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Experience a compelling dialogue with Susan Sly and her guest, John St. Pierre – a serial entrepreneur adept at navigating the dynamic business landscape. John, a co-founder and leader of multimillion-dollar ventures, shares a journey marked by resilience, offering insights gleaned from both significant successes and poignant failures.

Topics covered in the interview

Entrepreneurship, failures, and success

Principles for building and growing a business

Managing stress

Entrepreneurship opportunities

AI disruption


John St. Pierre’s Bio

John St. Pierre, an accomplished entrepreneur with a remarkable 25-year journey marked by significant successes and invaluable lessons from failures. John is not just an entrepreneur; he is a visionary leader who co-founded and scaled two companies to over $50M+ in global revenues. 

John embarked on his entrepreneurial career while still in college, kick-starting his journey as a franchisee for College Pro Painters. John’s journey includes stints with, WorldAtMyDoor, and the co-founding of Legacy Global Sports, BrandPoint Services, and Rhombus Group.

With Legacy Global Sports rapidly reaching $50M+ in global revenues and BrandPoint Services now a $100M+ enterprise, John has been a driving force in his companies’ success. His role as the majority owner and chairperson of Rhombus Group, a holding company comprising several small businesses, has allowed him to inspire other entrepreneurs and help them achieve their goals. John is also the author of “The $100M Journey,” where he shares the 7 principles for entrepreneurial success.

In 2020, John, along with co-host Rich Hoffmann, launched the “Entrepreneurs United Podcast,” providing valuable insights and discussions on entrepreneurial journeys.

Follow John St. Pierre

Show Notes

Read Full Transcript

Susan Sly 00:00
Well, hey there, Susan here, I hope you are having an epic day. In this episode, you are going to learn from a founder who was going along, building his dream company in the vertical that he was so passionate about. And he gets ousted from that company. And we hear about this all the time. It just happened at Open AI where Sam Altman is kicked out. Now he's back. More to come on that one in the next show. But anyway, this founder learned a lot of lessons, he did a lot of soul searching, and the lessons he learned, he repositioned into principles that helped to guide him to build a $100 million company. So I hope you love this episode. I am so grateful you're here. And if you could do me a favor, it takes a team to put together this show and the show goes all over the world, it takes a tremendous amount of time to vet the guests, we reject 90% of applicants, even recording the show, researching the show. So if you could give a five star review, that helps to boost the algorithm and share the show and tag Raw and Real Entrepreneurship on X, on Instagram. Even check me out on LinkedIn, all over the platforms. And I would love that five star view and I thank you so much for that. And before we get into today's show, I do have a big announcement coming in the coming weeks so do stay tuned. And check out some of the companies that I have invested in this year, one being Une Femme Wines. Jen Pelka, I had her on the show, I became an investor. With the holidays coming up, nothing says love like giving the gift of wine especially if you can do that depending on the state you're in in the United States. And another company to check out is AIM7 and AIM7 integrates into your Garmin, into your Apple Watch, and helps you navigate the stress of your day. And so check out those and Une Femme Wines. So with that let's get into the show.

Susan Sly 02:06
This is Raw and Real Entrepreneurship, the show that brings the no nonsense truth of what is required to start, grow and scale your business. I am your host Susan Sly.

Susan Sly 02:21
Well, what is up Raw and Real Entrepreneurs wherever you are in the world, I hope you are having an amazing day and I just want to say Canada, yes, my fellow Canadians. I have a special Canadian entrepreneur here today and you all have fallen to number three in listenership not because you're not growing but because you have been overtaken by the UK. So spread the word, especially if you're in Canada because we love to feature Canadian entrepreneurs. And I just want to say from the bottom my heart thank you so much for being here. I've had, just in person lately in my travels, so many people coming up and sharing with me how the show is touching them and inspiring them. Right now we're seeing a lot of layoffs happening again. In Silicon Valley there are mass exoduses happening, restructuring, startups are failing, there are a lot of things going on. And just having the courage to say you know what, I want to create my own destiny, I want to do something for myself that's unique and different. And to own that, that's why you're here. So give yourself a pat on the back. And as our team was vetting guests, and you know, we reject 90% of applicants. This particular guest just seemed so perfect, appropriate and amazing for the spirit of the show. And as I said, he is an accomplished entrepreneur. He has so many different experiences, including failures, which he's proud of. And he's co founded and led companies that he's built and scaled to over $50 million in global revenues, and one of which he lost dramatically. On top of everything he's done every kind of job. He kickstarted his journey as a painter for college pro painters. So some of you might be familiar with that and have done that before. And he also owns a hockey rink, and he's a boy dad, and he's super cool. So my guest today is the one and only John St. Pierre. So John, welcome to the show.

John St. Pierre 04:26
Great, thanks a lot, Susan. I appreciate it. You forgot to mention my first job was actually summer job, still in college, was planting trees in northern Ontario, probably six hours away from any civilization up there. Tough job to have.

