Blog Archives

David Ciccarelli of Voices.com – NSM Podcast, Ep. 10

Kevin chats with David Ciccarelli, the CEO and Founder of Voices.com, an industry-leading website that connects business with professional voice talent. Voices.com is used by radio and television stations, advertising agencies and a wide Variety of Fortune 500 companies, who rely on David and his team to be able to help them search for, audition and hire voice talent.

Kevin-with-David-Ciccarelli

In this conversation, you’re going to hear how that all started, where the ideas came from, how David & his wife Stephanie acted upon those ideas and have evolved into where they are today.

Some lessons and takeaways to listen for in this discussion:

  1. Keep moving forward and taking action
  2. Be creative and resourceful
  3. Make decisions!

If you have any kind of entrepreneurial aspirations at all, you’ll find great value in hearing what David has to say. Enjoy!

The podcast is now available for streaming, download and subscription on iTunes, as well as on our YouTube channel or SoundCloud page.

Special thanks to Allstage for their support of the No Schedule Man podcast!

The More I Think I Know, the Less I Understand. Perfect.

I actually used to believe that I’d eventually get to a point where I’d have things figured and we could all live happily ever after.

Now, I chuckle at the thought.

In reality, the more I think I know, the less I understand. And so the learning goes on.

I’ve never been happier.

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No Schedule Man Podcast: Episode 3 – Rose Cora Perry

In this episode, I catch up with Rose Cora Perry, who took part in my “Celebrating Hope” concert in November of 2010. Through the conversation, Rose discusses the origins, highs and lows of her first two bands (Her and Anti-Hero), the disappointment that followed their conclusions and the personal development that followed. Rose also talks about how her solo acoustic CD, “Off of the Pages” came to be and the personal and professional processes that have led her to where she is now, having put together a new band and nearing release of her latest project, “Onto the Floor.”

Me and Rose circa November, 2010.

Me and Rose circa November, 2010.

This podcast is available on our YouTube channel, and it can also be accessed and downloaded on our SoundCloud page.

No More Excuses. Go For Your Goals & Do What Matters To YOU (Video Blog)

In this video blog, Kevin talks about his rock and roll “dream” bucket list project, all the reasons why he’s told himself over the years that he couldn’t (or shouldn’t) try it, and why he’s finally decided not to listen to those voices anymore.

If you’ve ever had something on your mind that you’d like to do or have or experience but have stopped yourself from getting started, watch this video, and just maybe it will inspire you to get started, too.

From Contentment to Cabo & Back … I’ve Come a Long Way

I’m fortunate. I just returned from a week in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. I’d never been to a tropical place like that before, though I have had other vacations in years past. This one was the best, because I didn’t much feel the need to leave and I wasn’t at all unhappy to come home.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about presence, gratitude and awareness. I wish I’d seen it sooner. I used to treat happiness as a result, rather than a choice. And I didn’t realize that I wasn’t very happy much of the time. It’s sad to consider, but empowering to know that you can wake up and change. I’ve come a long way.

Not a bad place to spend a few days ...

Not a bad place to spend a few days …

I used to place an impossible amount of expectation on vacations or other time away from work and “life.” I would research the destination endlessly, make countdown calendars and tick off the days starting at least a month in advance, and would daydream constantly of how grand life would be if I could only just get away. What would then happen was that I would eventually get to go on the trip, but I’d carry an enormous amount of stress that something might go wrong and not fit my vision. I would enjoy myself, but perhaps not up to the level of expectation I’d set out. And then of course I’d become enormously depressed when it came time to go back home, to “reality.”

I repeated that process many, many times. And don’t get me wrong, I had some wonderful times on some of those trips. But I also remember the tension I would feel about getting across the Canadian/American border, or making it to our hotel without the car breaking down, or worrying about making the flight on time, or our luggage arriving safely … it’s exhausting to recall. Every last little interaction was met by me with the worry that something might not work out. And of course, it usually did, and the things that weren’t meant to go smoothly got dealt with anyway.

The famous arch, at land's end between the Sea of Cortez and Pacific Ocean.

