64 minutes | Dec 23, 2021
How to write and publish a novel
Mark begins by describing his book, Age-Decoded, a speculative Science Fiction novel about the discovery of a genetic engineering process that enables humans to stop aging. Mark discusses how he came up with the idea, when he began writing, and the process of completing the novel, which involved the help of editors. Then, Mark discusses his influences and writing process. He provides advice for listeners on both writing in general and writing Sci Fi in particular. Mark talks about how he created a compelling narrative, including the setting, characters, and plot. We take a deep dive into the psychology of the characters and the unique world they inhabit. Finally, Mark shares his advice for editing and his experience in self-publishing and marketing the novel. We end with a preview of his upcoming book and some final words of advice for aspiring authors.
56 minutes | Nov 10, 2021
How to paint beautiful landscapes
Lynne Ryall is a retired high school history and art teacher, who now paints landscapes. You can see Lynne’s work at her website and on Instagram: @lynneryallart First, Lynne talks about how she learned and developed her craft, how she paints, and where she gets inspiration from. Then we discuss what materials and general knowledge are needed to get started. Lynne recommends starting with drawing to learn how to create the basic shapes of objects and to identify lights and darks. She then shares her advice for choosing and mixing colours, handling brushes, getting the perspective right, and more. Next, Lynne identifies the most common mistakes made by beginners and how to avoid them. Finally, we close with a discussion of how to develop our own unique painting style and what painting has meant for Lynne’s life. Resources for further learning recommended by Lynne include Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and Ian Roberts’ Youtube Channel
70 minutes | Jun 17, 2021
How to learn a language
Georges Awaad is a linguistics student in Montreal, Canada, who has taught himself 19 different languages. Check out Georges YouTube channel The Pokeglot The episode begins with Georges telling us about the work he does preserving and revitalizing endangered languages. He then shares how he became interested in languages from a young age. We talk about how he chooses languages, which ones were most difficult and which were easiest. Then Georges shares his definition of “fluency”. Georges estimates how long it took him to learn different languages, and then describes the steps in his language learning process. We discuss finding practice partners, making language learning fun, overcoming frustration, and other practical advice. Georges concludes with a heartfelt and beautiful response to the question, “how has language learning impacted your life”? Finally, Georges shares his favourite language learning resources. including the apps Duolingo, Memorize, and UTalk.
60 minutes | Mar 30, 2021
How to Invest for the Future
Brendan is a Chartered Financial Analyst with experience in a variety of fields, such as retail investing, pension funds, private equity, and real estate. Note: At 20:45 Brendan references two charts, which you can download here: S&P500, S&P/TSX Composite Index Brendan begins by sharing how he learned about investing and how that led him into a career in finance. He outlines the basic things that every new investor should know, including the types of investments available, diversification, and fees charged by financial institutions. We discuss how goals affect our investment strategies. Brendan emphasizes the importance of knowing when you will use the money you are investing. He discusses the 60/40 rule, and what investments to start with. We touch on ECG investments briefly. Brendan teaches us how to diversify our portfolios as we expand our holdings, how to rebalance our portfolio, and how to choose a strategy that works for us. He identifies common mistakes that new investors make, things he wished he knew when he started, and some of the best investing advice he’s received. Brendan then touches on the types of tax-saving bank accounts available to Canadian investors, RRSPs and TFSAs. He concludes with his recommendations for learning more, including the Greater Fool blog and the Wealthy Barber. Thanks for listening! Visit our website where you will find all Amateur Podcast episodes, subscribe links, and the Amateur Blog.
49 minutes | Feb 24, 2021
How to Get and Stay in Shape
Joshua Presley is a human movement and mobility specialist. You can follow him on Instagram @presleymvmntmobility. His website is presleymvmntmobility.com As an amateur athlete, Joshua was always interested in fitness, but he found that he wasn’t getting the results he wanted from his work outs. He started doing some research and learning more about the human body. His approach is to focus on the intention in the body’s movements, and to listen to our bodies. Pain, tension, tightness, and lack of feeling are some of the ways that our bodies communicate with us. Understanding our bodies helps us to design more effective work outs. We discuss the importance of personal goals, and the different kinds of exercises that people can do depending on their goals, including weight loss, building muscle, endurance, recovery from injury, and flexibility. Joshua talks about how to structure a work out and how much time to spend exercising each day/week. He shares his tips for avoiding injury, tracking improvement, exercising more efficiently, common mistakes to avoid, and more. Joshua ends by discussing the importance of overall health and shares some of his favourite resources for learning more, including the books The Story of the Human Body, courses from Kelly Starrett and Andreo Spina, and Spina’s podcast Control Yourself.
