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A Life Lesson from the Streets of Toronto


I have a giant soft spot for people who give a damn. In many ways, I don’t even care what they give a damn about, but I have immeasurable respect for people who genuinely care about other people. I guess that’s why I live my life in the customer service world, because ultimately, that’s all customer service is really all about.
I’m staying at the 1 King West hotel in downtown Toronto. Twice, I walked past two very pleasant, well-dressedyoung men who were working Yonge and King Streets for donations for their organization. Both times I was in a hurry, and had to brush them off. One of the men, with a giant smile, stuck out his hand. “Hey, man!” he said playfully, “you could at least shake my hand! Don’t leave me hanging like this!” I laughed, backed up and obliged. Still with the big smile, he thanked me and wished me a good day.
The third time I walked by, I wasn’t in so much of a rush, so I stopped and asked Robert and Nicholas what they were all about. As it turns out, they were with Learning About Black Heroes, an organization dedicated to educating black students about positive role models, and turn the tide on violence, gangs, etc.
It seemed like a good cause. More importantly, these two young men were passionate enough about it to stand out in sub 0 temperature to spread the word – and do it in a fun, professional manner. How can anyone not respect that? So I gave them a donation – somewhat larger than the $3 they were looking for.
As I walked back to the hotel, I thought back to what I wrote in my book Win at Work:
“As individuals, we might not be able to influence world events, but we most certainly can exert great influence in our own little parts of the universe. We can impact our families, our friends, our coworkers, our companies, our lives. We have an opportunity, every day, to change the odds in our favour.”
These young men reminded me of how much a difference we can make if we just givea damn.

A Life Lesson from the Streets of Toronto
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