David Barrick is a public administrator, consultant, leader, and entrepreneur who has almost two decades of public and private administration experience. Priding himself on innovation and collaboration, he builds partnerships that have lasting impacts on communities and organisations. His adaptability, insight and desire to make a positive difference led him to public service, and to Chief Administrative Officer positions for municipalities in Ontario, Canada.
That same dedication and drive to make a positive difference led him to found and lead a number of businesses, including LookGreenFirst.com, a national online green directory that facilitates public-private partnerships for the benefit of the environment.
David has tirelessly dedicated himself to acquiring the skills and knowledge required to lead in a rapidly changing world. Cultural enrichment and the lure of innovation and experience led him to Tokyo, Japan early in his career, where he was TOEIC/TOEFL instructor, business English instructor. That early exposure to global business practices and cultural differences have helped guide his path to service, entrepreneurship, and the continual pursuit of education.
His experience in the public and private sectors have made him an indispensable asset to organisations experiencing rapid growth and change, when balancing budgets and overseeing large teams require a specialised consultant.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
I was raised in a family that has always valued public service as well as the entrepreneurial spirit. I had a desire from an early age to help my community and also find ways to bring innovation to the forefront; to facilitate real and sustainable change in the ways businesses and the public sector operate. I’ve learned from both and have used the knowledge I gleaned in all of my positions.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
So, I’m cognizant that the recent pandemic has significantly fuelled stress and anxiety in the workplace and that has, rightly so, put a greater emphasis on mental health as well as healthy work-life balances. I am highly productive and ensure my team is as well but that means genuinely caring and taking into account their personal well-being along the way. People are more productive when they are happy about what they are doing through meaningful work and balance. I try not to book meetings too early in the morning but rather allow people to get settled in, not feel rushed, but rather prepared and empowered. Once things click and people are truly aligned I power through on all cylinders. I’ve learned I need a few quiet minutes in the morning to get myself prepared for the day ahead. I really think that is key to my productivity. My life is a balance of quiet and chaos, but the chaos is strangely beautiful. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I think every day is a gift and try to live even the most challenging days with a sense of thankfulness.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Research, great people, implementation, review and feedback all while being nimble. One really shouldn’t just throw spaghetti at the wall and hope for the best, not in any capacity in the public or private sectors. An idea becomes a plan, then a plan shared with key stakeholders, and—together—we bring it to fruition. If problems arise, we face them as a team, circle the wagons, and work toward the best solution.
What’s one trend that excites you?
There aren’t too many good things that came out of the global pandemic, but I am excited that more people are able to embrace remote work and have a better work-life balance, thanks to saying goodbye to long commutes. I’m a family man, so I think it’s important for families to be able to maximise their quality time together.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I see the big picture and break it down to manageable sections until an objective can be achieved. I find that many people are slanted more toward big picture or little picture thinking. I ensure both are explored and create alignment toward achieving overarching goals and objectives.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Embrace the adventure of life. I reflect now and my life perspective, my life in general, would be far different if I hadn’t accepted the opportunity to work in Tokyo, Japan. That experience opened my eyes to the world, to the abundance of opportunities that are available out there. It made me simultaneously realise how small we are, but what a difference we can make if we work together.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Canadian winters aren’t that bad. I’ve found that Canadians are in the minority of people in the world who think that Canadian winters aren’t terrible. I guess maybe we are just hardy people.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I continually look for and see opportunities. The beauty of leadership, once you’re fully in it, is that you can take all the knowledge you are acquiring and use it on other projects. The skillset you are developing is highly transferable and sets you up for success in other pursuits.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Make sure your idea is viable and valuable: the product/service should make life easier for the people who use it. Also, you should be able to get the idea off the ground without breaking the bank. Be mindful of costs, value your work and be aware of opportunities and always striving to make things better.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Coming up with an idea is almost the easiest part of entrepreneurship. Budgeting is a strong suit for me, so that was never a challenge. I think, for me, the greatest struggle early on was marketing. I was determined to go it alone, but busy with running the business. Establishing that consistency with marketing and branding was tough and I eventually had to hire outside expertise. It’s a lesson I wish I would have learned sooner.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think niche databases, like the one I created for national green companies, are a safe bet. Painless access to information will continue to be a growing field. With big data coming into the mix, it will be even more important to distil that information and make it useful for the people who need it.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Ok, I updated a light fixture in my house. It seems small but I do regular improvements like this all the time because, like life, it’s these seemingly innocuous incremental changes every day that lead to big positive change over time.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Trello has been a game changer. It helps manage everyday tasks and the tasks I have for business, including major projects. It’s really like an amazing digital personal assistant: no task is really too big or too small.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Masters of the Word: How Media Shaped History from the Alphabet to the Internet” by William Bernstein. The book explains how communication technologies have altered society. It’s fascinating and puts all these recent advancements into perspective.
What is your favorite quote?
“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard…” – JFK.
- My upbringing shaped me into who I am and the very foundation of things I value: public service, helping others, learning, being innovative and ensuring sustainability.
- There are always unanticipated challenges in entrepreneurship, but it’s important to be nimble and recognize those as learning opportunities – those experiences add value later
- Embrace life, travel, seek out other perspectives, strive to better the quality of life for yourself, others and future generations.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.