Last week in one of my mastermind groups, I presented a question to my cohort;

“How did your parents raise you that impacted you to become who you are today?”

This became a very powerful discussion of sharing the strengths, traits and values our parents instilled, and how they raised the bar for all of us to become even better business leaders (and humans!).


My Dad, George, recently passed away in his 81st year and it has prompted myself, along with my 3 younger brothers to reflect on how he raised us and his unique impact that has shaped who we are – personally & professionally.


Our Dad was a one-of-kind man, farmer, brother, baseball pitcher, husband, card player, Dad and grandfather.  Fast-talking & fast-moving. He had an impact on everyone he interacted with, evident by the number of people who chose to attend Dad’s reception to honour him.  We didn’t call it a “Celebration of Life” – as that’s not what our Dad would have called it…”Reception” seemed fitting.  We were blown away by the number of relatives who drove hours to come, along with people who worked on our Dad’s farm all those years ago – each bringing stories, memories & laughter to the day. We know Dad was smiling down on us, though perhaps a bit disappointed that he missed out on such a great gathering of some of his favourite people & that it took his death to bring everyone together again.


Our Dad was born on May 25th – the height of tobacco planting season.  Maybe it was the hustle and bustle around the time of his birth that engrained itself into his nature, but he never shook that “go-go-go”. He was the first of six sons born into a hard-working tobacco farming family who immigrated from Belgium. He was a meticulous planner and a true farmer who wanted sons of his own for the farm. As the saying goes, “you get what you get” & despite his hopes for a boy, I was the 1st born child and grandchild. Even though my Grandma was excited to have a granddaughter after raising her 6 sons, my Dad was disappointed. He didn’t have to wallow long however, as our family eventually grew with the additions of my 3 younger brothers. It was a lively household and farm, with 4 very active kids. Mom & Dad were certainly good at channeling our energy into hard work – turning free hands into free labour.


Growing up, I was determined that I could do anything my brothers could do on the farm. As a young girl who wanted her Dad’s approval, I worked overtime to be seen as a strong, contributing female, learning how to navigate a “man’s world”. I grew into feisty (tad sneaky) teenager, and eventually, a woman who was well prepared to head into the male-dominated business world, leading meetings and trainings with predominantly male teams. For this, I have my Dad to thank.

I grew into a woman who was well prepared to head into the male-dominated business world, leading meetings and trainings with predominantly male teams. For this, I have my Dad to thank. Share on X

I always knew my Dad loved us – many days it was tough love, but love none the less. When I really wanted to do something fun with my friends growing up, this tough love meant I had to build a good case, proving why it makes sense, to win the green-light from my tough-ass Dad. I can say without a doubt that he sharpened my communication & negotiation skills, which have now been hard at work earning the trust of fellow Sales Leaders to win their business.


Our Dad was one of the most efficient farmers (yes, I may be a bit biased). There was a certain way to do things for every aspect of growing tobacco, and he ensured every person who worked for him did things the right way…or “the George way”. As I reflect with my own business and team, I realize this trait may have rubbed off on me too. I set high standards for our Teneo team, our training and engagement. In a recent team meeting we discussed how there is the right way, alternative way and the “Lisa way” of going about a project. I’m more like my Dad than I thought.


Dad loved sports, and eventually started coaching hockey and became active in the local hockey association. This was fitting, as he liked to voice his opinion on how to do things and sometimes liked to ”stir the pot”. I still remember him writing a letter to our local newspaper editor, stating how the town’s Minor Hockey Association could run more effectively. He meant well, but our phone didn’t stop ringing for a week.  As a young girl, I hated his “stir the pot” approach for driving change, and it actually swayed me in the opposite direction. I was determined to be more curious, ask more questions, better understand various people’s perspectives, and ultimately “collaborate” for the best win-win possible. This has carried through into my professional career as well, thanks Dad.

Even though humour and deflection were much more his style than publicly expressing feelings, I’m very grateful for what I learned from him and how he shaped me into who I am today. Dad, enjoy your life in heaven; I’m sure you’ve already arranged a baseball game and are running those bases once again.