Where are you from originally, where do you live today, and where do you plan to retire?
I was born in Innisfail, a town between Calgary and Edmonton in Canada. Today I live in Edmonton. Retirement…I plan to have a heart attack at 35. Just joking. I don’t think I will ever retire. I will always be on the move. Although Argentina intrigues me, I wouldn’t mind a few more hours of sunlight.
What led you into the finance industry?
When I was 20 years old, while playing for the Western Hockey League, I was introduced to the owner of an Exempt Market Dealer in Edmonton and started my private capital career as a summer intern at that firm. Later, I joined another EMD. I realized that I love and am really good at raising capital, making connections, solving problems, seeing hidden gems in opportunities, and building paths to make these opportunities successful. A year ago, I left the EMD and went on my own. Looking back, it’s been almost 10 years that I have worked in the private capital industry. It has been great!
Tell us about your current company and role in the industry?
Currently, my energy is mainly focused on projects with the First Nation communities in Canada. With the favorable government policies and the business community being fairly exclusive traditionally, there are great opportunities that could be executed on. My partner, Larr Management Corp., is Canada’s only consulting firm that works with First Nation groups. My role is to create connections and organize capital for projects. For example, we are partnering up with Loblaws to distribute groceries to a few hundred First Nation communities. We are working on recycling sewage for the First Nation communities and providing clean drinking water to remote communities as well. We are rebuilding up to 800 homes that got destroyed during the Fort McMurray wildfire. I am also involved with the aboriginally-owned 200M liter per year ethanol facility project and many other domestic projects.
What business goals do you want to accomplish over the next five years?
In the next five years, I would like to focus my energy on building a team of half a dozen talents with passion, charisma, and complementary skills. I want to build a nurturing corporate culture that has the energy to pull everyone closely together.
What are your passions outside of business and family?
My fulfilment comes from helping people break barriers. So many young people feel trapped because of traditional expectation and social norm. I have a passion in helping these people to see differently, see their true potential, and brainstorm ideas for issues that they are seeking for solutions. To me, most of us already have a head start in life. A member of my family has a physical illness that limits his abilities to execute his dream. That made me realize how fortunate I am and nothing should hold me or anyone back.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to young entrepreneurs?
If I have to choose only one, I would say, to me, one of the most important things is to surround yourself with a team of people that has the same objective, same energy, same passion, who have each other’s backs no matter what. I’ll tell you a story. When I was playing hockey, we had a sports psychologist come and he did a team exercise. He had the heaviest guy on the team sit on a chair. This guy must have been close to 300 pounds. He then asked the four lightest guys to try to lift him up with only their pinky fingers under the heavy guy’s armpit. Before they tried that, the four guys were asked to put their other hand stacked together on top of the heavy guy’s head, but not touching his head, and completely focus their energy on their hands for one minute. Then they removed that hand and tried to lift up the guy off the chair. The guy ended up flying off the chair, almost hitting the ceiling! So from that, at a young age, I knew a group of focused energy can make the impossible possible.
And then of course, as an entrepreneur, you have to be driven and CHARISMATIC. Always asking questions, always learning.