Who is Sarah Millin?

Last weekend I tried to open my outlook and I got an error message telling me that there was a problem.  I know how to use the programs that I use all the time but that is about all I know about computers.  As chance has it, I was meeting with Sarah Millin of Make It Work Computer Solutions the next day.  Fortunately for me I was able to bring her my computer so that she could fix it for me.  Unfortunately for her, I wasn’t able to email her the questions.

The first thing I asked her was “Who is Sarah Millin?”

This question caught her a bit off guard.  “I don’t know; my family is insane.” Sarah joked.  “I like fixing things.  My psychologist says there is a reason for that.”  Her grandfather on her mother’s side was a shop engineer “so there’s something in the family about fixing things.”

Sarah’s mother was born in Canada and her father was born in England during the war.  Sarah was born in Vancouver but moved to Toronto when she was a little girl.  She did her schooling in Toronto and Ottawa before moving back to Vancouver to go to university.  I asked her what she took at UBC.  “Latin and Greek” she replied with a chuckle.  I said jokingly, “and that ties into computers really well.”  “Yes and no” Sarah answered “Because I read a lot of Plato and Plato is all about logic and everything about computers is zeros and ones.  It’s all logic.”

I asked her what got her interested into computers.  “I used to be a Commercial Credit Investigator at the Credit Bureau.  I was there for about 8 years, and I wasn’t really happy there.  I was thinking about going back to school and getting training in computers.  We had a computer technician there who was just horrible.  I thought to myself that I could do it so much better.  Then we got bought out by a multi-national and we all got let go and E.I. paid me to retrain.  That’s how I got into I.T.”

Sarah started her business in 1999.  “Literally the minute I got out of I.T. school, I had clients.  In 1999, demand was really high.”  I asked her what operating systems she worked on back then.  “The course I was taking was teaching us about windows 3.11, windows 95, NT4.  Windows 98 had just come out.  So I was literally supporting everything from the DOS based stuff to the present.  Windows 2000 came out shortly after that.  Then that horrible thing, windows millennium came out. “I told her that I don’t even remember that version.  She told me “it was a good one to forget.  They took the worst features of windows 98 and the worst features of windows 2000 and shoved them together.”

Now I started my post by letting you know that I had a bit of a computer problem.  Sarah took my computer with her after our meeting and I got it back the next day.  The bugs were all fixed and my computer is now almost as fast as when I first got it.  Thank you Sarah.


Brenda Louie of InspirAction Coaching

This week I had the great pleasure to meet with yet another entrepreneur but this time, there was a twist.  Brenda Louie of InspirAction Coaching has not been in business for the usual 5 years that I look for.  She does however have a story to tell that I thought was too important to pass up.

I asked Brenda to tell me about who she is.  “Well, I am a woman that has come from many experiences in life starting from childhood, and those experiences formed me into the woman that I am today.  Who I am is somebody who connects well with others at a more intimate level.  I stand for removing negative patterns of being.”

Brenda has 2 siblings.  Her brother is 11 months older than her and her half sister is 16 years younger.  Brenda is from a split home.  “My parents split when I was 5 years old.  My father was really abusive to my mother.  I don’t think he realized it but he was an alcoholic.  He was mentally and emotionally abusive to my mother.  I didn’t put that together in my life until later on when I was married.  With my husband I found out that the cycle of abuse followed me.  I realized that I married my father.”

Brenda left her husband after 18 years after having 3 beautiful daughters with him.  “I knew even before I married him that I wouldn’t be with him forever but there was patterning there that I was used to.”

Brenda went on and told me all the details of her decision making that I feel might be too private to tell here.   She did however end off by saying that “I didn’t shed any more tears after that day.  I cried for years up until the day that I left.  He made me feel that I would always be this single mom with 3 kids.  No man will ever love me.  No man would ever want me.  I was unfit.  And my life is so beautiful today.”

Because of her life experiences, she decided to start a coaching business targeting called InspirAction Coaching.  “The reason that that was so relevant is where I come from in my life.  I needed to find something that inspired me.  If I can inspire others into taking action and to move them into reaching more happiness or fulfillment  I believe that’s what my life purpose is.”

Brenda is starting a 6 week workshop “Geared for women who are motivated in moving past old ways of being.”  For more information, click here.

Shawn Bearman – The Businesswoman – Part 2

In my last post I introduced you to managing editor of Tidbits of Vancouver Newspaper and business coach, Shawn Bearman.

