For the past several months, I’ve been playing reporter. Armed with a digital recorder from the pawn shop down the street, a shamelessly persistent cold-email campaign, and the same insatiable curiosity I’ve always had, I have set about interviewing some of Manitoba’s most impressive business leaders and entrepreneurs.
Manitoba is a precious setting for this sort of project. Forbes and Fortune will never touch it; it’s pure fly-over country. Cold, barren, mosquito-riddled fly-over country. And yet, the companies built here have stories that could rival any other:
- The cell phone salesman who turned his grandfather’s mechanical drawings into a multi-million dollar business.
- The statistics student who went on to make jeans for Victoria Beckham.
- The young CEO who rescued his family’s business when disaster struck, leading them to the top 3 in the world for their market.
- The furniture magnate who was ousted from Canadian diplomatic service by the FBI.
I have always been a lover of stories. But I’m also a student of business, and these people have much to teach. I ask all sorts of questions:
- How do you manage a global workforce?
- How did you get your first customer?
- How does it affect you to lay off large amounts of people?
- How do you recruit and assess senior management?
- What sort of marketing activities are important for your business?
- How is your organization structured?
- How do you protect a family business from self-destruction?
- Which trends and opportunities are important?