Monday, April 30, 2012

A referendum on whom?

Some are saying the French elections are a referendum on Nicolas Sarkozy. After seeing both contenders' interview on French TV last night, I can say that the vote may instead be a referendum on my countrymen and countrywomen good judgment. In spite of his obvious mistakes and other poor moves, Sarkozy is the best equipped candidate to lead that country and it would be terrible if the electorate made its decision on issues of style, appearances and hearsay that are plaguing that politician.
Sarkozy is far from being perfect, he's no saint, but he has much more experience and street-smart than Hollande and if the French don't want to burn their furniture to keep warm, they ought to keep the man on the job. To quantify my thought, if Sarko is only worth 60% , Hollande barely breaks the 50% mark! Just my two-cent, for what it's worth...

Sunday, April 29, 2012


For those of us who have made a living selling ideas, services or products, persuasion stands at the center of everything. If we can't persuade, we can't move forward. From my little perspective, persuasion begins when we know what stands between us and the people we want to win.

We need to come up with a good strategy, in which first there should be an obvious need for what we offer, the proposition should be “win-win”, there ought to be enough patience to see the process through, a willingness to thoroughly educate the other party about what we want to push and a strong dose of legitimacy for whatever we're offering...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Snowbird's magic

The weather was cool, the sky perfect and with 6 inches from the day before, I decided to get out on my alpine skis. While the 45 minute trip down and up the canyons to Snowbird always has a magical meaning, like a special rite of spring, I was shocked by the difference one year makes in terms of snow cover.
As I was telling someone on the chairlift; the last time I was in Snowbird was this past 4th of July and there was much more snow over 9,500 feet than this late April! This said, skiing was excellent with very few skiers and perfect temperatures. I had a great time and I might return before the result might close on May 13!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Keeping a low profile

The art of living well and stress-free in a ski town is found in keeping a low profile. What I mean by this, is being able to enjoy the lifestyle and the amenities offered to us without falling into the trap of “fitting-in”.

This translates into living within our means, or better yet, far below! Of course, we can't be seen hanging out with the local or visiting famous and rich people, nor have our names displayed all over the places where something important seems to be going on.

What's sure is while these people practice the art of standing out, we take advantage of the bounties offered to us by our marvelous little town, and to our eyes, they're worth more than anything related to fame and money!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The business side of Facebook

Social media like Facebook are great for keeping in touch with friends. I'm not so sure they already are used as a viable avenue to business and sales promotion. I assume you know what I mean, “liking” brand ABC instead of just becoming Jana Smith's “friend”.

So, I'm “liking” a few commercial entities, such as – to cite one in particular – Deer Valley Resort. Since I do some work for them, I like to be stay current with what's going on with that mountain resort. Of course, that's not the only one, I have other ski resorts, athletes, automobiles rock-bands, periodicals, TV stations and products consumer products like my GoPro video camera.

Yet, when it comes promoting these various products and services, I seldom receive any interesting offers and that's where I think commercial entities are missing the mark. I know they're there, but their message is never compelling enough to make me pay attention and of course buy from them.

Communicating very creatively, keeping people interested and eager to take action (like purchase something) should be the key goal of all these commercial sites that tap into their “social networks” to drum up more business. I don't have a step-by-step procedure to optimize that tool, but most companies should definitely devise something in order to transmute their efforts into sales...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Political Marketing

The current French presidential elections are showing that political marketing done by political advisers seldom works. Consider this; after five years on the job, Sarkozy's party hasn't yet figured out that the president had pissed off half of France by his exuberant display of private life and his occasional vulgarity.

True, all the good, positive moves made by Nicolas Sarkozy have been largely overshadow by a terrible financial crisis and by relentless attacks from the media and the political pundits. I've also said that his electorate is impatient and would have liked bountiful results yesterday.

Yet, none of the above, nor the fact that Hollande always had an advantage in the polls, had convinced Sarkozy's advisers that he should “retool” his campaign, make overtures early on to the candidates of the extreme-right and center (Le Pen and Bayrou) and should project a more pragmatic image of their very no-nonsense president.

Barring a miracle, an unforeseen political event that might play into Sarkozy's hands or a major gaffe by Francois Hollande during the upcoming debate, the incumbent is guaranteed to lose the election. Desperate times like this call for desperate measures. Why not reposition the candidate as the “product” that isn't perfect, but still beats the alternative...

