When I worked at a golf course as a little kid, I asked all of the members about their businesses: how they came up with their ideas, what made them successful. Now the tables are turned and young entrepreneurs will often ask me about a typical day and how I make it productive.
What excites me about my current role as an investment banker is that each day is completely different. I never know what’s going to happen, which clients will contact me for something, what type of investment someone will show us.
I actually started my career working at Arthur Andersen, one of the big accounting firms in Toronto. Then I worked at a big bank in equity research for five years and as a money manager for a few years. So, I’ve done all that corporate stuff and there can be repetition working for large companies. I like the variety each day brings now.
Being productive is about being available 24/7. The phone never stops ringing, the emails never stops coming in. And the reason for that is so people know that you’re available. It is one of things that make us unique and productive and successful.
When my partner and I founded Hillcrest Merchant Partners, we wanted to make sure that we emphasize that we are an idea company. Great ideas, great management, that’s what we look for. People talk about money, which is obviously important because it takes money to bring an idea come to life. But money is really a commodity and isn’t necessarily a differentiator.
Because money is available for good ideas, it’s really about bringing the right team together to help the idea come to fruition. Every idea requires a different plan, so I am always looking to meet great management teams with great ideas.
I want to see a track record of excellence – not necessarily having won at all costs, but having been positively competitive. I want to see a leader who gets the difference between leading and managing and who knows when to hand off the managing duties. It’s also important to establish a leader’s integrity. As an investor, I want to be comfortable that bad news is going to be shared and not glossed over.
We look for two key traits in companies: Being able to create solutions to difficult problems and coming up with ideas that apply to large, addressable markets. Typically, companies that we may be interested in investing in hold long-term patents and provide competitive, sustainable advantages over other companies. This is what gets us excited about new prospects.
I’ll usually tell people, there are 24 hours in a day. I sleep for three or four of them. I am fortunate in that what I do doesn’t feel like work. My job, my life, takes me to many different amazing places around the world. I’ve been to almost every continent and I’ve seen some of the most incredible cities in the world—just because of work.