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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My journey to a new friendship

Have you ever gotten up early in the morning because you got inspired to do something?

This is what just happened to me (it's almost 3.30 am on Boxing day)
For a while now I have been hesitating to write about this story because I am still emotional about it. I guess it was not the right time yet. But now, at 3.30 am on Boxing day, I am going to share the story (and I am selling it at half price lol).
Yes I know, it's again about my trip to Mali (I can hear you saying “get over it” as Dr. Phil always does).

My old friend Ken just read my blog and his comment was “Patrick, you are an INCREDIBLE and INSPIRING writer”; and just like that, by reading this comment, I got inspired to talk about my new friend Yacouba (and at the same time promote myself by using Ken's comment).

Yacouba is my new friend. He is just 11 years old. But what a friend!!! He is the kind of friend who reminds you of your purpose.

My trip to Mali (see previous blogs) was full of surprises which included my meeting with Yacouba. He is one of the 24 kids who participated in our project.. The ladies who designed the project had this amazing idea of working with kids in Canada and in Mali. The kids in Canada would write letters about what is important them and address them to the kids in Africa.. The African kids would then do the same in response. Once they identified what was important to them, the kids were asked to make a drawing or take a photograph that would represent what was important to them.. I thought this was brilliant.

Inspired, I got the idea to create a documentary film about the project. It was a simple project. All I had to do was follow the life of one kid in Canada, highlighting what was important to him. I would then do the same with one kid in Mali.

Collin was my guy in Toronto. For him, his family and playing hockey were the important things. I wondered how we were going to explain hockey to our African kids (I, myself, didn't know the rules). I followed Collin as the main character of my movie.

Once we got to Mali, each kid would chose a friend from Canada and read his or her letter. I waited to see who would get Collin's letter and then I would follow him as the other character of my movie. Yes, you guessed it, Yacouba got the letter and from that moment on he became my superstar. I followed him for the rest of the trip with his friends while they played soccer and had fun with the other kids in the program. It was great. I loved it.

Each kid in Mali was given a camera, which they used to take 27 pictures each. Once we got all the pictures, the kids had to choose one picture that would represent what was important to them, and say why. The kids took amazing pictures (and of course there was no hockey involved). Needless to say I was eager to see what was important to my friend Yacouba.

On the day that the kids had to choose their favourite picture, I was downtown with Papa Koné (see the blog about my new family). By the time I returned to school all the work was completed. The kids had taken amazing pictures. I went to see what Yacouba was up to. What a great suprise!!! Yacouba had chosen a picture Yes you got it right. I did not even remember him taking a picture of me.

Beneath the picture, Yacouba had written: “Patrick is important to me because he is my friend, he takes pictures of me and he plays soccer with me”. I couldn't believe it. First of all, I am not a good soccer player. Second, I could not believe how this kid could have chosen me. He only knew me for two weeks!!! How about that???

On the last day of our project, the kids performed in a show. It was a great show that even got covered by local media. At the end of the show, Yacouba came to me and introduced me to his aunt. He was proud to show me his family. I decided to do an interview with her asking her about my friend Yacouba. He is a great kid according to his aunt.

At the end of the interview, I told Yacouba that it was my last day in Mali. I had to return to Canada. He started crying. The kid cried a lot. He held my hand and wouldn't let me go. Guess what? I started crying too. All the kids watched us. I took Yacouba to a quiet spot away from the other kids. I didn't know what to say to him. I held him in my arms, and told him that he was my friend and that I would never forget him. The kid cried even more. I asked him to be a good boy, and above all to study hard and become something.

Right there, I decided to do something for this kid. I decided to pay for his education. Before leaving Mali, I made sure that I had all the contacts I needed to keep in touch with Yacouba. The Koné family would be my main contact to send money for Yacouba's education (and it doesn't cost a lot). I'd like to see this kid become the Prime Minister or become like me and writes blogs…. lol.

Moral of the story? Do you want a new friend? Just write to me and I will give you Yacouba's contacts. He will become your friend too.

Always a pleasure
The Journeyman

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My journey to Las Vegas

I guess everyone has heard the saying “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”. I would say it does not have to.

