I hate those bios that talk about why your cat is the cutest, or why you can't wait for the N'Sync reunion. Every eight year old now has a YouTube channel or is on Facebook. You better have an interesting life if you're going to use up valuable bandwidth needed to sell you Viagra or introduce you to lonely Russian brides.The Internet cops ought to stop anyone under 40 from posting a bio. Sadly, I passed 40 some time ago.
I was born to my parents Jackie and Gary Lautens. (I always wonder when people say "born to my parents". Who else would you be born to?) I lived in Hamilton and Burlington until the family moved to Toronto when I was 16.
Fast forward to Victoria College at the University of Toronto where I earned a degree in history in 1982. At Victoria College I was active in theatre, acting, writing, and eventually co-producing The Bob Revue - Canada's oldest comedy revue that started the careers of Norman Jewison and Margaret Atwood. That's me with my best friend of some 30+ years, Rob, at a North House party drinking beer out of (mostly) empty peanut butter jars. The medals were off a Seagram's bottle. We were and continue to be a class act. To see how life imitates art, scroll down to see my new medals below in my fancy uniform of The Order of Saint Joachim.
As a debater I won the Ward-McCully Debating Tournament in 1982. My name is also on a target shooting trophy somewhere in the basement of Hart House. I won with a series of wild shots, so no one has to be alarmed - or come to think of it, maybe you should be...
Before going on to law school I worked in Ottawa for two years as a Special Assistant to Senator Hazen Argue, Minister of State (Canadian Wheat Board), where at the tender age of 21 I worked on his Cabinet stuff. This was during the last Trudeau government, and my work on the Hill put me in contact with some of the now legendary names in Canadian politics, and often even Trudeau himself. It was a kinder, gentler world where Cabinet Ministers and even Prime Ministers walked around without security.
I then went on to Queen's Law School, where I completed my law degree in 1986, and met my wife - at least something good came out of it. At Queen's I chaired the Speakers Bureau and worked on the family law legal aid project. With my friend Eric we came second in the prestigious Engineers' Beer Brewing Contest with our potent entry "Old Yeller". You started foaming at the mouth after one drink and they had to shoot you.
On my Call to the Bar in 1988 I opened my own law practice in downtown Toronto. My practice was primarily litigation, which seemed to include a lot of family law. I appeared at all levels of Court, including the Ontario Court of Appeal, Divisional Court and the Federal Court of Canada.
I have been active in politics off and on for more than 30 years, and have held a variety of posts. I ran as a candidate in the riding of Beaches-Woodbine in the 1995 Ontario provincial election. I lost - but then again so did a lot of other people. When considering running again I reminded my wife that Lincoln ran 11 times before he got elected. She reminded me that I'm no Lincoln.
I left my law practice in 1998 to join a private Canadian technology company. A couple of years later it was sold to an American software giant and for a week I was a VP of the 3rd largest software company in the world (long story). Afterwards I became EVP of an incubator and headed up a major B2B project in China in partnership with a PRC State Owned Enterprise. When the Internet bubble burst (because, after all, technology is just a fad), I became a consultant, working in the areas of corporate communications, investor relations, governance and ethical issue management.
For a day job I am Vice President Corporate Affairs of Angkor Gold Corp., a TSX-V gold exploration company that operates in Cambodia. It is an interesting company and they do incredible social development and community work there. Previously I was Vice President Corporate Communications of Inter-Citic Minerals Inc., a TSX-listed gold exploration company with property in the People's Republic of China, where I looked after their investor relations, communications, governance and regulatory compliance. Inter-Citic was sold to a Chinese mining company in November, 2012. If you're really interested in my business comings and goings, feel free to look me up on LinkedIn. I also do freelance writing and business consulting for a variety of companies, start-ups and not for profits as one half of Lautens & Clark.
