This week has been a stark contrast of two vastly different emotional experiences.

The first was all about life. 

I had just returned from an eventful weekend in Whistler, had a large dinner and was about to retire for an early bedtime at 8:45pm. As I sat exhausted on the sofa I received a call from my cousin, set on the idea to see Eminem in Squamish, who would begin his set in exactly one hour. He said it was “once-in-a-lifetime, are you in or out?” There was literally no time to dwell on the pros and cons, the repercussions, or even be rationale. I knew I had work at 9am the next morning and was already dangerously sleep deprived from the weekend. But, in the face of adversity, with no time for consideration, I went with the once-in-a-lifetime choice—I had a chance to see one of my favourite artists play live and I wasn’t going to pass it up.

He was at my front door 15 minutes later and we had only 45 minutes to boot it on the Sea-to-Sky highway (which I had just been on less than 5 hours prior) and make it to the hectic Squamish Live festival grounds. To add a notable snag to the equation, we didn’t have legitimate day passes. Two teammates from my cousin’s hockey team had come back to Vancouver for an evening game, decided they didn’t have the energy to go back for one show (even though it was Eminem) and thus the wristbands were strategically cut off and I worked to meticulously tape them back on in the car ride. It was a dicey job at best, but we figured either we’d get in for an amazing show, or get turned back and drive unmolested on the highway home to be back in bed before midnight. 

We pulled into Squamish shortly after 9:30pm and town was crawling with festival goers and out-of-towners. Parking was an absolute zoo, but as it happened I grew up in Squamish for the first 12 years of my life and used to play soccer where the festival grounds were taking place. I navigated our truck to a hidden parking spot behind an old mechanic shop and we were hustling to the main gates. The anxiety was building, as we were both uncertain of how the wristbands would fair at security. As it happened, things were lax, it was the end of the night and the end of the festival, we scanned in no problem and made our way to the main stage… Eminem was minutes away.

As we crossed the main courtyard we could hear the screams of the crowd as Eminem’s voice bellowed through the festival. At first it didn’t even seem real, this one artist who we had both listened two for almost two decades, it felt like a radio broadcast. We swam through the masses of people to get a view and just as we eclipsed the hill to get a visual, he gave his introduction to Vancouver. He dropped the song “White America” and hypnosis ensued. Never have I witnessed a performer, be it artist, comedian, public speaker, with such profound stage presence. The entire crowd was under a trance, his rapping and singing was uncanny and he engaged the audience at such a visceral level. It was truly a spectacle. He touched on all the old hits and the new ones, threw in dialogue and stories and above all, was so utterly immersed in his trade. It wasn’t just thoroughly entertaining, it was moving to experience such artistry.

Eminem’s lyrics and music have faced a lot of controversy, but one cannot deny the passion behind them. His performance was no different. In our busy lives, we often downplay or flat out neglect the impact an artistic performance can have on us. I had been privileged enough to see two of my favourite artists play live and I was realistically five minutes of dwelling from missing out on the third. 

Sometimes less thought is better. Go with the impulsive, think to yourself, if today was my last day on Earth, what would I do?

It was the fear of missing out, which brought me to the Eminem show, but now that I look back on it, there should have been no doubts in the first place. Our time is limited and music becomes such an integral part of our lives. If you have a chance to see one of your artists play live, you owe it to yourself. If he or she happens to put on a life-changing performance, than that’s just an added bonus!!

This brings me to the second emotional experience, death.

Two days after the awe-inspiring Eminem show, news surface that one of the acting and comedic greats of our generation, Robin Williams, had passed away. The harped on details surrounding his suicide are truly irrelevant compared to his unequivocal legacy as an artist on stage and on screen.

As a child born in 1988, Williams played such an integral role in my childhood, starring in so many iconic roles in the movies we late 80s children grew up on. The loss took a few days to sink in and it seemed unbelievable that such a funny, positive, and happy-inducing man would choose to end his own life. I’m still having trouble wrapping my mind around that part. 

I think it serves as a reminder that mental illness is not some sort of weakness or inferiority. It is what it says it is, an illness. Scientifically, it is recognized as a chemical imbalance in the mind, no different than chemical imbalances which can upset our organs or immune systems. Robin Williams was a man who dedicated his life to the craft of bringing happiness to others. It’s truly an upsetting outcome, when so many would have been willing to help. Moving forward, one can only hope this helps lift the stigma that surrounds mental illness.

