- GARY MILAKOVIC
TYLER MILNE, Wealth Manager and Financial Planner, "Fighting to the top"
Tyler Milne’s journey to the top was winding – there were plenty of switchbacks on his road to success. He is one of the best options traders in the country, it’s a gift that few in the industry possess.
For a long time, it wasn’t something he was able to pursue. Instead, he found himself in wealth management and financial planning. Tyler was good at it and his clients liked him, but it wasn’t challenging.
Tyler knew it wasn’t what he wanted to do. He wanted to pursue his passion. To do that, however, he needed to make a change. But Tyler knows firsthand that making a change can be the most difficult thing anyone can do.
Cold hard truth
Tyler has always been known for his talent.
He was an Ontario Big Air Champ, a World long-drive competitor, and a Toronto 8-ball champion who played in the Canadian Open of Pool.
Tyler was also an addict – and he rarely competed sober. In Tyler’s family, athletic and academic success weren’t optional. He loves his parents without reservation, but in hindsight, the pressure was difficult for him to take. Particularly since academic success didn’t come easily. Later in life (25 years too late, perhaps) Tyler was diagnosed with ADHD and OCD, which explain the challenges he experienced in school.
At the time though, he just wasn’t “applying himself.” When Tyler was fourteen, he tried his first drink.
His anxiety disappeared. It wasn’t the alcohol or drugs, he craved…it was the freedom they offered. He needed it. Tyler couldn’t cope without it. He couldn’t live without it.
“The problem with being successful is that it masks a lot of problems. Nobody would call me out on my garbage. I wasn’t a bad drunk, I didn’t cause any problems, so everybody gave me a pass. The feeling was, ‘well, he’s mostly doing fine. We should just leave him alone.’ So, I suffered in silence for a long time. The first people that ever said anything to me, were Warren Tanner and Trennon Paynter, a world cup champion, and Canadian head coach, respectively – they told me that I was wasting my talent, but I laughed it off. I didn’t know it, but it affected me deeply. Because I knew they were right.”
Tyler knows he isn’t the only one that turned to drugs or alcohol to cope, particularly in the finance industry. The high stress, unrelenting pressure, and long hours are a cocktail of agony.
When he was thirty-two, Tyler entered rehab. He knew it was time to make a change. He was ready, yet terrified at the same time.
It was a difficult process. In rehab, they “strip you down and help you figure out why you are the way you are.” He needed to confront both who he thought he was, and who he actually was. Tyler realized that his biggest character flaw was trying to impress people because he wasn’t impressed with himself. It was a revelation.
Throughout his recovery, Tyler had the opportunity to do presentations on addiction, his personal struggles, and how he was working to overcome them. He mentioned the presentation in passing to one of his doctors. The Doc knew Tyler’s situation well. After all, he was the guy who saved Tyler’s life during a vicious bout with alcohol poisoning.
As Tyler talked about his presentation, and the messages he was communicating to people, his doctor said something that shocked Tyler: addiction isn’t a lack of willpower. It’s a disease.
Tyler had no idea. At first, he didn’t believe it. How could he? Addiction had been his constant companion for almost two decades. Tyler would beat himself up constantly, questioning his mental toughness and his “manhood.”
But the Doc set him straight and a lot of the pain that was associated with his years of addiction evaporated. He felt good about himself for the first time in a long time. Tyler began actively talking about his addiction and his recovery with the people in his life. Being open about his illness allowed him to start healing – something he’d never thought possible before. This was the freedom he’d been seeking for so long through drugs and alcohol.
During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Tyler met a neighbour named Shawn Sheik. He was both a Muay Thai and Boxing champion. Shawn was made of steel. Tyler went to his house daily – it was a humbling experience, but true to his nature, he didn’t give up. Tyler kept going back.
“There’s a quote I love about boxing, which says something like ‘boxing is a kind of magic. It gives discipline to the wild, strength to the weak, and confidence to the mild.’ It’s so true. Boxing gave me the confidence to be myself, which to me was the scariest thing imaginable.”
When attending a dinner hosted by his sponsor, he met one of the top boxing trainers in the country, who invited Tyler to Atlas Boxing. At Atlas, Tyler’s world changed. He became hungry.
He met Armand Teodorescu – boxing royalty. Armand’s father coached Lennox Lewis to a gold medal in the Olympics. Tyler began training. Hard. Over time one thing became clear to both Armand and himself: he was good enough to compete. And they knew it.
This past summer Tyler participated in the Brampton Cup, Canada’s biggest amateur boxing tournament – he won in 27 seconds.
It was a crowning achievement for a man who isn’t letting his past define his future. Tyler is grateful for all the gifts he’s been given, for the path that has led him finally to a place of peace.
Tyler has realized that his boxing skills are allowing him a platform to do good. And he’s going to use it. He is planning a mega-boxing exhibition with a highly decorated amateur (who will soon turn pro) to raise money for autism awareness.
Tyler’s son, Ryder, is on the spectrum. Ryder is high-functioning due in large part to his father’s ability to afford a prestigious school that caters directly to his needs.
The government wait list for similar programming is three to four years, and the funding provided isn’t nearly close to what a family would need to fully cover their child’s care.
“I feel like my purpose is to raise awareness – I’m at this level right now where I feel like I can help. So, I am. My favourite quote is ‘each one, teach one. Get to the next level, reach back. Pull someone else up.’ When we work together, the world becomes just a bit better for everyone.”
He will continue working on his sobriety. That is a battle he won’t ever stop fighting.
But now, he’s ready.
The confidence Tyler has gained from his training has permeated throughout his entire life. He’s trading again, with big plans to open his own consulting firm. He’s already seen successes, laying the foundation for his new business. Tyler had the knowledge; he just needed the belief.
The champ has no plans to back down – he knows what he can be without the haze of addiction…and nobody can stop him.
Gary Milakovic is a veteran writer with more than a decade in the public sector and corporate communications. He has covered a wide spectrum of topics and his work has been featured by large and small organizations across Canada. Gary is passionate about communication, his writing often focuses on uncovering the “story behind the story.”