Episode 19

Leading with Purpose: Unveiling the Secrets of Impactful Leadership

Andre Fernandez, is the Co-Chief Operation Executive at Invert and shares some valuable lessons and principles that he has embraced through his journey towards becoming a successful leader.

Learn how to let go and build high performing teams and discover some actionable insights that will transform your leadership approach and help you create meaningful impact.

Listen now on your favourite platform

You can have logic, but the soundness of the logic doesn't actually make sense. And so what you need to do is basically have conversations with people, right? Network, whatever, design, experiments, test, and really learn, right? So how do you learn extremely rapidly or as rapidly as possible so that you can iterate and basically accelerate faster than somebody else?

In this episode

Andre Fernandez dives into how he found his way into creating a socially impactful business while sharing valuable lessons and principles that he embraced on his journey to success as a leader from letting go of micro details to building high performing teams and influencing decision-making processes, he's going to get into tactical ways that will transform your leadership approach and how you create meaningful impact.

Listen to the full episode to hear more from Andre and his journey.

Time Stamps

1:47 Episode Introduction

4:45 Bringing on the right people

9:13 Letting go of micro details

14:50 Recognizing to slow down

24:46 High performance is inherently exclusive

26:12 Lessons in creating high preforming teams

41:52 Taking risk to change your life

52:43 Lessons in scaling a team

55:00 Problem solving

57:45 Decisions filled with discovery

1:01:46 Taking a step back

1:08:03 The birth of Invert

Andre Fernandez

Co-Founder, Co-CEO

Guest Bio

Andre Fernandez, the former Chief Operating Officer of Canopy Growth,  was responsible for creating and executing the company's operational strategy with a primary focus on building a world-class integrated supply chain. Prior to joining Canopy, Andre worked in manufacturing finance and asset management and was part of the team that transformed Chrysler through the implementation of the World Class Manufacturing methodology when the car maker merged with Fiat.


Andre (00:00):

So you have a hypothesis and you basically need to make sure that the logic, that there is logic to it and that the logic has sound. So those are two different things. You can have logic, but the soundness of the logic doesn't actually make sense. And so what you need to do is basically have conversations with people, right? Network, whatever, design, experiments, test, and really learn, right? So how do you learn extremely rapidly or as rapidly as possible so that you can iterate and basically accelerate faster than somebody else?

Fahd (00:47):

Hello and welcome to the Unicorn Leadership Podcast. My name is Fahd Alhattab, I am your host, and this podcast is where we interview phenomenal leaders on their journey of building high performing teams, of building companies and startups that scale. And our goal is to bring you these insights, these tools, these stories about these journeys, these leaders' journeys on building these high performing teams so that you don't have to make the mistakes that they have so that you can learn from the lessons that they have and so that you can reflect and see where you are on that journey yourself. This podcast is brought to you by Unicorn Labs where we help transform managers into leaders that create high performing teams at scale. You can learn more about us at unicornlabs.ca. And today on episode 19, we've got Andre Fernandez who dives into how he found his way into creating a socially impactful business while sharing valuable lessons and principles that he embraced on his journey to success.

As a leader from letting go of micro details to building high performing teams and influencing decision-making processes, he's going to get into really actionable insights that's going to transform your leadership approach and how you create meaningful impact. But before we dive in and really want to hone in on the first sentence, Andre said earlier in the quote that we had, he said, you've got to really start with a hypothesis, a hypothesis with logic. What I think is really interesting is when I boil leadership down into a very, very, very simple form, is that leadership is about having an opinion as to where we should go, what the future should look like. Leadership is about being able to point the way and say, I have an opinion as to how our team should become better, where our organization should go, or how we solve a problem that exists in society.

And so often leaders are afraid to yell their opinion from their rooftops. We're sort of in a society that sometimes we tippy toe around sharing opinions or having really good discord or having really good debate because we fear that our opinion might be judged, that people might not agree with us. But that is fundamentally what leadership is about. Stating a position of where you want to go and seeing if there's other people that want to join you on that journey. Whether you are able to mold consensus and bring people along the way, or whether that opinion itself needs to form and reform. Here's the interesting process that Andre's talking about. We've gone, when done work with Andre's team at Invert, and we've also done work with several other companies around a change management process, around a process of identifying these central hypotheses in which we are building our company on.

And in doing so, we've created a trajectory. We've created a hypothesis, a guess as to what we think customers want or what we think our employees want and what we think people are willing to actually build. And in having that hypothesis, we set up a series of tests and that is what uncovering a startup looks like. We used a very lean canvas method where we had several different areas from identifying the hypothesis around the problem, the hypothesis around the potential solution, the hypothesis around what the value proposition is and the hypothesis around which customers would want this. We started with those four hypotheses and went out to test them in the market in as iterative ways as possible because like Andre said, what we're trying to do is learn as quickly as possible. And the most effective leaders don't just have an opinion that point the way they're also able to iterate that opinion and adapt it to what the people that they're leading also want. And in essence, bring people to create a movement. Let's hear that next clip from Andre.

Andre (04:45):

I think that you need to focus on people and you need to figure out how to put the right group of people together at the right times. And you could bring on great people, but you bring them on too early

Andre (04:58):

And they're

Andre (04:58):

Not challenged and they don't grow, and then they lose interest and they leave and they go somewhere else. And if you bring them on too late, now your business is screwed because you're behind the curve and you're not accelerating in the way that you actually wanted to in the first place. And so I think hiring the right group of people at the right time is extremely important, but then also setting the culture, the culture that these people are joining is extremely important.

Fahd (05:27):

I love how Andre gets into the second piece here around building the team and bringing the right people. Often when we get into our leadership training, I like to simplify the role of a leader initially as simple as possible, which is one, to build a vision. That's the hypothesis, that's the opinion that you have. Where are we going? And to build a team, we need a vision and then we need a team to actually help us get there. Andre Fernandez is the former chief operating officer of Canopy Growth. He initially worked manufacturing, finance and asset management and was part of the team that transformed Chrysler through the implementation of world-class manufacturing method when the car maker merged with Fiat today. Andre is the co c e o at Invert where they're working to solve challenges around the climate crisis that we have and the carbon market, the carbon credit market that exists. So join me in interviewing Andre. Hello Andre. Thanks for joining us on the Unicorn Leadership Podcast. Man, I'm really excited to have an interview with you today to talk about your leadership journey. How are you doing today?

Andre (06:41):

I'm doing great, man. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate the shout out and being on here. So cheers.

Fahd (06:47):

Yeah, it's going to be fun. Now, Andre, I got to say I'm excited for your stories because I feel like I really got to know both sides of Andre. The last time we really spent time together at one of the company retreats. I got to see the brilliant leader, creative Andre, and then at night I got to see a little bit of the party, Andre. We had a little bit of fun together and all the shit I had gives with the team, and actually I love that about you. I think it's so human, it's so real, but it shows us the different sides of leadership, the different parts of ourselves as we grow as leaders, that we still have this human piece of us that loves relationships and wants to enjoy. But then this craftsman, this builder, this creator, and I find that you balance those really well. And today's topic really is me unpacking the leadership lessons of Andre, everything that you've kind of done and created and understand that. So let's start with a high level three biggest takeaways in your leadership journey so far, and then we'll get into some of the stories and where you got those leadership lessons.

Andre (07:58):

Okay, sounds good. And Fahd, I'll say that this is really challenging, right? Boiling it down to three of the biggest lessons that I've learned is pretty difficult to do, just there's been so much learning

Fahd (08:13):

And it's probably when we do that, we say, well, three biggest lessons. It probably oversimplifies just truly how complex and nuanced some of those lessons are. So if you want to do 2.5 lesson and a 1.3, yeah, exactly. Sub lessons  

Fahd (08:31):

We can do that.

Andre (08:32):

Yeah, so I guess what I would say is I started my career as supposedly an expert. So I went to university and I was supposedly be the guy that knew things. They would ask me questions and I'm supposed to answer and basically give people advice on a specific problem or how to solve that specific issue.

