BROADWAY TO BRUSSELS
1901—A bashful young man, delivering speeches with difficulty at Broadway Club, Methodist Young Men’s Association, Toronto 1921—Returned from Brussels, and recognized as one of the most forceful and sought-after speakers in the Dominion of Canada
How did he do it?
CHARLES CHRISTOPHER JENKINS
WHEN a man can make a better mouse-trap or tell a better story than his neighbor—to twist an oft-quoted adage—the world will make a beaten pathway to his door, even if he live in the heart of the wilderness. This holds good in these days of whirlwind campaigns especially where a man is found who can make a better platform speech than his fellows. The world then not only makes the proverbial beaten pathway to his door but it keeps both his office and his residence telephones busy with requests to “date him up” ahead of
Take the case of J. H. Gundy, of Wood, Gundy & Co., for instance—
But that would be too much like starting the story in the middle and leaving the really odd part of it out. The odd part of it is that not so very long ago J. H. Gundy couldn’t make any kind of a speech, let alone eclipse his fellows at the trick. And the paradox is that just because J. H. Gundy found he was a flat failure as a speech-maker he finally developed into an orator, now constantly in demand, first at one public affair and then at another.
J. H. Gundy as a boy was thrilled by the eloquence of great Canadian orators. His 'ather was a Methodist minister and he came of stock with oratorical gifts. One of the secret ambitions of his youth was to become a polished and forceful platform speaker. He thought he had it in him to make powerful addresses, and believed his opportunity would come in time. It did come sooner than he expected. The net result of his first appearance before an audience would have proved a bitter and permanent disillusionment to any one with less grit than the Gundy boy. He •found he was so shy he could scarcely walk to the spot from which he was to deliver his neatly-written-out oration. When he opened his mouth to speak his tongue clove to the roof of his mouth, his face flushed a violent red and his hand trembled so he could not make out his notes. The audience seemed to swim before his fevered vision like a lot of flashing gargoyles of derision taking a sinister delight out of his embarrassment. Somehow he struggled through with it. He does not know to this day what he said or how he said it, but it was borne in upon him with no lack of certainty that as a public speaker he was a rank failure.
What did J. H. Gundy do—give up speaking in disgust and swear never to invade the rostrum again?
No, he did nothing of the sort. Clearly he saw that this inherent shyness and embarrassment which came over him when called upon to address others was going to ruin his chances in life if he did not conquer it. He forced himself to welcome the chance to appear in the limelight whenever the opportunity offered, though every such occasion at first was looked forward to with dread. To give himself no quarter, no chance to escape along the plane of least resistance, he joined several debating societies —all that he had the time to attend. He kept at it till he conquered his shyness entirely. He became one of the regular speakers in the Toronto M.Y.M.A.—Methodist Young Men’s Association.
That’s how J. H. Gundy became the speaker he is to-day —a man constantly in demand all over the country to address Canadian Clubs, Boards of Trade, Chambers of Commerce, and other similar public organizations. In fact, I am told his spare time is often dated up for weeks ahead. His fame as an organizer and speaker has traveled far and his voice has been listened to of late, not only in National and Empire organizations, but at councils of world-thinkers, including the economic conference held last fall at Brussels, Belgium, where the greatest economists and financiers of the world were gathered in conclave.
A Man of Multifarious Activities
MR. GUNDY has an extraordinary capacity for hard work and yet is able to keep himself in the pink of condition. Incidental to attending to his duties as an active executive of Wood, Gundy and Company, where he is a human drive-wheel for the financial organization, he is almost constantly in demand as an organizer and director of public campaigns of one sort and another. During the war he acted on the Government War Trade Board, was Vice-Chairman of the special subscription committee for
the second and third Victory Loans and finally represented the United States and Canada at the financial conference of world nations held last fall at Brussels.
Just how does such a man maintain himself in perfect health, and, after long hours of concentrated effort, turn up next morning at his office buoyant as a schoolboy? How is he able to shed the cares of business directly after he leaves his office? I asked him if he had some personal hobby that took his mind off his work, remarking that I had noticed in a recent biography that his hobby recreations were listed as riding and golfing.
Mr. Gundy smiled a bit wryly.
“The biographer was somewhat in error. I have no hobby recreations,” he contended. “As a diversion I am rather fond of public organization work, but you can scarcely call that a hobby.”
“But how do you keep yourself in first-class physical and mental shape? Don’t you ever find that prolonged mental strain has its effect on you constitutionally?”
“Oh, yes, sometimes I become tired out. When I do I rest till I feel quite fresh again.”
“Yes, sleep. If I have had a hard week of it and feel fairly well done up, I go to bed immediately and stay there till I am thoroughly rested up.
“It is true,” added Mr. Gundy, “that I have played a little golf and done some horse-back riding, but I never went in for either sport as a hobby. I carefully eschew outside of business hours all pastimes which mean concentration of mind. Golf and bridge tax one’s concentration. Proper rest—sleep, and lots of it—I find is the one best method of keeping fit all the time.”
