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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Nelson

Lessons From Building A Business Podcast In Grade 12

Knot in my stomach. I was sweating bullets before my first ever podcast interview. A know-nothing highschool kid interviewing BC business giants. A dozen episodes later, I am beginning to see common threads among the millionaire and billionaire guests who agreed to talk to me.

All I knew was that I wanted to meet and learn from some of the movers and shakers in Canadian business, and I thought a podcast would be the easiest way to reach them.

Pandemic raging and schools closed, I decided to launch a podcast in May 2020. Although my first guest was CEO.CA founder Tommy Humphreys, who is my first cousin, I was filled with fear. Although the interview was with a family member, it was a family member I highly looked up to.

A few days after publishing my first episode, I reached out to Jamie Keech, co-founder of Resource Insider. Previously that year, I had seen Jamie give a speech at the VRIC. I found it exciting, and I thought I would reach out to him for an interview. Thankfully, Jamie loved what I was doing and, in a matter of hours, responded with "I'm in." What if I mess up in front of Jamie? What if I'm caught with nothing to say? These questions were going back and forth in my mind. I had to ignore them and focus on providing great questions for Jamie to answer.

It was time for the interview; I had prepared a tremendous amount. I was determined to make this work. I couldn't have been happier with the results. It turned out incredible. This gave me an enormous amount of confidence. I was ready to make this work, and I was confident I could interview anyone.

In the next month, I interviewed two highly respected names in the real estate industry. Both Jeff Fleming and Rob Fiorvento joined me on my podcast and provided me with insightful conversation. Next was my first billionaire, Tom Gaglardi, owner of the Dallas Stars and CEO of Northland Properties. Luckily, his son played on my hockey team back in grade 3 and 4. I was able to reach out to him and use him as a connection to email Tom. Here, the anxiety started to kick in a bit more. This was one of the wealthiest men in Canada. Having a well-done interview with him on my podcast would provide a lot of credibility. As I had done before, I went into the interview expecting a successful conversation, and it happened.

In the interview, Tom taught me some fantastic things about business. He taught me the importance of having a competitive advantage and how you can combine two unprofitable businesses into one vastly profitable business. "Historically, hotel restaurants are money losers. We were able to take a money loser and turn it into a profit center. The execution of that strategy got us off our knees to stand up, and from standing up, we started to walk, then we started to run, then we started to sprint." The importance of having an advantage was evident to me. You needed to have something to put your business above the competition.

In the next few interviews, I learned business tips that I wouldn't have ever before. For example, Murray Leith, executive vice president at Odlum Brown, gave me some fantastic investment advice. With tips like "don't just buy something because it's going up, buy something because you believe in the people, the project, and the services they sell." As well, some great entrepreneurship advice from Malcolm Steenburgh, co-founder of Point Grey Research: "We were looking for people who were intrinsically motivated, people who were willing to come in and get their hands dirty and take responsibility for whatever that meant at the moment." That was a snippet from when we dived deep into hiring employees and what to look for.

After seven episodes, I had my most significant interview yet, Chip Wilson, founder of Lululemon. Many people asked me, "are you nervous?" or some questions along those lines leading up to this interview. To be honest, I wasn't. I felt more prepared than ever. I had interviewed millionaires and billionaires across a variety of different industries, and nothing had gone wrong. I was ready to take on one of the most successful men in the country.

Although the audio turned out quite terribly (which I was extremely bummed about), I learned some crazy insightful business tips. Here are some quotes to showcase some of the things Chip talked about:

"So I think there is a certain amount of luck in developing a product that the entrepreneur wants just before the world wants it," Wilson said. "If you're going to come in late to a market, then you've got to have a lot of money behind you in order to market yourself but if you're too early there's nobody to sell to."

"I think people couldn't really compete against Lululemon because we developed a new business model, we were non-wholesale and we were making a superior product that nobody else could afford to make because of our superior business model."

"There's always the saying that goes that if an entrepreneur has enough statistics to prove that their concept is going to work, it's already too late."

The most notable lessons I learned from that conversation were to take aggressive action when the moment presents itself and to develop a business model that puts you ahead of the competition.

During the next six interviews, I learned just as much as I had with the first eight. The most recurring business tips were to find a mentor, follow your passion, and continuously learn as much as you can about your industry.

