I’m often asked what motivates me and for a good part of my life, my answer was flawed.
Growing up, I used to think professional success was my key to happiness. It was a benchmark I picked up on from others in my family and social circle. I wanted to live up to a high bar others around me had set. Nothing was going to stand in my way.
Rather than enjoying my university years, I spent every waking hour banging on doors of every single broadcast media station in Montreal until CJAD gave me an on-air opportunity. I was already a broadcaster before I graduated. It didn’t matter that my friends were making the most of the best time of their lives because I had fast-tracked my career.
Within days of graduation, I was on my way to Toronto after accepting a role at TSN. I was on my way to being successful in the industry I thought I loved, while others were still in the process of figuring out what they wanted to do with their lives. In my mind, I was motivated and others around me were not. My key to happiness was professional success and I was way ahead of the pack.
This was a common theme for me until I lost the person who had one of the greatest influences in my life. My Bubby Goldie Smith, who I referenced in an earlier post, was remembered as our family’s CEO at her funeral in 2015. Bubby wished she had been born in a different era because she had leadership qualities that would have made her a successful CEO. Any company would have been lucky to have her. The fact that Bubby felt this goal was out of reach continues to bother me as I write this post.
Several months later, something else happened. I met my wife Leora. As I’ve mentioned before, Leora was vulnerable on our first date and shared her struggles with infertility with me. It’s not a secret that our unsuccessful attempts at having children continue to weigh on us emotionally. On top of that, anyone who has ever undergone fertility treatments is keenly aware of the financial cost and stress that come with them. It’s one of the few diseases in Canada that is not treated like one by our provincial health care systems.
Three months after I met Leora, I had that infamous conversation with my manager that led to the creation eqimproved.com. My manager had the courage to have a hard conversation with me by telling me I’m not emotionally intelligent. I took this as a learning opportunity. Not only would nobody ever feel the need to have a conversation like that with me ever again, but I would share this story with anyone who would listen.
What drives me
These experiences have helped me define my personal missions.
- I want to help build a world where nobody feels like they can never be a CEO. My efforts at Google and eqimproved.com are focused on helping people harness the skills they need to be charismatic leaders. My grandmother had these qualities. If she were alive and in her 20s, 30s or 40s, I would do everything I could to help her achieve her dream.
- I want to have a family and be a good father someday. While certain things are beyond my control, I know hard work will at least ensure Leora and I can continue to pay for our treatments.
- Nobody should ever have to have a conversation like I did with my manager in September, 2016. Every workshop I lead is focused on that core principle.
What motivates you?
People who are intrinsically motivated are “energized and driven by personal values and commitments rather than by external forces.”
Take some time to really think about this definition and share what your motivations are. Please comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.