Yuri Fulmer is an Australian-born Canadian entrepreneur and philanthropist living in Vancouver, British Columbia. He has been hustling and building businesses since his early twenties. It all started when he was faced with the unexpected opportunity to buy a local franchise while working for A&W. Yuri has grown that single A&W franchise into dozens, as well as managed, developed, and invested in several other businesses. He also founded his company, Fulmer & Company, to continue doing what he does best — helping businesses grow. Among his awards are Canada’s Top Forty Under 40, British Columbia Community Achievement Award, Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, 2012 for his contribution to Canadian communities, and Business in Vancouver Living Legends.
We will uncover Yuri’s journey to success in the latest episode. The highlight includes:
- Who and what inspired his journey to success?
- How did the unexpected turn of events lead him to become a world-class entrepreneur?
- What are some things that he learned along the way?
- What are the bits of advice that Yuri shared in terms of business, life, and in mental health?
- What coming to Yuri’s space in the next six to 12 months?
Listen to how Yuri Fulmer unfolds his remarkable story. Listen to the full episode here:
- Apple iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/underdog/id1534385651
- Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/6FbSDu0aNtuxAEiderUAfB
- Website: https://theunderdogshow.com/
Catch up with Yuri on his social links here:
Click To Read The Transcript
Yuri Fulmer Shares His Remarkable Journey as an Entrepreneur to Top Venture Capitalist and Private Equity Leader
Hi, I’m Kevin Harrington, an original Shark from the hit television show Shark Tank and you’re listening to the underdog podcast.
Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of underdog today. I have an incredible guest here with me Yuri, how are you, my friend?
I’m fantastic. Thanks, Pam, thanks for having me around.
Thank you so much for being here, my friend, you are a rock star in so many realms. And I cannot wait to get into your story because I hear you build a whole bunch of businesses in your 20s. And like now just continuing to amplify and do amazing things for the world. So I can’t wait to get into your story, my friend. So I’m going to start it off with my favorite question, which is what inspired you on your journey to where you are today?
You know, I had a bit of an accidental journey, to be honest. Like I stumbled into business, I went on the path to being a lawyer and that didn’t pan out. Then I was going to be an executive and that didn’t pan out. And I totally tripped into being an entrepreneur. And I found the first sort of spot of my happiness. I realized you could take that in any direction you wanted to take that every other career sort of had guardrails. Like those things that they when you’re a kid and you go bowling, they put in the gutter. So you can’t fully in every career has those things. But entrepreneurship has no guardrails. So the world is whatever you want to create it to be your opportunities, whatever you want to create it to be in.
You can surround yourself with whoever you want to be surrounded by. When you have a job, none of those things are true for you, you might have a bit of control. But you don’t have that control. So that was really my inspiration was the ability to surround myself with the people I wanted to be surrounded by. And that’s what keeps me going today. I love the people I work with, I get this privilege of working with amazing entrepreneurs who want to grow businesses. A lot of them are growing businesses, they’re going to help change the world as well. And that’s just before breakfast, they got up to build a business, change the world. Change the way that they run their teams, and they haven’t had eggs yet. That’s what I get to do and that’s what keeps me going.
I absolutely love that you’re and I have a question for you. Because whenever someone stumbles into entrepreneurship, I always say there has to be something in childhood that connected at some point in time. So question for you. What did you want to be when you grew up,
I wanted to be a lawyer, my whole childhood. Like really weirdly, like when I was like, eight, nine, I would hold trials with my teddy bears. And I’d convict them of crimes and put them in jail and lock them up. But all sorts of weird stuff, like I was lawyer bound, I used to watch lawyer shows. I’m old enough to remember when law was a TV show, you know, I read law books. Like I read books about trials, I wanted to be a lawyer so badly. And you know what I got to university and realise I never want to be a lawyer as long as I do.
