Episode 20: Craig Ryan

Banking On Entrepreneurs

“I want Canada to be seen as, and to be, a leader in a global movement to redefine what success is in capitalist-practice terms.”

“What triggers the decision to [B Corp] certify for entrepreneurs is not the classic listing of ROI expected from this investment, or the time required, but rather the realization that they have a tribe.”

“When I look at really successful people, they seek to surround themselves with people who can do what they can’t do; they deliberately seek to release themselves from working in the business, so they can work on the business. […] Build a team around you that can replace you.”

Craig Ryan is the Director of Social Entrepreneurship at the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), and a powerful voice in enabling entrepreneurs develop business models that lead to social and environmental benefits as well as profits.

A New Way To Do Business

Speaking with Craig was an amazing opportunity for Scott and I to learn about the next wave of entrepreneurship. It goes without saying that the current model of capitalism needs immediate improvement in the way businesses take into account social and environmental costs in what they do.

Enter Craig Ryan. Craig’s experience in public policy, international development, and his now over 10 years spent at BDC offer him a unique perspective on what opportunities are out there for entrepreneurs who want their businesses to be successful, but not at the expense of the planet or society at large.

Eco-Entrepreneurs: Purpose As Well As Profit

In today’s show, Craig explains to us how the BDC is uniquely placed to help environmentally and socially conscious entrepreneurs do their thing. He tells us about the B Corp certification and how it is a step in that direction. He also gives us some insight into what are the best and worst things entrepreneurs do in pursuit of success.

Craig also shares some precious insight into companies he has worked with through the BDC, companies like Quo Vadis and Intelliguard, who are both successful in the traditional capitalist way ( = profit) AND contributing to the social good.

It has to be mentioned that Craig’s sense of humour and sharp eye for language added some fun spice to the talk!

Craig Ryan on The SpiritBros Podcast!

TIME MARKERS

  • [9:36] When Craig learned about the power of words and language.

  • [11:30] “Having to fuss over our choice of words obliges us to refine our thinking, and actually look clearly at what we are saying.”

  • [17:10] On completing a Master’s degree at Harvard in Public Administration, surrounded by 200 fellow students, each of whom had 10 + years experience in contributing to a public good.

  • [21:00] On how the death of his brother in 2004 had an important impact on him.

  • [26:00] On why he considers social corporate responsibility to be a sinking ship.

  • [28:20] How do we qualify business success?

  • [32:30] The B Corp movement (certified beneficial corporation).

  • [34:30] Natalie Voland, President of Quo Vadis. “With people like Natalie, just get out of their way.”

  • [38:00] What would the SpiritBros need to do to become B Corp certified? What are the requirements?

  • [40:30] What is Craig’s purpose?

  • [42:55] Is B corp for everyone?

  • [45:30] “What triggers the decision to [B Corp] certify for entrepreneurs is not the classic listing of ROI expected from this investment, or the time required, but rather the realization that they have a tribe.”

  • [47:10] What about working with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) keeps Craig inspired?

  • [50:30] How does a Crown owned organization like the BDC manage to be at the center of this movement that blends entrepreneurship and public benefit?

  • [54:30] Millennials and B Corps.

  • [56:00] What is a robust community?

  • [1:00:30] On the benefits of safe, community-driven spaces for entrepreneurs.

  • [1:01:30] On the challenges of bringing entrepreneurs together: “It’s like herding cats.”

  • [1:03:30] On how small goals help larger visions come to life.

  • [1:04:45] What are the traits of successful entrepreneurs?

  • [1:07:10] What is the best thing a budding entrepreneur can do in 2019?

  • [1:07:40] “Take a proven kind of company, with a proven market need and a longstanding tradition, and improve it.”

  • [1:09:00] “I’m a big believer in institutions that show themselves to be open to the society in the day in which they are living, that are responsive to and flexible, and that continually prove their worth.”

  • [1:09:40] How to redefine the current definition of success?

  • [1:12:15] How Craig is both an institutionalist and a free thinker. “It’s harder to build an institution than to tear it down.”

  • [1:17:45] “If someone were to do a television series on our day, and it were to be watched in thirty years, what would have them in disbelief or laughter? It’s humbling to be reminded of that, that we will be judged by future generations.”

  • [1:18:18] On one of his favorite B Corps, Intelligarde.

  • [1:21:00] Louis Roy and Optel.

  • [1:22:50] What is the biggest mistake an entrepreneur can make?

  • [1:25:50] Would a bank like the BDC be possible in the private sector?

  • [1:28:50] The Western tendency to look for a savior.

  • [1:29:50] “When I look at really successful people, they seek to surround themselves with people who can do what they can’t do; they deliberately seek to release themselves from working in the business, so they can work on the business. […] Build a team around you that can replace you.”

  • [1:31:40] What was Craig’s best failure?

  • [1:34:30] “I want Canada to be seen, and to be, a leader in a global movement to redefine what success is in capitalist-practice terms.”

  • [1:35:40] Craig’s personal health practices.

  • [1:38:50] What is a company for?

  • [1:40:20] En-Lightning round.

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