Grow your business with resilience

I arrived at Toronto Pearson airport with my wife Marion excitedly to see our son and grandchildren in Sydney, Australia. Thanks to the pandemic, it had been two years since seeing them.

We presented our passports to the checking-in agent, who, after examining them, announced that my photo had been water damaged. Upon careful inspection, it was apparent that some liquid (probably hand sanitizer) had stained the page on the back of the photo resulting in the damage. I knew that it would not expire for another three years, and since I'd not used my passport for two years, I never thought to check it.

They would not allow me to fly. It was a surreal experience.

I persuaded Marion to leave without me with the certainty that I would get a new emergency passport and follow shortly after that.

Several processes needed to be completed before I could fly again, including:

1.     Get a new passport

2.     Update my Australian visa with my new passport number

3.     Book a new flight

4.     Get a PCR test (an Australian requirement)


It was just five days to Christmas, so the passport office was jam-packed with people.

Given the urgency, I didn't want to complete the form online, so I stood in the lineup for two hours and received a form to complete.

Fortunately, the lineup wasn't too long when I returned, and I proudly presented my paperwork, only to be told that they needed to see my citizenship card.

"What?" I replied. "I don't have one. I've lived in Canada for 32 years. I'm a citizen, which is evident by having a Canadian passport".

"Sorry, Mr. Joffe, it's not required when renewing a passport, but it is required when replacing a passport."

I was horrified. "So, how do I get a citizenship card?"

She gave me the website where I could apply for it online, and I needed to prove that I had paid the required $75 and that I had mailed off the forms".

I drove back home again, made the application, took new photos, and mailed the forms via courier.

It was already 4:00 pm, and the passport office was nearly closed by then.

I went back an hour before opening time the following day and the lovely lady, who I had seen the previous day, said that all was in order and that I could see the agent to process my new passport. 

They were most accomodating and sympathetic and said it would be ready by 2:00 the next day.

I waited for 2 hours in a lineup the next day only to collect it!

$300 later, I had my new passport. What a relief.

I spent a couple of hours updating my details on the Australian website and printed my voluminous documentation.

Step 2. Book a flight. I was concerned that Air Canada would not honor my ticket.

Thanks to my son in Toronto, whose GF works for Air Canada, they managed to rebook my flight on the 24th at no charge.

Step 3. Get a PCR test. Easier said than done. Every private clinic that I called was at capacity. Eventually, I found a clinic that squeezed me in with the promise (and $200) that I would get the results the same night. They were true to their word.

Fortunately, I arrived 4 hours early for my flight on the 24th. At the checking-in counter, Kathleen worked through all the steps until she got to the visa part. My printed copy of the visa number didn't match my new passport number. I showed her the documentation that said that the Australian system would update the passport details online in approximately 45 days, but it would be OK as long as I had a copy of my old passport and visa number handy.

It took three hours and three levels of authority to persuade her supervisors that my documentation was in order. If not for Kathleen, who helped me through the process, I would not have made the flight. Social distancing went to hell when I gave her a huge hug.

After two flights and 20 hours in the air, I arrived safe and sound in Sydney with no issue at immigration.

But wait. My nightmare wasn't over yet.

Australia insists on having a PCR test within 24 hours after arrival and another after six days.

Sydney was in a state of pandemonium (an interesting connection to the word pandemic), and 
lineups to get tested required hours of waiting. Fortunately, my son's doctor friend came by the house to take a swab. I was not allowed out of the house until getting the results. It's a week later; I've had my second test and have yet to receive the results from the first test. The rules changed on New Year. If a traveler is double vaccinated, one is only required to have a rapid test. Mine was negative (a positive result), and we're out of prison. I felt like I had just passed a  board examination when seeing the negative result.

Why did I share this elaborate story with you?

I saw my son, my grandkids and met my grand doggie for the first time. Was it worth it? YOU BET.

I nearly gave up when I was refused to board the second time, but I kept the prize in mind and never gave up.  

Were it not for the beautiful people at the passport office; I would not have gotten a new passport. Remember that this was the busiest time of the year and everyone has a sob story.

If not for Kathleen, who checked me in, I would not have made the flight.

Marion had prepared all the documentation before leaving, so she was familiar with the process. Were it not for her remotely guiding me with the online forms etc. I'm pretty sure that I would not have ultimately boarded.

If you want to grow your business with the ultimate objective of retiring in comfort, it's essential to realize that you cannot do it alone.

Your employees are the custodians of your company's profits and your future.

If you want to be untethered from the day-to-day routines of your business, you need to:

·       Engage your employees with decisions

·       Be financially transparent (there are ways of doing this without handing out all your financial statements)

·       Educate them to understand the financial implications of their decisions

·       Hold them accountable and

·       If you want them to think and act like owners, then you need to incentivize them appropriately (remember that nobody washes a rented car)


Only THEN will you be able to rise above the day-to-day routines so that you can focus ON your business rather than being IN your business.

Managing expectations

This doesn't happen overnight, nor will it happen with wishful thinking. You will keep experiencing unexpected challenges along the way. Learn together with your employees along the journey toward your own emotional and financial freedom.


You cannot do it alone