But the thing is, lawyers are entrepreneurs. So technically, technically,
I guess they are. But back to what I was just saying about you’ve got to work in such a confined environment. I gotta admit, I left university after about a year and a half year in three quarters. I liked going to university, I just didn’t enjoy the class exam studying. So just the thought of going on to do that didn’t work for me. Sort of the articling being a law, a slave, and a law firm for a bunch of years. None of that did anything for me. And at the end of the day, if I got to be a partner in a big law firm that still wasn’t doing it for me. It was just way more fun when I was trying my teddy bears at age nine and convicting that was way more fun. That was the best part of being alive.
I love that. And so growing up, what were some of your biggest inspirations, who or what I guess you could say?
Yeah, I’ve got a bit of a blur, to be honest with you. Like, I don’t know that I had a super happy childhood. I had lovely parents, and they’re great people, and they were education-focused. And I mean I grew up as a white Anglo-Saxon, Protestant man. So I grew up with as much privilege as he gets in this world. But I went to an all-boys private school, and you know, I wasn’t a good fit there. So back to constrained environments. I wasn’t a good fit in that environment. When I graduated grade 12, I grew up in Australia, I moved to France on a bit of a whim. It changed my world. The first white settler hit Australia, just over 200 years ago. And I went to France and lived in a building that was 400 years old.
So you realize that the world is way bigger than the world that you had experienced. And that to me was the beginning that the world was always going to be bigger than my experience, whatever. I thought I knew there was way more out there that you just had to find. And that’s still true, for each of us. That’s true every day. The world is bigger than you think it is. The world is bigger than you can conceive of. There are more ideas, the new path, and there’s more thinking going out there than you can conceive of. For me, that was again, the biggest motivator with this amazing world of stuff out there that I’d never heard of.
And a bunch of years ago I moved in that box, you move every time you move, right, that’s a box. It’s got like your high school report card sets, gotcha. Like life-saving badge from Girl Guides, when you are nine, whatever, all that stuff that’s in that one box. And every time you move you dutifully pick it up, and you say, I don’t trust this to the movers, I’m going to carry it myself. You put it in your car, and you’re like your seatbelt in, and your driver 20 that case. So I’ve moved around the world my whole life, I still have this box.
Last time I moved, I actually opened it. And there was this book in there, they gave us in like grade 11 or 12. And it was the book of all the jobs you could have, and what you had to do to get them. So if you wanted to be a doctor or lawyer or a secretary, event and accountant. Whatever you want it to be in life, it was what you had to do to get there. You needed these grades, you need to go to university to get this bed, whatever you needed to do. So I’m sitting on my steps in my new house flipping this book, realizing I have never had a job in this book.
I’ve been working for 30 years, not once have I had a job that’s in this book. And other than my few friends who are actually doctors, lawyers account, like, real day jobs, most of the people I know. And I’m 47. Most of the people I know don’t have a job that’s in this book. But that’s what they tell you when you’re 17 that this is everything that you can do. That’s it. That is the extent of the universe in this 200-page book. Now choose from amongst that. And we don’t just do that to kids. We do that in life, we tell people choose from amongst these things. That’s not how the world works.
We’re blessed to live in this era where this stuff happening today. Look at people’s job titles on LinkedIn, they think, what is it that you do like that is a great title. But I have no idea what you do. So I’m googling people’s job titles saying what is it you do for a living? So I’ve never heard of that. And it sure wasn’t in this book that I got 30 years ago. So what can we all do now? Like, and that’s the Pay It Forward right now? How do we, and you’ve got this great thought leadership going? How do we help people think bigger, and think about things they’ve never thought up. And take these take the safety glasses. Or whatever they’ve got on so that they look at bigger things?
Right, amen. 100 100,000%, and see that you mentioned a couple of things that are a lot of parallels between our worlds. Those constraints, like I’d be in school, and I’m like, literally talking to my math teacher. Here’s where I start to talk some crap. I’m like, dead serious question. I asked her, like, so when am I actually ever going to use this in life? This was in high school. And she’s like, this is talking about like calculus and like, all these things. And she’s like, Oh, well, you just need to know how this is like our class. I was like, I’m asking you, what is the real-life application of what it is that we’re doing right now? She couldn’t answer me. She’s like, well, one day, you’re not going to have a calculator everywhere you go.
