Joe Segal has impacted Vancouver more than anyone I know
THE SET UP
It’s not every day you stumble into a Billionaire. Less likely to stumble into the same one twice. Less likely still to stumble into two billionaires each twice.
This is my story.
I stumbled into Vancouver businessman Jimmy Pattison at a Canucks playoff game in 2011 and then again in a parking garage entering/exiting an elevator. Shoulda had my elevator pitch more dialled. Dammit!!
With Joe Segal, it was a little different.
In June of 2011, I read about his pledge of $12 million to create a new mental health building at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH).
It wasn’t because he was personally affected, it was because he recognize a need that was being largely ignored.
I knew I had to meet the guy.
The article mentioned his daily lunch spot at Yew in the downtown Four Seasons, but I thought a guy with schizophrenia pulling up on a billionaire at his lunch spot might freak him out.
So I parked the idea and tried to think of a way to get an intro. Nothing happened.
Until exactly 2 years later – June 2013, where there would be the Joe Segal Gala – coined as Vancouver’s ‘Gala of all Galas’.
I had to go, this would be EPIC, and I never use the word epic.
Tickets were something like $700. Not gonna happen.
But I was determined to be there. There HAD to be a way.
I then stumbled across a newspaper article about the event and it had Joe’s son, Lorne’s email address posted for some reason.
I emailed him of course, a fairly long story of some such ramblings and offered to help in any way I could.
I didn’t hear back from Lorne, but his ‘people’ offered the opportunity to volunteer at the gala.
I’m in!! I WILL BE THERE!! So excited!!
THE JOE SEGAL GALA
The gala was truly the ‘Gala of all Galas’ as was promised, with full on performances throughout a special medal from a commander Skyping in from Holland and best of all, Joe’s incredible Hollywood rag’s to riches story.
Then there was the section highlighting his contributions to causes. It took more than half an hour to get through the ‘major’ contributions.. no time for them all.
I was sort of a slacker volunteer, and I mostly stood at the back of the room crying.
Crying from inspiration. Crying because this incredible man is near the end of his life. Crying because I never new how much one person could contribute to his community before then. I mean you hear and read stories like that of Terry Fox, but to see it up close like I did at the Gala, it was emotional.
After the event, I was helping clean up the tables and trying to actually earn my volunteer status and I saw Joe mingling, but most people had scattered by then.
I took a chance and approached him and had a meaningful, yet short chat. He mentioned a quote from Norman Vincent Peale which I correctly identified as from Norman’s book – The Power of Positive Thinking. Joe was impressed!! I’m sure it was the one in the image, although I can’t remember for sure..
Although I didn’t secure a coffee chat with him, I came away from the event fully inspired and driven to contribute in as big a way I could.
THE VGH EVENT
Again, almost exactly 2 years from the gala, I received an invitation to attend a VGH Event where they would have a special announcement. I had a flight to LA later that day, but could just squeeze it in.
I was hoping Joe would be there, but wasn’t sure if he would be.
He arrived soon before the presentations got underway, so I didn’t get a chance to chat with him then.
The event was co-hosted by VGH and Bell Canada. Bell was announcing the final $1 million donation to complete the brand new mental health building at VGH.
I’m always surprised how people don’t approach people like Joe Segal. It seems like people are afraid of bothering them, don’t know what to say, or are just not interested.
I’m the opposite. If I see someone I look up to, I typically make a B-Line straight for them. This is how I’ve met Christopher Gardner (Pursuit of Happyness), Robin Sharma, Darren Hardy, Ray Zehab and other’s.
As soon as the presentations wrap up, and people start mingling, I sit down in the front row beside Joe, with his wife Rosalie beside him, and start expressing my gratitude for their contributions to mental health. I also share my story of crying 5+ times at his gala and share a bit of my story.
I told Joe how blown away I was with how much he and Rosalie have contributed to the community.
And here’s where he dropped a bomb of wisdom on me.
‘Brent, it doesn’t matter much what we do, we all just do what we can, and that’s what matters. Well done and keep it up.’
– Joe Segal
That stuck with me and it’s allowed me to feel the same sense of pride and contribution as Joe must feel.
It might be on a whole other scale than what he does, but his idea is that it matters just as much.
That same idea is true for whatever you’re working on.
You might have sacrificed your schooling or career to care for or mentor a family member.
Maybe you’re working on the front lines somewhere, not donating millions, but making a world of difference for the people you connect with.
Maybe you’re starting to share your story and haven’t spoken in front of more than 100 people. That’s just as important as a 1000 person speech if you really impact those people.
First – Be Bold
The next time you see an opportunity to meet or talk to someone you look up to, whether their a Medical Director, Executive Director, CEO, Founder, Speaker, Author, etc.. just go for it. You have nothing to lose aside from a couple ego points and so much to gain in wisdom, ideas, perspective and who knows what else.
Here are some of the people I’ve done that with, sometimes breaking rules in the process..
Second – Do What You Can
Do what you can. Joe Segal’s simple, yet powerful message to me about contributing to mental health. I can’t fund a brand new hospital like he has done, but by doing what I am able to do I can contribute to mental health in a meaningful way just like Joe.
You can do the same. Whether it’s sharing your story, offering someone support, or working on yourself to go to a place of health where you’re able to support yourself and others. It matters less where you’re at, more that you choose to contribute in your own unique way.
Thanks for reading!!
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