Mont St-Anne traite bien les futurs skieurs

C’est les vacances! Ma première semaine de relâche à vie avec mes 3 enfants. Yahoo!

msa3_miniJe veux profiter de mon billet du vendredi pour faire découvrir aux parents désireux d’initier leurs marmots aux joies du ski que le meilleur endroit dans le nord-est de l’Amérique est sans contredit le Mont Sainte-Anne.

Pourquoi? Quelques raisons:

  1. 3 niveaux de pentes école (un tapis magique tellement plat que tu ne sais pas de quel bord ca descend 😉 et 2 POMA de calibre légèrement plus élevé). Donc, vos enfants prendront confiance rapidement et se verront progresser…
  2. L’accès à volonté aux pentes école est 100% gratuit pour les parents et les enfants. Non négligeable…
  3. Les enfants de 7 ans et moins ont un billet de saison gratuit (avec accès à toute la montagne) si un de leur parent ou de leur grand-parent est détenteur d’un billet de saison. Non négligeable cela aussi.
  4. Un vaste site aménagé pour accueillir les familles avec jeux pour les tout petits et même une garderie pour ceux qui ne veulent rien savoir su ski!
  5. Une excellente école de ski avec une multitude de forfaits pour débutants ou intermédiaires.

Je pourrais aussi vous parler de la merveilleuse pente familiale qui serpente la montagne et qui permet avec vos petits de dire qu’ils ont descendu toute la montagne de haut en bas (en toute sécurité) et terminer leur périple avec une excellente tire sur la neige à la cabane dans la montagne ainsi que de l’animation au pied des pentes. Il y a par ailleurs une très belle programmation pour la semaine de relâche que vous trouverez  ici.

Je vous souhaite une merveilleuse semaine et je ne vous dis pas où je serai pour ma semaine de relâche…

Publicités

What is School for?- A Reply to Seth Godin (Part 2)

head-clickme2Last week, I wrote the first part of a reply post to Seth Godin about what is school for? I commented his list here. His post about education was really interesting and was designed to ignite discussion. You can find it here. Because his starter list contained 27 statements summarizing the purpose of school, I broke down my reply in 2 posts. In this one, I concluded with my take on his 17 last statements. I looked at his list with a marketer’s perspective with emphasis on university degrees.

11.Create leaders who help us compete on a world stage

School does not create leaders. School might in help leaders to demonstrate improved leadership skills but I strongly believe that leadership is something you have within you. It only grows better if sufficiently stimulated and given enough opportunities to be demonstrated. Strong leaders that do not have the chance to be surrounded with people willing to risk with them do not emerge.

12.Generate future scientists who will advance medicine and technology

That is one of the most important goal of schools and university. On that matter, I have nothing to add. Strong university programs equals better scientists and eventually better quality of life for each of us.

13.Learn for the sake of learning

As mentioned in the part 1 of this post here, I loved school and I love to learn. School is good for people who love to learn and the opposite is even truer… But I have a small problem with learning for the sake of learning. This would sound OK for you in your daya to day life or in your spare time but for a university? No. And that is part of the reason why, as a manager, I feel that students waste precious time at school learning stuff that is completely irrelevant for the future job they will occupy and miss important learning requirements. One example:  how to create a marketing budget? This accounts for about 30 minutes teaching time in a 3 year marketing degree…

14. Help people become interesting and productive

Productive? Probably yes. All the methodologies learned at school to think in a more rational way pay off over time. Become interesting?  It is not because you know more stuff that you suddenly become more interesting. Think about a Mr. « Ph.D Professor » at University. He knows a lot. Is he interesting? He could, but it is mostly because of his presentation skills, passion and inherent capacity to turn his class into an interactive exchange than solely because of the ton of knowledge he accumulated.

15. Defang the proletariat

From a societal point of view, I fully agree with this one. Education, including University degree make population smarter and richer and therefore defangs proletariat. This is good. No doubt about it.

16. Establish a floor below which a typical person is unlikely to fall

University helps you raise your standards and your quality of life. University degree pushes it a step further. However, saying that you are unlikely to fall below this floor is illusory.

17. Find and celebrate prodigies, geniuses and the gifted

That is why all the academic programs feature awards for the best performance and governor’s medal and so on. Our search for the next Einstein or Darwin is relentless.

18. Make sure kids learn to exercise, eat right and avoid common health problems

Ouch! This may be true in the US where Seth lives, I don’t know. But in Canada, over the past few years, this is quite the opposite. My daughter who goes at an elementary schools has 1 hour of physical education every 10 school days! Not enough to develop habits that will follow you for the rest of your life. To me, that part is more a parent’s responsibility but many of us do not invest enough time with the consequences we all know now.