I am a fan of personal development stuff. Every time I get an opportunity to attend a seminar, read a book or listen to an audio recording, I just run with it. I have learned so many things in the process.

It was in late October 2008 that Gabriela,a friend of mine and life coach came to me and told me that a well known speaker and coach was conducting a 3 day intensive training in Vegas. She said that she could invite 5 people to attend for free, provided that they could pay for their own transportation and hotel accommodations. It was a great deal, because the training was a little bit expensive (I believe learning is priceless).
Needless to say I was interested, but I had not planned to travel so soon (an easy way to say that I did not have the money to do it). I told my friend that I would go with her and now I had to figure out how.

The “how” has never been my business. I just figure out what I want, and then the how will show up (what a good deal I got). That always works. Don’t ask me how it works because I don’t know (remember that the “how” is none of my business).
Around that time, I overheard people in a meeting discussing a project they wanted to do. I approached them and told them that I knew somebody who could help. They wanted to give the person a try. I called my friend and explained to him what was needed from him and he delivered. My friend was so happy about it that he offered me 10% of the deal. I did not even ask for it but I accepted it. Guess what? The trip was paid for.

What a city!! Las Vegas is so beautiful. I was so lucky because I got there a day before the training, so I had enough time to visit different places and watch a number of shows. Vegas never sleeps.

The training was great. I learned so much. One of the things the trainer talked about was setting goals. So I did. I set 5 goals of things I would like to accomplish in 2009. But after a while I forgot about these goals that I had put on paper, and it wasn’t until my move downtown (which was one of those goals) that I came across the paper again.. I was shocked to see that I had accomplished 3 of the 5 goals without even knowing it! The 2 remaining goals are within reach as I am writing this blog.

I guess what happened in Vegas did not stay there. I am glad I went there because I learned some valuable stuff. The only thing I did not commit to was giving up drinking coke (I mean coca cola….). I had stopped for a while until I went to Mali (West Africa). Their coke is amazing.

Moral of the story? Do you want to accomplish great things? Just go to Vegas, set some goals and then forget about them.

Always a pleasure
The Journeyman

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My journey to a new family

Have you ever taken a trip, not really knowing what to expect, and at the end being blown away?

That is what happened to me on my last visit to Mali (West Africa).

Being born in Africa, I was not expecting to experience a cultural shock (is there an African culture?), but having been away for a while, I had forgotten some aspects of my “roots” (yes, you can blame me if you want).

Before leaving Toronto, we were told that everything was taken care of by the Koné family in Bamako and that there was nothing to worry about. I knew some members of the Koné family (two of them taking the trip with me). “Taken care of” was really an understatement when we got there. Three cars were waiting for us (there were 5 of us on the trip ; do I hear you saying VIPs?), Abdoul Karim Koné (the one I knew before going to Mali) was waiting for us inside the airport with his usual nice smile, kids were around helping us with our luggages, and above all, there was....the nice weather (what a relief!!!)

Off we went, leaving the airport not even knowing where we were going, but trusting once again in the Konés. First trip, before doing anything else, we had to go and greet Papa Koné (the head of the family). I guess that is the tradition. I was impressed by this man. In his eighties, Papa Koné is still a strong man with incredible intellectual faculties (I wanted to take some extra French lessons from him).

Long story short, our first night was perfect. Before going to our “house” we spent the first night at Abdoulaye “Papou” Koné's villa in which he lived with Abba, a very funny guy who calls himself “Beau Gosse” (good looking guy). His stories were hilarious!!!

We had 3 weeks to accomplish the project (stay tuned for the details in a later blog; and yes I am selling it), but in the meantime I got enough time to spend with the Koné Brothers. There was Abdoul “The Businessman”, Mamadou “The Boss” (also called George only on Sundays) and Papou “The sharp banker” called Matthew on the Sundays as well. What an amazing family!!!!

I was particularly amazed with the respect they had for each other. Just by listening to them talking to one another, you could see who was the big brother and who was not.