Susan Sly 04:40
So planting trees in northern Ontario. And I had friends who did tree planting when I was in university, and there were a lot of fun things that happened, tree planting, that made being six hours from civilization, let's say a little more enjoyable. So what was something you did when you were planting trees in northern Ontario that, kids listen to the show so we'll keep it PG, but what might be unexpected for those who haven't planted trees?

John St. Pierre 05:10
Well, I wish I had a more raw and real story for you that was juicy. But our experience, although we made a good amount of money was tough and cold, very, very cold temperatures in the summer, wearing nets on your body, you know, going to the bathroom wasn't a lot of fun with the black flies and everything else around but you are correct. Once a week, we got to go into the closest town away which is a couple hours away, have a shower, go on the town, karaoke night and have a good time with all the other fellow tree planters. So there was some good times involved as well but quite a tough job.

Susan Sly 05:40
What's your go to karaoke song?

John St. Pierre 05:44
We are bringing in raw and real, right right off the bat. It's I'm bringing sexy back, Justin Timberlake.

Susan Sly 05:51
Nice. Nice. So Jesse Itzler was here on the show, it's just before his 50th birthday. And so the listeners might know the brand Spanx, Sara Blakely is Jesse's- But Jessie was the original, he calls himself the original white rapper, and back before he founded Zico coconut water, net jets, and everything, Jesse was managing rap group. So I challenge Jesse to a rap battle here on the show, he decided not to rap. So I lay claim to the fact that I beat Jesse Itzler in a rap battle. And I did bust a move, because it's the only rap that I really know all the words to, but we won't do karaoke or rap battle. John, one of the things I want to ask you is, you're, you're so proud of the fact that you've been successful in business, but also that you've failed in business. And I want to jump right in, you know, when we're doing this show, the show goes out weekly, we have what's going on with open AI and Sam Altman being removed, we have hundreds of open AI employees saying, You know what, we're going to take a stand, because we want Sam in that CEO role, and even if it means we're not going to have a job that's what we're going to do. And my first question for you is in your career, because I know you have, when have you taken a stand for something you've believed in to the point that it might have even, you know, cost you income at that time?

John St. Pierre 07:30
Yeah, well, to the point in the story you just shared, after 15 years of Co-ounding a company, growing it to over $50 million in revenues, we were seeking to take the next level of our business, and we brought on some investors from private equity. And within seven months of doing that, I was fired from my you know, the own company that I had started with all my friends, everybody in it. And I had to make a decision at that particular point. You know, what, how do I handle this? I'm an equity partner in the business I've just been let go from the business in ways I didn't agree with, others didn't agree with. And I remember getting the severance letter saying, Okay, we want you know, you got to turn in your equity and this for a deal that was not correct, and not fair and not right. And dirty tactics started getting played, if you will. And I had to take a stand. And I decided, no, I'm gonna I'm gonna fight this and took the legal route to a battle that I knew was a slippery slope with people with more money than I did, who could fight that battle a lot longer than I could. But my wife back me, obviously, you know what, no, this is a principle based issue. It's not about the money. And that took about a year and a half of battling and fighting and standing up for what I truly believed in. Wasn't the smartest thing I've ever done economically. But I'm proud of the fact that I stood up for what I believed in and protecting myself and my reputation.

Susan Sly 08:47
Yeah, that's huge. Because it's to make that choice and say, I'm going to, to take that stand and get in, you know, get into a lawsuit, where a year and a half out of your life and all of the money that goes into that. It's exhausting. It's distracting. One of my friends, Brandon Steiner, he was on the show. And he gave the first interview after he was ousted as CEO of Steiner Sports, with his name. And he could have gone legal and he just decided no, success is going to be my best revenge. And he goes and starts two companies like right out the gate. And, and, in retrospect, do you wish you had done something different?

John St. Pierre 09:34
Yeah, I think I did both. So what happened at the time and losing our business, I took a moment while I was going through the legal battle and so okay, what am I where am I going? What am I doing here? And similar to story you just shared in the late 90s, I was part of a .com startup that was venture funded, and we were growing like gangbusters. I was 24 years old. I was traveling around the country in this .com business figuring I had everything figured out like this business thing is easy. And then the crash came, and we never got the second round of funding. And I found myself unemployed after thinking I had this whole thing figured out and lost my job. It was layoffs from the business. And I said, you know, I'm gonna be an entrepreneur and I'm gonna, I'm gonna start my own thing. I'm going to control my own destiny, and grew this business and then lost it like we just talked about, and I go, wow, well, maybe it's being an entrepreneur is not that easy. There's some principles you have to follow. But in the midst of the failure, in addition to legal battle, I did have another company that had started around the same time back in 2003, in the construction industry that I was a part of, and looking for something else to do something, go invest my time over here. And I took all the principles that I learned from this failure and through introspectively, just thinking through, okay, what went wrong here? Introspectively like, what did I contribute to this situation? How do I put myself in this position, apply those principles to that other business. And we successfully grew that business from, you know, sub 5 million in 2016, to north of 100 million last year, but did it the right way, in full control of what we're doing and taking all those principles and learnings from what I had painfully learned in the prior experience. And you said something earlier, that I'm proud of the failure. I don't know if I'm proud of the failure but I'm proud of what the failure taught me, and how I really digested its learnings and then reapply them. So now I can not only help myself in my entrepreneurial ventures, but also help other entrepreneurs as well.