The positioning statement should acknowledge that even though all politicians are bad, Sarkozy is not nearly as bad as his opponent. This would force all people into thinking and particularly those who are always on the fence, in any election.

That's about what I would propose and by doing so, inject a good dose of humanity and credibility into a doomed campaign. This might serve as a catalyst to corral in all the Hollande doubters, whether they are among the extreme-right, the center and even the entire left.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dealing with inertia...

Whether it's in business, schools or political life, inertia can play havoc on the most ambitious plans. Inertia is a road-block created by bureaucracy, traditions, fear of change and unwillingness to compromise.

There are also evil forces at work to maintain inertia in place: Fear of stepping forward, corruption and key players dragging their feet. Inertia is why seemingly good politicians can't appear to be able to “move the needle” or promising managers get caught into quicksand. There is also another component lurking in the dark: Too many stakeholders standing in the way of momentous change.

This is why some “tyrannic” organizations; i.e. Apple under Steve Jobs could jump off the starting blocks like a rocket and leave their competitors in the dust. Dynamic movement calls for revolution, but everyone's craving for comfort and status-quo kills it.

Revolution doesn't have to be bloody though, it has to explained and this is where the power of persuasion comes into play. Persuasion? Tell me, what ever happened to that formidable ingredient? Well, that's a complete other subject that we should debate sooner than later...

Monday, April 23, 2012

The making of opinions

Most people are reactive creatures who don't take enough time to think for themselves. They tend to gravitate towards opinions that speak to their fears, their concerns, their worries, their cultures and their familiar habits. Yet, if we were to ask them to define themselves in relation to some ideology (political or other), they would have a very hard time defining it and defending it.

The simple answer for that apparent paradox is that we hardly take any time to catalog what we truly, deeply stand for. Contrary to popular belief, this should be a statement that knows no right and no wrong. It should simply be made up of what we truly think and of the values (or deviations) we believe in or can live with.

This is of course where things get dicey as we all want to exhibit some token of decency, morality and political correctness like the classic expression “you know, I'm not racist, but...” Simply posing a question like that one opens up a lot of disquieting notes. Will it show our true monstrosity, our petty biases, or our questionable dark sides? I invite you and myself to conducting this exercise and writing down, for once perhaps, our own mission statement. Chances are we'll all be in for a pretty big surprise!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

French elections

France and its citizens are sometime very difficult to please and this is evidenced in this year's election. Just like Obama, Sarkozy inherited a bad economic situation and it's so easy for his opponents to shoot him down, based on his behavior, his liberal use of vulgar language and his below-average height.

There's no political candidate that ever is an ideal match for what we think we want, but my feeling is that besides the few mistakes he might have made, he was the best person for the job and a large portion of his electorate shows little understanding of economics and even less patience.
If I were voting in France, and even though I don't approve of everything he's done over these past five years, I'd still prefer him over the rest of the field and believe that he'll end up winning the contest in two weeks from now... We'll see!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Before the “Haute-Route...”

The first and last time I set foot on alpine touring skis was almost 3 years ago and that experience wasn't stellar. At any rate, not to accept total defeat, I repeated it today and had a much better time at it.

True, my new AT boot, that I wore for the very first time killed my feet, but I eventually go used to the them and hoisted myself to the Park City Resort Summit House, some 2,350 vertical feet higher. At first, I found the exercise a bit grueling, but eventually learned the gliding technique and become more efficient and zig-zagged my way to the top.

Next time, I'll shoot for Jupiter Peak and hope to get out nine more times while there is still some snow available. Eventually, I still plan to do the “Haute-Route,” with some friends, between Chamonix and Zermatt, but in the meantime, I'll need to practice on the “Basse-Route” (the Low Road) around Park City!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Liquid weather

Yesterday, I ran into that stunning Facebook photograph showing a bunch of French people being drenched in a pouring rain. The group looked pathetic and as if they just missed Noe's Arch and were doomed to be swallowed by high waters. This is a side of France that I remember very well and this is one of the best reasons why we enjoy our lives in Utah. That's right, our weather is golden. Perhaps too dry at times, but hardly ever muddy.
Even though, as it's so customary during spring, we just had three days with quite a bit of rain, there was always a break in the weather, during the day, that allowed us to go outside and breathe freely. I wouldn't know where to find one umbrella in our home, even though I think we own one or two, and yellow slickers are not to be found in our wardrobes; at the very best, windbreakers that we wear when we have to run in the mist...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Running and the fountain of youth...