Every day I got one in my hand.
It’s so wild that like when you were mentioning, you looked at that book. And it’s like, your life is supposed to be lived within whatever’s in those 200 pages, which is so wild to me. And I feel like that’s why there’s been so much disconnect in the world. Because a lot of people feel like if they don’t go to college. If they don’t follow that path. If they don’t follow what’s in that book, society’s norms, there’s somehow a failure.
Because their life is not linear. And as you and I know, life is completely not linear. I mean, even even my life story, it’s like, I went here that I went there. And then I went sideways, then I went backward, then I went forward, then I went. It’s like, what a lot of people don’t realize is, this is the reality that shapes us. I love that you were mentioning the constraints and how things went very differently for you.
I’m not doing anything in my life I ever dreamed. I’d be doing what I have a mastery I remember asking him grade 11 10 12 politely. Because we were in an all-boys private school. I said, why are we doing this? Why do I need to learn this? And in fairness, he didn’t have an answer. So he said, Son, it’s just mental agility. That’s why you need to do it mental agility. Years later, I went got my pilot’s license on a bit of a whim. And I realized what we’d done back then, is actually useful. You needed to work out sort of trajectory of takeoff and landing and a plane I thought, the problem wasn’t that he was trying to teach us something that at the time didn’t have any relevance to us, which is a bit boring.
The problem was, he didn’t know where it could be useful to a bunch of we were boys. But if he’d known that and said boys to any of you, any of you interested in planes and flying. Most of us would have been but he didn’t know either. So he didn’t know what he didn’t own. You can only teach what you know. So you know, again, and bless his heart. He was a nice guy and a good teacher. But again, you’re limited by the people you’re surrounded by. And if that’s who is teaching you today, that’s the limit to your knowledge to
And that’s why they say, never be the smartest person in the room.
Yeah, I mean, that’s easy for me because this the Boss pretty low. But before we started, the beauty of what you do and what you do is we get to surround ourselves with the people we choose to surround ourselves with. You know, if you’re smart enough you choose way smarter way clever way, savvy people than you.
Absolutely. I mean, I did an interview with Kevin Harrington from Shark Tank. And I was like, Kevin, like, what’s been your biggest pieces of success that you like. You invest in these companies and you’re, we’re gonna get to yours as well. I’m sure because I want to know your success factors in the companies that you choose to invest in. But one of his things was like, Oh, I surrounded myself with geniuses, I didn’t know anything. I just knew how to surround myself with geniuses in their respective fields. He’s like, That’s why I became successful. So the to your point that you’re limited to who you surround yourself by 100% 100%? Oh, my goodness. So after high school, so you went to college. You realised as we went to college first for the attorney to become a lawyer?
No, I was doing like the faculty of it changed about every other month. So no, I did psychology for a while, I did commerce for a while, I did English for a while, I did foreign languages for a while. And International, this is all in the space of a year and a half. So I didn’t jump to the dean’s office with getting sick of seeing me with that. Oh, I’ve got this new vision of who I want to be Can I change? So I think my transcript is about seven pages of withdraws, and then a C minus at the end. But university lasts about a year and three-quarters of zigzag journey through every faculty and department in the university pretty well.
Then it was spring and I had no idea what I wanted to do. And I thought I’m wasting time and money. If I don’t know what I want to do, why am I doing this? Why don’t I just sort of drop out in the spring and I’ll sort of find myself by the fall. And I’ll re-enroll for the fall when I know what I want to be when I grew up. Well, that was 29 years ago, I haven’t quite re-enrolled yet, but it’s on my list. One work I want to be in and there’ll be a university for that.
