In Memory- Mike Grenby


Mike graduated from Delbrook in 1958...

 

Mike GRENBY (February 18, 1941 - July 3, 2019)

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  • "Mike and I met at UBC in 1958 and remained good friends..."

    - Raphael Girard

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Obituary


Journalist and academic Mike Grenby, known for years to newspaper readers across Canada as "the man who could pinch a penny and manage a million," has died following the usual "valiant battle" with pancreatic cancer. He was 78.

Mr. Grenby started writing a personal financial advice column for The Vancouver Sun in 1973. As the paper's money columnist he would feature "money makeovers" – helping individuals and families make the most from their money. He wasn't shy about how he, wife Mandy and eventually son Matt managed their own money. Mike and Mandy would split a meal in a restaurant – creating a six-course banquet by sharing an appetizer, entrée and dessert – long before that became a reasonably acceptable practice. The couple hitchhiked around the world for a year referring to the then popular "Europe on $5 a Day" series of travel guides, but triumphantly reported they had done their trip on $5 a Day…for the two of them. They admitted to sharing the bathwater – Mandy first, then Mike, then Matt – but denied using the remaining heat in the water to warm up leftovers.

Emeritus Professor Grenby was born on Feb. 18, 1941 in London but left the U.K. with his family for Vancouver at the age of eight. At 17, he hitchhiked across the country, staying in police stations overnight under a "book arrest" in those pre-backpacker accommodation days. This sparked a lifelong love of travel even when not staying at local constabularies. His travel articles appeared in publications around the world; he ended up with more than 250,000 readers on TripAdvisor. Mr. Grenby graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in 1963 and went on to study at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York, one of the world's leading journalism schools and home of the Pulitzer Prizes. He received a master's degree in journalism with high honours from Columbia in 1964 and returned home to work at The Vancouver Sun where he remained for 25 years, as the newspaper's first personal finance columnist. Mr. Grenby's award-winning money advice column was syndicated across Canada and at its peak ran in 54 newspapers including the North Shore News every week. He wrote books, appeared on radio and television, headlined "money" shows, went on cruises with Mandy as celebrity workshop hosts and worked as a fee-only personal financial advisor – all with a focus on helping ordinary people manage their money better.


Mr. Grenby met Australian-born Mandy at Lions Gate Hospital in 1965. She was a nurse and he was a patient recovering from minor surgery. Mrs. Grenby would later say she knew as soon as she walked into his room she was going to marry the journalist, and they tied the knot in 1967. In the spirit of the freewheeling 1960s, the couple embarked on a year-long around-the-world hitchhiking honeymoon. During the trip Mrs. Grenby took her new husband to her homeland and he fell in love with Australia. After reading an article about Bond University in the Sydney Morning Herald's Good Weekend Magazine, Mrs. Grenby posed a question to her husband: "Perhaps you could teach there?" In 1998 Mr. Grenby was offered a one-year contract to teach entry level journalism at Bond. The following year he heard about a public speaking subject Bond had developed and went on to teach that subject as well as journalism for 19 years, attracting international attention from publications including the Harvard Business Review.

Mrs. Grenby died in 2001, but Mr. Grenby remained on Australia's Gold Coast at Bond where he was known for his then-unconventional approach to teaching, which involved students bashing a bar stool with a foam pool toy and other techniques aimed at curing their fear of public speaking. "If you can't communicate confidently – one, you won't get the date, two, you won't get the job and three, you won't be successful in your job," he said in 2005. "And the main problem with public speaking is fear of public speaking." Mr. Grenby took the Bond public speaking workshop to the world, delivering it at the University of Cambridge for seven years, and also at the London School of Economics and Geneva's International School. He was a member of the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council and his students have gone on to positions of power and influence around the world, particularly in the Australian media. However, more than a staff member, Mr. Grenby was an integral part of the Bond community. He made a generous donation to fund in perpetuity The Grenby Family Beyond Bond Medal, awarded every semester at graduation to the student who has accumulated the highest number of points in the University's Beyond Bond program. Mr. Grenby also established in perpetuity the Mandy Grenby Memorial Prize, awarded every semester to the public speaking student who shows the most improvement in The Unfair Advantage workshop, part of Beyond Bond.

He was active in various Gold Coast community organizations. He acted as a mentor at the Gold Coast Toastmasters Club, had a "Food for Thought" show on various foodie topics on radio station 4CRB and did fundraising as a volunteer at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary's Wildlife Hospital. Away from Bond, Mr. Grenby made good use of his three passports, travelling the world for months at a time, delivering Bond's public speaking workshops and writing about his travel experiences for a wide variety of print and online publications. 

Mr. Grenby is survived by his son Matt, daughter-in-law Irene and his two grandchildren, Parker and Thatcher, who live in San Francisco's East Bay area. Matt and Irene run Parker Thatch, the women's handbags and accessories brand they started together in 2001. Matt inherited his father's thirst for knowledge, attending Harvard, Columbia and Berkeley universities and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), amassing a Bachelor of Arts, and Master of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees.

If you have any memories of Mike you'd care to share with Matt and his family, 
please email him at mrgyvr+oz@gmail.com

The family asks that instead of flowers, donations be sent to Bond University to support 
the Grenby Family Make a Difference Fund for outstanding students. 
Please contact Bond's Office of Engagement at smccarti@bond.edu.au or phone +61 7 5595 1027.
 

Published in The North Shore News on July 5, 2019