rater
by any estimation,
was honoured by the noblest
and handsomest people of the West 
served with lobster
and strong drink,
and I never cared about eyes
but the eyes of the waitress
were so alarmingly mauve
that I fell into a trance
and ate the forbidden shellfish

I Pray for Courage

I pray for courage
Now I’m old
To greet the sickness
And the cold

I pray for courage
In the night
To bear the burden
Make it light

I pray for courage
In the time
When suffering comes and
Starts to climb

I pray for courage
At the end
To see death coming
As a friend

The Flame is published by Canongate on 2 October.

Hallelujah- Leonard Cohen London


Order Book


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