That’s amazing. So what was your first step when you stepped out in your trajectory,
I needed a job because bless her heart, I was living with my mom at the time, and my mom had one rule. You can live with me for free, and like a one charger rent, and I’ll feed you for free. But if you want to be money, you’d better than that yourself. And if you want money for anything fun, you better than that yourself. But you can live here for free. I’ll feature for free on the condition. You’re a full-time student that day, you’re not a full-time student. I’ll tell you what the rent is. And I’ll tell you what your food bill is. So fair enough. I think that’s actually a pretty smart rope. So the day I decided not to be a full-time student pretty well, the rent was due the next day.
So I had to go and find a job. So I went found a job with a fast-food company in Canada called NW. And I found myself in work like I loved it work is one of those places where generally appreciate this isn’t everybody’s story of work. But generally, it’s a meritocracy. If you sweep faster than the next kid, you kind of become the sweeping supervisor. Then you manage five sweepers better than the next guy. And suddenly the sweeping manager like, generally, again, I appreciate. Some of us have come with privileges that others don’t have and have opportunity that doesn’t have all that appreciate. Generally, there’s a bit of a meritocracy to work.
That’s what I experienced was worked a bit harder and a bit longer and a bit faster than the next kid. And you kind of get promoted, and I got a bit addicted to work. I enjoyed working with people, I was given a bit of management responsibility, super young, I totally did not deserve it. But some people, bless their hearts put trust in me or they weren’t drunk one of the two. But I got a chance to lead other people and learn from a lot of mistakes early on. And I had bosses who kind of looked the other way. When I made mistakes and accepted that I’d self-correct and teach myself and pick myself up.
But they didn’t feel the need to point out my mistakes to me. They noted that I’d acknowledge that made a mistake and let it go. Which is what I needed at a time I was a young guy with a huge ego. Frankly, I was a bit of a brat, but I loved it. And I spent sort of three, four years in the work world. And then the company I was working for at the time decided to franchise a bunch of its corporate locations. Which would have meant I was either out of a job or I could buy a franchise location. That’s what I mean by accidental entrepreneur. It never occurred to me to be in business for myself.
I’d always think I was trying to manage faster than the next manager to become a director. And direct faster than the next director to become a vice president. That was the path I thought I was and never occurred to me to work for myself but kind of got a bit forced into it. I guess it was either looking for a job or do this thing, runs your own business didn’t really know what that meant. Didn’t have a context for it. Like I didn’t really know anybody who ran a business but thought, Okay, I’ll give this a try. You know, when you’re young, you kind of don’t I don’t know that I do it. Don’t do it.
Now, if that makes sense, I was young and I was naive. I had nothing to lose. You give it a shot. You know you don’t know what failure could look like. So I gave it a try. And that became the rest of my life. Again, that was that sort of door to opportunity opens. I don’t know if I was super smart to jump in the door and get on the rocket ship. But to quote somebody else, I shouldn’t ask what seat was available, I just jumped in. Maybe it was naive, and maybe it was a bit blind. And maybe it was a bit dense at the time, but jumped on. It’s kind of been the trajectory of the rest of my life.
I love that. And I love that you stepped in. And you just said yes to the business.
You know, if there’s any advice that whenever I’m asked for advice by people who were younger. And don’t realize, I don’t have much good advice to offer. But you know, that kind of kindly asked, because I got a bit of grey hair. But the one thing I say like, there’s no shortage of people in your life, who will say no to you. No shortage, no matter what good idea you have. Most people will say, that’s a bad idea. Or you shouldn’t do it. Everybody’s limited. There. Back to where we started this conversation. Everybody’s got their own experience. And if you’re trying to do something that isn’t in somebody else’s experience. The risk aversion and most people will say, Well, you shouldn’t do that, either.
Because it’s not in my experience, I don’t know what to do with that. I’m going to say no, the challenge is to listen to yourself when you think it’s a yes. And sort of tune out the No. Because really, at that moment, you sort of worry that if everybody is saying no. And I do it, then everybody’s going to say I told you. So actually, nobody’s your real friends aren’t going to say they are going to say that to you. You know, maybe the people in your life who you shouldn’t be in your life might do that. But most people, if something goes wrong, will actually pick you up and help you get back on track. But those opportunity moments, don’t last long.