Seeing as this blog is about how business owners started their business we concentrated the bulk of this interview on her coaching business.  I am still getting to know Shawn but what I do know about her is that she is a tough, no holds barred coach who gets results.

I asked Shawn how she started her business.

“My coaching business I started in 1995.  Inside of coaching there is a whole world of  things that people just don’t know, and if they knew, they wouldn’t get stopped any more.  I did some really good work there but I put that business on hold to go and work for Landmark Education.”  Shawn put her business “on hold” for a year because this was such a great opportunity.  This year quickly turned into 7 where she got trained by some of the best coaches in the world.  “I was committed to staying there until I could go anywhere, do anything and work with anybody and be effective and powerful.”

After Shawn left Landmark, she restarted her business and she “created a whole new set of distinctions called ‘Reclaim Your Power’ to give people a plan of what to do when they are disempowered or in the blahs or when they are just not doing what they know they should be doing.”  When she restarted her business, Shawn realized that she wasn’t going to be able to run her business as she had in the past “so I created a distinction called the Dharma Added Effect where for every client that comes to us and pays cash, we allow ourselves one client who pays in hours which we then allocate into the community. So 50% of our clients pay in hours instead of with money.  There was one man who broke his leg and our Dharma clients went to his house and walked his animals for 2 months.”

Shawn Bearman is not only the founder and CEO of Radical Ideas Coaching; she also is the Managing Editor of Tidbits of Vancouver and one of the Community Partners with Rapid Time Networks (Burnaby).  “Just to tell you how Tidbits started, it’s a very interesting thing.  My business partner at Tidbits was one of my business clients when I started Radical Ideas and he brought me Tidbits to look at as a possible venture for him.  Clients were often asking me to review things about their business.  Because, as a business coach, it’s just one of the things that I do.  When we met (to discuss Tidbits) he said that the only way that I’ll take this on is if you become my partner.”

Thanks you Shawn for letting us get to know you.

Getting to know Shawn Bearman – Part 1

Shawn Bearman from Tidbits of Vancouver and Radical Ideas Coaching

Almost a year ago, I was contacted by Shawn Bearman, the owner of Tidbits of Vancouver about advertising my business, Anything on a Clock in her “good news” newspaper.  Not only is my advertisement in there every couple weeks but they also did a story about how I started my business.  Last week I had the opportunity to sit down with Shawn to find out more about her and her businesses. 

Shawn was born in Victoria BC.  When she was about 4 years old she moved to White Rock where she grew up.  “I lived in Hawaii as a teenager.  I went to Maui Highschool for a couple years. And then my mom sent me back home to Canada to finish my education, because the education system is better here.”

After highschool Shawn went to Langara College and studied journalism.  “I really wanted to become a journalist.  But then realized I couldn’t step on the amount of people that you had to step on in order to be successful.  Journalism is a really cut throat kind of business.”

Shawn went to SFU and decided that she wanted to be a teacher.  “Because what’s the next best way to make a difference?  It’s to be with kids.”  Throughout university Shawn worked at the YMCA running an out of school care centre program.  But then she realized that she “didn’t want to work in the school system.  There were people who were principals who I really couldn’t stand behind and respect for their values.”  So she decided to take another look at what she wanted to do.

“When I finished university I continued working with kids until I was working with the most behavioural disordered kids that you can.  Which was violent adolescent male sex offenders.  I worked with them until I was injured too many times on the job where the doctor was at the stage that he wasn’t going to sign the medical release forms.”

After that Shawn went to a self employment type of program and she realized that the woman running the course was really making a difference in people’s lives so she decided that that was the direction that she wanted to take… but she couldn’t afford the schooling.  While talking about her new passion, a woman from the PEO Sisterhood heard Shawn talk about what she wanted to do.  This organization is women helping women “and they funded my return to school and my program.”

After she got her certification Shawn worked for a company called Community Fisheries Development Organization counselling out of work fishermen.  They expanded to forestry workers, older workers, ect.  “I started coaching people on a regular basis and I never left it because it is so rewarding.  Why would I do anything else.”


Week 19 – Martin Jongejang

Martin Jongejan of Zoom!

Martin Jongejan of Zoom!

A year of so ago I met Martin Jongejan, the owner of Zoom! Building and Property Care.  Over time, I got to know him and about his cleaning business.  What I didn’t know it that he is also a quite accomplished photographer.  

Who is Martin Jongejan 

“I was born inToronto, but I try not to let that get around” Martin joked. ” As a child, I was fortunate that I moved around quite a bit.  I spent most of my childhood in Montreal.  Then we moved to the other side of the planet,New Zealand.  After we spent a few years there, we moved to Australia.”  Martin holds a duel citizenship with Canada and Australia. 