I also spent time and got to know Papa Koné. Every time he saw me, he called me “my son”. It was really an honour for me. But it was also a little bit weird for me because as long as I can remember, that was the first time I heard a man calling me “my son”, and above all, me calling him “father” (that is a long story, and please don't ask me to explain, cause you don't ever want to see my face when I cry...).

He even gave us a big hand, when we needed media coverage for our project (we were told it was almost impossible to bring the national TV reporters). But Papa Koné had connections. I went with him at the TV station head office, and all the doors were opened in a second! All I had to do was to look good behind this man (and that is a very easy job for me, as I already look good). He presented me to the reporters as his son. Man!!!

Finally, I asked to be officially part of the Koné Family. At first I thought it was a joke, but they took it seriously. There is even a ritual for this. Papou Koné went through this with me, his brother Abdoul filming everything with his camera. The ritual lasted about 15 minutes, at the end of which I was even given a new name: Abdoulay Patriki Koné. Now I have a bunch of brothers and sisters, but above all, a father. And I am so proud of it.

Moral of the story? Do you want a new family, or do you want to trade the one you have now (lol)? Just take a trip to Mali. There is still room in the Koné family

Always a pleasure


The Journeyman

Monday, December 7, 2009

My journey to Mali

Have you ever been to a place where you feel like “how in the world did I get here?”

That's how I am feeling now as I am writing this blog in the heat (I will take it anytime) of the beautiful city of Bamako, capital city of the Republic of Mali (West Africa).

The journey started 2 years ago when two of my co-workers told me that they were going to Africa, in a project that they initiated 2 years prior to our conversation. I wanted to know more about it. They told me that  it  all started while sharing a cup of coffee;they thought about going to Africa just for fun. The fun became a dream: to make a difference in kids'lives. For 2 long years they  saved money with all intentions focused on going. This time, they were ready to go. Everything was ready.

What could I say? I am the kind of guy that likes to plan things. But while planning, these people were doing. To tell  you  the truth : I was both mad and inspired. Mad because they were doing something I was planning to do for  a long  time and inspired because I could learn from them. Above all, they didn't  apply  for  grants and sponsorships, instead they used their own money!!!!

I couldn't resist. I had to be part of this.

At first, I  didn't have much to offer to them, because it was  only one week  before their trip.  Nevertheless, I did a radio show with them as my guests (that is how far I could go). The more I listened to them, the more inspired I  became. I almost had tears in my eyes. They were  also emotional .  Some of them are of African  ancestry but had never been there. What a big heart!!!!

I couldn't wait for them to  return.  And they did. They came with pictures  and  they were so excited about what they did .  I was so proud of them. I did a second radio show with them (don't ever think I have a lack of subjects in my show). This time it was too much for me. I had to be part of this. If they did not want me, I would do it anyway. Fortunately , they wanted me to be part of their journey (my charms maybe. Oh I forgot to tell you they were all ladies. So I was in good company).

I called a couple of friends and asked them to help (I have connections too). One is a movie director and the other is an expert  editor . They did a 7 minute documentary of the project for free (these ladies can inspire anybody!!!). Since then, I have been part of what ever they are doing. I am offering my talents of...(I just forgot which talents I have. I just have too many lol).

The next step of the project was to return  to Mali and  complete  the second phase of the project they had started. But before that, the ladies had to set up their own non-for-profit organization  through  which they would do all the upcoming projects. The name of the organization is “Leave your Mark /Laisse ta marque” (bilingual). What a  great  name!!

So here I am with them in Mali, at the eve of their second project. What will be my role? Whatever they ask me to do. I don't really care. I wanted to be part of this, and I am now. It's an honour to be with a group of people who will make history. I am documenting everything they are doing, maybe the Toronto film festival will have to invite me to show the movie of the project (they will have to insist though).

Moral of the story? Do you want to go to Africa? Share a cup of coffee with friends will end up there.
Always a pleasure.

The Journeyman

Monday, November 30, 2009

My journey to purpose

Have you ever been in a moment when everything comes together and you see “the light”? That was me on that morning of March 2003.

