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Pierre L. Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship

Hustle & Grit with Eric Janssen

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 | Google Play | 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 | Google Play | Spotify


4. 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 | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher


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 | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher