My personal trainer shared the following quote with me on my 41st birthday—the first time I was unemployed in over 25 years. It’s been three years of ups and downs and I would like to share a few of the highlights.

Les Brown says, “When life knocks you down, try to land on your back. Because if you can look up, you can get up. Let your reason get you back up.”

The road to doing what you love

For so many of us, the road to doing what you love and loving what you do is bumpy and may not even lead to where you think you should be heading. And not only that, you’re going to fall down so many times, you will grow thicker skin.

I’ve written this article for the young people who believe in themselves and want to embrace life rather than stumble through it. I’d like to save you some time and heartache by sharing my story and the first four steps I took to start navigating my life. Because right now—at age 44—I’m doing what I love and loving what I do, and I love my life!

How to dream

Why didn’t they teach How to Dream in school? Instead they told me about the corporate dream and this is exactly how it went:

  • Get a good education.

I did: BMath from University of Waterloo plus an accounting designation, CPA, CMA.

  • Get a good job.

I did: Accounting in software, ice cream, healthcare, construction, and consumer goods.

  • Get married.

I did: For almost 12 years.

  • Have kids.

We did: We have two amazing boys, ages 10 and practically 12.

  • Work 40 for 40.

I did: More than 40 hours a week for almost 16 years.

I did: My employer thought it was time for me to go.

Wait! What?!

In “Outwitting the Devil”, Napoleon Hill calls this corporate dream,
“drifting or sleeping through life.”

So what about wanting something more?

Where the road really began

I was an entrepreneur at a young age; I grew and sold pumpkins. A couple years later we lost our garden so I went into business with my cousin. We grew the pumpkins on my grandparents’ farm and we outsourced the selling to his other grandmother. I lost interest and the business stopped because I was no longer involved.

Inheriting my beliefs

When I was 12 or 13 I started working because that is what I believed you did. My Dad had a good job as a teacher and my mom was home when we were younger. My brother and sister were older than me and they had jobs at my age and almost everyone I knew had a job. For 25 years I worked for other people or corporations until the day before my 41st birthday when I was restructured out of my Finance Manager job and for the first time in my adult life—I didn’t have a job.

A fresh start

I had time and I started to read. I read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and his idea that, “it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert,” really resonated with me.

I realized that I could be a world-class expert by leveraging the 10,000 hours I have already completed in all sorts of different areas.

Discovering my why

As I struggled with who I was and what I had to offer, I read Start with Why by Simon Sinek.

I learned that, “until I convinced myself—no one else would be convinced by me.”

Looking for answers

I continued to look outside for the answers by reading more books, and then doing both the Quantum Leap and Global Mastermind programs with New Peaks. I was in love with all of the new knowledge. However, I didn’t give myself time to take action and implement. I simply moved on to the next shiny learning opportunity.

Defining me

I’m not defined by my job, my profession, or by being a husband or Dad. I am me!

I grew up knowing only this equation:

Profession = Purpose + Passion

We all know that didn’t work for me so I reversed the process and looked inside first. What is my passion? What if I start with passion then add purpose to discover my profession?

Passion + Purpose = Profession

Passion + Purpose = Profession

Up until that fateful day-before-my-41st birthday, I moved from job to job because I wasn’t passionate about the business or the work I was doing and I only served a company or an owner. What was my purpose? Whatever it was, it certainly wasn’t fueling me.

My Passion: I love working with numbers, money, and helping people.

I’ve experienced my share of problems with money, planning, and spending, and fixed them all. I’m also good at discovering and learning about sources of money many people don’t know they have. And when I help people find money, it makes them happy! So why not make this my profession?

My Purpose: By teaching financial literacy and helping provide a strategic plan for the future, I can guide entrepreneurs to live their dreams.

My Profession: I am an Accountant, Financial Advisor, and Strategic Planner.

Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you just help enough other people get what they want.”

Now you…

It took my lifetime plus three years of tough lessons, mini triumphs, painful falls, and many introspective moments lying there on my back to learn how to navigate my personal journey to doing what I love and loving what I do.

And now it’s your turn.

To start your dream journey, complete my checklist for you. It will help you navigate your life, just like it did for me.

“If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

– Marc Anthony


  1. Look inside your heart and not just your mind.
  2. Complete the online test to discover your 5 Love Languages.
  3. Watch the Start with Why Ted Talk video.
    Ted.com /simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action
  4. Discover the values that drive your decisions.


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Appearance Matters – Part 2

A different type of hockey stitches.

This year is my 22nd year refereeing hockey and over time, various pieces of equipment need replacing. I recently purchased a new pair of referee pants that needed to be helmed.

Before a recent one of my games, I borrowed a needle and black thread from my neighbour. Usually I’m borrowing power tools, the ladder, or a wheelbarrow but it was easier than searching my own house. It took me three tries to thread the needle, and about 20 minutes to helm my pants.

Considering I still remember the lesson from my Grade 7 family studies class, it wasn’t too bad of a job .