63 minutes | Feb 1, 2021
How to Train a Dog
Charly Vu is a professional dog trainer who runs The K9 Engineer, a dog training service in Toronto, ON. To learn more, visit thek9engineer.com and follow @thek9engineer on Instagram. Charly discusses the work he does with The K9 Engineer, which focuses on obedience training for pet dogs. Charly specializes in use of e-collars, a new training technique developed in the past decade. He highlights how important it is for dog owners to establish themselves as leaders in the relationship, as this helps us to encourage good behaviours while discouraging bad behaviours. We cover various dog-training topics in detail, including obedience, rewards, corrections, commands, separation anxiety, resource guarding, and more.
57 minutes | Dec 1, 2020
How to Deal with Our Emotions
Beverly and Paolo start by talking about why they started their podcast, Authentic Feelings. They briefly share the history of their storied friendship. Then they discuss the effect of emotions on our lives, and why it is so important to learn strategies for dealing with them. According to Beverly and Paolo, it starts with self-awareness, acknowledging that we have negative emotions, and then making a decision to work on our emotional selves. According to Beverly this involves work, including a willingness to ask for help. We discuss why so many people have difficulty reaching out to others for help and opening up about their emotions. According to Paolo this stems from shame, so in order to talk openly and honestly about our feelings, we have to first detach ourselves from shame. We then discuss ways of identifying people to talk to and how to ask for help when needed. We also talk about how to respond when a loved one comes to you and wants to talk about their feelings or an emotional situation. Paolo and Beverly give us their tips for engaging in difficult, emotional conversations with our friends and family. They talk about the benefits of being more open and honest about our feelings, how to confront and accept negative emotions, and how to cultivate our positive emotions, what Beverly refers to as our higher and lower selves. Paolo and Beverly point out that it is not always incumbent on us to fix how we are feeling about a particular situation. Sometimes, external factors can play an outsized role in influencing our emotions. They end with some great advice for young people on how to deal with difficult emotions.
53 minutes | Oct 30, 2020
How to Scare People This Halloween
Glen talks about how the Haunted Walk started and the kinds of tours and experiences they offer today. He shares his research methods and how he chooses locations for the tours. Glen talks about his own experiences with the supernatural and how it has expanded his perspective on unexplainable phenomena. Glen then discusses some of the most important considerations for creating immersive experiences and telling good stories. He even shares tips for people who wanted to scare their friends or family for Halloween! Glen talks about how he got the idea for the Haunted Walk after going on a ghost tour in York, England. He says he always knew he wanted to expand his business, so finding and training the right people to become tour guides became one of his most important endeavours. Glen talks about how he hires and trains his guides, and how he fosters a sense of community through the work that his company does. He then discusses the company’s response to the coronavirus pandemic; how they have adapted and discovered new ways to create immersive experiences using available technology. Glen then takes us back to his early days as a tour guide in Kingston. He reveals some of the keys that enabled him to grow his business so immensely over the past 25 years, including some of the biggest changes that they made to the tours. Glen ends by expressing his amazement and gratification at being able to build a diverse community of people interested in folklore, history, and the supernatural.
33 minutes | Oct 10, 2020
How to perfect your holiday cooking [without the stress]
My mom, Cheryl O’Connor, talks about how her family celebrated the holidays, and how she used to help her mom prepare their holiday dinners. Then she lists everything we need to prepare a holiday feast, including utensils and ingredients. She breaks down the steps involved in cooking the turkey, gravy, stuffing, and side dishes. All the while she shares some of the many tricks she learned over thirty plus years of cooking holiday meals.
