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Roger Fortner Of OAR On How to Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone to Grow Both Personally and…

Roger Fortner Of OAR On How to Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone to Grow Both Personally and Professionally

An Interview With Maria Angelova

Facing your fears — This can mean confronting a phobia, speaking in public, or taking on a difficult task that you’ve been avoiding. By confronting your fears, you can build confidence and resilience.

It feels most comfortable to stick with what we are familiar with. But
anyone who has achieved great success will tell you that true growth
comes from pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. What are some
ways that influential people have pushed themselves out of their
comfort zone to grow both personally and professionally? As a part
of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Roger Fortner.

Roger Fortner is the founder of Templify Inc. and OAR Investments Inc., both based out of Ottawa, Canada. Templify is a technology company that focuses on providing software solutions, specifically document templating, and OAR is a real estate investment firm.

Roger was born, raised and educated in Birmingham (England), before moving to Canada in the 2003. He holds a BS in Computer Science and Software Engineering from The University of Birmingham and works as an independent consultant. As a strong believer in continuous learning and self-improvement, he takes vocational and personal courses regularly.

He has helped build some notable Government of Canada projects including the award-winning Cannabis Tracking and Licensing System (CTLS) and the Canadian Refugee Protection Portal.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I grew up an only child in an inner-city area three miles from Birmingham city center. Growing up I was fascinated with football, cars — particularly watching the Birmingham Super Prix racing live, playing rugby and exploring video games.

Growing up in Birmingham in the 1980s was a unique and memorable experience. Birmingham was a city that was rapidly changing and developing, and this was reflected in the many new shops, restaurants and entertainment venues that were opening up. For children growing up in the city, there were plenty of fun activities to do and places to explore. Cadbury World was a popular destination for families. This chocolate-themed park was located on the outskirts of Birmingham and was a popular spot for kids. The park offered a variety of chocolate-themed attractions, including a chocolate factory tour, a chocolate-making workshop, and a chocolate-themed ride. The highlight of the park was the chocolate-making demonstration, where visitors could watch the process of how chocolate was made, and even taste some fresh chocolate straight from the factory. Another popular attraction was Alton Towers, located just a few miles from Birmingham. This amusement park offered a variety of rides, including roller coasters, water rides, and a variety of children’s rides. The park was also home to a variety of attractions, including a haunted house, a funhouse, and a medieval castle. For children growing up in Birmingham, Alton Towers was a popular destination for summer holidays and school trips, providing a fun and exciting day out with friends and family. The city of Birmingham was also home to a number of cinemas, bowling alleys, and arcades. For children, these places were a great way to spend time and have fun. The cinemas were popular destinations for families, and offered a variety of movies to watch, from family-friendly films to the latest action movies. The bowling alleys were also a popular destination, and children loved competing with friends and family, trying to score the most strikes and spares. The arcades were also a popular destination, offering a variety of games and attractions, including video games, pinball machines, and air hockey. Birmingham was also home to a number of parks and open spaces, providing children with plenty of opportunities to play and explore. The city was home to many parks, including Cannon Hill Park, Sutton Park, and Lickey Hills Country Park. These parks provided a great place for children to play, run around and have picnics with their families. They also offered a variety of activities, such as fishing, boating, and hiking. In addition to the parks, Birmingham was home to many museums, art galleries, and historical sites, providing children with opportunities to learn and explore. The city was home to many museums, including the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, and the Museum of the Industrial Revolution. These museums offered a variety of exhibitions, showcasing the history and heritage of the city, and providing a fascinating look at the past.

I really enjoyed school growing up in Birmingham. I look back with great fondness on the many subjects I was able to experience and study. Latin, domestic science, pottery, drama to name just a few that I am happy to recall in addition to more typical school subjects. The ability to travel and experience the world was also fantastic. In particular, a week-long Mediterranean cruise, stopping off for a day in various countries was one of the non-typical school trips that stands out in my memory, swimming in the Dead Sea, crouching through a tunnel to see an inner chamber of the inside one of a Pyramids, seeing the Wailing wall in Jerusalem and exploring the ruins of ancient Greece, to name just some of the adventures. These are not only amazing experiences but become life long memories that certainly helped me gain a broader perspective on the world as a whole and our civilization. After leaving private education, my initial main interest was science, Chemistry in particular, however after that year-long college course concluded, I decided to embark on a two-year college Computer Studies program. After which, I was accepted to The University of Birmingham, a leading global university for a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Software Engineering. I graduated with honours and that degree has been a solid platform on which I have built my consulting career.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Do your best and forget the rest.” — Tony Horton

I love this quote. It most often comes to mind when I am in the gym, not surprisingly, given its Tony Horton. The fact it’s simple and memorable helps and it is something we can all stive to do every day. Too often we compare ourselves with others, come up with excuses not to do something new, when it prevents us from exploring and growing, when this simple quote reminds us to shut out the noise.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

