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Posts from the ‘Win4Youth’ Category

The Big Day

My cell phone says it’s 1:45 a.m. and I’m lying down in bed fully awake, ready for the race. Even though I tried to go back to sleep, the mix of excitement and anxiety keeps me awake for the rest of the night. As the next four hours pass, I visualize every step of the triathlon 100 times and engage in some relaxation meditation.

Finally, it’s time to get out of bed. My bag is ready from the previous night with all my equipment, gels, fruit bars and water bottles. No need to double check since I went through it at least 10 times. It’s time to put on my tri suit, grab my bag and meet the other Ambassadors for breakfast.

Although the room at breakfast was pretty quiet and consumed with focus, the excitement and energy still resonated throughout.  As excited as I was, I was concerned about my injury from three days ago to my lower back. I could barely walk. While getting in my last bit of training before the race, an older back injury resurfaced. Even though the doctor told me I could probably still do the triathlon, I was concerned with the running portion — especially since it comes after spending almost two hours of being bent forward on my bike. I had to mentally prepare myself that I may only be able to walk the 10km, instead of run. In any case, the big day had finally arrived.

Once we arrived onsite, there was no time to think about my back. Everything went really fast: setting up the transition zone, eating one last snack, hitting the bathroom before putting on the wet suit on and getting my good luck kiss from my number one fan — my wife Melanie. Before I knew it, I was on the beach waiting for our Global CEO, Alain Dehaze to say “go!”.

Christian finished swimming

As I began swimming, I wondered how I would do in the vast ocean. 37 minutes later, I had my answer — the swim was amazing! I even got to admire some fish along the way. Things were going well, I was having a good time and most importantly, I was smiling. However, I knew the biggest part of the race was still ahead: removing the wet suit, 43.5km of cycling and 10km of running.

Then came the bike course through Puerto Del Carmen.  The scenery alone was breathtaking; the country side, wineries and the volcanoes, volcanic rocks and lava path along Timanfaya Park were absolutely amazing. This portion of the triathlon was the highlight for me. It even almost made me forget the 20km climb and the cramps that started in my right calf and left thigh. It was the moment when I felt the magic of completing a race with a team. The thumbs ups and encouragements amongst Ambassadors made such a difference. After 2:26 in the race — the ride taking appx 1:50 — and it was time to get off the bike and run!

Christian running

My back was so stiff when I got off the bike that I couldn’t run. As I removed my cycling gear, I took an ibuprofen and focused on the last (and most grueling for me) portion of the race: the 10km run. If it wasn’t for my injury, this is when I would’ve performed the best, however it ended up being the most difficult. The start of the running course was close to the VIP area where all the Win4Youth supporters — my wife included — were watching the race.  Needless to say, my pride took over and I managed to run a few hundred meters before stopping to stretch my back. As painful as it was, my biggest concern remained to finish the race in a decent time. I stopped at least two or three times to stretch in the first 5km and my pace was very slow. In my vision, I was going to fly over the running course with a big smile while passing the other runners. It was extremely frustrating to not see that to fruition. I still had some energy left but my back wouldn’t let me run. And, I don’t think I was smiling much at that point.

Although I was far from my usual speed, I was able to increase the pace in the second half of the run and eventually catch up to some of the runners who passed me. It took me an 1:08 to complete the 10km — 20 minutes more than my last Olympic Triathlon in Quebec.

Even though my finish was not as strong as I hoped, I truly felt the magic. I forgot about my back and focused on enjoying the moment. The last six months of sacrifice and training became worthwhile as the finish line approached. As that finish line hit my line of vision I felt proud, happy.  Best of all, I was smiling. I made it.  Despite the bumps in the road along the way, I enjoyed the journey and am truly grateful to have been given the opportunity. I will remember these moments for the rest of my life.

Alain giving Christian medals

Lēad Blog is part of Adecco and Roevin Canada. Find and apply to your dream job, or get more career advice from our experts.


From the Other Side of the Triathlon: A Message from our Win4Youth Ambassador Anne

The Win4Youth program brings Adecco Group employees, associates and clients together to share their passion for sport and to have a positive impact on the lives of young people around the world. Anne Nguyen was one of two members of our Canadian Adecco Group family selected to represent the Win4Youth program in October’s Ocean Lava triathlon in Lanzarote, Spain. Here is Anne’s last blog as 2018’s Win4Youth ambassador.

