I go to a lot of industry conferences, so it’s not often that a speaker has me spellbound. But Frank O’Dea, co-founder of Second Cup—who spoke at the 2011 CPBI Ontario regional conference in Ottawa—has the most interesting and engaging story.

O’Dea’s success arose from unlikely circumstances. He was abused as a child, became an alcoholic and, at one point, was homeless. Yet he went from living on the streets to founding the largest chain of gourmet coffees and teas in Canada. And he paid it forward, helping others in need through organizations such as Street Kids International, War Child (Canada) and the Canadian Landmine Foundation.

To what does he attribute his success? Hope. Vision. Action.

These principles helped him turn his life around and become the entrepreneur, family man and philanthropist that he is today.

Within the pension and benefits community, we have our own success stories. On Nov. 8, 2011, Benefits Canada held its annual Pension & Investment Awards. We recognized outstanding pension plan sponsors—such as John Crocker, retiring president and CEO of the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan, and Terri Troy, CEO of the Halifax Regional Municipality Pension Plan—and other leaders in pension investment, plan governance and member communications. We also recognized the Top 40 Money Managers and related money manager achievements.

Along with this issue of Benefits Canada, you’ll find our Workplace Health & Benefits Awards annual. The exceptional organizations and individuals highlighted in this publication understand the importance of creating a culture of wellness that the company supports and employees value—and they live that culture every day.

Let’s face it: pension and benefits isn’t the most obviously inspiring field. And often, we get too bogged down by the day-to-day tactical demands of our jobs to see the greater gain.

But it’s important to remember what our work is really about: helping to ensure the well-being, good health and financial security of Canadians. I hope the examples of leadership, creativity and innovation in this issue will inspire you—and encourage you to act—toward these goals.

“Don’t tell me you can’t change the world,” was O’Dea’s final message. If he can make a difference, surely we can, too.

Get a PDF of this article.

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. This article first appeared in Benefits Canada.

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