This is my Base Camp.

Okay, well actually it’s a blog, I know.

But when you think about the purpose of a Base Camp, it’s the place where a journey sets out and it’s also the place you return to, afterwards.

While I may not be climbing mountains as regularly as I’d like, I’ll treat this blog as a Base Camp in a sense. This is the space where I capture my ideas, thoughts, and experiences down in writing. I may post about something I find interesting and return to reflect on it in the future.

Thanks for visiting. Oh, and make sure you grab some trail mix before heading out.

Creating A Purpose Statement

I have decided to revisit my earlier thoughts on defining your purpose. In a previous post, I discussed the idea that how you spend your time is closely connected to your purpose. Having taken some time to think more on the idea, I come to you now with this snazzy new update . If you didn’t catch my earlier post on How Do You Define Yourself?, check it out here.

At the end of How Do You Define Yourself? I was searching for some way to describe my purpose. It boggled my mind a little. I mean there are so many things I am interested in and want to do, how the heck am I supposed to articulate that in a single sentence? Maybe you know the feeling. Sandra Bell-Lundy, who creates the Between Friends comics, knows the struggle is real.


Creating your purpose statement with the Imperative Quiz

Recently, I have come across a very cool online tool that helps you generate your own purpose statement. I think it is pretty impressive. Not to mention, useful. The organization who put this tool together, Imperative, is all about redefining work. It is their mission to help people discover and connect with what gives them purpose in the workplace.

After I went through the assessment quiz and started reading some of the material on their website, I thought to myself, Yes! Everyone needs to do this. Now. It might sound silly, but one of the biggest fears of my adult life has been that I’ll wake up in 30 years and think, What did I just do with my life?! I want to be engaged with my work and sincerely care about what it is I am doing. I want a clear purpose. Imperative gets it. I’m really diggin’ what they do. As a heads up, you will have to create an account to do the quiz (or sign in with your google account). But, it’s totally worth it.

Complete the Imperative quiz yourself:

The results

When you are done you will have a profile that tells you three important things: who your work impacts, why you do what you do, and how you achieve impact. These will then be combined into a single purpose statement.

Who your work impacts: Individual // Organization // Society
Why you do what you do: Karma // Harmony
How you achieve impact: Human // Community // Knowledge // Structure

After taking the quiz, I found out my results were organization, karmaand community. This combination is also known as The Empowerer – I empower communities to realize their potential. Based on that, I now have a customized purpose statement.

Shane’s purpose statement…

“My imperative is to work with teams of people to empower them to create a collective impact.”

One assumption I made in my post How Do You Define Yourself?, is that you can just start from the ground-up, deciding how to spend your time meaningfully whenever you want. Unfortunately, that can be a difficult thing to do. For many, how they spend their time does not equal their purpose. And their purpose is not connected to their work. This is the gap Imperative is filling.  

Once you do the quiz, how can you incorporate the results into your work? How can your purpose become part of your day-to-day activities? Imagine an entire workplace full of purpose-driven individuals, connected to their work.

Check out the Imperative website for more information on what creating a purpose statement is all about at

Stay adventurous.


Creating A Purpose Statement

Connecting to Our Places

Mikey Schaefer is a climber and story teller, whose film, ‘FORCE’, tells his own story about climbing in Patagonia. Towards the end of the film he shares his thoughts about the idea of connecting to a particular place, which I found quite meaningful.

This excerpt from ‘FORCE’ starts around 13:25 in. To get the full impact of what he is saying, it’s worth watching the full 20 minutes.

“I definitely want to inspire people to go out and have an adventure. To get cold. To get lost. And learn how to love a place, because that’s what happens when you have all this experience. You start to love that place. If you think about the people you care about the most in this world, it’s probably the people you know the best. They’re the people you’ve made connections with, they’re the people you’ve had experiences with. They’re the people you’ve laughed with, cried with, made love to, had birthdays with. The same thing can happen with a place. I think the more you know it, the more you’re gonna care about it. The more you’re gonna want to protect it. The more that place is gonna to do to you, too. And that is commitment. That takes time.”

Mikey Schaefer (FORCE)

I like this message because I think it is relevant to the world of natural conservation. The people who are often the best stewards are the ones who have the strongest connection to a place. Those are the people who will fight hardest to conserve it. And those are the people who need to be engaged and consulted in its land use planning. Maybe climbing and stewardship aren’t as separate from each other, after all.

To see what other projects Mikey has been a part of, check out his site –

 Stay adventurous.



