• Sidekick

Kickin’ it with Sidekick: Hugh Lawson

Celebrating awesome entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs just like you. Learn from others’ stories, successes, advice, and actions.


Meet Hugh Lawson - Director of Business Development for Staples Promotional Products (SPP). He currently leads strategic teams for global new business prospecting, competitive intelligence, future-trends identification, and business enhancement initiatives. He is also a Member of SPP’s Senior Leadership team that oversees organizational strategic plans and growth objectives for the Canadian division.

Outside of work, Hugh is very passionate about community investment, volunteerism, mentorship, student athletics and social justice. He is also the Chief Development Officer of HILCO - The Hugh Sr. & Ilene Lawson Charitable Organization. HILCO was established in honour of his parents with the stated mission of creating expansive and inclusive educational opportunities for young men and women who do not have the financial resources to pursue their higher educational aspirations.


Hugh is a devoted “Dance Dad” and husband to his wife Nadine, dancer-daughters Renée and Nia, and new addition to the family Miles, a mischievous Bichon Poodle.


Hugh has many incredible practices and knowledge to share. We are inspired by his words, and we know you will be too! Keep reading to find out more about him:


What are your sources of motivation and inspiration? How do you stay motivated/keep your cup full?


My new freedom fighting tribes that have become an integral part of my daily existence since the murder of George Floyd. You know who you are!!

Hugh and Nia sitting on the front step in front of a home smiling.
Photo of Hugh and daughter, Nia.

What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like?


I make breakfast and pack a lunch for my youngest daughter Nia. She needs extra assistance from my wife. My daughters are such rays of light that make everything worthwhile.


Do you have a personal ethos that helps guide your decisions and choices? What is it and where did it come from?


I try to live a balanced life using the Japanese philosophy of Ikigai. It is “A motivating force; something or someone that gives a person a sense of purpose or a reason for living". Find something that you can do all your life that is:

Photo of the Ikigai philosophy.
  1. What you’re good at

  2. What you love

  3. What the world needs

  4. You can earn a living doing it.

How do you stay focused on your organization’s mission while also juggling competing priorities in what we imagine is a very busy schedule?


Rather than a “Work Life Balance” I utilize a “Work Life Rhythm” approach. This means being at peace with the ebb and flow of some days being overloaded with work, other days heavy with family obligations, and others where I do absolutely nothing. I’m very patient, I marinate and sleep on things before I make decisions and try to eat big things in small bites at a time with marginal gains over an extended period of time. I also get things out of my head using prioritized task lists in my little red notebook, Microsoft Tasks and OneNote. Ticking the boxes and marking them “complete” is such a satisfying experience!


How do you encourage innovative ideas and disruptive thinking? How do you develop a culture that embraces innovative ideas and disruptive thinking?


I do it by:

  1. Creating teams of individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences

  2. Mentoring & supporting them to find their voices, hone their crafts and be collaborative through experiential learning and continuous education

  3. Reinforcing my unconditional trust in them and getting out of their way so that others and I can learn from them and grow!

What type of superpower would you want to have? Why?

I would like the superpowers to eradicate ism’s and phobias so the next generation of talent from underserved and marginalized communities can grow and thrive!

What’s one thing you wish you knew before starting your business/current role?

That I’m capable of so much more and that I should take myself so much more seriously. I’ve been a diplomat and joker all my life and it’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve really found my voice! Thank you, George Floyd!!


From his productivity tips to most-wanted superpower, Hugh’s intentions and actions are powerful and impactful. Stay up to date with Hugh and his many initiatives by following him on LinkedIn!