Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rick's new bio: Changing the world, one opportunity at a time

A few people still ask me what I do. And slowly (as you know, this process takes years), I have figured out how to say it. Here's a copy of my latest bio.Leave a comment to let me know what you think.


Rick Spence
President, CanEntrepreneur Communications

Through the National Post, Vancouver Sun, Montreal Gazette and other Postmedia newspapers, Rick Spence’s columns on entrepreneurship, innovation and opportunity reach up to a million people every week.

Rick’s goal is to create a more dynamic economy by promoting the 7-part Entrepreneurial Mindset: confidence, responsibility, initiative, collaboration, innovation, execution and differentiation. With these skills, Canadians can build a much more prosperous country, and thrive in the increasingly complex global marketplace.

Rick is an entrepreneur, a business writer and speaker, and a consultant specializing in entrepreneurship and business growth. He has been chronicling Canadian entrepreneurship for more than 25 years, as editor and Publisher of PROFIT magazine, a weekly columnist for the National Post, and in his writings for other magazines such as MoneySense, Entrepreneur, Canadian Business, Alberta Venture, and Corporate Knights.

Rick is the author of Secret of Success from Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies, and of the forthcoming Startups for Heroes: The Military Veteran’s Guide to Entrepreneurship. He has taught at Ryerson University and sits on the board of directors of a multinational, Canadian-based geophysical software company.

He is also a partner in ConnectInc, an organization that helps Canadians improve their networking skills, and an advisor to Startup Canada. Rick has also worked on content strategy and development for clients such as the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, IBM, RBC, Visa Canada, UPS, HP, Lenovo and other leading organizations.

In 2014 he won the national Startup Canada award as Canada’s outstanding business journalist.

Rick invites you to join his crusade for innovation, jobs and growth by visiting www.canentrepreneur.com. His Twitter handle is @RickSpence.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The 35 most famous people I have met. Plus, One Degree from Kevin Bacon.

Preparing for my phone interview tomorrow with Kiss co-founder Gene Simmons (he has a new book out about entrepreneurship), I wondered where he would fit in the list of celebrities I have met in my life.

These are some of the famous folks I have met in person, whether as a journalist, traveler, fan or parent. They are listed in approximate order of epic coolness:

John Cleese: Met over lunch in a rooftop restaurant in Monte Carlo. He agreed with my contention that Life of Brian is a better film than Holy Grail.

Prince Philip: Chatted at a press conference in Toronto, about World Wildlife issues.
Bill Gates: Asked question at press conference in Toronto.

Dave Keon: Lent him a pen in an arena hallway. Never got it back.
Bobby Hull: Met and interviewed him at a community festival in Consort, Alta. He was the Guest of Honour.

Gordie Howe: Talked in dressing room in Edmonton. Felt funny calling him “Mr. Howe.”

Gerald R. Ford: Calgary Convention Centre. Chatted briefly about the potential for a U.S. invasion of Canada. (He assured me it would never happen. I was unconvinced.)

Elijah Wood (Frodo): At Four Seasons Hotel, Toronto, on LOTR press tour. My daughter was interviewing him, and I was just her escort.
Andy Serkis: At Four Seasons Hotel, Toronto, on LOTR press tour. “Precious” memories of shaking hands with Gollum!
Billy Boyd ("Pippin" in LOTR). Twice, in Toronto.

Michael Moore: Sat together at annual meeting of Canadian Society of Magazine Editors, in Toronto. We argued over his proposal for a law prohibiting layoffs by Michigan employers.

Jan Peerce (renowned 1940s tenor , favorite of Toscanini): Interviewed him in Calgary hotel room, where he was still touring as Tevye the Milkman at age 75. https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=jan%20peerce


Samantha Bee: Got a big hug after winning “Test the Nation” at CBC studio in Toronto.
James Doohan: At a Star Trek convention in NYC. Such a nice guy, "Scottty."
Isaac Asimov: Star Trek convention, NYC.

Joey Smallwood: In his home in St. John’s. Nfld. I interviewed him, mainly as an excuse to meet the last living Father of Confederation.
 
