Randy’s story: when life gives you lemons, take up kayaking

by | Nov 30, 2014 | Featured blog post, Lifestyle

red-pantz-petra-randy-milanovicInspiration is all around us and we just never know where we’re going to find it next. It may come from an idyllic scenery, a well-constructed classical musical masterpiece or a stranger sitting next to you at the lunch table.

A few months ago, I was in Atlanta speaking on a panel about social media best practices where I met Randy Milanovic, the founder and CEO of a successful online marketing business, Kayak Online Marketing (@kayak360), headquartered in Calgary, Canada. One day, we ended up having lunch together.

His story is one of great determination to beat stage IV lymphoma. Randy celebrated his 5th year “cancer free” on January 7, 2014. When someone goes through an intense period of struggle, his or her outlook on life inevitably changes. Not only has this experience changed him as a person, but also as an entrepreneur. Besides his personal triumph, his company was nominated for Calgary’s 2013 Small Business Week for Breakout Business Award and 2013 Small Business of the Year. During his cancer battle and resulting recovery, Randy recognized a need to reposition his company from a graphic design firm into an online marketing powerhouse, increasing revenues 25-fold within the first year.

I’m grateful to him for sharing his experiences so candidly and allowing me to write about them. Here are 9 life lessons we can all embrace – now.

1. Seize the day

He makes the most of each day. “I see now how quickly you can NOT be here. I went from being told to prepare a will and secure a power of attorney to living a full life again”, he says. Since he came so close to not having another tomorrow, he strives to live every moment to the fullest.

Seize the day. Share on X

2. Find your inner drive

“Make the most of what you have, you have got to make things happen for you”, are additional words of wisdom from Randy. Find your purpose, then set your intent, tap into your inner self to draw motivation, and follow through. It’s never too late. And whatever “IT” is, do the very best you can.

3. Find the courage to speak up

Too often we hold back and don’t say what we mean. This was one of the biggest shifts in Randy’s life. “I don’t take a lot of heat from people or let them step on me anymore. If someone is right, I’ll say you’re right, if someone is wrong, I’ll say you’re wrong. I’m really straightforward now”.

4. Take time for yourself

Before his illness, Randy described himself as a workaholic. Work has always been important to him but now he takes time for himself. He used to work around the clock, including weekends. Now, he works weekdays, shorter hours and enjoys his weekends off. He has taken up amateur photography and kayaking, spends time with friends and family, and plays with his dogs to rejuvenate.

5. Eat regularly

You might wonder why this has made my list. When we work crazy hours and run from meeting to meeting, we often work through lunch and skip meals. A healthy diet consists of 3 meals a day – breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not to mention that our digestive power is strongest in the middle of the day, right around lunchtime, and frequently skipping this meal can lead to energy crash later in the day (along with other disorders).

6. Don’t hold grudges

You know the saying: life is too short. Toxins can come from the food we eat or the thoughts, emotions we have towards ourselves and each other. The more you can let go of these grudges, the more you will help cleanse your body and mind.

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7. Limit contact with negative people

Whether these are people that don’t support you or people that suck the energy out of you, do whatever you can to limit contact with them. (If it is not possible to get away from them, there are different meditation and breathing techniques you can learn to help regulate your reaction).

8. Watch for the warning signs

As early as 2 years before his diagnosis, Randy started feeling worn down. As time went by, his level of fatigue increased. About 6 months before the news, he started feeling really old – physically as well as mentally. So he started cutting back on his work hours. He even booked a vacation to recharge but by the time of his vacation, his body was taken over by cancer. Upon returning from his trip, he was rushed to the ER.

9. Be human first

Businesses are often criticized for their “use and abuse” approach when it comes to people. No wonder “unhappy employees outnumber happy ones by two to one worldwide”*. Show your human side and help others to create “collective happiness”.

As Randy puts it “after getting out of the hospital, I really took stock. I always want to do better and want to make sure my clients get the best from me. I’ve always been that way but since my illness, it’s even more so. I’d rather take a pay cut before I lay anyone off. I won’t hire someone if I don’t want to keep them long term. I won’t take a client’s money if I think they can do the job themselves. I always collaborate with them to figure out the best thing for them”.

In the spirit of sharing and helping others, Randy is giving away his second book, Building a Better Business Website, for free one chapter at a time on Google+. Check it out and please share it with your friends.

Randy’s story was recently featured in Canada’s Financial Post Magazine, which you can read here.

All my very best Randy, paddle on!

About the title image:
“Snapped this in 2011 on a week-long trip to southeastern BC, one of my first trips after recovering, took my neighbours camping/kayaking. I was behind the lens. It was dawn and the kids were still asleep. Such a beautiful morning, in so many ways.”
– Randy Milanovic

Also on Social Media Today

*Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2013/10/10/unhappy-employees-outnumber-happy-ones-by-two-to-one-worldwide/


  1. Randy Milanovic

    Thanks for sharing my story Petra! My biggest takeaway of all from the experience is to press forward no matter what. Be empowered!

  2. Katherine Tattersfield

    Randy, your story never fails to inspire. I know there are even greater things in your future, and I’m happy to be along for the ride.


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