I am the coming together of my stories and the people in them.
Three organizations and five people have had the most significant impact in shaping me into who I am. These organizations are Queen’s University where I completed my MBA; Deloitte, where I received excellent training as a consultant; and Rotary, where its philosophy and the people in the club changed the way I experience my communities and my role and responsibilities within them.
Two of the five most important people in my life have been much more influential than others, namely the late Dr. McKerlie, my classical and contemporary moral philosophy professor at the University of Calgary; and Connie Warner, my former executive coach and current friend who helped me to transform myself.
Below are some of the little and big events that have had shaped the way I experience the world today.
Our stories set the trajectory and the capacity of who we become and are the reason for all of experiences. I have come to learn that our most important activity as leaders is to elevate our own and the entire organization’s stories about where we are and where we are going.
When I saw the Duomo cathedral in Florence, Italy, I wondered why did it feel so different than all of the other cathedrals. More care seemed to have been given to building it. It was then that I realized that love and faith as well as religion and entrepreneurship have one thing in common – a step into the unknown, founded on a set of stories that we choose to accept.
After a whole lot of small pivots and a long roller coaster ride, I secured a $3M term-sheet. Shortly after, I uncovered issues hidden by a key employee. I let him go and the roller coaster ride got even more interesting. It is times like these that you really find out who your friends are. Thanks Carlos and Jason N.
fter a few pivots I secured a $10M term-sheet from a European investor. The agreements fell apart in the lawyers’ offices. What a lucky break it ended up being.
I asked and Connie agreed to be my executive coach. After a few coaching sessions, I was elevated to a new person. The impact was magnificent. I recall that after a particular coaching session, I could no longer tolerate listening to a musician who wasn't committed to every drum beat, to every note, or to every word. This feeling has permutated to everything that I hear, see, think, and do.
I didn’t read the manual and I did everything wrong. I mortgaged my home and sold my rental properties to finance my tech business. In return, I got a great and expensive learning experience. Lesson: read the manual.
I’ve loved Atessa since she was in the womb. Years later, I still can’t take my eyes off of her. She knows she has me wrapped around her finger
Rotary is a not-for-profit service club. It’s motto is “service above self”. Rotary has been transformative for me. The most significant impact of Rotary was to see what it takes to galvanize people around to bring out the best of themselves.
Keon gave me a new title – Papa. He is an absolute pleasure to have around, specially when we are alone. He gives me incredible optimism about the future.
I approached Deloitte and pitched them on an idea that I thought could help them. They liked it and hired me. After the project, I started working with Deloitte on permanent basis in their management consulting practice. It was a fantastic training ground. Thanks Ken and Duncan for the years.
Bobby was facilitating self-awareness workshop. It was impactful. Bobby is one of the handful of people who was very influential in my life.
When you know than you know. I saw her and I proposed eight days later and married her 10 days after that. Getting close two decades, she is still the one I love the most.
After I sold my business, I started working for a friend, selling technology services. I found out that selling a $1 million technology is very much like selling a $5,000 home renovation contract, because people, not companies, make decisions; and their decision-making patterns is very similar.
A good friend saw me struggle with my business and registered me into an info session for Queen's MBA. Going to Queen’s was the very best decision that I have made. Thanks Blue. You are always appreciated.
One year after university, I expanded my home renovation business to triple the size and earned one third the profits. Not the math I was aiming for. It was then that I realized that I needed better business training.
During my second year of university, I started a home reno business. By the end of my university I had 16 people working for me. I learned that university studies is far simpler than running a business.
Very few people have had as much impact on me as my philosophy professor, Dr. McKerlie. His teaching of the ancient, existentialist, and moral philosophy courses transformed me into a more tolerant, more moral, and more thoughtful person. I am no saint, but I am better. Thank you Dennis.
All broke, a friend came up with the crazy idea of charging people money to go to a dance club that no one wants to go to. The ingenious idea worked. Over 800 people came to my first university party and paid me for it. Organizing university parties became my side business. I learned that people buy what they are sold.
During the first summer of university, I started my first business - a window cleaning company. I worked 16 hour days the entire summer and lost $5,000. Parents bailed me out. Many great lessons learned.
During high school, I worked at a clothing store. It was my first real job. My goal everyday was to have at least 51% of the store's sales in 4 hours while the other 5 people took the other 49% for the entire day. That success earned me the demotion of working at back of the store, so others can sell more; it was an interesting twist to reaching my goal.
Mom had a retail store and I helped out. It was a good place to evolve my bartering skills from the time I was 9. I became very good at selling; still am.
I was addicted to TV during my teens and early adulthood. It was likely because it was safer and easier than working. When I realized it, I kicked the addiction and got to work like and a lot of it.
Me allowing my parents to convince me to jump from grade 6 to grade 9 is as close as it gets to any regret that I may have in life. Much was lost because of it
Dad, how come you have the biggest office, I asked. Because I bring people together to do more than they could do by themselves, he said. That statement has been a large part of my entrepreneurial journey.
Backgammon is very similar to business and life, so I learned from my dad, during my pre-teen years. To win the game, its good to plan far ahead and it important to risk, and sometimes to risk it all, because arriving at a loss safely is still a loss.
Why did it take adults thousands of years to figure out the innovation of money, so I thought. It was then that I planned to come up with simple ideas that would change the world for the better.
The most fun I had was bartering books and toys with my younger brother and the other kids. When I had it all, I would give it back so that I can do it all over again. I am, in many ways, still playing the same game, but now with company shares and money.
As a kid, I loved superhero cartoons. I created a story in my mind that regardless of how hard it seemed there was always a way to get the job done. Almost all my progress in life has been rooted in this story.
I was 2 years old. Mom stepped on my yellow little chick by mistake. The experience made me more introspective and changed how I love all beings.
I am born. Its’ the age of Aquarius; Wrangler jeans cost $12; Ford Pinto is only $2,078; Nixon is dealing with Watergate; NASA launches Landsat 1; The Godfather hits the movie theater; three-piece suit is the latest fashion; and the largest diamond is unearthed at 969.8 carats.