The Entrepreneur Podcast
The Entrepreneur Podcast

Episode · 2 years ago

17. How great teams can build great Canadian companies with Michael Katchen of Wealthsimple


Wealthsimple is building the world's most human financial services company. Yes, the company most well known for raising near $300M to disrupt traditional financial services companies by leveraging 'robo-advisors' is on a mission to be more human.

The brainchild of Ivey HBA ’09, Michael Katchen, the company today, manages almost $7 bllion in assets, and employs more than 300 people.

Katchen sat down with long-time friend, Eric Janssen, to talk about his journey; from leaving management consulting to working in the start-up world and building a disruptive company in an industry he had never worked in. In this episode Katchen uncovers how he thinks about hiring, and getting the most out of his team, as well as his outlook on the future of great Canadian companies.

But you got to be willing to work hard, because that's what it's going to take. It is supposed to be hard. If you were easy to build truly transformtive, impactful companies, we'd have a lot more of them. So I think that's one of the things you screen for, is, is do you find people that are able to work hard? You're listening to the Ivy Entrepreneur podcast from the Pierre L Morrisse at Institute for Entrepreneurship at the Ivy Business School. In this series I be entrepreneur and Ivy Faculty member. Eric Janssen will anchor the session. My catch in appreciate you making time out of her busy schedule to come and catch up with me. Thanks for having me fund to catch up. Yeah, first time together in this new building. We spent a little bit of time together the old building. Upgraded your dig since our days, and Ivy sitting on the other side of the table now, so to speak. Suits you look good. Appreciate that. Coming from the event industry, I had to get new clothes. I had t shirts and nice jeans and running shoes, but had the upgrades some blazers. So well, it looks great and thankfully I haven't had to do that yet. It's good bye with some jeans and t shirts. I'm Nice Blazers though. Thank you. So there's a few topics that I wanted to get into today. One of them is the focus of the conversation. I want to get to leveraging a team and growing through your people versus relying on just yourself. But I think it would be helpful just to give people some context. We're in the same graduating class of two thousand and nine. You and into management consulting, left to management consulting to join. I remember getting the email you joined a startup. Onezero memories. So can you tell me about the leap from how did you make the decision to go from consulting to your first start up? At the time, it's a longish story. Hope that's okay. Go for it. Okay. So I had always wanted to start a business. Nearly dropped out of I just before starting Ivy to start a business where I'd want a business competition. So it always wanted to get to that, but for one reason or another found my way into consulting and when I got close to the end of my two year tenure at the firm decided it was time to start a business and I spent the last six months working with a friend on a few ideas and two months before I was set to leave, I got a call from him when he said, Mike, I've decided to go a different direction. I'm going to move to New York and take a job at some investment bank. And I was heartbroken. I felt like I didn't have the experience or confidence to start a business on my own and actually decided that I would delay those plans again and get a job in private equity. But unlike most people in private equity, I wasn't doing it to be in private equity. I was only doing it so I could get to know the CEOS the portfolio companies and learn from them what it was like to build a business. I think that was a fools plan. But the long story short, I got a fortunate phone call from some of my very first colleagues at mckenzi who had just moved to California to start a business, and I got a call saying unsolicited offer, Mike, we just got into this thing called why combinator. This was two thousand and ten. I don't think anybody knew what why comminator was. I didn't know what it was at the time and they said, you know, come, come build this thing with us if you want. I said that is absolutely what I should be doing and jumped on a plane to move to California and we spent a few years building that company. Wow, so you joined as left to correct move. I'm wrong, but I think you're in a business development role, sort of a strategy VP business development role in the beginning. Correct. So what did that look like early days? What did you do as the business guy? Yeah, so we had a very different business to what we're in today, which was online memorials, which it's still, I think, a problem that needs solving. You know, God forbid, you lose someone, which is a universal experience that you care about, there is nowhere online that is beautiful and appropriate, from a more light, more moralizing that that person with with other loved ones. And that's what we created and it was a beautiful product and we had this belief that it was going to do well with the genealogy community.

