When asked "so what do you do?", most people respond with what they do to earn a living, but I never tend to respond that way.
Instead, I like to say that I rescue as many animals and spend as much time outdoors as possible. Because for me, those are my top priorities. How I earn a living is secondary, but necessary, because that income is what makes achieving my priorities possible.
I currently live on 164 wooded acres in a 6,000 square foot, off-the-grid, "abandoned sawmill" that my wife and I turned into our home.
At this precise moment we only have 4 dogs (3 of them rescues), 1 cat (rescue), 3 horses, and 2 pygmy goats.
We power our home primarily with the sun (generator backup) and heat it with wood (from our land).
I have my own sawmill and trees, and so most of the construction I do here I do 100% with my own materials.
I'm a 3x Ironman triathlon finisher and still exercise every day, first thing in the morning before breakfast. It's important that I exercise and stay active because my wife Monique is one of the best cooks in the world. I don't generally like going out to restaurants because the food is never as good as I get at home!
For the past couple of years I've primarily worked as the marketer and "tech guy" for a 7-figure real estate coach. But after publishing my book "Empathic Marketing®" I decided to leverage my talents more on my own and help self-published, non-fiction authors earn some real money, transform lives and retire from their current 9-5 job.
It all started with Willy, the 2-year-old Labradane, sprawled across me in the photo above.
I saw a post on Facebook about a dog who needed an immediate foster home. It was Monday afternoon and if no home was found he'd be euthanized on Wednesday!
The owners were moving and couldn't take Willy and because he was deemed a "visious" dog, if he was taken to the local animal shelter he'd be put down. Sure enough, when I went to get him it presented like he wanted to rip my face off. But turns out he was just scared, and now, a few years later, he's no longer frightened and a total sweetheart.
Then came Charlie, the tri-colour basset hound, whose family lost their home in a tornado and couldn't take Charlie to their new apartment.
Then came Buddy, the black and white basset. He lived with a chain-smoking older lady who lived in an apartment and after Buddy pulled her over, decided she didn't have the strength to walk him.
We no longer have Mica, she died of cancer, but she was a big fluggy, loving Great Pyrenese whose owner threatened to shoot her if she barked again.... barking is what Great Pyr's do best!
Roxy, was a geriatric Great Pyr that we rescued next. We took her after she went a bit crazy when her brother and owner died and she was left alone.
Other pooches we rescued and found homes for include Rolo, Pixie, Blacky, and Donna. I'm sure by the time you read this, there will be more!
Our Home, aka "The Ark"
In 2002, I was still recovering from falling off a 35' cliff, breaking my arm, leg, and back. While restless and bored at home, I found a 6,000 square foot, out-of-commission sawmill on 164 wooded acres, 40 minutes north of Ottawa, Canada, that was for sale.
So I sold my house and cottage, bought this delapidated building and brought my girlfriend (the same woman I'm married to now) to show her my new residence.
Now I was a firefigher/paramedic by trade with some "side jobs" as a Rocky Mountain Ski Patroller and international whitewater raft guide. So needless to say I had no experience with construction, carpentry, electrical, plumbing, cabinetry, drywall....
I "may" have been a bit naive taking on this project, but I had determination and vision and was committed to seeing it through.
There were certainly some "unexpected" trials and tribulations along the way, but with a project as ridiculous as this, "unexpected" problems should certainly be expected!
It was a big job that I honestly don't think I'll ever see the end of it, but it was more than worth it.
I've used this property to host close to 100 weddings, over 100 trail and snowshoe races, and a few dozen youth overnight outdoor education camps.
We produce all our own power having just added an 4kW of solar power to our array last fall. We have our own well and septic and heat our home primarily from wood I harvest from our forest.
2 years ago I purchased a portable sawmill, so now there is no stopping me from constructing all the projects I want to build!
Health and Fitness
I was born in November, 1968, which means as I write this I'm 54 years old! I'm only a few months away from 55, which in some circles is legitimately considered "old age"!
I've been on a mission for years to NOT age, and so far, so good!
Most people I meet are surprised to hear I'm in my 50's and would have guessed early to mid 30's. I'll take it.
I'm a 3x Ironman triathlon finisher. That's a photo of me coming out of the water at one of those races. But I don't compete in those events any more. In my opinion, the majority of serious Ironman athletes are super fit, but not necessarily all that healthy.