Let's say that my early days in Canada were not the way I  had    imagined them to be (there was no money falling down  off of  trees as I had predicted) ;   but  I was happy. It was my fourth month working at a radio station. I was not getting paid but I  was having good times. I was learning a lot thanks to a mentor who became a very good friend over the years. I was working on a project that, in time, would generate money  for  the radio station ( I was hoping there would be enough to  secure  me a contract) and my mentor was teaching me how to do it.

Long story short, the radio got the money, but to my great surprise, I could not get hired because there was a statement in the grant contract that made me ineligible for the job. I did all this work for somebody else! How great! But I kept a positive attitude though. At least I  had learnt how to write grant proposals (the glass is always half full  with me ). So, the hiring process began but we did not have  too  many  candidates for the job ; this was mainly because many  applicants were not eligible.

At that time I had made a couple of friends among which  included one guy on the sixth floor of our office building. He was a self made man who liked  helping new immigrants.  One  day he called me and told me that there was a lady who was looking desperately for a job. He thought our radio station would be a great fit for her. I met the lady. Desperate she was. I told her I would take her resume but I was not the one pulling the trigger. She  had to go through the interview process like the others.

I was amazed by my new home, but I was so homesick. I would  spend  countless hours on the Internet sending e-mails to my friends back home.  I  was a little bit surprised by the  number  of e-mails I was  receiving from different people back home, all of them thanking me for what I'had  done for them.
I never  realized  I  had done all those things they were talking about. I was just having fun, doing what I loved to do and enjoying every bit of them. Along the  way , I made a difference in people's lives without even realizing it. What a story!

That was my commercial break.

Coming back to the radio station lady. After her interview, I got a call from the president of the radio station asking me to  contact  the lady to let her know that she  had  got the job.  I  did. I  wasn't able to get through to her on her phone,  so  I left her a message. As I was reading the bunch of e-mails I was still  receiving  from  my  friends back home ( at this point, you may be thinking that I was not working because I was  checking personal e-mails at the office, but I was), I was listening to a tape from a coaching program I was part of. The guy on the tape was so funny but he was talking about good stuff. Towards the end of the tape the guy  said: “There is a purpose for your life. You may not know it, but there is. And you will meet the people at the right moment, who will be there for a reason ; to teach you something.”

That was amazing. Then, the phone  rang . It was the lady  on the other end of the line. She got my message. She was in tears. She  thanked  me so much, but I did not take the credit (maybe I should have, just  so that I could look good).  What   baffled  me the most was what she said to me. She went: “I am glad I got the position, but most importantly I am so blessed because I will be working with you”. She did not know that she was coming to replace me (me, being ineligible  for  the position). What could I say after that?

All of a sudden, everything came together at that moment. The guy on the tape, the e-mails I was reading, the lady in tears on the phone.....I got it. I found my purpose!!!   My job here on this earth is to make a difference in people's lives doing what I love to do without expecting anything in return.
That was it. The lady on the phone was there for a reason. She was there to take my job (that  was  not the most exciting part), but she was also there to make me realize how my life  had  been so far ;  Giving unconditionally.

I  started crying. I cried like a baby. I went to my mentor's office crying and I told him what happened.
His look was comforting. He  had  been there. He understood (he did not even mention my ugly face when I  was crying).

Since that day, I  have known what my job is. And I  believe that  you are part of it too (aren't you reading my blog?).
Moral of the story: Do you want to know what your life purpose is? Just check your personal e-mails at the office  (just kidding....)
Always a pleasure.
The Journeyman

Monday, November 23, 2009

My journey to understanding

I have heard many times that experience is the best teacher. That is just a theory until you live it.

I used to work in a department whose main purpose was to find accommodation for new immigrants. It was a great experience. Not only was I able to visit many places in the city, but I made many friends too. Some moments were more memorable than others. Sometimes I would work so much that my boss had to remind me about my vacations (get a life, I hear you saying).

Every now and then, I would take 2 to 3 days and go for a trip. And that summer of 2005, I went to South Carolina for a business conference (great road trip in a bus for 16 long hours, half of which spent sleeping). On Tuesday, I came back to the office and a co-worker of mine told me that there was someone I should call (was this a lady? I asked...just kidding). She gave me the phone number of this gentleman. Half an hour later, the guy was in my office and we had a little chat.

