Personal development

Dear Jack and Grace: Your mom just made the Top 40 Under 40

When our kids were born, we created e-mail addresses for them.

We thought it would be fun (and less daunting than a journal) to write to them about milestones, lessons, and sometimes just for fun.

Today, it was announced that my wife (Justine Janssen) made the Top 40 Under 40, and I couldn’t think of a better time to write them an e-mail to help them one day understand what it means to dream a big dream and achieve it.

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Jack and Grace,

It’s a summer night in June of 2019 and I just put you both down to bed after watching an episode of Magic School Bus with you (the original, not the modern re-make).

Your mom is on her way home from Ottawa and I can’t wait to give her a big hug and congratulate her for achieving something special: She made the Top 40 Under 40.

By the time you read this, you might have an appreciation for what that is, but in case you don’t: The Top 40 Under 40 is a national awards program that recognizes Canada’s best business leaders, visionaries, and innovators.

And your mom is on the list.

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She even got her own press release!

When she was in high school, one of her mentors dropped a newspaper clipping on her desk. The article was about the Top 40 Under 40, and he told her that if she worked really hard, she could be on that list one day.

Today is that day.

I once heard this equation for success that I think your mom’s story embodies: will + skill + strategy + luck.


Your mom is the hardest working person I know. She makes the choice to do the hard things, and continues to be the type of leader who carries the flag at the front of the line.

She knows nothing other than to do something full-out and it’s what makes her great.

She outworks everyone.

That can be intimidating, but just know that 90% of success is showing up and she has demonstrated an ability to show up again, and again, and again.


Your mom is also the smartest person I know.


Sometimes when you both ask me ‘why’ (all the time) and I genuinely don’t know (almost all the time), I tell you to ask your mom because she definitely knows.

Things come very quickly to her. She’s analytical, and wise beyond her years.

Often she gets herself into trouble because she’s unapologetically curious and isn’t afraid to ask hard questions, and that can makes people feel uncomfortable — sometimes even me!

(Remember when she does this to you one day, it’s in her nature).

We often use smart as a label, as if it was something that just happens.

Like it’s something you’re born with.

Smart is not like that.

Different people are smart at different things, but your mom’s kind of smart is a mix of innate IQ + a tenacious curiosity that I actually see in both of you.


Your mom got this award today because she’s a world-class strategist. She has zero ego and has no qualms about rolling up her sleeves and doing the work.

She joined Ceridian when it was a company of a few dozen people and has worked alongside the founder to grow it to thousands of people.

She led the rollout of their flagship product, architected the reverse takeover of Ceridian, led Canada’s largest tech IPO in history, and has been immersed in a very important project lately to help hard-working Canadians get paid.

Half of her even made it on TechCrunch (trust me, it’s a thing).

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Okay, maybe 3/4 of her made it on TechCrunch…

If you forget everything else, know that at this moment she is a business badass.

It has been a privilege to take a company like Ceridian to new heights. I am incredibly grateful to work with people who challenge and inspire me, and who have helped me grow and develop into the leader I am today. — Justine Janssen


Luck is a funny thing, because it doesn’t just happen.

They say it’s a mix of opportunity meets preparation and I think that’s exactly the kind of luck that your mom seems to find herself in.

Was it ‘luck’ that led her to where she is?

If we define luck as an ability to seize good opportunities when they present themselves, ten absolutely. She’s anything but ‘lucky’ in the traditional sense, but definitely lucky for the life she’s architected for herself — and for you.

Your mom and I had a long talk about moments to celebrate and how the modern ‘celebration’ around weddings is starting to fade.

We think it’s actually a bit weird that parents think they need to wait for one giant occasion to celebrate their kids, and we think that celebrating other major life milestones is equally, if not more important.

We want to celebrate as a family when we set a huge goal and smash it, or dream a giant dream and achieve it.

In just a few minutes your mom will be home from her work trip, and I bought a (really) nice bottle of champagne to celebrate this day.

Your mom dreamt a huge dream, and today she achieved it.

Love Dad

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