Not to deviate much from yesterday's blog, two good friends of mine have made several comments which deserved to be mentioned. One of them, Rob, from Boston, asked me if my spouse and I have found the elusive “fountain of youth”, while the other, Gérard, from Samoëns, France, is quoting from Roger Bannister, the first track athlete to break the four-minute mile, who said “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're a lion or a gazelle - when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.” 

The former comment is perfectly answered by the later quote. Simply said, in order for us to stay fit and be able to keep skiing with energy, we're willing to pay a recurrent price by doing what the lion and the gazelle accomplish everyday. Not only running regularly has kept us fit, but it also has enhanced our health and fortified our minds. In fact, in spite of what it might seem to most people who know us well, skiing is not our number one sport, it's running and by a giant stride!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Life gauge...

Friends who watch my ski videos are sometime surprised, sometimes amazed and are also warning me that I should somehow slowdown and take life a little bit easier. Well, I know that sooner or later, my body will slow down (it's already started) and tell me that a steep decline is underway, but until that time arrives in full force, I want to do all that I can to suspend the good feelings and appreciate the “precious moments” and the positive physical feelings that come with it.

Ever since I almost run out of gasoline while driving through the state of Nevada, I have come to appreciate my fuel gauge as a wonderful analog indicator. I can't help but see it as the measure of my life already consumed and a reminder of what is presumably left of it. That later dimension hold different values to different people. My wife begins to panic when there's only one-quarter left in her gas tank and quickly looks for the nearest service station. By contrast, I don't, which probably is a typical male trait.

So, with that in mind, I see my life measured by a similar gauge, with the hand moving steadily towards “empty,” year after year, making whatever is left most precious and worth focusing fully upon. This, in many ways, is why I may be burning the candle from both end when I see that the more time goes, the more left-over moments become increasingly precious!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Video lessons...

As I have mentioned in that blog, I discovered a great book that has taught me a lot about video-making. In addition, I've also arrived at some conclusions on my own, aimed at creating better action videos, particularly while skiing.

First there should always be a subject, I mean another person, in the frame, to provide some depth or perspective and create a better sensation of what is really happening while skiing. Just showing two ski tips doesn't do justice to the experience.

Second, following that skier is always better than preceding him or her, as the camera lens “loses” people at almost each turn, especially when doing long radius turn and evolving in steep terrain.

Finally, attention should be placed on staying steady (very difficult) and on skiing at reasonable speeds (otherwise “sea-sickness” is guaranteed). This later condition is certainly where my focus will be placed next season. It's also the most difficult to master!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Skiing with someone one-third my age...

Last Saturday, I was skiing at Canyons and run into a former Nordic Jumper and today student at the University of Utah. We did one run separately and as we reached the bottom station of the chairlift he asked me to do one run with him. I agreed under the condition that I would film his descent with my GoPro helmet-cam.

I wanted to test a few things and also was interested at practicing some steadier shots at high speed. So here I was following that young man down under the lift towers, a skier less than one-third of my age, in tricky snow made of 10 inches of 24-hour-old refrozen fresh snow topped by 2 inches of new one.

The young man skied with energy, flying on occasions (logical, he's been taking off from 90 meters Nordic jumps on a routine basis) and I did the best I could do to keep up with him as we barreled down the steep hill like two insane fellows. Another wonderful way for me to end the ski season at Canyons!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Age, competence and contribution...

Quite often, we watch entertainment shows on French television and we're generally shocked by the poor quality of the artists' performance. It's true that most productions are run by old folks (Michel Drucker and Patrick Sébastien) who haven't changed much in 30 years and should have long retired.

They're probably still hanging in there just because they still use lots of influence on the State-owned channels to stay as long as they can and can get away with sliding in mediocre products. The singers showed are as pathetic as their promoters.

One, that goes by the name of Gérard Lenorman is particularly terrible and he's often found in company of other lackluster artists. This is pretty bad, because it leads us to believe that all French artists are just terrible, which I suspect isn't the case...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Does superstition bring bad luck?

