“I’ve always been the guy to bring people together, taking the young guys under my wing and looking out for them. Helping with confidence and including them in the group on and off the ice.” This love and eagerness to pass on the understanding of the game is why former New Jersey Devil, Matt Corrente started the elite, Next Pro Hockey (NPH) school four years ago. Alongside his brother David, a decorated University hockey and OHL champion and Kineisologist, and friend Domenic Monardo, an AHL and ECHL alumni, the three set out to create an experience for young players that would not only teach them fundamentals and perfect their skills, but would also be an enjoyable experience.
As an elite level player, Matt was exposed to a bevy of different hockey schools and camps. Remembering some of his earliest hockey school memories, Matt wants to give his students the most relevant and exciting experience. “As a kid, I went to every hockey school and I remember there were some that I dreaded going to. They have to understand that there’s a time when they have to put the work in but you also need to have fun.”
While fun is something that is desired by all students, Matt insists that the most important things these young players can learn are respect, and how to skate. The former improves and educates the students as people, teaching them to value others. The latter, much like respect, is a fundamental that is 100% necessary for success. Matt understands the importance of perfecting these two attributes at an early age, “The younger, the better for each of these aspects. Some older students come in with bad habits that need to be broken or reformed. It’s just easier to start them off on the right track.”
For Matt, David, and Domenic, steering their students in the right direction goes well beyond just treating each other well and burning laps around the ice. The school focuses on getting the kids to do drills and exercises they don’t normally do. The typical session starts with power skating with an emphasis on edge work. The group is then broken into stations to hone specific skills in all areas of hockey including shooting and passing, stick/puck control, and battle drills. The drills are constantly changing to give the students variety and work on the intricate nuances that separate the all-stars from the average player.
Separating NPH from the standard hockey school is the continuation of training once the players have left the ice. Matt’s goal with the school is to train the future stars of hockey by giving them instruction on how to think and act like a professional. “We go into as much detail as possible like what to eat the night before a game, on game day, on practice day, how to warm up properly, stick handling drills, or how to warm up with a buddy.” NPH also teaches students about other aspects of elite level hockey of which most young players are never instructed. From dressing room etiquette to presenting themselves both on and off the ice, NPH offers young players a complete professional hockey training experience.
The journey to discover my passion started in a state of depression, caused by unemployment, self-entitlement, and a million excuses.
I would sit around expecting things to happen to me. But I was playing a fool’s game. My sense of entitlement and unwarranted expectations only served to drag me down further. That is until the day I discovered Gary Vaynerchuk (aka Gary Vee) and my life was changed forever.
In order to find happiness in my career there were a number of steps that I had to go through. It eventually took a multitude of sources to allow me to progress through the stages of finding myself, but Gary Vee was the one that was able to get me started on that path. As I discovered each one, I did my best to make note of everything and appreciate those people that have assisted in this journey.
I now offer my discoveries and process for turning my life around to anyone that may feel lost and is looking to do the same.
Step #1 – Self-Awareness
Self-awareness is more than simply self-consciousness. I believe it requires self-discovery that can only be achieved through vulnerability and the strength to ask yourself introspective questions. Gary Vee’s has a more in-your-face approach to anyone seeking a starting point or making excuses for why they are not successful, but the message is the same.
What makes you tick? What motivates you to get up in the morning? And most importantly, what are the things that you dislike and know you won’t enjoy doing?
Think of general topics such as helping others, being a leader, storytelling, creating art, public speaking, and the list goes on. Do not expect to find your passion in this step, even though it is a possibility. Rather, try to understand how you function as an individual and what drives your ambition.
After asking myself these questions among others, I discovered that for the most part, I hated the things I had been doing. I couldn’t stand selling products or services anymore, I hated repetitive manual labour and my body just couldn’t take it. I also found that the photography and videography industries, at least the parts I enjoyed, moved too slowly for my level of patience. But mostly I began to understand that I enjoy conversing, teaching, and creating.
It was then that I found my calling.
Step #2 – Finding Your Passion
Finding my passion came out of two realizations. The first being the result of my trials through self-awareness and the second from a YouTube video I saw that had to do mainly with business and marketing. However, I was able to apply it to my personal life and discover my purpose.
