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Pierre L. Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship

Hustle & Grit with Eric Janssen

Close up of a coffee mug with the word Hustle on it

To thrive in the new era of work, operators rely on skills that aren’t often taught, they are ‘learned’ through experience, and trial-and-error.

With our new series, Hustle & Grit, I wanted to look at how successful entrepreneurs learned from setbacks, and discovered breakthrough opportunities throughout their journey, and candidly talk about the barriers they encountered along the way.

Throughout the series, we will talk to a variety of entrepreneurs, who each embody these ten themes that will improve your odds of entrepreneurial success, including: Motivation, Innovation, Feedback, Mastery, Effectiveness, Leverage, Prioritization, Resilience, Acting as if, and Move.

To read more about what's inspired me to create this series, and an Ivey HBA Course under the same name, visit Hustle & Grit.


1. Motivation: Looking for 'more' with Alan Gertner of Tokyo Smoke

Why is it that people in seemingly great places — good careers or relationships, leave to pursue ‘more’?

In 2015, Alan Gertner was working his dream job at Google. Growing up, Alan was the type of kid who preferred computer camp to sports camp, and at only 30 years old was an executive at Google, living in Singapore. He’d dedicated his 20’s to winning at work and realized he wanted the next chapter to be different – so he left.

He went on to start a company in the cannabis industry, Tokyo Smoke, which he eventually sold to Canopy Growth Corporation for a reported $250M. But his systematic process to do the self-work required to figure out what to do next was key to his success.

Listen (34 min)Apple | Spotify


2. How to be innovative and make yourself indispensable with Brent Choi of DDB Canada

Brent Choi learnt the importance of being indispensable the hard way. Fired from his first four jobs, Brent began his recovery by relying on his work ethnic, and passion to find solutions. “I’m not as talented as my competition, and so I have to outwork them,” said Brent.

In our latest episode, Brent Choi, the CEO and Chief Creative Officer of DDB Canada, talks about the source of innovation, and creativity, and how it can be developed through passion and a desire to fix problems.

Listen (67 min)Apple | Google Play | Spotify


3. 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.

Listen (44 min)Apple | Spotify


4. Prioritization: How to cut through entrepreneurial overwhelm and focus on what actually matters with Janet Bannister, Managing Partner of Real Ventures

Early this year Janet Bannister, HBA ’92, became the first woman to lead one of Canada’s largest early-stage VC firms

Janet has built her career on quickly figuring out what matters, and then becoming the best in the world at those things. She has had a diverse career, with roles at Procter & Gamble (P&G), McKinsey & Co., and eBay, which led to her founding the online marketplace, Kijiji.

On this episode, Janet talks about her entrepreneurial beginnings, why a career in management consulting is great training for life as an entrepreneur, and how to cut through the noise to focus on what really matters in your start-up or scale-up.

Listen (45 min)Apple | Spotify


5. Inclusion: Move the dial in business and life with Jodi Kovitz, founder of #movethedial

Despite all the buzz about diversity and inclusion, few companies make it a true investment priority. We need to start bringing intention, rather than just good intentions to the process. In the world of tech, with the ever-increasing role of machines in general and AI, it is concerning that critical decisions are being made without the perspective of half of the population.

Jodi Kovitz, a lawyer, turned tech executive, founded #movethedial, an organization to advance the participation and leadership of women in tech. In this episode, we talk about her entrepreneurial upbringing, how she navigated her early career, and the nudge she finally received to start her own company, and global movement.

Listen (54 min)Apple | Spotify


6. Acting As If: How to fake it until you become it with Greig Clark, Founder of College Pro Painters

Clark started College Pro Painters out of desperation in 1971 when he was only 17 years old. He needed to pay for university and realized his summer job wasn’t going to cover his tuition, so he went door-to-door to sell his first painting job…without knowing how to paint! Clark landed his first job, and learned quickly how to deliver on his promise to customers. He went on to expand the business to 500 franchisees, and over 5,000 painters when he ultimately sold the business in 1990.

In this episode, Clark uncovers how to overcome fear and doubt as a first-time entrepreneur, how to make the first sale, and how to set up the systems, processes, and cadence to grow your business.

Listen (42 min)Apple | Spotify


7. Authenticity: How to be unapologetically you and carve your own path with Josh Domingues, Founder & CEO of Flashfood

Flashfood has become well known across North America as a grocery app that helps you save money and reduce food waste. With massive grocery partners like Loblaws, Farm Boy and Meijer, Flashfood is quickly becoming a household name.

All too often, entrepreneurial success stories skip the messy middle: the details, missteps and failures along the way to their ultimate success - in this episode Josh Domingues, Founder & CEO of Flashfood spares no details.

With specific examples from early failures, to conducting interviews with early users, and rolling up his sleeves to generate his first sales, Josh highlights how authenticity is a competitive advantage for entrepreneurs.

Listen (57 min) | Apple | Spotify


8. Mastery: Learning how to learn with Zero-to-Mastery founder Andrei Neagoie

Staying at home has created an opportunity for many to learn new skills; whether it is a new language, how to code, or make bread. Before you start your next learning opportunity, wouldn't it make sense to learn HOW to learn so that the process is more effective, efficient, and fun?

On this episode, Eric Janssen is joined by Andre Neagoie, a software developer, turned entrepreneur, and currently lead instructor at his own company, Zero to Mastery (ZTM): the highest-rated programming course on the web that has graduated over 200,000 students. Andrei shares his wild entrepreneurial journey that has taken him from launching his own adventure races, teaching surfing in Nicaragua, and finally to Silicon Valley and Toronto, where he worked as a Senior Software Developer before founding ZTM.

Before you spend the next few months burning countless hours learning a new language, or skill, spend some time learning how to learn the right way.

Listen (56 min)Apple | Sounder | Spotify


9. Feedback: How to give it, take it, and when to ignore it with David Ciccarelli, Co-Founder of

David Ciccarelli started his entrepreneurial journey when he opened his own independent studio. He ended up partnering with his first customer (now his wife), and building the world's largest library of voice talent: has grown exponentially since raising $18M USD from Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital and the organization is continuing on an aggressive growth trajectory with everyone rowing in the same direction.

In this episode, David does a deep dive into the importance of setting clear goals, how to write a one-sentence job description, how he sets up employees for success (and keeps them on track), and the specific process that uses for performance reviews.

This is a playbook for onboarding new employees, and setting them up for success in a high-growth company.

Listen (50 min) | Apple | Spotify