COM0014 – Blog #1: How I became a giant in 24h.

COM0014 – Blog #1: How I became a giant in 24h.

It all started over a beer on New year’s eve. My aunt told me about this race she had been running for the last two years. She said it was crazy enough that it would be “my kind of thing”: a trail race, in a cross country skiing club, with only 35 participants, and a poutine at the end. The trail is a 4.2km loop that you run/walk as many time as you possibly can, in 24hours. It’s called: “Le trail des géants », french for “The trail of the giants”. I was sold!

An ultramarathon, […], is any footrace longer than the traditional marathon length of 42.195 kilometres (Wikipedia)

I did not go crazy on the training but it quickly became obvious that I needed to add a few long distances training into my schedule if I wanted to survive this challenge. Away from my weekly runs, I decided to subscribe to the Ottawa Marathon (42.2km) on a 50 day’s notice. Later in July I walked a 56km training to test my legs and my kit. Many lessons learned during that day helped me on race day.

The race

I was the first participant to show up at the Skinoramik cross country ski club on Saturday Aug 3rd. There were only a few clouds and the weather was really nice. I setup my tent, cooler and laid out my gear (Clothes, headlamp, blister kit, spare shoes etc.) in preparation for the hours ahead.

This was my home during the race

It was 12h11 when I started my GPS watch  and began running in a trail I was going to get to know pretty well over the next day.

One of the easy stretch on the trail – Photo by Joannes Gouin

At supper time I had completed 9 laps and 38km before we sat together to eat an amazing pig roast. At midnight, most of us met to walk 1 lap together; my 15th lap. I went to bed around 2h30am after a couple of beers from my favourite brewery, Le Trefle noir. I slept for almost 3 hours before heading back on the trail, coffee in hand, for the last 5 laps I needed to reach my goal of 85km (2x marathon).

My aunt had managed to catch up with me to walk my last lap and since there was still time, I decided to join her for her last lap (She completed 12, reaching her goal of 50km). These last 2 laps, were definitely my favourite ones. My legs were hurting, my feet were ready to quit, but It felt good to have someone with me and share those special emotions together.

After a quick shower, they served us an AMAZING poutine with bacon and what was left of the pig roast. #fooddrunk.

THE poutine!

My final marks were 91.6km for 21 laps. This is how, on the eve of my 40th birthday, I became a giant.

Me and my aunt, looking proud after 24h and a combined mileage of 141km


Here is a couple links that inspired me during the training leading to that race:

Audio book: Can’t hurt me

Youtube: Where dreams go to die


What inspires you when you train?

Do you have what it takes to be a giant?


Using social media in school, yes or no?

If you have young kids that are going to school, there is no doubt that the answer you got when asking them about their day or what they have done in school was: “uh, I don’t know” or “nothing”… It’s not very helpful to engage in a discussion and show interest at what they have done.

There is a solution!

My wife is teaching grade one. Last year she decided to start using Seesaw, an app that allows to share the day-to-day life in the classroom with the parents in a similar way that Facebook would.

This video explains the teacher side of how the app works:

On the first day of school, each parents receives a QR Code inviting them to install the app on their mobile device and to connect to their kid’s classroom. Once subscribed, they will receive instant notification each time the teacher post something to the app, whether it be a picture, video, a general or private message etc. The teacher can post to the entire group or has the possibility to tag the kids in a specific picture and, this way, only the parents of these children will see these images, ensuring a little privacy and a cleaner feed.

No more “I don’t know”

All of a sudden, you have a direct view in the classroom of your kid and you can know right away what is happening and what they are working on. No more “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember”. Instead of asking what they did during the day, you can ask them about the pictures you saw, what was that activity and how did it work.

Teachers also has access to metrics that help them know how parents are interacting. The app provides the amount of posts, like, messages, visits etc. Here’s a screen shot of the weekly stats they get:

Screenshot from seesaw app's weekly stats

Screenshot from Seesaw app’s weekly stats

Here are a few interesting info my wife gave me about how she uses the app:

  1. 100% of the kids in her classroom have at least 1 parent connected to the app.
  2. 100% of the connected parents visit the app at least once a week.
  3. Parents interact and have the ability to like and comment posts, which they do often within minutes of posting.
  4. Read receipt on the messages she sends – something she would not get when sending emails.
  5. A more personalized approach on messaging, more like texting. (Quick, to the point, and less formal)
  6. Seen notification on each pictures/posts.
  7. She uses the app to encourage the kids to put more effort in their work since they will show it to their parents. Often the students themselves are asking for her to post, as they are proud of their work.