Thanks for the laughs, Robin. 

I finally made it up to the Yukon earlier this month to experience the coveted Northern Canadian Summer. I tried to document as much as I could, but frankly, one cannot capture the sublime, quintessential beauty of such a place. I sincerely urge everyone to put this destination near the top of their list. Cheers to the ladies & gents, the Yukon Gold, and the Land of the Midnight Sun!

The date is July 17th 2014. I felt the need to write down my thoughts and figured I’d post it on the web with the hope of resonating with other passionate minds. Be warned, it’s long and drawn out. 

Before embarking on my master’s degree, I found myself at a crossroads in life, as so many students often do. We find ourselves in structured academia from the age of 4 until our early/mid-twenties with nothing but a “summer” in between. As we get older summer turns from a time of freedom—oh my God 2 months of freedom and sunny skies—to a time of learning and development through a glimpse into another way of life. By the latter, I’m referring to my summers in university spent doing the most mundane tasks, delegated by a fixed hourly wage. Needless to say, after a summer detailing the grounds of a cemetery, the dawn of another year of school is a savior to the mind and spirit, at least for me.

After 5 years of undergraduate studies I came out with a major in English and a minor in Film Studies (and more than a few good times under my belt). I was charged, full of life and vigor. I had developed a can-do attitude where I literally thought the sky was the limit. I spent the next year doing what I love; planning events, ensuring people had good times, and raising dollars for a good cause.  It was hands on business experience and I was rubbing shoulders with some really classy folks and downright good characters. Alas, all good things must come to an end and our power foursome took a step back and passed on our model to universities around the country. To this day, Top Guns Charity has raised close to $100,000 in Canada since its inception. It’s something I’m very proud of and whenever I’m in a lull, it’s one of those memories I revisit for an immediate pick-me-up.

I believe that we all have something constant in our life. Something that drives us deep down and intrinsically; it’s a relentless passion that we all have. If I were to point out mine, it would be my salacious desire to learn. That’s why I love school, it’s why I love sports, and it’s why I love a challenge. After Top Guns I didn’t feel ready to enter the workforce, but rather, wanted to further my education. I am a firm believer that an investment in education is an investment in one self, which is never a poor investment. The concept that IMCo brought forth, studying in two different countries, was what really distinguished it from the other programs offered around the world. What we learn is inferior to the environment of which it is learned in.

Alas, after a summer of work and preparation I found myself aboard an airplane and stepping onto European soil for the first time.  I honestly cannot describe that feeling when a new adventure is about to begin. It’s fear, adrenaline, and impatience being delicately balanced in a trifecta of euphoria. That’s what I felt. And that’s what brings us to the residential…

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Simply incredible to see one of your best friends @iamhayleymac pursue her dream and release her first album, then host a small show to play it live for family and friends. Check out the album on iTunes, I promise it will knock your socks off! http://www.iamhayley.com (at Rusty Gull Neighbourhood Pub)

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Another year, another round of predictions. Looking to bounce back from last year’s abysmal 3 for 8, but let’s be honest, it was a short season full of upsets and unpredictable twists and turns. This year is the first with the new NHL divisions, making things substantially more complicated with wildcards, but here it goes:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1. Bruins vs. 4. Red WingsBRUINS in 6

2. Lightning vs. 3. HabsHABS in 6

1. Penguins vs. 6. Blue JacketsPENS in 4

2. Rangers vs. 3. FlyersFLYERS in 5

WESTERN CONFERENCE

1. Avalanche vs. 4. Wild - AVALANCHE in 7

2. Blues vs 3. BlackhawksHAWKS in 6 

1. Ducks vs. 4. StarsDUCKS in 5 

2. Sharks vs. 3. KingsSHARKS in 7

After all is said and done I’m predicting a Sharks and Bruins final, with the Sharks edging out the B’s in a tight 7 game series (even though in my heart I want to see Iggy hoist that cup). 