The window is short, they come along when they come along. They don’t come along, when you want them, they don’t come along, when you’re ready. They don’t come along when the skies blue, and the birds are chirping, and you got nothing else to do that day. And they don’t sort of carry a banner in advance and say, Hey, Pam, there’s a great opportunity here for you. It’s going to come along in about three months, do you want to get ready for it? You know, can you prepare everything in your life. And settle down some stuff that doesn’t work that way it shows up. It bangs on your door really loudly at three in the morning. It says you’ve got five minutes to put your clothes on and get in, or it’s gone.
That’s how a real opportunity works come and go real quick comes at inconvenient times when you’ve got so much else on that you can’t. That’s when opportunity shows up. And you have a moment of truth where you look at yourself and say, I can either take this to the committee of everybody where the vote will be no. Or I can take it to the committee of myself and decide whether the vote is yes or no. And that’s that moment of truth. If people ask what, to me separates entrepreneurs from the rest of the good folks in this universe. These entrepreneurs at that moment, go to the committee of themselves. They say yes, and everybody else goes to the Committee of the world and says No, and that’s an okay, decision. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Because you’ll in fact, never know what would have happened if you said yes. So it’s an easy decision to make. Because it’s not like you watch somebody else jump on the opportunity that you just doesn’t work that way. It’s kind of weird, and it morphs. You never really know what would have happened. All you know, is your life continued. And it continued. Okay. So you say, Well, a good thing. I didn’t try that thing back 17 years ago.
Because you know, things might not have worked out for me. But you want to know that the entrepreneur at that moment, voted yes. jumped on. And maybe it didn’t work out for them. And they went and got a day job and whatever they had to do to get by. But the successful entrepreneur at some point said yes to that moment.
That’s what defines them. Is that the comedian themselves saying? Yes,
Amen. That’s one of my favorite things. That’s honestly one of my favorite quotes ever just say yes. Don’t think about it. Just go. So think about it. Just don’t and I love what you mentioned about don’t go to the committee of everyone else. Especially if you’re consulting with people that have never been down that route. They’re not going to know how to respond to you.
You’re asking people to give you an opinion looks like it’s like if you need surgery. Going to your neighbor, who’s a greengrocer, and saying, hey, I wonder where should they make the incision. Or it doesn’t mean, I’ll give you an opinion, but they don’t know. Bless their hearts. They’re trying to help you. But they don’t know, to your point. You can’t go to the Committee of the uninformed to get an informed decision.
Amen. 100,000% 100,000%. And I love and I love, love, love, love, love that you said yes. You’re like you said yes to owning a business that you knew. Well, you kind of knew about. But I’m just saying like, that’s a whole nother that’s a whole nother realm. Eddie and W Yeah,
I mean, I was lucky, I did know a bit about running the business. So I knew about how to operate if that makes sense. If you know how to run a business, and you had to sort of do what I was told and follow the bouncy ball on the karaoke machine, and you had to do that. But you know, the bigger part of running a business, that’s a trial and error thing. And honestly, I get the blessing of talking to entrepreneurs all day, every day.
Anybody who tells you that they went and did a course on entrepreneurship or they talked to people about it. Set them up for success as an entrepreneur that you have no idea all you do is get through the day. And you’ll learn from it and you get up the next day. You do a bit better and you get up the next day and you do a bit better. Nothing prepares you for this trial by fire.
Really is your I just remember like people, they’re like No, no way. Pam, this hasn’t happened. I’m like, Oh, let me tell you. The first three to five years of entrepreneurship, like you said, trial by fire, and you have to keep yourself afloat somehow. I remember because I was going to school, then I had my restaurants. And then I had my real estate development. And I just remember, like, I would forget when I would write certain checks, and I wouldn’t budget appropriately. Like it was a mess. My numbers were a mess. So I was overdrafting, left and right. I was like, there was a point in time where like, that was my middle name. Like it happens. Like, it’s just like, like you said, Anyone who says they haven’t, you know that, oh, Everything’s peachy.
