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In Focus | Paul Hergott

In Focus is our gift to the community. A way for us to help show our recognition for the people, businesses and organizations that help make our city great. The team at KelownaNow.com is passionate about this community and the people that make it amazing. We want to show our friends, neighbours, family and colleagues that we notice them and the fabulous things that they do.

What is your name?
Paul Hergott.

Where are you from and how long have you lived in Kelowna?
I grew up on a farm near Melville, Saskatchewan. Then I moved from Nanaimo to Kelowna in 1996, and within a couple years to West Kelowna where I’ve lived since.

Who is your favorite person to spend time with and why?
You ask hard questions! Of course I have to say my wife, Terri, but I can honestly say it’s true. Couples naturally spend a lot of time together but I do enjoy that time and look for opportunities to spend more time with her.

If you could go anywhere in the world right at this moment where would you go and why?
I’ve gone with my family a number of times to annual trips to destinations in Hawaii and Mexico, and my wife and I have been to New Orleans, but that’s the extent of my world travels. I suppose if I could go anywhere right at this moment I’d take my wife for a week in St. John’s, Newfoundland to experience the history, people, and pubs! I imagine St. John’s as having a lot of interesting history that could be enjoyed with a walking tour along quirky, interesting old streets. My wife and I also enjoy beer and pub atmosphere.

What is your favorite local store in Kelowna and why?
Does West Kelowna count? My favourite local store would be the New Moon Gallery. They provide paintings, photography, sculptures, wood turned bowls, pottery and jewelry in their store. It feels good to walk in there, knowing that everything has been hand crafted by locals and the owner has an obvious passion for what she does, which includes teaching in a little studio area at the back of her shop.

What is your favorite activity?
I really, really enjoy playing cards. My mother, who I lost to cancer earlier this year, taught me to play, and bridge was an activity that we could enjoy together online even though she lived in Regina. I played with her every chance I got, particularly during the last year or two before she died. I have a very warm feeling in my heart about bridge. Anyone with any interest in playing cards will love it, I guarantee!

If you had to choose: pizza, tacos, or burgers?
Pizza.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?
I played piano as a kid. Living on a farm, there were few things to distract me from getting my practicing in and I was a regular feature at the local music festival. I remember an evening performance one year where only the top participants were invited to perform. I was playing some piece that had four distinct sections. One of my worst nightmares as a pianist was losing my memory of the notes part-way through. That happened to me during each of the four sections. I had started out, then after a while, I blanked. I then confidently started the second section and then blanked again, then the third and fourth. It was awful.

What is the most inspiring thing that has happened to you?
Hmmmm.. Another hard one! I think what’s most inspired me has been being pushed into, or taking on, things that are outside of my comfort zone. I remember being sent to Vancouver with one day's notice to argue an application in the British Columbia Court of Appeal. It was within my first year of being a lawyer. It scared the living bejesus out of me, but ended up going well and inspired a level of confidence I didn’t have before. When I started taking on personal injury legal cases, it was common practice for the insurance company to threaten to have the trial by way of a jury. With zero jury experience that was mighty intimidating! I decided to fight fire with fire and to proactively make the same threat back to them on every case, and a successful first experience running a jury trial inspired me to believe I could do anything.

Tell us your favorite childhood memory.
It was both my favourite as well as worst. I was in a junior high school in Melville, Saskatchewan, I believe grades six to nine. I was in grade six and my brother and I road the bus to school. There was a bully on that bus. The bully was sitting behind me one morning and reached around to smear some of his chewed up cookie on my glasses. When we got to school my brother walked me down the long hallways of the school, straight to the principal’s office. His protective advocacy and care of me at that awful time is my favourite memory.

Where do you volunteer or give back to in the community?
In 2010, a good friend was killed in a needless car crash. This tragedy, combined with years of witnessing the aftermath of preventable car crashes, inspired me to launch the 'One Crash is Too Many' campaign to promote attentive driving habits. As a key feature of that campaign a high proportion of my weekly column topics are about road safety. Do you talk on a cell phone when you drive? Do you think it’s okay because it’s “hands free”? It’s not. I have started a petition on change.org to ban all cell phone use while driving, and have been promoting that petition through Facebook and other social media. For the past five years I have held an annual awareness event to commemorate the National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims.

If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?
Eliminating discrimination, extremism, wealth imbalance, hunger and more. Okay, here’s something that could actually happen. I would challenge political and public motivation to take on road safety. All it would take is a bit of public education. As a whole, we are clueless about the incredible financial and personal toll of crashes, which is $8.8 billion per year as of 2007. The real reason why crashes occur is a simple lack of attentiveness behind the wheel. If the public clued in, crashes would dramatically decline.

What is your favorite activity in Kelowna?
We have such amazing hiking trails in the Okanagan, and I love to explore them. I’ve also recently discovered quadding. Though with the backcountry ban I’ll have to wait until we get a bunch of rain before I can get out again.

