Eight is Enough

I’m not easily surprised. Maybe my imagination is such that what is preposterous to others, is plausible to me. When it comes to people, I can’t say I’ve seen it all, but I can say I’ve imagined it all.

It doesn’t always prove beneficial. It can restrict my empathy to others. At times it can even lead to errors in my judgment. Fortunately, more often than not, it provides me a psychological air bag from a collision with the unexpected.

Until last week.

I will attempt to condense a lengthy tale.

It started with an attempt to meet my grandfather by birth. He is getting old and we have mutual acquaintances and he was a famous football player and I thought it would be cool to meet him. In case you haven’t decoded the message, I’m adopted. Adopted by two amazing people who spent a lifetime working to create a family in the truest sense of the word. Everyday of my life I am incredibly grateful to my parents. They loved me beyond imagine and prepared me for the world in a manner that was undeserved by a short, mouthy, Afro-toting, rebellious, inconsiderate teenager. There needs to be a new holiday entitled Parents Day, so I can properly share my emotions, which like most sons I neglect.

In short I have never ever felt not theirs. I am. And they are mine. But if you’re adopted, you’ll understand the itch. You don’t want to leave your family. You just want to understand your genetics.

Years ago I met my birth mother. Then a birth uncle. Then some birth cousins. Then another birth uncle. But my birth father proved elusive.

Finally last week, with less than twenty-four hours notice, it somehow fell together that I would be able to meet him. I was curious but not nervous.

The meeting went as expected. Yes I just called it a meeting. Well it went as expected for five minutes, until he told me I had seven brothers and sisters.

Excuse me?

From what I know, my birth sperm donor had three kids. But eight? Whoa!

Call me floored. TKO’d. Flabbergasted.


So now in the name of Thomas Braden I am on a mission to meet them all. I am the senior half sibling. The others range in age to from 23 to 46, and geographically across the continent. Some have already connected with me. I’ve been told others aren’t so interested.

It’s a unique moment when a new door to your own life is opened up. Finding out I have a slew of new genetic connections (I really don’t know what to call them) is closer to landing on a new planet.

So I’m off to find out what they are all about. Maybe learn something about myself. Maybe not. Guess I better get prepared for a few more surprises.

Stolen Kisses

Some lucky gal received a Panasonic flat screen for Valentines yesterday.

Hopefully she likes it, because it won’t be wrapped with a gift receipt. In fact I’m not sure it will be wrapped at all, given it was ripped off the reception wall in my office. Ripped off is correct, this TV was stolen from TrojanOne. We wuz robbed!!!!

The thief was proficient. Our surveillance camera has four minutes of video to prove it. In two hundred and forty seconds he pried the door open, unhinged the TV from its bracket, disconnected the mess of cables, pulled it from the wall, and fled. Wham bam, thank-you Ma’am.

I wonder what makes a man turn to taking another’s possessions for a living? Do they consider it a professional vocation? Was there an aptitude test along the way?

Seems to me this thief has a lot of transferable skills he could put to use in a more legit fashion. He is a planner, as he knew the timing of our building security, entering our lobby shortly after the main door became unlocked. Clearly he has manual dexterity as he jimmied our lock with minimal damage to the door. Focus is no problem as he had marked his prize allowing no distractions, like the much more valuable computer sitting on the desk, get in his way. I appreciate his orderly ways, as there was nary a mess left behind. He also possesses a pint or two of luck as the four or five people who are usually in at that early hour, were all coincidentally somewhat late that day.

Hopefully it was worth the trouble. It doesn’t add up to me. What value is a flat screen in this day and age? Did he want it for his condo? Did he sell it for bus fare? Did he give it to his sweetie?

Bet if he did, he stole a few kisses as well.



Bye Week

This is the second worst weekend of the year for me. No football.