While my wife is not selling anything with this app, she is getting a direct access to the parents as well (it works both ways!), and this connection has proven very beneficial. She is getting regular feedback, comments and questions from the parents. While she shares how their kids are doing both academically and behaviourally, the parents feels directly involved and can now challenge their kids on what they did during the day. They have access to what they are studying, but more specifically HOW they do it in class. For example: Parents can work on a specific notion while doing homework with their child and can use the information shared to make sure they do it the same way the teacher do. Some parents have started doing their vocabulary words at home using dry erase pencils in the patio door since they saw on the app that they were doing this in the classroom’s window.

If the school provides devices like tablets, the app allows kids to contribute by posting content themselves, which in turn is curated by the teacher before going live.

On a parent and on a teacher’s side the value added to be using this tool to communicate is incredible. The only negative feedback came from parents who, the following year, had their child is now in a classroom with a teacher who does not use the app!

What do you think? Do you feel this would be a great way to introduce kids to social media in a health way?

facebook Did your kid really do nothing in school today?

twitter What if you had a window in your kid’s classroom?


It all started with Cotton candy grapes. Yes: Cotton. Candy. Grapes. They even have their own hashtag! From Wikipedia: Cotton Candy grapes are a variety of grapes produced in California by Grapery, which became available for consumers to buy in 2011.

These Cotton Candy grapes are from Spain. Photo by me

I didn’t know about them until my wife told me about them a few months ago, but at that time we hadn’t had the chance to get some. They were all gone.

And that’s probably why Costco has them from time to time. They must have done their homework and found that there was hype around them. Or at the very least you figure it out pretty quickly when they fly off the shelf quickly. It’s simply supply and demand.

They are available!!

My wife is on a closed local Facebook Fan group and this morning someone posted that the grapes were available. What followed is an impressive trail of comments and interaction. I found that interesting to witness the power of loyalty and marketing through social media. And that is without Costco having to do anything! Because the post was inside a closed group, Costco probably doesn’t even get stats/metrics on this! Genius.

Screenshot of the post in the closed local Costco facebook group

After a quick research I found out that the grapes had their own hashtag in twitter, many article in Facebook and are easy to find on Google.

Through their team of buyers that does market research, social media team listening and the supply and demand numbers, they must have an incredible amount of data to rely on and determine if they want to bring them back the next year or so. And that, for each individual product!

Obviously not every product has a hype over them, but my question for them would be: “Would Costco pay someone from the public, that brings them tips about a hype in a specific local group, online or offline, allowing them to strategize accordingly?” Like a freelance headhunters would go on to find individuals to fit in specific position in a company for a small commission, maybe? You would become a “Freelance social media listener”. I doubt they would, but maybe we should develop an app for that!

All that to say that after my wife jumped in the wagon, we managed to taste some tonight! They do smell and taste like cotton candy and, both my kids asked to get some in their lunch the next day! Have you tasted them yet?


facebook Did you know that Cotton Candy Grapes existed?

twitter How I found out about #Cottoncandygrapes

Help! My 11 year old son created a Facebook account!

My 11 year old son had battery issues with his iPhone and asked if I could look into it for him. After a hard reset, his phone was charging again. Lately, he had been complaining that a few apps were “glitching” (is this a verb?) so this was the perfect opportunity to perform some maintenance and update his phone to IOS 12 (released Sept 17th).

In the process, I had to reset his Apple ID Password and when I looked at his emails, something caught my attention; there was an email from Facebook with a confirmation number.

On Saturday, my son had used Safari to create his Facebook account.

IMG_9148 copy

The email confirming my son’s Facebook account. (He speaks french)

And now what?

At first I was upset. I thought that he would have talked to us about it before taking such initiative.

Luckily for him, we had a full day to think about our strategy before meeting with him. That allowed some time to reflect on our parental responsibilities and do some research. In a way, this was our chance to open dialog further; about trust and use of social medias.

At this time we are not really worried about our son being bullied online. Our main concerns is his maturity and ability to deal with the overwhelming influences thrown at him, not to mention predators that might be on the hunt. If and when he creates a Social Media account, we’ll be there to coach him and answer any questions he might have. If he creates his accounts without us knowing, he might not reach out when it matters the most, and that can be scary.

What Facebook says

A quick search in facebook terms of Service shows that Facebook’s minimum age requirement is 13 years old.

“Creating an account with false info is a violation of our terms. This includes accounts registered on the behalf of someone under 13.”

(It’s the same for Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and many more).

What internet says

I went on and did my own research and managed to find many articles that would speak about that topic. Here’s two:

This CNN Article states:

“A 2011 Consumer Reports survey found 7.5 million people younger than 13 use the site”.

