We were honored to attend the Vancouver stop of the Sage Inspire tour this March 11th, 2014. Here are more highlights and our interview with Bruce Croxon at the #InspireTour in Vancouver.

Intro with Ed Kless

The Power of Why

Ed Kless (@edkless) is Senior Director, Partner Development and Strategy for Sage. In his opening, he shared a quote from the TED speaker Simon Sinek, about how great leaders inspire action by always starting with “WHY” before “WHAT”.

This led to Ed sharing Sage’s vision of being a leading global provider of business management software to small and medium sized companies, creating greater freedom for them to succeed. To truly be free, you need accountability.

He also shared his thoughts about how the aspect of profit in all businesses are like red blood cells – “You don’t think about it everyday, but it’s the lifeline of your business.”

Keynote Speaker: Bruce Croxon

As known as the digital maven in the Dragon’s Den, Bruce Croxon shared his experience of growing Lavalife.com, his reflection on the life on an entrepreneur and what it’s really like on Dragon’s Den.

There are two main elements that contribute to his successes – Staying true to his vision and values.

Disciplined Vision:
He shared that he would sit down once a year to visualize his life 3 years from now (different from the usual 5 years, as he believes things move a lot faster now). After visualizing, he would build specific goals and steps to achieve 2 – 3 parts of his vision.

Shared Values:
It truly matters that to all those involved in a company, their values must match. Bruce shared also when he was growing Lavalife with his business partners that those who join would need to match their values of “being a good team player” and “open mindedness”.

On Entrepreneurship:
To be a serious entrepreneur and business owner, there’s no such thing as relaxation and work-life balance within the first years of starting a business. You’ve got to do whatever it takes and fight to take your business to the next level.  So when Bruce talked about how he works hard for a dozen years, takes a year off and then repeats; it’s  a common theme I have been finding among entrepreneurs I have spoken to about “work-life balance”.

The name behind Round13:

“Round13 refers to the 13th round between Joe frazier and Muhammad Ali in the legendary boxing match known as the Thrilla in Manila. Round13 is considered the fiercest round in boxing history. Ali drew upon all of his skill and tenacity to beat Frazier and claim the crown as the heavyweight champion of the world. Round13 symbolizes the qualities required by entrepreneurs to go the distance and win. We back fighters.”

When he shared his story behind the name of Round 13, it reminded me of the Roy Jones Jr. vs. Felix Trinidad boxing match that I flew to see in person at in New York at Madison Square Gardens back in January of  2008. I have to admit to this day, I still do not know all the rules surrounding the game of boxing, however I am attracted to the spirit of endurance and never giving up. I was told Jones Jr. believed at every match he fought at that he feels that it is also his duty to put on a good show for all the spectators, who have who spent their hard-earned money to come watch and support him. It was shocking to learn that Jones Jr. did not stop this January 2008 fight,even though we learned that he was fighting with an injured left arm.

Sitting down with Bruce Croxon and Nancy Harris

Here are highlights from our interview session with Bruce Croxon and Nancy Harris following up the morning keynote session.

Impressive Sage
Bruce was surprised to learn about the many attractive aspects of how Sage has a culture of incubating ideas. Nancy Harris, VP and General Manager at the Canadian Division of Sage, shared that Sage is well-backed with 6 million customers and $2.3 billion in revenue. We learned that Sage was running a legacy business of accounting software, and had to push innovation. Sage listened to customer’s of small businesses and their problems, addressed them, distilled them down to go solve and make strategic bets in changes and updates. Another aspect of Sage’s business that resonated with me was how they specialize in growing their culture of “Thinking About the Future”.

How do you cope with facing the lonely road as an Entrepreneur?
To be successful, you need to commit to working 7 days a week. Your progress will depend on how far you are willing to go. I believe as an entrepreneur, it is crucial to partner up with entreprenuers and business partners who make up for your weaknesses and what you’re not good at, however you need to attract partners who have the same values and visions.

Do it NOW!
In the digital age as an entreprenuer, the game has changed. With technology there’s a lot of information available, and because of it, there are not secrets.

The entry price of technology is very low, therefore it can make competition in the digital market very fierce. You’re not faced with a monetary barrier to entry, but with a marketing one.

Entrepreneurs are born or made?
Earlier in his keynote, Bruce his belief that entrepreneurs are made; part of his story was when he was 8 years old, his mother said to him that he will never make anything of himself. He believes that the character of an individual is built within the first 10 years of their life and thus this will determine whether the individual will succeed on the path of entrepreneurship. Because entrepreneurship will have the more of the lows than the highs,  how one deals with the dips will also be a contributing factor.

We asked his advice to parents who wanted to hear advice on raising children with a characteristics that lend themselves more towards a business mindset.

“Definitely don’t give them everything they ask for, they need to earn it… 
…With my family, technology is the main case. We bought a new car without a DVD player in the backseat and we set new rules. In the first 15 minutes of every car ride, I want you to share about what you did today, instead of putting your head down to watch something…”

Keep on Reading

I truly believe that “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” I also believe that being surrounded by great leaders and mentors go hand-in-hand in everyone’s success. However, what if you’re not in that environment right now surrounded by experienced people to look up to?

To “knock two birds with one stone”, go get some books for daily supplement to mentorship and perhaps read them instead of laying in bed with your phone in bed.

Recommended Books by Ed Kless

Recommended Books by Nancy Harris

Recommended Reading by Bruce Croxon