Finding A Pathway to Meaningful Work

Over the years, I have applied to my fair share of job postings. First, in my search for part time work and summer jobs, then as a co-op student in university, and now looking for full time work. There is no shortage of articles online with authors offering their version of ‘the guidebook’ to finding a job. In my experience, you have to sift through the junk and pick out what’s important and what you can actually use yourself.

In the past month, I have read a handful of online articles that would fit into the ‘what’s important’ category. I enjoyed these four in particular because they discuss the importance of enjoying what you do for a living. So the next time we are surfing the job boards, I think the combined messages of these articles are important ones to keep in mind. The four article I read are listed, below.

  1. Best Advice: What You Want To Do Isn’t Always What You Want To Be, written by Kevin O’Leary, published February 3, 2015
  2. Why It’s Never Been More Important For Kids To Explore, written by Chris Burkard, published March 2, 2015
  3. Legendary Mountaineer Reinhold Messner’s Advice to the Next Generation, posted by Freddie Wilkinson, published March 6, 2015
  4. Why We Lost Leisure: David Steindl-Rast on Purposeful Work, Play, and How to Find Meaning in the Magnificent Superfluities of Life, written by Maria Popova, published on an unknown date

These are the messages that I’ve taken away from the authors, above:

Getting to the fun part happens over time.
This is a something I have had to embrace as a recent university graduate. Based on the field you are interested in, you must develop the necessary skill set and combine that with relevant experiences to get where you want to go. Then over time, you can begin to enjoy what you do more and more.

You may need a job to support your work.
Kevin O’Leary’s article stresses this point. He argues that you need to be able to financially support yourself while you pursue what you are really passionate about. I agree with him on this. Although, I think if you are able to support yourself with the work you are really passionate about, then do it. If not, try to find another way to pay the bills.

Identify opportunities and chart a new course when the timing is right.
I think it’s important to identify opportunities that get you in a position to enjoy what you do. Sure it would be nice, if you’re already there, but if you’re not then take some time to figure this out. It could be starting up your own operation, moving to an organization in a more relevant field, taking a course, who knows, it could be anything. After reading the arguments that Burkard and Popova present in their articles, I would say that it’s important to take risks in order to pursue meaningful work. If not, years might pass by while you wait for just the right opportunity. Smart risks can get you there faster.

How you get there can be more important than the destination.
This is a piece of advice that Reinhold Messner provides in the article posted by Freddie Wilkinson. Choosing to do something only because it will sound cool when you tell someone about it, is not a great idea. The process of pursuing the work you really enjoy is more satisfying and can have just as much of an impact as reaching your destination itself. In Messner’s world this applies to climbing mountains, but I find it applicable to the working life too.

So what does it all mean?

I think in the end it comes down to the fact that there is no single pathway that everyone can take to arrive at their dream job. Different people pursue different goals, and it’s about finding a pathway that leads you towards achieving them. The reason I like the idea of ‘meaningful work’ over the idea of a ‘meaningful job’ is that I find work can relate to someone on a more personal level. Of course it could be related to your career, as well.

So how do you know whether you are completing meaningful work or not? No one can give you that answer. But, if someone asked you to create a list of career related goals, and what you wrote down, you also considered personal goals, that might be a hint your work is meaningful to you.

Stay adventurous.


Finding A Pathway to Meaningful Work

Ten Lessons from the 2015 Canadian Crowdfunding Summit

Last week, I attended the inaugural Canadian Crowdfunding Summit in Toronto, Ontario, organized by the National Crowdfunding Association of Canada.  It was a sold out event with all sorts of people in attendance. I think it needs to be said that before this event, I knew very little about what crowdfunding was about. Two things came to mind whenever someone mentioned crowdfunding – Kickstarter and Indiegogo. That has since changed.

After a day full of keynote speakers, panel presentations, and workshops, I can know say that I know a whole lot more about what drives successful crowdfunding campaigns.

Here are the top 10 things I learned:

1) Talk to potential customers way before starting a crowdfunding campaign.
Crowdfunding is not the right funding mechanism for all projects. Identify potential customers and try approaching them for funding first, before pursuing crowdfunding. There is no sense in trying to appeal to the masses when you are really trying to target one particular funding source.

2) Do not plan on one large campaign, plan on having multiple raises.
Having multiple campaigns allows you to build trust with your customers. It will also break down your funding targets into more achievable chunks.

3) Crowdfunding often attracts non-traditional funding groups.
Many speakers I heard from at the Summit, alluded to the traditional “boys’ club” thatnormally funds projects. People who don’t have a network that include members of this club are at a disadvantage. Crowdfunding allows people to get around this barrier by attracting non-traditional funding sources. Often this includes women and people with a low income.