Yesterday was Friday the 13th and as a joke – I think – one of my Facebook friend wrote that I should know that superstition brings bad luck. To which I immediately thought that, by pure symmetry, lack of superstition must bring good luck, which is not quite the logical, as it should bring a balanced distribution of good and bad luck. So much for that.

Then this got me thinking about superstition. I claim not to be superstitious, yet over the years, at times and in small doses, I've often drifted into that murky field. I have never been that religious, though. I've feared the punishing god, but never was convinced that he could really exist and that he really cared about me. What's true is that I somehow believe in serendipity and that things happen for a reason. That also irritates me a hell of a lot, because it goes against my rational reasoning.

That dimension is honestly tied to a form of spirituality that some folks might call superstition. I really think we're “plugged-in” into some universal outlet and that some of us are more apt at collecting that mysterious “force” and use it for the better in running their lives. That's right, I believe that this dark force, whatever it is, is profoundly good and that my work is now cut out for me if I'm serious about researching the subject...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Before and after

My view of life is that we're nothing before we're born and return to nothing after we pass away. We're just a blip on the universe radar screen and very tiny and short one at that. Nothing before, nothing after.
We can delude ourselves in thinking that we're better than that and worth keeping, a bit like the piles of junk we faithfully keep in our garage, attics, files cabinets and personal memories, but we're just passing by, so my word of advice for the day is to be extremely careful with our daily use of the tiny, minute, yet invaluable portion of that instantaneous “blip!”

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Forever young?

When we run in the morning, my wife and I always ask each other “how do you feel?” meaning “are you joints hurting, is everything alright?” In many ways we've never felt better and could say that we feel as good as when we were thirty years old. That's not entirely true of course.

For one thing, we're extremely conscious that the health and mobility we still enjoy is a fleeting asset and that's why we check its level so frequently. I'm not saying we're waiting for the proverbial “other shoe to drop” but we certainly are quite aware that we must stay alert about, and be extremely grateful for what we have.

Do we think we have peaked physically? You bet, but we've not given up and are not going to throw the towel any time soon, so that's why, deep inside, we keep on believing that we're forever young!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cars, skiers, tires and skis

Often the set of parts that are the unsung hero of an automobile are ignored, taken for granted and not given their due. They're the tires and they're the key elements between the automobile and the rolling surface. The opposite is true for skiers.

The skis, that play the same role as the lowly tire, are glorified, get all of the spotlight and are decked to the hilt to capture the shots of all possible paparazzi. Yet, both components are the same. They must perform, be in good shape, last and of course wear out after the longest possible period of time.

The car engine (the skier's muscles), the transmission (the ski boots) play an equally, if not superior role though. All things being equal, put a good skier on a (modern) mediocre pair of ski and you won't see much of a difference, but put a poor skier on the best pair of skis, he or she will still show very poorly.

The conclusion of this story is that no matter the skis, what counts most is always the skier!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Running out of snow?

Six more days of ski season in Park City and just enough snow to make it to closing day, or so it seems. Never, as far as I can recall, has we had the right amount of snow to finish off a record-dry season just on schedule.
This of course is thanks to wonderful and abundant snow making, with Deer Valley Resort leading the charge and sparing no effort and money to produce huge quantities of artificial stuff with a wide enough margin to thwart a “worse-case scenario...”

Hopefully, next year, our snow gods will get off their butts and give us enough natural material!

Monday, April 9, 2012

What if?

It's been just more than a year that my friend Denys Liboz left us. While his memory still is alive among his family and friends, I sometimes keep on wondering what would he do today, if he had not fallen victim of the amyloidosis virus. He probably would still be working as a rep, would have a new set of artificial hips, would still bike and ski and would wonder if and when he should retire.

Whenever he could, he'd spend time with his kids and grand children, occasionally hop on a plane and visit his brothers, back in France, and would gradually slow down the pace of his daily life like the rest of us. I'd call him from time to time and we'd reminisce the good old days and he would assure me that life has never been better for him than at that very moment...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Bunny vs. Skiing

I had planned the day so I could combine some skiing with some friends and some egg hunting in the company of my grandson. The little man was supposed to come later in the afternoon and look for whatever had been planted by the Easter Bunny all over our garden.

That was not counting on my his sudden urge to move the event as early in the day as he could. He probably heard too much that the benevolent rabbit was an early riser and that delaying the even might jeopardize the harvest; further, how could I imagine that a four years could understand the benefits of delayed gratification!