Mr. Gundy is an extraordinary mental mixture of nervous energy and calm reserve. Since youth he has been noted for keen and reliable judgment, and his quick insight on a given situation suddenly arising is sometimes almost weird. While he represents the enthusiasm that makes him a born leader and organizer, a splendid willcontrol keeps him calm, cool and unperturbed no matter what the crisis may be. He has trained himself to carry a load of responsibility without fretting over it.
Worry by Mr. Gundy is considered excess baggage. His philosophy with regard to business cares might be illustrated by the story of the woman with the basket of eggs,
who, after she got on a street car, held the basket in her hand over the arm of the seat. When she voiced the weariness of her arm and shoulder to the conductor, the latter said: “Madam, if you’ll place the basket on the floor at your feet the car voll carry it and the eggs for you.”
That possibly is the secret of how Mr. Gundy keeps himself fit and fresh. When he has completed the tasks of the day he places business cares “OD the floor” and lets them abide there till it is time to take them up again.
He is a “Clean Desk” Man VICHEN I was ushered into his private office he was v » finishing up the dictation of a number of letters to his secretary. They claim a man’s desk holds the key to his personality in the arrangement in which things are kept thereon. The polished surface of the Gundy desk was innocent of any document save a little pile of neatlyarranged papers at his elbow. These he had evidently scanned previously and had placed in their present order Just now he sat sidewise at his desk, head resting on the palm of one hand while he gazed out the eighth storey window and dictated replies to his correspondence without further reference to the data back of
In this position the aggressive profile of the man stood out in bold relief. His head is leonine, I should say, the lower face oval with a strong jaw that sets squarely and in a tense moment can instantly bring the genial curves of the mouth into a straight determined hair-line of decision. The fullback-head balancing the high brow and temples, the strong lines of the neck and the deep chest are outward indications of the vitality and staying-power of the man. Physically he is of medium proportions.
In repose the lines of J. H. Gundy’s face betray the dreamer. To test out my own conclusions I cut from an illustrated paper a recent photograph of him and showed it to an acquaintance of mine who prides himself on his ability as a physiognomist.
“Whatwouldyou set thatmandown as?” I asked him. He studied the picture long and minutely before he replied:
“I would set him down as an artist, an author or a young preacher.”
When informed that he was none of these but a leading financial man, the physiognomist exclaimed: “Oh, well, I’ll admit there’s business ability and willpower in that face, but those eyes and that mouth are the eyes and mouth of an idealist.”
Which statement helps to confirm a growing personal conviction that a very large percentage of our most successful men-of-affairs are self-repressed idealists.
Much has been said and written about Mr. Gundy’s very youthful appearance. As a matter of fact he is a comparatively young man considering the business responsibilities that have fallen upon his shoulders and the high type of service he has been called upon at various times to render for the Dominion of Canada and in the interest of world affairs. There is scarcely a suggestion of “crow’s feet” at his eyes or grey on his temples. Cleanshaven, full and clear of eye, buoyant of figure and carriage, he is a striking type of this business age in Canada when one meets so many youthful-looking men at the head of affairs.
BUT if an observant stranger met J. H. Gundy in his outer office he would scarcely mistake him for a clerk or a junior executive. For all the youthful contour of his features and his boyish figure, the air of authority sits unconsciously upon him, and it is Experience that looks out at you from under the straight brows. His gaze is not piercing nor disconcerting; instead his steady, slowmoving eyes are kindly and thoughtful. Still, you have a feeling after one of his polite but sweeping glances that you have been analysed and mentally catalogued in the Gundy mind for just about all the composite of your address and personal appearance represent.
Associates say he never makes mistakes in judging thecapabilities of men he comes in contact with, though^Mr. Gundy himself does not admit this.
Continued on page 46
Broadway to Brussels
Continued from page 31
‘‘Some personalities are very deceiving,” he remarked. “There’s the horn salesman who looks and talks just a little better than the standard to which his actual talents will point up, and, on the other hand, there is the conservative type of man who is very apt to be under-estimated. One cannot afford to be too certain of what first impressions mean.”
The business organization of Wood, Gundy and Company, T had heard, was personally hand-picked by the principals of the firm. There are seventy-four executives, clerks and juniors in the head office at Toronto alone, and there one is immediately impressed with the atmosphere of quiet, orderly industry. There are no evidences of rush or undue hurry in that great business hive.
Mr. Gundy admitted that every applicant taken on the staff had to measure up to certain qualifications before standing a chance of being engaged.
“Speaking of qualifications, Mr. Gundy, what characteristics do you place the most value ón?” I asked him.
“Brains, personality and character,” he replied.
Mr. Gundy considered a moment. “Perhaps we should reverse the order of those qualifications,” he amended. “After all, character necessarily comes first, for without character, brains count for little, and personality without character lacks wearing qualities.”
“I suppose when you speak of personality you particularly refer to that section of your organization whose business is meeting and mixing with the public?”
“Not necessarily,” he surprised me. “It should appertain to all sections of a business organization. Personality is no doubt a wonderful asset to the man or woman whose particular business is meeting and dealing with the public. In fact, other things, including experience and tact, being of an efficient calibre, personality counts for everything. It is the open tesame for gaining the time and attention of busy people. But it is quite as essential that the inside working force, whether they are meeting the public or not, should have pleasing personalities.”