My anti-aging "secret" isn't much of a secret at all. For the past 10+ years Isagenix has been a big part of my diet. That meal replacement superfood ensure I get my daily requirements of protein and micronutrients. My wife Monique is also an AMAZING cook, and we never eat processed, pre-packaged foot. We may consumer "too many" calories in our meals, but they always nutrient-dense, healthy calories.
Every morning, the first thing I do when I wake up is hit my home gym. For a couple years I did Peleton workouts with a big emphasis on yoga. But now I'm doing more muscle building workouts with the Basement Beast program.
I walk the dogs in the woods every day and am pretty active with the horses, firewood and logging activities almost daily as well.
And when it comes to sleep, I'm an early-to-bed, early-to-rise, sort of guy with consistent hours and a minimum of 8 hours sack time.
What I like to do for fun!
It's crazy, but when we go on vacation... we try and go away at least 3 separate weeks a year.... I usually try to find a place that is most like our home as possible.
We own a timeshare in New Hampshire and Monique and I usually spend 2 weeks a year down there. Then my buddies and I usually visit another couple times.
One of my favourite things to do is hike mountains. Notice I didn't say "climb" mountains. That's because a) I'm a terrible rock-climber and b) I'm deathly afraid of heights!
But there is nothing more exhilarating than summiting a mountain peak. I love seeing the expansive views from the top. I love the fitness it takes to get to the top and back. And I probably most love the mental toughness it requires to challenge and defeat the freezing temperatures and gale force winds. I actually have more fun on the terrible weather days over the clear, calm, sunny ones.
My other "most favourite" thing to do is go on canoe trips with Monique. We're pretty lucky in that we only live an hour away from one of the most expansive canoe networks in all of Canada.
Although I own a couple of lightweight, kevlar canoes, a couple years ago I had a "museum piece" cedar canvas canoe reconditioned and that' my "go to" canoe tripping boat now. I just love the history and elegance of it, even if it does weigh a bit (alot) more on the portages.
I feel like my life started when I moved into the woods full time. When I sold my house and cottage, bought this abandoned sawmill and started this crazy adventure.
But that was in 2002. I actually had a pretty cool "PA" (Pre Ark) life.
When it comes to education, I have a Bachelor of Science in Biology degree with a specialization in Wildlife Biology. Then I went on to get my Master Of Science Degree in Management.
For work, I started as an "ambulance attendant" in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and then took a risk and got my full paramedic training in Englewood, Colorado (I didn't have money for rent down there so I lived in my van in the Safeway parking lot).
I was recruited from that program to be the Medical Officer for the Copper Mountain Fire Department. But I transitioned from there to work in the Leadville Hospital Emergency Department.
In 1998, I returned to Canada where I was hired to launch and manage a 4-base air ambulance (helicopter) service across Ontario. I was based as the Ottawa paramedic supervisor.
But then I fell off a cliff....
During my summers at university I worked as whitewater raft guide on the Ottawa River, the Coppermine River in Canada's arctic, the Ubaye River in the French Alps, and then the Arkansas River in Colorado. But for fun, I did also have the opportunity to raft the Grand Canyon!'
If you've read this far, you may have noticed a trend.
I'm a pretty simple guy who prioritizes the simple things in life. I live in the woods, I've worked on the big rivers and I take my vacations with an emphasis on the outdoors.
All the decisions I make in my life prioritize the lifestyle I value over money. Now don't get me wrong, I've done pretty well financially, but I could have done better had I made some traditional "urban" choices.
The other trend you may have noticed I like to take care of the people and animals that need help.
For years I worked as a firefighter and paramedic. I've found myself trapped in an electrified transport truck tending to a VSA (Vital Signs Absent), I spent 3 hours in the back of an ambulance with a patient who had bacterial meningitis, I now test positive for tuberculosis, and I probably have a bit of PTSD going from some of things I witnessed or played a role in.
Now I find myself taking in the dogs that nobody else wants. For me, one of the biggest traumas in life is having one of my dogs pass. But I still find myself taking in geriatric dogs, knowing we don't have much time left and great sadness is jst around the corner.
I guess it's the culmination of all of this that lead me to acknowledge the importance of empathy in our lives. And so now, I've applied that same empathy to the marketing strategies that I create.