Lessons Learned

Tony Pollard may be gone, but his lessons in life and business are as vital as ever.
Last week, one of my mentors passed away. Anthony Pollard, 59, was many things to me: my dad’s old boss, my roommate’s father, and my friend. He was also a successful broker and financier, most recently working alongside his sons at Meridian Capital.
When I was 18, short on confidence, trying to figure out life from the mailroom, Tony would take me for lunch and encourage me to do great things.

Gregarious and unrestrained, he was known for bringing people together and living life to the fullest. Last Friday, he passed away in his sleep flying first-class on his way home to watch the Olympics. Even though he’s gone, I’ll always remember his lessons for life and business.

Have a sense of humour

The most successful people I have known have always been quick to poke fun at themselves. Tony had a personality like none other – he would tell secretaries he was “John from Revenue Canada” in order to get prominent people on the phone – and he showed me that being able to laugh at yourself and kid around with others is just as important as who or what you know.

Value yourself

I learned that the first step in getting people to value what you do is to value it yourself. Just last week, Tony and I were negotiating costs and timelines for a project for one of his clients. We were very busy, and I put a lofty price tag on the work. He called me out on it, but he also said, “If you hadn’t tried this, you would have lost my respect.”

Don’t count anybody out

The business community can be a fickle bunch. Tony went from being a big shot to down on his luck a few times over. In the end, he knew who his friends were, and he was back on top – higher than ever before. He believed in himself when everybody else had written him off, and he proved them all wrong.

As a young entrepreneur, I know I still have a lot to learn, so I’ve always made a point of surounding myself with peers and mentors. I’ve lost one of mine, but I will always remember him and the many lessons he taught me.

RIP Tony Pollard, 1950-2010.