June 10, 2009: Barry Cauchon

Hi all: I will be away from my computer over the next 5 days as I am working at a large Anthony Robbins event in Toronto for the Power Within. It’s the same one I worked at last year. For those who know the event (UPW), yes I will once again be walking on red hot, 1200 degree coals in the infamous Fire Walk! Trust me, it’s a cool thing to do. If you can walk on fire, you can pretty well do anything…and that’s the point.
Tony Robbins and crew from the 2008 UPW event in Toronto. I'm just peeking out in the last row second from your right.

Anthony Robbins and crew from the 2008 UPW event in Toronto. I can be found in the last row, second from your right.

When I worked at Tony Robbins’ event last year, I was in the mindset of making sure that the ‘paying guests’ were well taken care of and that I, and my teammates, did everything we could to make the event as successful as possible.

But even as a volunteer you can’t help but soak in much of the content that Tony shares with his participants. And that got me thinking. Did my life change in the past year since the last time I did this event? The answer is a resounding YES!

Here are some of the highlights that have occurred for me in the last year.

1. I started this blog “A Little Touch of History” in May, 2008. But it really didn’t take off until August, 2008  just after I did Tony’s event.

2. I wrote about 100 articles and the contents for a book which I am currently in the process of producing. Neither of these things were on my ‘to do list’ last year.

3. I made some great new friends and colleagues this year. Something that I truly cherish in my life. You gals and guys know who you are.

4. I gave up coffee (and have only had 3 cups since last July, 2008). The desire is no longer there. Prior to that I was doing 3-4 cups a day.

5. I was welcomed into the Lincoln research community which blew me away. I had always been in awe of the great work that these fine folks have done and to be treated with great respect and kindness by them was humbling. Thank you to you all. I’m proud to rub elbows with you all.

6. I met and spoke with President Bill Clinton, former World Chess Champion Gary Kasparov and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus. I never thought that would ever happen!

7. I started doing public speaking presentations at schools and even at a conference. It is one of my real passions.

…and the list goes on.

Perhaps it was just ‘MY YEAR’ for these things to happen.  Or can they be attributed to Tony’s influence? Honestly, other than giving up the coffee (which is directly related to the event) I can’t say for sure. But I believe things happen for a reason and I will continue to read the signs that have been placed in front of me to act upon.

I can’t wait to see what the next year brings but I’ve got a pretty good idea that this train will continue to roll down the tracks and gather more and more steam. Whatever happens, I’m really looking forward to the experience.

I’ll speak to you upon my return next week. If you have stories like this that you’d like to share, please feel free to drop me a line here and I’ll be happy to post them.




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October 25, 2008: Barry Cauchon

According to a study released by the American Psychological Association in 2000, a firm handshake helps makes a good first impression. “The study, reported in the July, 2000 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found that consistent with the etiquette and business literature, there was a substantial relation between the features that characterize a firm handshake (strength, vigor, duration, eye contact and completeness of grip) and a favorable first impression”.

Earlier this week, I volunteered at another high-powered speakers’ event in Toronto. Two of the speakers on the program were former Russian World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus. Both are world class champions in their related fields.

I had a chance to meet both Garry Kasparov and Dr. Muhammad Yunus and greeted them with a handshake.

  Garry Kasparov is the former Russian World Chess Champion often regarded as the greatest chess player of all time. For twenty years, (1985 to 2005), he pretty well held the title of World Chess Champion until his retirement from chess in 2005. He then entered Russian politics, and at one point, even attempted to run for President of Russia. He speaks 9 languages, has written several books and was here in Toronto to speak on leadership, innovation and success. Much of his speech dealt with the corruption in the Russian government and his efforts in politics to get the support of Russian citizens to slowly clean up the system.

  Dr. Muhammad Yunus, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in Economics, is a Bangladeshi banker and economist. According to Wikipedia “He is famous for his application of ‘microcredit’, which is the extension of small loans to the unemployed, to poor entrepreneurs and to others living in poverty who are not considered bankable. These individuals lack collateral, steady employment and a verifiable credit history and therefore cannot meet even the most minimal qualifications to gain access to traditional credit.

Due to the success of microcredit, many in the traditional banking industry have begun to realize that these microcredit borrowers should more correctly be categorized as pre-bankable; thus, microcredit is increasingly gaining credibility in the mainstream finance industry and many traditional large finance organizations are contemplating microcredit projects as a source of future growth. Although almost everyone in larger development organizations discounted the likelihood of success of microcredit when it was begun, the United Nations declared 2005 the International Year of Microcredit”.

By further developing the microcredit system, and founding the Grameen Bank on this principal, both Dr. Yunus and the Grameen Bank received the Nobel Peace Prize.


Like many world champions, these men are revered in the different arenas they occupy in the public eye. We are awed by their feats and elevate them to the status of geniuses, expecting them to be strong, powerful and invincible. It’s interesting to feel this way about someone when you don’t know them personally. So when I had a chance to meet these outstanding men, I carried similar assumptions with me. 

After hearing his speech, my impression of Garry Kasparov was one of respect and admiration. Here was a man who had been a world chess champion for over 20 years and now was vigorously involved in politics to try to make life better for his fellow Russian countrymen. After his speech, Mr. Kasparov participated in a book signing for his latest book called “How Life Imitates Chess: Making the Right Moves, from the Board to the Boardroom”.

As the line up died down, I had a chance to say hello to Mr. Kasparov and shake his hand. I was surprised that his grasp was NOT firm and assertive like I assumed, but rather soft and gentle. He spoke quietly, joking that our first names were very similar. He was genuinely nice and considerate during the short time we spent together.


 After his speech, Dr. Muhammad Yunus did a signing for his book “Creating a World Without Poverty”. Again, the speech showed me why this man is a Nobel Peace Prize winner. The compassion he has for his fellow man is what makes Dr. Yunus notable. Like Garry Kasparov, I was proud to shake his hand. And when I did, Dr. Yumus’ grip was also soft and gentle.

I started pondering how I could have met not one, but two gifted world class statesmen and found that their handshakes were not as firm as I had imagined they’d be.

And then it hit me. Their handshakes were a reflection of their kind-hearted characters, not their achievements. These are warm and compassionate men who genuinely care for others. Their handshakes, both soft and gentle, reflect those qualities. 

So what’s in a handshake? The experts are not wrong when they say that a firm handshake makes a good first impression. But I’ve learned from this experience that a soft or gentle handshake can also carry a lot of meaning about the character of the person that is greeting you. Judging a book by its’ cover, or a person by their handshake, isn’t the best gauge of their value. In my case, with both Garry Kasparov and Dr. Muhammad Yunus, both gentlemen, and their handshakes, matched perfectly.

It was a very pleasant lesson learned.