There is no way you are full of it because entrepreneurship is back up against the wall. The thing that’s really hard about entrepreneurship is like when you do admit that your back up a wall like that you feel like a failure. I know, because I’ve been there. And I was so like, the anxiety, I felt like a failure that I felt inside. And I needed to talk to my coaches and my mentors, and my peers and all of that, who understood. Because without that, I probably would have sunk, which is what I think a lot of entrepreneurs do.
They hold it all in, and then they think that they’re supposed to launch and be perfect. It’s like, this reality, right? How about you Yuri, What were some of the biggest challenges in kind of operating the business? As you said, You’ve been in it and been told what to do and know what to do. But then when you actually became owner, it shifted. And so you were actually the owner and operator. So what were some of the lessons that you learned and some of the challenges that you experienced along the way?
Well, mine was a bit like Joe was like, I had very little money to get going, like my mum, bless her heart, lend me some money. So the Bank of mum was sort of my first big investment. You know, I remember lying in bed at night at two o’clock in the morning doing math. Like if we make a bank deposit by 5 pm, then payroll will clear at midnight. But if we don’t make the bank deposit by 5 pm, payroll wasn’t clear. So you’re making those decisions. You’re doing that math all the time, they’re making sure you that just that half a step ahead of whatever’s coming.
And I remember like you said, at the time thing, I’m a huge failure. Like, I’m barely able to make payroll. Then a few years ago, I read Phil Knight’s book about founding Nike shooter, and I remember him saying that until the day. I’m paraphrasing, I might get it slightly wrong. But he said until the day Nike went public at whatever, multibillion-dollar valuation. He said we were essentially insolvent until the day we went public, I can’t remember I think was a $20 billion valuation. And he said that you live on the niche. Businesses live on the edge as they grow. There’s no way to grow without sort of continually pushing the envelope. Whether it’s you’re borrowing more money. Whether it’s you’re reinvesting in the business, not taking a salary.
Pushing people to work harder and do more jobs than perhaps they signed up for. I mean, that’s the growth story of almost every company I know. And it’s hard work. It’s hard on the founder who’s trying to do it on their own. I think most founders keep it into exactly what you said, I feel like a failure. So don’t want to tell everybody, I’m a failure. God forbid, the people who work for me realize I’m a failure, and they pack up and want to go and work for somebody else. But God forbid, they realize how close we are to the edge and out. Maybe their paycheck is half a bank deposit away from bouncing, so they’ll pack up and leave. And so you don’t enlist anybody’s help or support. So you really try and go it alone.
And again, you don’t know anything. So going alone is the worst path because you don’t know anything. You know, again, I’ve been doing business for myself for 25 years. If I had anything that I would go back and do differently. It would be to engage people in the challenges and opportunities. It’s easy to engage people in the opportunities, you know, the sky’s the limit, we’re going to reach out gazillion dollars. It’s like all that good fun stuff, mission statements, vision that like all that fun stuff. Easy to get people to talk about. Founders love to talk about that stuff. It’s all optimistic and all sounds good. It looks good on posters on the wall. And you can put on your website and give everybody a coffee mug with the new mission set.
Like it all feels great. But to go to people and say, You know what I need to tell you how tight things are. What can we do around here to try and help with that? And I remember a silly one. Back in the day when we were growing at record speed, we’re adding businesses every week. I remember I opened an office supply cupboard and literally office supplies fell out. Like there was so much stuff in there. You open the door and like stuff just flew out at you. And I remember thinking Hang on a sec like we are like three hours from not making payroll. Like we literally are making bank deposits like on the day in order to clip payroll that night. But these supply cupboards like full of waste. We don’t need all of this stuff here.
