For over 25 years, I have helped clients transition their dreams into reality. But it hasn’t always been easy.

I started my business career in the mail room of a Canadian chartered bank. Always eager to learn and with a driven passion to succeed, I was quickly promoted into management. But I was young and eager to “make a difference”. Working in the banking world was a great training ground for learning about how people thought, because when it comes to money, it’s something most people hold closest to their heart.

Ever since I was a kid I was a dreamer

I just wanted to help others live theirs

But I was always a dreamer. Raised as a kid by just my mom, I knew what it was like to struggle at times. What it was like to be uncertain about your future. I watched my mom bust her butt to put food on the table, make a beautiful home for us to live in and for me to have a stable environment to grow up in. Even if the neighbourhood wasn’t on the “A list”.

But growing up having to learn at a young age the value of a buck and that nothing comes without hard work paid off in dividends in my investment management career.

I remember going to interviews to get hired by the big investment firms and wondering “how in the world was I going to pull this off?” But the example my mom left me of a driven work ethic because you needed to “just get on with it” was the cornerstone of my success.

Maybe it was because she was raised on a farm in Scotland during WW II and knew what hard work really was. Or maybe it was because she knew how to live life to the fullest, which allowed her to leave the farm life behind, join the Royal Navy and then emigrate on her own to Canada (where she didn’t know a soul!).

But whatever the combination was, it rubbed off on me. I was known for my “sticktoitiveness” (if that’s even a word LOL). In other words, I had no fear, believed I could do it, worked my butt off and did it. That’s what allowed me to pay my way through university. It’s what gave me the drive to get into a business that had the odds of success stacked against me. And it’s what still drives me succeed to this day. Thanks mom!

Failure is not an option

Driven to succeed and make my mark, I started my investment career with Canada’s largest Investment Dealer. I quickly learned that I loved working with entrepreneurs because like me, they were dreamers. But, like me, they were working really hard to make their dreams a reality. I just loved seeing how they took risks to achieve what they wanted because they really believed in their vision. I had clients who came from a variety of skillsets and backgrounds. Some had scrap yards, built batteries for mining, magazine printers, construction companies, car dealerships and the list goes on. But they all had one thing in common. They were entrepreneurs with a dream and I was helping them create it.

Although it was about the money,

it was never really about the money

After a couple of years, I began to realize that my relationships with my clients was initially about the money. But as our relationship deepened, it became about much more than the money.

Of course I had expertise as a money manager. That’s what was expected. It’s what got me a seat at the table. But I learned that I kept that seat as a trusted advisor by going deep in understanding who they were and how I could help them get to where they wanted to go.

What always amazed me about entrepreneurs was not only their ability to see the vision, but to also have the guts to actually do it

I had clients who left their business to pursue another business because I helped them discover their passion and then coached them to execute a well crafted plan to get there. I had other clients who confided in me that we needed to create a plan so their drug addicted child would not steal the inheritance due to their siblings. We had to overcome the emotions and family dynamics of such a move to ensure everyone got what they wanted. I even had clients have me help them create a strategy to ensure their adopted children had a sound plan in place in case anything happened to them. The list of variable scenarios that required strategic planning, combined with coaching through the emotional roller coaster to achieve the strategy, went on and on…

A man without faith is just a man

I always wanted to help people. I was a natural encourager ever since I was a kid. But that went to a deeper level when I became a Christian at the age of 26. That decision became pivotal in my life in many ways. It became critical for developing the nurturing side of me. As a driven young man who grew up without a father, I initially got into the money game for me and what I wanted.

It’s not about you

The thought of making it big and having enough money to do whatever I wanted drove me to work hard for myself. But as I developed as a man and a Christian, my faith became the cornerstone of doing what was right and in the best interests of my clients. My focus shifted from just being about me, to being about others. That’s when things really started to take off for me.

I’m bored

The trap of every creative entrepreneur

As I grew my business, I was in demand by competitive investment firms. So I sold my business to them and built it up again. And again. And again.

I realized that what was driving me to sell and build again wasn’t just the money. I just loved to build businesses.

After many years as an Investment Advisor, I got bored. I wanted to do something different. So I sold my business again and became a consultant and worked for large wealth management companies. I became an employee on a salary. And I hated it.

Once you’ve had a taste of being an entrepreneur, becoming an employee is like trying to put the genie back in the bottle

So I went back to being an Investment Advisor for a few more years. And built my business up and sold it. Again.

Now what?

So I used the experience of helping clients transition and started building up a coaching business to help others achieve their goals. Again, I was drawn to helping entrepreneurs, because they just get it!!

At the same time, I started a real estate company because I developed a passion for investing in real estate. It’s an area I developed an expertise in and had done quite well in myself.

It’s not really about you.

It’s about helping you live your dreams so that you can help someone else do the same.

Together we can make the world a better place, just one dream at a time

The reason I do what I do is because I know that if I help someone achieve their dreams, they are now equipped- with the skills, finances, mindset and abilities- to help someone else achieve theirs. It’s not really about helping any one person. Rather it’s about making the world a better place, just one dream at a time.

There are no atheists in foxholes

By drawing upon over 25 years of my own ups and downs as an entrepreneur, combined with the thousands of clients I have helped navigate the treacherous waters of risk to achieve their plans, I have the experience of living in the trenches to draw from to help you achieve your dreams.

It’s still not just about you.

Without one another we perish.

I believe in investing in community. I have invested time and energy in senior leadership teams that have resulted in three new church plants in my hometown city of Toronto. If we want things to change, we need to be part of the solution. My belief that we can all contribute to change prompted my ongoing political involvement as President of the Conservative Party of Canada’s Executive Board (Don Valley North). My passion for Israel forged my involvement as an Executive Director and Board Member of the Canada Israel Chamber of Commerce (CICC).

John has a city home in Toronto, and a country home in Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada. He has been happily married to his biggest supporter Denise for 21 years.