The famous arch, at land’s end between the Sea of Cortez and Pacific Ocean.

At some point, I realized that no matter where you go, you have to take yourself with you. So rather than working on getting away, I began to work on myself. I’m very glad I did.

Fast forward to this trip I just took. I did none of the pre-vacation preparation, other than briefly reading about the resort and nearby area and familiarizing myself with the itinerary. My sweetheart, Caroline, who traveled with me, was interested to look into excursions and other information, so I was happy to let her. It would have been unthinkable for me to have given up that “control” so many years ago. But when I’m with her, I don’t worry about incidentals. I know we can handle whatever comes up and usually have fun doing it. And we did.

With my sweet Caroline.

With my sweet Caroline.

I was happy, of course, to have the chance to go to such a nice place. But the thing I was excited about the most was the chance to spend an entire week with Caroline. And that proved to be the best part and the only thing that gave me pause for any kind of sadness when it came time to leave. At the end of the week, I was quite content at the thought to come home, but I did have a slight ache in my heart over the distance that would resume itself between my sweetheart and me as we each go back to navigating through our own daily responsibilities. But then the thought occurred to me that I’d brought the best part home with me, and have actually grown quite happy with my own company as well. Quite to the contrary of how I used to be, that’s a recipe for contentment no matter where we are. There’s a real peace in that.

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For just about every moment of this recent trip, I felt present, grateful and very aware of how fortunate I was to have had the experience. Now that I am home again, I feel the same way, about my family and loved ones, my home, my work, my creative projects and other interests and all the comforts I’m so fortunate to enjoy. I do still have that little melancholic tug in my gut, wistfully reflecting on the recent adventures. But I’m also aware that the feeling will, in a short time, begin to be carried back into the daily momentum of family and work tasks that will soon be flowing along again, another part to the fabric of who I am.

Both literally and figuratively … I’ve come a long way.

Result Infatuation

I’ve recently come to realize something about myself. When I am fully engaged in activating a process, I feel quite content for the most part. But the moment my mind wanders to just about any perceived measurement of progress, my heart rate speeds up, my breathing gets more shallow and a sense of self-judgement begins to kick in. This seems to apply for home, work and recreation.

Result infatuation?

I’ll come back to that.

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I wrote recently about the challenge I find I have of balancing between planning and acting. And my creative mind loves to wander around in the abstract, dream, set goals and visualize. Ironically, it tends to do that most while I am going about the business of taking action. Doing things and being fully engaged seems to stimulate other inspiration.  The trouble is, those ideas inevitably end up manifesting into a sea of Post-It notes and other “to-do” reminders. But when I stop planning my act and am engaged simply with acting upon my plan, I feel stress-free.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that I will often feel overwhelmed before I even begin, simply from the sheer volume of thoughts and ideas constantly passing through my awareness and accumulating at an impossible rate. Alternatively, once I pause my process to check sales numbers or revenue reports, or gauge response to a social media post, or even look at how many things I’ve done around the house versus the “to-do” list I had set out for myself earlier, I seem to instantly begin judging how I could be doing better.graph-841606_1280

And yet, intellectually, I know that the cure for this stress is to simply dig back in again. Choose one thing and take action. See it through to completion. Then choose another. And repeat. Simple, right? But how long do you allow yourself to enjoy the drive before you pull off the road, check the map and set a plan for where you’re going to stop next? I confess I sometimes wait until I run out of gas, or the engine seizes. And neither of those metaphorical ideas are healthy to either planning or acting.

And … why is there even a need to plan and act when you’ve experienced that real peace seems to be best achieved by getting quiet and still and feeling genuinely present and grateful?

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It’s quite remarkable to me. I find thinking about doing a thing far more stressful than actually doing the thing, no matter what that thing is. I sometimes wonder whether any other people are similar to me in this regard, because I don’t see many of my colleagues wrestling with the same mechanism as what I’m trying to describe here.