Grey Cup, Vanier Cup, Metro Bowl, Rose Bowl, Go Tell Your Daddy on Me Bowl are all a distant memory. In the name of Peyton Manning, don’t even try to tell me to watch the Pro Bowl. Peyton may want his fellow stars to play harder, but there is no worse all-star game than the Pro Bowl. Heck how can it even be a true all-star game when two teams can’t send their players?!

I am left floundering as to what to do this weekend. Maybe I will join all of you hopelessly hypocritical hockey fans and jump right back on the noisy bandwagon racing down the ice. You know who you are. I heard you telling me you weren’t going to buy NHL tickets, watch games, or join a fantasy pool. You’re the same cats who are emailing me for my Leaf tickets and screaming in my ear at the local wing joint last night because the Leafs are now 2-1.

I could shovel my driveway for the first time all winter, but despite this deep freeze called Friday we are in, it only has an inch of snow on it and heck it’s going to be +5 next Tuesday, so what’s the point.

Actually, the easiest option would be to join the 24/7, or 7/24 if you prefer, hype on-air and on-line about the Har-Bowl. Hype or not you have to revel in the fact that two brothers are facing each other in the Super Bowl! Less than 80 men have been Super Bowl coaches and the Harbaugh parents have now produced two of them. What’s next? Will Doug Ford run for mayor versus Rob Ford? Should Maya Soetoro-Ng have run against Obama in the last US Presidential election instead of Romney? Will Jazmyn and Jaxon Bieber gang up on JB1 and form their own modern day Donna and Marie revue?

Holy gumbo I know what I will do. Pack. Yes sports fans I am off to NOLA. Oh that’s not very nice of me to just let this slide out… in the most public of domains. But yes I am giggling with delight that MH3 is going to SBIII. No I don’t have the numbers wrong, this is MY SBIII.

As a Steeler man, you know I will be cheering against the Ravens. Somewhat sad the 49’ers will tie us for most rings, but that’s still better than watching Flacco win.

So stay tuned Rajun Cajuns. I will be tweeting with a Creole accent next weekend!


They Say It’s My Birthday

Thank-you for your Happy Birthday wishes on Wednesday.

One of my favourite proclamations was an in-person greeting from a client who congratulated me on “living another year.” Now that could win the title for Most Disingenuous or it could be genuine to the core. Knowing the proclaimer as I do, my vote is for the latter.

Reflecting on those words makes me realize, that’s really what Happy Birthday means. For years I have been slightly grumpy and mildly rude about my birthday. I really don’t like the fact that the scoreboard clock clearly shows I have less time left in the game. I’m always in too much of a hurry for my own good, and I often think – will I ever get done everything I have set out to do?

So how come Mr. Obstinate is changing his views on birthdays? Is it age? Surely its not just three words from a friend. Is it success. Is it failure? Is it mid-life crisis?

Candidly it’s probably reflection. In the past several months I have amped up my personal reflection time, use of motivational CD’s and magazines, and even gone so far to revamping my self-management tools to include more introspection.

One of the neatest things I have learned is the Habit of Gratitude. There are many, many, many versions, teachings, philosophies available on the topic. But I have really picked up on the simple process of everyday identifying three (yes me love threes!) events from my day, for which I should be grateful. It could be feedback from a client, it could be hiring a talented new staff member, it could be a really satisfying workout, phone conversation, or time spent with a family member. It’s amazing how identifying three positive occasions in a twenty-four hour window, can eradicate most negative events in a day.

So back to my birthday (it was January 16th if you want to mark it in your 2014 calendar!) and my three treasures? Hard to narrow down… but let me throw these at you and see if your reaction would be as grateful as mine:
1. My son posted the following on Facebook: “Happy birth dad…ur the best dad ever.” Might have been written before, but when its written for you… it feels like the first time.
2. My wife and kids performed the version of Happy Birthday we recently learned at the Alphorn in Collingwood, during my youngest son’s celebration. I think it needs to replace the traditional version, with all due respect to Preston Ware Orem and friends.
3. I received my annual birthday phone message, from a childhood friend who now lives in Georgia. I have known him for over forty years and for the past twenty, no matter where he is… he leaves me a birthday voice mail. A simple tradition, yet I am always a tiny but surprised, and always a lot bit pleased, when it comes.


