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Holiday Bookends July 2, 2011

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", American Dreamers, Canada, Coaching, life balance, Offtime, Personal action plans, Satisfaction, The 3 Key Life Aspects, The Plan, Veracity, well being.
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Canada Day on July 1 (Friday this year) and Independence Day on July 4th (Monday).

This got me noodling about both great countries.

Born in Canada, I am also a US Citizen.  I love both countries. It makes me smile every time I get into a discussion about each country’s pros / cons and the great stuff / crappy issues faced by them.  People on both sides of the border have some outdated opinions about those on the other side of the 49th Parallel.

So, for my Holiday Gift to readers of this blog – let me clear up some popular misconceptions I hear:

#1.  Americans don’t know anything about what goes on in Canada.  This really pisses off Canucks.  It’s true that Yanks don’t know as much about Canada as Canadians do about the US.

It has everything to do with the fact that Canadians consume about the same about of news and media from the States as do the Americans.  Unfortunately the Americans don’t have the same TV access to Canadian media so they aren’t faced with news or stories each day.

But it’s not that Americans only care about what’s going on here. I find that the people I come in contact with are aware of world events to an extent that is generally speaking greater than the average Canuck.

2. All Canadians are very nice.  (Yes. ALL of them.)  I’m amazed at how prevalent this feeling is in the US.  It’s wrong.

Let me assure US readers that I’ve known some really NOT nice Canadians over my life.  When I worked at the Hudson Bay Company, the Chairman (George Kosich) was known as George Carnage because of his attitude that anyone who got in his way was an “enemy” to be dispensed with quickly.

Are there more “nice” people proportionately n Canada then the US?  From my experience, it’s about the same ratio.

– But what I love about many Canadians is that they have waaaaay better listening skills than Americans.  They’re less likely to interrupt and more likely to ask questions than their southern cousins.  Great listeners learn more and are more likely to be regarded as nice.

– On the other hand, Americans lead the world – far and away – in terms of charity donations and philanthropic support.  That’s pretty nice.

3.  Americans are the least fit nation in the world.  Canadians are more fit because they spend more time on fitness and outdoors.

The first one is right – unfortunately.  Yanks inherited that mantle from Germans about 8 years ago.  I believe it has to do with the size of portions here and the accessibility of cheap fast food.

About the second one.  I don’t buy that argument.  Unfortunately, the last report I saw showed the Canucks are closing -in with regard to measurements like Body Mass Index (BMI).  Both countries are out of shape but it’s worse in the warmer country.

4. You can always spot a Canadian from an American by their “accents”.  Partially right – but not always.

I think that North America has kind of ‘local accents’ that are north / south in nature.  People in Fargo sound exactly like people just north of them in Winnipeg.  Edmonton residents could pass as locals in Alaska.  Vancouver-ites sound a lot like Seattle-eans. Toronto people have a real mix, some sound like Chicagoans, others like Wisconsin individuals.  Calgary seems like they were separated at birth from Denverites.  Newfoundlanders could pass easily as a local at a bar in New England.

Clearly French-Quebecers sound unique though, right? Not really – just spend some time in New Orleans French Quarter and you’ll hear many of the same sounds.

I do think Americans from what is called, “the south” have a wonderful and unique lilt – I’m sorry it’s being lost due to migration there from other states.  In the same way, I love the sound of many words used by a lot of Montrealers who still call English as their first language; kind of classy and romantic.

5. Finally, the big question: Which is right –

a) Canada is a better country to live in.

b) The United States is a better country to live in.

The answer is….drum roll please….


Wherever you are this weekend – and all year long – Love it. And accept those from the other side of the border as being about as close to you as any nation could possibly be.

Have a great long weekend!



Public restrooms should be gender neutral October 19, 2010

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Action Plans, Business Success Coach, CBS Interactive, Coaching, DIRECTV, emotional decisions, life balance, Offtime, Personal action plans, quality of life, Rants, Satisfaction, stress, The Four Windows Process, Veracity, well being, Women.
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Why aren’t most restrooms gender neutral?  In this posting, business life coach John M McKee makes the case that it’s time for a change.


Out for dinner last night in San Francisco I took a quick trip to the restroom.  In and out, ( including time to wash my hands and check out appearance) was probably about 3 minutes.

It struck me when I came out, just how easy the trip was.  For most guys, it’s fast and easy.  Then I got to thinking about all the women I’ve seen waiting to use “the facilities” over the years.  I mean common everyday places like:

  • concerts
  • restaurants
  • movies
  • stores

It’s just dumb – isn’t it; that someone has to wait to use a restroom while another – often just next door – stands vacant?

Why aren’t public restrooms gender neutral?  I realize that I could be making life a bit more difficult for all guys if there was some change as a result of this question.  But hey, this deserves a little noodling.

If asked, would you agree that all public restrooms ( or at least most) be opened up to both women and men?

Here’s to the future!


Men who explain things May 27, 2008

Posted by John M McKee in Business, Offtime, Personal Success, Veracity.
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I learn a lot about men from women. Most of my talk time is with the softer sex – wife, daughter, sister, in-laws, friends all share openly. Additionally, my coaching practice has a majority of female clients. They do likewise.