19. Teach future citizens to obey authority

Isn’t asking too much from our education system? Expecting this from our schools and universities contributes to let parents play an even more laid-back role on that very important matter. This should undoubtedly come from parents and school should only play a complementary role on that aspect.

20. Teach future employees to do the same

Idem as #19.

21. Increase appreciation for art and culture

True for school but not so true for university. It depends on the program you picked up. In Business/ Administration programs, there is not so much room for arts and culture. Anyway, this is a matter of personal tastes. If you have interests in arts and culture, you will find a way to increase you level of appreciation though other medium.

22. Teach creativity and problem solving

True for problem solving, not so true for creativity. Problem solving methodologies could be learned at business schools and the more you practice, the better you become. To me creativity is a little bit like leadership. You gotta have a minimum level within you in order to build on something. Yes, school can help kids develop their creativity but this aspect becomes less and less important as you step up in our educational system, especially in business classes. The emphasis is more on the transfer of knowledge than onto the growth of your creative skill set. Moreover, academics tend to be allergic to creative problem solving. They prefer solutions that have been proof- tested than out of nowhere creative approaches.

23. Minimize public spelling mistakes

This is true. This is a typical example that the more efforts you put into something, the better you become at it. Most university degrees involve a great deal of papers to read and/or to write. Same for oral stuff. The more you practice, the more interesting you become (normally). In that sense, university is a great incubator for future writers and speakers. At least they’ll know if they have a future in that direction.

24. Increase emotional intelligence

I do not get this one. ;-). I have learned more in the past 6 years about emotional intelligence (from my kids and my wife) than with my 17 years spent at school and university.

25. Decrease crime by teaching civics and ethics

OK, civics and ethics are subjects that are discussed at school. This should complements what should be mainly transmitted by parents. However, saying that crime is decreased because civics and ethics are taught in school is far-fetched. Seth, is there a study done somewhere that confirms that assumption? To me, school and education might contribute to decrease crime indirectly but increasing our quality of life and helping to defang proletariat. (And this brings us back to point # 14)

26 Increase understanding of a life well lived

This a very personal and individual thing. Everyone has its own definition of a life well lived. I do not believe school of university should try to standardize that so that everyone has the same definition of what should be a life well lived.  I think school is a facilitator to help us define what should be our very personal definition of a life well lived.

27. Make sure the sports teams have enough players

That one is really funny! There are many ways to interpret it. I will let you draw your own conclusion on this one…

Any thoughts? Express yourself below.

Un band à découvrir: Rodrigo y Gabriela.

Vendredi dernier, je vous ai parlé (en anglais) des deux derniers shows que j’ai eu la chance de voir à Vegas.  Alors, par pure coincidence, mon billet de ce vendredi aura lui aussi une saveur musicale ;-). rodrigo-y-gabriela

Je vais faire plaisir aux fans de guitare.  Les vrais gros trippeux de musique connaissent probablement déjà le band Rodrigo y Gabriela. Mais si ce nom ne vous dit rien, lisez ce billet, ca vaut la peine. Ce sont deux jeunes mexicains qui font dans le genre flamenco/manouche complètement dément. Pas de drums, pas de bass, pas de synthé. Juste deux guitares classiques. Ils intégrent des riffs métal de temps en temps dans leurs pièces. C’est vite. C’est tight. C’est très rythmé et c’est tout aussi divertissant à entendre qu’à regarder.

Commencez par voir leur prestation à David Letterman. Ils réussissent même à faire embarquer la foule. C’est quand même impressionant sachant qu’ils n’ont que leurs 2 guitares classiques…

Complètement renversant.

Par la suite, je vous recommande d’aller jeter un coup d’oeil à leur page myspace, y’a tout plein de videos et d’extraits musicaux dont Orion de Metallica.  Ça va vous donner un très bonne idée de ce qu’ils font.

 Il y a aussi un paquet de videos live et des entrevues ici.

Leurs principales influences: Al Di Meola, Alex Skolnick Guitar Trio, Metallica, Megadeth, Paco de Lucia,
Slipknot, Slayer, Strunz & Farah, Testament.

Alors si vous aimez le métal et/ou la guitare classique, vous allez adorez.

C’est certain qu’il feront partie de mes prochaines playlists sur mon iPod.

Note: Merci à Sébastien de m’avoir soumis cette belle découverte musicale.

What is school for?- A Reply to Seth Godin (Part 1)

seth-godinSeth Godin recently wrote a very interesting post about education. You can find it here. He established a starter list of 27 statements summarizing the purpose of school. (In my current post, I will give you my take on his 10 first statements. I will do a part 2 of this post to reply to his 17 other statements on school’s purposes.)

I loved school. I really enjoyed doing my degree and my masters’ degree in marketing when I was in my early 20s. Seth’s list refers to school “in general”. I decided to give it a different look. A more specific perspective like “What is University for?”  and since I studied marketing at university “what worth a marketing degree?”

