Beauty and the beast

Adversity is a tough foe, but it can be your friend, according to Amanda Lang’s new book, The Beauty of Discomfort. Lang’s thesis is that successful people don’t just tolerate discomfort, they seek it out. Again and again. Among the individuals featured in the book is Linda Hasenfratz, who took over from her father Frank as CEO of Linamar Corp. but not before spending nine years working her way up from the factory floor. Throughout her apprenticeship Hazenfratz suffered charges of nepotism, bouts of hostility, and sexism. Her advice is simple: Ignore negativity, don’t make the same mistake twice, and don’t expect people to adjust to you, adjust to them. During Hazenfratz’s time as CEO, sales have grown from $1 billion to more than $5 billion.

Lang, the producer and anchor of Bloomberg North on Bloomberg TV Canada, has known adversity since her birth. She and her twin, Adrian, now head of business management at Bank of Montreal, were due to arrive in October 1970, the month when the War Measures Act was declared. Their father, Otto Lang, was Minister of Manpower and Immigration so their Ottawa house was guarded by soldiers in case the FLQ came calling.

Their mother, Adrian, was ready to give birth so headed to the car only to be stopped by a guard who said, “My orders are to go with you.” Adrian, already the mother of five, knew there was no time to waste. “You are not accompanying me, and if you continue to argue with me, you may have to deliver the babies here.” The soldier beat a hasty retreat; the twins arrived safely at Ottawa Civic Hospital.

Among the more than one hundred attendees at the book launch last night were former Ontario Premier David Peterson, Manulife CEO Donald Guloien, Dick O’Hagan and his daughter Anne, an author in her own right, Phil Lind of Rogers Communications, Jan Innes, a director of PortsToronto, and Conrad Black, also a writer of renown.

Lang, like every author at this point in the publishing cycle when a book is just out, says she’s never going to write another book. But she will; that’s the beauty of discomfort at work.

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