Sometimes, Atlantic Canadians make me so damned mad.
Year over year, do you know how many Top 50 CEO nominees decline the opportunity to even be considered for the award? Too freaking many. Some say they’re too busy to fill out the nomination materials and some don’t think they’re worthy of the honour — but an uncomfortable number say they don’t want the publicity. Apparently, success isn’t such a good thing in this part of the world.
Ninety per cent of the time, Atlantic Canadians are the nicest people in the world — generous, hard-working, outgoing, fun, and funny. But there’s some weird genetic perversity hardwired into the regional DNA that turns us into petty, jealous backstabbers when we see someone getting ahead (especially if it’s someone we know).
Harsh, perhaps, but maddeningly true. That person who sat two rows away from you in high school chemistry class, the one who made it big in the music industry? Now you’re telling everyone he’s a stuck-up prig because he didn’t recognize you on the street 20 years, 40 pounds and a full beard later. The girl who juggled two part-time jobs and a full university course load? You claim her rapid climb up the corporate ladder is due to who she knew, not what she knew. And that guy — the one who didn’t go to college or university but had the courage and tenacity to borrow enough money to buy the service station where he worked, then leverage that business to expand into used car sales and commercial snow clearing, yeah — that guy… he’s nothing but a shyster. He’d sell his own mother to make a dollar. On and on it goes, a litany of similarly pathetic stories whispered here and there throughout every corner of Atlantic Canada.
One nominee, a past winner in fact, noted that the downside to recognition was that it made him and his family a target for rumours and innuendo. He told me about nasty comments on social media and snide remarks at public gatherings, that his kids were tormented in school about their ‘Daddy Warbucks.’
“Unfortunately, success while living in a small region brings a lot of attention,” said another nominee. “It’s unnerving and a lot of my privacy has been lost.”
Our aversion to individual wealth and prosperity (unless it’s our own) is, quite frankly, sickening. Enough already.
I think that our negative mindset is a huge part of what’s historically wrong with our regional economy. Here we sit, blessed with an abundance of resource wealth (mining, oil, gas, wind power, hydroelectricity, agriculture, fishing) that far exceeds the needs of our population. Economic downturns should be virtually non-existent in a region with such vast potential, and yet, it’s the upswings which are the outliers — clear evidence that karma is rewarding our jealousies with a swift kick right where the sun doesn’t shine.
Here’s a thought: Wealth. Is. Not. A. Crime. Particularly when you’re a Top 50 CEO. Integrity, fairness, job creation, and social responsibility are all built into the selection process. You can’t be a Top 50 award winner unless you provide documented proof that you’re dedicated to building your company and the regional economy, that you’re an active volunteer and industry innovator, and that you believe in generously giving back to your community.
None of us is perfect. So instead of tearing down our innovators, entrepreneurs and creative thinkers, isn’t it time we nurtured them instead? Time that we made success something to crow about and aspire to?
I believe in celebrating corporate leadership excellence. I WILL salute our Top 50 CEOs. I WILL cheer their achievements. I WILL applaud the people who generate wealth for themselves, their companies and communities. And I WILL proudly share their stories with readers throughout Atlantic Canada and beyond.
If you don’t like it, you can bloody well bugger off. It’s your problem — deal with it.