Mary Tyler Moore: At luncheon in Toronto. She still turns the world on with her smile.
Carol BurnettAt Ottawa airport.

Roger Bannister (first to run a mile under four minutes): In Vancouver.
Marshall McLuhan: In Windsor, Ont., and by phone from Toronto.
Tim Minchin: I held his shoes while he gave an autograph to my daughter outside a Toronto comedy club.

Peter Mansbridge: On an escalator in Toronto.
Jimmy Pattison: In Vancouver and Toronto.
Conrad Black: On various occasions, in Toronto.
Ted Rogers: Various encounters in Toronto and GTA. First met him when I was managing the CHFI radio booth at the Canadian National Exhibition as a summer job.
Galen Weston: Forest Hill, Toronto.
Hillary Weston: Forest Hill, Toronto.

Prime Minister Joe Clark: In Alberta and Toronto.
Prime Minister Brian Mulroney: Toronto annual meeting (he walked out of it at the behest of his U.S. bosses).
Prime Minister Paul Martin Jr.: Various occasions in Montreal, Ottawa.
Prime Minister John Turner: In Ottawa and Toronto.
Alberta premier Peter Lougheed: Calgary.
Alberta premier Ralph Klein: At his City Hall office in Calgary.
B.C. premier Bill Vander Zalm: Met him and wife Lillian at their Fantasy Garden World park south of Vancouver.

Rob Ford: Met him while participating in All-Candidates’ meeting in Toronto, 2010. Didn’t like him much.


Ships Passing in the Night (“Almost Encounters”):


Ray Bolger: The former Scarecrow was the mystery guest at a live taping of Front Page Challenge I attended in Windsor. Afterwards, he led the audience in an impromptu singalong of his theme song: "Once in Love with Amy." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puvavzSbgS0

Valéry Giscard d'Estaingformer president of France: he was one table over at a hotel dining room in the French Alps.
Paul McCartney: We passed each other at Rockefeller Centre, NYC. New Yorkers are too cool to care, so I left him alone.
Charlton Heston: I walked past his table in Toronto at the World’s Biggest Bookstore where he was signing books.

Dick Cavett: The once-controversial talk show host and I were the only visitors at a small museum in New Orleans. But we merely nodded to each other and did not speak.
Charles Bronson: two tables away at NYC comedy club, but he left early.
Hilary Duff: My daughter interviewed this teen popstar in an exclusive Toronto club while I played escort at the ground-floor bar.

Ted Danson: Saw him (with wife Mary Steenburgen) at a Hollywood taping of their short-lived sitcom, Ink. But I saw him again last spring on the streets of Monte Carlo.
Kevin Bacon: My daughter's babysitter nannied his kids while he shot a movie in Toronto. One degree of separation!

The lead actors in Spartacus, one of my Top 10 movies:
Peter Ustinov: To be fair, he was on stage in London, and I was just in the audience. Still, Peter Ustinov!
Laurence Olivier: I met his son Richard in Toronto, and we spoke later by phone.
Kirk Douglas: Umm, I bought a plaid couch from a Muskoka BandB that Kirk’s son Michael (and his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones) once sat upon.
Jean Simmons. I got nada. Except, Gene Simmons!


I’m pretty sure there are more. I’ll add to this list as the names come back to me.

First addition, later the same day:
Former PM John Diefenbaker, in Ottawa as a kid on a tour of the Parliament Buildings.
"Bad boy" sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison: NYC. To me, his most memorable work is Memos from Purgatory, for which he joined a street gang in Brooklyn.

Wayne Greztky: In Oilers dressing room, Edmonton, and at a Toronto book launch.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Taking the 'work" out of Networking

Do you dread business-networking events?

Worse, do you consider them a waste of time, because all the people you meet are trying to sell you something, instead of buying from you as they ought to?

If so, it’s time to change your attitude. Next week, business coach Barbara Katz and I will show you a better way to meet people in our new presentation, Rethink The Way You Connect: Taking The ‘Work’ Out of Networking!

