The Human Preservation Co. has a simple mission: Enough negativity. Be kind. Be human.
As I drive downtown for lunch I notice there is a lot of construction in Halifax. Cars rush when lights turn green. Our culture celebrates big and more and fast. We want what we want and we want it now. We are in rush for all that and sometimes we scarcely notice our own lives as the minutes tick by—much less the lives of others.
I enter the A Mano restaurant in downtown Halifax. The name means “by hand” in Italian. The place is busy.
Paul Leblanc walks in. He is a big muscular guy who radiates energy. He talks loud. He also smiles a lot. His T-shirt reads “Be Nice.” Below that, in small type, “The Human Preservation Co.”
He tells me he started running with one of his daughters. She stopped and he continued. “I’m the farthest thing from a runner but I did a 10.5k on PEI non-stop,” he says, laughing at the contrast. “My lumbering caveman ancestors would be proud of me.”
That is another thing. He is surrounded by women, his wife April and his three daughters. His mother is a big part of his life too.
Paul is CEO and founder of Arrivals + Departures, one of the top advertising and marketing agencies in Canada with offices in Halifax and Toronto and a roster of blue chip clients. He was a Top 40 under 40 in Canada, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and member of Young Presidents Organization.
“I’m a serial entrepreneur with a love for new ideas,” he says.
While Paul is a tough guy who loves to compete he also sees the other side of life. “The past couple of years in particular I have noticed that the world needs a lot more good in it,” he says. “There is a cycle of negativity that needs to be disrupted.”
He believes that for the most part people are good. They want to support others. They want to learn what is working in the world so they can try it themselves, and not just hear about the endless list of problems and crises brought to us every day by the media. They need more ways to project that positive part of themselves.
“People have a pride of place and want to represent that, but there really isn’t a brand for ‘pride of soul’—to tell people something about your personal value system,” he says.
So in the spring of 2016 he launched The Human Preservation Co. The brand “celebrates those who believe in good. It’s not about saving the whales or reversing global warming, but small gestures in service of others to make the world just a little bit better. Our affect on the world can be profound and we should celebrate being awesome to each other.”
The products are simple: T-shirts, hoodies, sweater and toques. So are the messages: Be nice. Be human. Be the person your dog wants you to be. “The approach is decidedly old-timey and reflects timeless virtues,” says Paul.
Still, there is a website and social media outlets, places to share your stories and inspiration. 10% of profits fund their “random acts of kindness” initiatives.
As we get up to leave, I notice Paul is polite to the waiter. The etiquette of our grandparents’ day seems formal today, but it had a simple rationale. Slow down and treat people with courtesy. Don’t always put yourself first. They wore more formal clothing to restaurants. Today it is okay to wear a T-shirt. But is the same simple message: You don’t have to be perfect. Be kind. Be human.
Note: This article was originally published in 2017 in Optimyz magazine. The Human Preservation Co. has since been sold.