In 2009, Simon Sinek published his book Start With Why,which led to his now famous Ted Talk that many marketing firms and institutions use as an example of successful marketing. It was all about finding your Why.As he spoke, I likened it to my own search for purpose. I found that I wanted to do something that I could create on my own, at my own pace. I love storytelling and developing new ideas and I found that my calling is writing.
Unfortunately, I had always had doubts as I was led to believe that writers are broke, depressed, and often stuck in a rut from which they never emerge. As this doubt ate away at me, I turned back to my old ways of getting high and sitting around watching YouTube. There I stumbled across a short clip of Gary Vee on Joe Rogan’s Podcast, and he said something that cemented my decision.
Step #3 – Triple Down on What You’re Good At
“If you’re lucky enough to love something that you’re good at, become Tunnel. Fucking. Vision.” This was the line by Gary that truly spoke to me. He followed up that sentiment on other videos, stating that I should, “Triple down on what [I’m] good at.” And he was unbelievably correct.
He also drilled into my mind to tell the naysayers to go fuck themselves; that their negative opinions were not worth listening to. The doubts I previously had were quickly washed away, and I embraced any support I was given. I also knew that this was something I had to do regardless of the opinions of others.
As a subsection of step number three, you could find yourself a support person; someone who will act as sort of a cheerleader for your new journey. While not completely necessary, I would have probably stumbled a bit was it not for the support of my wife and parents.
It was then that I decided to go back to school for some online writing courses through a local community college. I also picked up a full time retail job, which I knew was a short-term play, and that my career would be spent writing.
The program was short and I was able to finish it, doing very well, in just over a year. In that time I heeded some more advice from both Gary and an eye-opening conversation that I had with my wife’s cousin.
Step #4 – Hard Work and Hustle
Gary is constantly talking about hustle and hard work, but I didn’t really know where to start. However, I remembered a conversation with my wife’s cousin that gave a real world example of what hustle truly looks like.
She was in the process of hiring someone for a junior position at her place of employment. She had dozens of candidates that were filtered through and she whittled her options down to less than a half dozen interviews.
All the young women that she interviewed had similar education and credentials. How she made her choice was based on a single question she asked each of them. “You graduated six months ago, what have you been doing since then?” Nearly every one of them answered in a similar fashion, “I have been job searching.”
The person she did end up hiring had a different answer, which proved that she would definitely be the right fit for the job. Her answer was that while she had been searching for the right junior position, she was also working a part time job and volunteering. This statement displayed that she never wasted a minute. She found things to both keep her occupied and add value to the organizations she was affiliated without ever losing sight of her goals.
This story taught me about how hard work is valued beyond grades and the status of an education facility and motivated me to push past simply doing assignments and forgetting about them afterward. Instead, I worked incredibly hard to produce the best work possible, followed by pitching article ideas to magazines to get them published.
I am proud to say that in my first year of writing I had a few very short articles published on educational sites, a 2000+ word profile piece on a local musician and producer published in an online magazine, and two print articles published, one at 500 words and the other at around 2000 words for a 6 page spread.
Without the constant push to hustle, none of these articles would have ever come to fruition. It was that willingness to hustle that also landed me a full-time job as a content writer.
Step #5 – Evolution of Self
Regardless of your chosen path, the best way to learn is to read, watch, retain, and most importantly – PRACTICE! Even with this article, I am practicing for the next one I write. My belief is that, should I cease to evolve, I cease to be what inherently makes me human.
So where do I find these learning opportunities? Everywhere! I will Google a specific query the second it pops into my head. I listen to podcasts and watch videos of people or topics that interest me and do my very best to actually listen. I engage in conversations with family, friends, co-workers, and strangers, which can be an excellent source of information and opinions. I also have the ability to pull information out of people and get them to open up in a way that sometimes even surprises them, and there’s no secret to it. It’s just a matter of shutting up and actually listening instead of just waiting for my turn to talk.
There are an unlimited amount of resources available today beyond that of traditional school that so many people don’t take full advantage of. These learning opportunities as well as seeking out new experiences are the way to truly grow as a person.