Susan Sly 11:20
I want to get into the principles because you said you know, what you did Right. What I'm so curious about, John, is okay .com, construction, have you started a business where you didn't really know a lot about what it is that that business was? And the reason I say this is because there are, so many things have changed before, it used to be like, start a business where you 100% know exactly what that product is, how you know, how it's gonna go to market and you know all about you know, everything about it. And then I've had entrepreneurs on the show, they're like, you know, what, I am going great guns, I really don't know a lot about this but I'm just gonna go for it, because I understand those entrepreneurial principles of what it takes to be successful. So did you know the construction business other than college?

John St. Pierre 12:15
We can take a step back, Yeah, I mean, I was a college student in college saying, Hey, do you want to run your own business? And you'll appreciate this. But as a Canadian, I was going to school in the US, but I didn't have a work visa in the US. So how can I get a summer- I don't want to go planting trees, please. Don't send me back to Ontario to plant trees. What else can I do? I want to stay in the US. But I couldn't stay. I didn't have a work visa. So I couldn't really work like others could at the bar or any other place restaurants, whatnot. But there's a loophole, which is if you can own an LLC in the United States. And so by owning a college pro franchise, I could actually own my own LLC in the United States and stay in the summertime. So I didn't have to be on payroll. So I started my own college pro painting business, I had no clue how to paint, really no clue. But that experience propelled me to learn all the essentials part of the business. And today, to your point we own, you know, north of $100 million construction facilities maintenance company, and I am by far not an expert in any of those areas, but we're able to surround ourselves with people who are.

Susan Sly 13:15
And why did you choose that particular vertical?

John St. Pierre 13:19
Yeah, you can you can see the expansion, right. So from college pro painters, a bunch of college pro General Manager started company well, company, Susan, was So you need a contractor for your home, you go online, look for your painter, roofer. And we can send you a contractor so it kind of connected to the college pro painting route. Well, that company went and actually in the .com crash crashed. We ended up selling all our assets to service magic. Service magic was rebranded Home merged with Angie. And that's now Angie, that was our business before the crash. And we just, were too early for that race. But that was our business. And then that kind of expanded to this venture, this Construction Company, which was okay, why not find contractors? I know how to do sales and marketing. How can I you know, sell national contracts to get national construction projects and line them up with the contractors that can actually do the work. I don't have to do the work, I just have to be really smart at the sales marketing project management operations side of it. So they kind of all sequence together, but doesn't mean that I have to be an expert in the actual act of doing.

Susan Sly 14:21
And it's, that's so refreshing. Because when you think about it, John, there's this sense that we all have to be a master of everything. And great entrepreneurs know that's not the case. There are some things you really do want to have a conscious competence, Yeah. But you know, you have to know where to find the best people, where to get the best advice, how to sort of see the overall vision and then put the pieces together. What has been something surprising that you've learned on this journey of building the company to $100 million?

John St. Pierre 14:58
Yeah, well, there's obviously the principles. But I'll tell you the one surprising thing that can really help a lot of people as they're thinking about entrepreneurship or their own business. What are you trying to accomplish? When I had this big failure in 2018, I kind of took a step back and go, what was I trying to do? I was trying to grow a company so big for growth's sake, while I was diluting my equity along the way, bringing on investors losing control of the business, and I had to sit back and go, Well, what's my true Northlight plan? Like what am I trying to accomplish in my life? Why did I want to be an entrepreneur to begin with? Was it to create freedom and wealth? Because I certainly wasn't doing that. I was trying to, you know, have too much time on this one, I'm working 80 hours a week, stressed out, overworked, you know, not spending enough time with my family, like, what am I really trying to accomplish? I think the big learning for me, like share with a lot of entrepreneurs is do you really know what you're trying to accomplish in your life? And once you have that, tie that to a strategic business plan of how you can actually go create those two. I think a lot of entrepreneurs have a strategic business plan for their business, but it's not really connected to their life plan. And it was a big, big lesson for me, that I'd love to hear what you think. But you know, I think that, you know, less than 10% of entrepreneurs have really clarity on what they want to achieve in their life.

Susan Sly 16:11
No, and, and that's so well said, and I couldn't agree more, right? It's this, because you've taken what you've learned, credit principles, you're now coaching or teaching and really giving back and contributing. And candidly, this is Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. There are, there are people out there coaching and teaching who haven't achieved, right. So they're talking theory, they're not necessarily talking from a place of a result. And I personally believe we are living in one of the most pivotal times in all of mankind. I've been traveling non stop doing talks on AI, there was a, a Yale CEO retreat, and 48% of the CEOs that attended it believe that AI is going to destroy humanity, then we have, you know, the there's, you know, then we have something like 70% of CEOs, according to a center feel like, oh, we have to incorporate AI or we're going to fall behind, our company is not going to exist. We're living in a time where there's a lot of fear. There's a lot of polarization, divisiveness, and there are still people, you know, chasing money, but they're not necessarily chasing happiness, and what's the collateral damage, you know, a divorce, an illness. One of my friends died of cancer, while he's building a startup and he said, I gave myself cancer. And so to your point, very few people are aligned. Were you always aligned? Or did that, did you learn to be aligned?

