Cultural competency will be key for communication and relationship building in business.
Brad Fauteux is a business leader with more than 16 years of senior management and executive-level experience, with specific expertise in the areas of service delivery, organizational design, business development, relationship management, and financial management.
Brad earned his Bachelor’s degree from Wilfrid Laurier University in 1995 and a Management Certificate from the American Management Association International in 1999.
In 2009, he served as the Director and Acting Superintendent at Private Career Colleges Branch/MTCU, leading an overall organizational redesign of the branch.
Brad then became the Managing Director of Ontario Parks and the Ministry of Natural Resources in Canada, where he was responsible for 2,500 employees and managed a $90 million operating budget and a $1.5B capital portfolio. In this position, he also worked with more than 300 separate intergovernmental, community, Indigenous and private sector partners to serve over 10 million clients annually.
Today, Brad runs a consulting practice that provides services in the areas of leadership development, organizational design, business development, and relationship and financial management.
He also provides strategic guidance for the Credit Valley Trail Strategy in Ontario and the Conservation Areas Master Strategy for Credit Valley Conservation Authority.
Where did the idea for your consulting firm come from?
The consulting firm is under my name, Brad Fauteux. It’s not particularly creative, but I have a unique last name so that’s helpful in terms of recognition.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
It’s important for me to have some structure and be scheduled. As someone working for themselves, I have to have a certain amount of structure, so that I make good use of my time. That was always positive for me in the corporate world, so it’s certainly positive for me as a consultant on my own.
My day starts early because I’m one person and I want to be able to get back to anything that’s come in. It’s my intention to spend a good part of the morning doing idea generation, usually when I’m walking the dog or being active physically.
Then I work through whatever happens to be in that daily structure through the morning. I try to schedule meetings in the afternoon when people seem to be more available. Mornings seem to be about more production and creativity and afternoons more about business development.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I need natural environments, I need to be outside. In order to feel fully creative, I need to have an immersive, natural environment. So again, that’s me being physically active outside. Most of the time, it’s what sets me on the path of thinking creatively about solutions to various problems.
Most of my business comes from actually approaching others that I know that have a particular problem and telling them ‘I am pretty sure I can help solve that for you and here’s how’. It’s not the most traditional development where people are coming to me for help. It seems to be more often that I’m going to them and telling them, ‘I know you have this particular issue and I’m pretty sure I can help you with it’.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Social innovation and social entrepreneurship really excite me. The idea that people are developing businesses on their own or using an established organization to do social innovation really excites me a lot. I feel like it’s like an extension of the public service sector and something that will continue to grow and do good.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Getting up early in the morning. I like to get my day started early.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be more patient. Listen better. Listen more actively. But, more than anything, try not to be the smartest guy in the room. Spend more time harvesting the ideas from other people and less time trying to solve problems yourself.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
That climate change is overwhelmingly an economic problem. People look at environmental arguments from any number of angles, but the most significant impact in our lifetime will be climate change’s economic impact. Climate change will affect us economically and those people lowest on the ladder economically will be the most impacted. This is just starting to be part of the narrative, but I’ve argued this for a number of years.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Network. Spend time expanding your network of people who can inspire you, mentor you, teach you things, and help you grow. Over and over again, there’s no time wasted having lunch or coffee with someone and taking care of that network.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Reaching out into your network and trying to actively identify areas where you can have an impact. A lot of people wait for something to come out on some sort of vendor list that tells them an organization needs this or that service.
Instead of having a hundred of organizations, pick ten and meet with all ten and tell them, ‘from what I can see, you need to do this better and here’s how I can help you.’ It’s a little bit more of an aggressive approach, but for me it’s been terrific.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Mine was really more of a technical failure. I really didn’t give enough thought to storage and security for client information that I was working with. So, as more of a sole proprietor, I really wasn’t thoughtful about the fact that I would have a fair bit of information in a cloud account that belonged to me. When Yahoo had a big hack a while ago, I ended up unwittingly putting client information at risk. It’s something you have to think about. If you don’t have a whole pile of resources to put toward security, it doesn’t absolve you of responsibility. You really have to think about the information you collect and be thoughtful about how you keep it safe.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers? (this should be an actual idea for a business, not business advice)
Someone is going to make a whole lot of money one day being a consultant in the area of cultural competency. Underserved corporations are going to realize that they need to learn about their clients, not just from the data they get but from the cultures they come from. In my work, I have really gained an understanding of how important cultural competency is.
It’s that ability to bridge the gap between rural and urban, between settler and indigenous, between new Canadian and long-term Canadian, so to speak. Someone is going to do really well with that, I wish it was me.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I would split that answer with breakfast, lunch, and coffee. It was a day of networking and I learned more that day and got more value from that $100 than I probably did for any smoking of money that I have spent on other days.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Pretty simple. Microsoft OneNote is great for me. It’s pretty simple but it’s a great tool for me.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I would read “The First Ninety Days”. It’s a book about being an executive undertaking the challenge of their first ninety days in an organization. I would look at it from the lens of the first one hundred and eighty days because ninety days isn’t really enough time. But, it has so many good insights on how you can evaluate what you are seeing in front of you. It was meant to be seen as a, ‘hey, you’re becoming a new CEO and you’re in an organization, and how do you put your stamp on things’. But for me, it’s far more about being able to evaluate what’s in front of you. There are so many good tools and lessons in there.
What is your favorite quote?
My favorite quote is by Woodrow Wilson, who has any number of views that I am not crazy about, to be honest. But the quote is, “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand. ” I just like the idea that everybody is responsible for making things better. Regardless of what you do, there is always that potential, that opportunity for things to get better.
- Try to start your day early if you can.
- Network like crazy to build knowledge and community.
- Cultural competency will be key for communication and relationship building in business.