After a while, he told me he was new to Canada and his passion was TV production (I guess that was the reason why my co-worker wanted me to talk to him). So I called my people who called some people, and he started to work as a cameraman. He also needed to move in a new place. I found him a cheap one (I had connections as you can tell). After a while, we became close friends and he started opening up a bit. He told me that when I called him for the first time, he was thinking about committing suicide as he felt helpless. In a few words, my phone call saved his life. I was moved by what he told me.

Our conversations kept becoming more interesting with time. And then came the blessings. As I was more and more fascinated by this guy, I started giving him some gifts as I could see he was in need. The first gift I gave him was a nice African shirt that I had for a while but never wore. He liked the shirt. And the next day, what a great surprise I got as one of our co-workers was coming from vacations in Europe. She thought about us and brought us some gifts. I received from her (and this is no joke), 2 brand new suits, one brand new pair of shoes, 6 shirts and 9 T-shirts. This was awesome!!!

After a few days, I met the guy again and he told me that he was facing some challenges as it was the beginning of the month. It was hard for him to move around in the city as he did not have money for transportation. Again, I felt I could help. So I offered him to buy his monthly pass for public transportation. The guy was in tears. He started to call me his father (did I mention that he was 55 years old?). So, I had a son who was almost twice my age (which I won't mention).

And this is when it became really interesting. The next day, I received a call from a great friend and business partner who told me that he wanted to give me a gift. He told me that he just bought a new car and he wanted to give me his previous car as a gift. Are you kidding me? Can this really happen?

Yes, it did indeed happen. I got a car as a gift. This has never happened to me before (and I'm still waiting for a second time...).

Back up a little bit. I gave my friend one African shirt, and I got a bunch of clothes from my co-worker. And then, I gave him the monthly pass for his transportation and then I got a car? What a deal!!! (sign me in anytime).Who said that when you give you will receive? I guess for me it was just a theory until it happened to me...twice.

Moral of the story? You should all buy African shirts. You may end up driving new cars.

Always a pleasure.


The Journeyman

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My journey to Choq

Here I am again with another unknown word. What in the world is the meaning of Choq? This is the name of the first radio station I worked at in Canada (so far it's the first and only station, but I believe there are many more to come).

How did I come to know about this station? It's a long story.

Here I am, new to Canada, with three years of experience in radio broadcasting under my belt, trying to nail my first job without even getting my work permit yet (Superman, watch out). The only connection I had in Toronto was the Internet (what a good one!), and the only place I knew was the public library (another good one). Networking has been one of my strengths (the Internet and the public library were the first good business contacts I made. I was the man!!!).

But, after a few calls, I knew that my two contacts were not enough. I had to meet real people. However, I kept coming back to the library (I am a faithful friend) because the Internet helped me to keep in touch with my family. One day, while returning from the library, I met a guy I knew back home. I knew him from when he used to work at the National TV station. It was easy to recognize him. We became friends and I told him about my desire to work in a radio station.

He mentioned to me about a French speaking radio station located in downtown Toronto . He gave me a phone number of a person I should contact (now I could improve my network outside my two friends the Internet and the public library).The next day, I called the radio station and asked if I could come and visit. The person on the other side of the line said yes. I thought: these Canadian people are cool!!!

He gave me the address of the place (now my networking was drastically improving) and we set a time and a day to meet. So I went.

The meeting was great. The guy who was working at the station was very nice (didn't I say that about Canadians?). We had a good conversation. I asked him about the types of radio shows they had, to which he responded by giving me a list of programs. To my good surprise, they had a show on sport news. That was my passion. I mentioned that I had a show back home talking about sport (not hockey though). I asked him if it was possible for me to come one day and do the show with the person in charge. He said that he would connect me with the host of the show. Are you kidding me???

I thought: I love Canada , I love Canadians, I love the world....

