It’s a Book, soon to drop

January 30, 2008

Hello All, and welcome to Kickstart – a book, a web project, an idea we hope will soon escape its creators’ grasps and assume a free and vital form all its own.

Those creators are we: Paul Matthews, Alexander Herman, and Andrew Feindel.

We’re old high school friends. We used to like having absurd, eliptical arguments about Britpop, the Lewinsky scandal, and Dawson’s Creek. Or at least we think we did. It’s been awhile. When high school ended, we all went our separate ways. Paul dreamt and grew cynical among the spires of Oxford, Alex flew to Trinity College, Dublin and started sporting a Joycean monocle, and Andrew went to the Richard Ivey School of Business to learn how to support the rest of us.

A few years ago, as wide-eyed youths fresh from university and on the cusp of careers, mortgages, and all that loveliness, we met in an old haunt near our parents’ Toronto houses (where we were living at the time) to lick each other’s early employment wounds and address the big questions. Paul and Alex wanted to be writers – or at least that’s what they told fashionable girls at parties. They’d wrestled with novels and magazine pieces, but their minds were a mess of scattered and hilariously contradictory ‘what if’s’ and ‘I could nevers.’ Andrew was a burgeoning financial planner, but despite his initial success, he too was looking for answers.

Wasn’t success and fulfilment something you could just order?

As they navigated the standard, self-indulgent, quarter-life cliches, Andrew came up with an idea. That day, he’d taken a major player in Toronto’s financial community out to lunch. He had phoned his office, explained that he was looking for advice, and bammo, the man had agreed to talk to him. After sitting down to lunch, Mr. Man had spelled out his entire life story. And it was a good one. Not tedious at all. In fact, it was chock full of brutal honesty and the odd kernel of marvellous advice.

Was it that easy? You just had to pick up the phone? Maybe so.

So why not phone up some of the most successful Canadians we could think of, interview them, and compile their stories in a book?

The idea seemed a bit looney at the time, but Andrew kept pressing us to do it. In the end, Paul and Andrew caved. And they’re glad they did. Three years later, that book, Kickstart: How Successful Canadians Got Started, is about to hit bookshelves across the country.

It wasn’t always as easy as phoning. Sometimes we had to stalk folks and camp in front of their houses and offices. But, in the end, we managed to sit down with everyone from Barrick Gold’s Peter Munk and Dignitas International’s James Orbinski to astronaut Roberta Bondar and photographer Edward Burtynsky. For more info, check out our website.

It’s been a very nice little side-project for us – one that’s allowed us to learn an exceptional amount about what it takes to make your mark on the world from this often-ignored northern nation. In the coming months, we’ll use this space to tell you a little more about our process, the book’s participants, and a myriad other amazing, driven and talented folks we didn’t have the time to interview for the book.

Till then,

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