THE “COLES NOTES” OF ME
The Early Years: Beginning when I was a kid, my desire for having and doing “more” (more knowledge, more experiences, more cool stuff, etc.) has been insatiable. It was also a trait that annoyed my parents, especially since they rarely had time or money for their own wants and needs, let alone mine. Anytime I’d ask about or want something I thought was cool, their stock reply was a firm “No!” – and always included the corresponding exclamation mark. Ouch.
Being a navel family also meant we moved a lot, crossing Canada several times for my dad’s work. Fortunately, we also spent three years living in the United Kingdom, a move which exposed me to other cultures for the first time. After our first weekend in the Netherlands, I was bitten by the travel bug, and hard. Since then I’ve happily travelled to fifty-plus countries and been on all seven continents.
Despite a promising start in academics, I soon found it hard to stay focused, eventually resulting in my failing Grade Twelve. This black stain on my character prompted my parents to decide it was time for me to leave home, like NOW. And so the very next week – one day after I turned eighteen – I packed my meagre possessions into a few cardboard boxes and moved out.
Those first few years I struggled to make ends meet by working low paying restaurant kitchen jobs. I felt lonely, demoralized and above all, frustrated; but despite society labelling me a failure, I knew I wasn’t stupid, I just didn’t learn the way taught in school. I was determined to be successful, but wondered how? What wise and brilliant souls would be willing to mentor a guy like me? More importantly, where would I find them?
Life Lessons: One day, while randomly stumbling around the self-help and business sections at my local bookstore, good fortune provided me the answer by introducing me to books and tapes on personal development and finance. From that moment I consumed as much information as possible, applying whatever made sense to my situation, and discarding whatever didn’t fit.
When possible, I’d also attend live seminars where I’d boldly muster up the courage to ask the speakers my questions in person. I quickly learned that the more thoughtful and concise the question, the more thoughtful and concise the answer. This “Eureka moment” taught me the value of always (and only) asking well-crafted questions.
As my knowledge and experiences grew, so did my confidence. I began to set and achieve bigger and bigger goals, including booking (and pre-paying for) a three-month backpacking trip of returning to Europe. Achieving this taught me two valuable life lessons: First, despite what society had told me, I DID have what it takes to be successful; and that the most important lessons in life are learned by rolling up our sleeves and taking action.
I also learned that our failures are important parts of any of our successes; an idea I’ve since discovered many people struggle with. In fact, the more I “failed” in business, finance and life over the years, the more “successful” I was in creating the lifestyle I’d dreamt of since my youth.
But that’s not to say that I haven’t had to deal with my share of disappointments, personal struggles, hardships, difficult relationships or odd family dynamics, because I have, just like everyone else; I’ve just come to understand that these things are all expected parts of the success process. So rather than let them get in my way, or stop me, or become upset by them, instead I’ll glean the lesson they bring, and move forward from there.
Life Today: In 2015 I decided to leave traditional work to share my ideas and strategies by writing a lifestyle blog, and giving keynote speeches at corporate events and conferences. That same year I gave a talk on the famous TEDx stage, and received a standing ovation.
In 2020 my book, “Punch Failure in the Face, Then Buy It a Beer”, a humorous collection of lifestyle strategies, ideas and philosophies from my awesome -yet imperfect- life, was published, and has received much high praise and several five star reviews on amazon.ca.
When I’m not speaking, writing or travelling, I live in Victoria B.C. where I hang out with my son, read lots of good books and throw dinner parties for friends. Oh, and I’m always on the lookout for a good, strong cup of coffee; especially when it comes with great company.