The film Glengarry Glen Ross. It resonates me with for many reasons:

  1. Realistic portrayal of office culture: The film is a sharp and witty depiction of the cutthroat sales culture in a real estate office.
  2. Strong acting: The film features an all-star cast of talented actors who deliver powerful performances, including Al Pacino and Jack Lemmon.
  3. Relevant themes: The film touches on universal themes such as ambition, greed, and desperation that many people can relate to.
  4. Timeless story: The film’s storyline and characters are relevant and timeless, which helps to keep its relevance even today, long after its initial release.
  5. Sharp writing: The film’s screenplay, written by David Mamet, is renowned for its rapid-fire dialogue, which is both humorous and insightful.

The film teaches us about the importance of stepping out of our comfort zone and adapting to challenges, such of cold calling. The play focuses on a group of real estate salesmen who are struggling to make a living and meet their quotas. The characters are depicted as being in their own personal comfort zones, and the play shows the effects of not being willing to adapt to the challenges of their jobs. The play illustrates that the key to success in cold calling is persistence, resilience, and the ability to adjust one’s approach. The salesmen who are successful in the play are those who are willing to take risks, experiment with different strategies, and maintain a positive attitude in the face of rejection. In essence, Glengarry Glen Ross teaches us that success requires a combination of courage, flexibility, and determination. By stepping out of our comfort zones and embracing the challenges of cold calling, we can develop the skills and confidence necessary to succeed in a challenging field.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Let’s start with a basic definition so that all of us are on the same page. What does “getting outside of your comfort zone” mean?

A persons’ comfort zone is a place, situation or mindset where they feel safe, at ease and without stress. It’s a cozy place, but if you stay too long, you’ll miss out on valuable opportunities to grow. “Getting outside of your comfort zone” refers to challenging oneself to engage in activities or experiences that are unfamiliar or uncomfortable, with the goal of personal growth and development. This can include trying new things, taking risks, and facing one’s fears in order to expand one’s abilities, perspectives, and sense of self-confidence.

Can you help articulate a few reasons why it is important to get out of your comfort zone?

There are many benefits to stepping out of your comfort zone. It gives us an opportunity to learn about ourselves. Knowing more about our fears and what makes us uncomfortable, especially with other people can be very enlightening. When we know more about ourselves, this can only enhance our understanding, our mental health and our triggers.

We can build self-confidence which can impact many areas of our lives. Stepping out of our comfort zone teaches us how brave and capable we are and our confidence continues to grow as we face our fears and try new things.

Our creative abilities can be increased, which can be an outlet for our emotions. This can lead to taking on and trying different creative activities.

Is it possible to grow without leaving your comfort zone?

Yes, it is possible to grow and develop new skills or abilities without leaving your comfort zone. Growth and personal development can occur through various means, such as learning new information, practicing a skill, receiving feedback, and reflection. The key is to continuously challenge yourself and stretch your comfort zone in small, manageable ways, while still maintaining a sense of safety and security. This approach can helps build confidence and resilience, and ultimately lead to personal growth and development.

Can you explain what you mean?

Personal growth and development is a continuous process that involves expanding one’s skills, knowledge, and abilities, and becoming the best version of oneself. Comfort zones are the familiar and predictable environments and activities where people feel safe and at ease.

A more gradual and controlled approach to expanding one’s comfort zone can help individuals overcome these feelings of discomfort and anxiety, and still achieve personal growth. This can be done by gradually exposing yourself to new experiences and challenges, and then reflecting on those experiences to learn and grow. For example, if you’re someone who’s not used to public speaking, you could start by giving a small presentation to a friendly group, and then gradually increase the size of the audience or the level of difficulty of the presentation. By doing so, you can build your confidence and resilience in a controlled and manageable way, allowing you to grow and develop at your own pace, without feeling overwhelmed or intimidated.

Can you share some anecdotes from your personal experience? Can you share a story about a time when you stepped out of your comfort zone
and how it helped you grow? How does it feel to take those first difficult steps?

The biggest move of my life was emigrating to Canada. It was not a quick or easy decision. Overcoming fears about family ties and career prospects was hard. Ultimately, I found work soon after moving and was able to settle into Canadian life quickly.

On weekdays I work as a software engineer, and in terms of writing, I had convinced myself that code was the only written output I was capable of producing professionally. However, I have long since had ideas, and one in particular for a novel. Often, those thoughts about staying with what I know — code, would prevent me from starting the project, or even giving it any real serious consideration. Happily, I have moved passed that and although out of my comfort zone in terms of creative writing, have started the novel. It was quite challenging at first, and not having a compiler as a compass to regularly check I am on the right track often feels like I am moving in the dark, but overall, it’s a different writing experience and another opportunity to develop creatively.

