LARRY PATRICK ZOLOB, MBA
So much is in my rear view mirror…..yet so many great things still to come.
I was born and raised in Timmins, Ontario, and I have been living in Toronto since 2006, yet my education and career have taken me all over Canada, the United States and the Caribbean. As I look back – and forward – I will admit that at no point in my life would I have answered the following question well: “Where do you see yourself in 5/10/x years??”. For me, I am guided by a compass that operates on two axes: morality and satisfaction; so long as the opportunities before me fall optimally along these axes, I’m in.
At Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada, I focused my undergrad studies on International Business and Math. ‘Business’ because I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life (sound familiar??!?), yet university seemed to be the logical next step after high school among paths already beaten. ‘International’ because it’s sexy and topical in business these days. ‘Math’ because I found it easy, and figured I’d bundle my electives into something tangible, a minor, a separator from my peers in school.
Upon graduation, all hell broke loose. I think I was one of maybe 10 people on the planet who got a job from a newspaper ad, landing a gig with Scotiabank’s International Division. Scotia, Canada’s third largest bank, took me to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands for over five years as I climbed my way up to become Territory Head of Bank Operations, a job that will never be matched by its ability to build my leadership and crisis management skills. I will reference my experiences there throughout this blog. Don’t be fooled; this was not half a decade in the sun with my feet up. Scotia V.I. was the toughest job I ever had and if I knew what was before me going in, I never would have taken the assignment (hashtags: #internaltheft #hurricane #vandalism #knifetomythroat #racialbias #dontgetmestarted). Still, I think about my experiences there a lot, and will never regret having gone. Easier to say now!
Scotia repatriated me to Windsor, Ontario in an account management job. Lending. Sales. Bleh. I bailed, in my pursuit of marketing, and elected to complete my MBA at University of North Carolina. Incredible experience, would do it all over again. Also scored a job teaching undergrads business communication and presentation skills. Loved that. I was fortunate enough to land a job with McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals (a Johnson & Johnson company) in Philadelphia. Fabulous brand/marketing training as I worked on over-the-counter medicines. Incredible people. Super smart. And, budgets! You learn a lot about marketing and develop all of your marketing tools when you have a $60-$70 million expense budget. But, my work authorization came to expire after nearly six years, so I took the opportunity to do something different. I decided to come home and reconnect with family and friends here in Toronto. Happy to be back. Bought property. Planting roots.
In Toronto, I joined Warner Bros. in the home entertainment division. This was more of a product management role (vs brand building), very channel-centric as I championed DVDs and digital content for all things Non-Theatrical; TV shows, animated stuff, sports, fitness, documentaries and eventually video games.
I fished that lake dry as 2013 began and for the next year-plus I headed up the live action marketing department of Phase 4 Films here in Toronto. More people to manage, great company, great people, more to do. Very focused on the job –growing, learning, teaching, accomplishing more, but always have an eye on what’s next, personally or professionally. Lots of articles out there championing the career entrepreneur. I’m certainly one of those.
Following the sale of Phase 4 in 2014 I have chosen to do what I call playing chicken with my career. I’m lucky to now be in a position to take my time to find the right permanent gig. I’m teaching, networking, consulting, coaching, mentoring and developing new business ideas while doing all those self-improvement activities you never have time to do when you’re at it 24/7. I’m the healthiest and fittest I have been in my life, my skills are upgraded through coursework and practice, and I have nurtured my close relationships and a number of hobbies — such as writing!
The playing chicken part is about not compromising on what I want. I have been tempted by a number of ‘jobs’, but I don’t want a ‘job’. I’m now hooked on the ability to control my own destiny and find the right work situations and org cultures that will bring out the best in me. This is an awesome time in my life, I cannot lie.
One big moment that did frame it all in was a YouTube video I watched (and subsequently lost the link) that attempted to shape your life purpose by answering one question to yourself: something like If you could help someone with something, what would it be?
This question didn’t set me off on a new course but what it did was frame in all the things I have been doing – building a career development app, running a Meetup group, coaching others and teaching business and entrepreneurship courses at college and university. Because of this question, I was able to package my journey and all its initiatives into a clear and purposeful mission statement – to empower current and future generations to succeed professionally. This is the career mark I want to leave on the world.
So as we dive more deeply into 2020 with all its uncertainty, I’m taking a step forward. My innovation in the networking and peer coaching/support space is set to launch to help me accomplish what I wish for the world. My mobile web app, upmarkit, is about to be born. (www.upmarkitapp.com)