At least I am aware of it now. That’s come from many years of exploring practices like mindfulness, meditation and, quite simply, self-love and acceptance. I will keep working on it. At a deeper level, I’ve known for a while that the moment I assign any expectation to something, I seem to end up disappointed. I wrote about it with a rock song lyric I call “Crushed,” which has been kicking around since 2008. It goes like this:

I recognize the notion and it’s hitting me hard again
Never would suffice to take it slowly
I’m laying down the hammer but I feel I’m the nail again
Rigid, driven, beaten down and lonely

We started innocently with intent to behave
But quickly, curiosity will tend to accelerate
By and by, anticipation makes you a slave
Cause we want
And we crave

Crushed by the weight of expectation
Determination hanging over me
I never intended to be
Crushed
Result infatuation

Simple fascination suffocating me
I never intended to be crushed
It’s too much

Result infatuation. I love that line. And I appreciate it more now that I feel more of an observer to that lyric than a protagonist. But there still, clearly, is much more work to be done on mindfulness and staying present.

If you have any similar experiences and thoughts, I’d love to hear them.

Friends & Mentors, Vol. 4: Kyla Woodcock of Forest City Sport & Social Club

I’ve been fortunate to get to know a great many interesting and inspiring people. I’m grateful to have learned a lot from each of them.

One of those people is Kyla Woodcock.

Kyla Woodcock, Founder of FCSSC

Kyla Woodcock, Founder of FCSSC

Kyla is the founder of the Forest City Sport & Social Club, a co-ed, recreational sports league designed to bring people together for fun, to meet new friends, and to stay fit while giving back to  the community. Built upon Kyla’s vision and values, the club has been an amazing hit, and has since expanded to Windsor (Rose City Sport & Social Club).

From the moment I met her, I’ve admired Kyla. When I talk with Kyla, I find myself both wanting to learn from her and to try and find a thought to challenge her. I am always interested in what she will say or do next. And I am never disappointed.

Kyla’s story fascinates me. In telling parts of it, she relates some powerful perspective that any entrepreneur should find valuable.  As I listened to her talk about her journey, I caught myself on numerous occasions thinking, “People need to hear/see this.” And now they can.

Here is my conversation with Kyla Woodcock:

KB: Where were you professionally before you even started to get the seeds of the idea for FCSSC?

Kyla: My background is in business and human resources. I worked for a large corporation in the technology industry until the bubble burst in the early 90’s.

It found it relatively easy to find a really great HR job really early in my career and I immediately started traveling with that company, and other companies within the industry, because everything was going so fast in tech at the time.

I moved all over the country with those tech companies doing HR stuff and then, the classic story, I became completely exhausted of that life after about 7 or 8 years, being early in my own professional story and moving around incessantly. I was never close to family and I missed every birthday party and I wasn’t married and I didn’t have any kids and I was pushing 30 years old and thinking, “I’m not doing this anymore. I’m tired.”

When the tech industry experienced a significant downturn I had to severance a whole bunch of people out of work. In HR, that was my job I wrote myself a package too. I just said, “I’ve had enough.”

KB: What was going through your mind and heart at that time?

Kyla: I was exhausted. I saw the opportunity. I knew the company had to decrease the payroll and I knew that we didn’t need another HR person to do the recruiting, performance manage and compensation strategy because we just lost the 500 people for whom that HR person was responsible.

The Forest City Sport & Social Club (FCSSC) exists to improve the quality of life for adults in London through fun, friends, fitness and connection to our community.

The Forest City Sport & Social Club (FCSSC) exists to improve the quality of life for adults in London through fun, friends, fitness and connection to our community.

KB: When, along that timeline, did what has turned into FCSSC start to germinate as an idea, let alone a business plan?

Kyla: There was a period in the early days of my career in HR that I actually got to settle at the head office of one of the companies I worked for and that was in Ottawa. And so I started to invest a bit into a local lifestyle.

It was just pure, off the clock play time. It was what I really needed and I found when I joined the sport and social club. And I became friends with Nicki, the woman who started the club in Ottawa. Her story was not dissimilar to mine. She started her cub having leaving the tech industry. She was a couple of years ahead of me. We’re still friends to this day.

