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Featured in the photo above are Colin James and Dan Cooper.

Featured in the photo above are Colin James and Dan Cooper.

The house was rocking with the great sounds of Colin James at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts on March 19th. James is a Canadian boy who rose to fame in the 1980’s and became a global star with two hit singles Voodoo Thing and Five Long Years.

In his early years he opened for the likes of the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, ZZ Top and the Rolling Stones; he appeared on the Late Night shows with David Letterman and Conan O’Brien and is a multi-Juno winner.

A consummate professional and a superb guitarist, James is a musician’s musician. The confidence that comes with maturity can be heard in his voice and seen in his electrifying stage performance. He did not disappoint on this night. The performance was one of the best of the season, and what better place to see such a great concert than at the intimate stage of the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts. The Centre is a tremendous gift to Oakville and area – for local talent as well as international stars like James. If you have never caught a show there, I encourage you to treat yourself to the experience. It’s a blast.

James is just the latest in a string of the best Canadian artists we have brought to Oakville through the Dan Cooper Concert Series. Other renowned artists include Johnny Winter, Robert Cray, Randy Bachman, Jann Arden, Holly Cole and just recently the reunited Platinum Blonde to name a few.

The arts are an important element in the cultural fabric of a community. Live performances, dance and music feed the minds and souls of its citizens and that is critical for a well-balanced and culturally rich community.

The Centre has been providing an important stage for local theatre and concerts and professional performances by artists from across Canada and around the world since 1977. The Mission of the Centre is to provide Oakville residents with a place to learn about themselves and the world around them through dance, music, storytelling and theatre.

I’m proud to be associated with of this wonderful organization by bringing a number of top shows and performances each year through the Dan Cooper Concert Series. The desire by The Dan Cooper Team to provide support for the arts is a testament to our commitment to give back to the community in which we work and live. We are not simply in the business of selling properties and helping buyers find homes. We are an integral part of this terrific community. We are your neighbour, our children go to school here and we shop in the same grocery stores. This is our community and The Dan Cooper Team is proud to play a part in shaping its character and its success.

We are involved in a number of good causes in Oakville and Burlington, and our support for the Oakville Centre is just one more example of our commitment to help build a better community.

I invite you to watch for upcoming performances that make up the summer portion of the Dan Cooper Concert Series. Please check the Centre’s website www.oc4pa.ca for an update on these and some of the other terrific concerts that you can enjoy in one of the most intimate theatres in Canada.

I have made many great connections with businesses in the Oakville and Burlington areas; associations that have provided additional help for my clients who are selling or buying a home. My connections include mortgage brokers, real estate lawyers, home inspectors, stagers, florists, galleries and the list goes on and on.

Clients who are selling have been able to increase the value of their home by making modest and cost-effective upgrades that make their properties more attractive and more appealing to a wide audience of buyers. For the buyer, moving into a home is exciting and creating your own personal style is all part of the experience.

Lighting plays such an important role in the appearance of your home. Perhaps you need some additional ambience lighting to create a mood to sell, or maybe you want to replace the existing fixtures in your new home with something that is more your style.

An important connection and a very good friend is Don Parans, owner of Concept Lighting Galleries. This is not your average lighting store. I have known Don for many years and I can tell you firsthand that his staff (designers) are obsessed with service. Whether you have trouble making a design decision or if it’s a question of installation, they can help.

“To ensure that our store has broad appeal, we have selected pieces from more than 30 different suppliers,” Don says. “If your taste is contemporary, traditional or the latest trend to transitional, we have it all. We also have an outstanding assortment of larger pieces to suit the scale which is required in today’s new homes where 9 or 10 foot ceilings, great rooms and grand foyers are common.”

Updating your lighting fixtures can dramatically change the way your home looks without costly home decorating or remodelling. The experts at Concept Lighting suggest that when choosing several lighting fixtures for a room, check for available fixtures from the same collection, to match the overall look. You can make a room seem larger by washing its walls with even lighting. In a large room, lighting up a few areas with pools of light can make the room feel smaller and cozier.
Here are some tips when calculating the light needed for each room.

The formula is:

multiply the length times the width of the room (in feet). Then, multiply that number times 1.5. This number gives you the amount of wattage needed to light the room properly for general illumination.

For task lighting in areas where stronger light is needed (such as a kitchen island), multiply the area’s square footage by 2.5 rather than 1.5 to find the needed wattage.

This is just a sampling of the help you can find at Concept Lighting. For more information visit their website www.conceptlighting.ca or drop into their store and tell them Dan sent you.