For some awesome first round match-up videos, check out my boy Johnny Bain’s youtube channel:


Matthew McConaughey - Acceptance Speech… by IdolxMuzic

Watch this speech. It’s great. Exceptionally delivered, emotional, uplifting, and even ends with a tribute to one of the actor’s first marquee roles, Wooderson from Dazed and Confused—-alright, alright, alright!

I was a little stunned when I saw all of the criticism on McConaughey’s acceptance speech, mere hours after it was delivered. Nearly all of them stemmed around him being self-centred and egotistical, when in fact, it couldn’t be further from the truth.

The speech McConaughey delivered is something we seldom see in mainstream media. It would have been all too easy (and acceptable) to thank everyone else; god, cast members, and family, then graciously walk off the stage. The speech could have ended before the “hero” story, but then we wouldn’t have benefitted from the valuable lesson that was meant to be conveyed.

In stating that his hero is himself, McConaughey falls into a pool of narcissism and self-deprecation. However, he does NOT do this, but rather states that his hero is himself in 10 years and will always be himself 10 years later. By definition this is unattainable and thus is the ultimate source of self-improvement. You focus on the present, because even if you’re not getting the results you want, yourself in 10 years will benefit—your hero will benefit. You will be making your future self better.

McConaughey’s career is a staggering example of his own mantra. We knew him as the stoner Wooderson, who later became famous as Hollywood’s chick-flick hunk. Instead of settling with wealth and sex symbol status, he kept pushing the envelope further. There isn’t a more fitting stage than standing before the Academy Award’s audience with the Oscar for Best Actor and yet, his lasting words only emphasize that he’s not done yet. It’s a shame that so many misinterpreted it as basking in self glory; yes he is enjoying the moment and deservingly so, but despite winning the holy grail of acting, he’s still striving to be better.

I found it uplifting. Compare yourself to others and you will almost always be disappointed. Instead, focus on constantly and relentlessly making yourself better. Happiness is not found in how you stack against others, but rather how you improve yourself and, in turn, help others improve themselves.

The top percentile of achievers, the ones who change the world, are the ones who dream the biggest and push themselves the furthest. One man can make the world a better place, but it all starts with himself (or herself).

Thank-you Matthew, you’ve inspired at least one of us. 

When life gives you lemons, refer to the guys who have already made lemonade.

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As per my love of reading, I had to make a separate post strictly for the books of the year. I want to thank all of you who provided their recommendations, which comprise the majority of this list. I gratefully welcome more suggestions to power me through 2014. 

The books:

1. God is a Woman by Ian Coburn 
2. The Amateurs by David Halberstrom
3. The Forgotten Soldier by Guy Sajer
4. The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene
5. The Reluctant Entrepreneur by Michael Masterson
6. Start with Why by Simon Sinek
7. The Soul of a Butterfly by Muhammad Ali
8. A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink
9. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
10. Getting More by Stuart Diamond
11. Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden
12. Four Hour Chef by Tim Ferriss
13. Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
14. The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
15. Friday Night Lights by H.G. Wells
16. The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick 
17. The Secret to Success by Eric Thomas
18. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman 
19. Searching for Bobby Orr by Stephen Brunt
20. Engineering the Alpha by Romaniello and Bornstein 

My TOP picks.

  • Guy Sajer’s The Forgotten Soldier
    My favourite book of the year, to little surprise, comes in the form of an autobiography. Written by a French-German soldier, it covers the end of World War II from his all-too-real perspective. It is vivid, emotional, and at times downright gruesome. Highly recommend it for all. 

  • Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel
    Coming in at number two is again a non-fiction piece.It is a well-written and engaging account of the beginning of human civilizations and how societies were formed, destroyed, and evolved. Very informative, definitely a must-read for those knowledge-hungry folk.

  • David Kirkpatrick’s The Facebook Effect
    In third place is my favourite business book of the year, considered by most experts to be the “definitive book on Facebook.” Kirkpatrick is a hailed tech journalist and magnificently immerses the reader into story of Facebook: from its inception in a Harvard dorm room, its early years in Palo Alto, and all of the investment chaos, which fuelled its global expansion. If you liked The Social Network then gear up for the real deal; less hollywood drama, more business insight into the inception of the most successful company of our generation. 