4) Crowdfunding is all about having a good story.
When someone decides to back a project, they are buying into your story. If you don’t have a good story, they won’t trust you with their money. Refine your story and practice telling it. Tell it to anyone who will listen.

5) Plan your media relations and be prepared for the worst case scenario.
Think of realistic situations that could cause your project to fail. Prepare a communication strategy to use in case one of them happens. You need to know how you are going to maintain the trust of your backers and be able to respond quickly to any problems that occur.

6) Know your audience.
If you are planning a rewards-based campaign, your rewards need to appeal to your audience. Know who your target market is and create rewards that reflect your research.

7) Decide how you will spend the money before starting the campaign.
If your campaign is successful, you don’t want to waste valuable time afterwards trying to decide how you are going to spend your money. Create a plan beforehand and execute it, after you’re successful. Make sure your whole team is part of the creation of this plan.

8) The first 48 hours of a crowdfunding campaign are the most important.
I participated in one session in particular, that stressed how important it is to gain momentum in the first 48 hours of your campaign. Popular campaigns attract attention. This means telling your family, friends, and other backers exactly when you are going to launch your campaign so they can contribute as soon as possible.

9)  There are no rewards to give away when crowdfunding the cure for cancer.
Equity-based crowdfunding may be more appropriate for some projects as opposed to rewards-based. Jonathan Medved, our keynote speaker, gave the example of trying to crowdfund for big data or the cure for cancer. Equity in your start-up may be the right path. Similarly, at a certain point people start asking, “Why do I only get the T-shirt?”, especially with the projects you see on sites like Kickstarter. Consider offering equity.

10) Crowdfunding takes a lot of work.
There were many example of successful campaigns given throughout the day, and all of them required hard work. It’s not just about creating a video and clicking a couple buttons in order for the money to come in. Things you need to consider are: what is your organizational structure?; what are the necessary legal considerations?; do you have a brand promise?; is there another city or country that would better suit your project?; and, the quality of your team members, among other considerations.

If you are looking for some further insight into crowdfunding, there are a lot of great resources online to help you with your campaign. Here is a starting point:

Stay adventurous.


Ten Lessons from the 2015 Canadian Crowdfunding Summit

How Do You Define Yourself?

I would say that right now I am in a transitional period of my life. In June 2014 I graduated from the University of Waterloo and am now transitioning into the working world. It is definitely an interesting, and stressful, point in time. When you have been going to school for your whole life up until now, starting from primary school up until finishing post-secondary, I feel like my default purpose has been exactly that. My purpose was more or less ‘being a student’.  In my mind, I equate my purpose to how I spend time.

Of course I have interests and activities and friends that take me beyond education, but now I have this new found freedom. Who knew the freedom to choose your purpose could be so intimidating. It should be said that I am very happy to have the privilege of choosing what it is that I do with my time. A few days after my convocation, it was like I woke up and asked myself “Wait, you mean I can choose to do anything I want now?!”. The overwhelming number of possibilities to redefine myself is not something I am used to.

As most recent grads know, if someone has the opportunity to ask you, “So, what are you going to do with your degree now?”, or “Do you have a job yet?”, they will not hesitate. Often they want to see how you measure up to society’s standards on what I’ll call, ‘the path to normal’. Having faced these types of questions myself, I want to make a conscious effort to engage in similar conversations with other people differently. I’d rather someone ask, “Shane, how do you spend your time?”. I could choose to answer that with something about work or by talking about something much cooler that I am excited about spending time on.

After sifting through blog posts, YouTube videos, and the sort of information snippets you find on the internet, one person’s message really stuck with me. Randy Pausch, who was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and unfortunately passed away in 2008, has a great lecture available on YouTube about time management. I will include the video at the end of this post if, like me, you find yourself in need of some internet wisdom. Randy does a great job emphasizing the idea of choosing how you want to spend your time. Choose opportunities and projects and relationships that allow you to spend your time the way you want to. Constantly ask yourself, “Is this worth my time?”. It can be all too easy to factor money into the decisions you make, and sometimes you have to, but if you can, define your purpose based on your time budget.

Through the course of writing this post I have not come up with a new statement that defines my purpose, but I will go forward with the modus operandi of spending my time meaningfully. I also think that my purpose will evolve more than once as I experience new things in life and certain things become important to me over time. If you think it is worth your time, then see what Randy Pausch has to say in this video:

Stay adventurous.


How Do You Define Yourself?