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“To develop Grit, take care of your physical, emotional and spiritual well being” With Phil Laboon and Garry Brownrigg

Take care of yourself — your physical, emotional and spiritual well being The most important person in your life has to be you. I don’t mean this from an egotistical point of view. Instead, what I mean is that without your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being in check, your ability to fully live your life’s purpose is diminished. […]


Take care of yourself — your physical, emotional and spiritual well being
 The most important person in your life has to be you. I don’t mean this from an egotistical point of view. Instead, what I mean is that without your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being in check, your ability to fully live your life’s purpose is diminished. When I lost my voice, it forced me to look at all aspects of myself as a person. Over time I’ve been a powerlifter and age group triathlete, I’ve spoken with counsellors, psychotherapists, psychiatrists and family to help me navigate the emotional challenges associated with my experience, and I’ve become a Reiki Master Teacher (Usui and Karuna Reiki), as well as Shamanic practitioner to round out my spiritual side. I’ve also learned that it’s okay not to invite those people into your life who don’t support you in the way you need them to; while always leaving the door open for the future.

Takeaway: You need to be of service to yourself first, in order to best serve others.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Garry Brownrigg, Founder & CEO of QuickSilk. Garry is an accomplished high technology entrepreneur and executive with 25 years of software industry experience. He has spent the past 20 years working on web development initiatives, using more than 20 different content management platforms to design and build websites and web applications that have been deployed in 19 countries and 14 languages.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what events have drawn you to this specific career path

In 1989 my voice gradually started to fade. Over the course of three months, I lost complete functional control of my conversational voice. I was forced to leave a 6-year banking career.

In the following 18 months, I visited no less than two dozen different medical and natural health practitioners, none of whom were able to identify or resolve the cause of my speech difficulties. I was told to learn sign language, that I would never speak again. American Sign Language (ASL) is a beautiful language and I’m in awe of the beauty and expression of it. But this was a moment of defiance for me — the moment where I took full control of my destiny in this experience.

We’re in the early ’90s at this point. I started researching everything I could on my symptoms. I turned to the internet, which was very much in its early stages. Major search engines like Google weren’t around at this time. Doing extensive online searches in medical databases was non-existent, as was the ability to find other people dealing with a similar experience — especially when I didn’t have a diagnosis to base my research on. I spent years researching with no success. My research became less and less frequent, as I kept on bumping into the same information time and time again — just from a different angle.

In the late ’90s an internet search served a result with the term — Laryngeal Dystonia,(LD) also known as Spasmodic Dysphonia (SD), a disorder in which the muscles that generate a person’s voice go into periods of spasm. I took this information to my family doctor, who arranged a consult with a neurologist. The neurologist confirmed my research. I finally knew what I was dealing with.

I was diagnosed with the adductor variety of Laryngeal Dystonia. I recently learned that Robert F Kennedy Jr, Dilbert creator Scott Adams, NPR host Diane Rehm, and Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of Run-DMC are living with the same diagnosis. The condition affects 2 in 100,000 people. Everyone’s situation is different. Misdiagnosis is frequent. There is no known cure at this time.

Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

Communication is a mainstay in daily life. When you’ve had the ability to speak for 30 years, losing your voice becomes an isolating experience.

Social situations where people don’t know my story are difficult. You continually have to explain yourself. Re-tell your story. People look at you funny when you try to talk because every syllable is strained and somewhat garbled. You notice people talking about you behind your back. What’s wrong with him? Why does he talk that way? They make assumptions about your speech — attributing it to stress or anxiety, but it’s neither. The problem is believed to be located in the basal ganglia, the part of the brain that controls motor function — which causes the conversation between the brain and the vocal folds to become garbled.

For example, it’s very common for my speech to be different from one situation to the next. In general, I can talk more clearly when on a hands-free call than I can with the phone to my ear. My voice is clearer in a 1-on-1 conversation than it is when speaking in front of a group. When I was a volunteer firefighter, there were high-pressure scenarios where my voice was strong, in a similar scenario at a different time I would barely be able to get a word out. People, well intended, suggest I slow down or relax when speaking. They don’t understand that it’s not within my control. This is common for people living with LD or SD, although their individual experiences may be different.

There simply is no rhyme or reason I’ve been able to discern about what triggers the variances in my speech from one event to the next. I’ve had to learn to talk differently than most. I breathe differently, speak in shorter sentences. I often sweat when I talk, solely from the strain of trying to speak. Every day I am exhausted from speaking. My chest and back muscles hurt.

Yet, despite all this, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Doing work that I love. So it’s hard to complain or feel bad about my situation when I look at the bigger picture.

I’m not alone. Everyone faces challenges in their life; it’s a different journey for everyone. We don’t always get to choose what happens to use, be we usually get to choose how we respond.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

Initially, from my parents. I was raised in a military family and we moved around a lot. After my father left military service we moved almost as much, as he sought to find a career that fulfilled him. At times we lived in large cities, other times we lived in a trailer home on a hunting and fishing lodge my parents owned and operated — a dream my father had. In later years I brought these lessons with me, and was buoyed by the support I received from my family, friends and co-workers as I found my way and purpose in life. Throughout, I learned to improvise, overcome and adapt.

So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?

I wouldn’t describe my experience as ‘turning around’ but rather as an evolution. Each day I wake up and put one foot in front of the other, grateful for the opportunity to do so. In that respect, each day is a success. That’s not to say that every day goes as expected, but rather an appreciation for the lessons learned and steps taken.

