Sunday, March 21, 2010

An Unremarkable Life

So, I've emerged from 'my cave on Mars'.  After a couple of years in the dark, in the silence, licking my wounds and slowing regaining the emotional energy required to be a decent date, much less a partner, I'm back to considering a first date or two.  The questions one gets about one's 'story' led me to contemplate it...

Kiddiehood
  • I was an unremarkable child, best remembered for scowling in family photos and saying "I HATE you!" in early family films.   With my best friend, Anthony, I built forts in the forest and collected golf balls in the Don River, selling them to the passing golfers (yes, sometimes it was their own ball they were buying back...).  We spent the days from morning to dusk out adventuring, our lunches in our little backpacks.  Too bad those days are over for most kids.  Sad, really.  
  • Got IQ tested in public school and was shifted into an accelerated program, but dragged my feet until they returned me to the lower level class all my friends were in.  I was happier there, convinced I was just an average kid, pulling C's pretty consistently and embarrassing myself playing air guitar in class.
  • For fun I'd often drive my parents crazy by taking apart my latest purchases just to see how they worked, like a new 10-speed bike, a Honda dirt bike's engine, or a new watch, disassembling them down to the gaskets and push-springs, then reassembling them (no, I never had a disaster!). 
  • On the strength of a hastily thrown together portfolio, I got accepted into Ryerson's interior design program, but decided I wanted to do something that was just a tad more mind-bending (although I still spend WAY too much time on design), and can't say I made an error in judgment.  My brain requires a regular work-out or it tends to 'freeze up'...
20-Something
 
  • Spent 6 years, total, in post-secondary, moving from low C’s in Year 1 (being under-motivated and somewhat 'the rebel') to summa cum laude in my final year.  I wanted to better understand why we humans do the odd, self-destructive things we do and majored in motivational psych — my thesis was on the evolution of romantic love.  My post-grad was in advertising and PR.
  • After graduating I spent two years of traveling around the globe, working for a time in Sydney.  Experienced China before the tourist boom, hitchhiked Japan end to end, Siberia, Malaysia, and a lot more.  I highly recommend it. (Just don't do it newly married...)
Timbuktu and Back Again

  • I took to advertising like a duck to water and averaged one promotion per year working on soft drinks and beer accounts, moving from a junior  to senior executive in record time.  Developed stand-out new processes and tools in my junior roles, followed by share-of-market-breaking campaigns in later years.
  • In what little spare time I had, Peter Stewart and I created a singles social club that garnered a 5,000 name mailing list and considerable notoriety called "Lucy, Ju Got Some 'Splainin' to Do!" (because "Lucy, You Have Some Explaining to Do!" didn't have the same Ricky Ricardo ring to it), aka "The Lucy Club".  A lot of people still remember getting lucky at those quarterly parties...

  • Became bored and frustrated with the Canadian ad agencies' ‘no international transfer’ policy and ‘dropped out’ of the agency biz  to open a new media firm, the first of it’s kind in Canada and a principle source for cinema info during the early years of mobile phone penetration.  
  • In parallel, with a couple of partners, Andre Meurer and John Blackburn, I opened a singles bar in Toronto that became enormously successful (before extenuating circumstances forced its closure).  Its nickname was "Lost My Coat" as it was the bar above a restaurant at 90 Avenue Road called "L'Entrecote" and so many patrons left in the dead of winter semi-clad.  Our 'official' name for it was "The Quiet Little Jazz Age Cocktail Salon Upstairs at 90 Avenue Road", but that never caught on for some reason...
  • I moved to Europe and over the next few years got promoted into a Regional VP role working on the P&G business.  After some years working in Europe and the Middle-East, I moved to the beach in Mexico with the Dutch wife I'd met in Toronto, married while in Warsaw, worked with living on the Caribbean, and divorced in Toronto.
  • Ended up spending several years building Cancun's most successful ad agency and eventually expanded to an office in Mexico City to take the business national, but the endemic corruption and backroom dealing finally sent me packing back to Toronto with my three Mexican dog-ters: Edwina (14, an 'almost' Mini-Schnauzer street rescue), Lotty (13, a "Mexicana" -- street dog rescue) and Cappuccino (10, Eddie's daughter with a poodle lad from the neighbourhood, hence an 'almost Schnoodle').
  • Now I consult: developing marketing insights, keynote presentations about the future of marketing and workshops that look forward to where marketing dollars will shift after the “social marketing” bubble collapses.  
  • What I'm good at, I've learned, is making connections between disparate things that others don't see, like suggesting to P&G many years ago that their 2 in 1 detergent would only start selling well when they labeled it with "Now With the Fresh Scent of Downy"  (Of course they're analytical and averse to change, so said no, but now they're overdoing it, co-branding every product in their line-up.)  My other blog, my professional 'soap box', is where I vent about the things that would bore you to tears.  
What's Coming Next?
  • I have the nagging feeling that I haven't done enough yet with my life (likely the lack of progeny contributes to it!) and want to make a difference.
 Contact:  KevinLenard@Gmail.com

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