Last Sunday, I was sitting with my partner by the fire in a rather quiet and relaxed Tim Horton’s on the first really cold and windy day of an otherwise unseasonably balmy December in downtown Toronto. It seemed like everyone who wasn’t either staying in the warmth of their homes, visiting family and friends in or out of town or basking in the sunshine at a vacation resort was braving the crowds at the mall taking advantage of the Boxing Day bargains.
A young man approached us and politely asked if he could occupy the comfortable seats across from us. He was carrying a knapsack and a rather heavy-looking duffel bag. As he sat down, we struck up a conversation with him. He told us that he was on his way to Ottawa to visit with his girlfriend. We asked about his work and he proceeded to share his interesting and inspiring story.
He told us that he had applied and been accepted to the top medical school in Canada. Instead of becoming a doctor, he had chosen, despite some familial discouragement, to pursue his dream of being an entrepreneur. Two years ago, he cofounded a marketing firm that currently has 5 employees and a growing roster of start ups both in Toronto and Vancouver. He has also been taking courses to ensure that he stays on the leading edge of the technology that impacts both his business and his start ups. In the new year, he plans to start a venture capital firm that will focus on micro-financing small Canadian businesses, one of a handful of Canadian firms that are now doing this.
While I am often loath to do this, I could not resist the temptation to ask him his age. When he told me that he was 27 years old, I remarked that he had wisdom, maturity, business acumen, leadership and professionalism far beyond his years. He shared with us that he is currently running the business on his own as his business partner is in his first year of law school at Canada’s top law school. While his business partner is fully committed to the business, most of the day to day running and growing of the business falls on his shoulders.
It would be an understatement to say that we were greatly impressed and inspired by this individual. When we reflected on the conversation, we agreed that he had shared and taught us a great deal about what is new with start ups and millenials and we in turn had provided the gifts of experience and encouragement. This conversation has given us both momentum and motivation to make the remainder of this holiday season not only one of caring, connection and conversation but also one of prosperity, production and partnership.
We want to express our gratitude and best wishes for a successful year to Chris, a very interesting, informative and inspiring individual.