Where would you sneak away to in Kelowna to spend some time alone?
Time alone? Except when working, I never have time alone! I’ve maintained a crazy work pace so time not working is time I want to spend with my family. If I had some time to spend on my own, I suppose I’d go for a hike. Not a high energy one, but more of a stroll, perhaps to the top of Mount Boucherie to sit and think about things.

Where would you like to see positive change in Kelowna and why?
Kelowna is such an incredible place with amazing people. There are a lot of facilities and opportunities for free enjoyment, lovely parks, beaches, music in the park but I’d like to see more! One thing in particular is the underused waterfront. I’d love for a more robust transit system, which would reduce road traffic, increase a sense of community and would provide a more economical way to get around.

What do you think makes Kelowna great?
I feel a strong sense of community spirit. Most recently, for me, was the Okanagan Pride parade that I walked in. Such positive energy! It definitely helps that we live in a most beautiful area of the world, with an incredible climate.

What are 3 things on your bucket list?
1. Sitting in a pub with my wife in St. John’s, Newfoundland
2. Somehow convincing British Columbia politicians to take the bold step forward to ban all cell phone use while driving
3. To become truly flexible

Tell us something that not everyone may know about you.
I like telling the story because it’s fun but a bizarre personal detail about myself. It's that I am the offspring of former Catholic missionaries. My father, a former priest, who was a missionary in Brazil, and my mother, a former nun, who was a missionary in Guatemala. Each of them left the church, got together and raised a family. It’s an odd piece of my history that I know has had an influence on me but being raised by parents who had immersed themselves in third world countries.

How do people connect with you, personally, through social media? (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest)
You can reach me on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

What is the name of your business/organization?
Hergott Law.

Why did you get into/start this business?
A number of factors entered into me becoming a lawyer. To some extent, I just fell into it. One thing that did attract me in that direction generally, and into litigation in particular, is a strong sense of justice. Looking after the “little guy” for which perhaps my brother’s protectiveness was an influence. I opened up Hergott Law in 2007 as a natural progression in my legal career, moving from an associate position to an ownership one. My wife’s experience in law administration was a very strong factor in allowing me to start up my own practice.

What is the goal of your business?
Apart from the odd exception, all we do is prosecute personal injury claims on behalf of innocent victims of car crashes and other incidents that cause injury. Our goal is to achieve justice on behalf our clients, which means achieving full, fair compensation for their injuries and losses. We are not about screwing the insurance company. We absolutely insist that our clients be honest, not only with us but also with their medical team, medical experts, as well as the defense lawyers during examinations for discovery. I have found over the years that being honest and credible is the only true way to achieve fair results.

What has been your biggest struggle either in work or life?
I would say that my biggest struggle has been maintaining self-discipline! Armed with a whole lot more self-discipline I would be would spend more time with the family and less time at the office.

If you could start all over again would you do things the same or would things be different?
I hope that I had known then, what I know now, that my behaviour and how I’ve done things would have benefited and been shaped by wisdom and knowledge.

What do you always find yourself saying?
One broken record message that I like to put out there to my team is that nobody is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. An achievable goal is to come up with systems and procedures to ensure that those imperfections won’t get in the way of producing perfect results. In short, I don’t expect perfect people but I do expect perfect results.

If you could spend one whole day with anyone in the world who is currently alive, who would you select?
That’s a tough one. I suppose I would choose our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. I would use the opportunity to do my best to convince him of the value of creating a new criminal offense of cell-phone-impaired driving to provide for a nation wide criminal prohibition of all cell phone use while driving along with serious consequences for offenders.

Why do you think it is important to shop locally?
I like feeling apart of a community and one of the key ways we interact with our community is by purchasing local goods and services. Shopping locally not only supports existing entrepreneurs but also encourages new ones.

What has been your proudest accomplishment?
I don’t know if I can properly call it an “accomplishment” because I don’t know how much credit I can take for it, but I’m incredibly, incredibly proud of my children.

Give someone you think that deserves a shout out and explain why!
There are so many amazing members of our local medical community, and when you ask about who deserves a shout out my mind jumps to those people. One in particular is Roy Gillespie who is a physiotherapist. I’ve become familiar with him from years of sharing clients, and I know that he is held in incredibly high regard in the community, including by medical specialists. I lose track of time, but within the last year or two he helped an extended family member by donating a kidney. He’s that great of a guy.

My choice for the KelownaNow In Focus spotlight is:
Roy Gillespie.

Some general comments I would like to share are:
It feels like you now know more about me than my wife does! I feel very lucky to have stumbled upon and planted my roots in this town. I have seen many beautiful spots, but there is no where I would rather live.

We encourage you to leave your comments and words of support below and submit your own nomination by clicking HERE. You are also welcome to submit a form of your own by clicking HERE. Thank you, Kelowna.



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