So everybody's crazy and her uncle who is the family historian, the keeper of the family tree, and so the first week I joined a thousand memories I said. I said I'm going to become the expert at the genealogy community and I hopped on a plane and I went to by you bring them on University in Provo, Utah to learn about the community. This is kind of the heart and soul of where mormonism is based and there's a huge link between mormonism and geneology and there was a huge conference happening at the at at Biu, so I decided it was the best chance I had to go and learn about this space and I showed up totally green on both geneology and mormonism and made a fool of myself asking for coffee at the by a campus on day one. But that's how we kind of got our start learning about this space and I spend the next few years really trying to cultivate this community, building partnerships with all sorts of family history, scrapbooking type communities, mommy bloggers, very different than what we do today, with the goal of trying to get the word out about what we were building. And ultimately we sold the business standce historycom and think the geneology about was a really good one, but it was super random in the early days. So I wanted to get to so that acquisition happen fairly quickly. For from from memory, I remember sent a note saying that you were joining in. Roughly eighteen months later, I think the company was acquired by ancestry. Yeah, correct, so early days. Will talk about this same case with well simp later on. There's a million things you could be focused on. Focusing on the genealogy community turned out to be the right thing to focus on if you end up getting quirty two months later. So I how did how did you make that bet early on that that was going to be the right thing to focus on? Well, I think we were looking to see how people were using the product and we saw a lot of people using it for family history. You know, it was actually we built this from memoralizing of one's kind of in the moment, but we found a lot of people were using it to collect old scrapbook type memories and memorabilia and arlooms about their families, and so that's where this idea for the genealogist came from, was seeing how people are actually using the product and trying to dig into that and understand the data and that kind of client behavior or user behavior that we were seeing. It wasn't like a stroke of genius. It was hey, this looks interesting, let's go check it out. And so that's that's where that all came from. NEAT so gets acquired, you move into a products a product role, product manager type. Yeah, and then a country manager type roll. When did this itch to actually go it on your own again start up? Because it was it was checking out some old some old emails here. So I've an email from March of two thousand and thirteen announcing that you're working on a side hustle called portfolio dot me. Yeah, we should still be called portfolio or ya. I mean maybe it. Maybe you still have the domain if you've paid your refresher fees. And then maybe six months later, basically thanks for your feedback and doing another survey. Now it's called steady up. And then another year after that, introduction of wealth simple. And if I look at the timeline, so two thousand and thirteen, you were at ancestry at the time. So how did the idea get going as you were still working at ancestry? The answer is immediately. You know, we sold the business and I think I was excited and itching. I still hadn't started something myself and I knew that's what I wanted to do, and so I had to stay at ancestry, or there was good reason for me to stay at ancestry for a year after the acquisition, and it was a perfect opportunity to start exploring ideas and I tried to build a discipline around that where, you know, I had a list that I would force myself to add to every day at least one new idea, and every week I would have a process where I'd go through my list and try to rank them on in my excited about this and passionate about the idea, the problem. Do I think it could be big and do I think I have any business executing, you know, in this category? And over...

...the process of, you know, six months, really refined what I wanted to work on, which was this idea for well simple or Portfolia or study up, whatever we called it back then, and it was a problem that we were facing. You know, we were fortunate that the team I was working with at the time had just sold a business. They had made a little bit of money that they wanted to invest and they didn't really like the options available to them in the market, and so it was like the perfect case study of here is a problem that I understand. I'm having it myself, my friends are having it. I think it's real. You know, investing is complicated and expensive for most people. Is there something here that maybe is interesting to work on? And I came to fall in love with the concept, which was, you know, investing and being smart about money is the way people end up living the lives they want. It is, as the dean of Harvard Business School says, you know, there's great no greater form of dignity you can offer another human being than financial freedom, and that that really always resonated with me as this powerful force for good, as helping people get access to the tools of financial freedom. And so I love the idea. Had Understanding of it because I had this group that we're trying to solve this problem. The part I struggle with this what the hell business do I have starting an investment company? I've never worked in this industry and never worked in a regulated business before, and so that's why I took a little while trap our heads around actually getting a license and doing kind of the work it takes to launch this business. Cool. So people are quick to talk about your plan a Israeli the plan. It goes to plan BCD. But if I peel back the layers a little bit, maybe you can give us a behind this need scenes sneak peak. What, what homework or process did you go through in the very early days? Like what was version one of steady up in two thousand and thirteen? So the first version was portfolio, and this was a Webap we launched that had a series of calculators on it around how much you could save by moving from mutual funds to etfs and what a good portfolio should look like, and we send it out to some friends. And thank you, Eric, for your early feedback to get a sense of like does this resonate with people? You know, you couldn't sign up for anything. There was no product to sell. It was just research on is this a problem that resonates and have we kind of captured, you know, the attention and interests of folks that we know it was. It was a survey, wasn't it? Early on? Was it just basically trying to get data? Yeah, it was. What do you do with your in estiments? Are you interested in doing it better and do the suggestions we would make through this calculator kind of are they helpful? Would you implement them or not? Because our belief we didn't want to become an investment manager. We didn't want to have to be regulated right, so we wanted people to do it themselves. My belief when we started exploring this idea you should never hire someone to manage your money for you. It's not hard, you should do it yourself. So we were trying to build tools like empower others to manage their own money, and so that was the idea we're exploring. We learn from from Portfolia. People are two lazy, honestly, or uninterested or find it to over awhileming or complex to do it themselves, and actually you need to do it for them and make it easy to help people do the right thing. So that was the first insight from portfolios. People love the idea of it but didn't love the work required to do it properly, and so we use that to iterate on the second concept, which was steady up. This is actually a webap you could sign up for it. Tried to make it even easier to do it yourself or we would send out an email once a month with instructions which was like, sell this many shares of X, buy this many shares of Y, and you're rebalanced and your you know, on track and you're good and we send that out. We probably had a hundred people that were on our mailing list for that. We probably had fifty people sign up and use it. They use it month one, they use it month to and then they stopped using it and we realized again it's too much work to ask people to do it themselves, that to really solve the problem we needed to take the big leap of becoming a regulated money manager and decided and to make that investment, which is why there's a big gap, I think, in your in your timeline of emails, between study up and while simple launching, because we had to actually go do the proper process.