The saying knowledge is power is more relevant today than it has ever been, and that will not be changing anytime soon.
Step #6 – Consistency
I am currently working on improving in this area, as it is a task that’s never completed. Going back to the man that started me on this journey, Gary has said it time and time again that consistency is key to building anything. It goes hand in hand with step number four and is the way to not only remain relevant within your career, industry, etc. It is theway brands, businesses, and individuals achieve greatness.
Consistency also does not mean unoriginal repetition, but rather it is an ode to work ethic, creativity, and the ability to stick with something in both the good times and bad. If you are able to do so, you are almost guaranteed to achieve success to whatever level you wish.
Step #7 – Now That You Helped Yourself, Help Others
Applying every bit of my being got me a career in a field that I love. While I did the work, it took some tough love to kick-start my journey, something that those who’ve achieved success should be paying forward. Rarely do people do it all on their own. Almost all of the time there is some outside motivation that acts as a catalyst in your journey toward success.
This list is not the definitive way to achieve your dream, but merely the process, which I developed and took note of as I was navigating through my own adventure. I offer it to you as a guideline, but your path belongs only to you and how you choose to pursue it is solely in your hands.
I’d say good luck, but luck has very little to do with it.
For most of my life I didn’t really care about politics. I just assumed, as many do, that none of it mattered since the people in power would do what they wanted regardless of how their constituents think or feel. I decided a few years ago that I would begin to follow what was happening mainly in American politics, as Canadian politics seemed boring and not as appealing or entertaining.
I would speak to different individuals and listen to their viewpoints. Sometimes we ran around in circles, sometimes we would agree, and many other times we would simply agree to disagree. Either way, it never changed anything to do with policy or politics itself, but these conversations did help me to understand the basics regarding the political spectrum and the positions of others.
About two years ago, I was swayed to the far left in my mindset, and began, or so I thought, to care about the so-called “little guy”, being the disenfranchised and/or “helpless”. I followed the entire campaign of Bernie Sanders, finding myself agreeing with much of what he had to say. While everyone within the political spectrum attacked him, I felt that he was the most genuine of the presidential candidates. I was inundated with the opinions of progressive shows like The Young Turks, and found myself falling victim to the exact reactionary thinking that guys like Ben Shapiro and any scholar of logic and reasoning are telling their followers to be cautious of. This far left school of thought governed my decisions and how I voted when it came to the last Canadian Federal election.
About a year ago I started working alongside a young, intelligent guy from Florida. He was a Trump voter, but not really a supporter, as he was more anti-Hillary Clinton than he was pro-Trump. He also made a strong argument for the true definition of libertarianism, and how it differs from the fringe beliefs of anarchism. We agreed on some policies, disagreed on others, but always managed to keep our conversations civil, and showed enough respect to one another to at least listen to the other side. While these interactions didn’t necessarily change my mind, it assisted in an evolution of my thinking. I began to blame crony capitalism, lobbyists, and the allowed manipulation of the system, rather than capitalists and the super rich themselves, for the current social state of the US, and how it both contrasts with and mirrors that of the Canadian government and system at large.
Recently, I have been absorbing more centrist and right leaning content, in which I have found some truths, but don’t fully agree with everything that they have to say. It has fed the analytical portion of my brain, the same way that the progressive-liberal side fed my feelings. I found myself agreeing with capitalists and their right to pursue financial success without having to give up most of it to taxes, which tied back to earlier discussions about the essence of libertarianism.
As I continue to learn and shape my thought process and what I, as an individual, deem as to be successful strategies for creating a functioning and inclusive society, I have become increasingly more confused with where my loyalties lie. What I can say is that being more fluid in my thinking creates opportunity to see the good and bad of all sides’ policies, as well as landing me in the position of being both left and right of centre.
All things considered, I don’t believe that mankind has seen a perfect government, nor will they ever. But I do believe that somewhere buried in the policies of all of the parties and perhaps parties still to come, there is a healthy balance of social progression and fiscal responsibility.
