Dream Achieved: Paavo Montandon

“The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.”

― Alice Morse Earle

What is on your bucket list?

Paavo Montandon’s list includes travelling to opposite ends of the earth. His goal is to arrive at the edges of the roads at northern most and southern most points of the world.

Last summer he accomplished one half of that journey spending 11 days and 3,357 km on a motorcycle capping off the trip by dipping his toe into the frigid Arctic Ocean.

“It is really fun to test yourself,” said Montandon, who made his way from Edmonton to Tuktoyaktuk with three friends.

The ride was outside his comfort zone and struck a bit fear into his heart, “Preparing for it and then doing it you come away feeling a sense of accomplishment. You feel a sense of pride and resilience knowing that you can take on a challenge like that and complete it.”

“It makes you feel good about who you are. It is one of those bucket list things.”

The undertaking reminded Montandon to slow down and appreciate the journey, “I have a bit of a type A personality so just slowing down and enjoying it. It goes so quickly.”

“It is such a unique place yet it is easy to rip through it and not stop to take in where you are and what you are experiencing.”

Leaving a Legacy

The trip represented the beginning of the end of a successful 25-years in the insurance business. “It kind of made me aware that I am in a different stage in my insurance career. That phase is coming to an end and I am enjoying the last of it.”

Now a partner and senior executive in the same company he started with he is focusing on leaving a positive legacy, “My priority for that last year is having a transition that I am proud of. Locking in my legacy of customer relationships. Ensuring the company’s stability and growth.”

“I want to look back with a sense of pride for what I have built.”

For him leaving a lasting legacy means supporting the people he works with, “I want to set them up for success. I want to leave things in better shape than I found them.”

“If you can recognize the strength of others you can say I am proud of the work that I have done. I am also confident that the people coming behind me are going to do work just as good or maybe better than what I have done.”

Having Support in his Journey

A few years ago Montandon desired a new type of mentorship in his life, which is when he began looking for a coach, “I didn’t want a psychologist I also didn’t want to turn internally to my firm for something like that.”

“I wanted a sounding board. I wanted a person to help me develop that was for me and didn’t have a work agenda. We could create that agenda, that we could create that conversation.”

After doing an extensive search he found the person he was looking for, “I was interviewing coaches and met Carolyn de Voest at the beginning. She scared me and I said no to her initially, but then talked to a whole bunch of other people and realized that scaring me is what I needed.”

“I didn’t need someone that made me comfortable I needed someone who challenged me.”

de Voest is now helping him make the hard transition from a successful career he loves to the next stage in his life. “I really needed someone to help me manage that process and she is incredible.”

“It is very easy and rewarding to work with her. She does hold my feet to the fire.”

They are working together to resist controlling what comes next, but to take things as they come, “Like most things in life I don’t start out with an agenda. I sort of go with the flow and see what opportunities arise then pick from what presents itself.”

Carpe Diem

Although crossing an item off his bucket list was a fabulous feeling he has come to realize that adventures are not necessary to savor each moment life presents. Being able to spend each day with the love of his life continually reinforces that lesson, “My wife has MS. It is a debilitating disease and she is quite severally handicapped. We have good days and bad days. I really appreciate the time we spend together.”

“I have always been a guy who likes to get out of town to do stuff, I like to travel, I like to have those adventures, but I also appreciate the real simple stuff like making a meal together or having a good conversation.”

“I have seen enough of life to know that everyday is its own reward and you don’t have to go somewhere exotic to experience that it is wherever you are.”