Larry the Ad Man's Blog

I hope you learn from my small business marketing and advertising tips.

"Advertising is to trade what Steam is to machinery" Thomas Cook.
It was an honor to be nominated for 2011 Canadian Weblog Awards.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The journey is more important than the destination

Taking off from last weeks post about inspiration, it brings to mind the years of my life and the journey that got me here and what will lead me to other destinations in the future. I won't go into the details of things, but rather some points of inspiration. The obvious start of inspirational people is my family members. I was fortunate enough to have met 3 of my grandparents and my parents are still happily together in marriage. These are the daily inspirations in my personal life. My first year on my own was a challenge, and as always, a great learning experience. During my first year at SAIT I got involved in student government, inspired by a then young fellow a year ahead of me, Dave Roberts. First with the Business Administration club, then the SAIT students association, where Dave became the Director of Programing and made me the cultural co-ordinator. Dave had lost an arm in high school in an accident. He always used humor to speak about it, saying "remember those OFF commerials in the 80's? I was the unprotected arm". As cultural co-ordinator, I booked entertainment and events of a cultural nature. British Pub Night and Octobeerfest were the highlights. Then a bit of a political shakeup happened and I ended up with his role for a couple of months. That in itself was a learning experience for Dave and I. As a result of that came one of the finest meetings in my life. Having a beer or two in me on a Friday afternoon in a pub (now called gateway) across from the office called the Spartacus Lounge, I had a moment. I am going to get Rick Hansen to stop by SAIT on his Man in Motion tour. I got up from my table, went into the office and started researching how to get in touch with the tour. By Monday the man was in motion for a trip to SAIT.
After speaking to the tour organizers in Calgary it was suggested there needed to be an event. A wheelchair basketball game ,I thought, and quickly got hold of 2 local teams who were thrilled and honored to be a part of the events. As I put the event together, I found out our SAIT mens basketaball coach, Phil Allen, had coached Rick and Terry Fox in wheelchair basketball at one time. What luck, what a small world. Things came together swimmingly and without a hitch. We packed the gym, Rick arrived, we made some presentations to him and he threw up the first ball in the game. As an athlete, it was clear Rick wanted to play, but with the demands of the tour, he could not. He enjoyed every minute and left about halftime to get some rest for his next days events.  I think about this event a lot still today. I have a mantra I live by today. If I do the right thing for the right reason, good things will come. That day said it all. Rick's journey around the world said it all. I'm sure when he set out on his unheralded world tour with a few friends and his future wife that he never thought he'd be lighting the torch for the Olympics in his home town.
So from that point, going out, being self confident and standing on my own two feet was not an issue. I soon became involved in the sports card business, promoting shows and selling memorabilia. Through that business I had the opportunity to meet many professional athletes and most NHL hockey players in the 90's. None of them could hold a candle to my next inspirational character, my friend Kent Hehr.
Kent and I hit it off right away. I met him about a year after a drive by shooting in Calgary left Kent a paraplegic. The spirit in the man and the support of his family was extraordinary. Kent and I had many great conversations during the slow times at sports card shows all over the city. It was clear to me that Kent wanted more and was going to achieve more. From there he went on to law school and I had a son and became a stay at home dad, which kept us in touch at best. Our lives changed. He became a lawyer and won a seat in the Alberta Provincial Legislature where he currently sits as an MLA. I have had the great opportunity to re connect with Kent during his run for mayor of Calgary and my son has gotten to know him. I speak about him often to my son when he feels a little "put out" about putting in an effort. He's 10, he'll get it one day. Once Kent pulled out of the mayors race I got to know another inspirational character. A remarkable time for me. As a result I ended up backing the winning candidate, Naheed Nenshi. His story has been told often in recent months. Born in Toronto, raised in Calgary the son of Tanzanian immigrants. During his youth, Calgary was still Cowboy country. Not a terribly friendly place for a young fellow with dark skin.
What these 3 men have in common is that they faced some barriers to succeed in life and have overcome them with lots of humility and continue to inspire those of us that face little adversity in life. I don't recall hearing one of them ever complain about anything life has thrown their way. In fact I have come to opine that adversity helps build a stronger character. It inspires me to take the same humble attitude forward to my everyday dealings with people and show them that there are no barriers to making a great small ad campaign. It also shows what great change we have made in the world that these 3 men can be viewed by the content of their character, not the barrier they have. Nothing is impossible and the world is an ever changing moving target. Especially in Advertising and Marketing a small business. I encourage you to add an inspirational individual in your life to the comments section. Whether it be from afar or someone you know personally. Who effects your life in business? Keep your head up and be inspired every day. Let me see it in your advertising so it can inspire others. Until next time I'm Larry The Ad Man!

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