Far too often the personalities in the food entertainment industry are fake or just paid to promote products. Anthony (Tony) Bourdain was far too real for those celebrity trappings. As the author of Kitchen Confidential, he opened up to reveal the reality of the commercial kitchen and the life of a chef. The glitz and glamour was stripped away to allow the average person into the hot, sweaty, smelly back room that most movies or cooking shows at the time, would never dream of portraying realistically.
Over the years, Tony worked his ass off creating successful restaurants, and eventually as a travel/food show host with an edginess and fervour for the truth and love of food and the culinary industry. He never backed off when it came to what he wanted to say and how he felt about the topic of conversation, or the food itself. In the simplest terms, he was real.
Unfortunately, today we have learned of his untimely death by suicide. I don’t know, nor will I speculate as to his reasoning for taking his own life, but I do know one thing; suicide is almost never the answer. Life is tough, we all have to go through it, but bear in mind that just because you feel one way today, doesn’t mean you will feel that way forever. Once again, I can’t even begin to understand what Tony was going through, however, I am certain that there was someone he could have spoken to, and I know for a fact that his family will have to deal with his decision for a much longer time than he does.
I have been in depressed states in my past with an eye on ending things prematurely, but I credit my strength to my not wanting to let down my family or hurt them in unimaginable ways, and Gary Vaynerchuk, who motivated me to get off my ass and make my life worth living. I just wish that for Tony, he had had the same thought process, and found a reason to keep going.
For those out there that are contemplating suicide, please do yourself and your loved ones a favour; talk about what it is that you are going through. You are not alone, even though it may feel that way sometimes, there is always someone out there that will listen.
Politicians, celebrities, and other public figures constantly speak of racial tolerance. They try to portray a world where we tolerate individuals that we perceive to be different. Whether it’s skin colour (which is just a difference in the amount of melanin in one’s own epidermis), language (a native tongue used to communicate just like any other language), or country of origin (which is a decision made by our parents and their parents before them), using the word or action of tolerance is a mask for disapproval or hatred that a bigot can hide behind.
Used to convey the action of putting up with something that you don’t care for, tolerance allows narrow-minded individuals to cloak themselves in the veil of acceptance while continuing to fear and prejudge others that are seemingly different. These individuals tolerate different races, religions, and sexual orientations, so that they do not seem like monsters to the people around them. When in fact, from the point-of-view of someone who is truly accepting of others, the only difference between the outspoken haters and the “tolerant” is the volume level at which they project their discomfort with the unknown.
To truly thrive in a multicultural society, we must not tolerate another person’s differences. We hear people speak of being colour blind, and they’ll say things like, “I don’t see skin colour, therefore I’m not racist”, or some bullshit to that effect. Of course you see skin colour. Of course you hear an accent, and it’s not a bad thing. These types of statements try to paint the picture that we are all the exact same, which we are not, and that again, is not a bad thing.
Instead, we should be striving to accept others for who they are, what their culture means to them, and how these things can have a positive effect on our society as a whole. Ask questions about ideals and behaviours that you don’t understand. Don’t assume something because a biased media outlet said it, and now you think that’s the way it is. People are usually open to answering questions if they feel that you are willing enough to listen to the answer. It is not offensive to someone if you expose your own ignorance and genuinely ask for help in evolving as a person. With an evolution in mindset and personal view of others, an unimaginable number of doors can open, and the world will simultaneously become larger than you ever thought possible, and smaller when you realize that humans, regardless of origins, are all seeking the same thing.
Far too often, love is reserved only for a spouse or family member. Sometimes we feel love or a connection to someone we find inspiring or possibly even idolize. But not often enough do we feel love for people around us in everyday situations. It is not expected that we all become best friends and want to be together every waking moment, however, showing kindness, empathy, and embracing acceptance of one another will be the true saviour of humankind.
Your Assignment for Every Day of Your Life
Make a new friend, strike up a conversation, or simply hold the door open for someone. A bit of effort goes a long way in making someone’s life a little better, and increasing the levels of acceptance and comfort within your community. As the Beatles once put it, and it will ring true for the rest of time, “Love is all you need.”
