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‘Don’t push your luck’; On Careers

How did they get there? Five successful Canadian executives share the best career advice they ever received from their fathers or mentors on their way to the top:


President, Equicom Group

“My dad gave me a critical piece of advice 11 years ago as I set out to start my own business. I had left a successful position where I had momentum and was confident in what I was doing. So, I had visions of grandeur, which I think a lot of entrepreneurs have when they break out on their own – they can only see the success and don’t look to the pitfalls because entrepreneurs tend to be pretty optimistic people. My dad gave me a healthy dose of reality and told me to stay humble: ‘It’s a long and bumpy road, and success is never guaranteed.’ I think that was good advice.”


President and CEO, Rona Inc.

“I think the best career advice I ever received is to stay focused. I was given that advice by my father and today, after 30 years at Rona, it is still something in which I truly believe. We have a plan, we have goals, and I always keep my eyes on my plan and my goals to be sure that my team and I are going to realize them.”


CFO, Nexen Inc.

“Thinking without action is daydreaming. Action without thinking is motion. Thinking and doing is forward progress. Think through your ideas and decisions as far as you can into the future. And having a bit of imagination helps. Do a little homework by asking and reading. Seek out people who may know something about your idea. A variety of perspectives helps. When you move to deciding and action, have confidence you are on the right path because you did your homework. My parents gave me that advice. The most common discussion in our household when I was growing up was asking me how, what, why I was doing? There was very little telling me what to do or not to do. Good decisions were always recognized. Poor decisions were always treated as ‘What are you going to do next?’ ”


CEO, D’Angelo Brands and Steelback Brewery

“You’ve got to be a hard worker to make luck. You need to find something that you like — that you are passionate about – and that you’re good at, and then you’ll be successful nine times out of 10. We are in a competitive world. If you don’t do your homework, work hard and build a good crew around you, you’re going to be dead.”



“The best piece of advice I ever received was at what I would consider my first real job, after university. I went to work for Procter & Gamble, for a gentleman named Henrik Svennas, who was my brand manager. I was a lowly brand assistant. Very early in our time together he said, ‘You know, if you’re not having fun at a job, then you shouldn’t be doing the job.’ That has stuck with me. What I do now is fun. If you’re not having fun in a role, then it’s probably the wrong role for you and maybe you should be thinking about something else.”

National Post
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Page: FW4
Section: FP Weekend
Byline: Philip Alves