The Day the Music Died: a tribute to Eamonn O’Loghlin









It was much too late on Sunday, November 26th, 2005 (admittedly it was probably early the 27th) when I first heard the music.

The notes bounced off the the high ceilings and dramatic windows of the Pan Pacific lobby, inspired by the magical fingers of Maestro Eamonn O’Loghlin. Surrounded by a posse of enthusiastic conference goers and some of my staff, Eamonn led us through chorus after chorus of O’Canada, Danny Boy, and American Pie!

I hadn’t seen this side of Eamonn before that night. Until then, I knew him as the super-cheery Director of Sponsorship for the Canadian National Exhibition, who first called me years earlier about an emergency with one of our activations at the Ex. Thankfully the problem passed and even more fortunate for me, a friendship sprung up.

If you knew Eamonn, you knew he was more than a stalwart of our industry. He was a most fierce advocate of all things Irish. Publisher of Irish Connections Canada, host of an Irish radio show, and even interim President of the Irish Canadian Immigration Center. He was an accomplished musician, a tireless volunteer, and a fearless entrepreneur.

Eamonn 4

But as the keynote speaker at his funeral this week said, words cannot describe Eamonn, for he was larger than life. Yes, I said funeral.

On January 4th, the music died. Suddenly. Tragically. Inexplicably. Eamonn was taken from his admirers.


I’ve just returned from his funeral and my hands are numb as I type this. My fingers don’t want to extend to my keyboard. They are rebelling. Fighting back. Fighting back so hard. Trying to tell me that there is no way Eamonn is dead. My skin tingles. My throat is turned inside out. My chest is in pain.

I think when people die, their obituaries talk about how unique an individual was. How loved they were. I am not doubting that. Every death brings sadness. Every death brings despair. But we also know that most deaths reach a limited pool of people. Not Eamonn’s. No sir, this man was loved. Far. Wide. Universally. Internationally.

His funeral today was easily a thousand people. Last night I waited nearly two hours in line at his visitation. But the wait didn’t bother me. It allowed me to reflect on a great man. A man who had an impact that few of us could ever make. A man who touched hundreds, thousands, and left everyone with a smile. A man who you just wish could join you one last time on a bar stool for a pint or the first tee for a round of eighteen.

He would tease and joke with you, yet still deliver so much to his friends. At the 2010 sponsorship forum in Whistler, it was his word to John Furlong that resulted in the Olympic leader delivering an impromptu speech to my conference delegation. That was probably my most satisfying moment in business. I am not sure if I said thanks to Eamonn…..

Eamonn 5Writing this brings me back to that night seven years ago. The sing-song at the Pan Pacific resulted in a hotel security complaint about a “large foreigner” who wouldn’t stop playing the piano and a “man of colour” who kept shouting “I own this hotel”. I think we told any unsuspecting victim this yarn one-hundred times since. I think sometimes that’s the definition of friendship, being able to repeat the same stupid stories and laugh like it was your first telling.

Oh Eamonn, how I would like to tell that story one-hundred and ONE more times with you.

Eamonn O’Loghlin 1951-2013

A good friend of mine, the Canadian marketing community, and the Irish Canadian community passed away Friday. I haven’t found the words yet to express my feelings, every time I type, I can’t see the keyboard. But I did want to share his obituary and funeral details with you.

Eamonn, I miss you already. Mh3


Eamonn O’Loghlin, born in Ennistymon, County Clare, Republic of Ireland on September 7, 1951, passed away on Friday, January 4th, 2013 at the age of 61, surrounded by family and friends. He was the beloved husband of Madeleine, the loving father of Treasa and Rory, and the adored son-in-law of Eleanor Treacy. He is survived by his 4 siblings Cathal, Ursula, Donogh and Roddy.