Featured from left to right is John Oliver, President & CEO Halton Healthcare Services with Debbie and Dan Cooper.

Featured from left to right is John Oliver, President & CEO Halton Healthcare Services with Debbie and Dan Cooper.

One of the many organizations to which I provide significant support is the Oakville-Trafalgar Memorial Hospital (OTMH). One of their major fundraising functions I support is the Annual Candlelight Ball and this year’s event, held on November 6th, raised a record $700,000 net.

This money is desperately needed to purchase equipment for the OTMH and the New Oakville Hospital. The provincial government provides limited funding for new equipment and so it is up to us in this community to ensure our hospitals are well equipped and able to provide a high level of care. Providing proper health care is a cornerstone to building a strong and caring community. We are fortunate to live in a town in which the citizens rally around a cause and offer major support. The OTMH Foundation is just one recipient of our generous support, and that giving was demonstrated in a major way at this year’s 19th Annual Candlelight Ball.

The event itself was an outstanding social occasion that treated the patrons to a culinary adventure featuring a Parisian menu prepared by Food Network host, CityLine guest and restaurateur Michael Bonacini and his team of chefs from the Oliver & Bonacini Cafe Grill. “We’re delighted to be involved once again in the OTMH Candlelight Ball,” says Bonacini. “The sense of community here in Oakville is really quite special, meaning when Oakvillians rally, they really rally,” Bonacini adds.

“Joie de Vivre (Joy of Living), this year’s OTMH Candlelight Ball, exemplifies what we are trying to accomplish with the proceeds from this, and, for that matter, every gala,” says Kathy Mundy, chair of the gala volunteer planning committee. “This is our largest annual fundraiser and this year’s proceeds are going to purchase a new infant warmer for our Special Care Nursery, a critical care ventilator, an anesthesia gas machine and an ultrasound machine, all of which will be used in both our existing and new hospitals. These machines will help our medical professionals give our community Joie de Vivre.”

Our local health-care system relies on all of us to help them build a level of care that is second to none. The Dan Cooper Team has been supporting worthy causes such as the OTMH Foundation for many years. We are not simply in the business of buying and selling homes – we are an integral part of the community; this is our home too, and so we care about the quality of life here just as much as you do. “Give where you live” is a motto we live by and we are proud to be working and living in such a great and caring community.

If you haven’t attended a Candlelight Ball, do yourself a favour and experience something special and support a great cause. The next gala is November 5th, 2011.

Featured in the photo from left to right are Sergio Galli, Dan Cooper and Mark Holmes.

Featured in the photo from left to right are Sergio Galli, Dan Cooper and Mark Holmes.

Remember Platinum Blonde? Like many of you, I grew up listening to their hits in the 1980s. They were one of the hottest bands in North America with singles topping the charts and two albums going platinum. Their name mocked the Hollywood Glitter at the time, but their music was hard edge and serious. Their concerts drew tens of thousands of fans and they became magazine cover material and led a fashion revolution.

It’s been more than 20 years since they’ve appeared as Platinum Blonde, but today the band is getting back together and I’m excited that one of their first concerts before launching a Canadian comeback tour is at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts as part of the Dan Cooper Concert Series.

Mark February 26th on your calendar because it’s going to be one heck of a reunion. The hall is going to be rocking and if you enjoyed their music as much as I did, you won’t want to miss this party. OCPA is such a great venue for any performance. There isn’t a bad sightline in the theatre and with seating for only 464 people, you are completely up front and personal with the performers. When Platinum Blonde rockets back onto the charts, you will be able to say you were there.

Platinum Blonde emerged from the Toronto club scene with the hit EP Six Track Attack in 1983 that was later extended into a double platinum LP Standing In The Dark. A short year later the group had four hit singles hogging the airwaves across Canada and their Juno nominated Standing In The Dark and Doesn’t Really Matter music videos were getting plenty of airplay on the then novel Much Music channel. Their second album sold six times platinum. Their outstanding success put them in the Music Hall of Fame.

And then the band disbanded, almost as quickly as they had burst onto the scene. They had settled down in California and eventually drifted apart. Guitarist Sergio Galli, a Toronto native, returned to Ontario and began following another passion – designing and building homes. He studied architecture, got his design designation and began designing and building multi-million dollar custom homes – many of them right here in Oakville. He continues to build under Sergio Galli Design Build. You can see some of his work at www.sergiogalli.ca.

