For my introduction as the 2014 chair of the St. John’s Board of Trade, I’d like to start with a declaration: I am having a lifelong love affair with Newfoundland and Labrador.
When I left this place to go to university, it wasn’t a matter of how or when I would come back to Newfoundland. I left knowing I would be back, as quick as the tides would take me. Whether it’s the water or the woods or the mountains, there’s just something amazing about this place.
I’ve seen the world, as a business person and as a tourist, but for me, nothing compares to the wilderness of Newfoundland — from the barrens to the backwoods.
This ardour is why I’m involved in the Board of Trade and so many other organizations that work every day to make this place better.
I wanted this declaration to start my year because I need to communicate that this devotion to my home and native land is what will drive me as a business person for this year and every year to come.
This zeal will be the motive behind every decision I make as chair, and our members need to know that.
My immense pride in and of this place is what you will see from me this year. This passion I feel, combined with my own optimism for the incredible opportunities we have today, will bleed into every message, and I encourage all of those who live here to be grateful for these advantages, too, because we are a rare breed, us Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.
We are resourceful and resilient, and hard as the rock we live on. But we are also kindhearted and supple as the waves that roll up and ’round the rocks of our shores. And that combination makes us the kind of people who can move mountains when we put our minds to it.
I really want to use this booming time to benefit the people and businesses here, whether that means direct benefits or lessons learned on how to thrive in a new kind of economy.
I want this year to be the year that Newfoundland and Labrador’s people innovate and grow into this success.
I want my position at the board to lead to the development of great relationships between the businesses we so often take for granted and the communities we live in.
I want us to embark on this adventure together. And it will be an adventure, because for most of us, this is the road less travelled.
We’ve never been as fortunate as we are right now. I believe we have a chance — maybe a fleeting one — but a chance nonetheless — to really see and maybe live all the possibilities that are out there.
I’m really excited about that potential and I hope you are, too, because if we’re all confident and moving forward together, we’re not being naïve, we’re a determined force on the world’s stage.
And success breeds success. I’ve seen it in my own business, and those around me. I can attest that teamwork leads to victory. When we’re all pulling together toward a common goal, there’s nothing that can’t be accomplished.
This year, I will share my own lessons learned about diversifying my businesses from occupational therapy to a full-service, island-wide, interdisciplinary company providing workplace health services.
I will talk about the surprises on the road to real estate ownership as we outgrew location after location.
I’ll admit to failures, big and small, because I want anyone who even thinks about building a place for themselves in Newfoundland and Labrador to know that failure is a requirement.
It’s a stepping stone, an opportunity to learn, on your way to creating something worth having.
I will talk about the importance of balance, that no matter how much passion you feel for your product or clients, you still need seven hours of sleep a night and a few days without your phone in hand to come up with your next great idea.
These are not resolutions or goals for 2014, these are the tenets by which I live.
And they will guide me during this year as I lead the growing organization of the Board of Trade, just as they have guided me through the good and bad times in my life and my business.
I hope you’ll join me in this adventure. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and open-mindedness to continue the momentum started here in the past few years, but I promise we’ll have a lot of fun on our way, too.
Sharon Horan is chair of the St. John’s Board of Trade. She lives in St. John’s
and the Humber Valley.