Over the years, while I was constantly convincing myself that a career in writing was unfeasible, I would hear of successful writers complain of writer’s block. It has been hinted at, expounded upon, and driven plots throughout short stories, novels, TV shows, and movies. But, is it real? Do writers actually hit a wall, are they lazy, or is it just a crap day with no inspiration?
In my short time as a writer, I have certainly experienced days where I just couldn’t come up with something that advanced the story I was working on. However, I have noticed that those are good days to begin or continue another project, unless I am trying to meet a deadline.
If meeting a deadline is the issue and I must get it done in a timely fashion, I’ll take my dog for a walk, call someone and have a conversation, or better yet, I’ll ask someone that I trust to read it and give me an honest opinion. Sometimes, the opinion given sparks an idea or new path to take within the story. Other times, I try to put myself in the shoes of the reader so that I am able to experience it from their point of view. While the latter usually helps with copy editing and finding plot holes, everything that can be done to break up the monotony of staring at a computer screen, eventually leads to getting back on track with my work.
So, back to the original question. Is writer’s block real? For myself, it doesn’t really exist. For other writers, it may in some form or another. Either way, it’s not forever, and keeping your eyes open for the next hint of inspiration should be your main priority.
A job I once had provided an unwanted look into what a toxic work environment can be. It frustrated me everyday, and quickly turned into something I loathed thinking about, even during my off time. The signs of a toxic environment are not always easily identifiable, but once you are made aware of what they look like, recognizing them is simple. What you do after that is up to you.
You have a boss, not a leader.
A real leader is willing to put in work alongside their employees, not crack a whip from the safety of an office. They don’t point fingers and search for someone to blame if something goes wrong either. Instead, an effective leader will work with the team or individual to improve their understanding and hopefully their results.
2. Management is feared, not respected.
Ruling through fear only works for someone who doesn’t understand what respect is or how it works. However, most adults in the workforce fully understand that by showing respect, they get it in return. This creates a positive cycle of respect being shown to everyone else that they may encounter throughout the day. As a result of a positive and respectful work environment, there will inevitably be an increase in productivity and morale.
3. Only failures are recognized, not successes.
Every manager is different. The good ones will point out successes, either through email, a private conversation, or in front of colleagues and co-workers. They will also point out failures, but usually behind closed doors, and will be willing to spend time to help you correct the issue. A bad manager tends to only dwell on failures, call you out like a child in front of everyone, and can even stoop so low as to continually bring up old failures, even in unrelated situations. These bad managers will almost never give you recognition or praise for your success.
4. Absentee ownership.
This is more important to the health of the company than the individual employee. Absentee ownership is probably the worst offence an entrepreneur can can commit. If you’re 65 years old and have a well established team, perhaps you can take more time off, but if your company is struggling, it, as well as the employees, can benefit by having you spend more time there, not less.
5. Unhealthy competition.
Sales competitions can be a great motivator, helping to drive in some extra revenue, especially in the slow times when employees can tend to get complacent. But overlapping of territories or customers can result in animosity between employees, and a disdain for the manager who implemented the contest. Hopefully, any form of competition is well thought out ahead of time, and outlined in full detail with the employees before it begins.
6. Drugs and alcohol at work.
This is pretty straightforward. Drugs and alcohol consumed at work is dangerous to everyone, and a sign of a serious addiction. If anyone is at the point that they require drugs and/or alcohol to get through the day, serious psychological help should be acquired.
In my experience, when I worked for family members, I was always expected to output more effort and productivity than other employees. It taught me that regardless of how I got my job, I had to work to keep it. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Too often, family members are hired, put in a few years of actual work, then coast for the rest of their career. Ultimately, they manufacture a sense of entitlement, which leads to an abuse of power, unprofessional actions, and a distrust between the employees and employer.
Warnings used to be reserved for dangers that weren’t inherently obvious to the average person. They kept us from doing things that we may or may not have been aware of otherwise.
Today, warnings seem to be on everything. Caution: Hot Coffee, or Warning: Slippery When Wet, are two things that anyone with even a shred of common sense would not have to be told. However, as the old adage goes, common sense isn’t that common.