And while he has a passion for designing beautiful homes, the desire to get back onstage has become equally as strong, Sergio says today. “I’m looking forward to performing before an Oakville crowd,” Sergio says. “I have a soft spot for the town. I worked here and enjoy the people here. Oakville has been a great town to me.” It was through his home building that I got to know Sergio and we became friends. I was excited when he told me recently that Platinum Blonde was getting back together and we immediately talked about my sponsoring one of their first concerts before they launch their Canadian tour – and to do it right here in Oakville.

This is going to be an unbelievable party. Details are still being worked out and I will have more on those in future columns. I’m also proud to announce that a portion of the proceeds from this concert will be helping a great local cause – the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Halton. I have a deep commitment to this community and I give back every opportunity I get. I support a number of great organizations here and BBBSH is just one of those who need our help. They provide mentoring and programs for the youth-at-risk in our community, helping them become better citizens and future community leaders.

“We are so grateful to Dan Cooper and Don Parans (owner of Concept Lighting stores in the GTA) for providing Big Brothers Big Sisters of Halton for this fabulous opportunity as the recipient of funds raised at the upcoming Platinum Blonde concert,” says Jules Graham-Hood, BBBSH executive director. “This is a great opportunity to enjoy an evening of superb entertainment and reminisce about the ’80s, all in support of youth-at-risk in our local communities. These funds support positive mentoring programs for these kids which make a positive impact in their lives forever! BBBSH requires $1,000 a year to match a child today in a Big and Little program versus $58,000 a year to keep a child in juvenile detention because they do not have a positive mentor in their lives…the choice is easy to make.”

So there you have it – an evening of Great Music for a Great Cause!

Dan Cooper and Kevin O'Leary.

Dan Cooper and Kevin O'Leary.

I’ve always believed that if you hang around successful people, you will find success yourself. Whether by gaining insights and knowledge or simply being inspired, the lessons learned from those who excel will help you in life and business. I have been fortunate to have befriended many business and community leaders who have inspired me and provided me with invaluable business acumen. They have been instrumental in my personal and business growth.

Outstanding entrepreneurs and leaders such as Kevin O’Leary – best known as one of the dragons on CBC’s popular reality show Dragons’ Den – Peter Gilgan, president of Mattamy Homes – Canada’s largest home builder – and Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of Research in Motion – the maker of the BlackBerry.

Kevin is my kind of entrepreneur. He vowed at a young age to always be his own boss and launched his incredible career with $10,000 borrowed from his mother to start up a software publishing company – SoftKey – which became The Learning Company and was eventually sold to Mattel for $4.2 billion. Kevin was among the top shareholders.

He went on to invest in a variety of successful enterprises but is best known for the nightly Lang and O’Leary Exchange on CBC News Network and his tight-fisted role on Dragons’ Den. On the latter, he has a knack for one-liners that get straight to the point – “You can’t cry your way to success” and “I’m not trying to make friends, I’m just trying to make money.” When it comes to business, Kevin doesn’t fool around. He is a mercenary and the result of his approach speaks for itself.

Peter Gilgan is among those rare business leaders who did not go to university, but rather followed a passion for building homes and making money. What he accomplished was to build the country’s largest home building empire with communities all over Ontario, in Alberta and in the U.S. Does Peter regret not pursuing a higher education? “I’ve never stopped learning,” he said in a recent interview. “I found the rate at which I was educated in school was not quite fast enough – if the subject interested me. If it didn’t interest me, it was really too slow – you were bored to death. And I had a preference to get out and start making money.”
Interestingly, Peter was honoured this year by Wilfrid Laurier University’s business school as its outstanding business leader. What I admire most about Peter is not only his business success, but his generosity as well. His philanthropic philosophy is inspiring and one that I have tried to emulate. Peter has given back to his community of Oakville in a big way. I have written often about my own philanthropy and Peter is one of the people who have been a personal inspiration.

Jim Balsillie made headlines not only with the BlackBerry, but his unsuccessful bids to bring an NHL team to Hamilton. Over the past few years he has made offers on Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville Predators and last year Phoenix Coyotes. Jim’s commitment to his community and his innovation in business leadership have been widely recognized. In the late 1990s he was honoured with the Canada Award for Business Excellence. He received honourary Doctorate of Laws from Wilfrid Laurier University and from Dalhousie University and he was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario, the highest designation that the institute confers.

These are but a few of the many people I have had the pleasure to get to know – who have inspired me, helped me to fashion my guiding principles and reminded me the power of giving back to the community. If you want to be successful in business and life, surround yourself with people who will motivate and inspire you.