Fahd (08:53):

Kind of typical M B A student, right? You did your M B A finished that and that I'm the expert, I'm the consultant here, right?

Andre (09:01):

Yeah, exactly. So went through that undergrad then master's period, and I was supposed to be the expert. And I think my biggest lesson or challenge was actually going from, hey, you're supposed to be the expert to figuring out that I needed to let go of the details at times or the micro details and traditionally or beginning as an expert. And then transitioning to leadership within the same organization is a challenge because naturally you sort of know more than most. And then when you get into that leadership position, you kind of need to let go of that and you need to let other people be responsible for those decisions and you can't get in the way or try to ask or micromanage those people because you're undermining their capabilities and their bandwidth and all that sort of thing. So I think for me, one of the biggest lessons that I've learned is that you kind of need to let go of the details to lead and you need to lead by design. So leadership is not about being the person that knows everything or about being the expert at times. It's about building a team and designing a team of people who they will be able to figure it out. They will be able to tell or see the future or give you the information that helps you see the future that you can then make decisions with.

Andre (10:28):

And, so I think that was one of the biggest lessons you have to be able to lead by design and not by detail. And that is a challenge because inherently you want to see the detail, you want to see the micro happenings of every ins and outs of your business, and that just undermines the team and why they're really there. So I think that was one of my biggest learnings, and

Fahd (10:56):

I really like that and I know we'll unpack it more, but the reason I really like that is that I think often you hear that where people say, well, as a leader, you no longer need to be the expert, but how they frame it is it's okay for you to not know the answer, but I think you're framing it differently. It's not even that it's okay for you not to know the answer, it's that you need to let go of the answer you think you have because someone else probably has an equivalent answer or a better answer if you just give them the space and you design for it. So it's not even just admitting you don't know, it's moving out of the way to create for other people to start to know. I really like that framing.

Andre (11:38):

And even if you think having a team of people challenge what, or coming up with a counter view is extremely important because maybe at the end of the day you're still correct, but you've had somebody challenge your assumptions and essentially beat up your hypothesis. And through that process, you're inherently going to come up with something better and hopefully you were wrong. And then this group of people actually comes up with something that's infinitely better. I mean, if you've really done a good job, you've got a team of people who will put you in your place and they're like, no, man, this is why you're wrong. You're a novice at this. We're the experts, we're the team of people who know way more than you do, and we can essentially see the future. And so you need to listen to us. You need to take in this advice and change your view or change your perception. And I think that's extremely critical. Having a team that can challenge you and sort of push your assumptions that is I think leading by design.

Fahd (12:38):

Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So that's the first big lesson. What was the second big lesson?

Andre (12:43):

That's the first one. I think the second one is slowing down to increase quality or slowing down when you think you have quality issues.

So we used to say, get shit done. And trying to be specific here, we used to say, get shit done. And we did. We got a lot of shit done. And then at times you would look back and you say, well man, that was the wrong shit, right? Got the wrong shit. We got so much done. But at the end of the day, was it good? And I actually believe in failing fast and iterating and learning. I'm not saying you shouldn't be failing or be afraid of learning, that's not what I'm saying. But inherently just trying to move quickly without the right information or bringing in the team or whatever it is, and just moving fast for moving fast sake, that's something that I've needed. I would say tone down a little bit, and it goes back to leading by design. I could make a decision and move really quickly, but maybe it's going to take me a week or two to slow it down, bring the team in, formulate things, figure out that we have a problem, say, okay, look, rather than launch this next week and have a critical failure, let's slow it down. Let's spend some more time on this. And

I think it ultimately comes down to how big of a failure can it be, right? And there have been times where we've had to sit down and say, listen, we can get away with this. We can get away with this, but ultimately it's the wrong thing to do, whether it's for people's health or the benefit of our team or society or whatever it is. There are various reasons where you say, look, we can move really quickly here and we can sort of gloss over the problem, but it's going to affect somebody and it's just wrong thing to do as a business. I think recognizing those times in your operation are extremely important. Then spending the time fixing that quality issue, you can get those, the sort of moonshot leaps or the stepwise leaps. You spent a little bit of time, you slowed it down, but then you accelerate more rapidly from there than you would've otherwise. So I think to me, that's the second piece. And I think ultimately it's really about how do we make better decisions? Not being afraid of failure. I think those are two different things. And I think within that, what I've learned is discovery beats planning. So you could spend all year planning this incredible business, product and service and whatever it is, and you go and launch it and you fail.

But if you plan to discover meaning, Hey, let's get something out in a week, let's get something out in a month, and we know that we're doing it for discovery purposes, you'll come up with something much, much better in a year from now than if you just spent the entire year planning. So I know it's maybe a bit contradictory to what I just said, but I do think those two messages are important or the interplay between the two are very important. So I would say before I was really caught up in, we got to plan this thing, right? It's got to be perfect. The planning, the

Fahd (16:33):

Got to have my spreadsheet, my project plan, everything is outlined, everything's

Andre (16:37):

Got to be perfect. And we got to know every detail, everyone has to know every detail and every detail has to be right. And I think now when I think about leadership, it's more how do we plan? How do we actually design to discover and not over plan, right? Planning is important, don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to say, Hey, screw all, shoot from the hip and whatever else. But designing a way to discover, I think is most important in businesses.

Fahd (17:11):

Yeah. How do you design to discover? Are you outlining questions, assumptions, experiments? Because all decisions are a series of betts, and what you've kind of said is, okay, so slow down on the betts that you take because when you're moving too quickly, you're probably overshooting, you're getting a lot of shit done, but you're overshooting don't go too slow because you go too slow and you start plan everything, then you're probably wrong in your planning. So the way to find that balance, what you're saying is set up experiments, set up discoveries, and pick away at some of the assumptions we're making. That's what I'm hearing you say. Is that accurate?

Andre (17:56):

Yeah, absolutely. So you have a hypothesis and you basically need to make sure that the logic, that there is logic to it and that the logic has sound, right? So those are two different things. You can have logic, but the soundness of the logic doesn't actually make sense. And so what you need to do is basically have conversations with people, network, whatever, design experiments, test, and really learn. So how do you learn extremely rapidly or as rapidly as possible so that you can iterate and basically accelerate faster than somebody else? So that's sort of a key thing. And it's not going too fast. It's not going too slow. And it also matters in terms of the culture that you've built, right? Because you don't want to over pressure people again and make bad decisions, and you don't want to be too lax, right? So it's like you need to have the right amount of pressure, good pressure, right? Good stress, good pressure

Andre (18:57):

And design experiments. And I think it's really communicating with who you think your potential customers are. And it might be potential investors at times too, but it's really thinking about who is the end user of whatever you're designing or building, and let's talk with them as much as possible, as quickly as possible without losing them, without turning them off and say, Hey, we never want to talk with you ever again. So I think that's a bit of how we discover it.

Fahd (19:28):

Yeah, that's a discover. Okay, cool. I like that. So that's our second takeaway, really making decisions and planning for discovery moving fast, not too fast. I finding that counterbalance between that fail fast kind of quick with the over-planning, but through discovery. I really like that. So what's our third takeaway? What's our third discovery in the leadership journey of Andre?

