November 15, 2008
A few years ago, Nike ran a popular advertisement for its sneakers with the catch phrase, “I wanna be like Mike.” Michael Jordan, that is. The concept of modeling our behavior after a prominent figure was used very effectively. Many of us changed our buying habits and purchased the same shoes worn by Michael Jordan.

In this uncertain and volatile era, it is time that we model our vocabulary and behaviour to reflect a positive, optimistic attitude toward the prospects for business in the coming year. After sharing some time at Garden Expo with a fellow nurseryman, I’d like to declare that with respect to attitude, “I wanna be like Bill.” Bill Van Belle, of Van Belle Nursery in Abbotsford, B.C., that is.

Bill is ‘bullish’ on the future of our industry and here’s why:
  • While up to ten per cent of the population may be unemployed, 90 per cent are gainfully employed, with many in high-paying jobs
  • The shortage of labour may well be less of a problem in the coming year
  • Let’s take confidence from what happened in the last two recessions — people stayed at home instead of going on long vacations and spent money fixing up their number one investment, their home. In the early 80s and 90s, it was called cocooning, now the term is ‘staycation.’ (In many parts of the U.S. this past year, this has happened and, YES, people did spend money on their gardens and landscaping.)
  • We are resourceful, intelligent entrepreneurs who adapt well to change.
  • There is tremendous untapped potential in every market and every community — we need to re-work and re-design our focus in order to take advantage of the opportunities in crisis. We may have to work harder and smarter, but the potential is there.

These were Bill’s reasons for being optimistic about the future. I agree with all of them.

I recently re-joined our local Optimist Club, primarily because I feel so strongly connected to The Optimist Creed. A few highlights include:

Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind, to talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet; to look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true; to think only of the best; to work only for the best and to expect only the best; to forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future; to be too large for worry; too noble for anger; too strong for fear and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

Surely, we are in for some challenging times in the next few years, but let us promise ourselves to be optimistic. Attitude determines behaviour: a healthy optimistic attitude will make the rocky trip a lot easier and enhance our personal happiness and the mood of those around us. Let us model our behavior, attitude and vocabulary after positive energetic people like Bill Van Belle. That’s why, “I wanna be like Bill.”

Tom Intven
Canadale Nurseries and first vice president, Landscape Ontario