  • Honourable Mentions:
    H.G. Well’s Friday Night Lights
    Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven
    Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow

MUSIC

Song
Daft Punk - Get Lucky 

Mix
Dennis Kruissen - Tears of Stone

Album
Avicii - True

FILMS

  1. Captain Phillips 
    Just a solid all-around film. Tom Hanks never fails to deliver and its based on an incredible true story. 

  2. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smog
    Middle Earth, epic battles, and an incredibly hot female elf. You win, Peter Jackson.

  3. Gravity
    Visually, this movie is something else. For all those who have a deep curiosity for deep space (and don’t we all), this is for you. 

  4. This is the End
    I hate over-hyping a comedy, but this film was so just so damn entertaining. Go in with an open mind and I guarantee a few laughs.

(Haven’t yet seen Wolf on Wall Street or American Hustle)

EVENTS (thank-you Facebook)

5. A master’s degree completed

What started in 2012, was completed in 2013. A 16 month program, split between courses, a dissertation, and an internship all came to an end this December. I quite enjoyed the courses, got paid for the internship, so the hardest and most satisfying moment was finishing that thesis!
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4. Going for gold with an internship at the IOC

Although the campaign never garnered the attention of the IOC, it was pretty amazing to see the outpour of support I got from all my friends and family—and even a few of Canada’s finest Olympic athletes. The spirit of pursuing dreams is something I’ll always have and this was an experience which cemented that. #OlympicJohal
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3. Living in France

Traveling is one thing, but the experience of living abroad is another. I was so fortunate to be able to live in France for four months and get an incredible perspective on a new culture and way of life. I will always have a love for France and the French! Merci mes amis! 

France 2013 from Bear Johal on Vimeo.

2. Twenty-five years young and flying home on my birthday  

Living and traveling abroad is special, however, those of us who have been fortunate enough to experience it, can relate to that euphoric feeling of arriving home and stepping off that plane. I will always remember my 25th birthday as being celebrated twice. Once in Germany with my best friends from abroad, and then again in Vancouver, with all the friends and family I had no idea I would miss so much, playing the great Canadian game of ice hockey and enjoying a few beverages after.
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1. The top moment of 2013…

Seeing TAYLOR SWIFT live at BC Place!

There are some things in life, which can not be explained in words. Baby…just say yes.

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Oh and as per the last post, here is some Moustache Tea:

Moustache Tea from Bear Johal on Vimeo.

Happy New Year everybody! May 2014 bring you health, wealth, and even more good times!

$500 Moustache? Yes, you heard right. This is my 5th year of Movember and I plan on commemorating it with the biggest donation yet to men’s health and cancers below the waist.

Click HERE if you’d like to donate.

Need more convincing?

OK. Here’s 5 reasons why you should donate to MY Mo (best reason is at the end):

1. I was doing Movember before it was socially accepted.

That’s right. I was doing it in the early years, before schools and workplaces accepted its charitable nature. I was called out as being “stuck in the 80s” by my English professor and called a “creepy pedophile-guy” by some disrespectful girl at the bar. I’ve paid my dues, and raised approximately $100 a year in the process.

2. It will inspire others and raise more money for the cause. 

I’ve joined Team High on Life and we have a team goal of $5,000. If I reach my goal, it will kick the others into action and trust me, these guys know a thing or two about action.

3. I only do it one way. The right way.

I haven’t been clean shaven in a year (since last Movember), but I use shaving cream and a razor every day. None of this beard or stubble business. It’s gotta be all stache, or no stache at all.

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4. I’m starting the efforts myself.

I will be growing a moustache and donating $25 to my own cause.

Am I crazy? No.

Am I motivated to make a profound contribution to men’s health including research, awareness, and prevention of prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health?

YES.

5. Moustache Tea

If I reach my goal of $500 I will shave my moustache on Dec 1st into a tea bag, brew it, and enjoy the world’s first batch of Moustache Tea—all on film. 

So, there you have it. If you’d like to support the cause of Men’s Health then please click the link below and make a donation to my “Mo Space” (no contribution is too small!). 

DONATE TO STACHE JOHAL AND THE $500 MOUSTACHE!

Thank-you and grow on my mo bros (halfway to glory).

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