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Business Success

I was recently asked by a gal that ran tuja wellness for me (Kyla Jacobs) what I thought the three keys were to business success. So after stressing and pontificating over it for a month, here are the three (which morphed into ten) keys for me.


Hard work

  • I was never the smartest person in the room, so working hard has always been part of my MO
  • my typical workday was 6 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., but it never felt like a long day as I was passionate about my work
  • I don’t know any successful people that haven’t given it the ole college effort


Commercial intensity

  • this was a term that was coined by the founder (Larry Ruskin) of the company (Elbow River Marketing) that I spent the last 21 years of my career at
  • the basic premise was to approach every situation with the intent of getting a deal done faster than the competition
  • business doesn’t just happen, you need to make it happen



  • build a team, or work with a team, of like-minded people that strive towards common goals
  • this makes work and life so much more enjoyable instead of grinding through a career simply for a paycheck


Know your passions and your limitations

  • if you recognize what you are passionate about and what you are not good at, then it becomes easier to stay motivated and fill in the gaps with people that have the expertise that you do not
  • as the saying goes, ‘what I know is what I don’t know’
  • it’s very challenging, especially for young people, to figure out their passions, so my advice is to talk to people in the business areas that you are most interested in to gain first-hand knowledge



  • this is important in all facets of life
  • the ability to understand what motivates other people and deliver the value that makes their life easier is a crucial talent
  • showing respect and accommodating different viewpoints is invaluable
  • it also makes the job more fun when your customers become your friends


Learn the business

  • it’s essential to be a student of the game
  • the more you learn about how a business operates, the more likely you are to know how your role fits into the overall picture
  • it’s vital to stay in tune with the latest industry intel


Monitoring change

  • my favorite saying is ‘the only constant is change’
  • the minute you think the world is static, you may as well exit stage door left
  • everything in life is fluid, and the quicker you can adjust, the more value you will add



  • the sooner you pick out some mentors that can provide guidance, the quicker you will learn the business
  • it has always surprised me how willing that most people are to share their knowledge if you ask in a respectful way
  • one of the best decisions I made when I took over as President of Elbow River was to hire a corporate coach who provided invaluable guidance (I am forever indebted to Chris Niles of BalancePoint Partners, who is now a good friend)
  • I always try to take the time to mentor others, as this was so important for my journey


Informal board of directors

  • this was some great advice that Larry provided me with
  • the concept is that when you have an important decision to make, and you don’t have expertise in that area, tap into people who are knowledgeable on that particular topic
  • I also use this in my everyday life as I do not enjoy researching vehicles, electronics, etc., but I have lots of friends that do
  • be aware that you may get conflicting information, and you will need your intuition/gut to make the final decision


Health/wellness and family/friends

  • none of the above matters if you don’t take care of yourself and your loved ones
  • it’s not always easy to find a reasonable balance, but it’s hugely important to focus on this
  • I’m forever grateful to have a network of friends that I can lean on and a supportive family, including my wife, who does a fantastic job as the CEO of our household
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