“But here’s the most important issue: There is absolutely no proof of any meaningful social or educational value of Facebook for children under 13. Indeed, there are very legitimate concerns about privacy as well as the impact on the social, emotional and cognitive development of children. What Facebook is proposing is similar to the strategies used by Big Tobacco in appealing to young people — try to hook kids early, build your brand, and you have a customer for life.”

The Huffington Post talk about 3 reasons why social media age restrictions matter.

  1.  Children’s Personal Information is at risk.
  2. Children under 13 don’t have the hardware upstairs to make smart decisions online.
  3. Lying is just plain wrong.
PEXELS - boys-cellphones-children-159395

Photo from

What my son said:

Fast-forward to that evening, me and my wife sat down with him to discuss our findings. His first reaction was pretty simple. He was really minimizing his actions saying it was only for the purpose of getting skins to use in Minecraft, a game he really likes. He had seen videos from a “Youtuber” that would encourage people to like his page to get extra skins for the game.

He even went on saying he shared no personal information and that he did not contact anyone. For him, it was no big deal.

What we (his parents) said:

First we reminded him that trust is the most valuable thing he might have and that he should be careful and talk to us before taking such initiatives.

We then explained to him our concerns (see above) and that we did not agree with him having a Facebook account before the age of 13. We told him that when the time would come we would do this together so that he would have a good basic understanding of the do’s and don’ts and the potential risks.  We also set a few rules, including charging his phone outside of his bedroom at night and never to share sensitive information like our address or the door code for example. We insisted that should he end up in an uncomfortable/weird/dangerous situation, we would always be there for him. Lastly we made clear that regardless of the App, he should only entertain a conversation with people he knows in real life.


My kids enjoying the ride.

Here is a few more articles I found that relates to Teenagers and the use of Social Medias:

Tips for Safe Social Networking for Teens

My Teen’s Social Media Contract

Should Your Child Have a Social Media Account?

How to Keep Your Kids Safe on Facebook

I would really like to hear your positive stories about introducing kids to Social Medias. Would you have dealt with this situation differently?



Facebook Logo HELP! My 11 year old son created a Facebook account!

Twitter Symbol My son, 11, created his own Facebook account. What do I do?

True story: How I found my dream job using Facebook

Growing up I had always dreamt of wearing the uniform. Later I developed a passion for photography. Upon graduating college, I scored my ultimate dream job: I was a military photographer.

I had been working up the ranks in the military for about 10 years and my next promotion meant that I would need to move and become a manager. That also meant I would not do what I enjoyed the most in my job anymore; taking pictures. Our family was now well established in Gatineau/Ottawa and we had no desire to move. Conclusion: I had to transition to civilian life and find myself a job. Easier said than done in my field.

Sgt Serge Gouin

Portrait of myself before I retired. Photo credit: DND

I started my process by taking a course offered by the military called “career transition workshop”. They taught us how to build our resume, use our network and how to explore the hidden job market.

Our instructor was fantastic. The one thing he told us that struck me the most was about using our network:

“The biggest mistake people tend to do is hiding that they are looking for a job, by fear of having their current employer finding out or to have opportunities taken away from you by a friend or colleagues also looking out”.

I decided I would give Facebook a try and publish a post with my intentions. I wanted to do it in a manner that would open the discussion, be respectful and most of all would not break the relationship I had with my employer in case I would change my mind or the process would take a while.

Screen Shot Facebook

Screen capture from my Facebook post to activate my network

I was nervous and excited at the same time to reveal this news to the world. It really felt like a coming out.

At first, people were curious and asked questions, which is totally normal. Then about a day later, I received a private message from a friend I had gone to photography school with. I had not seen/talked to for almost 10 years! She was going on maternity leave and said she could get me in touch with her manager to see if I could take over her spot while she was away. Perfect timing! Awesome!

Two interviews and a security clearance process later, I finally retired from the stability of a 20 year contract for a 9 month adventure in a temporary position. I was committed to this transition and even if that was a huge risk on my end, this was the first step in the direction I wanted to be going. A few months later they posted my dream job internally and as a temporary employee, I was allowed to apply for it. I landed my second permanent photographer’s position of my career within the federal government, but this time as a civilian. This meant no more moves or promotion, unless I apply for them, and I would still be taking pictures in a federal government organization.

That was exactly what our teacher had told us. Not all job are posted and this one was definitely hidden. Obviously, there is a lot more than Facebook involved in this process, but to this day I still feel that it was the one thing that made it all work.

Taking a selfie during the North American Leaders' Summit (NALS)

Photo by Chris Roussakis

Since then Facebook now has a job search feature that might help, but the real power of Facebook comes from your network.

What would your dream job be? What kind of risk would you be ready to face to get it?



Facebook Logo    True story: How I found my dream job using Facebook


Twitter Symbol    True story: How I found my dream job using Facebook