For my first contributing article in Laval Families Magazine, the story I want to share with you is one that is very dear to me. The moral behind it has helped me through times of tumultuous waters and I hope it may inspire you to keep moving forward.

In my early years as a realtor, I had the chance to meet a fantastic couple named Michel and Martine. They had called me to sell their home in the beautiful town of Rosemère and from the first meeting, I had a feeling that we would get along just fine. Their home was unique and had a lot of personalized charm. It was over 3500 sq ft of living space and had been renovated over the years. There was one feature that made it stand out: it was an extension the owners had built in the back of the home and it was about the same size of the house itself. This extension had originally served to house an indoor pool. However, after a few years, Michel had the idea to turn it into a loft style section, building another level above the pool while keeping the original structure beneath and turning it into storage. By no means was this home ordinary! It was considerably more expensive than the houses next to it since it had an unconventional layout that included an in-ground pool right beneath the master bedroom. This made it one of the most challenging homes I had to sell.

Together with the sellers, I worked hard to market this home and get showings. Over the span of a year we had more than 50 showings, 20 open houses, and 5 offers. We finally sold the house and at a good price, too! For me though, the real reward was the relationship that had developed in the process. Michel, who had been a businessman for many years, was now retired. Whenever I needed to chat, he was always available. Therefore, I started to see him more as a mentor. Many times, I consulted with him issues regarding my business, and this was years after the sale of his house. I would often show up, unannounced, walk in, make myself coffee and sit with Michel by the fire to ‘pick his brain’ and fill him in whatever project I was working on. Michel was so generous by sharing his time, his knowledge, but most of all, his honesty. He’d tell me what I needed to hear, and not just what I wanted to.

In 2007, I obtained a Chartered Broker’s Certification. This would allow me to incorporate and eventually open my own office. As a congratulatory gift, Michel gave me a Bluenose sailing ship model kit (like the one on the face of the ten-cent coin). At that time, although I appreciated the gesture, building model ships wasn’t exactly a priority. Therefore, the Bluenose stayed in its box for some years.

In 2012, Michel passed away. For the first time in my life, I had lost a friend.

A couple of months later, I moved into my new house. While unpacking, I came across that model boat that Michel had given me. I thought it would be nice to build it with my son. So, one night, we set it up in his room and started building it together. At that time, I was going through some rough personal challenges. I had made some investments, built my house, and was in the process of buying an office; it seemed like I had taken on more than I could handle. This was one of those times where I would have really needed to talk to Michel. As I was building the ship with my son, I couldn’t help but think about Michel and what he might have said to me. It was at that moment that I found a little note inside the box of the boat that had been there for years. It read:

To Captain Sperano, Happy sailings with your new diploma!

When there’s no wind…row. This is exactly what Michel would have said to me and it was exactly what I needed to hear. At that moment, tears welled up in my eyes, because I felt as if I had been granted a wish, and Michel had reached out to me.

I hugged my son and we finished the ship. From that day forward, I haven’t looked back and I even continued to take on more challenges.

Today, that ship is in my office and serves as a reminder to me and the team to always keep moving forward, to keep pushing through. When there’s no wind…row. Don’t lose sight of your destination, surround yourself with the right ‘crew’, set a path, then set your sails and go! Whatever challenges you may be going through, keep those words in mind, find the strength within yourself and you will succeed.

For my friend and mentor:
Michel Bolduc 1947-2012