Two days later, I was on the phone with the host of the sport show. I mentioned my passion for radio, for sport, for Canadians (I was in love with them). And when I mentioned the name of the country I was from, he just shouted: “We are from the same country!!!! Come over on Saturday and let's do the show together”. What are the odds???? This time I was confused. Everybody is nice here!!! It's not only for Canadians; maybe it's in the water people drink here, or maybe it's the weather. I don't know. I was so excited man!

On Saturday, I showed up very early (I didn't even sleep the night before). I first went to see my friend the public library to see what was happening in the sport world (I didn't want to look stupid when I get in front of the microphone). At 10 O'clock I was at the studio. The guy I met before was there waiting for me, but the host of the show was nowhere to be found. Then the guy said: “The host is not coming today. He had a family emergency. Do you think you can do the show by yourself?” OK. This time you may be thinking that I am joking. How in the world!!!??? (Check out my blog: My journey to Bonesha).

What a feeling! I was in front of the microphone, talking about stuff that I was reading at the library half an hour before (it's good that I didn't want to look stupid). I even talked about hockey (hey, I was the only guy available that time. I was the expert! Don't tell me I could not talk about something I knew nothing about.).

Six months later, I was still working at Choq as a volunteer, and then they gave me my first contract. How the whole thing came together is another long story. Stay tuned.

Moral of the story? If you don't know anything about hockey, talk about it anyways. You may get a job.

Always a pleasure


The Journeyman

Monday, November 9, 2009

My journey to my first major project

Have you ever been in a phase in your life when you ask yourself “what's next?”

That was me in the late year 2001. I felt I had accomplished every goal I had set for myself (even though there weren't that many). I had finished university, I was working two jobs (is that an accomplishment?), I had two well rated radio shows, I had won 3 championships as a basketball coach, I had traveled to different countries doing reports and coaching basketball, and above all, I had a very beautiful girlfriend (I think I should have started with this one .......)

So what's next? That question kept bugging me for a while. I was still going through the motion, but my passion was not there anymore.

Then (by now you must be familiar with my “then's”), I received a call from a lady I didn't know at that time. She told me she was from Montreal and she was a friend of my best friend (if you read one of my blogs, it's one of my journalists friends who made it big).

We then met and she told me that my friend was a big time journalist in Canada (I had lost track of him for a while). She connected me to my friend. When we finally talked we had 7 years of catching up to do. I told him about my “what next” situation. Even now, my friend still stretches me with big ideas. He is just a genius (I once saw him write a complete book in two weeks while we were sharing our dorm room at the campus).

“Let's do a project together”, my friend told me. What project? I asked. Long story short, my friend agreed to bring journalists from Canada for a week long training seminar for local journalists, and in return, our journalists would be invited to receive training in Canada . What a brilliant idea!!!! Except one thing.....I would have to pay for everything (flight tickets, accommodation, blablabla....). Of course I was up to the challenge!

I went to my boss at the radio station and told him about the idea. He was excited about that. And when I told him about paying for everything, he couldn't believe I would come up with such a bad idea. He told me to go back to work and forget about it. I went to work, but I wasn’t going to give up. Come on man! What are you talking about? I had found an answer to my “what next” question. Even now as I write this blog I can remember how excited I was at that moment.

After asking for help from a couple of friends in preparing the project proposal, I went out knocking on doors asking for sponsors. Some of my friends thought I was crazy (I think I was...seriously!). But some of my co-workers at the radio took me seriously. The team was made and off we went everywhere asking for sponsors. After a while, a man that I respected a lot, heard about my project and asked me to come out to meet him.

He introduced me to a very successful businessman. This businessman offered to sponsor the entire project. He even added some awesome elements to it.

The long and short of the story is that (and it is really a long story), we brought 3 journalists and 2 musicians from Canada , 6 other musicians from a neighbouring country for 12 days all expenses paid. After the training, we did a series of 3 concerts, a VIP concert in which the President of the country was invited (I still remember him dancing. Unbelievable!!!!); another concert in a night club, and the last one at a packed stadium on a Sunday). We were able to secure a sponsor, the National Airline Company, which provided an airplane to the Canadians for a tour of the country.