KB: So was it that time that the thought came to you, “Maybe I can do something like this in another market?”

Kyla: It wasn’t until after I took time off. I left the corporate job that I was in, and then I traveled for over a year. I just didn’t work at all. I sold my house and everything in it. I literally put clothes in a backpack and started traveling. I traveled through the South Pacific mostly.

FCSSC donated over $7,000 and made countless equipment donations to various local charities in 2014 alone.

FCSSC donated over $7,000, along with countless equipment donations, to various local charities in 2014 alone.

KB: You did that by yourself?

Kyla: By myself. And I met fabulous people along the way. Totally fabulous people.

And then I came home because my grandfather passed away. I had intentions of going back overseas. I wasn’t sure I was done traveling; I still wanted to see more; I didn’t really want to get another job and I was fortunate because I still had a little bit left in the bank. The plan was always to spend it until it was gone and I still had countries on the list and so I was going to go back. But I didn’t.

I got home and I reconnected with my family during that stay at home and realized there was too much I was missing out on.

KB: What did you learn about yourself that that time?

Kyla: Oh. What didn’t I learn about myself? I took a lot of my identity from who I was in the corporate world and what people recognized me as being good at. I was chasing that next great big title and I was needing to be at the boardroom table and part of every corporate decision because that made me valuable and important. And then when I stepped away from all of that, I realized that’s not how I needed to be important.

Being important for me is being there for my husband and kids, parents and my siblings. That’s being important. Being there for my friends and being somebody that people can rely on. Being in the big chair at the boardroom table … I don’t care about that anymore.

KB: And at that time, at that point in your life, you’re doing what you just think that you’re supposed to be doing.

Kyla: Yeah! Everybody always said, get a great job and get out there and work and it’s all about realizing your earning power and putting your degree to work. You spent thousands of dollars at university: do something with that. You know?.

KB: So you end up doing everything that you’re “supposed” to do and you wind up exhausted and empty.

Kyla: Something like that.

With Kyla at a recent FCSSC event.

With Kyla at a recent FCSSC event.

KB: I’d like to talk a little bit about FCSSC.

Kyla: Sure!

KB: Fast forward then to how that came together and why?

I still had ambitions to finish schooling. I had an undergrad degree but I’d always wanted my Masters in business and I decided that I was going to make time for that. So I went to Ivey and did my MBA (Masters in Business Administration) there and when I graduated, I didn’t want to do what I’d always done. It didn’t make sense to me that that was a good use of the investment in my education. I wanted to do something else.

I come from a long line of entrepreneurs. My dad is an incredibly successful entrepreneur. So is my mom. My stepdad is a successful entrepreneur too. I wanted to try. And that’s where the club came from. The club was my entrepreneurial attempt that was perfectly fitted to the lifestyle that I wanted for myself.

I wanted connection to my community and I wanted more fun factor in my life. I wanted the chance to meet really great people every single day and I wanted to be in a business that naturally had the opportunity to do good. The club ticked all of those boxes, so it was an absolute no-brainer.

KB: You’ve just had your 5th anniversary, which is fantastic. Congratulations.

Kyla: Thank you.

KB: Where are you hoping to go from here?

Kyla: Wherever the membership of the club wants us to go. If they want a new sport, then we’re going to work on getting them a new sport. If they want a huge party or event once a year, then let’s get a huge party event once a year. If they want 50 partners in the network of the Forest City Sport & Social Club then we’ll work on 50 partners in the network. The club is a member-based organization and what we set our sights on as the organizers of the club is directly related to what the members are telling us they want the club to be and do. So I don’t dictate that. We plug in and respond.

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KB: And it sounds like you’re trying to manage that organically, as opposed to go back to what you experienced in the tech world, where it got too far out ahead of itself and fell in. So the growth, doing it at the right speed, is important.

Kyla: Yes. Absolutely true. We’ve had lots of ideas for different things that we haven’t actually done. And we don’t flip the switch on those ideas because it’s maybe not what the membership is looking for from us at that point in time.

