Born: Ottawa, Canada
Education: B.A. in linguistics, MBA; McGill University in Montreal
What was your first job?
I sold flowers at the farmers’ market in Ottawa at 15. It was the only job I could get when I was 15, and it was fun.
What did you learn from that job that still applies?
A love of gardening and I would say just sales you know relational sales. It was people came up, we talked about flowers and they bought and knowing my product. In the beginning they would go, ‘What’s that?’ and I’d think, ‘It’s pink.’ Knowing what I was selling was quite important.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Both of them came from Frits Goldschmeding, the founder of Randstad, and there are two things that have stuck with me. One is evaluate yourself and evaluate the people under you by the quality of people they hire and develop. ... That was very good advice.
He also told me that if you make 10 big decisions, you can afford to make eight great ones and two bad ones, but in a year, if you’re only making a few good ones, you better hope they’re good. But it’s basically a balancing of risk. As you move forward, it’s OK to take some risks but to only risk the right percentage leave everything else. Don’t change everything all at the same time.