I was part of the tour (fantastic view from above). It was during this tour, while travelling in the plane, that something came to me. I had made it!!! I did the project! (which cost over 35 million in the local currency).While my friend was cracking jokes in the plane, I was crying. I cried like a baby (not a pleasant sight, I have to admit). My “what next” question had found an answer. Since then, I have never stopped asking the question “what next?” However, in the process, I lost my beautiful girlfriend. Maybe that should be my next “what next” question. How about that?

Moral of the story? When stuck in life,...... think about inviting a Canadian.

Always a pleasure


The Journeyman

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My journey to the stage

Most often we watch movies that leave us speechless. That was my case when I saw “The Ultimate Gift” for the first time. It's a must see movie. Very inspirational. I won't ruin the party by telling you the whole story. Watch it if you don't believe me.

After watching it for the fourth time, I started thinking about what I would like to do when I grow up (I consider myself still young. Just look at my picture, you will see). I kept thinking about it for an entire week. Then one day, I went on the computer and I started writing. It took me two weeks, at the end of which I came up with a nine page document (I will be a very busy man when I grow up).

My next move was to print it out and put it on the wall where I could see it every time I wake up (what else would I see? I sleep alone!!). It was fun to look at my future every morning. But after a while I got fed up with the picture I was seeing. I had to do something. Then I asked myself: “What shall I begin with?” And then something inside told me:”Public speaking”. Why not? I thought. I've done it before. I was a teacher, I was a basketball coach and I am doing radio. That would be an easy transition.

But I had no clue how the industry worked, or how I could become a professional speaker. At that time, I was reading a book written by one of the top speakers in the industry. At one moment, he mentioned that he was part of Toastmasters International (a club that trains people to become speakers). I thought...hmm. That would be a start.

Then I went online, I searched for a club that would be near where I was living. I found one, but they were meeting every Thursday evening. I couldn't do it. It was at the same time I was doing my radio show. As I was reading the information, a co-worker of mine knocked at my door. I opened and she went: “Have you heard about Toastmasters International?” Was she reading my mind or what? I showed her what I was reading and she laughed. Do you think it wasn't meant to be?

She then told me that there was a club downtown, they met at lunch time for an hour every Thursday. Needless to say that I became member of the club and went on competing against other clubs (as I am writing this blog, I am smiling as I am looking at a trophy I received recently.....Another tap on my shoulder please).

That was not the funny part. The same week I knew about Toastmasters, I overheard another co-worker of mine saying that United Way Toronto was looking for speakers to help in their fundraising campaign. What do you think I did? One year later, I have done over 40 events for The United Way, and I know that there are many more to come.

I won't even mention a great training I went to in Dallas Texas (stay tuned for another blog about my journey to Texas).

There is no moral to the story other than being aware of what the co-workers are saying. It may help.

Always a pleasure.

The Journeyman.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Journey to France

Another of one of those basketball stories.

When I started coaching basketball, I was chosen (and that time I was not even in the country for 6 weeks) to be on the board of the basketball federation. It was a fun experience. I was in charge of a program whose main purpose was to promote basketball to the youth.

The fun part was that I had access to a Mercedes and a driver who would drive me around to basketball camps within the city. Overall, more than 1000 kids were involved in the camps and we did it for two straight years.

Then, a friend of mine called me to ask me if I would do a presentation to a group of people who came from France. They wanted to know about what we were doing with those basketball camps. I was glad to do the presentation and enjoyed the free food that was provided ( I am always open to opportunities).
For some reason, the French people were impressed (my presentation skills maybe....). They told me that they would invite me to France so that I could share my stories (maybe they knew one day I would be writing this blog.... Just a thought).

Did I believe them? Not really. I didn't even think about it. However, six months later, I receive a call asking me to bring my passport to the French embassy to apply for a visa. What do you mean? I asked my friend. What for? A lot of questions went through my mind. Yes, my French connection worked!!!! I had no passport at that time, though. What a loser!!!