One of the constant things I hear about guys is that we are prone to “explain things” that really don’t require such explanations. I’ve seen this firsthand and you probably have as well: at a party for instance, we’ll often see or hear a guy going into a great deal more detail in his story when there are gals listening. That detail is often by way of explanations about how something works or what a given product does. The male talker just seems to take it for granted that the gals need a little help to keep up with his story.

Most guys rarely do this when it’s only other guys. If they do, they get busted pretty fast with a comment like, “OK OK we don’t have all day Harry.” We learn quickly that talk time is a competitive sport with the other males each wanting to show that they know the most about whatever the given subject is at the time.

But with females, we take our time. Doling out the details like chocolates to starving castaways recently rescued.

I’ve joked about this with my wife Susan over the years because we once watched a male pal actually explain how a light switch works to a woman friend. She was only a lawyer poor thing so how could she understand what he was saying. He after all was pretty handy with the tools (even though he was a retailer). It was comical at the time and I still recognize how frustrating it must be for the ladies to have to be polite and put up with these “men who explain things”.

If you’re a woman reading this – I know you know what I mean. You’ve seen your sisters put up with the nonsense and perhaps have done it yourself while some full-of-himself guy went on and on about something you actually knew more about. Afterward you may have gone off and laughed about the jerk.

So I’m writing this blog for the men of the world.

Guys! Women are graduating from college at a much higher rate than we are. While in school they get better grades that we do. They start more new businesses than men. They are 52% of the population. Plus they know how to have babies, make us look good when we’re so lost between whether to tuck our shirts in or leave them out, they can make really good food most of the time, and they smell better.

So, next time you find yourself acting like one of those “men who explain things”, give yourself a wake up call. Then shut up. And ask a few questions. You may end up learning something, and it will be less likely that any of the women there are going to pop around the corner to laugh about you afterward.


Are US citizens less aware? Or less concerned? Part 1. May 16, 2008

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Action Plans, Canada, Coaching, Gen Y's, Offtime, Personal Success, quality of life, Satisfaction, The 3 Key Life Aspects, US, Veracity, Women.
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I am a citizen of the US by choice. A Canadian by birth, my wife and I chose to relocate to this country about 13 years ago with our children – sons Sean and Trevor, and daughter Jessica.

We noticed immediately that many typical life things were almost identical between the 2 countries. Both used the same consumer brands for the most part, many of the same TV networks we’d watched in Toronto, Mississauga, and Winnipeg were still there, people sounded the same (except apparently we said “oot” instead of “owt’ when saying “not in”, and the new neighbors said “zee” instead of “zaid” for the last letter of the alphabet), and we were now using the standard systems of measurement instead of the metrics.

We also noticed that life was, for most individuals at least, easier in the States: Most folks didn’t have to work as hard to make a buck, most had more things or better things (cars, clothes, food, entertainment, restaurants) than those living in Canada.

Except for the obvious issue of health insurance, it was pretty clear to all of us that it was easier to live happily in the US. The health insurance here made us crazy because we’d grown up with it as an entitlement and although our new friends and neighbors liked to rag us about coming from a socialist state, we all knew that the system in Canada for health was effective and had never disappointed us. Ever.

It was clear to us that our new neighbors and friends had been, to a great extent, “brainwashed” by those who sought to convince them that free enterprise was a better way to run a medical system. They were, for the most part, wrong, we knew. But they had no standard of comparison while we had now experienced healthcare in both countries firsthand. However, we had good health insurance here in the States and our concern was for those others who didn’t or couldn’t afford any insurance at all.

We soon fell in love with much of what makes America, and in particular, California, (“the most Canadian of all states”) great.

We loved the quality of life, our kids were in good schools, I had a great job with DIRECTV, Susan had another horse and was able to ride year-round at a stable within 10 minutes of our home. We made good friends here while keeping in contact with those who mattered from Canada.

Over the years, however, we noticed that things started to change. We realized that the famous wonderful and unique optimism of American citizens was going downhill. We heard and saw an increasing number of people becoming more negative about the future of their country and their own lives. They were starting to sound like Canadians actually.

When we went back to Canada we were often reminded just how tough it was to carve out a good living and bank money for the future.

And we also noticed that the wonderful Canadian sarcasm – to us it was equally a part of who Canadians are as US optimism is to Yanks – was often more focused on the country to the south. No longer as envious of what they saw as the American lifestyle and values, Canadians, especially the Gens X and Y, were now more vocally critical of what they perceived to be empire building from the US government. And, on a personal level, because it’s still tougher to get ahead in Canada then in the US, there was a growing outspokenism by Canucks about folks in the States, who’d had it “so easy”, too.

It’s always seemed to me that most US citizens are less aware of what they have that are those who watch America from afar. I’ve believe that is greatly due to:

1. a real inward focus that the news services (eg: NBC, CBS, etc) have in their reporting

2. a real inward focus of the education systems

Yesterday I came across a very brief video presentation made at TED, the conference focused on technology/entertainment/and design that often addresses issues of a global nature. I think this presenter makes a very good case for what I am mean.