Andre (19:57):

Yeah, so it is definitely got to do with people, and I know maybe I mentioned people in some of what I already mentioned, but I think that you need to focus on people and you need to figure out how to put the right group of people together at the right times. And you could bring on great people, but you bring them on too early

Andre (20:18):

And they're

Andre (20:18):

Not challenged and they don't grow and then they lose interest and they leave and they go somewhere else. And if you bring them on too late, now your business is screwed because you're behind the curve and you're not accelerating in the way that you actually wanted to in the first place. And so I think hiring the right group of people at the right time is extremely important. But then also setting the culture, the culture that these people are joining is extremely important. And I know we've touched or touched on this before, it's like I believe that you want people to feel like they're special. You want people to feel like they're amazing

Andre (20:58):

because they are. Every person should feel like they're amazing every day. And I think it sucks when people don't actually feel like that in their personal lives, in their professional lives, whatever. And so my philosophy is whenever you join a company that I'm a part of, I want you to feel like you're amazing because you are. And I don't want you to feel like you're disposable so that you work harder. That's another sort of culture that you can build. Hey, I'm going to pressure you. I'm going to really put some pressure underneath you because I want you to feel like if you don't perform, I'm getting rid of you and I'm just getting somebody else. And I'm not saying, and this is another piece of learning that I had around people, I've learned that you don't necessarily want to be building a family and a family is great and it's loving and you have all this sort of safe space or protection. I'm always going to have your back. That's great. And I think people say this all the time, but I actually believe it. You actually need to be building a high performance sports team.

Everybody's got a part to play. And if you're not playing your part, it doesn't mean you're a bad person, it just means that you're not playing your part on this team, but you could be a great person or play a great role on another team and figuring out, okay, great, this person just doesn't fit. They need to move on or firing quickly. I think that is something that I've had to spend time learning. I failed at that. And just by failing at that, I've learned,

And I think inherently, if you have to fire, you probably didn't do as good of a job as you could have in the first place. So it's like if you have to fire somebody, do it quickly, but then also reflect on that. Why did you have to do that? What was the assumption that you made that was incorrect in the first place? And thinking through that piece, and I think this is something that I spend a lot of time on, and as we're building teams today, I also need to let people figure that out on their own to a certain extent. And so it's like as we hire people, I give my feedback or my input on the people that we hire, but ultimately if they need to build their own little team or their own big team within a bigger team or whatever it is, they need to figure that out too. And I'm going to give them advice. They're going to say, Hey, culturally, is this the right person? Whatever. And

Andre (23:39):

They can go ahead and learn and hopefully they're correct. But then at the end of the day, I'm accountable the results and at some point I need to jump in if they don't jump in, and so on and so forth. So I think culture is extremely important. Getting the right people at the right time is probably the most important part of building a business as a leader or whatever you want to call

Fahd (24:06):

It, right? Yeah. Bringing those people on. Yeah, I really like that. I love how you've identified the difference. People often, some people fall into the trap of saying, you're going to build a family, and then they'll say, well, it's not a family. You also got to let people go and you don't really let people go of your family, or you don't just fire your brother, it's your brother, it's your sister. You've actually got to make him, man, you

Andre (24:29):

Always be your brother, right? Not talking or whatever.

Fahd (24:33):

But there's still blood related, so it doesn't really work family, but you've given it this high performance sports team. And I like that because what you've said, it's something we share often and is that when you're trying to create high performance, one of the necessary pieces we say is yes, you have to create psychological safety, you have to create a space where people can take risks, can be themselves, can show up, can play, can really be creative. But that is the starting point. What that needs to lead us to is high performance. And high performance is inherently actually exclusive because when the Miami Heat is playing against Denver right now, they got to play their top five, oh buddy here hasn't got any minutes yet. We should let 'em on for a bit. You're not playing club, you're not even playing house league. You're playing if you want to play at the top league, we put the best players on and they have to play and they have to win.

And I think what you've said really nicely, I think you used the word, they might not belong on this team and we might need to trade them. And actually that's what we talk about when we talk about firing often. I've gotten a lot of managers to say, you're not really firing someone, you're just trading them to a new team because they will find another skill. So they will find another team and you can help them find that other team, they just did not fit in this organization. They did not fit on your team. And so instead of thinking of a buyer, think of a trade deadline, free agency, there's other ways to think about it, which sometimes helps people who struggle with that need to protect an individual and that family feeling to say, I struggle with letting this person go. So I really like what you've done here, Andre.

So we've kind of three big pieces. We said, you got to work on yourself as a leader and you got to let go of the ego. You're not the expert. You are the leader and the leader assembles experts. You got to get really good at decision making. And that means moving quickly, not over planning, but creating discovery. And then if you're going to take your leadership skills and your decision-making skills, realistically, those have to create a team that's going to scale you and scale what you have to do because you're not going to be able to actually create a thriving to do that. So I really like those three lessons, effective leader, letting go of the ego. You're not the expert decision making being quick, but discovery is the big piece and building a culture of high performance as your three pieces. So Andre, you weren't always as brilliant, and there's no way you knew all these lessons because you probably only learned through these lessons through smashing your head through a wall a few too many times and making every mistake.

And I always say it's the irony of these podcasts is that we talk about advice and things that we could do better. And the reality is most founders and most leaders have to kind of make the mistake themselves, but we're going to keep talking about it. Hopefully when they make the mistake, they remember this moment and they say, oh yeah, this is what I got to do. So you've been on a fun journey, like I mentioned earlier, but you did a master's in business administration at Rotman School of Management, and then you did your Bachelor of Applied Sciences at Queens University and Civil Engineering. So you had a good kind of expertise, hard skill in terms of engineering and the hard skill in terms of business management, left school, you're the expert. Where do you go as soon as you finish school? Where was the first job? What was that first leadership journey for you?

Andre (27:53):

Yeah, well, I mean, coming out of my master's program, I had this engineering degree and maybe I'll back up coming out of my engineering program. I said, okay, great. I have this technical knowledge, let me put it to use. And so I did that for a few years, and long story short, I actually ended up in a tailing pond in for McMurray. And we won't get into the details of it here, but I thought I broke both my arms and all this sort of stuff. Oh my God. And anyways, that was one of the first real lessons that I learned. I was like, okay, there's no amount of money that somebody can pay me to be sitting in this tailings pond today. And so I said I needed to go back to school. And so I realized that I didn't know anything about business or finance or any of that stuff. And so I said, okay, this is great. I have this technical

Fahd (28:46):

Knowledge. I love that you learned that lesson early. There is no amount of money that someone can pay me to do this or to do what I don't enjoy.

Andre (28:55):

It's just not it for me.

Fahd (28:56):

That's it.

Andre (28:57):

And I generally enjoyed being around people. I knew that, but I didn't know a thing about business. I didn't know a thing about management or finance. And so I said, okay, I got to go back and get this education or this knowledge. And so went back to school, went to for a couple of years, and then I said, okay, this is cool. I have this technical knowledge and experience and I have this newly acquired financial knowledge, but I don't have experience. I don't have professional or working experience in finance. And so I wanted to find a role where I could combine the two. And so basically at the time where Fiat and Christ were joining, they were looking for somebody to come into their facilities and basically run their cost optimization program. And the program was called World-Class Manufacturing. So basically my role was to go in, look at the processes within each facility and then turn this data into dollars and basically show where they're losing money. So it was cool. It was like, I got to take my engineering,

Fahd (30:02):

You're the cost cutting guy. Did people love you walking in? Or they were like,

Andre (30:06):

No, I'm not the cost cutting guy. I'm cost improvement guy.

Andre (30:12):

Cost improvement guy. I'm adding value this good. Someone challenged you. You were ready for this moment, this had this conversation before.

Andre (30:22):

Yeah, totally. And part of the process, part of process of cost optimization or whatever you want to call it, is really just eliminating waste. So when you describe it as waste, people understand, it's like, okay, this guy isn't coming to chop my job. He's trying to tell me that I'm doing three too many steps or that this machine is actually breaking down most frequently

Andre (30:46):

and we need to do something about it. And so ultimately what I learned is I would say two things here. One is getting people to do what you want is really about showing them value.

Andre (31:00):

It's not about having power over them or any of that sort of thing. It was a unionized environment. I'm a younger guy coming in and you

Fahd (31:08):

Had no authority.

