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20_yearsNext year, Denise and I will celebrate twenty years of marriage on July 1. That's a score ... both in terms of it becoming an awesome event (what a score!) as well as it demonstrating a group of twenty years (a more historical definition of score ... think Abraham Lincoln). A couple of years into our marriage, Denise turned to me one night -- it was peaceful in those days as we were married young, and there were no goats in our lives for another eight years -- and she said:
"Don't you do things with boys?"
I knew what she meant right away. Denise was asking why I didn't do what she was used to, what (perhaps) she was expecting and what society deemed as 'normal'. "You know," she continued, "do you ever go away on trips with boys or play cards or just want to do boy things with the boys?" Now, you might think she was trying to pawn me off. What she was trying to do, however, was to better understand why I wasn't doing what every other husband or boyfriend or man she knew at the time was doing. I wasn't fitting into her definition. It wasn't as though she didn't love me nor were there any marital issues ... but it just wasn't computing for her. The definition of a man for Denise (at the time) was for men to go off and do 'man things'. I love men. I love women. I love children. But I am comfortable enough in my own skin to know that I'd rather regenerate, replenish and nourish my soul and mind in the company of both genders (and different ages) than to do so solely with males my own age. I've got plenty of male friends -- don't get me wrong -- and I enjoy the company of them, but ever since I can remember I knew my likes and dislikes. I loathed 'stags' I was invited to and went so far as to ask my Best Man if we could invite our better halves to the one that was organized for me. That didn't pan out, for the record. I asked myself the following question early on in my life, "Who Am I?" and I answered it by saying, "Who I Am." I don't do golf. I don't wear a watch. I don't like cars. And I am not handy whatsoever. Clearly, I'm not like the thousands of males who do golf, wear a watch, like cars and are handy. I respect those individuals, but I'm not envious or jealous. (OK, sometimes I wish I could build a tree fort) The bottom line is that I do not pretend to be someone else. I'm happy for those that enjoy such endeavors and who excel in them outright. Kudos! But I am secure with what I'm good at and uneasy if I'm not being me. It is a conscious choice. It is my moment of verisimilitude. I'm not simply saying you should 'Play to Your Strengths'; I'm suggesting you must ask the question, "Who Am I" and answer it with certitude, "Who I Am". I am not against learning -- after all, Ancora Imparo is one of my life mantras -- but I will not assimilate because society says I should. This steadfast belief has helped me in my life, my career and with my relationships ... including Denise. I share this personal insight with you for two reasons:
  1. Careers Can Become Your Purpose
    • By invoking conviction and absolute belief in one's self, your career can truly become intertwined with your purpose. I witness first-hand, however, far too many people shackled to a job that runs counter to their identity and their personal ethos. I don't suggest to 'follow your passion' -- that's a risky strategy when you need to pay bills and fuel your future -- but I would recommend standing up for who you really are, and working towards a career path that belies the current career status quo you may be suffering from.
  2. Life is What Happens to You While You're Busy Making Other Plans
    • John Lennon ... no further words necessary.
The bonus reason is that I promised "I Will" reveal more of my true personality publicly in 2014. It's a shame we can't travel back in time and observe the Greeks. If I could, I'd spend my days walking, listening, learning and even giving speeches in the Agora -- the marketplace of commerce and intellectual exchange. Be it Plato, Socrates, Heraclitus or Pythagoras the maxim "Know Thyself" was alleged to be bandied about in the Agora on many an occasion. In Plato's Phaedrus, for example, Socrates says the following when on the topic of his lack of patience for mythology and other unimportant topics:
"But I have no leisure for them at all; and the reason, my friend, is this: I am not yet able, as the Delphic inscription has it, to know myself; so it seems to me ridiculous, when I do not yet know that, to investigate irrelevant things."
cardsDefine your relevance. More importantly, avoid your every irrelevance. I am a husband. I am a father. I am a son. I am a brother. I am a brother-in-law. I am a son-in-law. I am a friend. I am a dreamer, writer, speaker, lover, artist, athlete, comedian, culture change agent, meat-eater, cyclist, traveler, poet, decorator, fashionista, supporter, thinker, mathematician, drinker, Canadian, driver ... human being. I am who I am. Who are you?
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Testimonials

  • Dan is a conference organizer’s ideal speaker. Not only did he inspire and energize our group, but he also masterfully adapted his content so it resonated with the audience and our conference theme. As a bonus, Dan is able to nimbly navigate to adjust to a reduced time slot when other speakers went over time without sacrificing the impact of his session.

    Director and General Counsel
  • Dan accomplished what we set out to do, which was not only to be inspirational, but also to leave everyone with tools and food for thought / self-reflection to improve their personal and professional lives.

    Hermann Handa, FCT
  • Dan challenged us to have clarity of purpose, both as individuals and as an organization. He related inspiring stories drawing on his experience in business, technology and academia. As he said, ‘There is no ownership without belonging.’

    Christian Pantel, D2L
  • Dan Pontefract suggests leaders must be transformational and transactional, collaborative and considerate, daring and decisive, inclusive and insistent, playful and formal, harmonious, and humble, encouraging and results-driven. In a word, Flat.

    Robert Morris
    “How to strengthen engagement, empowerment, and execution, then leverage them for a decisive competitive advantage”

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