John St. Pierre 17:48
Yeah, I think it was misaligned. I was having success in business while I was growing this business, or at least I believed I was. But it was just disconnected from what I really want to accomplish in my life. And so to your point, if you want to have a life of happiness, and family and spending time and traveling and doing certain things, well, then the last thing you should be doing is jumping into a start up. It's going to take you 80 hours a week, and you're not going to see your family and be able to work out you're not gonna be able to eat healthy, like those kinds of things. But there are still ways to do it. If you really know what centers you. And so I think a lot of times entrepreneurs glamorize being an entrepreneur. They'll leave this large companies, I want to go build my own large company, well, you don't need to build that large of a company. I talked to a lot of entrepreneurs about, would you rather have $100 million company and own 10% of it? Or would you rather grow a 10 million, our company and own 100% of it. And the reality is, it's still the same equal enterprise value. But one takes a lot more work a lot more effort, a lot more stress, a lot more everything, versus controlling your own destiny, and building a team that can flourish and have a good culture and you're proud of when you, when you go into work with your team. And there's a lot of different things. Like I think a lot of times people aspire, look, me too, to build something way too quick, way too fast, and end up losing control of the car, so to speak.

Susan Sly 19:09
Yeah, no, absolutely. And so the I love that you said that, because so many people, you know, to your point, it's like, oh, yeah, we built the company to $100 million valuation or whatever it was. And every time you raised money, you lost the pie. Your piece of the pie got smaller, and what did it end up costing you? And the divorce rate with entrepreneurs is higher, the suicide rate with entrepreneurs, like everything. And people get into entrepreneurship. And I love what you said, you know, it's an 80 hour week, entrepreneurs work longer hours than employees do. And that's why I believe anyone can be an entrepreneur. We've had 12 year old entrepreneurs on the show and one guy John, he was adorable. He was in Calgary, and he had built this six figure YouTube channel and he was reviewing camping gear. So happy. And all the companies like Coleman, everyone's sending him camping gear and another entrepreneur's 12, she's doing cosmetics, she started making cosmetics at home. And then she started selling them on Instagram and you know, making money doing that. And to your point, like, align that with your happy and what that is going to look like for you. So what are the you know, maybe not all of them, but what are some of the principles that you have embraced and like you said, you know what it's like to fail, you know, what it's like to fight for what you believe in. But now I can feel it in your voice night, if for the people listening, I'm sure they can feel it too. You know, there's a better way. So what are the principles?

John St. Pierre 20:49
Yeah, well, I'm gonna, I'm gonna, before I get to the principles, I just want to talk about something, you just- I think it's very important for the audience to hear this. I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't be an entrepreneur, because it's hard and you're going to work long hours. What I'm suggesting is there's ways to be entrepreneur, an entrepreneur, but know exactly what's most important in your life. And make sure you build the business around those guiding principles that you want for yourself, right? What's important for you, because a lot of times I first start their businesses, they don't really guide it towards their life. So just really, really important. And I also believe that if you do it right, and you build the right culture within your team, that one day you can be the chairman of your own business and not be working in the business every day, as hard as you may have to if you were running it operationally, right. So that's just really important to me. But these principles guide us to that. So the first principle, I'll go through the principles real quick, and then you can dive in wherever you want. But the first principle is, protect and grow your equity. Don't give away your equity loosely, keep as, keep as much as you can, buy more if you can along the way. But grow the ultimate value of it. The value of your equity is more important than the size of your business. Two, principle two, is build your own capital. If you don't build your own net operating cash flow, if you don't know how fast your company can afford to grow, you'll go to the banks, you'll go to investors, you'll ultimately violate principle one, which is protect and grow your equity. Principle three is reinvest smartly. Don't go all over the place, find a product mix that works for you, or service line that works for you, and scale it and grow it to generate more net operating cash flow or capital to protect your equity. Principle four is build a culture of intrapreneurship. The goal of being an entrepreneur isn't to necessarily be an operator, the goal of an entrepreneur is to build a business assets. So how can you build a culture of entrepreneurship within your team that someday they'll run your company, you don't have to. Principle five is protecting the house. Way too many times we see entrepreneurs, they do principals 1, 2, 3, or 4, they don't protect all the potential areas of their business that could go wrong. And entrepreneurship is a game of Whack a Mole, you hit 1, 2, 3 down and 4, 5, 6 pop up. You know, if you have too many holes in your boat, it can really sink it. Principle six is how do you move the liquidity on your balance sheet from your business's balance sheet to your personal balance sheet in tax efficient manners that encourages you to keep owning this business versus just selling it? Or selling equity in your business. And principle seven is how do you move from CEO to chairperson, because you may not be the best person to run your company, ultimately, it may help you achieve your entrepreneurial dreams.

