In this week's interview we talk to Chris Suitor (38) who lives in Dundonald with this wife Nichola (37), daughters Ava (9) and Lois (7), and pet dog Gucci. Chris is a partner and Creative Director at Suitor Brothers, Belfast
Q. Tell us about your childhood
A. I grew up in Dundonald with my parents Tom and Carol, and my big brother William. We were a very close, happy family and still are to this day.
Both my parents had businesses, so family time was precious due to how much effort they put into making their business work. It was a great lesson in managing work and family, in which I think they did very well.
Q. What are you most proud of?
A. Two things really. The first - being a good father and husband and creating a happy home, is top of the list. I learned from an early age that good things happen when everyone pulls together, and that includes family life; we are all in it together but it takes work, sacrifice and conversation on all sides.
Secondly, my family history. The Suitors came from very poor beginnings in Monaghan and many of the family have gone into business, driven by an amazing work ethic and will to succeed. I am proud to be carrying this legacy forward and - alongside my brother - winning awards and taking the Suitor business to the next level. Being named Business Person of the Year 2017 at the Belfast Business Awards was a particular highlight.
Currently my wife Nichola and I are busy working on launching a new coffee business, I won't say too much about it now, but you will hear more about it in March.
Q. The one regret you wish you could amend?
A. I don't believe in regrets as they serve no purpose and only get you down. I believe in lessons and there are many times in my life that I have learned lessons the hard way, but I don't regret any of those experiences. They have made me who I am today.
Q. What about phobias. Do you have any?
A. I am terrified of spiders; creepy, crawly, horrible looking… I can't have them anywhere near me.
I'm not great with heights or water, but lately I abseiled off Belfast Castle in the dark and I also did a morning ocean swim in freezing cold water, all for charity. The abseil and swim were for TAMHI, a mental health charity that I am an ambassador for. The swim was also for AWARE. It was organised by The Parr Group and raised over £22k.
I really love pushing myself through fear as you learn a lot about yourself in those times. Maybe I'll do a spider Bushtucker Trial this year!
Q. The temptation you cannot resist?
A. Chocolate - Creme Eggs in particular. I buy them by the box of 48 and they don't last long. I was on Come Dine with Me a few years back and I cooked them deep fried. I thought they were epic but the other contestants hated them (laughs).
Q. Your number one prized possession?
A. Currently that would be my DJ decks. Music is an enormous part of my life and in 2019 I started a journey to become a club DJ. I had my first gig within two weeks and the rest is history. I play music - in particular a style called uplifting trance - every single day in life, as it lifts my mood and mindset immediately. During lockdown I played live on social media regularly which helped me and many others get through it.
Q. The book that's most impacted your life?
A. I honestly have never read an entire book. I am currently trying to read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill as many people I follow and look up to mention it is a great read. But I can't possibly say if any books have impacted my life.
Q. If you had the power or authority, what would you do?
A. Our political system is a shambles. I would replace all the current politicians with younger, more adaptive, creative people and demand that for a minister to hold a position, that they have had direct experience of the field in which they have control over. I would embrace more businesspeople taking up office.
I believe there isn't enough accountability in politics, so this would change. We need our leaders to take control of the ship, not just sit as passengers.
Other than that, I would demand people listen to uplifting trance and wear my suits 24/7 (laughs).
Q. What makes your blood boil every time without fail?
A. Very little really - getting annoyed at things outside of my control doesn't do me any good, but if I had to choose something it would be politics in general and Northern Irish politics in particular. I just wish we could all get along and work towards a better future for our kids. We need some new faces and new ideas up there.
Q. Who has most influenced you in life?
A. My dad. Hands down. He is an amazing selfless man, with a huge heart and even bigger brain. He is always funny and sees the good in things. With an inspirational work ethic and will to live, a more hardy man I am yet to meet. His health has been awful for well over a decade, yet his demeanour never falters and he is always the man I turn to for advice, either in life or business.
Q. Your top three dinner guests, dead or alive, and why?
A. Firstly, I would choose Tiger Woods; the world's greatest golfer and most recognisable sportsperson of all time. I'd like to thank him for inspiring me to play golf and for the memories of watching his career. I literally cried when he won the Tour Championship for his 80th win on the PGA Tour. Walking up the last hole, swarmed by thousands, his comeback from his troubles was complete. This was one of the most inspirational memories of my life. He just never gave up.
Secondly, I would invite John Wayne, The Duke. I'd like to thank him for all the movies and memories of watching him as a kid. He's my father's favourite film star and we spent many a night watching The Quiet Man and his cowboy films. With over 160 films to his name, we would have great conversation. And The Quiet Man instilled my love for rural Ireland as a kid.
The third one would be Aristotle. I am a keen follower of philosophy and imagine having a conversation with the man who is known as The Philosopher. To think his discussions are still relevant nearly 2,500 years on is just mind-blowing, and it's hard to think of anyone else who has helped to shape the human race more.
Q. The best piece of advice you've ever received?
A. I attribute this to my mum, telling me as a teenager when I was lying on in bed, to: "Get up, get out and get at it". It took some time to sink into my mind but now it's my catchphrase for life and something that I share with the world through my social media and the hashtag GGG. The hashtag is used by many people to help them get on with life and keep going, no matter what is happening. It's a very positive mantra.
Q. The unlikely interest or hobby that you love?
A. As well as DJing, I decided to become a licensed boxing MC. I love boxing and wanted to get more involved in the sport. I love talking and putting on a show, so decided to become an MC which gave me a huge behind-the-scenes insight into the sport. I cannot wait to get back in the ring, calling the guys in to fight.
Q. The poem that touches you heart?
A. A Psalm of Life by Henry W Longfellow. It inspires people to go out and get life and be your own hero.
Q. The happiest moment of your life?
A It has to be the birth of our first child, Ava. My wife and I were struggling to conceive for two years but we never gave up, so when the day finally came, it was breathtaking. To bring a little human into the world is the most special time that anyone can experience. We are thankful every day for both Ava and her little sister Lois. It's an absolute blessing to have them and one we do not take lightly.
Q. And the saddest?
A. I try not to dwell on sad things. It doesn't do me any good and therefore it's not useful to spend my energy on it. If you asked me this 10 years ago the answer would be different, but nowadays I find gratitude in the good and the bad.
Q. The one event that made a difference in your life?
A. My wife getting back together with me before we were married after a proper break up. Her undeniable and unbreakable love for me made me want to become and be a better person. I was a bit of a rascal when I was younger, but this changed me. I will spend the rest of my life proving that she made the right decision. She is amazing and deserves it.
Q. What's the ambition that keeps driving you forward?
A. I really enjoy life and want to make sure my family and kids have the best possible life too. I totally understand the huge issue that is the work/life balance, so I'm consistently trying to improve myself and my situation, while keeping an eye on what really matters.
I also enjoy helping other people with their mindset and making them smile. This is very rewarding, so I try to make at least one other person smile every day.
Q. What's the philosophy that you live by?
A. That's simple, it's how I approach life; I get up, get out and get at it.
Q. How do you want to be remembered?
A. I would like people to remember me as a good father, a good husband, a good friend, and most of all a good human.
For more from Chris, follow him on Instagram at @chrissuitorggg and on soundcloud.com/chris-j-suitor