My Life Adventure

I guess that this is the part where I give you a sense of who I am.

Part biography, part resume.

As someone who claims that I can help you design and enjoy your own life adventure, I know it is important that I have walked that walk myself. So, I will tell you a bit about my life.

In my 47 1/2 years on this planet, I have lived in a VW van on the Mediterranean beaches of France and Spain, in a tent in Thunder Bay, a “treehouse” in Whistler, and homes in Germany and Canada. I have taught windsurfing, sold rock-climbing rope, bartended, built my own successful real estate brokerage from scratch, run for political office and hypnotized people for a living. I have jumped from airplanes and dived to sunken wrecks. I have been arrested in my youth, and have gone on to give lectures on character to Ontario Provincial Police.

I have succeeded spectacularly and failed miserably. As the title character says in “Zorba The Greek”, I have lived the full catastrophe.

This was not random “madness” however, so here is a brief chronology.

After high school (where I was captain of the wrestling team and traveled to Germany on an exchange), I spent a summer teaching windsurfing on the Mediterranean before attending McMaster University where I wrestled and studied Psychology. Graduating in 1993 with my BA in Psychology, I did a stint planting tress in Canada’s Far North before heading West to find my fortune in British Columbia. There, in the resort town of Whistler, I found time amongst all the snowboarding, mountain biking and climbing to start my business career, selling real estate, and to buy my first home with my fiancee-at-the-time, Karen.

Two years later, we pulled up stakes and returned “home” to Ontario to be near our families as we started our own. Married in ’95, we had Katy in ’96 and Jack in ’98. During that same time I earned my Ontario real estate license and began an award-winning run, eventually becoming the top Realtor in the area and a busy community leader (nominated both as Citizen of the Year and Business Leader of The Year).

All of this success led to my being asked to consider running for federal office, a challenge I took on in early 2007. Ultimately, this was a disastrous decision for me. After a long year of political uncertainty (there never ended up being an election called despite the seeming certainty of one at the outset), I had to resign, having exhausted both my personal finances and my own energy and enthusiasm.

When I describe the next two years, I often say “and that is when I shit the bed”. By this I mean that it felt like my 39 year run of success upon success came to a crashing halt. Having closed my business to campaign full-time, I was essentially jobless. In re-examining every area in my life, I had also realized that my wife and I were on very different paths and we eventually separated (very amicably). Once I had helped her get resettled, I sold my home to clean up my finances that had been strained to the breaking point during my year on the hustings.

So here I was at 40. No money. No business. No home. No partner. A far cry from the “picture perfect life” of just a year before.

But there was much that I DID have … my health, two amazing kids, a wrestling team I enjoyed coaching, a solid friendship with my ex, great friends and extended family, a positive attitude and a sense of adventure. I walked in the woods. Paddled lakes and rivers. Studied and practiced mindfulness meditation. And, from there, I started asking myself, “If you could do anything, Johnny, what would it be?”

Then I remembered the doodles I had drawn on my notebooks while ostensibly studying for my university exams almost 20 years earlier. “Alter Ego Life Adventure Company”, with countless potential logos to go along with it. It had been a “someday dream” – to build a company helping people find their own passions and enjoy exciting, fulfilling, daring lives – that had somehow ended up buried under the momentum of a life that had “happened” instead.

In hindsight, I realize that my life has unfolded perfectly. Had I acted on that bold plan way back then I would have likely missed out entirely on the joys of having a family, and the satisfactions of local business success and small-town contribution. And here I was, healthy, happy, with a successful track record, coaching certifications, a Psychology degree, and Katy and Jack to inspire me. Thus, “Alter Ego Life Adventure Company” was resurrected in 2009.

Now, with Certified Hypnotherapist and Personal Trainer added to my CV, I have spent the past several years working with individuals and organizations – identifying what is truly important to them, designing their plan to bring that vision into their reality, and coaching them along as they execute and expand upon it in every area of their lives. It is hard to imagine any work that could be more fulfilling to me, and I see the real difference it is making in the world.

My own personal adventures now include; extreme adventure racing (successfully completing the Spartan Death Race three times, including once as Champion), running ultramarathons (including 100 milers and a Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim double crossing of the Grand Canyon), climbing one of the highest mountains in the world (Mt Aconcagua in Argentina), presenting at retreats in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Denver, Seattle, Mt Tremblanyt, coaching wrestlers to success at a national and international level, snowboarding, catching epic live music (most awesomely with Katy and Jack), skydiving, open water diving, and being an all-around “bon vivant”.

Over the past three years I have managed Alter Ego Life Adventure Company from a laptop and a smartphone, as I travelled around the world (quite literally), organizing races and adventures in; Canada, US, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Hawaii, Australia, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, UK, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic. Somehow I managed to coordinate my calls, Skype conferences, etc from cafes, airports, taxis, volcanos, ferries, and more!!

Now, however, I am based in beautiful Haliburton, ON, where I live with my wonderful girlfriend, Andrea Hagarty, at her beautiful Bonnie View Inn. While I will still be traveling lots, I am excited about organizing retreats, workshops, races and adventures right here as well! Stay tuned!!


Death Race 2011