John F. McLaughlin

Through higher education, I escaped poverty and limited opportunities to exceed many personal and career goals. I want to share my wisdom to help others achieve their dreams. This is my story.

John McLaughlin
City of Edmonton

Founder's Background

I retired in 2018 after a diverse 44-year professional career. During that span, I held 25 different jobs covering a wide spectrum of careers – municipal recreation, environmental advocacy, facilities, real estate management, and finally, management consulting. I’ve lived in five Canadian cities, moved twenty times, and attended ten different institutions of learning. I’ve had my share of success, but come from a humble background.

Born in rural Ontario, by the age of six, I was a cog in the economic unit known as the family farm. We were dirt poor. Our farm buildings, equipment, and property suggested we were well off, but like many small farmers, we were cash poor, living hand to mouth.

My first 4 years of education were provided in 1-room schoolhouses. On my grade 3 report card, my teacher wrote “Hook your wagon to a satellite”. At that moment I knew education was my ticket to a better way of life. Straight A’s became my norm.

I funded my first degree, 1970-1974, from summer and part-time job savings, a small scholarship, and government grants. To my surprise and delight, a federal government grant available to students from lower income families, My plan was to be a math teacher, but after one year, I switched universities from U of Toronto to U of Ottawa to study Recreation. I graduated debt free. After working full-time for a while, I obtained my Master’s in Environmental Design in 1978-80, funded by savings and my spouse’s wages. Over my career, I have invested over 1,000 hours in professional development courses ensuring I stayed current in the business world. This included PC-based financial analysis and certifications in Facility Management, Urban Planning, Facilitation, and Adult Education.

On the home front, after our son Reilly was born in 1984, we established a self-directed family Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP), In 1987, we added our daughter, Kaitlin to the plan. Both children went to university, finishing debt-free. For much of this time period, interest rates were very high and I actively selected and managed the investments inside the plan, sticking to low risk, low volatility instruments. Both children went to college or University., finishing debt-free. Instead of keeping the principal we had  contributed to their RESP, we gifted it to them, to help them get established. Currently, we’re contributing to our grandchildren’s RESPs to help them realize their dreams of becoming a lawyer, a scientist, and a doctor. We have always viewed these RESPs as a timely and tax-efficient way to transfer wealth from our generation to the next ones!

Since 1984, as a side hustle, I researched options to fund post-secondary education and compiled my findings into a manual. My first draft contained 37 methods. Planning to publish the manual in 1994, I found some material was outdated, due to changing legislation, markets, and industry players. So sharing this information remained on the back burner, deferred until retirement. But I never stopped researching, and the content expanded to 50 methods.

In September of 2020, I moved this project from the back to the front burner. Early in 2021, I enrolled with Startup Edmonton for training and coaching on lean start-ups. I am committed to rigorously following their guidance, which includes this website and pre-launch tests, to clearly understand what potential customers (you) want.

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