It was a big year. Here are the highlights…
January – March
BOM Youth Summit + Canucks Game Jersey Presentation
By looking at my Jan. 2014 calendar, it looks like I did nothing but plan and prepare for the Youth Summit which took place Feb 11th. Although I did have the honour of being presented with a Canucks jersey from Kevin Bieska during a game Jan 7th. We also got to bring a bunch of youth to the game and watch it from the Sedins’ box. They were awesome enough to pay us a visit after the game. The Canucks have been massive supporters of mental health in Vancouver and Canada helping us launch mindcheck.ca, the Youth Summit and launching their own mental health campaign called Hockey Talks.
2014 was the 2nd annual Balancing Our Minds Youth Summit and first time we held it at Rogers Arena. Because of this new venue, we were able to grow our audience from ~200 youth (2013) to ~1200 (2014). We dancing, sang and heard incredible stories from so many courageous youth. I had the incredible opportunity to host the event with my partner in crime, and total awesome gal, Sarah Irving. We had a blast and are excited to co-host again Feb. 2015.
I also experienced something I hadn’t previously in terms of meeting my hero’s. On a whim, early in the year I thought how awesome it would be to get in touch with world-class adventurer Ray Zehab to get input on an adventure project I’m planning. I decided to reach out to his organization’s Facebook page and asked if Ray might be interested in getting involved. About a month later, Ray was in Vancouver and we were meeting for coffee. I’ve been in touch with him a few times since and ended up interviewing him for an audio series on high performance (a bonus to The EDGE high school training program). Ray does 3 big adventures around the world each year – 2 with youth and one big one himself. They all have educational components to them and youth from around the world plug in to learn and be inspired. I’m currently in talks with Ray about making one of the upcoming adventures focused on brain health. We’ll see where that goes, but the important lesson here was that we shouldn’t see barriers between ourselves and our hero’s. Now more than ever, the people we look up to are accessible and willing to connect.
April – June
Training + Transition to Fully Self Employed
April and May were packed with a number of speeches and some heavy training for the Squamish 50 in August. We made some noise supporting a number of events for Child and Youth Mental Health Day on May 7th and a number of our Kelty Ambassadors hosted events in their schools and communities.
In terms of training, I did as much training with the weight vest as I could (which wasn’t much – but it made a big difference). I ran the Vancouver Marathon (my first marathon) and almost died. It was harder than any ultramarathon I’ve run as I’m not used to running on the flat ground, nor on the road. I then attempted my first 100km ultra, but only made it half way. We ran along the Baiden Powell Trail from Deep Cove to Horseshoe Bay (50km) and once I got there, saw a chair, cooler and beer, I couldn’t get myself to turn around and run back up Black Mountain.
**I will be attempting another 100km this March to try to redeem myself.
Then, even though I had an amazing job, for an amazing organization and could honestly say I loved (and still love) everyone I was working with, I went an quit my job [I quit my job inspired by this guy]. I was tugged by the potential of doing my own thing. Opportunities kept being presented and the timing just felt right. It was inevitable to happen eventually. My dad’s an entrepreneur and my university degree was in business with a focus on entrepreneurship and I’ve dreamed about running my own business for most of my life. Finally, I made the leap and hopped on one of the WILDEST roller coaster rides of my life, and loved every second (well, embraced, maybe not loved). The image below represents my business well… it’s just me, my coffee, website and computer. It’s on me to make something of it and so far it’s been the highest highs and some quick and steep lows, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
July – September
Training + Roller Coaster
July and August were full on adventure months, with trips to the Tetons in Wyoming, a 4 day trip to Washington/Oregon to climb Mt Hood, Mt Adams and Mt Saint Helens and my first 50 miler at my favourite race, the Squamish50. The Tetons were our first time really alpine climbing at altitude, but we didn’t end up having the chance to climb the Grand Teton. We did summit Buck Mountain (11,939 ft) and Middle Teton (12,805 ft) which were both good challenges technically and physically. It was our first time rock climbing with crampons on which was pretty sketchy, but nothing went wrong.
The Squamish50 was a race I had done the previous year for my first ultramarathon – the 50km version – and this year I stepped it up to the 50 miler. I had trained on the hills, with a weight vest, but I had not done much long distance training. Luckily the course was very hilly (over 12,000 ft of gain), so the hilly parts felt like rests to me as we marched our way up. I also strategized my pace a lot better this run, marking the aid station splits on my arm to keep me on track. I managed to keep my targeted pace up until the last aid station. I finished in 14 hours and 45 mins and promptly puked at the finish line. I couldn’t enjoy a beer, but enjoyed…. well I wasn’t enjoying much except the feeling that I’d finished which truly surprised me.
Business-wise these months were spent scrambling to create opportunities. Luckily they kept appearing out of no where. I was approached by some researchers I know at SFU and we ended up putting together a pitch to Movember for an adventure project we called CHOPPOR – which stands for Challenges to Opportunities. We created a video proposal for round two of the application and had to spend 2 months waiting for a response. Luckily for us, we were awarded the funding and CHOPPOR is about to launch!! Stay tuned for details.
I also found out at this time that I had been invited to speak at TEDxSFU, which was a huge honour, especially since I had attended twice before and some really awesome people I look up to had previously spoken there. The opportunity to be on stage at a TEDx event truly excited me and I did everything I could to prepare. My talk was titled ‘How to Turn Your Biggest Challenges into Your Biggest Opportunities’ and laid out my ideas for doing just that. The response has been incredible and I have to send a thanks out to speaking trainer Bo Eason for his support and guidance, along with Sam Thiara, Roger Love and many others.
October – December
Planning and Resting
October to December were mostly spent planning for 2015 and trying to find time to rest and recover after a big year. I performed a number of speeches, including TEDxSFU and wrapped up some projects, but a lot of time was spent coordinating speeches and projects and programs for 2015. I was working with high schools to create a new, innovative mental health and wellness training program, which will be called ‘The EDGE’ and will be piloting the program in the Spring of 2015. We also worked on setting the foundation for the CHOPPOR program in terms of community parters and SFU ethics approval as the program will be evaluated along the way.
The year came to an end after finally being able to tell myself the work could wait until the New Year to be completed. Reading, learning, family time and relaxation took up most of December which was a nice break from the hectic pace up until then.
Brent’s TEDxSFU Talk – How to Turn Your Biggest Challenges into Your Biggest Opportunities
2014 was a full on year. I don’t think I could say I left anything on the table. It was full of new experiences, deepening relationships, growth and attempting to contribute in bigger ways. I took a leap of faith leaving a great job with great people, but I did it because I believe in myself and the potential of making an even bigger impact being fully self-employed. Still a long way to go to fulfill that dream, but 2015 is here and I’m excited for what’s in store.
I hope your 2014 was a great one and I hope you’re at the start of what will be an even better 2015. I’d love to hear about your plans for making this year great, so we can all get inspired and learn. So leave a comment below and share one new thing you plan to do this year to make it AWESOME!!
Keep Well and Keep Inspiring!!