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I operate an Internet radio show that seeks to help independent entertainers and artists promote their projects.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Pieces of Advice to Live By:

I haven’t written anything in a while and knew that a blog post was long past due. My show’s biggest supporters nudged me in the direction of one of my rant pieces but, I quickly found myself stuck for ideas. After putting out a call for topics on my social media channels, my ever-helpful and entertaining author buddy Casey Sheridan suggested that I draft something on advice I’d received over the years.

I quickly started brainstorming and found myself laughing and reflecting on the many sound-bites that I’d collected from some of my favorite people. I’ve settled on three here but, can easily see this as a work in progress.

At this point, I’ll issue my tongue-in-cheek Viewer Discretion Advisory. What you’re about to read had an impact on me but, I ain’t saying it’ll resonate with everybody.

“Life is too short to work for people that you hate.”
Bruce Alexander – family friend and career salesman.

As I prepared to enter the workforce fresh out of college and without a scrap of solid office experience to my name, Bruce was the one person who was willing to take a chance on me. I never worked for him but, he did act as a reference for me on many occasions and during his visits to see my parents would occasionally pull me aside for little power-coaching sessions. The quote above was always my favorite.

Many of us spend as much (if not more) time during the week with our colleagues at work than we do with our own families. I've worked with a large number of sales teams – each of which had their own flavor and some were much more pleasant than others. If you get to a space mentally where you dread going to work in the morning, it’s time to pack up shop and find something else.

“I’m not going to worry about a bunch of fucking oranges.”
Garth Ryan – my dear old dad.

Callous as this may sound on the surface, it was a much needed lesson in perspective that I never forgot. He didn’t yell at me but, said it calmly from a heartfelt place.

At 15, I was selling oranges and grapefruit as part of a school campaign to raise money for our band’s trip to Europe. Even then I was a budding salesman and I really wanted to go on that trip. The only problem was that I buggered up the placement of the order and despite having collected a bunch of money, only ended up getting about half of the inventory I needed.

I freaked out appropriately as my imagination ran wild visualizing the punishments I was going to face. That same week, one of my father’s dearest friends – someone he’d come to think of as a second father himself – passed away. As I muddled my way through my business crisis, my father looked at me sincerely and said “Oh yeah? Somebody I love is lying in a pine box. I’m not going to worry about a bunch of fucking oranges.”

Needless to say, the crisis was averted and my customers got their fruit. I walked away with a sobering message about getting my priorities in order. Whenever something trivial bugs me, I remind myself that it’s just a bunch of oranges.

“Always keep your theater tickets in the same pocket.”
Mordecai Richler – legendary Canadian author

It was May of 2000 – yes that’s right – 15 years ago. I was seated at center ice in what was then known as the Molson Center for my graduation ceremony. I’m not ashamed to admit that my college experience was far from positive albeit that is the subject for another, much darker, blog post.

As a result of this, I had no interest in going to the ceremony but, my parents talked me into it and I’m glad that they did. Receiving an honorary doctorate this year was the great Canadian bard himself. He took to the podium and in his extremely dry-witted style, waxed nostalgic about the irony of McGill University bestowing this honor on him as he was denied admittance as a young man. At the time, the university had quotas for Jewish students but, he held no grudge because he knew his grades were such that he wouldn’t have been accepted even “as a mere gentile”.

At the end of his address, he said that he was going to dispense the advice that our class had somehow been waiting for. There was an awkward pause as he rolled his eyes and looked out at us over his glasses. A fan of Richler’s, I fought the urge to burst out laughing as I imagined his mindset. Then he delivered the line before walking off stage without another word. It was about entertainment, no less.

In that instant, somehow the last 4 years had been worth it.