I have always been fascinated by architecture, especially unusual buildings, usually ones with contemporary designs and features. This year I am delighted that one of my properties — The Lifestyle, will be part of the “Everyone Wins” Nominee Gift Bags, offering a three-night stay, honoring the year’s best and brightest stars and given independently to Oscar® nominees in the major acting and directing categories. It has been a surreal experience and definitely qualifies as getting outside my comfort zone. I never would have predicted growing up Birmingham that one day I would be creating luxury stays for A-list celebrities.

Here is the central question of our discussion. What are your “five
ways to push past your comfort zone, to grow both personally and

My five ways to push past your comfort zone are:

1. Trying new experiences — This can mean trying a new hobby, taking a class in a subject you’re not familiar with, or traveling to a new place. The idea is to expose yourself to new and different experiences that challenge your comfort zone.

2. Taking on a new challenge — This can mean taking on a new project at work, accepting a leadership role, or setting a difficult personal goal. The key is to challenge yourself to do something that you’re not sure you can do, in order to stretch your limits.

3. Facing your fears — This can mean confronting a phobia, speaking in public, or taking on a difficult task that you’ve been avoiding. By confronting your fears, you can build confidence and resilience.

4. Networking — This can mean reaching out to new people, attending events and conferences, or volunteering for a new organization. The goal is to broaden your connections and engage with others who have different experiences and perspectives.

5. Personal development — This can mean reading new books, taking courses, or seeking feedback from others. The goal is to continuously learn and grow, and to expand your understanding of yourself and the world around you.

From your experience or perspective, what are some of the common
barriers that keep someone from pushing out of their comfort zone?

The common barriers that keep people from pushing out of their comfort zone include:

  1. A limited mindset
  2. Fear of failure or rejection
  3. Lack of confidence or self-esteem
  4. Risk aversion
  5. Insecurity about new experiences
  6. Comfort with routine and familiar experiences
  7. Social pressure or influence from others
  8. Habits or behaviors that limit growth and change
  9. Lack of clarity about goals or motivation
  10. Financial or practical limitations.

There is a well-known quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt that says, “Do something that scares you every day”. What exactly does this mean to you? Is there inherent value in doing something that pushes you out of your comfort zone, even if it does not relate to personal or professional growth? For example, if one is uncomfortable about walking alone at night should they purposely push themselves to do it often for the sake of going beyond their comfort zone? Can you please explain what you mean?

This quote means that one should actively seek out new and challenging experiences, even if they are frightening or intimidating, as a way to grow and develop as a person. By facing and overcoming fear, one can become more confident and resilient. This can also lead to personal growth, increased self-esteem and a more fulfilling life.

Yes, there can be inherent value in doing things that push you out of your comfort zone, regardless of whether they relate directly to personal or professional growth. By exposing yourself to new experiences and situations, even if they are uncomfortable or scary, you can develop greater courage, resilience, and adaptability. These are valuable skills and traits that can benefit you in many areas of life.

However, it is important to consider the risks involved and make sure that the activities you engage in are safe. For example, if one is uncomfortable about walking alone at night, they should make sure to take appropriate safety measures, such as carrying a phone and avoiding dark or deserted areas. Additionally, if someone is struggling with severe anxiety or fear that is affecting their daily life, it may be best for them to seek the support of a mental health professional before attempting to push themselves out of their comfort zone.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Initiatives that I believe have the positive impact on communities and individuals include:

  • Providing access to education and healthcare.
  • Implementing fair and just policies that address inequality and poverty.
  • Promoting sustainable development and protecting the environment.
  • Fostering scientific research and technological advancements.
  • Supporting and empowering marginalized communities.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

It would have to be Elon Musk, who once said “When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favour.” And “Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster.”

How can our readers follow you online?


Instagram: @r.a.fortner |

The Lifestyle:

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

About The Interviewer: Maria Angelova, MBA is a disruptor, author, motivational speaker, body-mind expert, Pilates teacher and founder and CEO of Rebellious Intl. As a disruptor, Maria is on a mission to change the face of the wellness industry by shifting the self-care mindset for consumers and providers alike. As a mind-body coach, Maria’s superpower is alignment which helps clients create a strong body and a calm mind so they can live a life of freedom, happiness and fulfillment. Prior to founding Rebellious Intl, Maria was a Finance Director and a professional with 17+ years of progressive corporate experience in the Telecommunications, Finance, and Insurance industries. Born in Bulgaria, Maria moved to the United States in 1992. She graduated summa cum laude from both Georgia State University (MBA, Finance) and the University of Georgia (BBA, Finance). Maria’s favorite job is being a mom. Maria enjoys learning, coaching, creating authentic connections, working out, Latin dancing, traveling, and spending time with her tribe. To contact Maria, email her at [email protected]. To schedule a free consultation, click here.

Roger Fortner Of OAR On How to Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone to Grow Both Personally and… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.