In today’s fast pace marketplace in which knowledge and expertise become rapidly obsolete and replaced with skills and experiences required by the “new marketing”, I tend to minimize the value of a marketing diploma over time.

So, let’s take Seth’s list about « what is school for » and dissect it with that twist in mind.

1.Become an informed citizen 

School does a great job to prepare our brain to empower us and make acceptable judgement calls on numerous subjects. University is just the extension and therefore the refinement of it. However, it largely depends on the citizen’s mind openness. I have seen many people with no degree who are better informed citizen than people with 2-3 diplomas. It is more a matter of personal attitude than school attendance.

2. Be able to read for pleasure

This one should be “Be able to read business books for pleasure”. Too many  business people stop reading once they get their first job. This is the beginning of their lack of professional competitiveness…. Never stop reading. Reading business books should be as pleasurable as reading thrillers.;-)

3.Be trained in the rudimentary skills necessary for employment

That is probably the first and foremost reason why we go to university. And that is a fact, this is truly rudimentary skills. About 80% of what you learn at university is not usable in your first job. The remaining 20% requires important adjustments to be applicable but I believe it is the rational methodologies learned at school that serves you the most by providing you a rational and scientific approach to execute your work. The diploma is the passport to get you a job interview and some may be promotions early in your career. After that, your experiences take up all the space.

4.Do well on standardized tests

Standardized tests are a necessary evil and unfortunately, our society and labor market is based on standards. Play the game. Do them. Do not try to fight against them.  If you are brilliant, you’ll make your way and differentiate yourself with other attributes than your performance on standardized tests…

5.Homogenize society, at least a bit

University homogenizes through similar teaching methods, programs and tests. I have a problem with that. This willingness to « uniformize » slows down the renewal of what is being taught to future managers and contributes to create a growing gap and a major disconnect between what students learn at university and what is being required by the marketplace. Which takes us back to point #3.

 

6. Pasteurize out the dangerous ideas

This one is closely linked to point 5. Dissident voices are not very welcomed at university. This is not necessarily better in the « sexy » marketing departments of business schools. They want one simple consistent speech with proven methods. Authors like Seth Godin are not very popular with academics.They preach with great examples and common sense and it doesn’t seem to be enough… Academics want the scientific method. Therefore, new ideas that are emerging are not even discussed at university until they are proven with a strong history. Too late for the poor student who desperately want to hear the latest stuff. Don’t read marketing handbooks to get that, start to read blogs!

 

7.Give kids something to do while parents work

In the case of university, this one should read: “Give parents something to work for”. University is very costly for parents full of ambition for their kids. This is even worst in the USA.

8. Teach future citizens how to conform

This one goes on with the “society standardization” aspect (see point #5). University just contributes to accentuate that level of conformity. University is very good at teaching us how to think and behave. I do not see conformity very positively. Conformity in the long run, leads to mediocrity.

 

9. Teach future consumers how to desire

 

 

Personnaly, I would reformulate this one more like “teach future consumers what they need ». The whole concept of desire is slowly disappearing. At the very moment when we think we might need something, the period for which we « desire » it is shorter than ever. We want it buy it.Now. We did not buy it? Then the need is replaced with another one leaving no space for desire. In that sense, I do not think school teaches us how to desire. The potential to desire something is within us with variable strength. School has nothing to do with it.

 

10. Build a social fabric

By opening up our minds to other cultures, other point of views, school and university indirectly help us to build a social fabric and a less individualistic society. This is probably one of the greatest benefit of university for society. However, university only reinforces what has already been initiated by schools and since there is only a small percentage of people which goes to university, we shouldn’t expect too much from it on that aspect.

 

 

I will continue with the other 17 items in Seth’s list in the part 2 of the post in the coming weeks. UPDATE Feb 23rd, 2009: The rest of the list is in the part 2 of this post here.

Any thoughts? Please do not hesitate to comment.

Elton John or Heart? I went for both!

Since I spent the past week in Las Vegas, the world’s capital of adult entertainment, I had the wonderful opportunity to see  2 shows from music industry icons which had international success in the 70s and 80s and still influence today’s pop and rock music: Elton John and Heart (yes, yes the band with the 2 Wilson sisters 😉 ). Let me share with you the main highlights of these 2 fabulous musical experiences.

February 6th, 2009, LasVegas Hilton: Heart

heart-in-vegasI have always been a big Heart fan. I remember my teenage years listening to their 80s greatest hits like « Alone » and « These Dreams ». Still today, I listen to their music a lot and my kids love it too. I never had the chance to see them live though. They do not come to Quebec City nor Montreal very often…

The show was a total blast. They are one of the few 80s band that aged well, even if many of their songs featured Casio synths during that period… Let me also tell you that Nancy Wilson ages pretty well too ;-). Ann had a very crisp and raunchy voice and did well the whole show. I literaly had goose bumps when she threw those high pitch notes.