Check it out here.

So here’s my question: Do you think that US citizens are less aware of what’s going on in the world, then people in other countries?

Let me and the other readers know. I’ll report back in the near future.


Spike TV had some odd questions for a career successs coach…. March 4, 2008

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Business Success Coach, Career Wisdom, Coaching, Gen Y's, Job advice, Manswers, Offtime, Personal Success, Satisfaction, Spike TV, Veracity.
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John M McKee

Last week a team from the TV network Spike TV arrived at our office. They’d come to interview me for their top rated show Manswers.

A four person outfit, they moved quickly and soon set about changing around furniture, adjusting the bookcases’ “background” pieces such as pictures, certificates and yes, books; assembling lights of different sizes and intensities around the place, and doing sound checks. (“I’m picking up on the recording a bird chirping outside – can we do anything about the birds around here?”). Lighting was an issue and consequently the temperature increased significantly within about an hour of them arriving.

I learned that anything which is considered “art” needs is best left off-camera. This, because the original artist may not want their work shown without their approval. To ensure no mistakes are made, such “art” can include things like book covers – even the 2 books I’d written were covered-up; photographs including my family, and grad certificates from schools like Pepperdine University. So my bookcase will probably look like a wall of things misplaced or turned around. But no one will see their “art” displayed without permission.

When I’d been asked to appear on the show, the assistant producer had said they were coming to me because I am a “recognized expert on career and job success issues.” She told me they have a light and fun show, and that they use experts to provide some fact-based balance for their viewers. I gathered she must have seen me on other TV shows or perhaps on local radio; but who knows how these things come together?

Some of the questions I was asked for my segment:

  • what is a chicken sexer, and how much can they earn? (This is a person who determines the sex of baby chicks in chicken farms. If you’re a new chick, you don’t want to be a male by the way. They earn about $300 a week.)
  • what are some good jobs that most guys don’t consider? ( Here are a couple which I suggested: Gastroenterologist – earns up to $8k a week and most enjoy the work. Or a crime scene cleaner – it’s the kind of job which a guy who wants to work alone can appreciate. And make $1400 a week.)
  • how much does the average US employee make? (About $600 a week.)
  • Others included – are most people happy with their work? What are the best ways to get a job? How much can an arm wrestler make professionally. And a bunch more. (Tune-in and find out the answers. My episode will probably be on-air in a month or so.)

I enjoyed the team from Spike TV, and as a result I went onto their website and watched some old episodes. Definitely stuff aimed at youngish males on this show. But I did learn a few things about each one’s subject. I’ll let you be the judge – drop me a line when you see it.

looking forward…..

More “G’s” than the space shuttle at lift off November 9, 2007

Posted by John M McKee in Offtime, Personal Success, Rants, Satisfaction, Uncategorized.

I went to the drag races last week. The NHRA drags to be exact.

Have never done that before.

Went to the Finals at the NHRA (national hot rod association) in Pamona (which is in southern California) with my son Trevor, friend and former colleague Eddy Hartenstein, and a client of mine who just happened to be in town for business, Kim Willis of New York City. For all but Eddy it was our first trip to the drag races and it turned out to be a well spent day off.

These races feature the best of the best of motorcycle racers, nitro powered cars, dragsters, and funny cars. They reach speeds of plus 300 mph in a 1/4 mile in less than 5 seconds. To do that means that they accelerate with a G-force of about 3.2 which is equal to many war fighter planes and greater than the space shuttle puts out.

Truly fast and furious!

There is no way for TV to convey the power, intensity, speed and noise level of this type of sport.

When 2 cars at about to take off from the starting lights (yellow, yellow, green – blast off!) the power they put out is equal to an earthquake measuring about 3 on the Richter scale. The ground is literally shaking like an earthquake at the gate. Their tires melt asphalt and between each race. The roadkeepers come out and put liquid down and use a vehicle like a Zamboni to smooth the road down again to keep it together. One gets the impression that somebody would need to have a crazy death wish to want to be near these powerhouse cars, let alone driving one.

So, of course, when we were invited to leave the VIP box sponsored by the NHRA and go down to stand between 2 dragsters at the starting line and then stay there as they took off – we couldn’t resist!

Kim noted that it was like being on a movie set as we entered the area. Having just signed paperwork saying that we could not sue anyone in the event of something really bad happening; I thought she might have been thinking about a set of a war movie.

It is impossible to convey the feeling in your chest, the incredible volume of the noise (even with earplugs and covering your ears); and the power of having 2 motors each putting out over 3000 HP take off from a place of about 2 feet away on each side.

It was over in less than 4 seconds and to watch vehicles pull away from you that fast is like a movie or video game to the 10th degree. Holy crap!

We left the staging area with eyes burning, clothes and skin covered in fuel and asphalt, and grins about 3 feet wide on each of our faces.

If you’ve never considered going to the NHRA shows, I suggest you give it a little reconsideration. It has a good solid midway, lots to see and do, and the races are breathtaking. Try it out – you’ll be glad you did.