I was recently interviewed by Tom Jackson from Ivy Denim. We had a fun chat about getting started as an entrepreneur and even spoke a bit about fashion. Republished here from #IvyLife.
On Business & Drive
Tell me about the time in your life when you first recognized you were developing your passion?
It came early for me. I was in advanced programs throughout high school and was mentoring at the university for a career in Nanotechnology. Around the same time, I was exposed to my first business ventures and a few successful entrepreneurs. The challenge of business was seductive as was being in control of my own destiny. I dropped out and enrolled in a vocational business program halfway through my grade 12 year. It went against everything I was taught but felt right. A decade later, I’m thankful I have have no regrets and still live every day following my dreams.
Who and what played an important role in your development?
I was taught to think for myself. It was a simple gift from my parents that I really grabbed hold of. There were growing pains along the way for all of us but no doubt, it made me who I am.
At what point did you decide it was time to actively pursue bringing your idea to fruition?
I’m not an idea person at all. As long as it’s legal, moral, and ethical, I don’t care what the business or idea is. I have passion for capitalism and markets. That knowledge helps me recognize, close, and exploit inefficiencies in many different businesses. When I see a large inefficiency, it’s a opportunity. I’ve watched enough pass me by to know timing is everything. In my world, the best time to bring an idea to fruition was yesterday because you never know what circumstances may change today.
The biggest internal and external challenges you’ve faced?
The most obvious internal challenge has been work-life balance. There are so many different manifestations that problem can carry. Entrepreneurs want to give every second they have and some can even pull it off. The adverse effects will catch up eventually and they carry significant risks to your health and relationships. Sustainable ventures and productive business culture values the importance of life outside of work.
My biggest external challenge has been learning the difference between activity and productivity. I didn’t understand what successful businesses did on a daily basis to drive results. I wasted too much effort on bells and whistles when what my companies needed were nuts and bolts. If you’re building a startup, this is a critical balance which can be the difference between success and failure.
Fondest memory during the process?
They are all fond but one of my favorites was from a student business plan competition at the University of Alberta. I entered for fun and ended up at the final. I was an 18 year old dropout from a small college up against 5 of the brightest student business ventures Alberta had to offer. Our competitors were university funded with large teams and hired guns. We showed well on paper but I completely choked when the spotlight found me. Totally blew the pitch but thankfully can laugh about it today. It was a major lesson learned in being prepared.
Where do you find inspiration?
I think inspiration is always flowing through us. If you believe that, the hard part is staying focused. Understanding yourself is crucial to that process. When I lose focus, it’s a an alert that something isn’t right. Maybe it’s a sign to stop and reassess? In that sense, addressing mental roadblocks and blind spots is a great place for me to find inspiration.
Are there any key roles you are looking to fill?
I’m looking to fill all sorts of roles. I don’t care about credentials as much though… my prerequisite is passion. Most people can learn new skills but only a few can be rainmakers. If we’re fortunate enough to garner consideration from people like that, we make room and we make room for what they do best.
What is your ultimate goal?
To teach as many people to ‘fish’ as possible. I want to have a quantifiable impact on global GDP. I feel like the world has lost it’s way and is always looking outside for help. No matter how desperate your situation, you have to find solutions within. Help may never come. I believe we can do a lot of good with a little good faith and capitalism. If we can teach others to fish, they’ll be a lot more food for everyone. When someone really needs help, my hope is they don’t even have to ask.
How would you describe your fashion style?
After spending a year in Tokyo, I’d say I have no fashion style. The men there know how to dress. Coming from Alberta, I’m very conservative and functional. I love fashion and being well dressed, but I hate needing a mirror to get ready. It’s all about quality, fit, and simplicity for everything I buy. My mouth provides the rest. That’s part of what makes me such a huge fan of Ivy.
Where would we find you when you are not working on something related to this project?
We laughed about this when we first met but in terms of fashion, I’d be working to educate the market on selvedge denim because I’m a big advocate. A lot of guys get scared off by the price but they might miss how much more they spend on poor quality as a result. I wouldn’t be building a brand like Ivy, but I’d be selling brands like it all day.