Susan Sly 23:22
These are great, I'm taking notes. These are great, great principles and, and the Protect and grow your equity. Right. And that that goes back to that math that, you know, being able to say, like, okay, you know, every, we're giving away more, giving away more, giving away more, and to the point where we hear about these big exits. And you know, we've had founders on the show that they had a 300 million, 400 million, you know, huge significant exits, but by the time they get to that point, they might be in like a C round. And I'm not saying hey there, that's not a lot of money, but they don't have what people think they have. They didn't get the 300 million, they got a percentage of that. And in looking back now, if you had the principles ingrained in you as you do, going back to company, what would you, what advice would you give to younger you?

John St. Pierre 24:27
Yeah, so I'll give a different scenario in company. I wasn't the actual founder, there was another founder and I joined that team and became a stock option holder. But in my other enterprises, what I would tell my younger self is, I always started companies, Susan, thinking, you know, I don't want to go this alone, Hey, you want to be partners with me? Let's go with 50-50 or then I get another party. There's a third, a third, a third, let's let's all go in this thing together. Not really understanding that there might be some inequities in that, like, not everybody brings everything to the table and I was jumping into business relationships, not realizing that business partnerships are kind of like a marriage, you know, they're hard to get out of, they're messy to get out of down the line. And sometimes what people contribute upfront may not be what they contribute down the road. So from the Protect and grow your own equity perspective, I encourage entrepreneurs to retain as much of their own equity as possible, specifically, if it's their business idea, their vision, their concept. That doesn't mean you can't bring other people into the business, compensate them fairly, I talk a lot in the book about phantom equity options to give somebody an opportunity participate in the company's growth without making them an actual equity partner. There's a lot of tax advantages to owning a majority of your own business that people miss as well. So I would just protect it more and not just give it away loosely, like it didn't really matter. And I did that, because I wasn't really thinking about the terminal value of that equity. I was just thinking about, I just wanna get this thing started. And let's have some fun, let's build this thing, and all figure itself out. But you got to know if you give 50% of your equity away, you gotta build a business two times as big. And then you get into the growth paradox, right? More, you need more money, you need more revenue, you need more employees, you have more problems. Yeah, everything starts happening from there. So keeping the business at a position where, you know, I could control and maintain the pace of how I want to build it with who I want to build it is really critical.

Susan Sly 26:10
And when you say phantom equity options, for people who don't know, because there are, you know, we have everyone from people who have Etsy businesses, to founders, to employees of large companies. So can you, Can you do an explanation of that for someone who's not familiar?

John St. Pierre 26:30
Yeah, absolutely. It starts this way, right? There's, if you look at equity versus phantom equity, equity is what most, where most entrepreneurs go wrong. They start a business and they say, I want to bring somebody into this business, whether it be a key employee or a partner, and they give them actual equity units in the business, they become a voting participant, even if it's minority, they become part of that cap table, so to speak, in the business, when they maybe not, they didn't need to do that. And the Phantom equity side of it, it's not actually real equity in the business, it's really an ability for that person to participate in the growth of the business, but it's paid out like a bonus. So it's just additional compensation, but it's based on the value of the company. So if you join my company, Susan, and my company is currently valued at a million dollars. But I really want Susan to come help me grow this business, instead of getting a 20% of my already existing business hich, by the way, when I give you the 20%, if next month, you're not doing well, and things aren't going well, you still own 20% of my business, I can give you a phantom equity option and say, Susan, look, the business is valued at a million today, I'm going to give you a percentage of the growth over a million dollars ultimately, when we sell this thing. But there's a five year vesting period with a three year cliff, you gotta be here for three years to participate. If you get terminated, anytime you're off, you don't have any voting rights, you don't have to do any tax implications. But there's still an opportunity, as we grow this coming from 1 million to 11 million, you're gonna participate in 10 million hours of growth. So there's a way to structure it that way that makes it a lot less messy, lot less complicated, but also provides people joining your team a real, real incentive.

Susan Sly 28:01
That is the best explanation of phantom equity, John, that I've heard, ever, period. So thank you for that. And a lot of listeners will read it in like, oh, my gosh, I learned so much, you know, from the show. So that is one we definitely want to talk about. I want to ask you. There's this, you brought it up, you know, there's this glory, perceived with being an entrepreneur. I'm reading the Walter Isaacson, Elon Musk book. And, you know, Elon goes and he buys his McLaren. And you know, he has his private jet. And then, you know, people think of the Tony Stark esque character, Robert Downey Jr's character and they think about all of these things, these sort of trappings of entrepreneurship. But what they don't see behind the scenes is the stress, and every founder that I've interviewed, is very candid about that. And I know that these situations even said, you know, with the lawsuit was stressful. How, what are some of the positive ways you've managed stress? And what are some of the ways you manage stress that you look back and go, What the heck was I thinking?