So, how are things going today? 🙂

I live by a personal mantra, “Every day I wake up is a good day.”

Based on your experience, can you share 5 pieces of advice about how one can develop Grit?

1. Take ownership of your situation

Because of my upbringing, I immediately took charge of my situation. I did a lot of research and worked with my family physician to reach out into the medical community, exploring every possible avenue. In concert, I also explored numerous alternative medicine scenarios. 
 
 Takeaway: There’s more than one way to look at a problem or challenge. Be open to exploring different scenarios, thoughts and approaches. Work with people that know more than you. Follow the path that resonates most deeply with you.

2. Celebrate the small victories

For some unknown reason, my voice started improving about 10 years ago. It gets better each year. With everything I’ve done to try to improve my situation, I can’t point to an event, intervention or course of action that is responsible for the improvement. Nor do I need to.
 
 Takeaway: There are very few overnight successes in life. Celebrate the small gains!

3. Your situation doesn’t define you

When I first lost my voice, I let it and others define who I was — that was a mistake. Just because my voice was weak doesn’t mean I am weak as a person. In fact, I’ve come to realize over the years that I’m incredibly strong and resilient.

Takeaway: Only you get to decide who you choose to be, not others

4. Things seldom go as planned — and that’s ok

If you told me before my experience that I would go 15 years with limited ability to speak, and as a result end up pursuing work I love, I would have thought you were “off your rocker.” As a young adult, I had plans, a career I wanted to pursue, and a pathway forward — every aspect of which has changed since I first started planning

Takeaway: Everyone one of us is presented with challenges in life, it’s how we respond to these challenges that truly matters

5. Take care of yourself — physical, emotional and spiritual well being
 The most important person in your life has to be you. I don’t mean this from an egotistical point of view. Instead, what I mean is that without your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being in check, your ability to fully live your life’s purpose is diminished. When I lost my voice, it forced me to look at all aspects of myself as a person. Over time I’ve been a powerlifter and age group triathlete, I’ve spoken with counsellors, psychotherapists, psychiatrists and family to help me navigate the emotional challenges associated with my experience, and I’ve become a Reiki Master Teacher (Usui and Karuna Reiki), as well as Shamanic practitioner to round out my spiritual side. I’ve also learned that it’s okay not to invite those people into your life who don’t support you in the way you need them to; while always leaving the door open for the future.

Takeaway: You need to be of service to yourself first, in order to best serve others.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped you when things were tough? Can you share a story about that?

Placing a spotlight on one individual would be a huge disservice to the countless others that have been part of my journey. The African proverb “It takes a village” is representative of the support I’ve received from my community, wherever I have been.

I am grateful for everyone that has supported me in any way along my journey; they have given me a well of support to draw from as needed. I am equally grateful for those who might be labelled as my adversaries, or naysayers, for they sharpen my skills and give me the resolve to push harder through the difficult times.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I am most fulfilled and happy when working in service for others whenever possible. This involves serving as a volunteer for my son’s sports teams, volunteering in the non-profit community, serving as a volunteer firefighter (now retired), and looking for opportunities to support and encourage others. My company and staff sponsor and participate in local events as well.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

In the past 25 years, my team and I have worked on 20+ different content management systems (CMS) and deployed applications in 19 countries and 14 languages. In doing so, we’ve identified a built-in compromise in the CMS space where organizations are being forced to choose between 2 of 3 options — Simplicity, Affordability or Security. In response, our team built a Software as a Service CMS platform called QuickSilk that no longer requires small to medium size organizations to compromise security for simplicity or affordability.

Our offering provides organizations with enterprise-grade security for managing their websites, in a securely hosted and fully managed and supported environment, while maintaining the ease of use and providing predictable and affordable costs.

Given the ever-increasing threat website owners are facing these days around website hacks, the security of their client data, and potential liability, QuickSIlk offers an end-to-end platform to help small to medium size organizations mitigate these risks.

What advice would you give to other executives or founders to help their employees to thrive?
 
 
I aspire to the following principles:

● We are all travelling on different journey’s, so it’s important to value everyone for their uniqueness, ideas and contributions.

● Hire people that are smarter than you, or better at certain functions than you, to drive enterprise value for all stakeholders.

● Build a team that is in alignment with your corporate values. For me, this means a team that thrives on being of service to their teammates, clients, partners and the community.

● Once you’ve hired someone, train them well and then trust them to do the job you hired them for. Provide performers with a career path for growth.

● Accept, and encourage, an environment where first-time mistakes are anticipated and used for future growth. Team members should be accountable for their own performance, as well as the overall team’s performance.

● Lead by example. Let your team see you pushing yourself so they understand what’s expected of them.

● When faced with a bad hire, or bad job fit, speak openly and honestly about the situation with the team member. Don’t prolong a bad situation; it only makes things worse for everyone involved.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

In a word — acceptance. Social media has conditioned our “connected universe” to seek opportunities for instant response and gratification. There’s too much divisiveness, too little tolerance. We need to embrace and celebrate each other’s differences, in an environment of inclusion and collaboration.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I’ll repeat what I said above, “Every day I wake up is a good day.” I reflect back on history as a great teacher, without obsessing about what may or may not of happen. I look forward to the future to set high-level goals. However, the vast majority of my thoughts and mindset are heavily centered around embracing a day by day approach, which allows me to live in the moment.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

https://ca.linkedin.com/in/quicksilk

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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