What I learned from my Grandfather - A True Example of Givers Gain

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An inspirational story of leadership lessons learned.

I realized over the years I’ve inherited something.

Growing up, one of the people I looked up to most was my grandfather. He was born in 1910 in Radisson, Saskatchewan. His parents were Ukrainian immigrants. They owned the general and feed store in town.

A look at a vintage store, with lots of windows and a store front.

In 1914, at the start of World War I, my great grandmother, my grandfather’s mother, prepared care packages – socks, underwear and other necessities – for the boys who were not already taken care of when they went off to war.

A very old picture of the inside of a store with the workers inside, all in black and white.

When my grandfather and his sister had birthdays, they did not receive birthday gifts from their guests. They were taught selflessly to give gifts and every guest that attended their birthday parties was given a gift.

This was just the beginning of my grandfather’s leadership training and development.

 The start of a successful business
Acme work electrical trucks with the door open.

Over time, my grandfather ended up in Vancouver. He started his own successful business: Acme Electric. This was long before Wyle E. Coyote had anything to do with the Acme company! My grandfather was married by now and had his home-based electrical contractor business. By home-based, I don’t mean just an office. His entire basement was a creator’s dream. Every type of wire, screw, nut, bolt, electric tool, breaker panel, whatever you could think of, he had it in his basement.

Missed opportunity

When I was a kid I looked forward to going to work with my grandfather. I would sit on a wire spool in between the seats of the front of the truck. We would go from job site to job site and he would check on his guys, evaluate the progress of their hard work and then we would go for coffee before heading to another job site. I thought that being an electrician meant drinking coffee and meeting people!

The Grandfather working in the back of the truck.

When I was 16, he was ready to hand over the electrical business and offered it to me. I said no, which in hindsight, was a big huge mistake. He gave, yes, gave the business to one of his employees who had been with him for well over 30 years! In fact, most of his loyal crew had been with him for many years.

One last thing I learned about my grandfather after he passed away

Over the course of his life, he would go to a funeral at the local cemetery and would walk around and write down the names on the headstones that were dirty and in disrepair. He would then pay someone to go and clean them. He told no one and expected nothing in return.


 I learned many valuable leadership lessons from my grandfather and would encourage you to practice them within your BNI membership, chapter, business, and life!

  • Creating IMPACT on those you work with is critical
  • Empower your employees to be successful
  • True Leading DOES NOT mean micromanaging, controlling or directing
  • Building relationships based on trust and respect is key
  • Taking care of those you have never met is important
  • Do not enforce your choice or opinion on others and a good article on this can be read here https://ivanmisner.com/givers-gain-is-a-standard-not-a-sword/
  • Create an experience for those you come in contact with
  • It is not an exact science, it is always evolving
  • Be accountable for your actions and admit your faults
  • Celebrate success and milestones
  • Celebrate people
  • Be humble
  • Leave a legacy

What powerful lessons have family members or peers taught you? Share below!

For more learning check out Ask then Ask Again

This Walker This Way video clearly explains the Givers Gain idea. Check it out below!

About Mark Simmons

Mark Simmons picture of the author.

With over 30 years of work experience in a variety of
business models, Mark has seen it all and been through it all. Mark works with individuals, teams, business leaders, thinkers and those that are stuck to build foundation, set direction and reshape their personal and business vision…and make it EPIC. He is also the past president of Vancouver BNI Urban Professionals chapter and a Director of Consultant and Area for BNI British Columbia – Lower Mainland.

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