John St. Pierre 29:16
Yeah, I'll start on the positive side. You mentioned something a little bit earlier, we didn't really touch on but it's like, you know, the world is in a funny place right now. Right, a lot of negativity, a lot of one side or the other side. You know, when I had the big failure that I had, what I turned to a lot that really helped me was perspective. Got my health. I have my wife, I have my kids, I live in a nice area. Okay. This is, this is not the end of the world. Think about people are across the world right now that are in much dire positions. It's not that bad. So whatever is going on is not that bad. And that perspective thing really kept coming back to me. And what really helped then was the switch to introspection, as opposed to externalizing Why did they do says to me, I can't believe this person, you know, is a jerk and that person, you know. I started internalizing, okay, how did I put myself in this position? So, you know, to me, perspective and internalization of what is going on really helped me move forward. I think that's a really key for entrepreneurs, when they're in a position is to really just think through okay, know, your situation is bad. I know it's stressful, but have some perspective here, internalize what happened, learn from as you can move on, as opposed to feeling like the victim and thinking that you haven't really bad for yourself. I think that perspective thing is a really big thing. And when I didn't have that, quite honestly, I would take my stress and I just start running. I wouldn't think. I wouldn't sit down with a blank sheet of paper and go, Okay, what's happening here? What's, what's my perspective? What's interesting, I would just start running, but the problem was running is I start making more mistakes. I start running into other areas, are there pitfalls that I didn't know, were actually there. And I was amplifying my problem, as opposed to having the patience to sit down and write or journal. Like a lot of entrepreneurs, they just run they don't take a minute to think so one of the practices, I took up post this failure was, you know, 20 minutes or writing two times a week with a blank sheet of paper, like, what am I thinking what's going on, I never did that. When I was in the moment of stress in my youth and running a business or, you know, I would just keep running and try and go harder thinking that if I go harder and grow my business more, I will just solve the problem. Well, growing your business doesn't solve the problem it just creates more problems.

Susan Sly 31:28
That's huge. The, I was writing that down the, and to your point too, and, and I'm very similar like in that, you know, every morning, the listeners know that first hour of the morning, I'm, I'm praying and meditating, I take that time to journal, but when I don't, and lately, and for all the listeners, so I just tell it, like it is. So my dad has been in the hospital. And I thought I, when I was at MIT a couple of weeks ago, I got a call that he wasn't waking up. And so then he rallied. And then, you know, the doctors like, Oh, he's doing good, we're going to release him. And you know, he'll be able to go into a assisted living facility. And I arrived in Canada thinking great, you know, we're moving you Dad, it's all going to be awesome, we're chatting. And then the next day, he goes unconscious again. And then you know, there's, there are all these other things going on, and life events going on. Some of them, John and I were talking about before the show, and I didn't journal for seven days. And I didn't give myself that, normally, I'll journal, I'll go out running, you know, and, you know, I didn't do any of that. And I found John, that each day that went by just kind of like, got more in the like, angsty space. And I love that you said that because we all need to do that. We all need to step back and do that brain dump and get that perspective, because it's so easy when you're, you know, putting in the 20 hour days to lose that perspective. And that's, that's huge. What advice would you give someone, I had a call today with someone, I'm not even gonna say which company they were in, but they're a listener of the show. They're with a very large company. They have had, there's a lot of internal changes, people are getting laid off. What advice would you give to someone who's in that situation in terms of them thinking of starting their own business?

John St. Pierre 33:31
Yeah, great question. I'll go back to the time that our internet startup failed, and I made a decision at that particular point, I want to control my own destiny. And, and I think it's a really important thing in today's society, in today's world, or work world. And I think people look at that and say, that's a little daunting, right? How long is gonna take me for this? Or what do I get, what I need to do, but just take that first step. And I think it's Bill Gates who said this, like, don't quote me on that one. But it's kind of, you know, people underestimate what they can achieve in 10 years. They overestimate what they can do in one year. But they underestimate what they can do in 10 years. And I think that the thing I'd like to ask people in that position you just talked about is, you know, if I told you in the next 6, 7, 8, 9, maybe even 10 years, you could create the business of your dreams that could fulfill all your needs that you have personally, would you be willing to do that? Would you be willing to take that step to build that? Or would you rather go work somewhere for maybe the next, you know, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 years and not have control of your own destiny? And so, you know, to me, I think we're living now in a world that anything is possible, everything is possible. There's a lot of support. There's a lot people out there to help. There's even a lot of money on the street, whether it be SBA loans or others for entrepreneurs to buy a business. They don't have to start one up, they can actually buy an enterprise and continue to run it as a going concern, which I think is a great opportunity for people in their, in their mid careers, potentially, that the idea of a startup may be too daunting or maybe too slow of a build up? Well, guess what, you can actually go buy cash positive businesses with SBA loans or the like, and, and get yourself a real quick start. So there's a lot of ways to do that. I'd really encourage people to control their own destiny. That's the big message.