As an expected consequence, I postponed skiing until later in the week and had a ball with my delightful grandson. Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The problem with “First Tracks...”

I'm not a special fan of “First Tracks” for a number of very good reasons. First, doing them often require to wait for a lift to open up. Just in the midst of a snow storm or immediately after, the lift maybe on “wind-hold” or shut down while the ski patrol is still busy blasting off avalanche prone areas; there's therefore too much “hurry-up and wait” for my personal tolerance.

Another very good reason is that not all slopes or special runs are steep enough all the way to carry skiers on their own speed in flatter sections and that makes for the need of cutting a trail for other users. It's not that I don't want to share, but it's a lot of work and time spent plowing through deep “pow” at snail pace.

Finally, “First Tracks” skiing comes with uniformity in sensations and I do prefer evolving in already cut-out tracks with the accelerations and slow-downs that are built into them; I find this excellent for sharpening my balance skills and creating a never-ending stream of excitation. All sound motives for not seeing me making “First Tracks!”

Friday, April 6, 2012


In looking back on my life, I realize that anything is possible. That applies to anything rational; yet, few people believe in that concept and act upon it. Sure, many folks don't believe in what's totally rational, yet possible and conversely, they believe in stuff that is highly irrational and materially impossible.

Those who know me well will understand what I'm talking about. If you don't, just ask by simply posting a comment. This said, I'm more convinced today than at any time before in my existence in the power of possibility. Everything rational is possible; just pour your mind and energy into it!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Luck, luck, luck

A couple of nights ago, I was listening to a new friend's life story. Like for many folks I'm fortunate to know, his path was quite remarkable and had placed him in the midst of creation of modern technology.

I won't be getting into any details about who he was and what he had done, but I just want to report that all along, he underscored the enormous role luck had played in his entire life in shaping it the way it did.

As I have said, we are in great part the by-product of luck - or lack thereof - and when Lady Luck has dealt us a hand, we should never forget it!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Goodbye trusted, loyal servant

As my daughter dropped me off at the airport, I saw her new car vanish away around the curb. After taking me reliably around the West for the past nine years, this little auto has now found a new home and it ready, I sure hope, for another decade of driving her new owner around California and wherever destiny may take her in the future .
It's been bittersweet to see that auto go ; bitter because it has served me so well over such a long time and sweet because I know it will now be in very good hands for another great many years!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Driving by Squaw Valley

Whenever I drive by Lake Tahoe, I love to catch a glance at the lake and when possible, I also relish to drive by the entrance gate to Squaw Valley and glance at the Olympic legacy monument that seems to have evolved over the years. For someone like me, that place brings back memories of one of my countryman, Jean Vuarnet, who won a gold medal in downhill back in 1960.

My thoughts then cascade from there and evoke his triumphal coming home welcome in March of that same year, on the Morzine town plaza, the white Renault “Floride” convertible presented by the town to its champion and so much more, like Jean Vuarnet jumping at the Avanieres all the way to his visits with Edith at Les Lindarets, where he always coveted the beautiful Lavanchy's chalet...
Memory has always a devious way of taking the most disciplined thinkers off any given subject...

Monday, April 2, 2012

Another Nevada crossing

Across, the state of Nevada is more than 300 mile wide, and with very little in between in terms of things to see and do, it doesn't take many crossings to remember what stands out in terms of key landmarks or points of interest. This time was a bit different in the sens that I had never travelled at the end of winter, with so many snow-capped mountains in view, adding some relief and interest to an otherwise pretty uniform landscape.
 If there's a place that does render the sense of infinite open space America has to offer, this drive does and the oversize sights soon become boring enough to make the trip something that is quite forgettable and a moment in time anyone would gladly do without!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Helping Greece

What have you concretely done to help Greece out of its crisis? Perhaps you haven't thought at all at what you could have contributed, but I have, and I hope that you'll admire my creative support and follow my lead.

For the past couple months we've switched our yogurt consumption from pure American to Greek, at least this is what I read on the labels. I hope they shipped the stuff on some cargo-ships (That's after all Greece's main business, after tourism, right?) or at the very least they Fedexed the yeast from Athens.

To be even Greeker than Zeus, we've also switched to Greek yogurt ice-cream; we found it at Costco. Unfortunately, this particular one really tastes awful, but at least we're sharing into the Aegean people plight and suffering!