Barney and Bud

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On January 25th I am the keynote speaker at the annual symposium of the Rotman Commerce Women’s Initiative. I am really looking forward to it.

For help with my comments, I am turning to a great book by Chip Heath and Dan Heath called, Made to Stick. One of their main points is that as audience members we just don’t retain information such as “The Top 3 Things to Remember about Success”. But we do remember stories so instead of telling people about abstract ideas, we need to illuminate our points with personal stories.

If I reflect on stuff I remember best, there is a story attached. For example, if you read about the Great Depression in North America, there is a lot of data about it: the peak unemployment rate was an ungodly 25% and the decline in the economy was even worse at 27%.

But although I may have heard those statistics somewhere, I had to look them up just now. In contrast, I will never forget how the Depression resulted in great human ingenuity and creativity because of the Barney and Bud story.

When my Dad was a little boy in the Depression, he wanted his father to give him a horse so that he’d have a way of getting around to make some money. Not surprisingly, my grandfather had better uses for his horses than to give one away to a kid but he told Dad that he could “borrow” his mare to breed to any stallion and if there were any resulting colts from this romantic liaison, my Dad could keep them.

In a letter he wrote me many years later, Dad told me this story and finished it off by saying nonchalantly,

So I did that and was able to raise a nice team called Barney and Bud which were ready to drive when I was a teenager so I made spending money by driving preachers and teachers to the churches and schools on weekends.

OH. MY. GOD.

In my lifetime, I have never had a money issue requiring me to create my own little team of horses to solve. But I sure am going to try to find some stories about my career that are a fraction as interesting as Jock’s Barney and Bud.

Have a great week!!

Jean

About the author

Jean Blacklock

Jean is the president of Toronto's best cupcake and cake bakery - Prairie Girl Bakery. Read more about her background in commerce, law, and entrepreneurship here.

By Jean Blacklock

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