All Right, oh shoot, people aren't going to do this on their own. We have to build something for them exactly do it interesting. I remember getting it at the time and it resonated with us because we were, I don't know how many years out of graduating, sort of at that in between place where if feel like you're a little bit beyond going to a big bank and sitting with somebody at a retail bank location to talk about the future options, but not ready to go to a fully, you know, full private wealth management company. So sort of in between and for us at the time it was like, Oh, this is interesting. There could be another option where I have a little bit more control. So that's why, for us, it stood out as being interesting. So well, we might be here because you said it was interesting. So thank you for that. Sure, I'll take I'll take full responsibility. Now I'll take your OSS building. So how did you you ended up making the leap to do it on your own. How did you think about D risking it? And I'll preface it by saying people, at least I see patterns in the way that people do it. Some people do it with saving up money or raising money and then you know, okay, I've got a nest, I've got a I've got some support here. Some people do it with partners. So you know, me and my two cofounders are committed. I feel comfortable now leaving the thing that I've had in order to jump in. So what got you to the point? Knowing that you were working on this as a side hustle before you jumped in full time. When did you decide was the right point when you were ready to go at it full or so? I hit a bump in the road where I told you I was at ancestry for a year and it made sense for me to be there for a year and a day before a year was up, I walked into my boss's office and I said I'm I'm going to be leaving. Were going to move back to Toronto and I want to start this great business around helping people invest their savings and achieve great financial outcomes long term. And he turned to me and said, Mike, that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. And you're twenty, four or five years old, I forget how old that was exactly at the time. And we're actually looking for someone to run our Canadian business for a year. The the leader of the Canadian business is going on on Matt leave. We don't have anybody that's going to step in. Why you jump in? You know it's a thirty million dollar revenue business. When you're going to get the chance to step into a leadership roll of running a thirty million dollar revenue opportunity at this age of your career. It's yours if you want it. I was flattered and I got taken by this idea that that'll be a dear risk way to move back to Toronto and keep working on while simple, right, and I took the job and it was immediately obvious it was a mistake. My partner still reminds me now that she has never seen me more distraught or depressed then that period, and nothing to do with the work, but just the knowledge that I wanted to be working on something and had delayed it for the wrong reasons, because it was de risking, because it was resume building, because it seemed like a good opportunity rather than the thing I really wanted to be working on. And within a couple months I had to leave, and so ultimately kind of did and left to start while simple full time, and then kind of worried about de risking and financing and all the rest of it, and we were lucky. We actually raise around pretty early on. A big part of our early challenge, and remains a challenge this day, was was we asked people for their life savings and it's like an enormous ask of trust and we thought that when we were getting going, we needed ways to build credibility because we were a no name company with no name people that had never worked in this industry, and one of the ways we thought we would address that was trying to raise around of funding from like industry titans, you know, people that had some credibility had built businesses in this space. and Luckily, kind of I met someone name some I safe early on who was very like minded about this business and agreed to come on board as our first angel investor and really early partner in thinking through the business and founding it, and that...

