John Brink has a message - a simple yet personal one.
It’s one he’s lived throughout his life, and one he thought so important he decided to pass it on through his newly published book - Against All Odds.
“I’d been thinking about writing a book for a long time, 20 years or so, stopping and starting. But two years ago, I began in earnest,” says Brink, 80, the Founder, President and CEO of Brink Forest Products, who was a child growing up in Nazi-occupied Holland before coming to Canada in 1965.
“It’s not to talk about my successes, but more about facing up to the adversities, like being born during the Second World War in Holland, or experiencing extreme hunger and being cold as I went out with my siblings searching for something to burn and eat every day. It talks about how I developed a dream that I would, one day, go to the land of my heroes, Canada, the country that liberated Holland when I was just five years old.”
Brink grew up in a lumber-centric environment - his grandfather was a master carpenter, and his father was a manager at a large, secondary manufacturing plant in northern Holland.
“I was trained as a furniture maker and have worked in the lumber industry since I was 15,” he says.
And his goal was to have his own secondary lumber manufacturing company in Canada.
“I left Holland with just $150 in my pocket, one suitcase, one set of clothes, two books and knew I had to go to British Columbia if I wanted to fulfill my dream.”
When he arrived in late July of 1965, Brink was alone, couldn’t speak English, had no job, but managed to make his way to Prince George after learning it was a hive of lumber activity with pulp and sawmills.
“When I stepped off the Greyhound here, I had just $25.47 left in my pocket,” he says, adding that’s why his book has a cover price of just $25.47.
After hitchhiking to Quesnel, he found a job at the Wellwood of Canada sawmill and immediately started piling lumber while still wearing his suit and tie.
“By the first coffee break, I did take my tie off,” he laughs.
It’s that strong work ethic and self-belief Brink’s book carries.
“I say to young people, in particular, to find your passion, develop a strong work ethic and maintain a positive attitude,” he adds. “Do this, and you will excel in anything in life!”
“Believe in yourself, and never, never give up.”
He’s applying that philosophy to writing more books.
“I am already working on another one. So, from here on in, I plan to write a book every year,” Brink says, adding the next one will focus on harnessing the effects of ADHD - a condition he’s endured his entire life - as a positive attribute, not a liability.
“ADHD is still considered to have a stigma attached to it, but I will explore it from my own experience,” Brink says. “I want to change that stigma and show how it can become a superpower.”
He’s also planning a book on health, fitness and bodybuilding, a sport he started competing in seriously during his late-70s, becoming the oldest nationally ranked athlete in Canada.
For more information about John Brink and how to order his book, Against All Odds, visit johnabrink.com.