I am a proud Canadian. I have a large Canadian flag hanging on my front porch, not just on Canada Day -- 365 days a year. There are many personal reasons why I am proud about the country: Our peaceful, diverse communities; majestic, four-season landscapes; and fierce athletic determination (Canadian Olympic medal ceremonies make me cry) are just a few.
As a business leader managing the Canadian subsidiary of one of the world's largest marketplaces -- eBay -- there are also a number of professional reasons why I am proud to be from the Great White North.
Here are my top three:
We embrace diverse talent pools
Multiculturalism has not only benefited our country socially and culturally; it has had a profound positive impact economically as well. Canadians have cooked up a perfect "business magic" recipe through the synergy of diversity and talent. As countries and corporations alike struggle to unlock the potential of diverse populations, Canadians can offer a unique and powerful perspective. Our diverse talent pool is our edge in the global business landscape; we can and should use it to assert ourselves as global corporate leaders.
We inherently think globally
Canadian professionals are corporate chameleons in that we are adept at leveraging our cross-cultural backgrounds. Our visceral knowledge of U.S. culture and norms, complemented by our deep understanding of European and Asian sensibilities, allows us to adapt and thrive in ever-changing marketplace conditions. It also makes us authentic collaborators, which is an invaluable skill for businesses with a global footprint. Dig around in any corporate headquarters across the globe and it is not long until you find that some of your most effective colleagues are "undercover" Canadians!
We have a reputation of being "scrappy"
Quite often, due to the smaller size of teams, the Canadian companies -- whether they be home-grown or the arms of a global corporation -- offer their employees greater ranges of experience within their roles. The eBay Canada team, for example, is constantly exposed to new aspects of the business, giving us a more comprehensive, holistic understanding that goes beyond traditional job descriptions. This in turn gives our small team the ability to be incredibly "scrappy," proving that size does not dictate our ability to execute. I hear the same from other Canadian leaders; their teams are known for overcoming business constraints with creativity and resourcefulness, earning trust and respect from global counterparts.
The stereotype of Canadians being "nice" can misrepresent our position as critical thinkers and tenacious leaders.
Being Canadian, though, does not come without its challenges. In many cases, Canadian clichés can be dilutive to our global business reputation. Often perceived as the underdog, we can be overlooked for opportunities. The stereotype of Canadians being "nice" can misrepresent our position as critical thinkers and tenacious leaders. Sometimes being Canadian means we have to overcompensate to prove that we are not a nation content with "the way things are," but that we are just as driven and competitive as any other nation.
But just as we cannot enjoy our country's four seasons without experiencing the cold winters, we have to embrace both the benefits and challenges of Canada's reputation in the global corporate landscape. I gladly embrace these Canadian-specific business challenges -- the same way I am embracing winter by teaching my kids to downhill ski -- head on with a big smile on my face, never taking for granted the privilege of being Canadian.
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