Creating a Cheerful Atmosphere
' I 'HE Gundy angle of view on this
subject is quite interesting.
“The collective efficiency of an office staff depends on the quality of the separate individuals who make it up,” he went on by way of explanation. “One unpopular or disagreeable member, no matter how clever or resourceful otherwise, may create friction throughout the whole organization. There is the human side to be considered as well. An office organization has a right to expect congenial associations as well as congenial surroundings. Therefore it is necessary to see that any additions that are made to it are of the character and personality that will help create a cheerful atmosphere.”
"Do you believe it possible to size up an individual from a single meeting?” I asked.
Mr. Gundy was of the opinion that it was not always possible to do so. “But,” he contended, “most people make some sort of a distinct impression on you the time y°u meet them. Either you like them or you don’t like them, isn’t that so? Well, usually they will appeal more or less to other people just as they do to you.”
It was because of his penchant for allocating the right men for the tasks to be executed that Mr. Gundy’s ability as an organizer was so much in demand by the Federal Government during the war and in the rehabilitation period since. Recognition of this gift of his led to his being selected as representative on the Advisory Committee of the Brussels conference.
It is a wise father who knows what calling his son is best fitted for in life. J. H. Gundy is a living proof of the good judgment of his sire, the Reverend Joseph Gundy, D.D., an Ontario Methodist divine. Born in Harriston, Ontario, and educated at public schools in towns where his father was at different times stationed and later finishing at the London and Windsor Collegiate Institutes, J. H. Gundy was not reared in what could be termed a “financial atmosphere,” nor had the minister’s son the remotest idea that he would some day be called into the higher councils of world economists and bankers.
Circumstances, Fate, call it what you
will, usually bear largely on the parts men play in after-life. One naturally expects to learn of a turning-point in the career of a successful self-made man—an accidental happening or chapter of happenings that changes the whole trend of his life. But it was design, not accident, that placed Mr. Gundy on the path that led to a big place in the field of higher finance.
Had he any special ambitions along these lines when he was a boy, and did he show a pronounced gift for mathematics when at school? I asked.
“No, I don’t remember that I had any ambitions to dabble in financial matters,” he reflected. “I can’t say that I even showed anything more than normal ability at mathematics.”
“Then what led you to launch out on your present career?”
“My father decided that,” Mr. Gundy declared. “It was originally intended that I should study medicine and become a doctor. But father became convinced that I was not meant for the medical profession and decided that my place was in business life. He at once set about watching for an opening for me to start at the bottom. The first opportunity that turned up was with the Central Loan and Savings Company, of Toronto. I applied for the position and my application in due time was accepted.”
Mr. Gundy was eighteen years of age when he entered the offices of the Central Loan and Savings Company as a junior clerk. Since then his rise in the business world has been rapid, almost meteoric.
He started work on his first job in April, 1898, applying himself to the tasks set before him with the best that was in him. Twenty-two years later the country minister’s son who went to strive for place in the concentrated competition of a big city with no “pull” except his wits and his integrity, was chosen as representative of the American nations to the world conference at Brussels. The preliminary affairs of that conference were directed by an advisory committee, which, after the conference sessions began, became the organizing committee which prepared the agenda, collected the statistics, arranged for the daily programs and appointed the committee. Of the twelve members of that committee, one, a Canadian, represented the American nations. That Canadian was J. H. Gundy.
Climbing up the Ladder of Success 'T'WO years after he had joined the staff of the Central Loan and Savings Company Mr. Gundy received and accepted an offer to become accountant for the Dominion Securities Corporation when that company was established in 1900. The ladder of opportunity soon presented another rung for his ambitious feet and he was promoted to the position of secretary for the corporation. He was gaining firsthand experience in the financial world, which, combined with his industry and retentive memory, begot confidence in himself. Greater scope for his talents beckoned, and in 1905 he joined G. H. Wood in the organization of Wood, Gundy and Company, a firm name that has become known wherever municipal corporation bonds are placed for underwriting in Canada.
On his return from the Brussels conference, Mr. Gundy’s report on world finances as the conference disclosed them was quoted far and wide. His reference to Canada’s position shows our problems to be relatively simple. Though our credits and currency have become inflated and we have incurred very heavy internal debt, with consequent high prices and unstable and depreciated exchanges, Mr. Gundy points out that the inevitable reaction, while it necessarily creates temporary embarrassment and uncertainty, is gradually promoting conditions that will make easier money conditions. With the elimination of artificial restrictions and a return to a sound money policy Canada should have little serious difficulty in the future, he contends.
Although it has been stated that Mr. Gundy makes a hobby of no particular recreation, he is, on the other hand, not by any means a recluse. He is a member of most live social organizations within the zone of his activities, including the National Club, Ontario Club, Lambton Golf Club, Toronto Golf Club, Rosedale
Golf Club, Royal Canadian Yacht Club— all of Toronto—and the Rideau Club, of Ottawa.
But, like the majority of busy men of
normal tastes, Mr. Gundy finds his greatest enjoyment in the atmosphere of his home with Mrs. Gundy and their five beautiful children.