The greatest gift I’ve ever received, or offered, is time. Time is the one thing you give and never get back. The busier life gets, the more I take on, the more valuable my time seems to become … and the more I realise what a gift it is for someone to give their time to me.

Over the years there have been a lot of great people who have given me their time. When I first started Women’s Post I went searching for advice from others in the publishing industry. Michael De Pencier, previous owner of Toronto Life magazine, was a fountain of information. Back then I was having trouble gaining national advertisers, and Michael advised me to avoid the ad buying agencies because they are filled with people dedicated to detail and data. They need studies, surveys, history, and research and they often take years to make decisions. They are not risk takers and truly shouldn’t be.

Instead, De Pencier suggested I go directly to the heads of companies. My assertiveness, passion and determination would be an asset. And at the time, it was. I will never forget the time, advice, and encouragement Michael De Pencier gave me when I needed it most.

A few weeks ago a friend called. He is one of the busiest people I know and yet he took the time to tell me something I needed to know. It wasn’t an easy call for him to make, and it took a lot of courage. But I respect and value his friendship, even more now because he took the time to tell me that people were not seeing my passion and assertiveness in a positive light. That one phone call made me understand the importance of learning to negotiate with people who need more information, data, and research to come to their decisions. I was reminded that the need to stay top-of-mind with a customer is not as important as understanding their needs, wants, and decision-making process.

And I am very fortunate to have such a wonderful friend who took the time to tell me what I needed to know most. Today I was given a few hours from an entrepreneur who has managed to become quite successful in the corporate world, despite his entrepreneurial nature. He is a busy man who heads up a huge company. But not only did he give me his time, he also gave me some very helpful insights on how to negotiate properly with what he calls the “controller-types.” They are people who are precise, accurate, and detail-oriented, usually in the position to control a decision. Controllers need history, data, and research before making any decisions and the best way to work with them is to give them the data and time they need to come to a decision.

Time seems to be creeping into every sentence I write, but it is the one thing that people lack most of, which is why it is one of the best gifts to receive. Over the years I have gained some terrific mentors and friends who have given me their time and who I hope someday to repay. I struggle to find ways to help them, but then perhaps I just need to give things a little time.

Miguel de Cervantes wrote: “There is a time for some things, and a time for all things; a time for great things, and a time for small things.”

Sarah Thomson can be reached at


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