By: Virginia Cawagas
January 30, 2021, 5:30 p.m. MST
We are pleased and honoured to present our January “Living Book” Michael L. Siervo.
Join us in tracing his journey through this “Living Book” series of LINGAP-Canada!
The journey of a thousand steps starts with one. This Is one of the mottos Michael Siervo lives by. He believes that every great journey, every big dream and every vision of better things starts with one thing, it is the courage to act.
Born and raised in Toronto, Canada from an immigrant family Michael learned early on the value of hard work, confidence, and courage. Although he excelled academically, he often found himself in situations where standing up for something tested his courage. Whether it was countless fights in the streets, altercations with gangs, or defending against bullies in the schoolyard, he realized quickly that his journey would be one where he could not be a bystander. At the age of 20, after a martial arts accident, he was told he would never be able to walk again. He proved doctors wrong and was determined to prove that one can keep moving forward no matter what. He wanted to make an impact in the lives of others which would require confidence and the courage to step forward even when he felt he couldn’t. In crutches and a plastic splint, he ended up graduating from the University of Toronto. Physically he had limitations so he felt his best path to make a difference would be in business. He entered the competitive world of investments and financial services. Observing that he was a young visible minority he questioned why he didn’t see representation within the higher ranks of his industry. This was when he took his first meaningful step towards his journey to be a symbol of positive change.
In 2007, speaking in front of 200 industry professionals, explaining the impact of social media as a tool to reach and help many Canadians, he was laughed at. He did not look like the typical leader. He was not middle aged and white. Rather than shying away, he leveraged his one obvious asset at the time, youth, diversity, and creativity. His creative ideas helped him climb the ladder in several top Fortune 500 Companies. Remembering the Immigrant work ethic and the Filipino toughness he learned as a kid, he became the youngest and first visible minority to earn a Vice President title for the largest and oldest financial institution in Canada. During his tenure he took multiple territories from $19Million in assets to over $3Billion. His success in business allowed him to expand in multiple ventures ranging from financial services, real estate, restaurants, automotive, fashion, consulting, and digital marketing. He was recognized as an Emerald Award Winner and Top Sales Leader for two of the largest financial institutions in Canada.
In 2018, Michael was recognized by the True Beauty Foundation for Community Leadership and the following year he was recognized for his community work by Empower Media becoming the first Chairman for the Filipino Chamber of Commerce Alberta. Among other awards, he became the first and only multiple Golden Balangay Award Winner, an award that recognizes the work of high performing Filipinos across the country. He also won the GBA Executive of The Year and prestigious World Vision Award for Community Leadership and has been actively involved in the Calgary Fashion scene and has sat on several charitable boards.
In 2021 he launched 2 inspirational podcasts to help highlight the stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. He believes in a very simple mindset he named Ready, Set, Rise and specific formula called FSF (Five Steps Forward) which he preached to those mentors. He is scheduled to launch his first book in March 2021 that discusses the key strategies anyone can do to not only take the first step toward achieving their goals but taking the key 5 steps over and over towards becoming the best version of yourself.
Michael is inspired and intrigued by the underdog story, a story he knows very well. He believes that everyone’s journey is someone’s inspiration and that we must have the courage to take the first step towards our goals.