Fortunato Restagno, The Personal Coach

Fortunato Restagno, The Personal Coach

Leadership Waterloo Region Class of 2004

I do love my day job in advertising but, like most jobs, deadlines and getting overwhelmed can sometimes get the best of me.  My passion starts when I toss my work-out bag in the car and head off to Grand River Karate.

I've been involved in karate since 1979 and I'm more in love (addicted!) with it now than I've ever been.  In 1998 our chief instructor moved and, since I was the next highest rank, lucky me, I got the title.  Unfortunately, I had no experience in running a not-for-profit karate school where no one gets paid to teach.  My passion wasn't enough.  The membership was slowly declining and our higher ranked members, including myself, couldn't see much of a future.

I began to look for help.  I started with locating masters and associations that had a classical foundation, good structure, and support.  After 4 years I found one called Shido-kan Karate under Sensei (Teacher) Seikichi Iha, 10th degree black belt.  We made the switch and are now affiliated and training with the highest ranks in the world.  But I was confronted once again.  People don't like sudden change.  Our membership dropped to 20 students very quickly.  I questioned whether I had made a big mistake.

Since I was involved in several business and community programs, my wife Lindsay suggested I look at participating in Leadership Waterloo Region.  I wasn't completely sure what I would gain from the program but I soon found it to be a valuable experience.

The program taught me tools to support my passion and help re-light the passion in others.  All the knowledge offered from Leadership Waterloo Region - governance, diversity and creativity to name a few - play a vital role in our community as a whole.  I realized that Grand River Karate is also a community in itself.

In the year after I completed the 2004 program, our karate membership grew from 20 students to 120, and it's still growing.

We now have a great team of leaders at the school, solid structures and clarity on our future with a common goal.  That goal is a commitment to each member that they experience balance in life, improve focus, learn to cooperate with each other, and make great friendships.

Leadership Waterloo Region is a vital program for anyone involved in a community program, whether work or personal.  Thank you, Leadership Waterloo Region, for keeping my passion alive."

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