Andre (31:10):

I have no authority over them. I build these models and I'm like, man, here's where we're losing all the money. And I got to go to the people on the floor and I got to say, Hey man, we're losing a lot of money here. I'm going to be on the floor with you. I'm going to spend time with you. I'm going to build a relationship with you. I want to show you that I actually want to add value to the work that you're doing to your life, to all this stuff. I'm a good person, you're a good person, and we're going to connect on different levels. And I think once you're able to do that with people, people naturally want to work with you, right? It's not about you have to do this. I said, so it's man, I actually want to do this because this guy told me this. He gave me this information and now I'm armed with something that lets me know how to do my job better. So that was pretty cool. And then I think one of the most important things that I learned is if you're able to take data and turn it into dollars, you can influence any decision-making process

Because it's like people understand dollars, but if I tell 'em two widgets, three widgets, whatever it is, they're kind of like, well, I don't really know what that means. But if I could tell them, Hey, you're going to save X millions of dollars if you do this thing. Now people can say, oh, I understand dollars and I like dollars. Cool. This is what we're here for. Now I can influence whoever it's whether it is super senior or people on the floor or whatever it is. It's a universal language. And so for me, that was really, really cool. And I'm just going to keep on going here, so you tell me,

Fahd (32:50):

But no, but this is good. I'm going to hold you to it here for a second. I've said that, I've said this before, but I have always found that some of the most effective leaders were ones who started off leading in volunteer environments. Because in a volunteer environment, you have no hierarchical power and you've got to convince a bunch of people who show up whenever they want to show up to actually do something. And the way you're describing this, you were stuck in that sort of position. It wasn't a volunteer, but you've got this union, you're this young kid, you're got these brilliant ideas. You got to convince them that you're here to save money, not cut their jobs. That's the first fear. And you can't come in and say, all right, we're making these cuts, change this, change that. You're not management doing that where they'll just kind of roll over and listen, but you've got to convince them that this is best for them.

And that's so powerful in that leadership journey, again, in you moving from being the expert to some facilitating their decision-making process by providing them the data and the information. I really like that. And we often touch on different leadership styles, but you had to do that. You had to build that relationship. And I really, really like that. And I still see that today, to be honest. Seeing you with your team, seeing you with your staff is like you still implement those relationship first style that you use in your leadership, and perhaps that's what has continued to be effective. So I can say you walk the walk, you don't just talk the talk so far, at least so far. Yeah, so far.

Andre (34:25):

So far we we'll see in the future. But yeah, it was interesting because it was like they gave me these targets, right? It's like, Hey, you got to go to this facility and save X millions of dollars, or you got to go to this facility and save X millions of dollars. And it's built into the budget. So it's like the budget for this year is whatever, and they build a budget and then they're like, yeah, okay, you got to save 5 million from that, Andre. It's like, oh, okay.

Fahd (34:50):

You going to find 5 million to save?

Andre (34:52):

Yeah, you literally need to just find X millions of dollars that you need to save. And so it's like, well, okay, that's my target. How do I bridge the gap between what's my target and what's their target and how do I get them to buy into the work that we're doing? So that was great. I mean I really learned a lot in that job specifically. And then just personally, I think I was taking a lot of things for granted. I was taking time for granted. I had a good job. I was living in a great city. My life was good. And then my father passed away and he was 64 and I was 27, so was relatively young. And I remember that flipped a switch for me and it was like, man, what am I doing? What am I doing with my life? And it was great learning the job, the experience, the people, everything was great. But I remember sitting there and thinking, man, I'm making cars cheaper for people.

Fahd (35:57):

That's my purpose right now is making cars cheaper.

Andre (36:00):

Is that my social impact? Is that really what I'm here for on earth to do? Or whatever it is? And I'm not saying that that's a bad thing to do or people shouldn't be doing that or whatever. I think it's a great thing to do. It's novel, all that sort of stuff, but it just wasn't for me. It wasn't in the same way that I ended up in a tailing spot and that wasn't for me. It was the same thing or the same recognition that I need to do something a little bit differently the way that I'm either wired before, now wired because of my father passing. I just needed to do something differently. And so at the time,

Fahd (36:39):

I really liked that aligning of purpose and values that you're going through. You mentioned it in your three lessons earlier you talked about hiring the right team and making sure they're the right fit. And sometimes that's the individual figuring that out for themselves and a moment where they say, does this purpose align with what I see for myself? And I love that you're sharing this. I think this is such a true moment for a lot of entrepreneurs who are working jobs or doing this or doing that, and it hits moment of like, is this really what I want to be doing or can I go do something else? So what'd you do? So you hit that emotional hard point. What was the decision?

Andre (37:20):

Yeah, well, so I felt like I couldn't suffer. I wasn't going to go in every day, check in, check out, get a paycheck, great job, all this sort of stuff. And I saw the writing on the wall and I wanted to do something more socially impactful. That was the crux of why I wanted to move. And so medical cannabis was becoming a thing. So I remember sitting there at my job and just sort of thinking, okay, what the hell am I going to do next? And I did soul searching. I was writing notes and I spent weeks on this thing. And I really thought about what is it that makes me happy?

And ultimately landed on something about social impacts. I enjoy being around people. I enjoy making people happy. I don't necessarily like being in the spotlight, but I enjoy making people feel good about themselves. That's something that I enjoy. And so anyways, medical cannabis in Canada was becoming legalized. And so I thought this was fascinating because I thought we could do two things. You could deliver really meaningful products or deliver really impactful social business. It's just the things that you could do with medical cannabis, I believed and still believe were really and are really impactful for society. And the second piece is you could build a really meaningful business. So I was like, oh, this is cool. Before I would do good work, whatever, but I couldn't really see what I do move the needle on the business. It was like the business is moving,

Fahd (39:03):

The impact you were having, even though you're saving millions of dollars, but the drop in the bucket from a social perspective, you couldn't see the impact.

Andre (39:14):

The social impact that I was delivering was not, it wasn't moving the needle for me, and I couldn't see the things that I do on a daily basis move the needle for the company, even though it was like, yeah, okay, financially you're saving whatever amounts of money. So I wanted to join something where my daily inputs, I could see, I could see the output, I could see the rev meter, I could see everything that I do transform or just build something. And so anyways, I decided that I wanted to move industries, move cities, all this sort of stuff, and join a startup at the time called Tweed. And so it was based in Smiths Falls.

Fahd (39:54):

Tweed was new at the time. How many years was Tweed in?

Andre (39:59):

So I would've joined in late 2015, so they might've been around for about a year, year and a little bit, something like that. So I wasn't a founding member. And so my experience there is very different to my time at Invert, and we can get into that at some point. But anyways, I wanted to make a change. I wanted to take a risk, took a massive pay cut, all this sort of stuff because it was like, look, I just want to be, want to enjoy my work. I want to be happy in whatever I'm doing.

Fahd (40:29):

That's a big one. Taking the massive pay cut, that's the one that hurts right's, life, lifestyle. It's

Andre (40:33):

Like young guy, but I enjoy the financial freedom of having a great salary and all this sort of stuff. But anyways, here it was like you get some equity and stuff and it's like, oh, that's cool. I'm a part owner and whatever else. And I remember my

Fahd (40:49):

Mom and you had to move from Toronto to Smith or Ottawa, right? To Ottawa.

Andre (40:56):

And everybody's like, man, Ottawa is where fun goes to die. I was like, anyways, I was like, no, you guys, don't worry about me. And I remember telling my mom and my mom was like, man, you're crazy. And I didn't even tell her it was cannabis, right?

Fahd (41:11):

Mom, I'm quitting a car manufacturing company top in the world for some marijuana startup out store. No, I saw a pharmaceutical company, a pharmaceutical company, pharmaceutical

Andre (41:23):

Company, but it's a startup. I got to move to Ottawa, whatever, I don't want to say cannabis at the time, because I was like, my mom's super conservative and whatever

Fahd (41:32):

Else she'll have said, where'd you come up with this idea while you were high?

