The Humans of IG – who are they and what makes them tick? Don Thompson is an #IGMentor, let’s get to know him!

What/where do you consider your hometown?

Barrie, Ontario

Do you have a talent, hobby or skill people wouldn’t expect? If so, do tell!

I was once ACTUALLY a model for a worldwide marketing campaign for BlackBerry – was just glad it wasn’t for February….the funniest part is my mother found out because she saw it at Best Buy when she was looking at new phones and saw my photo on all the phones for the Calendar application ???? – #sonfail?

What brings you joy?  When are you happiest?

Travelling. I really enjoy seeing parts of the world with friends and family. I had the opportunity to travel to a lot of places when I worked for General Electric, BlackBerry and Amazon. Learning a lot of different things – from languages to cultures. I love seeing places NOT on a resort – more fun that way.

Is there one experience in your life that really changed you or shaped who you are and made you think differently?

When I moved to Silicon Valley to work for Amazon Lab126.

I had spent seven years with BlackBerry – hired a lot of people, travelled the world and learned a TONNE – and then I had to fire a LOT of people.

When I went to my new job in the Valley, it was without my family. The kids were seven and five and in school. Based on my BlackBerry experience we weren’t emotionally ready to take a belly flop. ????

A year and a half in, it was clear that we weren’t going to be making the move to the US. I flew the family down and we sold everything in my overpriced apartment, packed up the car and started to drive back to Guelph. I had a road trip planned out and took three weeks to do it.

For the first time in my life I didn’t have a job and was able to unwind and enjoy time away.

After spending so long away from the family, we had the best road trip back from California w/o the phone buzzing or beeping with work stuff.

I made the decision while at Yellowstone Park to start my own product development consulting business so I could spend more time with the family and less time commuting for a job.

I realized I didn’t have to climb the corporate ladder for success nor did I have to sacrifice seeing my kids grow up for success either. Trust me, that was an impactful insight ????

If there was a theme song to your life, what would it be?

Born To Be Wild – Steppenwolf

Who in your life has had the biggest impact?

My mother. I was 16 years old, had no idea what I wanted to do with my life so thought I’d do computer science since I enjoyed programming. She mentioned this thing called “engineering” maybe? So, instead I added the couple courses I needed to get into engineering – hated computer engineering once I got there, but mechanical engineering was pretty cool. ????

If you had a day off to spend any way you wish, what would you do, and why?

ONE day….if raining, play video games with the kids – great way to unwind. If not raining, get out of the house! Go for a hike w/ the family. If it’s just me – drive down to Niagara; I love the area.  I’d grab some lunch, coffee at Balzacs, and chill. ????

 When are you happiest? (Please describe)

Accomplishing stuff. I’m very focused on starting and finishing stuff, whether that is my own project or helping others with their projects or traveling.  It’s always an accomplishment to actually achieve your destination.