How a park made a fool out of me, 3 times. True story.

Considering a downtown park, in a mega city like Toronto, I assumed the following things are impossible, can’t exist or just won’t work. Oh boy, was I wrong:

1. Did you know white squirrels exist? No? Me neither, until I saw one at the park!


2. Checking out the neighbourhood of an apartment we where going to see, I discovered this huge park where Google Maps revealed 8 tennis courts in there. Looking forward getting some use out of my racket, I considered worth shipping over from Vienna, I started searching for the Tennis Club operating it, trying to find out membership fees, etc. I did not find anything! Okay, maybe they just don’t have a website. After moving there I walked up the the tennis courts and just asked someone about where to get a membership and how much it is.

Continue reading “How a park made a fool out of me, 3 times. True story.”

How to trade in a bad habit for a good one!

Why aren’t you using the triggers that make you fall into a bad habit, to start a good habit, instead? Have fruit instead of coffee. An apple instead of a smoke.

Your brain is a super automator. Decisions you often make, become automatic. Let’s call them habits.

Some times when you believe you are still in power of making a decision, your brain is already in auto-mode though. Sneaky, eh? A trigger got you to perform a habit. You don’t have to think about it – that’s what makes it a habit, right? Buckling your seatbelt when you get in the car, etc. So I guess we can all agree on:

We are what we repeatedly to and therefore creatures of habit!

If you dont believe me, you should read The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg and Willpower, by Roy F. Baumeister & John TierneyThese books helped me understand habits and their creation better.

Experimenting with my own habits with has been fun so far. Great lessons learned with the first users and now we are tweaking it to produce higher habit changing success rates with our findings. If you have some habits you want to trade in too, feel free to sign on to our early invite list at!

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How to live without cable TV

Image representing Boxee as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

After years without a TV in Vienna, we ended up receiving one as a gift after moving to Toronto. Since we did not really miss a TV, it stayed in its box for a while. What made us not miss a TV at all? Our entertainment / information consumption habits had completely changed!

  • It started at University in England: Besides high TV licence fees, we did not even think about getting a shared TV for our flat, as there was just so much else to do on campus for entertainment. The news we collected online anyway already. For movies and shows there was already the itunes store.
  • Back in Austria, moving in with Jane, I brought my old TV to our apartment (just because I considered it part of my furniture) and removed it again after a week.
  • We still watched TV shows and movies on itunes every now and then. But owning a physical TV device with a cable / satellite connection did no add any value for us, as the “live” factor did not matter to us (we dont watch sports).
  • It made us go outside and meet people, read books, etc, as there wasn’t the convenience of just pressing a button and sit on the couch any longer.
Boxee Box and Remote
Boxee Box and Remote (Photo credit: William Hook)

So here we are, having a huge TV, we got as a gift. We needed to work something out. Looking into streaming solutions, as we hate the TV cable companies here, brought us to about a year ago. And we are happy with it, we hardly see any ads, watch tv shows and movies whenever we want and got access to lots of alternative / independent libraries. First we were scared that his convenience will get us to watch more TV again, but we were wrong. We still can’t just go to a channel and let it flow. And I think that is what makes us watch less TV. What are your thoughts?

If you are planning to get a, make sure you have a real unlimited internet plan. Also they have a stick now that will give you live TV in case you want it (just a few channels). I like about the boxee that they are improving it constantly, the user interface improved very much in the last year and I am sure that buying a boxee was a good investment. Let me know if you have questions about available content in Toronto.

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How following my grandfathers advice brought me to Canada

Just before I went to study in the UK for a year, my grandfather got serious: “Don’t fall in love with an Englishwomen, it would be such a pain for the family to travel back and forth, on top of the language barrier“.

When I got back, I told him I followed his advice: “Her name is Jane, she is from Canada.”

And here we are! After spending two years in Vienna together, while I was finishing my Masters degree, we moved to Jane’s hometown, Toronto, in January 2011. However, travelling back and forth for family events hasn’t been that bad, thanks to direct flights. And languages, can be learned.

Since St. Patricks is coming up, I have a story about an Irish guy to share as well: He has been living here since many years and asked me why I moved over. I told him I did because of the best reason ever, because of a woman. He started laughing, told me I might haven’t been living here long enough to understand, as my reason to move over is just the second best reason. Wondering what the best reason is then, he said: “Because it’s the f$%&#ing best country in the world!”.

Stay tuned for more stories about how it feels to live in Toronto, that I will publish in the next weeks. In case you wonder, how I got myself back into blogging, checkout out, where I challenged myself to make daily blogging, a habit.

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Get your ideas to flow into execution

Ideas just happen to me, that’s pretty easy going. Making them actually happen, by executing them, is the difficult part. That’s why we are working on Ideas seem to be liquid, they have a “flow” and are constantly iterating while working on the execution. To help with that process, we designed the “Ideaflow”:

  • After entering your initial idea, we automatically enrich it through semantics. Imagine your just posting one paragraph and we add related ideas, articles, images, tags and link from the web – basically helping you understand the environment your idea is in.
  • Your Idea is online and you can start inviting people to join the team.
  • Together you enter stage 2 of the Ideaflow, where mind-mapping /  brainstorming is happening to structure all the aspects of the idea.
  • When you see the big picture of your idea you can turn the mindmap into a wiki, where you start filling the gaps in your concept and can easily, via drag’n’drop, assign tasks to team members or yourself.
  • As tasks are getting completed and therefore your idea is executed, what was a concept first, turns into a project documentation.

Does that sound interesting to you? Feel free to get in touch and I can set you up with a free test account for your organization.

Enhanced by Zemanta helps you get back in control of your habits! is a web app that helps young adults & professionals seeking new lifestyle habits, stay committed to goals through short-term challenges.

We combine peer pressure with accountability via self tracking, plus the added ass kicking from friends who bet against the player by pledging money to charity in exchange for the possibility of seeing embarrassing consequences.

Kick habits that make you fat and broke by trading them in for healthy and promising habits. makes sure that when you say you’re going to do something, you really stick with it.

  • Choose Your Habit, Decide the Stakes & Collect Bets
  • Reminders, Proofs & Status Reports
  • Solving Stick-to-it-ness

Choose Your Habit, Decide the Stakes & Collect Bets

Turns out, all that’s needed is the risk of a good ass kicking from friends. We ask players to set up a habit they would like to adopt or drop for 21 days and then collect bets from friends. If successful, all bets go to charity but should the player fail, the kicker is, friends get to collect on whatever stakes were decided. Free car wash anyone?

Reminders, Proofs & Status Reports

To help you players reach their goal and save face, will send daily reminders, weekly status reports and make sure everyone knows that goals are being hit everyday via integrated self tracking apps, like Fitbit, Foursquare and RunKeeper along with photos and other options to prove achievements.

Solving Stick-to-it-ness

A goal is short-term (with a start and end date) so the player knows it’s not forever and will be way more motivated to dig deep and push limits. What’s more, by collecting bets form friends the player has also set up a support network with seriously vested interest in seeing whether they make it or not.