Fahd (41:40):

Yeah, exactly. She would've

Andre (41:43):

Yeah, I didn't lie, but I didn't tell her the whole truth, right? Yeah,

Fahd (41:46):

Yeah. You're not cost cutting, you're improving and optimizing. It's the same.

Andre (41:52):

And honestly, thank God I did. Because she was like, man, you're crazy. What are you doing? You shouldn't do this. And all my friends were like, man, you can't be serious. You should never, this is insane. And I was like, no, man, just let me be. This is what I want to do. Trust me, I'm going to trust the process. This is a good idea. So anyways, that became Canopy Growth and grew into a fairly substantial business and extreme learning along the way. I mean head first into learning. You

Fahd (42:25):

Grew quite a bit within your leadership role there. What was that leadership journey? You went from more of an individual contributor at Chrysler and Fiat there, the combination and kind of convincing management and people to take decisions, but you rose up into really large leadership roles where you were managing bigger teams. And again, still a young man doing that. How was that?

Andre (42:53):

Yeah, it was super interesting. I mean, I'll tell you what, my first experience there, I get to Smith Falls and I'm like, whoa, this is kind of crazy. In Smith Falls, it's small town, whatever. I grew up in small country, so it, it's not the small town, but I get in there and it's my first week, and I remember it was the first management meeting, and I'm sitting in this room with the core guys, and I remember just thinking to myself, holy shit, there's something incredible happening here.

There's this incredible group of people. And I felt like the imposter. I was like, I've never been around such an incredible group of people before in my life. This is amazing. Everybody is so intelligent and so passionate. I was like, I'm joining a cannabis company. Maybe everyone's going to be laid back's, going to be laid back, whatever. But these people were just, I've never experienced anything like this, ambitious and driven and whatever else. So immediately I was like, whoa, there's something incredible happening here. And I could feel it within the first week. And I remember my first role, it was like I went into the vault. So there was a vault and it was filled with cannabis, and they literally had no idea what they had in the vault. There was no inventory systems, there was nothing. And so my first role was literally to go and spend days in this vault looking at cannabis, weighing it, grading it, building an inventory system. Literally.

Fahd (44:27):

That's hilarious. Out of a movie is Exactly,

Andre (44:33):

Yeah. And it was surreal because it's pounds and pounds and pounds of cannabis. I'm just in this vault for days. But in my head it's like I've just come from this extremely well oiled manufacturing thing that you're trying to squeeze the extra juice out of. And here it's like we're growing the juice, you know what I mean? It's like we're planting the trees at this point. It's so early stage. So anyways, that was great. It was like I got to really put my stamp on things. And I don't mean that from an ownership perspective where I'm like, oh, it was just the lessons that I had learned at my previous roles and all that sort of stuff I could really utilize in this business because there weren't that many people that were like me. And so naturally it was like I could help them with manufacturing and so I could work with people. And I loved problem solving. So what started to happen is people would send me any shitty problem that they had. They were like, Andre's the guy, operat, let's get

Fahd (45:40):

On operations. It's always an operations guy. Every problem that doesn't find

Andre (45:46):

It was any problem that somebody didn't want the terrible problems. They're like, yo, let's throw it at Andre. He's good. No, no, no, not even that. He's good. Let's throw it at him and see,

Fahd (46:00):

Just find out what he does. Just

Andre (46:02):

See what happens. This is a wicked problem. We got our own stuff that we got to focus on, blah, blah, blah. But this is a wicked problem. Let's throw it at him and see what happens. And maybe it works, maybe it doesn't work. We don't really know. And anyways, that's how it sort of started. And I remember one of the second projects that they threw at me, we had a call center and we had, I don't know, maybe 10 people in the call center picking up calls. And we were so bottlenecked with calls that it was like people would wait weeks sort of thing to get through to us. And it was just like crisis.

We're trying to scale. We have a call center. People are calling nonstop. And they're like, Andre, go figure that out. Go figure out the call center. It's like, I have no idea the ins and outs of a call center at all. Literally no clue. So I remember I go in, I spend some time, I ask a bunch of questions, it's a few weeks kind of thing, build this crazy process flow diagram of all the things that are happening in there. And just by nature of drawing this extremely crazy process flow diagram and showing it to people, it was like, guys, is it insane? Look at this process. This is the process of what is happening up there. This is not good. You could just see how complicated it was. You

Fahd (47:28):

Could just see it, you it a visual.

Andre (47:30):

So it's like you visualize this thing for people and then naturally they can see, okay, well no wonder we're super bottlenecked, we just need to streamline this. So it went from understanding the problem or defining the problem to, okay, what is the solution? How do we streamline this? So anyways, it went from software to people to the way that we interacted with things. And basically we solved that problem. It was great. We were able to scale. Now we could take in whatever number of calls, and we got past that bottleneck pretty quickly. And then the next issue, the next crises was it was like we were making maybe 4 million a year, something like that, four or 5 million bucks. And it was like, man, we just have so much more demand. But we just couldn't figure out how to get past basically that threshold. That was a capacity. We had so much more demand and theoretically we had the capacity to do so much more, but we just couldn't get past it.

Fahd (48:36):

So theoretically as in you had the capacity to grow more, you had the team, but we just wasn't happening. There was some blockers, it wasn't happening.

Andre (48:45):

It literally wasn't happening. So you

Fahd (48:47):

Had the funding, was it a funding challenge? It was a funding

Andre (48:50):

Thing. Everything was already in place. And it goes back to people and organization. And so they're like, okay, wicked problem. Throw Andre at this one. This is sort of how I moved from role to role. It was like, here's a wicked problem, let's throw it at him. And it's sort of a new role, so let's change the title. And now people recognize that Andre is solving this issue. So I think at this point I moved into director of supply chain or something like that.

We were having supply chain bottlenecks within our facilities. So anyways, I spent a bunch of time looking at this, and really the problem was just getting people aligned. It was like I would come in, I would do my thing and I would walk away and I would assume that that I did my thing. And it's your responsibility to come and figure out that I've done my thing. And you just got to figure it out. And what I realized is, is that there were many sources of the truth. And so everybody had their own thoughts about what was actually happening, and they might've had their data set over here and somebody else is running on their own data set over here. And so people just weren't aligned. And so spent a bit of time trying to figure this out and really it was just, okay guys, we need to get everybody aligned and we need to build an alignment tool that we literally called the One Truth.

That was literally it. We built a tool called The One Truth, and it was a way of automating who was doing what and when and what their deadline is and who is next and what they're supposed to do and what their deadline is. And basically just automated this thing that everybody had access to and everybody can see, and just drove extreme alignment across the team. And because everybody was aligned, it was like, okay, I did my thing. Now you know exactly that. You need to do your thing, you got to trigger and you're on it because you know that there's a deadline and everybody can see that deadline. And if your area is bottlenecking, we're going to come and help you. It's not like we're going to come over there and beat you up or anything, but we're going to know exactly where the problem is now because we're tracking all this information. We can see where it is. And I think just getting those people aligned, it was another stepwise change. It was like we were able to go from 5 million to 500 million just because of

Fahd (51:33):

Just through that alignment,

Fahd (51:34):

Simple through some

Fahd (51:36):

Internal tooling. Just Google Sheets,

Andre (51:38):

Man. Literally it was Google Forms and Google Sheets and

Fahd (51:43):

Submit your piece. Here's your deadline call. Yeah,

Andre (51:45):

Totally. And just use some automation with my email where I'd send triggers to people. So it was funny because people actually thought that I was working 24 7.

Fahd (51:55):

It was sending,

Andre (51:57):

Because it would be like an email from Andre that says, okay, hey, you got to do this thing by this time and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and here's all the information. But it was just all automated. You were like, man, this guy Andre's insane. He's a work

Fahd (52:11):

Two, he's sending me this.

Andre (52:14):

This guy's working nonstop. What an animal. But yeah, so anyways, that was another lesson of getting people aligned and just extreme alignment. It is just so important to scale and to building a meaningful business. So anyways, I would say that was one of my biggest lessons at Canopy.

