top of page
  • Writer's pictureGoran Yerkovich

Live Like You Mean It: Joel Peterson, Founder of Arbutus Search Group, Sets The Bar High

Updated: Oct 10, 2020

Get your Free eBook The Inspired Guide to Self-Evaluation when you"Subscribe" and join the thousands who read for FREE each week. Featured on Quora, Facebook, Medium and LinkedIn.

Ever meet someone who has incredibly positive energy, confidence, and you know was put on this earth to make it a better place?

Today we interview one such mind.

Let me introduce you to Joel Peterson, and a few great reasons why you should keep reading this article.

At the-inspired we focus on the tools, tactics, and habits that enable us to reach our goals. Our interviews, like this one, help us understand what motivates the most successful into action. What tactics allow them to reach their goals.

Joel Peterson is a friend, former colleague, bootcamp buddy, snow-shoe extraordinaire, entrepreneur, and a man who believes education and a healthy home upbringing are key to success in life.

This last point so important to Joel, he's currently working on a student grant for kids who run into financial hardship, to help ensure they get the education they deserve.

In work, at the company he founded, Arbutus Search Group, Joel Peterson connects brilliant hard-working people with talented leaders in successful companies. Recruit. Engage. Empower. Repeat.

That's his mission. That's Joel's motto.

Joel is the type of person we can learn from, in how he conducts himself professionally, and personally, and is a shining example of how to leave the corporate 9-5 behind, and find success straight out of the gate.

But this story today is not about building a business and financial success. It's about staying grounded and giving back to those who need it most.

In full disclosure this article was set for print the week of March 15th, just as pandemic realities hit home in North America. The original draft included Joel sleeping outside overnight in the streets in the support of homeless youth and others unable to have a roof over their heads. That story and reality never materialized because of COVID-19, but that did not stop Joel from finding a way to pivot and still give back generously.

So let's jump right in. I hope you enjoy this interview, and Joel if you're reading this now, we need to lock in monthly snow shoe trips next winter. Socially distanced apart, of course.

Inspired Interview with Joel Peterson

Name: Joel Peterson, Founder

Business: Arbutus Search Group

What: Recruitment Company

What Else: Covenant House Sleep Out - Charity Event, and much more...

1. Hey Joel, What's your story?  

I am a dad, a little brother, a husband and an entrepreneur.  

I moved to BC in the late 90’s and went back to school majoring in business at BCIT. When I graduated I got a job selling wine and spirits and had a couple great mentors for leaders.

A few years later a friend suggested I get into recruitment. In 2007 I gave it a try and haven’t looked back since.

I have always been really passionate about making connections for people. Whether it’s connecting them with someone else or just connecting them with a piece of information that they’re looking for. 

In 2017 I was loving my corporate role leading a team of recruiters but didn’t love being in “middle management.”

There was lots of red tape, emails, meetings and I just didn’t feel like I was able to get out of the day to day and tackle the really big issues in the world. 

2. Why did you decide to start your business?  

The company I worked for went through a reorganization and I decided to leave the company and took my part time recruitment business full time in 2017.  When I did this it opened my eyes to how I could spend more of my time tackling the really big issues in the world like education, child and youth health and safety and poverty.  

3. Tell us about your crazy new adventure and the charity you're working with?

I’ve done a lot of thinking in the last year about why people are successful in their careers and it always comes back to them having a supportive household with enough income to provide them a good education to start their career off.

Without the education and the family support a lot of people struggle to get that first career role. 

I am in the middle of creating a Student Grant or financial award for students that run into financial hardship and can’t afford their tuition. 

I feel like the Covenant House and all the great work they do really gives young people the foundation they need to be able to get a good education.

Goran: Here are some stats from Covenant House, a local charity in British Columbia, Canada that helps those in need.

Source above: Covenant House Vancouver .-

News Flash! Pandemic's Don't Care About Your Plans - But That Didn't Stop Joel

If there's two things we learned about pandemic's this year it's this:

1. Pandemic's don't care about your plans.

2. Humankind always finds a way to keep going.

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, it seemed unlikely Joel would be able to go ahead with his plans with the Covenant House and their Sleep Out Project. But Joel found another way. I received a note from him that explained:

"Hi Goran,

Below is the letter I received from the Covenant House regarding the cancellation of the SleepOut Entrepreneurs Edition. While I won't be sleeping out with a group of people for obvious health and safety reasons, all of the funds raised will go to good use. In order to show my commitment to reducing the number of youth that spend their nights on the streets; I am matching all the donations I've received to date $1,150 and making my total funds raised $2,300. Thank you to everyone that donated and supported this great cause. I am grateful. Hi Joel, We have continued to monitor the coronavirus outbreak, and refine our decisions and responses as we receive more information. Effective today, we have made the decision to postpone the Sleep Out: Entrepreneurs Edition event indefinitely.

As the COVID-19 health crisis continues to escalate, many are worrying not just about the virus, but also personal and professional livelihoods. We are worried about you! We know you care deeply about Covenant House Vancouver and our young people. We are grateful that you are part of our family. As this situation evolves, the Sleep Out team is working hard to find a new way for you to get involved. We are in this together. With gratitude, Kim Wing and the Sleep Out Team"

4.  Why Does this Charity Matter to You?   

As a professional I learned early on how important it is to have a good post secondary education or training to get you started in your career.

The challenge is not everyone can afford an education and not everyone has the family support they need to get one. 

The Covenant House brings youth off the street and gives them the support they need to stay or get back into school. 

Our youth face all kinds of danger living on the street and we really need to work together to help get them the shelter and safety they need so that they can grow up to be the success they should be.

5.  How can we Donate to this important cause? 

There are an estimated 750 and 1200 for youth spending nights on the streets, if you'd like to support Covenant House in this cause, you can visit the Covenant House directly or email Kim at Covenant House to learn more about future events or ways to help.

Goran: In the end Joel did not hit his goal of $5000 for this event, but his $2300 raised will go a long way to help those in need.

Goran: This is an incredible reminder that each of us has the power to make a difference and give back and my hat goes off to you Joel for taking the initiative and driving positive change in our local community.

6.  What is one book, video, or speaker that is a must read or watch that's changed your life? 

One of the people that changed my life in a significant way was Rochelle Davidson.

She’s a cancer survivor and Professional Coach.  I worked with her to move past some barriers in my career in 2015 and we’ve become friends since.