Back in the late 80’s I was desperate for knowledge about the commercial driver training business. Everything I had learned regarding commercial driver training came from my dad, he taught me how to shift, how to back, how to drive as a professional and how to instruct.  He knew very little about running a school as a business, no disrespect, he just did not know.
When I got into business with him we fought constantly about the business and we were on two different planets.  He was happy with working out of a tool shed that was converted into an office and making enough money to pay the bills with a couple of bucks in his pocket.  That is not what I had in mind, I had a new bride, a baby on the way and in my mid 20’s.  I wanted more and one thing I knew for sure was I did not want to spend the rest of my business days in a toxic relationship working out of an oversized toolshed.  I walked, I walked away from the business and away from my dad.  How could I do this? I needed to change.  If I was ever going to make something out of myself, I needed to get out on my own. I was committed to changing my life and my family’s life.

I have a terrific partner, Lisa has been beside me for over three decades.  It hasn’t always been easy and we have had our ups and downs like any great marriage.  We have worked through the lows and embraced the highs.  We love each other very much and have a fantastic relationship. Without a doubt she is one of the main reasons for our success.  Together we have built a terrific business, much more importantly we built and raised a terrific family.  Now both our children, Matt and Jamie are involved in the business, something else I wouldn’t change for the world.

Now let’s hit the rewind button a bit. I met my mentor Harry Kowalchyk Jr. in the early 90’s after reading an article about National Tractor Trailer School in a magazine. This guy was it! He was running 2 amazing schools in Buffalo and Syracuse NY.  I had to meet this guy and luckily enough I did and he became my mentor. Over our 25 year plus friendship I learned many things from Harry about running a school business. One day I asked him why he spent so much time with me on the phone, at conferences, in meetings, he told me one day when I got older I would understand and one day I would want to make a difference to other young people who wanted to be their best. A difference that would not only affect them but our industry. He was so right!

I am still young (on the high side of 50) but being there for the youth of our industry has become very important to me, not just with my kids but any youth that are looking to get better. This is why Lisa and I decided to sponsor the PMTC Young Leaders Driven to Lead Certificate Program being delivered by Eagles Flight. It’s one of the ways we can give back to young leaders in our industry.  Recently I had the pleasure of participating in a PMTC Young Leaders meeting and I was asked to say a few words about young leadership. I was the only thing between them and lunch so I kept it short but here is what I said.

What advice do I think is key to IGNORE for young leaders?

  • follow the beaten path
  • avoid risks
  • play it safe
  • where a suit/or dress

Things Young Leaders Should Pay Attention too

As far as progressing in your company or as an entrepreneur, through true commitment and hard work, you can out prepare your competition every time if you decide.

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

People will tell you that you will learn a lot from failure, some believe that, don’t buy it – there is much more to learn from success.

The quality of your relationships will determine the quality of your life. Invest in your relationships, professionally and personally.

Just say NO – no to blame, no to complaints and no to gossip.

My advice to any young leader under 40 who wants to grow personally and professionally, learn more about the Driven to Lead Program, reach out to the PMTC and get enrolled in the program. Hinna Shaukat, 905-827-0587

On a side note, after years of being apart from my dad and mom we reconciled and I am so glad we did, we didn’t make it as business partners but we have made it as a family. This would have never happened without the unconditional love of my partner, my best friend and wife Lisa and my two children Matt and Jamie. Together we are unbreakable.