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Good evening fellow classmates, Queen’s professors, faculty and support staff,significant others, family and friends. It is an absolute honour and privilege to bestanding before you tonight with Erin to represent you as co-valedictorians.For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Paul Landry from Montreal viaCalgary, Saskatoon, and Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. For those of you who doknow me, you probably know me better as Pauly, Bars, Laundry Bags, BrothersSteve and Guy, Don Draper, Ken Griffey, that Corporate Guy, the RandryRoup, andby my Jewish pseudonym Saul Landers.When I was informed by Michael that Erin and I were the co-valedictorians, Iimmediately started to put my thoughts together but I didn’t plan on having aformal speech written out. I feel that I’d gotten pretty good at “winging” speechesand talking “off the cuff.” I then saw an interview with formerpresidential hopefulHermann Cain, the ex-CEO of Godfather Pizza. He said that when he was going toformally announce that he was running for president, he didn’t prepare a speecheither, because he didn’t want to sound “too formal”. During said presidentialannouncement, he actually used the term “shucky-ducky.” I really don’t knowwhat that meant, and I’m not quite sure he did either… All I know is thiscemented the fact that I was going to write out my speech.Some of you may know the story of some of the bumpy first days that ourMarkham / Montreal team had in January during our Tina Dacin simulationproject.Because we were talking over and interrupting each other we made a rulethat you couldn’t speak unless you had the magic “talking calculator” in yourhand. In the end, the only wayit was possible for me to get 7 straight,
uninterruptedminutes of talking time, was to be namedco-valedictorian. And I’vebrought my magic calculator up with me just in case Clara or Mitch try to cut meoff halfway through.There are 3 thank you’s that I would like to saytonight.The first thank you goes to Queen’s; to the faculty and the support staff whomake this program such a success and so enjoyable for its students. One of themost fundamental reasons why I did THIS MBA was so that whenever someoneasked me the question in the future, “where did you do your MBA?” I would beproud of the answer I gave. Throughout this entire process, from info sessions, tothe application process, to the service we received while at the Donald Gordoncentre, to the quality of our professors, to the technology in place for our virtualclasses, and everything else in between, it’s no wonder that 100% of the alumni ofthis program answer in the affirmative to the question, “Would you recommendthis program?” I can also speak personallyabout how supportive many of theprofessors have been not only during class but outside of it.I have reached out toa number of our professors for their advice and guidance. Whether it was Sheatalking to me about the best structure of my new company, or Jay discussingmarketing to “the tribe” and the strategy of whether to manage multiple brandsor not, or speaking with Elspeth about the pros and cons of starting my owncompany, or discussing with Dan Tisch about how to best manage our message toour clients,or touching base with Michael,who would check in periodically and beexcited to hear about any new developments, or chatting with JP who evenoffered to get one of his undergraduate classes to do a marketing campaign for
my new company. The thoughtfulness of their engagement and the speed of theirresponses to me vastly exceeded my expectations each and every time.The second thank you goes to my fellow classmates. One of the reasons why I,and many of you, decided to do anMBA, was to expand our business network andcontacts. Considering that my line of business is professional recruiting,expanding my network was a particularly attractive prospect. I often watch CBCNews Network in the morning when I’m getting ready for work and Kevin O’Leary,who I get a kick out of most of the time, and agree with only some of the time,said, “I don’t remember a thing about what I learned from my MBA classes from20 years ago, but I still call any of the people from my class.” The contacts hemade were not only strong but were life-long. I`m confident that the same will betrue for us.Now, making new contacts and networking is all part of any MBA experience. Butwhere my expectations were completely surpassed has to do with how close I’vebecome with many of my classmates. I’ve had this conversation mostly with mymale friends, that beyond a certain age,it becomes difficult to make new friends.Think about it. The closest friends I had before I started this MBA program I eitherwent to high school with in Moose Jaw, I went to University with in Saskatoon, orI started my first job with at Ernst & Young in Calgary when I was 22. Beyond thatpoint, guys make acquaintances.We’ll golf with some guys or grab a drink withothers or we’ll hang out with the significant others of our wives’ or girlfriends’friends. I can say without reservation that I have made friends from thisprogramthat rival the closest friendships from my past and I don’t think I’m alone.
I’ll share with you a few stories. On one of my recent business trips to Toronto,fifteen of us met for dinner. People were hugging each other, shaking hands,Youssef did the double kiss thing because that’s what people from Montreal do.We couldn’t have been more excited to see each other.During the Miami /Bahamas trip, the sixteen of us enjoyed having supper together every night andloved running into each other on & off the cruise boat during the day and weresad when it was over. When I travel to Calgary, I look forward to seeing the dozenor so people who always manage to find time to get together for dinner or a pint.And even within my own Markham / Montreal team, we have taken the 2 minutecheck in to another level. Every few weeks, we now schedule 10 minute check-insvia skype. We miss each other. We legitimately miss each other.Now, how did we become so close? Everyone knows from Psych 101 that peopletend to come together during stressful times or times of crisis. But why then haveI heard anecdotally from other people whohave done MBAs from other schoolswho not only do not keep in touch with their classmates but couldn’t wait to berid of them.I’m convinced that a lot of this had to do with the exercises that wedid in the first days of this program where we were forced to let our guard down,be vulnerable and allow complete strangers see our true sides. We quickly sawthe positive attributes of each and every one of our teammates. This programgelled us together early and it then threw us to the fire together for a year and wecame out stronger and we’ve not only survived, but excelled.
My third and final thank you goes to our families and significant others. The timecommitment required for this program makes it paramount that your significantother or family be supportive throughout. I want to personally thank my wife,Lisa,who was so integral throughout; I couldn’t have asked for more from her. Ourteam nicknamed her Mariano Riviera, the closer and “the 8th team member”because she was always happy and willing to do a final read through of our papersrendering them all themore polished. Sometimes she would say, “hey, this paperis really good, were you the lead on this?” And I would say, “no, Abu was” and shewould reply, “Oh that would explain why it’s so eloquent.” In all seriousness, shewas my biggest cheerleader throughout and has developed close relationshipswith many of my classmates as well. And it’s fitting that we get to celebrate thisevent on the same day as our 4th wedding anniversary.I’ll close with this. At our final banquet in October I said the following and I’llrepeat again tonight. In your life and in your career, be a little bit selfish. Becareful with your time and your energy.Toyin shared a list on facebook a littlewhile ago and we both identified point #17 as words to live by. It was, “Get rid ofeverything that isn’t useful, beautiful, or joyful.”Do things that make you a betterperson and this starts with surrounding yourself with people who make youbetter, who challenge you and who care for you.Many of you have reached out to me in your professional lives outside of thisprogram and I hope many of you will continue to do so. My only hope is this: thatthe influence I have on your lives can comeat all close to the impact all of youhave had on mine.