We’ll be presenting at 3:45 pm at the SOHO/SME Expo  in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 15. This will be a free one-hour seminar to close the show, and I can even get you into the show for free: 
Just click here and use the promotion code Rickspence.

Why should you attend our seminar? We're going to bust the myths about networking, then show you how to do it better. And then we’ll give you a chance to try out what you've learned in small groups with other attendees. You can put what you're learning into action right away! I promise this session will be fun, fast-moving and mind-expanding.

If you wish, you can also sign up for SOHO’s after-party, which begins at a nearby King St. club just after our session finishes. So you can practice your new skills that very evening.

I'm delighted to be working on this with Vancouver-based SOHO, which has been running its SOHO/SME Expo across Canada for nearly 20 years. (Another edition takes place in Vancouver on Oct. 30.)

To find out more about the schedule and speakers at the Toronto show, click here. 

If you want to see more of me, I’ll be taking part in two panels on Wednesday morning: a marketing panel at 9:30 a.m., and a finance panel, entitled “Money Money Money: How to Get It, Manage It and Grow It,” at 10:45.

Other entrepreneurs speaking at the show include Marcus Daniels, Co-Founder & CEO of the new Highline acelerator; Amy Millman, president of Springboard Enterprises; Paul Engels of SME hosting site Veloxsites, Mike Agerbo of Blink Media Works, and more!

Again, you can get a free day pass by clicking here and using that secret promotion code I mentioned earlier. 

(Regular admission is $20 for the 8 a.m. “super meetup” and another $20 for the main conference/trade show.  Or $35 if you pay at the door.)

Finally, here’s the full bumph on our seminar. Please register soon, because seating is limited.

Networking is often thought of as a stressful chore, an unpleasant but unavoidable task for those who want to grow their businesses. But what if networking didn’t have to be so daunting? What if you could meet other business people in a fun, enjoyable way?
In this unique interactive workshop, Barbara Katz and Rick Spence will teach you:
  • what networking really is
  • new ways to re-think connecting with others
  • how to be a more effective networker
  • the single biggest way to reduce your networking stress.
And you’ll get to try out the new techniques with your fellow attendees. Bring your most pressing business challenge and find new solutions – by connecting with others in a fun, relaxed and effective way.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Regina Report: The lowdown on Based in Business

