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Drew Green


Five Tips to Succeed as a Business Leader

Posted: 06/10/2013 5:24 pm

"...be sure when you step, step with care and great tact. And remember that life's a great balancing act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed!" - Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!

I pulled this quote from a bedtime story by Dr. Seuss because it inspired me to think about my own path, where I started, where I headed and where I am now. It's even more inspirational and profound, as I read it to my sons Liam and Aidan, both already behaving like born leaders. The story's message of dreaming big and believing in yourself is so simple yet relevant to all of us. As our next generation of young professionals graduate from high school or university, depending on where they are in life, they will find themselves standing at a crossroad wondering which way to go. The possibilities are seemingly endless as business and life have limitless potential for greatness.

Over the years, some people have come to me for professional insight over a coffee or a casual conversation. The question they posed was more often than not, "how did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?" My answer: "I just did."

I was always keeping busy in high school, taking part in almost every extracurricular activity, sports at a very high level and eventually starting my own promotions company for weekend events and Caribana. It was my first go at running my own business and I loved it, I loved the freedom to create, fail, succeed and learn and be 100 per cent responsible for it. In University, I started a personal training business to help pay for my tuition and it was then that I met dozens of influential business owners, lawyers, doctors, entertainers and dreamers. The hidden benefit to running this business was the opportunity to talk to leaders for hours about their lives, their hard work, their mistakes, the sacrifices associated with success and for some, the Internet's potential, which quickly became a passion for me. Somewhere along the way, it just clicked. Fast-forward to present and my career has taken me to Australia, Singapore, New York, California, Chicago and now home again to Toronto leading the growth of Canada's largest online shopping destination, SHOP.CA, and all before the age of 38.

My journey has taken me everywhere, but one thing is for certain -- I always found myself doing what I wanted to do and more importantly, what I needed to do to get where I am. So, for those of you who are inspired to be a business leader or an entrepreneur, I leave you with some food for thought:

(1) Take risks and don't be afraid to fail: Always remember that fortune favours the bold, so don't let the fear of failure keep you from realizing your dreams. Take every bump in the road as a learning opportunity. Steve Jobs is a great example of this. His career path took him from Apple to NeXT Computer and Pixar. Despite some near misses, he still found himself back at Apple with a creative vision that led the company into a revolution that would change the face of modern innovative technology for years to come.

(2) Network and build relationships: Whether you're still in school or well into an established career, networking and relationship building is the key to professional development. You never know how this relationship can affect your life down the road, so be careful not to burn your bridges. Take my mentors for example. They all started off as a business relationship and later turned into friendships and people that would have a profound effect on my work life. Old connections could turn into future business opportunities and new acquaintances could open the door to an untapped network.

(3) Don't do it alone: Success is so much more than just depending on your own brains, wit and savvy. It's also about knowing when to get some help. It takes more than a Prime Minister to run a country and the same goes for running a business. I have what I call my "dream team" at SHOP.CA -- a group of extremely smart and talented individuals who are all experts in their own fields. Every team member is considered a partner in the company. Without them, there would be no SHOP.CA and without their round-the-clock hard work, we wouldn't be the country's fastest growing Canadian online shopping website. So, find yourself a team you can trust, even if it's just a good friend who can lend an ear during the startup grind. You'll be better for it. Thanks Trevor Newell!

(4) Keep yourself in check: Stare at a Word document for too long and you run the risk of getting "too close" to the writing; you miss the obvious typos screaming at you from the page. Running a business is similar. Even though you're the boss and you technically answer to no one, it's always good to take a step back from time-to-time just to keep yourself in check. Look at it from someone else's perspective, or bounce ideas off of a coworker for a fresh point of view. You'll be glad you did.

(5) Be passionate: It's so important to love what you do. Nothing feels worse than waking up and dreading a day in the office, so if you're going to put it all on the line and start your own business, it better be something you're passionate about. To survive the grind and challenges ahead, you need to know that what you're pushing towards will be worth it in the end. I see SHOP.CA as the culmination of my life's work, something that I've been preparing for since the day I started thinking about business. Find this passion and success will follow.

If there's anything I've learned it's that there's no single recipe for success; it's a combination of luck, intuition, a network of support, and your own hard work.

To close, in the words of Dr. Seuss: "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who'll decide where to go."

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  • #30 Sabine Veit

    <strong>WHO:</strong> CEO and president of <a href="http://www.backerhausveit.com/index.php">Bäckerhaus Veit Ltd,</a> specializing in artisanal baked goods. <strong>WHERE:</strong> Vaughan, Ont. <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $25 to 50 million

  • #29 Grail Noble

    <strong>WHO:</strong> CEO of marketing agency <a href="http://www.yellowhouseevents.com/">Yellow House Events Inc.</a> <strong>WHERE:</strong> Toronto <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $2 to 5 million.