After the triathlon, I was able to reflect on the reason I wanted to become a Win4Youth ambassador. Growing up, I was heavily focused on academics and never truly got to experience what it was like to participate in extracurricular sports or group activities. Because of this, I have always felt like I missed out on being part of a community that wasn’t made up of my immediate family or friends. Even though I was hesitant, I jumped at the opportunity to apply for the Win4Youth ambassadorship because I knew it would help me get active and expand my connections within the Adecco Group globally.

This program has far exceeded my expectations. Not only was I able to complete an Olympic-distance triathlon, I made lifelong friends from all around the world. Together, we conquered the hardest bike course in the history of Win4Youth which created an unbreakable bond between us (#weareWin4Youth and #alumniproud for life!). Even though my journey as a 2018 Win4Youth ambassador is nearly over, I am still going to help motivate and be a voice for the underdogs. After all, if this couch potato can turn into an athlete, you truly are capable of anything you put your mind to!

Journey to Lanzarote

After the training camp in Ghent, Belgium, I was tasked with training five days a week for the following five months. I literally went from sleeping in as long as possible to waking up at 4am every morning to train before work. While I had the guidance of my coach, it was truly up to me to push myself through those sessions. I am not going to lie and say those five months were easy. There were days when I felt I was on top of the world and other days when I truly struggled because I was sick or was simply just tired.

But through all the trials and tribulations, I was able to learn some valuable lessons. The first lesson I learned — and kept getting tested on — was listening to my body. I always felt terrible for missing sessions, but I quickly learned that rest was what I needed. And I always came back even stronger than I was before — go figure!

The second lesson was to trust the process and not compare my journey with anyone else’s. The other ambassadors were hitting some major goals when it came to their training. I couldn’t believe how much faster than me they were at swimming or biking! But I had to learn to not compare myself to them. This was by far the hardest lesson for me as I feared I would not be good enough to complete the triathlon. I realized (with a few reminders from my coach, of course) that this was my journey and I needed to focus on myself and not what others were doing.

What I didn’t realize when I signed up for the program was how much these five months would change who I am. The person that started this journey is nowhere near the person that I am today. I have made changes to my life that can be seen in both my personal and professional life. I am more confident, driven and know that no matter what comes my way, I can push past my comfort zone and accomplish anything. This program and the support that I have received from #teamanne continues to push me to be a better person every day.

Reunion of a lifetime

I was counting down the days until I got to see the other ambassadors again. I may be biased but the 2018 Win4Youth Ambassadors are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. I’ve never met a group of people who rallied so much for each other. Even though we lived in different countries, I never once felt like I wasn’t supported or didn’t have anyone to lean on. Supporting each other was easy and looking back now, I realized the support started in Ghent and didn’t end until the last person crossed the finish line in Lanzarote.

An alumnus organized a group swim in the ocean the first morning we were in Lanzarote. When I left Canada, the mere thought of swimming in the ocean made me feel sick to my stomach. I knew I had to conquer my fear of the ocean and swimming in the open water. What didn’t help my fears was my experience with open water swimming during training. I freaked out each time, so I knew there was no way I would be able to stay calm in the ocean. Everything I feared was quickly dispelled that morning as I had the encouragement and support of my fellow ambassadors. It was after that swim that I realized that I was more than ready for the swim. All the training I did prepared me for it and the only thing I had to worry about were the fish touching my body.

Anne riding her bike.

When thinking about Lanzarote and the three triathlon events I’d be participating in, I thought I was most prepared for the biking portion. However, when we drove on a small part of the bike course before the triathlon, it made me realize how far from the truth that was. The hills I trained on in Calgary paled in comparison to the hills on that short drive. Our trainers told us that if we needed to, it would not be frowned upon to get off our bike and walk. I had so many negative thoughts flood my mind that evening and into the next day on our bike ride. The hills were slightly challenging, and the thought of the steepest hill made me rethink why I wanted to do a triathlon in the first place.

The day before the triathlon went by so quickly. We rode our bikes to the transition zone, did our swim tests and indulged in a pasta dinner. I was excited, happy and nervous all at the same time. I couldn’t believe the day had finally come for us to put all our training into practice.