40 minutes | Sep 24, 2020
How to live more sustainably
Follow Enrique on Instagram @Verdes.Vida.Mx and Facebook @VerdesVidePue. Enrique talks about how he first became interested in sustainability and environmental protection while living in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. He then completed a Master’s program in Environmental Management in Sydney, Australia, where he lived for several years before returning to his hometown of Puebla, Mexico to start Verdes Vida. Enrique discusses the shampoo bar workshops that his company runs and how the popularity grew. Afterwards, Enrique started selling the shampoo bars and expanded his zero waste product line to include conditioner, body lotion, toothpaste, and more. He discusses how he integrated different types of native plants for their medicinal and hygienic properties. He also talks about how he uses corn husks for packaging. Next, Enrique describes the materials that he uses to make his shampoo bars, which includes coconut oil extracts SCS and SCI, glycerine, natural oils, and other medicinal plants. Enrique then shares how he researches plants to include in his products, by talking to people in local markets, and doing informal research on the internet. Afterwards, Enrique describes the process of making the products and how he perfected them over time. Enrique grows many of the plants that he includes in his products and composts the waste to use as soil for his garden. Enrique’s philosophy for sustainability is to make it accessible for everyone, which is why he keeps the prices of his products as low as possible. He talks about how there is a lot opportunity for growing a sustainable business in Puebla. He also plans to sell his products to hotels in tourist areas such as the Mayan Riviera. Lastly, Enrique shares his advice for how to start living more sustainably and create projects such as Verdes Vida.
39 minutes | Sep 5, 2020
How to be a successful student (even during a pandemic)
Mariana O’Connor did her Master’s in Marketing at Schulich School of Business in Toronto, Ontario in 2019 and 2020. She says it was an invaluable experience but challenging because it had been over a decade since she finished her undergrad. Also, she encountered the disruption of having to transition to studying completely online halfway through the school year. Mariana talks about preparing for school before it starts and what she wished she knew at the start of the school year. Mariana then shares her secrets for effective time management and self-motivation. She talks about how difficult it was to pivot from completely in-person learning to completely online learning after Covid hit Canada last March. She tells students what they can expect this fall and how to survive a semester online. Mariana goes into detail about how to stay engaged during online lectures. We then discuss how students can stay mentally healthy throughout the school year. Finally, Mariana gives advice on how to get good grades on assignments, tests, and presentations. She talks about the difficulty of navigating around the pitfalls of group assignments, as well as how to build positive relationships with professors.
54 minutes | Jul 30, 2020
How to develop a mindfulness practice
Janet helps us understand what mindfulness is using a quote from Dr. Jon Kabat Zinn: It’s about being present in any given moment. Janet then describes how all encompassing mindfulness is, as a way of bringing attention to what we are doing and thinking. She then describes the many benefits of mindfulness, including proven health benefits, greater resiliency, and lower distraction and anxiety. We discuss how our distracted culture overwhelms us, causing mental health issues and preventing us from being in touch with ourselves. Janet then teaches us how to begin our mindfulness practice. She explains the difference between formal and informal practice, teaching us how to start a formal practice, and how to experiment with our informal practice. We discuss how practicing mindfulness throughout our daily lives can improve our awareness and ability in dedications such as running, photography, teaching, and more. We talk about the educational benefits of mindfulness, particularly for students who struggle with anxiety and focus. Janet discusses her approach to teaching her own children about mindfulness. We return to the importance being in touch with ourselves, and how this affects the way we relate to other people. Janet warns us about applying judgement such as improvement to our mindfulness practice and how great it is to free ourselves from judgement. We discuss further benefits of mindfulness, and Janet concludes by encouraging us to try it and more importantly to keep trying and not give up when it gets difficult.
56 minutes | Jun 16, 2020
How to learn woodworking, start a business, and live in your van!