Susan Sly 35:21
Yeah, it's interesting, because the, that you said that about buying an existing business, right? I, I don't even think about that personally, because I have that, you know, founder's mentality. Right. But that is such a great way for someone to go into entrepreneurship and, and to be able to do that, and it doesn't have to be an all or nothing. The majority of businesses are started part time while someone's still working. But the question you asked going back to that, is that what could we achieve in 10 years? Because we do you know, people there's, they want, they have this sense of urgency. Last year, the number one career goal for US children was to be an influencer. And I have said this time and again, in all my talks in AI, is influencers won't exist, because there was a study done that illustrate that people prefer AI generated faces than they do over human generated faces. So why will we have influencers? We're not even going to have that as a career. Why aren't we teaching entrepreneurship? Why aren't we teaching people not just to start their own business, but potentially buy a business as you said. Your book, The 100 Million Dollar Journey, talk about the book. I always, every every time I have an author on the show, I always buy their book, but talk about the book. And you know, who is it for? And what you know, for the person listening, especially that person, you know, who has just been laid off or is maybe thinking they might get laid off? What you know, what is, what is that, your book for them?

John St. Pierre 37:07
Yeah, so The 100 Million Dollar Journey, it's available on Amazon. You know, we've all, entrepreneurs have all been there, right? The lessons have been documented, people have gone and succeeded and failed and learned. And if you're looking to be an entrepreneur, you're already an entrepreneur, why go through the same steps that others before you have taken, that may not have worked, right? So the book is really about my journey as an entrepreneur and all of the failures and successes I had, and then all the learnings within that I learned and complete with like workbook, formulas, there's all budget, you may go too far in depth for some, but I really bring it down to at the end of the day, how do you build the business of your dreams without going off the cliff? How do you build, you know, a light and nice business that not only can be a lifestyle business, but could also be a business asset, something that you can actually build where you don't have to actually operate your own business, you don't have to actually be there, nine to five or nine to nine, every single day in the trenches. And I really talk to entrepreneurs about how do you become a business owner, not a business operator through deploying these seven principles. So that's really what the book's about and it's really for entrepreneurs that, you know, either aspire to grow the business of their dreams, or are currently building their business, they want to make sure they don't make some of the same mistakes that other entrepreneurs have made. That's who it's really for. And I hope that I can really make an impact to entrepreneurs on their journey.

Susan Sly 38:25
I love that, and given your entrepreneurial history, and even as you spoke about, you know, the things that are going on in the world right now, someone who's listening to the show, where do you see some of the greatest opportunities for entrepreneurship right now, in terms of different verticals, different types of businesses that people might want to consider looking at?

John St. Pierre 38:52
Yeah, well, you know, one area we just talked about in terms of buying businesses is the amount of baby boomers that own businesses that really don't have proper exit plans, and assisting them with their exit plan while you purchase and own a business asset. And there can be a win win for that business owner who doesn't quite have an exit plan and yourself, the entrepreneur. So I think that's a huge opportunity. The opportunity you just talked about, I think is absolutely fascinating. A lot of industries are going to be disrupted because of AI. And you can be an entrepreneur who's a disrupter, who isn't, to your point, an influencer, who isn't a marketing expert, who isn't a production expert, who you know, who doesn't really, isn't an expert in sales and marketing. I mean, there's so many tools available for an entrepreneur today to actually grow a business, whatever that business may be using the tools that are available that you know, I don't know what the statistics are on this. But you know, the cost to start up a business today versus the cost of startup business 20 years ago because of the tools and the ability to get freelancers or AI tools working for you and your business. I had heard somebody recently say You know, there's going to be $100 million business here soon that's going to be a business level one with a bunch of tools and resources around it. They just know how to use the tools in the best way possible and get assistance to do it. So I don't know if I'm really focused on an industry specifically as much as the incredible opportunity that lies ahead for everybody.

Susan Sly 40:13
The baby boomers running businesses, and that's huge, right. And there are so many types of businesses out there, from a nursery to a, you know, landscaping, the list goes on, I don't know why I just was in the plant genre. The, it's interesting too, because I was giving a talk on AI John, and we're talking about the dramatic shift of wealth that's going to happen with AI, and with the middle class, and there was a chart I was looking at. The jobs least likely to be impacted by AI in the next five to 10, years, plumber, electrician, roofer, all of the traits, and this concept of before we were telling, you know, our kids, you know, go to university, you and I went to university, and, and become, you know, whatever you're going to become, and we are going to see a rapid shift in that. And I think that if, if you have at all, like I would be bold and say if someone has a proclivity to be handy, maybe take a look at buying a business that is aligned with that, because like you said, John, it's about you know, what aligns with, you know, your happiness and who you are. We get into entrepreneurship, because we want to control our own destiny. And we end up often being slaves to that company we co created or became a part of, or whatever. And that doesn't need to be the case. So let me ask you this. If you could be an owner of any business, but not the one you are the founder of now, but something totally different that the audience might not expect, what would it be?

