Choose Your Partner Well

Choose Your Partner Well

Big Ideas

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January 7 2019
Big Ideas

This past November, I had the opportunity to deliver the keynote address at the National Business School Conference. It was inspiring to see a room at capacity of fully-engaged, eager to learn, future business leaders of Canada.

My keynote took the form of a series of quick tips based on my experience working for 30 years and being an entrepreneur for most of that time.

Some of the quick hitters included:


“First Impressions Matter”


“Luck Has Very Little to Do With Success”


“Choose Human Interaction Over Digital Interaction” 


“Attention to Detail Counts”


“There ARE Stupid Questions”


“You Don’t Have to Have a Side Hustle” 


Each of these tidbits is worthy of its own post, but one piece of advice that I delivered seemed to really resonate with the crowd. So much so, that several students approached me and my wife Meg after the keynote. Others even reached out via email and LinkedIn after the event.

That piece of advice was to “Choose Your Partner Well”. While this seems obvious, I gave the guidance in the context of your life partner’s effect on your career.

The origin of this guidance is very personal to me. It is rooted in failure (Marriage #1) and introspection (my role in that). The good news is that with that experience under my belt, I was better equipped to know a good thing when it’s in front of me.

When you are young, it’s hard to know the impact that your partner (in my case, my wife Meg) will have on your success. It’s no coincidence that the success of Sherpa Marketing is due in no small way to her contributions.

Throughout your career there will be significant ups and downs, different opportunities and challenges. When you have someone in your daily life that can listen, understand, digest and add value; you become a dynamic duo.

"Choose someone who knows when to intervene, an individual who knows when it’s time to actively listen and let you vent."

Find someone who is your equal (intellectually and financially), a person that knows when to call bullshit (like when you are just whining vs. when you have a real problem), someone who knows when you need to go all in (work long hours, travel, invest) and supports you every step of the way unconditionally.

Imagine a partner who can bring an outside perspective to your work. A partner who can’t wait to hear about your workday. A partner who has their own job, goals and aspirations that you can reciprocate in-kind. A partner that makes enough money to let you take risks.

Sherpa Marketing has had a 3-year run of rapid growth. In fact, we made the 2018 Growth 500 list and were recognized as the third fastest-growing company in Winnipeg.

During this time period, Meg has been unequivocal in her support. Not once has she made me feel guilty about working exceedingly long hours. In fact, she will often wake up at 5:30 a.m. with me, have a quick coffee and send me on my way, hours before she needs to get up and get ready for her own demanding job as a senior executive at a national health care company. She is unselfish and unrelenting in her support of me, as I am of her.

"When you have a true partner in a relationship, you BOTH share in the successes (and failures)."

All these qualities (and more) are there in spades with Meg and I can claim, unequivocally, that without her support Sherpa Marketing would not have grown the way that it has.

This isn’t the typical advice we get from our parents as young people embarking on our work journey.

When a young woman from Saskatchewan approached Meg and me after the keynote, (yes, my partner made the time to attend this event to support me) the young woman explained how much she appreciated this advice and how she had texted her partner during the keynote that he needed to be more supportive of her professional ambitions.

That sounds to me like I delivered some “sound” advice.


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