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Entrepreneurship leadership

Being Mindful of Feedback with Snowballs

December 7, 2016

It’s tough to be mindful of the feedback we give and receive. We’re humans, and humans are fallible – even mild feedback can seem harsh if it’s perceived to come from a place of hostility, or if we feel like we’re somehow threatened by the person giving it. However, feedback is inevitable, so it’s our duty as compassionate human beings to make sure that it’s taken and received as best as possible.

The Snowball

Imagine you’re standing at the top of a snowy hill holding a snowball, looking down at a person who you’ll inevitably hit with it. You have two options: either throw the snowball right away, or let it roll down the hill and take time to reach its target. You don’t want to throw the snowball right away – you’re going to hurt the other person! It’s so much easier to let it slowly roll down to its target. But – that’s actually going to hurt even more when it hits! As the snowball rolls and more time passes, it’s going to grow until it’s overwhelming… and then, wham!

Feedback that gathered momentum

From GettyImages

That’s just like feedback we hold on to for longer than necessary. The small criticisms we’re afraid to say grow when an issue is repeated and compounded. So – just throw the damn snowball! It’ll hurt much less and be more manageable.

Keeping relationships positive

It can be scary to give small criticisms if you’re worried about keeping a relationship healthy. Fortunately, there’s a simple solution. Positivity psychologist Daniel Goleman describes the ideal ratio of positive feedback to negative feedback as 3:1 in a business setting. What that means is that relationships will continue to be positive if you give 3 pieces of positive feedback per each criticism.

Easy, right?

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Leading Meetings

November 24, 2016

Leading meetings can be tough if you have a group of analytical minds around the table. People who like to process what they hear thoroughly can sometimes refrain from speaking until they’re totally ready. This can lead to a meeting dominated by a few vocal team members, which can dissuade others from adding their valuable input. This can be a problem when you need your whole team creatively thinking around solutions.

Leading Meetings with Purpose

Approaching every part of a meeting analytically and with purpose is the way to set everyone’s mindset in the right place. Here are 3 quick principles for getting everyone constructively involved:

  1. Provide a ‘why’ whenever possible
  2. Frequently ask what people think
  3. Request specific people to answer a question, as opposed to the group

These 3 simple tips will ensure that everyone gets a chance to understand and participate. Providing a ‘why’ ensures that everyone is cognizant of the task at hand and is willing to participate. Frequently asking what the group thinks keeps everyone on track. Finally, asking specific people to answer questions keeps the group on their toes. One trick that’s worked for me is providing around 30 seconds of thinking time before an answer to a tough question!

These tips were my first steps to running happier, better meetings, and I hope they work for you as well.

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Entrepreneurship X Life


November 16, 2016

The story of the CEO of my current venture and I meeting seems almost unbelievable in retrospect.

Kaela, the CEO in question, is an Australian who’s been living in Toronto running in-school experiences for the last ~10 years. She decided to ask a freelance website developer she had working for her, Zeshan, if she knew any young technologists who needed a job. Zeshan is an aspiring developer from India who did schooling in Nigeria before coming to Toronto. Also, as it turned out, he was doing front-end development for Voovo, my startup – just as we were starting to fold. The coincidences that lead to me meeting the CEO of that were overwhelming as well.

The serendipity is undeniable!

There are so many little things that make life as magical as it is.

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November 13, 2016

I’m currently working on a product called X Life, a daily self-regulation and key life skill tool for school communities. It’s my third serious foray into the worlds of startups and education.

My introduction to the company was unnaturally serendipitous, and the job feels like a culmination of everything I’ve learned over the years – startups, technology and working with children.

When I began studying computer science, I stopped working as a swim instructor/lifeguard at camps and began hanging around the Digital Media Zone, a startup incubator in Toronto, Canada. There, I programmed, learned about business and met a ton of great people. After working on an app called Thumble (think Instagram meets Reddit), I co-founded a business called Materialyze with four masters students.

We began as a marketplace for 3D-printable models, and realized we needed a big change when A) we got a cease and desist over the name, and B) we realized that no one really had a 3D printer.

Well, we weren’t going to give up – all of us cared about bringing 3D printing to the masses. So we pivoted and became Voovo, a reverse-auction of sorts that connected people with 3D printers with people who wanted prints done.

We had a good run, and went on for about a year before it was time to move on to other things. That’s just the reality with businesses, isn’t it?

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Blogging Into the Wind

November 10, 2016

Hi, I’m Dan Max – a professional entrepreneur and developer based in Toronto, Canada. My work is based around using technology to easily bring mindfulness and other life skills into school communities. I decided to begin blogging in order to share good tidbits I learn, and maybe find a focus for my voice.

A friend I coach in life-related-things recently mentioned that I have a knack for giving off energy, and I decided to try my hand at sharing what I find works to create discussion around what makes us happy.

It might take a while to find my voice – there are plenty of programmers and entrepreneurs blogging about that kind of work – so I’m going to shoot for something different. I’ve boiled down the things I enjoy to 4 Es which I hope to share with you over the course of this little experiment:

  1. Energy
  2. Entertainment
  3. Education
  4. Entrepreneurship

I’ll go into more detail on those later, but for now – here goes nothing!

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