Like any professional, appearance matters. Though I’m at the Mastercard Centre and not the Air Canada Centre, I get paid. I am supervised and evaluated on the quality of my job on the ice and my appearance. Little things matter; clean white laces and pants that are the right length are two examples of points on the evaluation form.

Just like in any other workplace, you can portray confidence and professionalism when you look the part. Whether or not you’re being evaluated, looking put together can instantly boost your confidence and add to a positive first impression.




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Donna Messer’s Power Team vs. The A Team

In the 80’s we had the “A Team”, a four-member team of specialists who you called when you needed a solution to a problem. Today, we have the Power Team, preparing to solve challenges for companies whether they are IT, marketing, security, accounting, training or coaching. We can provide the solutions.

After ten weeks we are becoming a cohesive group and we continue to learn more about each other every time we meet.

On Saturday, we met for a social evening and it was the best house party I have every attended. Everyone brought food, drinks and their want to be present.

The Moderator was just another guest.

The host enjoyed herself because we made ourselves at home right away. That night, Donna Messer was a member of the group, not the moderator. Everyone moved around the room from conversation to conversation. No agendas, just a group of people who are genuinely interested to getting to know more about each other and how we can help one another.

Extrovert at night.

That night I was an extrovert; energized by the room not drained because I was already comfortable with everyone in the room.

Cue Cards are for stranger.

At the end of the night the conversation cue cards were still in their holders. Props are for strangers, not trained team members.

We’ve crossed the line from networkers to building relationships and starting towards creating partnerships.

Do you want to learn more about our power team?

Contact Donna Messer at ConnectUs Canada.

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Who do you know?

I finally get it, do you?

Buy products and services from people you know.

The walk to school this morning finally closed the deal after almost 7 years.

I always took my car to the dealership when it needed servicing until today. My car needed a new light bulb for the front headlight, a quick and easy job. After 6 years and 160,000 km price and service are the driving factors, not dealership bells and whistles.


Claude Merante at Super Shell Auto Service

  • He lives next door to one of our friends.
  • His daughter goes to the same school as my boys.
  • His daughter also went to the same daycare 6 years ago.
  • This morning I discovered he knows a lot about Subaru Forester.


On my way home from lunch I stopped by Claude’s shop, 30 minutes later I was driving home with a headlight that worked. ( I had to wait 10 minutes because he was out getting a part for another job.)


$20.00 including a $5.00 tip. You tip the waiter and your barber  / stylist, so why  not mechanic.

What do you need? and Who do you know?

If you need a good mechanic stop by and see Claude or may be call ahead if you are in a hurray.

Super Shell Auto Service

65 Shorncliffe Rd, Etobicoke, ON M8Z 5K3  416.259.7826
(South of Dundas St. W at Lockport)
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First Day of School – Did you Network?


Networking at your children’s school.

An opportunity to connect with 92 people.

First day back to school! Great memories of the crisp September air, the buzz and squeals of excited kids and so much potential for the school year ahead.

I was especially looking forward to it this year because as a self-employed financial professional , I have the flexibility to walk to school with my boys, ask questions, listen to answers and get to know the school staff and the parents of my sons’ friends. In my corporate life, I did what many parents do – drop the kids off at the front of the school with the parent volunteers in order to get to work on time.

The advantages of walking to school today were:

  • An opportunity for me to talk with other parents.
  • Exercise for us. ( and the dogs)
  • The kids were excited to see each other and less nervous about starting school.
  • Avoided crowded parking issues at the school.


Did you ever think that Back-to-School would provide an opportunity to connect with 92 people? Me either, until I did the math.

  • I have two boys, one starting grade 2 and one starting grade 4.
  • The grade 2 class has 23 students plus one teacher.
  • The grade 4 class has 22 students plus one teacher.
  • Each student has two parents or had two at one point.

Total possible contacts = 92

Now, I already know some of the parents; however, the majority of the parents are new to me. This made for some new introductions and business contacts.

Networking Principles at “Work”

How well do you know the people who come into contact with your children?

I suggest you spend at least one morning a week on the playground talking to parents while you watch to see which children are playing with your children.

Happy Networking.

Leave a comment about your first day back to school or other places that you network informally.


Thank you to Anne-Marie Brown for her editing help.

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Labour Day

My Labour Day completed task list.

Since today is a national holiday, I decided to go solo on this post. I gave my volunteer proof-readers the day off.

Today’s post will be a bullet list of completed tasks, photos as proof and commentary.

    • Moved the filing cabinet from the storage room into the office. ( Thank you Anna for helping.)

      Filing Cabinet

      Filing Cabinet

    • Vacuumed the house; after changing the bag on the vacuum cleaner.
    • Washed four pair of kids running shoes.
    • A trip to the park with our ball gloves and a long walk back up the hill. (Liam rode his back.)
    • An afternoon and evening of baking for school lunches. Lots of bananas and chocolate.


Muffins - three are now missing.

Muffins – three are now missing.