  • #28 Kim Shannon

    <strong>WHO:</strong> President and CIO of investment-management services <a href="http://www.sionna.ca/"> Sionna Investment Managers Inc.</a> <strong>WHERE:</strong> Toronto <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $5 to 10 million.

  • #27 Julie Cole, Julie Ellis, Tricia Mumby, Cynthia Esp

    <strong>WHO:</strong> VP public relations, VP finance, VP marketing and VP human resources of personalized children's label company <a href="http://www.mabelslabels.com/">Mabel's Labels Inc.</a> <strong>WHERE:</strong> Hamilton, Ont. <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $5 to 10 million. <em>(from left to right Julie Ellis, Cynthia Esp, Julie Cole, Tricia Mumby)</em>

  • #26 Samantha Kennedy

    <strong>WHO:</strong> CEO of <a href="http://www.bootycampfitness.com/">Booty Camp Fitness</a>, a fitness and training course for women. <strong>WHERE:</strong> Across Canada <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $2 to 5 million.

  • #25 Mandy Gilbert

    <strong>WHO:</strong> Founder and CEO of staff recruitment and workplace management firm<a href="http://www.creativeniche.com/"> Creative Niche Inc.</a> <strong>WHERE:</strong> Toronto, Ottawa, Amsterdam and Cincinnati. <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $5 to 10 million.

  • #24 Taylor Thoen

    <strong>WHO:</strong> CEO and host at <a href="http://www.b-tv.com/">BTV (Business Television) </a> <strong>WHERE:</strong> Head office Surrey, B.C. <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $5 to 10 million.

  • #23 Lulu Cohen-Farnell

    <strong>WHO:</strong> President of kids' healthy food initiative <a href="http://www.rfrk.com/">Real Food for Real Kids Inc.</a> <strong>WHERE:</strong> Toronto, Ont. <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $5 to 10 million.

  • #22 Sherri Stevens

    <strong>WHO:</strong> President of staffing agency <a href="http://www.srgstaffing.com/">SRG (Stevens Resource Group Inc.)</a> <strong>WHERE:</strong> Ingersoll, Ont. <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $15 to 25 million.

  • #21 Madeleine Paquin

    <strong>WHO:</strong> President and CEO of cargo-handling services and marine transportation company <a href="http://www.logistec.com/web/PRODWEB/sites/logistec/page/biography/madeleine_paquin.php">Logistec Corp.</a> <strong>WHERE:</strong> Montreal, Que. <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $100 to $250 million.

  • #20 Amelia Warren and Sylvie Rochette

    <strong>WHO:</strong> CEO (Amelia) and president (Sylvie) of premium food and cookware company <a href="http://www.epicureselections.com/en/">Epicure Selections. </a> <strong>WHERE:</strong> Victoria, B.C. <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $25 to 50 million. <em>(Amelia left, Sylvie right)</em>

  • #19 PJ Ferguson and Jill Dee Ferguson

    <strong>WHO:</strong> President and owner of staffing services <a href="http://www.ablemployment.com/">ABL Employment Inc. & ABL London Inc.</a> <strong>WHERE:</strong> Burlington, Oakville, Hamilton, Milton, Mississauga, Brampton, Toronto, London, Woodstock and Vancouver. <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $15 to 25 million.

  • #18 Tracey Bochner

    <strong>WHO:</strong> President and CEO of PR firm <a href="http://www.paradigmpr.ca/">Paradigm Public Relations Inc.</a> <strong>WHERE:</strong> Toronto, Ont. <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $2 to 5 million.

  • #17 Neena Kanwar

    <strong>WHO:</strong> President and CEO of <a href="http://www.kmhlabs.com/">KMH Cardiology and Diagnostic Centres</a>, cardiology and diagnostic-imaging centres based in Ontario. <strong>WHERE:</strong> Mississauga, Ont. <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $25 to 50 million.

  • #16 Marla Schwartz

    <strong>WHO:</strong> President and CEO of health-benefit company <a href="https://www.benecaid.com/">Benecaid Health Benefit Solutions Inc.</a> <strong>WHERE:</strong> Toronto, Ont. <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $5 to 10 million.

  • #15 Lorna Vanderhaeghe

    <strong>WHO:</strong> CEO of nutritional supplement company <a href="http://www.healthyimmunity.com/">Lorna Vanderhaeghe Health Solutions Inc.</a> <strong>WHERE:</strong> Vancouver, B.C. <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $2 to 5 million.

