Questions from a University Student and my Perspective

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I recently had the honour of speaking at a mentorship dinner at Mount Royal University.

One of the graduating students followed up with some questions.  I’m not sure if I would classify myself as a mentor but I always try my best to help those inspiring to do better.  Below are the questions and (short) answers as I believe them to be worth sharing with any graduation student, active, student, or someone starting out in business.


Dennis:  What are you studying?  What are you passionate about and what have you had success at?  I don’t really need answers to those but the intersection of those are critical.  Your life story and how it lines up with what you are studying – continue to bet on those things.  Your strengths and your story combined with hard work, those are the ingredients to success.

There is nothing passive about building a business. I really don’t believe in any sort of passive source of income. Earning income takes work and you can never take your foot off the gas. The competition is always gunning for you and right behind them are your close associates and maybe even a few friends. I say this from experience. Everybody cheers on the way up but very few gather around on the way down. Keep your head up, work hard and be massively patient.

Student: Social Media Marketing, what is your opinion on this in terms of the demand and scope of this in Calgary over the next 10 years?

Dennis: I need more context answer this question accurately. If you’re referring to the social media space in Calgary then it’s a really big question. I would need to know what you mean by social media and what sector you’re interested or passionate or trained in?

Student: How do I establish a business here in Calgary? 

Dennis: Are you from Calgary?  Cause this all comes down to meeting people.  A lot of people.  Network, volunteer, and work then work some more.  Just get to know people.  Don’t try to sell anything but genuinely be the most interested person in other people rather than trying to be the most interesting person when you go to meetings or networking events

I rarely carry business cards and love asking questions about people, what they do, where they’re from and what drives them. Those that I’m especially interested in, I collect their card then ask to go for a quick lunch or coffee for a bit of direct mentorship. People that are experienced and really succeeding usually love sharing. It’s the insecure and not overly successful that don’t. 

Student: How do I know what businesses (clients) to target?

Dennis: Again this depends on what sector you’re interested in or passionate. Social media has a broad term really doesn’t mean anything. Social media for real estate or social media for oil and gas or social media for personal brand development.  You need to have a niche and be specific.

Student: How do I find customers?

Dennis: Have something that’s valuable and needed. Then match make this with those who need it and offer them solutions before they ask for them. Give them what they don’t know they need before the need it. 

Student: Essentially, how do I get started and set myself up for success with limited resources?

Dennis: Attitude is everything.  Combine it with the massive need to be very patient and persistent.  I call it micro steps toward success with macro patience.  Just about every successful company in the world started with nothing.  Being successful, compelling and helpful is the key. The most valuable asset in the world, I think, is being resourceful and able to solve problems for people and organizations.

Student: Real Estate – This is another area that I would like to get into in the long run (40 year scope).

Essentially, I would like to invest in rental properties(residential and commercial);

However, I currently do not have the funds. Therefore, I would like to consider wholesaling properties to start with.

Dennis: You need to have credit and you need to have cash to buy real estate. The whole zero down game is ridiculous. Right behind that is the rent to own idea. Nothing comes for free and if it’s too good to be true it always is.

Wishing you all the best with your studies, graduation and please know that graduating is really the springboard to all of the opportunity out here in the real world. The start of the race and the very best time to try as much as possible and be okay with failing. You’ve got your whole life to earn it back. 

The only thing you don’t want to risk is your reputation. Ever.

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