A Happy Childhood Makes a Happy CEO

An Anniversary Series: 25 People Who Have Influenced Me, My Career & Phantom

Although I have had business partners during Phantom Screens 25 years in existence, for the last 12 years I am the only one who shows up for work every day. Obviously, my partners are much wiser than I as they wholeheartedly enjoy their time elsewhere! Well, okay, truth be told they are also a lot older than me and have earned their retirement years.

So, in light of our 25th anniversary, my Marketing team suggested this Blog Series. I guess I’m getting sentimental in my older years because I actually began looking forward to forcing myself to slow down and reflect on the “who” of the past 25 years has impacted me, my career and ultimately Phantom as its Chief Executive Officer.

You can expect 25 blogs, introducing 25 People over the next twelve months.

And there’s an on-going contest – if you can guess who is on my list before I introduce them, I’ll treat you to a Starbucks! There’s already been two winners, by the way, so 23 names left to guess!


Although it would seem predictable, I’m starting with my Mom and Dad. Yes, they were amazing parents and created a home that for me always felt safe, comfortable, and fun. And yes, I love my sister and brothers very much, but you’ve got to stop and realize how come I am so extra grateful.

It’s because neither my siblings nor I were “born” to Mom and Dad.

Being the sure and steady folks that they were, it still confounds me that back in the 1950’s they were trail-blazing by adopting children. Thank the dear Lord they did, as I was divinely placed as the last sheep of their herd of four in 1965.

People always ask “don’t you want to find your birth parents”? And I always answer “Nope! Don’t need to. I had the idyllic childhood many kids only dream of!”

It always felt like I would seem ungrateful and that I wasn’t content if I pursued “The Search”. And so, to this day, in honour of Mom and Dad, I feel that way even more.

But that’s just me. No judgement against anyone if you see it differently for yourself.

Greatest lesson and/or ‘aha’ moment from them?

There are too many huge ones to choose from, but in light of the Millennial age we find ourselves in, I’d have to say one of the top ones is that we were taught how to shovel manure out of stalls, how to clean behind the fridge every week, and how to buck bales in the summer heat.

Hard work, gross work, repetitive work.

But it nurtured within us a work ethic that helped us respect our employers, give it our all, and put the company’s needs before our own. To sum it up, I would call it servant leadership with a dash of the School of Hard Knocks.

If I could talk with them this very second, what would I tell them?

Just the sheer thought of getting to talk with them makes my eyes all misty and leaky.

But if I could have one more tea time with them, I would say:

Mom, Dad, sorry for having a smart mouth and always talking back to you. In my journey, life has taught me that every one of your lessons was spot on. And those I chose not to listen to, I learned the hard way. If only I had listened more to you.

And then I’d hug and kiss my Mom one last time like we always did. And to Dad a hug said it all – and maybe just this once I’d let him give me one of his famous whisker-burns as our cheeks touched.

I’ve always said the Bible is the best business book there ever was. Here’s proof:

“Children, honour your father and your mother that it may go well with you” – Ephesians 6:2