Welcome to the latest installment of Q&A, our regular series of one-to-ones with some of Greater Vancouver's leading business figures.
What was your first job?
My first job was separating screws from these little paper holders for my dad's cabinet making company. I was not yet even 10 years old, and I still remember how painful the screws were on my fingers. My first job outside the family business was as a dishwasher at the Keg in Regina.
What inspires you?
I enjoy seeing people do more than they ever thought they could. It's inspiring to watch people -- whether family, friends, colleagues, or peers -- challenge their own belief systems and rise above their fears.
How do you balance work and maintaining a personal life?
I don't think it's about 'balance' as in equal time. I believe it's about being in the moment. When I'm working, I try to be in that moment and fully focused on the task at hand, and when I'm at home, I try to be in that moment for my family or friends. I do realize, however, that when you're living your purpose, these boundaries can start to overlap but in the best possible way. Today, I'm living my passion wherever I am and whatever I'm doing.
What is the biggest challenge facing Greater Vancouver?
Good question. As you know, there are so many challenges for every region around the world. I think Greater Vancouver will start to face a climate migration like we have never imagined, and this might mean we're facing two extremes: severe poverty and vast wealth. Our challenge, and our opportunity, is to ensure there is a lens on the intersectionality of social responsibility, environmentalism, and capitalism, and that is not easy.
What do you like most about doing business in Greater Vancouver?
As a business leader, I appreciate Greater Vancouver's diversity of workforce and the fact that people have well-rounded experiences and talent.
What is your most prized possession and why?
I used to have an answer for this, but the past few years have changed my thinking around "prized possessions." My most "cherished thing is an old radio on my desk that my dad had on job sites when I was a kid.
Where do you see untapped potential in Greater Vancouver?
I see it in the talent of the people coming into our region and finding ways to use their talents to export our products and services. For Tru Earth, this means becoming a large multinational corporation here in Vancouver rather than having to move to Toronto.
What is the most important lesson, business or otherwise, life has taught you?
I've seen how a person's ego can destroy purpose and progress. I've also learned that there are very smart people in the world and listening to their experience and training can save you a great deal of pain and money. Too often business leaders feel they know best on all matters. And though we're required to make decisions, it's better to make an informed decision.
What keeps you awake at night?
I ask myself, "Are we moving fast enough to truly reverse climate change?" I put daily pressure on our leadership to be bold, go faster and stretch their thinking. Now is the time for action and people want easy solutions, so that's what we must do.
What do you think makes a great leader?
A great leader stretches the thinking of the people around them and inspires them to focus on action over words. In the case of business, leaders also set an example and push themselves more than they push their team. They are willing to reverse a decision when it's clear it was wrong, and then apologize for the misjudgment. This courage enables them to people to speak up and clean up when they are wrong.
I try to emulate values I learned from my dad to Be Humble, Be Kind and Get the Work Done.
Where is your favourite place in Greater Vancouver?
Easy to answer - Rocky Point Park in Port Moody and the breweries along Murray Street.
What do you think Greater Vancouver needs more of?
We need more collaborative business communities. It is hard enough already to succeed in these times, so we need to find more ways to work together in ways that benefit everyone.
I am proud that our team started an Eco-Collective store in Port Moody that highlights local eco-friendly brands. Many of these companies cannot get the exposure Tru Earth has received, so we are happy to display their products to our customers.
Also, showcasing eco-friendly Vancouver brands is just one of the many small hinges it will take to swing this very big door of climate solutions.