(Originally published on FinancialPost.com)
REGINA — If you read my Financial Post column on Tuesday, you will know that I am reporting from the University of Regina, which is hosting Based in Business, an innovative week-long bootcamp that is helping 19 Canadian military veterans become smarter, savvier entrepreneurs.
As a business journalist in Toronto specializing in entrepreneurship for 25 years, I have had limited exposure to military personnel or veterans. After two busy days of classes and conversation, it’s clear to me Canada’s veterans are incredibly intelligent, engaged people who are deeply concerned with the world around them and still anxious — whether they’re 39 or 59 — to make their mark on it.
For this update, a few observations about my classmates and the program:
Stereotypes aside You can’t stereotype veterans. There’s a wide range of personality types here, from grim, results-first types to class clowns and process-oriented intellectuals. In general, however, they are eager to learn, they ask great questions, and they’re quick to respond whenever an instructor asks for volunteers. If there’s a new experience to be had — even if it’s exposing your nascent business plan to the scrutiny of the entire group — they are quick to grab it.
Pride and patriotism They’re proud of their military careers and fierce patriots. They believe in the Canadian Forces as the home of high-performing specialists who continually form and reform teams based on shared values, trust, and willingness to sacrifice their individuality for the sake of the mission. They’ll kid each other mercilessly, but watch out for each other like brothers and sisters.
Equality in the classroom I’ve been very impressed by the absence of rank. At this camp, majors and corporals and warrant officers work and socialize with each other as equals. In their heads, they have probably all figured out the approximate ranks of all their colleagues, but they know this is a new world where everyone can learn from each other.
Shared Values The veterans at Based in Business Regina — many of whom are still on active military duty, for one more week, six months, or up to two years — miss their military experience, but are excited about the business adventures on which they’re embarking. They worry, however, that the culture of shared values and trust will not be present in the business world. I have tried to convince several of them that in most industries and markets, trust plays a huge role in business. Indeed, we could barely make agreements, collaborate or buy from each other without a strong sense of mutual trust. They’ll believe it when they see it.
(On Tuesday evening, the veterans met nine Regina entrepreneurs for speed networking: a series of 10-minute get-to-know-you sessions. Many seemed blown away that so many successful local entrepreneurs would take the time to meet with them, and show so much interest in their business plans. I tried to tell them that they will find caring and supportive business networks wherever they go in Canada. They’ll believe it when they see it.)
No sympathy expected In general, these veterans think the Canadian public is indifferent to their military experiences and their sacrifices. But they don’t really expect anyone to care; “the man on the wall” does it out of a sense of duty, not for other people’s appreciation. Several of these vets have suffered injuries, both mental and physical, but they have worked hard to overcome them and expect no sympathy. Just a fair shake.
Competitive, confident Yes, they’re competitive. And they have no doubt their business ideas are going to succeed.
Slowly, however, these veterans are realizing confidence is not enough, and that in business, overconfidence can kill. So far, the instructors from the University of Regina have managed to sow some healthy self-doubt. They’ve demonstrated that the first job of any startup — selecting a promising market and the most appropriate business model for it — is more complex than these budding entrepreneurs thought.
That’s a good thing. These veterans know every successful mission begins with an objective assessment of its threats and opportunities.
The participants’ resilience has been seen again and again. Between Monday morning and Tuesday afternoon, many changed the way they described their business objectives. Some who arrived with a dram of pursuing two or three business ideas at once have winnowed them down to one — the most promising opportunity they can see. Others learned to finesse their plan, narrowing down their addressable target market or resetting their expectations of how long it would take to succeed.
Based in Business has a difficult mission: Improve the prospects of its confident, capable participants while showing them how much they don’t yet know. Without that kind of tough love, how can they learn to put in the huge effort required to succeed?
But so far, the process seems to be working. Probability of mission success: almost certain.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Business, life and 3D printing


I wrote a few years ago that 3D printing changes everything. Here's a phenomenal example. 

TurboRoo, a tiny Chihuahua, was born without front legs, an innocent victim of random genetic dysfunction.

Every critter on the planet wants to be mobile, to roam, to explore. TurboRoo's owner asked for help on the Internet - and got it.

According to a story on TechCrunch, "Mark Deadrick, president of 3dyn, saw TurboRoo’s call for wheels on the Internet and designed a small wheeled cart, estimating the size from online photos. He printed the card in bright orange, slapped on some Rollerblade wheels, and sent the cart to TurboRoo’s owner. Now the wee doggie is scooting along on a free, fully hackable set of super-legs."

Before now, notes writer John Biggs, "TurboRoo’s owners would have had to build something out of ready-made pipes, cloth, and other materials at great cost. Now, however, the cart can be custom-fit to TR’s body, reprinted at will, and even modified by other designers. Best of all, they can make multiple carts for almost nothing and in almost no time."

This is the miracle of 3D printing. With a little design help - and the number of freely available templates for 3D printed objects is growing every day - it's now possible for the consumer (or entrepreneur) to manufacture virtually anything they can dream of - out of almost any substance. (Chocolate is becoming an increasingly popular building material.)  


The business implications are staggering. Sell designs. Create and sell works of art. Scan in and reproduce spare parts. Medical devices. Sculptured foods. Customized bobbleheads. 

Remember Star Trek's transporter? We still can't actually teleport, but you can now download the plans for almost any device to your home or office, and reproduce it on a 3D printer costing less than $1,000. (20 years ago,we paid more than that for a fax machine.)

How can 3D printing enhance your business or industry? 
How can you get ahead of the trend?

