Where were you on May 16, 1994?

I suspect that for as many of you who can’t remember, there are an equal amount of readers who may not have been born back then.

Well, that was the day T1 was born. My first day of true entrepreneurship. While “Trojan” had existed as a brand for a few months within my former employer before arbitrarily being shelved, May 16, 1994, was the first day of me, myself, and I.

Although that is not true, that first day, a remarkable invention also accompanied me from Steve Jobs, the Macintosh Powerbook Duo, which was a desktop, laptop, and fax machine all in one. Beside me, I had Buddy the Beagle, my honourary vice-president. I had some entrepreneurial books inside me, such as Mark McCormack’s What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School, which I would recommend you read to this day.

But best of all, I had some amazingly trusting clients. People such as David Jones, Carol Laumen, Domenic Vivolo, and Dave Copp, to name a few. These people believed that a 29-year old could help build their business and support their career trajectories. I also had George from Classic Signs, my original signage vendor. I wonder if he is still around. Plus, a handful of other suppliers waived their credit checks for this cashless startup and accepted my handshake as payment terms.

It was a rough first few years, living on a tight budget and learning to cut my hair, inventing the term staycation before it’s time and enjoying all my gourmet meals out of the cookbooks my sister so lovingly gifted me. In hindsight, and especially compared to the last fifteen months, it seems almost like Happy Days the TV show.

I learned to play tennis. I learned to network my face off. I learned how to keep my books.

I juggled it on my own for a few years until a young intern named Karen Hood came into our company, and a quarter-century later, we were seventy-five people strong and poised to have a record year in 2020. All of the stars were aligning, and I eagerly awaited my ego-stuffing, crowning moment of hosting SponsorshipX in Tokyo at the Olympics.

Then Will Smith let me down. Because when COVID hit, I thought best case it would be the subject of a Will Smith movie in a few years when he saves the day, and worst case, it would be a repeat of SARS from 2003. I was frightened and wrongly given a diagnosis of having SARS, but that’s another story.

A year ago, on our 26th Birthday, I honestly thought we might never see 27. I didn’t tell anybody that except myself. But I did.

Thankfully I kept that thought to myself, and more thankfully, I was not alone this time. Instead, with allies from my team, our clients, our community, and yes, even our government*, we not only survived, but we are now in a position to thrive.

*Despite the fact the BDC would not give us a loan because, in 26 years, we never had a loan, they deemed us a lousy credit risk. Figure that one out!

On this glorious 27th T1 Birthday, I could not be more proud. In the past twelve months, we have designed and launched a creative agency – Humanity, innovated a new type of school – Park Street, and tackled racism in the workplace through the Black Talent Initiative. Later this year, we will go public with our new venture – The MH3 Group. The MH3 Group will draw inspiration from the four P’s of my Life – Purpose, Passion, Profit, and People.

Because if there is one thing I have learned in twenty-seven years, you cannot pursue the first three Ps without investing in the fourth.

To all the People of T1 – past, present, and prospective, I dedicate today to you!