Banana Bread with Coco and Chocolate Chips.

Banana Bread with Coco and Chocolate Chips.





    • Four loads of laundry, folded and put away.
      Now or Later?

      Now or Later?

      Ready for sleeping.

      Ready for sleeping.





    • Made lunch and dinner but that doesn’t really count because that’s everyday.
    • Cleaned the kitchen.

      Clean Kitchen

      Clean Kitchen

    • The boys  bathed and they were in bed by 8:30pm.
    • This blog entry.


        • I watched the end of the PGA Tour Deutsche Bank Championship. A Canadian not named Weir or Ames finished 3rd and is #5 in the FedEx Cup standings. Graham DeLaet and the FedEx Cup is like the playoffs for Golfers. David Hearn also played well without any coverage from the Golf Channel. My Golf Channel / US Golf Coverage rant will be another post.

Not Yet Completed:

        •  The filing cabinet move resulted in a new project for the storage room. This project was deferred to a later date due to its size and scope.

          Storage Room

          Storage Room





How was your Labour Day? Restful?

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Summer School at Cora’s Restaurant with Donna Messer.

On a Tuesday morning in June, I made the best decision of my new career! It was to attend “summer school” with Donna Messer, the Queen of Networking!

Tracey Parnell recommended that I attend one of Donna Messer’s workshops to learn about networking. The timing was ideal because Donna was speaking the following Tuesday at the weekly Happen event in Mississauga. For $10, I saw Donna in action and I was sold! It was the best $10 I’ve spent and so I registered for her Summer Power Team because if I was going to be a network entrepreneur, I needed to learn from the Queen of Networking.

The team of 10 people spent 9 Thursdays with Donna at Cora’s Restaurant in Oakville. We met from 7am to 9am and often our discussions continued until after 10. One week we just moved to conversation to Stoney’s for lunch.

We learned about:

  •  Homework assignments.
  • Thinking about others and how we can offer our assistance to others vs. what’s in it for me? Netgiving.
  • Promoting others by writing articles or blogs.
  • Communication styles.
  • Jobfit Survey and summary analysis.
  • The Power of One and how to grow and leverage our network.
  • How terrifying is it to record a minute video of yourself.

We made business connections; we may form partnerships and we started friendships that will continue with Donna’s help and on our own.

This summer I learned that writing is fun, even for a guy who loves numbers. I learned how to make myself accountable and that networking only works if it is measurable.

If you want to learn about how to connect with people, go to www.ConnectionUsCanada.com and sign up for Donna’s next Power Team which begins on September 5, 2013.

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Boots for Binoculars

Pay it forward #1

On Friday my two sons came home from camp with binoculars. The Humber Arboretum replaced their binoculars with new ones and they gave the old ones to each child that was attending the camp.

My son found his rubber boots that he left at camp last year. The boots are now too small for even my youngest son. So we gave the boots to the Arboretum.

One pair of lightly used rubber boots = 2 pairs of binoculars.

What do you longer use? Who do you know that may need it?

Have a garage sale and give all or a portion of the proceeds to a charity. Example We can Network Summer Clear out Sale in Missisauga August 28, 2013 at 4:30pm.
Donate unwanted items to Goodwill or another charities.
Donate toys and clothing to a women’s shelter in your neighborhood.

Do you have other suggestions?

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Be prepared all the time.

When you are self-employed, you never know when you are going to meet your next customer – so always be ready.

I knew this, but yesterday I experienced it.

I bought a Groupon deal a few months ago for three custom tailored shirts from Lloyd & Company. I booked my appointment and I went to it yesterday at 3:00pm. Since I was working from home and I did not have any other booked appointments, I wore shorts and a golf shirt.

Was my appearance professional? Like a consulting CMA?

Appearance matters

Port Credit, photo by Tracey Parnell

I spent half an hour looking at fabrics and asking questions about the business. In total, I was there for one hour and my three shirts will arrive at my house in four weeks, made to measure with my initials on the cuff. So don’t try to steal the package unless your initials are DRR.

While I was there, I did an informal financial checkup with my standard chain of questions. (If you want to know more about the final product, check back for a future post – I will let you know.)

I now know a fair bit about the custom shirt business:
target customers
POS provider
bookkeeping system

Why does my appearance matter in this case?

Does appearance matter

Having fun on my photo shoot in Port Credit

As a consulting CMA, who is offering a financial checkup to entrepreneurs and small to medium businesses, Lloyd’s is a potential client. In today’s business world appearance conveys confidence. Will Lloyd be a future client? Maybe. I was professional and I gave him a business card and I will definitely follow up on our discussion.

Did my appearance help sell me? No. But next time… I will be wearing one of their shirts with a jacket and pants.

Leave a comment feedback is always welcome.

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Things you see when you have time.

Today I was early picking up my two boys from camp. So I had time to walk along the path and enjoy the gardens at the Humber Arboretum.

And this is what I saw..

Wildlife at the Humber Arboretum.

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