Fahd (52:43):

You've hit a really interesting piece, the lessons that we look at leaders and building the team, but then there's the lessons of scaling the team. And there they're two different functions you can build and have amazing people there. But then are you good at systems design? Are you good at systems thinking? Are you good at being able to get these people aligned and working towards a scalability? And I find that is where a lot of our founders struggle with a lot of, what is it? I've got some amazing people, I've got some good people, but I'm struggling with scaling that. We've hit the cap at 5 million, we've hit the cap at 3 million. That's the revenue that we're at. And we don't know, we're throwing more ads at it, we're throwing more marketing at it, we're throwing more money at it. I even was joking before we got on this call, I'll throw more money at product market fit that'll fix it and just keep throwing money at it.

But often it is a Google form and spreadsheets and an email Automator that fixed it, and it was the alignment and it was a system building. So maybe you've got a systems' mind, but tell me, how do you go about diagnosing a systems issue that doesn't really interesting, very tangible skillset that could be interesting for some of our listeners. You mentioned this twice. I go in, I spend two, three weeks mapping it out. You're doing a little discovery there. So walk me through a little bit of you got a systems issue, what is your brain going through?

Andre (54:16):

Yeah, so it's interesting because I look at it as two different ways of working. Let's just say working at all. And you can work in the business or you can work on the business.

Andre (54:29):

and in these instances, I was given the ability to work on the business. So I can step outside of a role that was like, I need to be doing the things. And it's like I can observe. So I'm working on the business. And that was fantastic because I didn't have the pressures of the daily grind or the daily, I need to do X, Y, and Z by this time.

Andre (54:49):

and so that's extremely important. And once you're able to work on the business, you need to be able to define the problem. And the first step in problem solving is you need to go to the problem. You literally physically need to go to the problem. I think that's what a lot of people make mistakes with or about when it comes to problem solving. They think, okay, I can do it for my desk. I could read things or whatever it is. But you need to physically go to the problem and spend time there.

And I guess my background in Six Sigma and that sort of thing, I was sort of trained. You go to the shop floor to the problem and you look at the thing. So now you're able to define what the problem is. That's the first thing. And then you need to measure the problem. So it's like you define the problem, okay, great, I know that there's a problem here and it's roughly this thing. How big is this problem? So you define the problem and you measure it, and then you can say, okay, great. This problem is it's this big, or it's worth this much to us. Now I know how many resources or whatever it is that I can throw at this thing for it to be worthwhile. And then you analyze it. So you've defined it, you've measured it, now you need to do the analysis. Cool. What if we do this? And basically you need to infer what solutions can be. So you analyze, you infer what these solutions can be, and then you go into implement, you implement solutions, and then it's back to measure. So then you solutions, and then you go right back to this measurement step.

And basically that's the framework for problem solving. And so I would say if you have the ability to work on the business, you go to a problem solving framework like DMAIC or whatever it is, and then you use it, right? It works, right?

Fahd (56:43):

It work.

Andre (56:45):

It totally works. And so yeah, I always go back to here's a problem solving framework and write back to it. And then there's also, you can get into stuff like the four Ps of operational excellence and stuff like that. So anyways, I think there are a lot of systems out there. There are a lot of ways to solve problems,

Fahd (57:04):

But the really key thing is you got to pull yourself from being inside the business. You really got to get out of it so you can work on the problem. And then you've got to really, I really like what you're doing, what you're saying, but you got to go see it. You got to go watch it. You've got to go play with it. You got to go figure out what's happening. You

Andre (57:20):

Got to go talk to the people,  

Andre (57:23):

To what are you suffering with. I go, what are your pain points? What's not working for you? Tell me. Trust me. Tell me all the stuff. Tell me who's not doing what and this person's whatever it is. And then once I have that information, now I can do something with it, but ultimately they need to trust me as well. Give me the full detail that comes with trust.

Fahd (57:45):

I feel like that's really cool and it really aligns with that second key takeaway that you gave us earlier, which is around that you said, make decisions that are filled to discovery. Spend time discovering with the hypothesis, with some logic, implement, kind of test it. Don't just shoot from the hip either kind of that space. That's kind of what you had to do here with that. So that's really cool. Keep going.

Andre (58:12):

One other thing that I just add, excuse me quickly, is that was another time where I had to afterwards pull myself out of the detail,

Andre (58:23):


Andre (58:23):

It's like I built this thing and it was great for scaling, but now I knew the thing better than anybody else and it was coming from my email. And so naturally everybody's like, Hey, Andre, this, this, and that. And I knew all of the things, everything was in my email. And so it was like, now I'm back to being the expert on this thing. And when I need to go and do another thing or scale or whatever other problem I need to work on or focus on, I needed to learn how to take myself out of being the expert on this thing and getting other people to be the experts on this thing and move on and let go of that detail. But naturally, people come to me and they're still, Hey, there's this thing, or it's not working, or we want to add this thing, or whatever it is. And so just going back to there are times where you need to learn how to get out of the detail and move on and transition and hand things over to a team without it breaking the business. That's important. So anyways, that was one of the specific moments or periods in time where it was just a real challenge. It was like, I enjoyed it, I liked it, it was a thing that I built and ultimately I needed to go on and do something else. And so stepping back and letting other people break it and whatever else was important, but yeah, challenging.

Fahd (59:46):

Yeah. Yeah. That's really interesting is that as you built it, you became the expert, but then you had to then take it, give it to someone else, build a system where someone else so that you can go off. I think that's so true of founders is how often do we have founders in startups who become the experts in the thing, but then hold onto it for maybe too long and for them to scale,

Andre (01:00:08):

It's my baby. Yeah, totally.

Fahd (01:00:11):

Right. I like that. Okay, so you learned some of these lessons at Canopy Growth. Where does that journey take you from director of operations or director of supply chain?

Andre (01:00:22):

Yeah, so then ultimately was C O O, so chief operating Officer. And that was interesting. I would say I'm still fairly young guy, but I was obviously younger then Maybe some people would describe it as middle-aged or whatever. I don't know, but, but anyways, it was at that point in time, there were probably around 2000 people that reported into me. And so it was interesting. It was, again, stepping back, I can't be in the details anymore. And that's a challenge because naturally I want it to be,

Andre (01:00:58):

but people would ask me questions as if I still was or should be. And so that was a challenge. But then also it was a role where I'm interfacing with people all over the globe. We were operating in 10 to 12 countries at the time. There was a lot of stuff, and it was a lot of people and there was a lot of supply chain, and we were doing international logistics and I mean, we got cannabis into countries for the first time ever in, I think it's 10 countries, including the us. And so there was a lot of work that happened behind the scenes to do that. And that's something that I'll tell my grandkids. They'll probably be like, Andre's not cool. I'd be like, yeah, man,

Andre (01:01:46):

But that was really about, I think it was a different level that's about target setting, motivating a team and being able to take a step back. And it's really about working on the business that is purely working on the business and more so people, so I'm not getting in the way of people or my teammates or my direct reports. And it's more making sure that they have the support that they need, what do they need help with? Why are they struggling? Again, firing sometimes. That was the challenge, making sure that people moved on. And I really had to learn that there. That was the first time that it was like, shit, we have a big team. People do things that aren't good sometimes and you need to deal with that head on,

Andre (01:02:37):

and sometimes they're just not the right fit. And anyways, there was a world of HR that I had never experienced before that was fascinating, just a great learning experience. I mean, it was just a rollercoaster, if I could describe it, scaled really, really large. We got really big investments and there was a lot of hype in the industry or the space, and I think big

Fahd (01:03:03):

Targets, lots of pressure,

Andre (01:03:05):

Big targets, investor pressure. Everybody wants to see more of this, more of this. And anyways, there's just extreme learning that came with that. And one thing that I do want to go back to, I go back to my father passing, and I think about that, and I think that was traumatic, and it almost sounds selfish, but I wouldn't change a thing. It is strange. But that drove me to take these risks. It drove me to these experiences. It drove me to be the person that I'm today, and it's the reason why I had all of this learning. And so fundamentally, it might sound like a selfish thing to say, but it was the

Andre (01:03:55):

It was the catalyst. It was the thing that was like, Hey, go do this thing. And anyways, that's literally the reason why I'm the person that I'm today. So yeah, I wouldn't change a thing.

