Sometimes, you have to turn your back on the fire to build it up.

This is a guest post by Michel Neray. If you’d also like to guest post here on JobMob, follow these guest post guidelines.

Michel Neray canoeingI just came back from my annual canoe trip.

Now, this wasn’t the peaceful paddle on a glassy quiet lake that you might imagine.

It was a rugged, wild, whitewater trip that started at Bridge Rapids some 80 kilometers north of the Ottawa River in Canada, where you can only get to by logging roads or floatplane, and the only way back, (other than floatplane or logging road), is by canoe.

For a week we didn’t see another soul, nor were we able to get Internet access, cell calls, Facebook status updates or Tweets.

I had to focus on simple things, like getting through Class III rapids during the day, and getting the fire going before nightfall.

The fire was my greatest teacher on this trip. Do you know how to build a fire?

You have to start with little twigs and kindling. Dried pine branches at the bottom of the tree make for great fire starters because they’re protected from the rain by the branches above them. You can count on those branches to stay dry even when everything else is soaking wet – which it often was.

You then layer slightly bigger branches on top of the smaller ones, always careful to allow air to circulate inside around the bottom.

Once you’re happy with your little pile of sticks, you reach in and light the kindling.

After that, there are two things that will almost certainly kill the fire.

The first is piling on branches or logs that are too big, too soon. That chokes the fire out.

The second is continuing to mess with the fire – moving twigs around, thinking you can make the fire spread, or just plain fussing with it. That never works because it doesn’t give the bigger sticks above the kindling to catch.

fire grillIf you build it right, what you really need to do once it’s lit is turn your back on it.

Walk away.

That allows the heat to build up inside, and even if the flames aren’t shooting out just yet, you know you have a little furnace inside; a furnace that’s just waiting for you kneel down nice and close to it, and blow into the heart of it.


Building your personal brand or a freelance business can be like that fire. You can try to layer too many things on before you're ready, and you will end up choking business before you even get it started.

Or you can continue to fuss with it, never giving your market a clear, singular message, or trying something new before you give what you have a chance to catch on.

Or, you can let the heat build up inside what you have, until the moment is right.

What are you trying to build up, that you should just turn your back on for a bit?

About the Author

Michel Neray is the founder of MoMondays, a monthly event of ‘real people, real stories, real inspiration’. He started MoMondays in Toronto and it has since grown to 14 locations in North America. For his ‘day job', he is a professional speaker, M.C. and consultant who helps his clients dig down to their ‘Essential Message'. That's the key to stronger branding, better sales, employee engagement, personal confidence… and world peace. He’s married with three children, two dogs, three snowboards, a whitewater canoe and a black belt in Karate. Get more Michel at

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Jacob Share

Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Kate

    What a great post, Michel. I think the techniques that help you build a great fire can help in so many other areas of life. Especially branding.

  2. Kate

    I’m sure the techniques behind building a great fire can also be applied to many other life events, Michel. What a great, quintessentially Canadian post.

  3. Pingback: Playing With Fire With Your Personal Brand :: Essential Message

  4. Hi Michel A great reminder that we have to do things using tiny steps AND we need a foundation on which to build. I learned years ago (in the late 1970s!) when I was a schoolteacher and taught non-readers – you REALLY had to show them very tiny step by step ways to learn to read 🙂

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