KB: That’s a valuable lesson that I wish I could go back and teach my 20 and 30-something year-old self.

Kyla: Yeah.

KB: Just because you have a card in your hand doesn’t mean now’s the time to play it.

Kyla: That’s right. And for us, that’s absolutely true.

At the same time, we have the ability, for example, to expand the concept to other markets. There are lots of cities near and far from here that don’t have a sport & social club. And the joy of creating it for me, making those connections and bringing rays of sunshine to the people in those communities when they come and play with us once a week, when we take them off the clock and we give them that carefree play time, I take a lot of pride in that and I think it’s super cool that that’s my work.

Happy Anniversary, No Schedule Man!

Four years ago today I achieved a goal I’d held for at least a decade: to complete and release a full-length CD of my own music. It was June 26, 2010, when “No Schedule Man” was finally released with a concert at the London Music Club here in London, Ontario. Much has happened since then. And looking back, I feel proud of myself for seeing the goal through to completion, and I’m glad I have those songs recorded in some form.

At the CD Release show

At the CD Release show

It took me almost a year and a half to finish the project (I documented the whole process with a weekly journal. All the entries can be found HERE). At the time, I was not enjoying the accomplishment as much as I’d been hoping to, as I was truly hurting with sciatic nerve pain caused by herniated discs in my lower back (which actually caused a two-week delay in releasing the CD). In fact, just one week after the CD release show, I decided to cancel the rest of the appearances I had booked for that summer because I was just in too much pain and wasn’t enjoying myself at all. Partly because of that, I never really felt those songs got the push they deserved.

Shortly afterwards, many significant life changes took place, including a divorce, change of address and change in career, all of which happened pretty much at the same time. In the face of that, playing the songs from “No Schedule Man” quickly fell down the list of priorities.

CD Artwork in development

CD Artwork in development

For the better part of two years after all that, I didn’t even really look at my guitar, let alone go anywhere and play. My mind was only on being with my two boys, keeping myself healthy and learning what I needed to learn from the life changes that had taken place. To that end, I feel grateful for the lessons I’m not sure I could have learned any other way. But there was always a part of me that felt bad about watching “No Schedule Man” sit and collect dust.

Eventually, the urge to start creating and sharing music bubbled back up. But it was different this time. There was much more patience, and even hesitation, to move forward. As I’ve written and talked about before, it was really my oldest son, Eddie, who nudged me to start working on music again, and so last summer I recorded a handful of new songs that became the acoustic EP, “Solo: The Return of No Schedule Man.” In the process of getting ready to release that collection, I went back and started rehearsing some of the songs from the original “No Schedule Man” CD again and thought, quite honestly, that there were some really good songs just sitting and waiting for me to pay them some mind again.

The new EP, released in February 2014

The new EP, released in February 2014

Now that “Solo” has also been released, my guitar is mostly quiet again, at least for now. I’m still not sure where all this fits in the scheme of a guy who makes his living as a Marketing Consultant and Radio Account Executive. But when I burden myself with trying too hard to make sense of it all, I think back to the lyrics of the “No Schedule Man” title track and remember that “No plan is all part of the plan.”

The idea of control is really a fallacy. Change is inevitable, and this present moment is truly all we have. So I strive to be more like the character I created with “No Schedule Man,” to the extent where I’ve since adopted it as a kind of “brand” for most of the things I do, and hope to be.

No Schedule Man, the character, doesn’t aim to have. He simply wants to be.

It was pretty cool to be able to put this in the CD player. Still is!

It was pretty cool to be able to put this in the CD player. Still is!

One day, I’ll give those songs the attention I always felt they deserved. In the meantime, I can look back and feel proud that they even exist in the first place, and feel emboldened about my ability to navigate through whatever changes and challenges may come from here. With that in mind, I wholeheartedly encourage you to explore and celebrate your own creativity as well, in whatever form that may be. I did, and I’m glad I did.

Happy Anniversary, No Schedule Man. I’m better for knowing you and am curious to see where we set sail next.

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