Youth entrepreneurship, making a difference, and trying to smash an iPhone

video
All this and more was on the agenda Thursday, Aug. 7 when Rick appeared on Global's "Morning Show" with 20-year-old entrepreneur Richard Waters, founder of Toronto-based Phantom Glass. The company produces an amazing glass cover for smartphones that is scratch-proof and highly protective.
I had seen a video on Richard's website that depicted someone striking an iPhone with a hammer to prove how tough Phantom Glass really is, so I asked if he had brought a hammer to the studio. He hadn't, so we borrowed one from the production crew. 
It was, of course, the highlight of the segment.
Take six minutes and bask in the new frontier of youth entrepreneurship.
What happens when the hammer strikes?

Monday, August 04, 2014

"We had no business plan, just an idea"

You can help our veterans start stronger businesses and make more successful returns to civilian life.
Through my Indiegogo crowd-funding project, serving military personnel and veterans alike will be able to access a free startup eBook geared to their specific needs.
Startups for Heroes (tentative title) will offer the best business information and startup guidance from “Based in Business,” a one-week business bootcamp being held for Canadian Forces veterans later this month in Regina. I’ll be there to cover the lessons learned and tell some of the participants' stories.
Why do veterans need this help? Because while the Forces and Veterans Affairs offer military retirees lots of advice on how to find a job, they don't do such a good job on starting your own business. Given today’s economy, many veterans are eager to start a business – but don't know what to do first.
Help them start their new lives on the right foot. Please visit “Startup for Heroes” and support one of my funding levels.
How can a startup bootcamp change people’s lives? Here’s a new story by Amanda Moore of Niagara This Week on a veteran who retired this month and just completed a “Based in Business” course in St. John’s. Leendert Bolle served one tour in Bosnia and two tours in Afghanistan. He and his wife Annemarie now own Hero Dog Treats in Beamsville, Ont.
"We had no business plan, just an idea that we put into action," says Leendert. Based in Business "made a difference in my business, taking it from surviving to thriving."
Besides creating a living for the couple, the business employs veterans who may be struggling with their own return to civilian life. "The struggles of veterans became apparent to me two years ago," Leendert told Niagara This Week. "I told my wife we had to do something to help them."
With the information he learned at Based in Business, Leendert hopes the company will grow to the point where it can employ 20 to 30 veterans. "The program has given me the tools to make it happen," he says. "It has given me the opportunity and support to go out into the world and give it all I've got."
This is the power of a smart business: the ability to create confidence for individual entrepreneurs, value for customers, and jobs for those who need them.
But “Based in Business” is an expensive program. It can only help a few dozen veterans a year. Please support my eBook project so we can get this information into the hands of every veteran – and every Forces member – who wants it.
Click here to visit the “Startups for Heroes” page on Indiegogo.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

New video added in "Startups for Heroes" campaign

My proposed "Startup for Heroes" eBook campaign is gaining traction on Indiegogo.
To provide more information about this project, I have uploaded a video to YouTube that explains what I'm doing and why.
(To recap, I am crowdfunding a book on starting a business, based on the curriculum of the "Based in Business" bootcamp in Regina in August. I hope to raise $5,000 to cover costs in order to give the book away free to all veterans and military personnel, to  help smooth their return to civilian life.)

You can watch the video below.


And please visit my crowdfunding project here:
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/startups-for-heroes-ebook-for-canada-s-veterans
Thanks for your support.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Startups for Heroes: Help crowd-fund my book!

One of the most important stories I've covered in recent years is the work being done by a number of amazing associations, including Enactus at Memorial University, Futurepreneur and the Prince’s Charities Canada to train armed forces veterans to become more effective entrepreneurs.

You’ve read the stories. You know that members of Canada’s armed forces are retiring and returning to civilian life at a rate unmatched in 60 years. You know the unemployment rate of veterans is unacceptably high. Many face traumatic stress issues in returning to “normal” life and finding a conventional job. For many, the best answer is entrepreneurship: starting a business that allows them to leverage the talents, skills and discipline they’ve learned in their years serving on Canada’s front lines.

“Based in Business” is an amazing week-long bootcamp for entrepreneurially-minded veterans. This summer there are three cohorts – in Quebec City, St. John’s., and Regina. But these programs, with their emphasis on personal help and one-to-one mentoring, can only help a few of the thousands who need this information and motivation.