October 27, 2018 – Ocean Lava Triathlon

We left the hotel at 6:30am and got to the transition zone in the dark. Everyone was calm and quiet. I didn’t feel nervous until I was standing on the beach. I am so proud to say I was able to swim front crawl the entire distance, which I thought I would never be able to do. It’s funny how the one thing I feared the most is now probably one of the things I miss the most. For those of you who don’t want to apply because you fear the water or can’t swim, rest assured you will be okay in the ocean. Your training combined with adrenaline and your wetsuit will turn you into a mermaid/merman.

Despite my misgivings about the bike course from earlier in the week, it ended up being my favourite leg of the triathlon, even though I nearly choked on my chocolate protein bar during my transition from swimming to biking. Note to all future ambassadors: avoid chocolate protein bars to refuel because it will melt all over your fingers and make it impossible to chew as quickly as possible and you’ll get your picture taken with your mouth full of food.

But even with sticky fingers and a messy face, I was ready to face my fears… or at least, I had no other choice but to face my fears of the hilly bike course. As I was riding, I felt great. I kept waiting to get to the steepest hill and when I realized I conquered it, I felt like Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic: I was “King of the World!” When I think back to the bike course, I have to say the greatest part was passing the other ambassadors. No matter what part of the course I was on, each time one of us passed one another, we would cheer each other on. The energy was amazing and that’s what got me through each hill. During my training, I got really scared going down hills as it was “too fast” for me. As a result, I always used my brakes to slow myself down on every hill. But I figured this was the time for me to take the chance and go as fast as I possibly could. So I did. My greatest accomplishment on the bike was being able to go down a hill at 61 km/hour. Nothing makes you feel more alive than conquering one of your biggest fears!

As I was cruising down one of the last few hills, I looked up to admire the scenery. In the distance, I saw the ocean, and in that moment, I realized how grateful I was for this opportunity and experience.

The run was the last leg and it was far from easy. I had just come off riding a bike for over two hours and the sun was beaming. I didn’t hydrate enough (sorry body!) and I was really starting to feel the fatigue. But I knew I had to keep going. I was so close — I could see the finish line! Now was not the time to give up. So I pushed myself. I was also encouraged by fellow athletes I didn’t even know. The great thing about this sport, in my opinion, is that everyone is competing against themselves. You are and will always be your biggest competitor so it’s up to you to decide how far and fast you want to push yourself.

I also luckily had some help during my last kilometer; thank you to the stranger who helped push me a little harder. He encouraged me to keep going and before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line. In the excitement of finishing, I forgot to take it all in and the details are slightly blurry. I do remember saying over and over “I can’t believe I did. I actually did it!” I might have said it in the Adecco Group’s Chief Executive Officer Alain Dehaze’s ear while hugging him maybe a little too long but there literally is no better feeling than knowing you have accomplished something that you have worked so hard for.

The words that I have written throughout this blog don’t even begin to fully describe what this experience has been for me. I challenge all of you to push yourself out of your comfort zone. I once read a quote that said: “Your comfort zone is a beautiful place… but nothing grows there.” Keep growing and keep reaching for the stars because the sky’s the limit! I have been asked if this is where it ends. And the answer to that is no. This is just the beginning for me. I have set so many goals in 2019 that I want to #ANNEihilate including competing in an Ironman 70.3 with some of my new friends for life. Win4Youth has changed my outlook on life. See what it can do for you. Take the leap and apply as a 2019 Win4Youth Ambassador. I guarantee you will not regret it!

Lēad Blog is part of Adecco and Roevin Canada. Find and apply to your dream job, or get more career advice from our experts.

66 days until D-Day

Recently, I was reminded by a colleague and 2018 Win4Youth Ambassador, that there are only 66 days until our big challenge — the Win4Youth Triathlon in Lanzarote, Spain. Ouch! So far and so close at the same time. I’ve put in a lot of hard work and hours —  clocking in over 2,700 km. I know it’s paying off. I see the improvement. But … will I be ready D-Day?

The question brings on a certain level of anxiety. Even if I’m doing everything right, I can’t know how I’ll perform until D-Day! So, I try to focus on the training and put the end result to the back of my mind. As of yet, the training camp in Belgium has been my highlight. Every time I think of the experience 3 words come to mind: strenuous, camaraderie and support.