They just did the  major hits that have played on top40 radio stations over the past 30 years or so. Here is the set list I had the chance to hear and see:

Wild Child (that was not the best choice to rock the audience upfront, IMHO)
Magic Man (Sounded great, nice electric guitar)
Straight On (My dear Valerie would have liked to be there since that is her best Heart song)
Love Alive
Mistral Wind

Isolation
You Wreck Me
(took a few seconds to identify this Tom Petty cover but Nancy did a great singing performance)
Dog & Butterfly (to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the song. One Word: Magic. Ann and Nancy did it acoustic)

These Dreams (With Nancy on the mandolin, a different version but very well executed)
Alone (One of the best vocal performance of the two sisters, Ann on the main and Nancy doing the backing vocals0
Love Reign
Barracuda
(Wow, what a great way to exploit the E string of a Les Paul!, Unbelievable!)

Encore One
Going to California (Heart is probably the best band still alive to render Led Zeppelin songs. This one was a nice surprise for me)
Crazy on You (This song left a permanent imprint in my musical memory and this show just crystallized it)

To sum up: An unexpectedwonderful evening . The unexpectedness of this show  may explain why I had such a great evening even if I was by myself! I still have goosebumps…

February 11th, 2009, LasVegas Ceasar’s Palace Colosseum: Elton John, The Red Piano.

elton-john-red-piano-adElton John is another music icon and altough I am a big rock and metal fan, I can appreciate his musical talent and unique melodic skills. Again, this evening was unexpected. My colleague Annie and I decided to go see him the day of the show! We have been lucky to get tickets and it was one of our last chance to see that unique stage set created by Designer/Photographer/Video Clip producer David LaChapelle.

LaChapelle did an amazing job to visually give us an overview of Elton’s career and complement his songs with background images and videos. You will witness a few blow-up stage props,  giant roses (that might be interpreted as something else),  bananas and cherries (to simulate a man’s toy), a pair of breasts and many other neon flashing signs about the Vegas adult entertainment scene.

Elton opened the show with the piano chords of  « Benny and the Jets » . Sound was great and Nigel Olson drum kit was beating in my heart. Elton did ALL his major hits as « Rocketman »  which means a lot to me. Pay attention to these lyrics written almost 3 decades ago… He  also did « Someone Saved My Life Last Night » and the images that were projected on the back screen were so special. I suited perfectly he lyrics. One of the highlight moment of the show was  « Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting »  when he asked all the people in the front rows to join him on stage. A great moment! Then he played one of my favorite one: Tiny Dancer. Although I did not appreciated that much the slide guitar on this one… I would have liked better a piano only version.

Then Elton entered in few explanations on some lyrics of the songs he did with Bernie Taupin, candidly saying that even after 40 years of singing them, he doesn’t get the sense of some lyrics. Very funny indeed. This is when I learned that the song  « Daniel »  was in fact a song about war. Bernie Taupin’s first draft of the song made clear the war aspect in the first verse of the song but Elton cut it to shorten the song and elimating its reference to war at the same time…

The show ends with  « Your Song » and big LOVE air inflated letters. See attached picture taken with my Blackberry at the end of the show.

elton-john-red-piano-finale

I was really pleased to see these 2 musical icons in less than 5 days. That is one of the good side of Vegas for music lovers like me who are not really into gambling!

How RSS feeding can save you time everyday?

RSS Feed is an amazing invention. However, everyday I meet with people who do not know the purpose and value of RSS Feeding.  I am trying to explain the concept the best I can but they do not seem to get what is the simple principle behind it. I can’t blame them, I was clueless about RSS feeds 3 years ago and now I am a power user.

Wanna know what are RSS Feeds and how they can help you save time? See the 3 minutes video below. And do not forget to subscribe to my blog’s RSS Feed in your preferred reader!

Welcome to Las Vegas/ Bienvenue à Las Vegas

I just landed in Vegas yesterday after a looooooooooog trip. Thanks to Air Canada. I was waiting for my luggage at the baggage claim when I saw this big billboard with this big booby bimbo inviting me to try her machine gun at The Gun Store. Even if I come to the USA quite often, I always have mixed feelings when I see such ads…

Je viens d’atterrir à Vegas après un voyage extrêmement long. Merci à Air Canada. J’attendais pour mon bagage au carrousel #2 de l’aéroport quand j’ai vu ce gros panneau publicitaire avec la fille aux gros tetons qui m’invite à aller essayer sa mitraillette au Gun Store, à 2 pas de la strip. Même si je viens aux United Steaks assez souvent, je ressens toujours un malaise quand je vois ce genre de pub….

Ad at Las Vegas Airport Carrousel 2

Ad at Las Vegas Airport Carrousel 2