I want to write a book about the Based in Business program. It will cover the entrepreneurial basics of the course, as well as tell the stories of some of the amazing people who are rebuilding their lives after a career of public service. 

The working title of this ebook is "Startups for Heroes." And I want it to go to every veteran or military member who wants it – for free.

That’s why I'm asking for your help. Through crowdfunding, people who believe in worthwhile, pro-social activities can step up and support programs they believe in. In return for your support, you can get a free copy of the ebook, a hard copy, or even your name in the book. Or even two months’ coaching from me at an deep-discount price. Because I believe in this cause and want to finish this book – yet pay the mortgage, too.

You can access my crowdfunding campaign at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/startups-for-heroes-ebook-for-canada-s-veterans/x/1929114. Click here to read more about this project, scan the contribution levels and "perks," and please contribute what you can.

I have dedicated my career to small business and entrepreneurs because entrepreneurship is the most powerful tool we have for self-improvement, personal empowerment and economic development.  With this project, entrepreneurship also becomes a much-needed solution for Canada’s greatest heroes: the men and women of the military who now want to start over and make their own way in civilian life and business.

They need our support. Please help me help them.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Young Entrepreneurs Changing the World

A fun infographic that's also inspiring. 
Don't tell today's young people that previous generations thought "changing the world" was an impossible dream. Kids today just do it!
Source: http://www.degreelibrary.org/young-entrepreneurs/
young entrepreneurs

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Rick's Rules of Writin'


Story-telling is the foundation of great businesses.
Whether you're writing a business plan, mission statement, marketing pitch or social media article, the secrets of story-telling are similar. Understand who you're writing for, and know what you want to say. Tell a good story. Stop when you're done.
For a client, I recently put together my favourite rules of writing. While I had in mind magazine/newsletter articles, most of these rules apply to every type of writing you need to do. 
Never presume you can't write well. You just need to care about good writing, and to take the time to get better. Your pains will pay off. I learned to write well through the patient tutoring of many masters of the craft. I happily pass on to you what I have learned from them. 
 
1.  A story written without enthusiasm will be read without interest.
2. The secret weapon of great writing is rhythm.
3. Simple is better than complex. Fewer words are better than more.
4. Readers are busy people. If you don't tell them in the first minute why they should be reading your story, they're gone.
5. Opening a story in the middle of the action is overdone. But it’s still the best way to pull in reluctant readers.
6. A boring headline is worse than no headline at all.
7. One of the best entry points into any story is an exciting photo caption. So why are they always so dull?
8. Don't fuss over the first sentence or two. Get deep in the story as quickly as you can. Once you know your full story better, the first lines will rewrite themselves.
9. To a skilled writer, the rules of grammar are just suggestions.
10. Call one more source. Conflict tests our ideas and produces better stories.
11. The secret of great writing is rewriting. The second time, throw out everything that isn’t great.
12. It was said of Winston Churchill that “he never wrote a boring sentence.” Make that your goal, too.

Feel free to add a comment with your own writing tips. More is merrier! 
 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Meet the new PROFIT 500!

Congrats to the hard-working entrepreneurs who made the 2014 PROFIT 500 list of Canada's Fastest-Growing Companies, just announced.
Here's the top 20, based on five-year revenue growth. To find out more about any of these fast-growth hotshots, click on any company name.


You can read more about them and the rest of the P500 here.


1
7,308
Energy
2
5,525
Consumer Staples
3
5,514**
Consumer Discretionary
4
5,329
Materials
5
5,005
Information Technology
6
4,903
Industrials
7
4,490
Industrials
8
4,223
Industrials
9
4,004
Telecommunications
10
4,002
Industrials
11
3,951
Consumer Staples
12
3,371
Industrials
13
3,303
Information Technology
14
2,912
Telecommunications
15
2,909
Industrials
16
2,760
Information Technology
17
2,734
Consumer Staples
18
2,733
Materials
19
2,676
Industrials
20
2,594
Industrials