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#Win4Youth: An update from triathlon training camp

The Win4Youth program brings Adecco Group employees, associates and clients together to share their passion for sport and to have a positive impact on the lives of young people around the world. Anne Nguyen is one of two members of our Canadian Adecco Group family selected to represent the Win4Youth program at the Ocean Lava triathlon in Lanzarote, Spain. Here, she talks about her experience at the Adecco Group training camp in Ghent, Belgium, which helped prepare her for the triathlon in October.  

Training camp in Belgium was nothing like I expected but everything I could have wanted. In the days leading up to the training camp, I was extremely nervous that I wasn’t at the level I wanted to be with swimming, running or biking. I regretted not starting my training sooner as I felt that I wasn’t on par with the other ambassadors. But that feeling quickly went away when I started training with my fellow ambassadors. Everyone was so supportive and the trainers catered to each participant’s level. Truly, everyone was on their own journey. What made it even better was that everyone cheered each other on. Just imagine: 74 ambassadors from 34 different countries all coming together and rooting for each other!

And that’s what really helped me during my time in Belgium. Over the four days I spent in Ghent, I achieved so much more than I thought I could thanks to the valuable instruction and advice from talented trainers, incredible support from my fellow ambassadors, and a whole lot of hard work!

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And now for a message from our Canadian Win4Youth Ambassadors!

The Win4Youth program brings The Adecco Group employees, associates and clients together to share their passion for sport and to have a positive impact on the lives of young people around the world.  At the end of October, we’re excited to have 2 members of our Adecco Group family join 70 colleagues from around the world at the first ever Win4Youth Triathlon, powered by Oceanlava, in Lanzarote, Spain.

Anne Nguyen and Christian Robert are Canada’s representatives on the North American team. They were selected for their passion for Win4Youth, social media and fundraising efforts, and their dedication to The Adecco Group core values. Below, Anne and Christian tell us about their individual journeys to become Win4Youth ambassadors.

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Millennials Want More… Corporate Social Responsibility!

By CEO for One Month, Alana Couvrette

Millennials sometimes seem to get a bad rep as a narcissistic, entitled and self-centered generation. But is this fair to say? I don’ t think so…

For example, millennials expect more from their employers than a paycheck. They have a genuine desire to give back to communities, near and far. For them, purposeful work and the ability to create a positive impact take precedence on profit and salary. In fact, in a recent survey, it was revealed that 45% of student about to enter the workforce would even take a pay cut “for a job that makes a social or environmental impact.” They seek to work for organizations who enshrine good values and ethics into their business model.

Organizations, like Adecco, have taken note of this trend. They know that having an organization-wide aspiration to making a positive difference is part of their value-proposition for attracting and retaining the millennial talent pool.
However, trumpeting your values and ethics isn’t enough. You can’t just talk the talk… The young talent pool is eager to roll up their sleeves, get their hands dirty and participate in the efforts to improve communities near and dear to them. Organizations need to be able to offer opportunities for employees to truly engage in the change that they wish to make. Millennials seek diverse volunteerism opportunities.

At Adecco, our core values-passion, entrepreneurship, team spirit, responsibility and customer focus- permeate the whole business. As Adecco Canada’s CEO for One Month, I noticed this right away and can testify to their relevancy in our work. These values are also conveyed through our global employee engagement program, Win4Youth. This program encourages participants to clock up kilometers (through cycling, swimming or running) which are turned into donations to help disadvantaged youngsters find employment.

On June 22nd, 2017, Adecco Canada hosted their annual Solidarity Day, a day dedicated to Win4Youth. We spent the afternoon as a team running around Toronto completing a scavenger hunt filled with wacky photo ops and funny tasks. Maybe it’s just me but I didn’t even notice that we each accumulated around 9 kilometers. Multiply that by the total number of employees in the office and you’ve got a healthy donation! Curious to know how the day went? Watch this short video I made!

Still think millennials are self-centered? Deloitte’s Millennial Survey found that 7,800 young leaders from 29 different countries believe that the business world is getting it wrong. Close to 75% say that they feel businesses are “focused on their own agendas rather than improving society.”

Who’s looking self-centered now?