...helped us kind of put together an early around from really great partners that helped us get going with a little bit of capital in the bank, a group of no how kind of around the table and and that's how we did it from there. That's great. And you mentioned you have a few cofounders in the business. I know that sounds like you you have a focus as the CEO. You've got co founders who rounded out your early skill set. So some design expertise and some technical knowledge were how did you three meet? So Rudy and Brett, who are my cofounders, are used to be my bosses. So they were the founders of a thousand memories down in San Francisco, along with a third partner by the name of Jonathan, and Jonathan and I had he was my first project manager when I started at McKinsey. So that's how I got to know them, was through Jonathan, who invited me to come and work with them down in California, and through working together, Rudy Brett and I, you know, became very close friends and partners and we compliment each other skills well and love to work together, and so when I was getting started with well simple, I asked them to come on board and be a part of it. It took a little while to convince them, you know, we were I moved back to Canada. They're both American. Getting them to kind of get excited about building a business based in Toronto was a challenge, but we ultimately love working together and still do it. It's great. Something that you share from this morning is that the early days are messy. So in a few minutes we were those early days, like was just the three of you. How quickly did you hire what was we're day one or day ten like it? Well, simple, messy. You know, we had the ear. The first person to join the team was a guy named Peter Graham, who is an engineer that was part of our team at a thousand memories, who I always say if there's one person I could work with for the rest of my life and be happy, it's we call him Gig he's just a remarkable partner and does amazing work. And so he moved to Toronto with me and he was American also, and just picked up his bags and came up and we started kind of hacking on this thing. And the second was guy named Dave Nugent, who's western Grad also, if you're on Grad and you know, was our first financial advisor, the only person that worked in the industry, you know, who we needed to get the license and came on board to help build the business. And so that was it. It was this tiny group of people and when I say it was messy, I mean the story I told this morning was we were launching Canada's first digital investment service and before we launched, the only way to open up an investment account in Canada was through paperwork. Even if you signed up online, the last step step was to print off fifty pages of paperwork sign it, mail at, walk it or fax it into a bank branch and wait weeks to get the account open. And we knew that if that was our service like, we probably didn't have much of a future as this like technology based financial services business. And the problem was we could not find a partner who would work with us to deliver this like frictionless digital onboarding experience, and so we had to figure out like how to do it anyways, and so we had to hack it. And so every day would basically happen as we'd have clients sign up and we would deliver this great digital on boarding experience to them, they would feel it was done, and then my cofounder, Dave and I basically would sit there every night and print off every application we got and sign it and either walk it, you know, or drive it up to our back office or courier at there, so that the next morning those accounts we get opened. And that was what it looked like. It was US hustling, you know, on the phone all day every day, trying to convince people to sign up, every night, printing off mounds of paperwork and signing it and trying to get it, you know, accounts opened and then hustling for business and I think one of the earliest kind of channels we found for growing that was reliable but totally unscalable was events that this like... person tactile. I can see you and touch you, know, hopefully not touch, but see you. Experience made people trust US and sign up, and so we found that about twenty percent of the people they came to our events would sign up for accounts. And it could be five people in a room and we get one client, or could be a hundred people in room we get twenty clients. So my job became do as many events as I can every day. So I would be booked back to back, kind of from noon till evening in as many events as we possibly could, and it was that kind of craziness of running around the city all day doing these events, hopping on a plane across the country doing events, printing off paperwork every night and manning the phones. That's that's awesome. So maybe not awesome at the time, but look, reflecting back on it, that seems like you have good memories of your lighting up telling the story. So you were manticize these really days like it was frustrating as hell. I remember how often we would just complain about things, would break our back off as partner, wouldn't deliver the data properly, and so our clients were seeing, you know, investment returns that made no sense and that the roads trust. Then we didn't control it, but they would think it was our fault and we couldn't do anything about it and like enormous amounts of frustration. But also those are the fun parts you remember, of like people leaning in and just, you know, brute forcing solutions. You can't route for solutions at the kind of scale we're at now often anymore, but it's fun when you have like total accountability and you just have to make it work. So let's talk about what changes, because in my own experience I found that every time whatever you're working on roughly three x's in size. For me that was revenue. Everything that worked for the last stage didn't work for the new stage. So growing from zero to one million and revenue requires a certain skill set. And then the founder can't just push the boulder anymore. So you bring on people and you think you have things figured out and then you get to be on three and it breaks. Then you get to ten and it breaks again. And so what can you think about? What what changed from those early days? To say the first inflection point for you? I can definitely yes, that is definitely my experience too, and I think it never stops. I think you have to reinvent the company almost in yourself every six months or so or every twelve months as you grow. You know, I think the first inflection point that really comes to mind is when we were probably around like twenty to thirty people, which is when it really changed from being that small group around the table of everybody pitching in on everything, the only thing that matters. You know, we still have this whiteboard in the office which was we had four or five columns which were the stages in our on boarding funnel. In the goal was like can we move five names from, you know, the column on the left of the column on the right every week, and then it was ten names and then twenty names, and it was that kind of hustle. But when you have twenty or thirty people, you start having to put in place certain structures. Some of the people that are starting to join you are, you know, still it's still the early days and they're still like mission warriors, but you start to have a little bit more of this, you know, career orientation. What are the opportunities for me here? You know, if you've been here for more than a year, am I going to get a promotion? So that's the first part where it starts to feel more like a company. And then then you get to like seventy people or eighty people and you've got to start figuring this stuff up for real. You've got to have career paths and levels, and that's a huge transition, I think, for entrepreneurs because, like for me in the early days, I used to have a feeling like titles don't matter. You know, we're going you know, every day as a fight for survival. Call yourself whatever the hell you want and it doesn't matter. Make yourself feel eight. And that broke at seventy five people, when you needed titles and you needed a little bit of structure to help people understand their place in the ecosystem and how to grow. And that doesn't mean hierarchy, but it just means a little more structure to things. And now we're at three hundred people and you know,...

