Margaret Lindsay Holton

Author of TRILLIUM

Tolerance is a synonym for kindness. Be Kind. To Your Self. And to the Earth.


Margaret Lindsay Holton is a senior Canadian artist and an award-winning fiction author from the Golden Horseshoe region of Southern Ontario, Canada. She has recently released her third novel, TRILLIUM. Appointed an ‘Alumni of Influence by University College at the University of Toronto in 2018, she is also an out-spoken activist. Lindsay readily stands up to protect further industrial degradation of our shared environment. She writes – “We must be Nature’s Caretakers, not just Nature’s Takers.” Lindsay maintains her vibrant arts studio on the Hamilton Beach strip on the shores of Lake Ontario.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

I knew, very early on, before leaving University, that I wanted my own arts-based business. MLH Productions represents my name (MLH) and what I do (produce creative works.) Acorn Press Canada happened a decade later when I noticed that the Canadian publishing industry was being swallowed up and re-jigged by American and global concerns. I was adamant that I wanted my ‘world view’ expressed as a ‘Canadian’ not as an American or as a globalist. My mantra for that venture: ‘From little acorns mighty oaks grow.’

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My work day typically starts at 5:30am. I ‘scroll’ and catch up on news and social media for an hour or two. I’m at my desk or easel by 9am. When in studio, I’m very focused on the project at hand. I try to take a half hour break for lunch, and, if needed, a tea break around 3:30pm. Otherwise, I am very disciplined about putting in a 9 to 5 day. As a general rule, I do not work on the weekends. Instead, I play. This play time is actually a vital part of my productive activities. Goofing off is essential not only to physical and mental health, but it strengthens ‘creative curiosity’.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Just do it. From inception to completion, nothing is more gratifying then taking an idea and actualizing it. Example, I decided I wanted to do a sesquicentennial project for Canada’s 150th. Starting in 2015, I started to record newly developed musical tracks. I tried to maintain a momentum of creating at least two a month so that I had editing choice when compiling the final album. In 2016, I recorded audio tracks of some of my earlier poems and assigned a complimentary musical track to each spoken-word component. I then had to research the best way to release and sell this IDEA. I decided on a limited run CD as well as a release on a monetized music site. I produced the limited edition CD, using my own artwork for graphics, uploaded my materials to the on-line site, and started to solicit reviews from notable and reputable critics in the industry. Within a very short period of time, the CD sold out. The reviews were great. The on-line version remains ‘up’ to this day, for ease of ‘sharing’ and allowing others to familiarize themselves with my work, and I continue to monetize the effort. From start to finish, 2.5 years, inception to completion. CANADADA: TAKE TWO –

What’s one trend that excites you?

Electric motor vehicles excite me. The industry is in its infancy. With the current players, it will adapt and mature quickly. That’s good for the planet and good for us.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I’m very disciplined about my work as a Canadian artspreneur or artist. I’ve been at it for over 40 years and have recently begun to attain the fruits of my labour. Awards have been conferred, retrospective exhibitions are ‘in discussion’ for the mid 2020s. I have produced a significant body of work that will stand the test of time. All this is important for a senior working artist. My long-term legacy is now secure. I know I have contributed a great deal. That basis makes it easier to keep at it.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Take better physical care of my Self. Our bodies are amazing ‘tools’ and ‘temples’. When we abuse ourselves, through drugs or alcohol or physical injury, we throw away the incredible possibilities that this ‘vessel’ has given each and every one of us. I was rather rough on my ‘younger’ self. Luckily, the body has amazing restorative powers too. We can and should take better care of our physical selves.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Much of what passes for art these days is crap. Just because someone is ‘creative’ and can shape colourful clay balls into blobby figurines does not make them an ‘artist’. Being an artist demands much more then a boozy weekend paint party or a year or two of production. Being an artist is an ‘all or nothing’ kind of endeavor. Meaning, my Life is that of a full-time Artist. It’s what I’ve done and will continue to do until I’m dead. Poseurs and amateurs may grab at the ring. They may even become ‘influencers’ or revered social tarts. But a genuine artist seldom seeks fame, glamour or monetary gain. Those aren’t the real challenges. The very real and very serious challenge is the daily improvement of one’s abilities. Get better at what you are compelled to do every day. That’s it.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Sleep. Seriously, good sleep can make or break your productive day. Go to bed at a reasonable hour and get up early. Set the routine, establish it as a habit, then follow it religiously. Periodic glitches are allowable, but I guarantee, you’ll want the benefits of a good nights rest again before too long.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

I was late to join ‘social media’ networks. Today, it’s an invaluable means to publicize new exhibitions or endeavors. The returns, good will, support and connections are invaluable – especially on Instagram. Just remember, you do have to put in as much, or more, then you take, to really get the advantage of it. That translates into at least one hour, minimum, out of your day, each and every day of the year.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I recently goofed up, big time, on a book production. It was a hard one to swallow and an equally hard one to fix. People had bought into my work, sight unseen. Once I discovered how bad it was, I immediately pulled the remaining stock from the marketplace and offered all purchasers a revised e-copy with a ‘mea culpa’ apology. The damage was done, but hopefully and with continued perseverance, I’ll continue to overcome this major glitch. Shit happens. Everyone knows it does.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Every person in the business of business should watch Kate Raworth’s TED TALK on a sustainable economy … Take it from there.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I spent easily three times that amount on my family at Christmas because I love them to bits.
Otherwise, I’m a spend-thrift and count every penny coming in and going out.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Email, but with different accounts. In this way I can prioritize ‘incoming’ as well as ‘outgoing’. One account is ultra-business, secondary is ‘need-to-know’, ‘things-of-interest’ with on-line memberships. Final one is for replies to mailers, and incidental yet necessary correspondence. It’s a very efficient and effective way to handle email.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I was recently moved by a rather dated tome by historian Will Durant, ‘Lessons of History’. It was my first audio book ‘try-out’ and I found I was captivated by the words, structures and provocative ideas. I also liked the snippet interviews at the end of each chapter with Will Durant and his wife. Their ideas may seem ‘quaint’ in this internet ‘know-all’ age, but, to my mind, clear-eyed THINKING is a diminishing commodity. This book is about THINKING as much as it is about historical incidences from our collective past. It’s also worth mentioning that the Durants represent their era. Some ideas are a bit frumpy or exclusionary today. Still, overall, it is an insightful and inspiring book. I purchased a hard copy recently for ease of referral. Get it, consider it. During these turbulent times, don’t throw out the newborn babe with the antique bathwater … Read it.

What is your favorite quote?

Helen Keller was prone to saying remarkable things. I particularly like this quotable quote: “Toleration is the greatest gift of the mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that it takes to balance oneself on a bicycle.”

Key Learnings:

  • Sleep is required for mental health
  • Play is required to remain productive and creative
  • Tolerance is a synonym for kindness. Be Kind. To Your Self. And to the Earth.
  • Constantly work hard at your discipline, get better at what you choose to do