Ottawa Senators founder Bruce Firestone on how to win!

The CBC is breathing a huge sigh of relief as a Canadian team is still very much in the thick of things. The last thing they wanted was a Buffalo/Anaheim final – you don’t sell much beer that way!

This weeks Podcast is with Bruce Firestone, which may or may not ring a bell, but without his involvement, there would most likely be no NHL hockey in Ottawa. Bruce had returned to Canada from Australia in 1982 to help with the family business. In 1987, the real estate market had shifted. Bruce went for a drive to think about where to take the family enterprise next. While driving in his car on the 417 thinking about Toronto, he asked himself a great question, "What did Toronto have, that we didn’t have"? From this question emerged a big idea, a hockey team. Fast forward 4 years later. With a great group of people, smarts, hard work and against a lot of odds, Ottawa ended up winning an expansion team.

How does one win against competition, whether it’s a new role in a company or breaking into a new sector, or winning that big deal? Think about the odds against Bruce and his team. They didn’t really have a great arena, they were 2 hours from Montreal and 4 hours from Toronto, neither of which really wanted new competition for fans or advertising revenue. Bruce and most of his team didn’t come from the sports business. Their financing was not as strong as their competitors. How did they win? I want to introduce a new word to you -"persatience". It is a hybrid of two words patience and persistence. This word was created by a client of mine to describe her own journey towards a new path. I love the word and no, you won’t find it in a dictionary.

This was one of the keys that helped Bruce and his team. It was a long journey from a drive in Bruce’s Saab to winning a franchise. They really, really believed in what they wanted and what they had to offer the NHL and they really, really were well prepared. One of the reasons that Ottawa is where it is today, playing in the Stanley Cup finals, is because of meetings 17 years ago. Those meetings led to building a philosophy of excellence and executing on this philosophy in a very focused and smart way. To contrast Toronto, it has been 40 years and billions of dollars of revenue later, yet still no Stanley Cup. It isn’t age or money, although both of those things help. You rarely can buy a winning team. It takes persistence, years of focus and lots of wins and losses. Bruce also spoke about how success and failure have taught him humility. Bruce left the team he founded as they went through serious business challenges. He had his own wilderness experience, however, and he landed at Carleton University at the School of Architecture and in 2002 he was voted top professor by the students.

I am not sure where you are at in your career. Maybe you have just created the opportunity of a lifetime, or you might be feeling at the bottom of your career cycle. The long view would be to go back to the basics – the things that have helped you. Fortunately, success and failure don’t stay forever. Can you name who won the Stanley Cup in 2006? Bruce’s story is terrific. He has created a legacy in the Ottawa Senators, yet he is not trapped in that legacy. To me, that is true success.

Are you struggling to figure out what your next career shift is? If so, book an initial consultation and we can help you win the cup!

Along the road with you,

Alan Kearns