John St. Pierre 42:01
This is painful to say, and maybe not the answer you're looking for. But I would want to be the owner and CEO of the business I lost. So I'm not doing it today. So it falls in the criteria. But that was my dream business. And you know, you talk about what you have a passion for. And I always believe that success is found in that hedgehog concept. Right? The Venn diagram, what are you most passionate about? What can you be the best in the world that, and what drives your economic engine. And that prior business was in the sports industry and had a global sports business was exactly where I wanted to be. And that's why losing that was so painful to me. And so if I, if I could, you know, rewind the clock and not made the mistakes that I made to put myself in that vulnerability position to lose control of the business. That's what I would want to go do. So unfortunately, that's probably my only answer, because that was my dream company. And I lost it because of the careless actions. And the one piece that you threw out there too, is you need that patient ambition. Just having patient ambition. You don't have to grow something so big right away, take the longer march, grow systematically, put in the right principles of your business, You can still grow at large, you can still make an incredible amount of wealth but have patience.

Susan Sly 43:16
Patient, ambition, few words that are not usually synonymous with together and I, Yes, I definitely, with regard to that, that is something I would love everyone to take away. John also has a podcast and it is Entrepreneurs United. And I'm a big believer, I listen to podcasts every single morning, I listen to my friends' shows, I listen to my guests' shows, learning is so important, especially learning from these journeys, the journey that John is on that, you know, he's, you know, now he owns a hockey rink. How cool is that? It's just a cool thing to be able to say. But to be able to be on the journey and to be fulfilled and to be able to give back and to have those lessons. It's just huge. And I love John, and I'm celebrating you for that. Now, I only do this with Canadian guests. So before you go, we're gonna just have a Rapid Round of Canadian trivia. Okay, yeah.

John St. Pierre 44:20
All right. Okay, cool.

Susan Sly 44:21
All right. Here you go. Favorite Canadian food.

John St. Pierre 44:25

Susan Sly 44:26
Putin, any special thing on the Putin or just like classic?

John St. Pierre 44:30
Classic. Anytime it's not classic, it's ruined.

Susan Sly 44:33
Okay, excellent. All right. Um, we go to Tim Hortons, and we get Timbits, What's your flavor?

John St. Pierre 44:41

Susan Sly 44:42
Chocolate, like glazed chocolate or the like there's a sugary chocolate or-

John St. Pierre 44:48
Glazed chocolate.

Susan Sly 44:49
Yeah, glazed chocolate. Totally delicious. Okay. Favorite Canadian rock Band.

John St. Pierre 44:56
Oh, if you stayed with music, this is not gonna fit in the rock category. But the band in high school that I really loved and they started coming to US and I was following him everywhere was Barenaked Ladies.

Susan Sly 45:10
Yes, the Barenaked Ladies, and they could be a bit like rock pop whatever. Yeah, definitely. Okay. Favorite Canadian actor or actress.

John St. Pierre 45:22
I have to give Ryan Reynolds right now he's killing it. He's absolutely killing it. And he's loved down here in the United States. I'm following the soccer team he bought over and overseas in Wales and I just love everything he's doing. He's funny.

Susan Sly 45:37
Yes. He is absolutely hilarious. And, you know, both Ryans. Gosling, Reynolds, there's a bunch of great Canadians down here, like John and myself. I want to thank you so much for being here. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and your heart. And most importantly, thank you, just for being so willing to be raw and real. And in this is a journey. And we might work a lot, but it doesn't mean we have to sacrifice ourselves that when we're in alignment, the work feels easy. So thank you so much. I am definitely ordering your book. And for everyone, the link to the book and John's show will be in our show notes. And if this episode has been a value to you, please tag John and I on social media, and go on to where, the podcast is everywhere. But go on to iTunes because I read all the iTunes reviews and give us a five star review because we would absolutely love that, especially if you're in Canada. So anyway, John, thanks again for being here.

John St. Pierre 46:38
Yeah, thanks for having me.

Susan Sly 46:40
All right. Well, thank you. And with that, everyone, this has been another episode of Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. God bless. Go rock your day. And I will see you in the next episode.

Susan Sly 46:55
Hey, this this Susan, and thanks so much for listening to this episode on Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. If this episode or any episode has been helpful to you, you've gotten at least one solid tip from myself or my guests, I would love it if you leave a five star review where ever you listen to podcasts. After you leave your review. Go ahead and email Let us know where you left a review. And if I read your review on the air, you could get a $50 amazon gift card and we would so appreciate it because reviews do help boost the show and get this message all over the world. If you're interested in any of the resources we discussed on the show, go to That's where all the show notes live. And with that, go out there rock your day, God bless and I will see you in the next episode.

Susan Sly 47:48
Are you currently an employee looking to start your own business? Maybe you've been thinking about it for a while and you're just not sure where to start? Well, my course Employee to Entrepreneur combines my decades of experience as an entrepreneur with proven methods, techniques and skills to help you take that leap and start your own business. This course is self paced, Learn on Demand and comes with an incredible workbook. And that will allow you to go through this content piece by piece by piece, absorb it, take action and then go on to the next module. So check out my course on Susan Employee to Entrepreneur.

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Author Susan Sly

Susan Sly is considered a thought leader in AI, award winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker, best-selling author, and tech investor. Susan has been featured on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime, ABC Family, and quoted in Forbes Online, Marketwatch, Yahoo Finance, and more. She is the mother of four and has been working in human potential for over two decades.

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