“I’ve seen different cultures and I’ve gotten really good at starting over, making friends, getting connected.  I’ve also always been quite independent.”  Martin explained.  He wasn’t challenged enough when he had the dreaded JOB.  He would stay at it for a year or 2, and then he would get bored.  In 1990 he launched his own photography business.  “It was born out of the excitement of being in control.  I’m responsible for my own destiny and are not held accountible to anybody else.  Ultimately, you are always answerable to somebody.  If it’s not your boss, it’s your customers but still, there’s a lot more autonomy.  A lot more control you have over your won destiny” 

About 4 years ago Martin was in a quite serious motorcycle accident which forced him to re-evaluate his life.  “I started to realize my mortality.”  As a photographer, it is a tough go out there.  “Everyone and his dog can be a photographer now with the advent of digital photography.  So I wanted a change.”  In the course of his research, he read in a franchise magazine that 6 our of the top 10 fastest growing franchises in North America were cleaning companies.  That is when he decided to start his newest company called Zoom! Building and Property Care.

Week 18 – Doug Anderson

Doug Anderson and his Family at Fenway Park in Boston

I met Doug Anderson of DA Top Talent about 4 years ago at a networking workshop.  My company, Anything on a Clock donated a custom clock as a door prize and he won it.  That was definitely a win – win situation.  He was able to preserve a special moment in time on a clock and I gained a fantastic mentor and a friend for life.

Who is Doug Anderson

“What made you into the man you are today?” I asked him.  “About 50 excruciating years of experience” Doug  joked.  “I think part of it was an upbringing that got me familiar with the 50’s and 60’s as a child, and then try to bring that Andy Griffith, Leave it to Beaver style to small business owners in the next century.”

Doug’s father was in the foreign service.  Doug was born in Edmonton Alberta.  When he was just 6 months old his father was posted to San Paulo Brazil.  “My first language was actually Portuguese.  My upbringing was mostly from outside Canada.  That also added to my perspective of being a person of the world, rather than just a Canadian.”   Doug spent many years in the USA.  He also lived in Australia for 7 years, 3 years in Manila and 4 years in Brazil.  “It gave me the chance to see a lot of the world and it’s given me a healthy perspective of how lucky we are to live in Vancouver.

Tell me a bit about DA Top Talent

“I started DA Top Talent 11 years ago to help people in career transition.  After 2 years of working part time, I started working full time at it.” Doug explained.  That focus soon shifted from executives looking for a career change into small business advice.  Doug helps small businesses focus on the principles of their businesses.  He coaches them on their leadership, management, finance, marketing and sales.  

I am not one of his clients but I have had the opportunity to sit down with him on a number of occasions.  He is what he preaches.  He has an open door policy whereas he encourages those who work with him to call or shoot him an email whenever they need his advice.

Week 17 – Gary Jones


View from Gary Jones' office

View from Gary Jones’ office on the 16th floor of the Station Tower in Surrey BC

Gary Jones is a financial planner with Freedom 55 Financial. I know you might be asking, isn’t this blog about successful business owners and how they started in their business.

“I previously was the owner of the company, Blue Fur which was a web hosting company that I grew over 8 years.” Gary explained, “We had around twelve thousand clients when I sold it.”

I asked him what made him into the man that he is today. “I am a product of a single dad. My mom left when I was in kindergarten. He was an entrepreneur so I learned a lot of entrepreneurial skills from him. His father was an entrepreneur and his father before him was an entrepreneur so entrepreneurism runs in our family. I’ve seen a lot of businesses grow, shrink and die. That’s what motivates me to wake up every morning and feed my family.”

Gary told me that at a young age both his father and grandfather died. In fact, his grandfather died before Gary was born. “So I know that has taught me that what happens with entrepreneurs is that we end up working a lot. We pour our blood, sweat and tears into our businesses and it doesn’t really pay off in the end if we don’t have anything for our kids.”

Gary was born and raised just outside Toronto. His father as his grandfather both owned a speaker manufacturing business. It was the largest speaker manufacturing company in Canada. When Gary was 18, his father sold his business in Toronto with the plan to open a speaker distribution system inVancouver. Unfortunately, Gary’s father passed away before he could realize his dream.

This left Gary and his mother with no business to sell, no home insurance, no life insurance. “The only thing that we had was a small nest egg that came from selling the business in Toronto for my mom to live off for the rest of her life.”

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