What did we do this for? And then I realized because I’m the only person who knows how close to the edge we are. These people bless their hearts. We’re ordering office supplies, so we never ran out. They were trying to help like a week later, we put in an incentive which was for every dollar we saved in office supplies this year over last year. We’d give the office staff 10% And I think we ended up writing a $20,000 bonus check to the staff. Like we saved a ridiculous amount because everybody ran around. Everybody’s printer was set to color print and colour prints, 28 cents and black and whites two cents. So suddenly people are running around the office telling me you’re you can’t print in color.
Do you know how expensive it is to print in color? I like going to my computer and changing my settings. So I’m not even allowed to print in color. We used to have like pretty pink and white and green paper clips. Somebody said, Well, those are seven times more expensive. And I like a box of those. It’s $3. And a box of just metal paper clips is 60 cents. Like why are we buying these expensive? I’m thinking Where were you people only a year ago. But that’s my fault, right? That’s not their fault. They were getting pretty paper clips. You know, if money is everywhere? Well, why not get pretty paper clips $3.60 30 to 50 difference. Do 40 difference.
But the minute you say to people, Hey, I’ve got a problem. Or I’ve got an opportunity for you to participate in suddenly everybody’s there to help you. And again, I’ve had my time over again, would have been to engage people earlier and say, hey, look, here’s the situation. We’ve grown a million miles an hour here like we borrowed a lot of money in order to grow the growth creates opportunity for people. But it also creates this bit of an anchor dragon behind us for a while. What can we all do to pitch in the pool this anchor with us? So it doesn’t pull us backward, but keeps us going forward?
Like what can we all do? And you know, if I’d done that I had smart people. They would have worked out how to put the anchor in the boat and put an engine off the back end and move the ship faster. Like I’d have been better off. But my ego wouldn’t let me do that. My ego was born. Me Tarzan, I know everything. You know, I can’t show cracks that on me. That was done.
Yeah, no, it’s a journey, even for me like to even talk about to talk about the weaknesses. It was the most painful thing in the world for me. Like, you know, because we’re taught that vulnerability is a weakness and not a strength. 100% Oh, my goodness, you’re I love your story. And now when you transition from the restaurant world into the venture capital world. How did that all bridge together? I’m interested to hear how that shaped out because your trajectory is amazing. Absolutely.
So I was in. We had three different sort of restaurant businesses, we had a bunch of Aw, franchises that we still have today. We had a steakhouse chain or western Canadian steakhouse chain. And we had a bunch of Pizza Hut franchises. So somebody bought the steakhouse chain, and somebody else bought the Pizza Huts. And so I was in my mid-30s, you know, I had a little pile of money from the sale of both of those. Not enough money to retire on, you know, not enough money to do anything too wild and crazy. But I had some money. Now I had time because the 2000 employees that were in those businesses, were working for somebody else. Our office went from 30, down to three.
So I had time not enough to do in Yuri’s day and a little parliament. Okay, what do I do with the rest of my life? I’m 35. Like, I got to maybe I don’t go back to university. What do I do, somebody gave me this advice, which I’ve religiously done every year or two since then. Which are you make full lists, the list of things that you love, and the list of things that you hate. The list of things that you rock at, and the list of things that you suck at. You take the list of things that you hate and the list of the things you suck at, and you put them aside. And you take the list of the things you love, and the things that you rock out.
And you put those two together and say, What do I do? What’s in this? It’s like doing a SWAT analysis. You put your strength and your opportunity together, what’s the opportunity? And what am I really good at? Same here? What are the things I love doing? things I rock at doing? You put that together and say, what is that? Like, what’s the, for me? 35? I was saying, what’s the job in that? Like what’s the future in that, and I realized that things I really love doing. I love working with entrepreneurial leaders. I love working on the strategy of business.
I love looking sort of at the long horizon in business. Then if I took the list of things I hate back from the side, I hate being in the details, I hate being in the weeds. And I hate managing big teams of people. There are things like performance reviews, I know people need performance reviews, but I hate writing them. I hate sitting in them, I hate giving them, I hate talking about them again, I appreciate people need them and want them. But I just don’t want to do them or be involved in so knowing your own limitations. Knowing the things you hate, and that you’re not good at. And I don’t think I was particularly good CEO either.