I managed to get a passport within 24 hours (I talked to my people who talked to their people, if you know what I mean). Oh, I forgot to mention that the trip was scheduled in 6 days. I had to travel with another guy that I knew. He could not believe that we could make it. And to make it worse, the guy who was supposed to pay for our flight tickets was not in the country. And to top it all off: the Embassy denied our visa request. Four days to go. No visa, no ticket, no hope. Not for me though. I spent years of my life watching Michael Jordan taking those last second shots and making them. I could be like Mike.

Two days to go. We finally got the visa (my people called their people. You already know the story. Don't you?). But no ticket. The guy who was supposed to travel with me, decided not to go because, according to him, there was no way we could get the money for the tickets within 24 hours (he did not watch Michael Jordan, I presume).

I had 24 hours to find a way. This time, my people could call nobody. The first thing I did was to call my friends in France. I wanted to know, if I were able to find someone to buy the ticket for me, if they would be willing to reimburse this person.. They said yes. Who could give me $1200 (1.2 million in the local currency) in less than a day?

As I was sharing my story with my coworkers at the radio station, one of them just stated: “Why won't you ask “President” (that was how we called our boss)”? I had nothing to lose. So I did. Guess what? He paid for the ticket (our boss was one heck of a person). Next morning, I flew to France where I spent 7 days.

Moral of the story? When it comes down to the wire, and you need a big play, just be like Mike: Take the shot!

Always a pleasure
The Journeyman.

Friday, October 23, 2009

My Journey to Bonesha

Most of you are wondering what “Bonesha” means.
Bonesha is the name of the first radio station I worked for a number of years ago. Even now as I am writing, I can't help but laugh at the thought of me working in a radio station.

Four friends playing basketball together, skipping school on Saturdays to hang out in a café. That was us. We were dreaming of having our own radio station one day. What should be our first step? We thought. Let's create a newspaper! That was a brilliant idea, except that four publications later, there was no more newspaper. We had good time though.

Fifteen years later, yes fifteen, all the four of us are journalists. Two have published books, one is doing his PHD in journalism and one is writing blogs. Just kidding. (I will talk about my radio shows in a later blog).

Do we own our radio station? Not yet. But I think we made it though. One of us is a great journalist, he has traveled all over the world doing reports and he is the Vice-President of a great and well known organization defending journalists' rights.

How about me? You may ask.

Outside of being a journalist, my other passion has been basketball. I played for more than ten years in a league (even though most of the time was spent on the bench, but that's another story). In 1995, I started coaching basketball, and in 7 years, my team won over 15 cups (a tap on my shoulder, please).

What that has to do with radio? Everything. As I was on the verge of winning my first championship as a coach, I was invited at Bonesha to talk about the season. The journalist was a friend of mine. The show was great. At the end, the journalist, out of nowhere asked me: Would you be interested to come back next week to do the radio show with me?..... Are you kidding me? You bet I would.

The week after, I showed up at the station, did the show with him and I was in heaven. The third week, guess what? The guy didn't show up. I did the show alone. Nine months later, I was still doing the show, I even added a second one, which ended up being one of the biggest hits at Bonesha (that's my opinion and I will stick to it).

Then, out of the blue, the President of the radio station came to me and said: You've done a great job with us, I think I am ready to give you a contract. It took me nine months, working without getting paid, but I made it. I worked there for three years before getting a job at Choq FM (that's another blog by itself).

The moral of the story? If you want to work in a radio station, just play basketball.

Stay tuned for the next story.
Always a pleasure.

The Journeyman.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Introduction to My Inspiring Stories!

Hello, my name is Patrick Bizindavyi!

Welcome to my blog

To tell the truth, writing a blog was not one of my plans. But this is what friends are for. For long, my friend Motivatorman has been asking me to share my stories. Sharing your life with people at large is not an easy thing, I must confess.

Then comes purpose. I believe my purpose in life is to be that guy you meet, after listening to him, your life takes a new shift (this is my story and I am sticking to it). For a long period of time I was not aware of it, until my friend Motivatorman mentioned it to me;therefore asking me to share my stories.

Stories? I have tons of them.

Stay tuned, it is my commitment to share my stories once a week.

Thank you for letting me part of your journey.

The Journeyman