We acknowledge that we live and work on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. The University of Waterloo is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land promised to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River.
This was the start of a great day. Following a traditional German breakfast, we heard an amazing keynote from Troy Carter, a well-known manager in the music industry who was the former Talent Manager for Lady Gaga, Eve, and others. Troy shared his personal story of growing up in the Bronx and clawing his way to where he is today with hard work and determination.
He challenged us by saying, “Ideas are cheap; it’s all about execution,” and likened survival in the world of startups and entrepreneurship to the “ability to drive a Mack truck through a cul de sac.” He encouraged us to remember our values and our families and to take care of our bodies, reminding us that people like Lady Gaga and Bruce Springsteen don’t just sit around in a life of luxury smoking, drinking, and hanging out making music, but rather they are like athletes training hard every day, disciplined and focused.
Plan and network with conviction
Kelly Hoey was the next keynote that morning. Her advice to entrepreneurs was, “Only have a Plan A. If you have a Plan B, you are not focused on Plan A. If you need a new Plan A because you have to let go of Plan A, that’s okay; but only have a Plan A.” This was a great analogy that I shared with a friend this week, echoing Kelly's advice that there is no room for a Plan B—it’s like having an exit door, which can pull us away from our real focus.
Hoey, who recently finished writing her book “Build your Dream Network,” also gave some great advice about networking. She said “Stop committing random acts of networking!” Instead, she charged us to be intentional and purposeful—a great reminder for all of the individuals who go out to events and hope that people come to them. This was personally affirming for me, as some of my friends will tell you that when I show up at a networking event, I have the personal goal of connecting with five people that evening. This spurs me on to be intentional.
The benefits of bootstrapping
Hoey proposed three networking goals to the group:
Build your expertise
Build your network
Build your bank account
The latter point was interesting as Hoey advised us that a lot of people will want us to quit our jobs and work full-time on our startups. She stressed that the startup community does a disservice to entrepreneurs by making them think that their companies are only valuable if they receive venture capital (VC) money or angel investment, as if it is a badge of honour. On the contrary, she said, “It’s okay to NOT take money from investors." Bootstrapping should be applauded, and there is nothing wrong with continuing to work to provide income for yourself (and your startup) to fuel the business.
“Get a job,” she said, and then paused for a long time. “There is nothing wrong with having cash in your bank account...it’s a good thing.”
After a thought-provoking Q & A in Hoey’s session, we then delighted in delicious German lunch fare and headed to breakout sessions in three areas: ideation, validation, and scaling.
Digesting the day's knowledge
After the final keynote, our brains were filled with information and the scheduled activities were coming to an end, but we knew that a festival was still ahead of us. We packed into buses and were driven to a German Pavilion, where we enjoyed never-ending beer on tap, German music, and cheerful waitresses who take selfies of themselves after you ask them if they would kindly take a group photo of your table!
Thank you to Communitech for such an amazing day!
About Jill Sadler
Before joining the MBET program, Jill spent fourteen years working in the health care field, including seven years as a Director in a community health non-profit organization focused on palliative and end-of-life care. Jill holds an honours bachelors degree in Health Administration from Ryerson University and two college diplomas in Recreation and Leisure Studies (Humber College) and Ecosystem Management Technician (Sir Sandford Fleming College).