...we broke something at around two hundred and fifty, where whatever we were using before stop working, and I think the latest iteration has been around communication. that it used to be everybody was around the table and would always know what was going on. I had have lunch with everybody in the company every single day. We talked about the company and so there were no questions that were unanswered, there were no confusions about how I felt about things. For example, at three hundred people there are people that I don't know very well. I've met everybody, but there are people I don't know very well and I have to say the same thing ten times before I'm confident that the whole company has heard it and it's a different kind of thing and it's taken us a little while to kind of overcome this latest iteration and my guess is we're going to feel really good about it in six months and then it's going to break again. So it's a constant struggle of figuring out those those different iterations as you grow. Yeah, so how did you seem to be, very least in my in my homework, very thoughtful about the people that you brought on, and there was an article from, if it was a year ago or a few years ago, when you were most have been a few years ago, you were maybe fifties of sixty people and you had spent most of your time actually doing the recruiting yourself. So how did you do that? Like how even getting to sixty people is a big accomplishment. What did you do to make sure that you got the right people? I think it is. I mean, I learned this from the founders of Airbnb that hired, I think even more than that, they hired the first three hundred or something. Personally, I think it's one of the most important tasks for a founder or a founder CEO getting good at hiring, making it an exciting place to be, selling the vision in the story, so you get, you know, to pick great talent to be a part of this thing, and I thought it was so important that I dedicated, you know, at least fifty percent of my time in the early days to hiring, and I was only able to do that because I had great partners that could lead other parts of the business that I didn't have to lead. So, you know, Brett was running our engineering organization and operations and Rudy was doing the designing and branding and marketing. So that freed me up to focus on that which at the time felt like the most important thing in the business, and if I bring my sales framework to it. So I talked about when you're going after clients or seeds, nets and spears, and seeds and nets are talk about seeds is maybe some of the Pr you do, the stories that people read about you. Nets would be getting people to come in and actually apply to the jobs, and then spears being, Oh, you know, new jit be good as a as an advisor, financial advisor, we should get him. So in those early days, did you how much time or how much focus did you spend on yours? Spears strictly spears, strictly spears, and that was a mistake. Ache it's hard to you know, it's hard, when you have a wide net, to find great talent in it and you need a good process to figure out how to find, when you look at an application, what is an application that is good but also is a good fit for your particular firm and culture and what you're trying to build. And I found it a little overwhelming in the early days and I focus almost exclusively on spears, which I think is is a is a powerful thing when you're early enough, when you know engineers, for instance, they get cold calls all day, every day from recruiters, and so by being the CEO and reaching out and taking my time to do it thoughtfully, was a way to stand out from the pack and I think that that investment enabled us to really be targeted and thoughtful and get people excited. You know, it's fun to hear from a CEO and if you've got the seeds out there of press and people are starting to hear your name, know about you and the CEO reaches out, feel special versus a recruiter or some recruiting firm, and so that's one of the ways that we tried to use the fact that I was running recruiting to get great talent. But we also, I should have paid more attention to the to the net. There are several examples of people that I missed that applied that we got lucky we ended up getting in the end. I remember...