How Dan first came up with the idea for the company while tree-planting: seeing “slash and burn piles” of unused wood. He started by started making charcuterie boards and met Candace when she bought his first one. They taught themselves how to work with wood and use the tools through trial and error. They also talk about where they source their material and learn about the different properties of wood. Candace breaks down the process of taking a piece of wood and turning it into a finished product. Dan talks about why he decided to start the business and what went into the set up. Candace and Dan share how they used clever branding to increase their reach. They talk about how they learned new skills, such as accounting and sales from running their company, Dan and Candace then detail some of the challenges that entrepreneurs can encounter and share their advice for people interested in starting a business. Lastly, Dan and Candace talk about their adventures driving across Canada in their van last winter: The steps they took to get their van set up, how they survived on the road, their most memorable moments, and why they decided to do it.
41 minutes | May 6, 2020
How to become a better cook
My guest Monica Sarkar (@tmsarkar on Instagram) talks about how she learned to cook. She shares how she became the designated chef for her father and brother at the age of 10. She started out using cookbooks her dad gave her (we discovered that we both used Loony Spoons as our very first cookbook!). Monica talks about her current go-to meal, Shepherd’s Pie, and how she improved it recently with some secret ingredients. She talks about how watching cooking shows for the first time at age 21 opened her up to new possibilities, in particular the ability to cook without a recipe. Her biggest influences were Chef John of Food Wishes and Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. Monica teaches us how to improve our cooking skills by focusing on one dish in particular, in this case she uses pasta as an example. She talks about how she watched videos from pasta-making experts, such as Famiglia Baldassarre, used trial and error to develop the best recipes, and studied how the dish was put together in restaurants. She talks about how cross-referencing recipes and using descriptive words (such as “fluffy” for meatball) can help us find the best ingredients for the meals we want to get better at. In order to overcome intimidation, Monica advises us to read the recipe carefully and ensure that we understand every step before starting to cook. She also tells us that having a bunch of small bowls handy will encourage us to get all our ingredients ready and measured before we start to cook. Monica talks about how having the right tools, such as a sharp chef’s knife, will help us improve our technical skills, such as chopping. We can also watch videos of experts and Youtube channels such as Sorted Food. Monica shares a couple neat techniques to help us taste our food so that we can improve the flavours as we cook. She also discusses how she learned what ingredients go well together. Finally, Monica tells us how we can make our food look presentable, either so that we can take Instagram-worthy photos, or just impress our family and friends before they take their first bite!
37 minutes | Apr 21, 2020
How to grow your own food
Camille joins me to talk about how she learned to start a vegetable garden in her backyard. It all started with a book, The Year Round Vegetable Gardener by Niki Jabbour, that ignited Camille's passion for gardening. She says that you can be pretty good from the start; it just takes a bit of planning: Finding a sunny spot and getting the right soil are key when starting out. Also, it is important to choose the right crops. There are cool season crops (for Spring and Fall) and warm season crops (for summer). Another tip that Camille shares is using mulch, which enables her to water less often than otherwise. Camille also discusses sowing techniques, thinning, pest and weed control, harvesting, crop rotation, and other tricks she learned along the way!
37 minutes | Mar 31, 2020
How to learn programming
On this episode Spencer shares how he learned computer programming. He starts by discussing his early fascination with Wikipedia and how that was his entry into learning to code without studying it in school. The discussion then covers various aspects of programming including languages, projects, the online community, web development and more. We then branch off into talking about the importance of computer hygiene, taking breaks, and standing up for yourself in the workplace.
43 minutes | Feb 12, 2020
How to take beautiful pictures
Laila shares her journey learning photography, from capturing beautiful Nova Scotia sunsets to finding inspiration in Toronto's "gothic" subway. She talks about angles, framing, lighting, and colour; how to take portraits, landscapes, and family photos. She also gives a great introduction to camera equipment for newbies. Most importantly, she teaches us how to develop our photographic eye and find inspiration from our surroundings and from social media.
30 minutes | Feb 5, 2020
Men's Style with Krystian
Men's fashion professional Krystian shares some tips on how guys can dress well for any occasion (and on a budget!). He talks about how to match colours and patterns, the classic looks that never go out of style, the importance of confidence, and more.
40 minutes | Feb 3, 2020
Home Improvement with Rob
On this episode of the podcast we learn how Rob became the handyman extraordinaire that he is today. He talks about how he learned skills such as painting, wallpaper, drywall, carpentry, electrical, and more. He also shares some entrepreneur tips based on his years of experience running a small business.