According to Malcolm Gladwell, in his engaging book, The Tipping Point, social epidemics are fuelled by word-of-mouth. And to get word-of-mouth, you need people with an extraordinary knack of making friends and acquaintances. You need Connectors.
Sharon Geldart has the rare ability to remember people, what they do, and then to remember how they fit together with another person. Can you imagine the size of her rolodex? Thank goodness for smartphones!
She grew up in a family owned business, Geldart’s Warehouse & Cartage, learning from her parents at a very early age that giving back is good for the soul. She was taught that just because someone has less, it doesn’t mean they are worth less. She’s been giving her time and energy since she was a junior member of the Orange Lodge. Today she sits on more boards and serves in more organizations than most people know exist. And at an age when many of her peers are on their second motorhomes, she shows no signs of slowing down.
After finishing business school and working a short time at Robin Hood Flour, Sharon stepped into the family business for good at the age of 19 when her mother became ill. It took a while for the employees to understand that her kind heart was also tempered with steel. But respect her they did and Sharon flourished as she stepped into her true calling: meeting and connecting people.
By 1981, married, with 2 children, she and her husband bought the moving and storage business from her retiring father. In 1989, her daughter became very ill and Sharon left the business to nurse her through, turning over the reins to her husband.
In the end, Sharon’s destiny was not to stay in the family business and after much soul-searching and a few stops and starts; she was asked by the Community Business Development Corporation (CBDC) to develop a business training seminar for entrepreneurs taking advantage of self-employment benefits through the federal employment insurance program.
That is how so many of us came to know Sharon: for more than 15 years, she has been helping entrepreneurs to find their way in business. With the help of her many connections — who give back for the start they received — her popular week-long workshop has opened our eyes, made us hopeful, fearful and determined to succeed, all at once.
The people of Greater Moncton and Rural Southeast New Brunswick are richer for having met this fireball. While she would undoubtedly laugh at the notion, I would wager that New Brunswick’s status as the most entrepreneurial province in Canada per capita, is due at least in part to how hard she works to help us succeed. She has, in essence, created an entrepreneurial tipping point.
Her life of working for and with people has made her the go-to person whenever someone needs a connection. But in her modest way she says, “As the saying goes, ‘Give, and get back ten-fold.’ But I’ve been given back a hundred-fold.”