Eamonn O’Loghlin was larger than life, with a personality to match, which virtually filled any room he walked in to. His generosity to his fellow countrymen and women knew no bounds, as he helped hundreds of young people land their first jobs in Canada on their work visa, or in a more permanent way.

He was never afraid to speak his mind, to say what he thought was right and needed to be said. He made beautiful music with his loving wife Madeleine, especially during their time together with the band Tip Splinter. Oftentimes, when Eamonn played a song by Madeleine on his radio show on a Saturday morning, producer Alex Young would lower the volume on the CD and raise up Eamonn’s microphone, so that listeners at home could hear him singing along with his wife.

His family was very important to him – all one had to do was listen to hear the pride in his voice as he spoke about his devoted wife, Madeleine, and his adoring children, Treasa, now a lawyer, and Rory, now excelling in his first year of Biology at McGill University. Eamonn felt he had come full circle as a father to see Treasa embarking into happily married life with Edward Pendergrast, and Rory setting out into the world as an extremely capable young man.

A successful businessman, Eamonn had been the Executive Director of the Ireland Canada Chamber of Commerce since 1993. He graduated from University College Cork with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1975, the same year he came to Canada. He worked in marketing for Hallmark Cards for 18 years before starting up his own marketing and communications consulting business, O’Loghlin Communications.

Eamonn hosted a weekly Irish radio show and published a national magazine, Irish Connections Canada , formerly the Toronto Irish News . A long time supporter of the Gaelic Athletic Association, Ireland Fund of Canada, and Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, he was Director of Strategic Partnerships and Corporate Sponsorship at the Canadian National Exhibition, and was the interim President of the newly formed Irish Canadian Immigration Centre.

He was honoured as Irish Person of the Year in 2009 for his work on Ceol Agus Craic , the weekly Irish-Canadian radio show he had founded in 1998. He loved traditional Irish music and it was not unusual for a sing-song on the piano to break out whenever he was about. He was also fond of getting back to nature through golfing. He would return for his annual pilgrimage of golfing, travelling and All-Ireland hijinks every September.

Eamonn will be remembered for the good work he did in the community, his generous spirit, his love of family, and for being a great leader amongst Canada’s Irish community.

Ar dheis De go raibh a anam dhilis

Ni fhicimid a leithead aris

Funeral Details
Turner & Porter – Butler Chapel
4933 Dundas Street West, Etobicoke, ON, CANADA, M9A 1B6
Tue, 8 Jan 2013 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Tue, 8 Jan 2013 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Info: Rosary prayers at 8 p.m.

Transfiguration of Our Lord Church
45 Ludstone Drive, Toronto, ON, CANADA, M9R 2J2
Wed, 9 Jan 2013 10:30 AM

Below is the link on information regarding our dear friend Eamonn’s visitation and funeral service


According to Wikipedia, the origin of New Year’s resolutions ranges from the Babylonians promising to return borrowed objects and pay down debts to the Romans making promises to their god Janus, the namesake of the month of January.

While there are many online sources that can tell us from where the tradition sprang, there are even more voices that offer unsolicited advice on why people don’t succeed in completing their vows. Reading those essays made me realize that this year I need to do a little better job of thinking through my resolutions.

Perhaps I need to start with the most basic question of all. Should I make any resolutions? Hmm. That leads to the startlingly obvious issue….why do I make them?

I would be lying if I didn’t admit to you that I do feel a New Year is monumental. Materially you could argue it’s false. The most physically significant change to our lives is adjusting our date memory to end in a 3 versus a 2! The rest? A new scorecard for your business? A new semester for your schooling? A new season of holiday weekends to plan?

But the feeling does persist. Yet I am not sure I can articulate it.

Perhaps it’s because there is no more liberating feeling than starting over. A clean slate. A fresh beginning. A whole new ballgame.

If last year was a tough one, you can see a world of potential in this one.

If last year was a great one, you can envision keeping your friend momentum chugging along!