Sometimes I wonder who these warnings are for. Then I have a look around, and there’s usually someone that reminds me of one reason or another. You’d think that over time, we would learn from certain situations or accidents, and not repeat the same mistakes. But some people just never learn, leading to lawmakers to have to protect us from ourselves. Unfortunately, the more that lawmakers try to protect us, the more dangerous to our own well-being we become.
As any parent would know, if you coddle your child for too long, that child will remain helpless and susceptible to the dangers of the world, without knowing how to navigate the landscape of life.
Parents and mentors need to point those who look to them for guidance in the right direction, and the best way to do it, is by showing them how to learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others.
In the past, I have felt betrayed by outside sources, be it an individual, or a business. I would feel that they owed me something and when I didn’t receive anything in return for my efforts, I just wanted to turn my back on them. This fed into a certain level of depression and loss of self-worth, which I, in turn, used as fuel to accelerate my anger and frustration.
Over the last year, I have been working toward the betterment of myself, by taking the advice of Gary Vaynerchuk, whom I look to as sort of a spiritual guide, so to speak. He is as forward with his message as I tend to be with mine, which can be overwhelming for some, but necessary for all.
As a result of this new self awareness and motivation, I now understand that the only one who has ever betrayed me, is myself.
When visiting a new province, state, country, or an unfamiliar body of water it is best to head out with a guide, at least for your first trip. Most beginners or non-anglers would believe that any guide service in a particular body of water will get you on some fish, maybe even that trophy you’ve been looking for. But any avid angler that has chartered a guide, especially a one that isn’t great, will tell you to do your research.
Recently, I took a trip to Fort Myers, Florida to visit my parents who have a small condo on a golf course. The bass fishing in the ponds around the course is good, but I had grown a little tired of fishing the same old spots. My brother-in-law, who also happened to be there at the same time, suggested that we go goliath grouper fishing. We had seen the videos online, which were absolutely insane, and decided without doing research on the guide or experiences had by others, to book a trip. He was charging $800USD for a 4-hour trip. I thought the price was a little steep, but he was supposedly the best.
We showed up to the marina about 15 minutes early and proceeded to wait. The guide showed up 20 minutes late, and made some excuses for his tardiness. It wasn’t a big deal to us as long as he gave us back the time on the end of the trip. However, to our disappointment, the story got worse.
He took us to the bridge pilings where the GG’s shelter themselves from the sun. He instructed me to grab a jack – a small but powerful fish – out of the bait well so that he could hook it up. I assumed, as I began to open the lid, that there would be at least a dozen or so in order for us to have enough bait to last the entire trip. Man was I wrong. He had one. Yes, only one baitfish for us to use on these monster fish. I grabbed the jack by the tail, pulled it out of the water and handed it to the guide. He hooked it up, then handed me the rod. He then verbally instructed me on how to lower the fish into the right area, and right away I got a bite. This is when things started to go really sour. Myself being a bass angler felt the bite and tried to set the hook. The GG ripped the jack from the hooks and I was left with no bait. The guide decided that now was the time to tell me that I was supposed to reel down on the fish, which was no help now that we were out of bait. He also had the audacity to ask if I had ever seen his videos on YouTube, hinting that I was supposed to learn everything about GG fishing from some low budget videos of him basically screaming like a banshee.
With no bait left, much to our dismay, we were now paying to do his job, which is preparing for a fishing trip. So he threw out a large bait net and dragged in a bunch of small bait fish, dumped them in the bait well and started up the motor so that we could head over to another area in order to catch more jacks to use as GG bait. Three hours later, we had two jacks in the boat and less than a half hour left in the trip. With the ride back, which he counted as time on the water, we were done for the day.
I have since been informed that this is not a unique experience, which did very little to calm me. I was angry because I had overpaid for jack and snook fishing which basically set up the guide with bait for his next trip, was yelled at for not being able to read his mind, and all the while had to listen to delusional stories of greatness by a guy who had just ripped us off.
I can’t stress enough, that should you use a guide service, do your research before you book anything. There are review websites and social media outlets that are littered with customer experiences. You could even call around the area to the marinas or bait shops, which usually know a number of guides. While they may not throw one of their own under the bus, they can steer you in the right direction.