Fahd (01:04:08):

So that was the canopy growth journey, ended a little chaotically. It was a lot of change in a very quick period of time as history shows us and you kind of took off. Tell me about the period a little bit in between and then where you are today.

Andre (01:04:28):

Yeah, so I mean, a group of us moved on, let's say, right? And I think what was interesting is we actually collectively decided that we liked working with each other so much so that we wanted to do it again. And I think that that's meaningful or there's something special there.

Andre (01:04:50):

So anyways, I went back to Antigua. It was Covid. My original plan was I was going to travel for a year or two. I was working extremely hard and long hours, weekends, all this sort of stuff. I was going to take a year or two off and go travel the world, COVID hits and you can't do. I stuck inside. So I figured, okay, I'm going to go back home to Antigua, my mom is there, all this sort of stuff. And anyways, we rented a nice place and some of my friends came down, my girlfriend came down, and we spent about four months there. And so naturally when you're locked up in a place with, and my friends really brilliant people, and I'm not trying to say it's because of me or any of that stuff, just somehow I fell into friendships with people who are really, really great people. And so we started ideating, right? It was kind of strange,

Fahd (01:05:44):

Just naturally occurs when you put brilliant people together, that ideation

Andre (01:05:49):

Locked in the house because of Covid, right? And so what was basically the way that it would happen is I would have conversations with some of the ex canopy guys and we would start meeting on Thursdays for an hour just to shoot the shit. Let's just chat. What do we want to do? Or what do you want to do? Or what are you thinking? What

Andre (01:06:11):

Whatever. And anyways, we would have these weekly calls and then we would add another person or we would add another guest. I spoke to this guy, let me invite him to this call or whatever it is. And anyways, more and more people got added to the calls and we went through all sorts of industries. I mean, we went through graphite, we went through cultured meat, we went through renewables, all this stuff. Anyways, we landed on carbon markets because we felt like our experience at Canopy and more specifically in cannabis was relevant to carbon markets because it's, even though they've been around for a couple decades at this point, it still feels like it's extremely nascent

Andre (01:06:59):

and the regulatory complexity and uncertainty is extremely high.

Andre (01:07:05):

and so you have this gray area. So it's like if you can get in and navigate that gray space more rapidly or just better than somebody else, then you can do really well. And just cannabis, it was like you could do these two things. And the crux of what we wanted to do is something that was more impactful than what we did at Canopy. That was just the highest level thing. That was the driving force. And so naturally for me, it was like it had to be in sustainability as a whole. Growing up in the Caribbean, losing my home many times to hurricanes and just feeling like there was nothing else that I could do but work on this thing because my culture, my country, my family, all this sort of stuff depended on it.

Andre (01:07:52):

and I don't just mean that as like me. I mean that in general, right? Yes. We able to be working on this problem. And so naturally it was like if we could find something where we can deliver huge social impact and build a really meaningful business, that's where we want to be. And so carbon markets provided that framework for us. And so that's how Invert was born. And for me, the experience was really different because it was like I joined Canopy, there are people there and there was a culture and they were already sort of operating. You know what I mean? That whereas here it was like, man, I got to convince every single person that this is a good idea

Andre (01:08:33):

and that they want to join and work on this thing, dedicate a big part of their life to working on this concept with me. And that's a challenge because in my mind I'm like, this is new. I don't even know if I want to work on this thing yet.

Fahd (01:08:48):

I'm still figuring this out. Yeah,

Andre (01:08:49):

I'm still figuring out. But I mean, of course by the time I was serious about it, it was like, no, I'm a hundred percent in on this thing. This is what I'm going to dedicate my time to. And anyways, it was really about how do I communicate in such a way that everybody feels like they have to join this thing? This is literally the concept.

Andre (01:09:10):

they have to join this thing or they're an asshole.

Fahd (01:09:17):

You either join me, you're either in the team or in the way. That's it.

Andre (01:09:22):

That was literally it. I remember sitting there and I was writing notes and I would write notes and notes and notes about what I wanted to do. And the highest level premise was I got to build something based on sustainability, all this sort of stuff that if I pitch it to somebody and say, no, they're an asshole anyways,

Fahd (01:09:43):

They don't love the world.

Andre (01:09:46):

And anyways, the vision was, it got way more refined, obviously through time, but I mean being able to communicate a vision to people and getting them to buy in, and it's not just people, it's investors, it's clients. And then really just being able to take the rejection it canopy. It was sexy canopy. You're already one of the leaders or it's early days and it's a startup and you can fail or whatever, but they were still one of the top companies, whereas this is the space is being around for a while. We're a new company, we're trying to disrupt the space,

Andre (01:10:27):

and It's challenging. We're not instantly or we're not a leader or it is like we want to be and we need to communicate that vision. But getting people to buy into that thing and have this vision of what you want it to be is just looking back, I think extremely critical and making sure that you have that vision and it's a well articulated vision. It might slightly change, but it's like where you want to get to and the mission will change the road and all that stuff. And how you get there. You're going to go through rivers and walls and all this sort of stuff, but hopefully the vision doesn't change too much because thought through, and this is the vision, but the mission's going to change, and that mission is challenging. And anyways, I'll pause

Fahd (01:11:16):

There. No, no, I think that's phenomenal. It's so interesting to just hear you talk about it too, because I think your leadership practice completely changes from what you had to do, what canopy growth and what you have to do an invert, right? Your leadership practice goes from I have to build systems at scale, I have to build operations, I have to problem solve to, I now have to build a vision that can convince other people to join this bus because I don't have enough people on this bus. I need people to believe in the idea. And so your skillset has to shift. You're still going to need to be the problem solver eventually to build the business and all this stuff, but you've got to go and now build the vision and get the excitement and get people on board and get people aligned. And you have to build the culture from scratch. Now you know what you like and what you don't like, what works and what doesn't work. You've seen some of it. So now you have these hypotheses and these ideas over what actually makes a high performing organization

Andre (01:12:16):

And building that culture is challenging. It's not as easy as you think. It's like you walk and live it every day, but you need to talk about it. You need to talk about it over and over. And we have a no asshole rule. That's just something that we have and we want to enjoy what we do that's important to us. And so we really believe in enjoying what we do. But one of the things that I really want to touch on is going back to the rejection piece. You get way more nos than you get yeses at the beginning. And if you're not super passionate, if you're not driven, if you don't have that grit to sort of stick with it, it's never going to work for anyone. And so as the founder or one of the founders or whatever you want to call it, if you don't have that drive and the grit to stick with it, it's never going to work because you're going to get way more noss at the beginning than you're going to get yeses,

Andre (01:13:12):

but You will get some yeses if you have something right? If you have whatever, you will get some yeses, and those yeses become more frequent, right? Over time to become more frequent. And then you start seeing the wins, but you actually have to design those wins. You have to think about how do I set up strategically? How do I set up wins for the team along the way?


I can make this thing that's extremely difficult and it's going to take five years to get to and whatever else, and we don't have any wins between now and then. And people are just going to say, man, I want to win and we haven't won in five years. So it's like you need to set up these wins, these small wins for people along the way, and you actually have to design them into the way that you operate, right? Here are the small tangible things that are stretch, but we can get there. And anyways, that's a big part about starting something from scratch and designing for people to win within your framework.

Fahd (01:14:15):

What keeps the motivation? That's what keeps the progress, that keeps the interest. We have these wins moving forward. If you just feel like you're getting rejected and you're losing all the time, you're not going to want to keep playing.