...our very first CTEO, gut him carney, applied for a job and you know, he had the dream resume for an early stage company. You know had been an Amazon for ten years, had built their very first distribution system. You know architecture and it was like deep technologist and a financial service is nerd, like a personal finance nerd, just perfect on paper and I missed it. And only because he happened to know another founder in the ecosystem and got in to write me a note personally and say, Mike, like, what the hell are you doing? You got to pay attention to this, this application. Do we end up interviewing him and he became a very important kind of early partner in the business and scaling and building our engineering team. It happened recently with our chief people officer who applied for a job, send me a note on Linkedin which I miss and only luckily did she follow up again by email that we ended up catching things and ended up hiring her. So you got to pay age into the nets, but we definitely focused on the spears in the early days and this systems. How did you, or do you now, figure out how to filter through those nets? So there's got to be a combination of right fit for the culture, right skill set for the role. They're like assessment or questions or interviews. What's your process to figure out who the right person is? Our process evolves and it continue has evolved a lot since I was leading recruiting and it continues to evolve today, when now we have a great a dedicated team that focuses on it and it generally follows like a series of steps. There's a first phone call with it, with a recruiters, and really they're just trying to assess fit. You know, I used to say if I pick up the when I was running recruiting, I pick up the phone and try and speak to someone in the question I was asking was, is this someone I ever want to speak to you again, you know, and if the answer was yes, then they would immediately get the check mart on. The first stage of the short phone call process is deliberately short to try and not waste too much time, you know, on the noise and find the signals right. So you're looking for your first signal and then you move on to your next step, which is do they have the technical chops to really do what's required of the role? And then you would if they do, so there's someone that seems interesting on first pass, so somebody you'd want to spend time with, they have the technical chops to do the role. Then you invest the real time in understanding their background and understanding their cultural kind of values and how they fit in and understanding whether or not they really are a fit for for what you're trying to do. So say to move down the funnel. So you've brought somebody on. Do you have a process that you set them up for success? Do you have a way that you on board them to make sure that they feel like they're ready to go and contribute to also boo. Yeah, I think we have a pretty robust on boarding process now, which is, you know, your whole first week at the company. Every minute of it is almost kind of orchestrated and designed to give you an amazing experience and to ramp you up. It's a big steep learning curve and so, you know, we have presentations from all the leaders in the business. I come in and I do a talk on kind of the founding story and the mythologies of the business and try, and that's very important to me that I always continue to do that. I think it's a great chance to meet everybody WHO's starting and also make sure we hate to use the word, but indoctrinate in some ways kind of the mythologies of the business, which is important for culture. And then you have a rotation on like client serve US and get to know our clients and we try to have to make sure people have empathy for the problems in our product where clients are running into issues and friction so that if you're going on and your job is going to be to go fix them on the engineering team or on the design, you know team, or wherever it is that you're going. And so we've a pretty, you know, structured on boarding process, which I think is a really effective tool for integrating new folks to the team. Talk about transition. Is some challenges. I found that startups are it's almost, they say, a marathon, not a sprint. Was Not even really like a marathon. It's like a series of sprints over and over again and sometimes, you know, you get feel like you're actually...