In episode 9, I had the chance to interview a mining mogul, David Garofalo. In this interview, I learned a vast amount about the mining industry. With tips like, "Your network is your most valuable asset" and "hire to your weakness, recognize what skills you're deficient in and surround yourself with people who are extremely strong in those skills." A quote that I found interesting was when David talked about promoters and said, "You can tell who they are, at any given month they are promoting something in some other industry whether they go from cannabis to cobalt to mushrooms to gold. Those guys, you want to avoid with a 10-foot pole."

In episode 10, Jessica Moorhouse, an online entrepreneur and money influencer, shared some of her branding tips. She emphasized the importance of consistency and ensuring your brand reflects who you are, not who you're trying to be. As I continuously try to grow my name, Jessica gave me many helpful tips to use in my current situation.

In episode 11, Bryan Slusarchuk, co-founder of K92 Mining Inc, shared some of his tips for building a successful company and career. A highlight from this interview for me was when Bryan said, "You need to have a business plan, stick with it, and execute, execute, execute. You can't worry about the day to day price of gold. You can't worry about if Bay street or Wall street happens to like gold today or tomorrow. You have to look at building a resource, building an economically viable business, and eventually, that will overcome the naysayers out there." One of the things he ended off with was, "Really consume as much information as you can about people that you think have had success in the space that you wish to enter."

In episodes 12 and 13, I had the chance to interview two local entrepreneurs who have shined on the west side of Vancouver. Both Tom Gradecak, founder of Westside Realty, and Mike Jagger, founder of Provident Security, spoke with me about some of the things that allowed them to grow. It mostly centered around customer service. Both Mike and Tom were able to grow their business solely off of word of mouth. Their businesses provided honest service that wasn't looking for a quick sale, rather the customer's best option. Those two interviews allowed me to experience the customer's importance and how excellent service can lead to a vast chain effect of success.

In episode 14, I interviewed Dr. Philip Toleikis, a biotech CEO. This interview was focused heavily on passion and how that can guide your career. We ended the interview talking about how to place yourself in a position of success, and Philip had this to say: "Ask yourself, what do I love doing? And go out and find people that are doing that, and don't be afraid to knock on doors."

To end off the journey that was season 1 of Behind Success, I interviewed Brian Paes-Braga. I had looked up to Brian for a while, I saw what he was doing at a young age, and I hoped to be doing similar things to him when I am older. Brian and I talked about a lot of things, but there were a few quotes that resonated with me:

"I continued to email Frank, and it was this sort of balance. I wanted to be top of mind for him, without annoying him."

"We saw this macro trend happening. The macro trend was the Tesla effect, which has played out today. It wasn't as obvious back then. From our homework, we felt that this was going to happen. So we started with a macro trend. We called it a top-down approach. If electric vehicles are going to be put on the road, battery metals are going to be needed."

'Work on having a great attitude. I think that is really important. No one really knows what's going to happen. We don't know things. It's a matter of surrounding smart people, great people who are passionate about things, and that's what's going to create change, and if you have a good attitude, you're going to find yourself a part of a great organization or team."

After recording this episode, I thought this would be a great place to end season 1 of Behind Success. I've learned an incredible amount of information from all of my guests, who I appreciate so much. However, in this process, I've also learned a few things from my own experience.

I taught myself to take action, even if you don't know what's going to happen. I know this may seem obvious, but it was something that I encountered first hand. At the start of all of this, I had no idea where it was going or what it would turn out to be. All I knew is that I wanted to do it, and I wanted to learn. Another thing that was super important to me is the value of asking for what you want. I reached out to people like Tom Gaglardi and Chip Wilson, expecting a no, and I think most people would. I am a teenager who can't provide much value to these people. However, I wanted them on my podcast and asked them to join me in a conversation. Thankfully I did because I was able to talk to some of the smartest minds in the entire business world.

I want to say thank you to all of my supporters who have listened and enjoyed some of my interviews. I really appreciate you all. To my guests, I am so honoured to have had the opportunity to talk to you. I've learned so much from every single interview. Finally, I want to give a big shoutout to my cousin, Tommy Humphreys, my very first guest. I hope all my followers can join me in season 2, which will premiere shortly after the new year. To make sure you catch it, subscribe to my newsletter ( ) for all the latest updates on what I'm doing. I just wanted to take a small break to focus on some other aspects of my life. I can't wait to give you guys some much-improved audio in the new year, but for now, I hope you enjoy this article. Again, thank you so much.

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