Growing Up with Purposeful Entrepreneurship
I have frequently been asked when I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I cannot really specify the date other than to say as far back as I can remember.
My father was an entrepreneur. I always admired his work ethic and his passion. In his time, he helped many early-stage entrepreneurs develop products, ideas, and technologies. Even before I went to college–initially my goal was Cornell, but I ended up at Yale–I had that entrepreneurial spirit. Growing up in a home where my ideas (regardless of how bad some were!) were rewarded helped convince me to become an entrepreneur.
To be a successful executive or entrepreneur one must have discipline and an ability to deal with failures and setbacks.
Growing up in Montreal hockey was a huge part of my life–so huge that I played professionally for a time after I graduated college. Hockey helped me better understand commitment, teamwork and discipline–three traits that any successful entrepreneur must have. Cultivating these traits through my parents and hockey helped me build many successful businesses in my time, including Wok Fast Chinese Food, which I co-founded in the early 1990s.
I was fortunate to know what I wanted to do from an early age. When I speak with young executives many are torn and confused over what career path they should pursue. They want to find that job that fuels their passion, but also provides financial stability. I frequently remind them that their first job will not be their last job. As I did, they must gain work experience, cultivate a strong work ethic and build a foundation they can use for decades to come. No one has to have it figured out the first day–I certainly did not.
For example, my career started in investment banking on Toronto’s Bay Street, the Canadian Wall Street.
The big management meetings, however, and fancy titles weren’t something I found particularly productive, intriguing, or interesting. Only by taking that job on Bay Street did I realize what I really wanted. In my case, I was willing to give up the security of working for a big firm. Pursuing my entrepreneurial roots allowed me to create my own hours and be as flexible as I needed. Yes, some days I missed that security of the big firms. But growing up in a home where I say my dad succeed and fail helped me overcome my concerns. I knew in time if I stuck with my plan of creating businesses that provide value to my community in a purposeful way I would be just fine.