If last year had ups and downs, surely 2013 will be all peaks.

Most of us like keeping score. Keeping score until infinity isn’t any fun. So a calendar year provides a nice tidy beginning and end to your personal game of life. The year is the entire game. The months and weeks become periods. The days become shifts.

So back to the resolutions? I am going to put to use this Wayne Gretzky quotation, “You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

So don’t be afraid of making resolutions you don’t achieve. Make a few. Chase them with enthusiasm.

My #1 Resolution for 2013? I already told you!

Be resolute.

Merry Christmas!

Burnt out from all the Holiday socials you have slogged through?

Running on fumes from all the last minute requests from your boss?

Panicked about the number of presents you still need to buy?

Hang in there. The holidays start in a few hours.

They can’t come soon enough. Seriously. I don’t get this December thing. It is insane. It seems that every year it gets busier and busier. The meetings. The parties. The planning. The final push to hit numbers. The job seekers. The networkers. The out of the blue emails from associates long forgotten. Sick kids. Extra hockey practices. Plus a staff cookie exchange.

Just this morning I’ve got someone else trying to book a meeting for tomorrow. Please go away. It’s Christmas time.

Seriously. I mean it. I’m spent. Tired. Exhausted. I don’t have one more meeting left in me. I can’t even think about when I’m going to buy my niece’s present. Let alone stocking stuffers for ten people. Why does my family still do stockings anyway? (Are you now trying to figure out what Christmas stockings are?It’s not that I’m cranky. It’s the opposite in fact. I love Christmas. My parents always did a great job of making the season feel really special when I was a kid. Snacks for Santa. Sitting in the usually off limits living room reading fables. (Yes I’m old enough to have grown up in a house with “off-limits” rooms.) My Dad pretending that reindeer were landing on our roof.

I just want some time this year to enjoy it. Can’t we slow Christmas down? Create a nice holiday pace? Give it that Hallmark card feel. Heck some snow would help.

That sounds nice doesn’t it? Hopefully you’re going to do the same. Relax. Chill. Take time away from the grind.

Okay? Sound good? You good with this plan?

Great! So stop bloody emailing me!!!!! (-:

Merry Christmas.

Freedom 55

Freedom 55Today, November 2nd, 2012, is my parents’ fifty-fifth wedding anniversary.

Apparently, the emerald or any green stone is the appropriate gift for this midpoint between the golden (50th) and diamond (60th) anniversary milestones. Emerald is quite appropriate given my folks just got back from a tour of Scotland and Ireland.

Congrats, Mom and Dad.

1957 was not much like 2012.

In Arkansas, the infamous Little Rock Nine were the first Black American students to enter a white high school. “Enter” is a loose phrase as this small group were escorted into the school guarded by the 101st US Airborne. Pause and consider that. When my parents were getting married, black kids could not attend white high schools in the Untied States. Holy Obama. Continue reading “Freedom 55”

Thanks Given

There is no person more frustrating to deal with… than your mirror image. At least for me that’s the case.

You see your flaws in them. You can predict their reaction to your conversations. You get annoyed when they slip, not because of their actions, because you assume responsibility for their misstep.

Everything you wish you wouldn’t do, draws twice the emotional reaction when they do it. It’s almost as if you want to say, “I can sway off course, but you shouldn’t!!!!”

Usually these people are someone that you admire or enjoy collaborating with. The good news of a mirror is they understand you. They share some or all of your value set. They have similar aspirations. You rarely have to persuade them in joining your pursuit of some ambitious goal. Without being told, they know when to jump in and clean up a mess. Without being told, they know when a task needs fulfillment, despite the extraordinary personal commitment. Without begrudging you, they often will sacrifice themselves for the good of the whole. Their allegiance is unwavering. Your trust is oceans deep. Their output is top notch. Your expectations are exceeded. Their satisfaction is satisfying you. Your satisfaction is in being satisfied.

Continue reading “Thanks Given”