I wrote a weekly column for the Calgary Sun for more than 16 years. Over the years II have also been a regular columnist for the National Post, The Toronto Sun, Winnipeg Sun and London Free Press going back to 1993. My writing has also appeared in Chicken Soup for the Father & Son's Soul, Chicken Soup: O Canada! The Wonders of Winter, and various other Chicken Soup compilations.
I am Past President of The National Club, a business and social club in downtown Toronto founded in 1874. I previously served three terms as President of The Ontario Club, itself founded in 1909 as a private club, The Ontario Club made it to 100 years old when it closed its doors after the landlord booted us from our longtime home for some accountants who would pay more for our space. In 2010 its members joined The National Club.
I am a Past President of The Lawyers Club, founded in 1922. I am also Past President of the Toronto Press Club - an old and venerable institution that founded the Canadian News Hall of Fame. My first visit there was with my dad to play a promo game of billiards against singer Vic Damone. I was 13 at the time (and I beat him - sucker).
I am a Governor of the National Newspaper Awards (the NNAs), returning again in 2016 after previously serving for seven years. Once a year the NNAs honour Canada's outstanding journalists at its awards gala. I am particularly pleased to be a Governor as my father won an National Newspaper Award for sports writing in 1963.
Yep - that's me. Pretty fancy, eh? In 2007 I was elected the Grand Master of a charitable European order of knighthood called The Order of Saint Joachim. It was founded more than 260 years ago by nobles of the Holy Roman Empire to promote religious tolerance and help widows and orphans of war - still worthy causes. It is international and ecumenical, and today supports various children's charities. Its most famous member was Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, hero of Trafalgar.
In 2012 I received the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal for my various charitable and non-profit work.
I am a founder and director of The Noble Hearts Foundation, a new registered Canadian charity (Charitable Reg. No. 83471 3000 RR0001) created to assist The Order of Saint Joachim with its charitable goals, particularly in the area of raising funds to donate to microfinance in the developing world.
In 2008 I received the Freedom of the City of London, (UK). The granting of the Freedom of the City of London is one of the oldest surviving traditional ceremonies still in existence today, first presented in 1237. The medieval term 'freeman' meant someone who was not the property of a feudal lord, but enjoyed privileges such as the right to earn money and own land. Town dwellers who were protected by the charter of their town or city were often free - hence the term 'freedom of the City'. According to the City of London web site, a "number of ancient privileges are associated with the Freedom - although they are more a product of collective memory than of documented evidence. They include the right to herd sheep over London bridge, to go about the City with a drawn sword, and if convicted of a capital offence, to be hung with a silken rope. Other advantages are said to have included the right to avoid being press-ganged, to be married in St Paul's Cathedral, buried in the City and to be drunk and disorderly without fear of arrest." All useful and valuable privileges, I'm sure you will agree, although I don't expect to test them anytime soon. I currently serve on the Court (executive) of the Honourable Company of Freemen of the City of London of North America.
I am a supporting member of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise's) Officers Mess in Hamilton. For three years I served as a director of the Canadian International Military Tattoo, held every June in Hamilton, Ontario, connecting Canadians with their military.
I am a Past Worshipful Master of Harry L. Martyn Lodge, AF&AM GRC 696, and a member of several other not-for-profit and international philanthropic groups.
A few years ago I became The Lord of the Manor of Prior's Hall, Lindsell, which is in Essex, UK. Like most things, it's a long story, and unfortunately there is no Downton Abbey type house waiting for me over there. Actually, it is fortunate, because keeping a house like that up will bankrupt you. I once met the owner of the real Downton Abbey - Lord Carnarvon - and he didn't look like he had two nickels to his name.
Some time ago I served as VP and Communications Director of the Toronto East Unit of the Canadian Cancer Society. April is Campaign month, so remember to buy a daffodil and give generously when the canvassers come to your door.
Finally, for a bit of fun (and an actual honour) I was made an Honourary Colonel and Aide de Camp by the Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky - yes, a real Kentucky Colonel. I have the uniform to prove it. I say there - unhand that fair maiden of the South!