...are getting everything. If you've done it right, you're getting everything out of your people, and then just around that quarter is the next, you know mile or hundred miles that we've got to continue to sprint. Any advice on how do you continue to get more out of people who are already giving so much? Yeah, I wish you could tell me the answer to that. I agree, I think. I think it's tough to get the balance right, because the reality for a startup is you are default dead and it requite. You know, the number of startups that fail is staggeringly high and it takes a Herculean effort to will something into existence against all the odds. Even if you have a product people love, you know, it's still you got to build a business around that and that's not an easy thing to do and it's really tough. It's really tough, and I think that you've got to figure out the way to do it in a way where you're not burning out yourself, you're not burning your team out, and I think a lot of that has to do with how you talk about things like worklife. We call it work life fit, not work life balance. At our company some people love to work hard. I'm one of them, and this idea of you have to set certain hours or balance is one that never really resonated with me. You know, forcing that on someone else. But this idea of fit, you got to find the thing that works for you or the setup that works for you, or you will incorporate the work and the personal and the whatever in the in the in the recipe that makes sense for your life, but you got to be willing to work hard because that's what it's going to take. It is supposed to be hard. If you were easy to build truly transformative, impactful companies, we'd have a lot more of them. So I think that's one of the things you screen for, is, is do you find people that are able to work hard? I think one of the things we're talking a lot about in our business now is the importance of working smart as you scale, because one of the things that's becoming really important is how do you dcouple your growth in in revenue and business from your growth and head count? You want to be able to grow your revenues multiple puls faster than you do your head count, and that's where real scale and software comes from. And so it's not about throwing more bodies at problems. It's about throwing, you know, technology and good process and smart thinking around how to solve problems. And that's one of the things that's a big conversation for us now is transitioning from being at a stage where you could brute force, where you know an extra five hours here and there could like, make a meaningful difference on the numbers, to having to be thoughtful and work smarter and create more scale, which is something that we're kind of in that phase of thinking about and working on. But I don't think that was true, you know, a few years ago, because trying to think too much about scale when you have none it would wouldn't have been helpful for us at that stage. Right I might not have been that might have been an answer. It's it's tough fun. It's not. It's not a question that I know the answer to. So I was putting it out there as a really as a purposefully not ambiguous, but it's our it's a really hard when the answer so I've found it hard to think about putting aside thinking time when you're in it. Now I get reminded from my friends and partner, who's still in the middle of it. When I get to reflect on a little bit of the space that I've created now thinking time, and I talked about that with my partner, she will often remind me what it's like. Very point land remind me what it's like to be in the middle of it. I'll say that. But you've always struck me as someone who seems to make time to think, at least when you're present, you're here. You've got a million things on the go, but you're here right now and even over the course of our friendship, seems like you've always been someone who's very clear and is thinking and made time to purposefully think. Is that a conscious effort and how do you do it? If you do well, thank you for the compliment. I'd...