Andre (01:14:25):

Yeah, you're not going to want to keep playing. And I think one of the biggest challenges as a founder and as a C E O is it's lonely. It's lonely, man. It's like you see more losses than everybody else sees, and you need to deal with that rejection, but you need to be the one that says, no, man, they're wrong. Or maybe they're right, but they're not the right fit.

Andre (01:14:53):

They're not right,

Andre (01:14:54):

Whatever. And you got to keep on driving forward. But it's lonely because there are times where it's like, man, you question it. It's like, this is challenging, this, I'm working so hard on this thing,

Andre (01:15:07):

I need to win. It doesn't feel like it's moving. I need to win.

Andre (01:15:10):

And you need a support system, right? It's not that I can't go, I mean, you do go and you share some things with certain people, but it's not like you go every day and you're like, Hey man, I'm dejected to the team. Things aren't going the way that I want, or whatever. I don't necessarily think that that's the best way to motivate people. I mean, I do think you should show empathy and some weakness and all that sort of stuff,

Andre (01:15:36):

But at the same time, you need to sometimes internalize some of the things because they didn't sign up to be ceo. They didn't sign up to take on all that stress, and they didn't sign up to be working weekends or whatever. So anyways, that's the role that I've been learning or trying to figure out how do I deal with rejection? I don't like rejection. I don't think anybody does.

Andre (01:16:00):

and then how do I have the right support system around me so that I'm not burning out? I have people to talk to. It's

Andre (01:16:07):

Like you don't want to give that down to your team. I mean, that's often why there are executives that have coaches or have mentors have advisors, right? Because it's like, I don't need someone to bitch to too, but I don't want to always bitch to my team when I'm frustrated about what's not working. I don't want that negative energy spewing to them, but I need someone to help me with everything that's going on up here and all that rejection, all that frustration, right?

Andre (01:16:34):

And the same is true for your family and friends. It's going to spill over to them too. And if your family's like, no, man, I don't want to hear about all that stressful stuff. I want

Fahd (01:16:43):

To hear about another perfect credit. Yeah,

Andre (01:16:46):

You go tell somebody else, tell your friends or whatever, your friends. But sometimes you want to tell your friends, but also sometimes you're like, man, I don't want to put my stress on them either. So at times it's figuring out what is the right way to deal with the stress and the pressure. You want to internalize a lot of things. You don't want to stress people out around you, but at the same time, that can get to you over a period of time. And so I like to play a lot of tennis.

Fahd (01:17:16):

Got to use the tennis. That's key.

Andre (01:17:18):

Yeah, exactly. And I'll tell you one thing that I advocate for, and I literally try to push this on everybody that I know is working out or physical activity, physical exercise is hands down the best thing that anybody can do,

Fahd (01:17:35):

Only thing that keeps us sane. Only thing, yeah.

Andre (01:17:38):

I'm telling you, man, when I meet people or if I'm catching up with old friends or whatever it is, are you working out? Are you physically working out? And if you're stressed, please go and do that. And if you tell me that you don't have time to do that, you need to reorganize your life. And anyways, this is one thing that I also learned at Canopy. I would try to go to the gym at the end of the day, and then I realized I wasn't going to the gym for months, and I felt like shit. I was stressed out, I was burning out all this stuff. And I realized I got to start the day with myself first. I got to focus on myself and make sure that I'm in a good spot, and then I can focus on everything else,

Andre (01:18:22):

Everyone else, everybody forward

Andre (01:18:23):

To everybody. Business is everything else.

Andre (01:18:26):

and so traditionally, or typically, I like to start every day by going to the gym. I work on myself. I try to be as healthy as I can. And I'm not trying to say that I'm like this role model or whatever it is, but if there's one thing that I could advocate for in leadership is focus on your physical health. It will help your mental health scientifically. It's proven to be just amazing for you. And it just helps with all of those other things. The support system can decrease in size, whatever else. So

Andre (01:18:58):


Andre (01:18:58):

One thing that I do want people to take away from this conversation. Physical health, mental health, all that stuff. Start with the physical, natural help with the mental. I

Fahd (01:19:08):

Love that. I love that. I love that. Well, Andre, this has been a phenomenal conversation. I think you've taken us through so many different personal life lessons and stories, but also insights around our leadership around moving past, trying to be the expert, but building systems, getting out of the way for your team so that you can help them actually working on the business, not just in it. That's that kind of move there. The decision-making, the problem solving, the discovery phases that you've mentioned and how you build the team, the team culture, both dealing with rejection as a C E O and learning to take care of yourself, but also how do you start something from scratch is the way you did getting people that you really like working with. I think that is such a key thing, and I see that when I'm working with you guys. I spend time with you is there's a genuine fondness to the group working together and building together, and there's this appreciation for each other's brilliance. And that makes such a difference. We're

Andre (01:20:05):

Aligned to the mission, very aligns to the mission, right?

Andre (01:20:09):

If you get people who are extremely aligned to mission, I think amazing things can happen.

Fahd (01:20:13):

Yeah, and that's I think what you folks got right with Invert, right? Is that you really focused on the mission because you've been playing with different products and different services and you're still iterating and pivoting and trying different things. But what's been consistent is this focus on the mission, this focus around helping with the environment, this focus around creating this carbon, improving the carbon credit market, and really getting more people involved in it, which is phenomenal. Andre, this has been awesome. Anything, any last thoughts and words for any of our listeners? This has been a joy for me to record. I think it'd be a wonderful episode for everyone to go through. I don't know if you have any last thoughts for us.

Andre (01:20:51):

No, I mean, last thoughts are, look, I think you can literally do anything that you put your mind to. I come from a small island developing state. I was born in Dominica, grew up in Antigua, developing countries, and I literally struggle with imposter syndrome every day, right? It's like I'm this island boy from the Caribbean and I'm trying to do business in whatever else. And so I really do want everybody to take that. You can literally do anything that you put your mind to. And aside from that, I just want to thank you for having me on the show. I really enjoy the conversation. I hope that people will find this valuable. I know they will. I look forward to meeting again and chatting with you in the

Fahd (01:21:37):

Future. Thank you for sharing your story. And it's truly quite inspirational. And the more I hear you speak, the journey you've been on, everything that you've been doing, and you do it with a smile, maybe there's those frustration moments and there's times that you get down on yourself. You always show up for people with a smile and with good energy. And I think that's,

Andre (01:21:56):

I try, man. I try.

Fahd (01:21:57):

That part's amazing. Well, thank you.

Andre (01:21:59):

Alright, cheers pad. Really cheers.

Fahd (01:22:01):

Oh, that was a fun episode with Andre. I've had the pleasure of working with Andre for a little while now, working with his team at Invert, being able to help them do some effective leadership development and team building. But seeing him in action, seeing him talk about his concepts around hypothesis testing, around building high performing teams and bringing in the best talent and building a culture was just awesome to see and to hear with him. So I hope you were able to take away some key nuggets, and thank you for listening and listening all the way through and really enjoying the conversation and enjoying the takeaways. But that's it then. Thank you for tuning into our episode. If you want the show notes and transcripts, you can find them as always in Unicorn labs.ca/podcast. If you like the content, be sure to rate it, subscribe, give us some feedback, email us, email me, fa unicorn labs.ca.

Tell me what you like. Tell me what you don't like. Tell me what you'd like to see more of and tell your fellow leaders and managers. I'd love to leave you with this. One last thought. The episode really took a moment to show how Andre started working on a business, a company that was very meaningful to him, that really lit him up and is able to tackle Lon one of the world's biggest problems, the climate crisis. And I'll just ask you, do you have a problem that you care about that deeply? Is there a world problem that you engage in, maybe not in your business, maybe outside of your business, maybe in some charity of philanthropy work, but do you have meaning in your work? And do you find that meaning? And if you do, how can you get others to join you on that journey? How can you point the direction and how can you build a team.

Subscribe Now