  • #14 Corin Mullins

    <strong>WHO:</strong> CEO of vegan and gluten-free cereals <a href="http://holycrap.ca/news/the-secret-to-a-lasting-business-create-something-you-want-for-yourself/">HapiFoods Group Inc.</a> <strong>WHERE:</strong> Sechelt, B.C. <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $2 to 5 million. <em>(Co-founders Brian and Corin Mullin).</em>

  • #13 Janis Grantham

    <strong>WHO:</strong> President and COO of staffing agency <a href="http://www.eagleonline.com/">Eagle Professional Resources Inc.</a> <strong>WHERE:</strong> Toronto, Ont. <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $100 to 250 million.

  • #12 Teresa Spinelli

    <strong>WHO:</strong> President of food retailer <a href="http://www.italiancentre.ca/">Italian Centre Shop Ltd.</a> <strong>WHERE:</strong> Edmonton, Alta. <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $25 to 50 million.

  • #11 Shannon Bowen-Smed

    <strong>WHO:</strong> President and CEO of staffing agency <a href="http://www.bowenworks.ca/">Bowen Workforce Solutions Inc.</a> <strong>WHERE:</strong> Calgary, Alta. <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $50 to 75 million.

  • #10 Susan Niczowski

    <strong>WHO:</strong> Susan Niczowski, President of <a href="http://www.summerfresh.com/" target="_hplink">Summer Fresh Salads</a>, a company specializing in prepared foods, salads, dips and appetizers <strong>WHERE:</strong> Toronto, Ont. <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $75-100 million

  • #9 Marion Witz

    <strong>WHO:</strong> Marion Witz, President of <a href="http://elizabethgrant.com" target="_hplink">Elizabeth Grant International Inc.</a>, a skincare, beauty and fragrance line <strong>WHERE:</strong> Toronto, Ont. <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $15-25 million

  • #8 Sally Daub

    <strong>WHO:</strong> Sally Daub, President and CEO of <a href="http://www.vixs.com" target="_hplink">ViXS Systems Inc.</a>, a multimedia company that allows for high-quality video and audio processing <strong>WHERE:</strong> Toronto, Ont. <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> US $50-75 million

  • #7 Victoria Sopik and Jennifer Nashmi

    <strong>WHO:</strong> Victoria Sopik and Jennifer Nashmi, CEO and Vice President and CFO (respectively) at <a href="https://www.kidsandcompany.ca" target="_hplink">Kids & Company Ltd.</a>, a childcare company with locations across Canada <strong>WHERE:</strong> Both based in Toronto, Ont. <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $25-50 million

  • #6 Meighan Nehme

    <strong>WHO:</strong> Meighan Nehme, President | Corporate Talent Acquisition at <a href="http://www.thejobshoppe.com/" target="_hplink">The Job Shoppe Inc.</a>, a full-service human resources firm <strong>WHERE:</strong> Windsor, Ont. <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $5-10 million

  • #5 Allison Byrne

    <strong>WHO:</strong> Allison Byrne, Chief Operating Officer at <a href="http://www.ruminvestor.com/" target="_hplink">Rocky Mountain Liquor</a>, which owns private liquor stores in Alberta <strong>WHERE:</strong> Edmonton, Alta. <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $50-75 million

  • #4 Shaemin Ukani

    strong>WHO:</strong> Shaemin Ukani, Managing Director at <a href="http://www.arrowprofessionals.com/" target="_hplink">Arrow Professional Services</a>, a staffing agency <strong>WHERE:</strong> Toronto, ON <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $10-15 million

  • #3 Dr. Amiee Chan

    <strong>WHO:</strong> Dr. Amiee Chan, President and CEO at <a href="http://www.norsat.com/" target="_hplink">Norsat International Inc.,</a> which provides broadband communication services for transmitting data, audio and video in challenging environments <strong>WHERE:</strong> Vancouver, B.C. <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> US $25-50 million

  • #2 Shannon Rogers

    <strong>WHO:</strong> Shannon Rogers, President & General Counsel at <a href="http://www.globalrelay.com/" target="_hplink">Global Relay, part of an international company providing message archiving services for financial institutions</a> <strong>WHERE:</strong> Vancouver, B.C. <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $15-25 million

  • #1 Kelsey Ramsden

    <strong>WHO:</strong> Kelsey Ramsden, President at <a href="http://www.bpdltd.ca/" target="_hplink">Belvedere Place Development, a company specializing in construction, development and consulting</a> <strong>WHERE:</strong> London, Ont. <strong>2011 REVENUE: </strong> $25-50 million


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