...say I have been flow. I like to create thinking time and one of the practices I started when I was in California after selling the business, when I was like deliberate. I've I want to start a business. I got to come up with ideas was I would sit at a coffee shop first thing in the morning for an hour or two by myself, with no laptop, with a journal in a book, and I found it to be like meditative and productive and enormously helpful as I was thinking through that stage of my life and problem that I wanted to work on, and it's practice I've tried to keep up. So I still to this day, I try to start every day with one to two hours of thinking time with a book and a notebook at a coffee shop. My hit rate these days is not as good as it used to be, but in my calendar every morning I have blocked from eight to ten am to do that and I try as best I can to stick to it and I find it like, enormously helpful when I stick to it. I'm always happy that I that I am, because I feel like at my thinking is clearer and I come I show up at work with more energy and conviction and thoughtfulness. But it's hard when you get into the grind sometimes of creating space for it. and Are you when you are you thinking about a product problem? Is it premeditated, like I'm going to sit for an hour and think about this thing? or You journaling on a topic? What do you do in that hour, hour and a half? Usually not. I mean sometimes I will and I'll go in and I'll have the journal open and just be thinking about this particular problem. Most often I go in and I'm reading a book or, you know, some essay or article that I have saved a million of that I'm trying to work my way through and it's sparking ideas, are making me reflect. I find that that, like unstructured thinking time, is actually the best thing. You know, you hear about this from folks and I am not like a Steve Jobs. I don't equate my my style or my ability anywhere like someone like that, but even him, you know his unstructured thinking time, walking, you know, in Pal Alto, California, and how he talks about the effectiveness that had in him as a leader at apple like I think. I think there's value to this idea of unstructured time alone, without an agenda and without trying to be too purposeful about where your thoughts take you. So if anybody ever sees you in Toronto, I just imagine people looking at I think that's my catching and it's weird. He's just sitting there with US phone. What's he doing? Just sitting there. So you just just thinking through or reading, not on your phone, not catching up on email, not making phone calls. Yeah, I try, I try. Yeah, that's great. There's a great book that I read recently called deep work. I calnewport and you talks about I've got a time around my desk, but I try to at least get one of those sessions in a day of ninety minutes where I'm just focused on a particular task. Hard to do. I think that's really valuable, though I think it's you know there's this. I don't believe anybody is productive at all hours of the day a hundred percent through, but the perception is you have to be here, you're supposed to be and so you like force yourself into very unproductive I haven't read the book, but imagine a lot of the principle is how do you carve out the specific time you need and focus to do one thing really well every day? I think Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says if I can make three decisions a day it's a successful day. You know he's not saying I need to make a decision every hour. If I can do three things or one thing really well today, that I'll move the needle for the business. Like, what else do I really need to do today? And I think figuring what out, whatever your cadence is, and I think it's different for everybody, is important. That's good. So lots on the go for you personally. I know you've got a little one at home. Has that been a forcing function to help you thread and narrow in on just the most important things as well? Totally if you don't make time for family, you know it's the thing that suffers the most and I wouldn't be able to live with myself if you know I wasn't. It's the joy of my life as my time with my family and and so creating space for that,... know, I try the easiest time for me is is around bedtime. So I try and leave the office every day around five o'clock if I'm in town, so that I can give her dinner and put her to bed and then if I'm working again, I'm working again after season, bed at seven o'clock and talk about work life fit. You know, I work really hard, but I find the schedule that enables me to fit in, you know, the things that are most important to me and in my structure, in my life. Yeah, that's great. Wrap up here in a few minutes. What do you most excited about right now? Could be personal professional. I mean, honestly, I'm like, really, I've never felt more excited about the business we're building. It's there is a so much momentum right now and just so much more opportunity in front of us that it feels like we have endless number of fun and big and exciting and challenging things to work on that it's just really a fun stage. You know, we have evolved our business in the last year to become much more than just an investment company. We're trying to help people, become a full service kind of financial partner to our clients as they navigate all of the financial choices of their life. And so we launched a you know, a discount brokerage business that helps people trade stocks. We launched a tax service through an acquisition. We just announced the launch of a saving and spending service, which is really something we're pretty proud of, and so like it just I feel pretty giddy. I've never felt as Giddy as I do right now about where we're trying to go and the team we put together. Like I have a lot of confidence and what we're doing and where we're going, and just also like the humility to know that we're just scratching the surface on where we want to get to and I feel super excited about that. Yeah, it's been a fun journey to follow. You know, I thought I thought I knew what wealth simple was, but recently, with your new products and services, I get it more and more. So I don't know exactly yet where it's going to end up, but it's making more and more sense to me as the story in folds and I think you've built an amazing company and an amazing team. Really appreciate that. Thank you. Yeah, is last question. Is there anything else that the community can do for you? So most of our listeners are younger entrepreneurs, a lot still in school and we've got a big alumni network that also listen. Is there anything that we can do to help you or will simple? I'd leave you with maybe stream messages. The first to sign up. We Love Your Business and we'd love to hear from you if you have feedback. We are trying to build something pretty special and we depend on feedback to make a great would love to hear from folks. The second is we're hiring and I think love to hear from really smart people to care about what we're building and are trying to do that. And the third is is a less selfish one, and now mention this in the talk this morning, that I think that Ivy is an incredible network and this is an amazing community and the entrepreneurs here already are doing amazing things. One thing I would push us all to do more of is to think bigger. It is not a Canadian thing to do and we need to change that. I'm someone who is deeply passionate and appreciative of being here in Canada and being Canadian, and I worry about our future if we do not figure out how to dream bigger build really big companies that propel our prosperity for years to come in the future. And my favorite analogy on this is when we when we turn our minds to winning, we're actually pretty good at it, and I remember when we were an Ivy Dean was Carol Stephenson, who went on to chair the Vannoch Olympic Community Committee. That had or was on the board of that committee. That was the own the podium year for the Olympics. Like how I'm Canadian is that let's go own the podium, be the best in the world. You know what happened. We want you know how good it felt. Felt great and people think it's Uncanadian to think that way and I think we need to just shed that. So my challenge to the community, for the sake of all of us, is to really build wonderful communities of companies and to think as big as you can about the impact you want to have. I think we will all benefit from that for years to come. That's great, Mike. I'm going to get you on the road. Thank you so much for the time.

I appreciate you coming. Thanks for having me. Okay, you've been listening to the Ivy Entrepreneur podcast. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player or a visit IV dot ca, a forward slash entrepreneurship. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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