Blogging? No, I’m boating! Here’s an interview from my Up Close and Personal column in First Monday magazine, April 2012 edition. Enjoy!
Daytripping Write Along with Mark Moran
He was a hustler. A skinny kid with a ponytail. Peddling ads for placemats. The ponytail is gone. He’s still skinny. He’s still a hustler. Mark Moran. How does a guy start out in a band, Damn Straight, move to advertising, and end up the entrepreneur of the largest travel tourism magazine in Southern Ontario?
It has been over five years since I last saw Mark and between the two of us, we place it at over twenty years since we met. Even then, I knew he would succeed. Maybe it was his shy smile and easy-going determination. He was a self-starter who forged ahead and came out a winner in a competitive business. If you want to know about the history of his success, check out the website at www.daytripping.ca
Personally, I wanted to know more about the man behind the publication. I met up with Mark at his office where he introduced me to two of his hard-working staff, Carrie Ann and Angela. We then settled in for a long catch up beginning with pictures of my granddaughters. I can’t help it, they’re just too cute. That out of the way, I shifted focus. Basically, he hadn’t changed much. I hate that about men. I noticed some grey around the temples but since he didn’t mention mine....
Q: I don’t want this interview to be all about your successful Daytripper publication. I want to find out about the man, Mark Moran. Can we separate the two?
Mark: Yes. Daytripping is a big part of who I am, but I don’t think people should be defined by what they do.
Q: Tell me a bit about yourself.
Mark: I was born in Port Lambton, the youngest of nine in an Irish Catholic family. Coming from a large family is great. We are still close and get together regularly. My father was Reeve of Sombra Township and later Warden of Lambton County. I left the ad business in ’89 and spent two years in the army. At the time, I wondered if I was missing something in life. It was such a great experience. I believe every Canadian should have to do a three-month basic training course. It showed me how hard I could push myself and what I was capable of doing. (Mark’s enthusiasm left little doubt of the benefits.)
Q: Are you content? Where do you go from here or have you already arrived?
Mark: Content, yes. Happy, yes. Have I already arrived? No. I have so many different ideas that I’d love to do but will never get around to. I look forward to every new chapter in my life.
Q: Tell me something about yourself that no one, or very few, know about you. The last time I asked a man this question, he shared his penchant for cooking in the nude. Spare me those details.
Mark: (burst of laughter and then after serious consideration) That I can be very shy and nervous in some settings. I love selling ads one on one and I love being on stage in front of a crowd, but I’m not always comfortable at medium size settings.
Q: I love reading your personal column in Daytripping. Any aspirations to writing a book?
Mark: A Wallaceburg High School teacher, Mr. Smith, insisted we keep a journal that we had to hand in. (Mark and I laughed over the obvious fictitious trivia that would occupy such a journal.) I kept it up until I started Daytripping 17 years ago and then stopped for some reason. I have a book in me but don’t know if it will ever get out. It would be about my experience in the Army. Most people don’t realize what it is like and what’s expected.
Q: If you could be anywhere, doing anything, what would it be?
Mark: (without hesitation) A rock star!! I’d love to live the life of a Springsteen or Bono. Music will always be a part of my life. I play in Painkiller Jane now and we put out a record last year.
Q: Tell me about a high point in your life, something that made your heart race.
Mark: I quit smoking five years ago. It’s the single greatest thing I’ve ever done. And I love entertaining family and friends with my music - watching everyone have a good time. That’s an incredible feeling.
Q: If you were getting a tattoo tomorrow, where would it be and what would it say?
Mark: (no hesitation) Left shoulder. The Team Canada hockey logo. Instead of a hockey player, it would be the silhouette of Johnny Cash with an acoustic guitar slung over his back.
Q: If you could describe yourself in one word, what would it be?
Mark: I try my best. (Much deliberation on this one) How to put that in one word, that’s tough. (I am trying to come up with an appropriate answer as well. He’s an honest, hard-working, fun-loving, family oriented, businessman. Hmmm.... Hey, who thinks up these questions? On the drive home, I thought of a fitting word...diligent. Hope Mark agrees!)
Q: What is your idea of heaven? (Oh, I can’t take credit for this question. Mark just blurted it out.)
Mark: I went to see Cirque du Soleil doing Love, with the Beatles theme. There were over300 speakers and so much going on… it was an incredible spectacle. I sat for fifteen minutes when it was over, absorbing everything. If I die and that’s what Heaven is, send me there!
Q: Who was, or is, the most influential person in your life?
Mark: My kids influence my life right now. Once you have kids, you make friends through them. Being from a large family, I didn’t have the opportunity to play hockey but now I help out as hockey coach. I love it. I’m involved in different activities and meet new people because of my kids. My staff, customers, and readers influence my life, too. My middle sister, Rose, is a single great influence. She’s wise and has a great attitude.
(He adds with a smile) And, if in doubt, always do what Jean Luc Picard would do.
“Those who are familiar with the character Captain Picard, already know him to be the leader that we all wish we worked for, whose leadership gives us confidence and comfort in meeting the challenges we face each and every day, and the type of leader that we should strive to become.”
Thanks for the glimpse into your life, Mark. I wish you continued success and happiness.