Mathieu Chantelois

Surround yourself with hard working, talented people and learn from them


Mathieu Chantelois is an innovative entrepreneurial and creative leader. After 20 years in the corporate world, Mathieu decided to dedicate his knowledge and expertise to his passion for helping others in the nonprofit sector. The award-winning journalist currently serves as the Vice President of Marketing and Development at the Boys and Girls Club of Canada.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada is a national youth-serving organization that began in Saint John, NB in 1900. The organization’s goal is to work with families and other adults to offer children and youths the opportunities to develop the skills, knowledge and values they seek to become fulfilled individuals. I’m one of the proud 600+ employees.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I wake up early to hit my CrossFit studio. As soon as I get to work, I set 3-5 daily goals. I don’t write a long list of 100 things to get done before noon — it never works. I split my time between my staff and achieving my goals. I need the face time with my staff to get me going. I stay as far away as possible from my personal phone and remove all distractions from office, but also allow myself time for breaks and rewards. On a daily basis I drive approximately two hours so I take that time to stay in touch with my family and friends. I try to eat well and go to bed early.

How do you bring ideas to life?

If you stop dreaming, you’re just sleeping. I’m a big daydreamer and I’m rarely short of ideas. Some of the most important work started off as a simple idea which was somehow overlooked by everyone. I try to remain curious so I ask a lot of questions. You’d be amazed by how many ideas will pop up if you remain curious 24/7. My notebook is never far as I write everything down. I ask the opinion of my peers, mentors, friends, and life partner about everything. I often review my new ideas to make sure they are aligned with our vision and objectives. As a team, we create a blueprint to achieve them and measure success.

What’s one trend that excites you?

One of my favorite expressions is: “There is no such thing as standing still; you are either moving forward or backward.” We may feel as though we are standing still, but things are constantly shifting around us. In the non-profit sector, the ever-changing social media landscape excites me: we are constantly learning how to enhance our capacity to tell our stories digitally and leverage online donations. Things are changing drastically — even cryptocurrency is coming to philanthropy!

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I’m extremely focused. I keep an eye on the big picture while making sure we are executing each part of the bigger plan effectively.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Pay more attention to advice from adults. Or, pay less attention to advice from adults.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

The water in your tap is the same water that comes out of the refrigerator faucet.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Thank people for their hard work. I feel blessed to work with so many hard working and creative people. I make sure they know it.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

I learned really quickly that I can’t do everything by myself. I try to surround myself with rock stars specialized in what they do as the trend is toward higher-skilled, specialized talent.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I said yes to way too many projects at the same time – simply because they were “cool” projects and I was afraid to miss the boat. I learned that I needed to focus in order to remain 100 percent committed and to achieve objectives. It’s hard to say no sometimes, but it’s necessary.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

We have a lot of non-profit organizations to choose from. Join the one that you believe in the most and help them diversify their revenues by bringing your own skills and ideas.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I finally fixed my broken cell phone screen. It was long overdue.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I’m a big fan of social media analytics services. They help me keep track on our messages and campaigns so they have the impact that makes a difference.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

It’s definitely Teaming, by Amy C. Edmonston. She was one of my professors at Harvard Business School where I attended the Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management program. This essay is a guide to the critical but often mismanaged process of collaboration. It’s a must on how organizations learns, innovate and compete in the knowledge economy.

What is your favorite quote?

My motto is a famous quote from Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can, or you can’t – you’re right.”

Key Learnings:

  • Stay focused
  • Surround yourself with hard working, talented people and learn from them
  • Encourage your own creativity, you never know what will come from it