So if I like sort of the strategy, and I like working with entrepreneurial teams, and I like looking at the long horizon. And I like thinking about the future that became venture capital for me. I get to talk to a lot of amazing entrepreneurs, I get to listen to their vision for the future. I get to listen to how they want to build their teams listen to. How they want to build the strategy around their business. And they get to sort of wager that they’ve got it right, that became the rest of my life. Every couple of years, I don’t take the last set of lists, I start them fresh, and I still make those four lists and just test them. Where I’m going is aligned with the things I think I’m good at and the things I love doing.
And then I tested against the list of things that I hate to make sure there aren’t there’s always a few things you hate doing everything. You can’t, nothing’s perfect. You don’t get 100% of the things you love and zero things you hate. But you want to test that? Are there too many things I hate in what I do? If there are, can I hire people to do those? Or can I outsource them? That was my sort of turning point if that makes sense. And that’s what became the venture capital piece.
That’s so cool. I love the concept of those four lists.
I’ve shared that with a lot of people over the years. And again, it’s not mine that somebody gave me the gift of that. It’s funny because every now and then I’ll put something on somebody’s desk. You see the corner and realize they’ve got a list that starts with things I love. So I think hopefully, you can, we can all spread that word. There’s a poetic beauty in writing down the things that you love, and the things that you rock at. And there’s a cathartic release in writing down, this is the stuff I hate. This is the stuff I suck at. You don’t have to share it with anybody out to put it on the internet. You don’t have to make it your homepage on your website or your backdrop on LinkedIn.
Do any of that just for yourself, just writing it down on a piece of paper, you know what, I’m gonna let this go I suck at these things. And I don’t want to be any better at them. You know, everybody talks about fixing their weaknesses, why? You get to an age where you say, You know what I am? Who I am, I suck at a bunch of these things. I could spend a tonne of time taking what is a weakness and making it neutral. I’m never going to be great at something I’m terrible at today. Best I can do is be okay at it. Or I could take something I’m quite good at and become exceptional that same amount of effort. But why wouldn’t I do the second over the first whereas we all sit there?
And this is what one of the things I hate about performance reviews is it tells you all the things that you need to correct. Like, why would I bother doing that? Tell me the things I’m good at. And I’ll get better at those. And when you find somebody else to do the things I suck at right? Like, give them to somebody else in this team who might enjoy those things. But sitting every quarter telling me that I need to improve the things I’m bad at a waste of oxygen, I have an idea
An energy to it’s like why not focus on the things that you’re awesome at that you love. Get better at those, Absolutely. I learn something new every day. So that’s something that I’m going to do today and make sure that everything’s in alignment. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t right.
Only to remind us. We all need those moments. You know, I have a friend who every year on January 1, does his personal net worth statement. And I said well, what do you mean, you’ve got so many zeros in your personal net worth man. It doesn’t make any difference. He’s like, Yeah, but it’s a moment to take stock. And he said if you don’t set moments in your life to take stock. Then you never do and you never celebrate. Like we’re all bad at celebrating our own successes, or most of us are bad at celebrating our own successes.
So you know whether it’s writing lists of things we’ve put out or celebrating the progress we’ve made. Or I’ve got kids who celebrate when the line on the doorframe goes up because they’ve got taller. Can we all get some joy in that job in our own equivalent, I got a bit tall.
I love that. I absolutely love celebrating success and taking stock. That’s also extremely important. Because so often, especially entrepreneurs, we’re always looking ahead and we’re always looking ahead. And it’s like you kind of forget how far you’ve come. Because you’re so enveloped in what’s next that you kind of forget to enjoy what’s here right now.
Yeah, and we will think that our journey is not going as fast as somebody else’s journey. Somebody else is doing it better, faster, stronger, longer, deeper, better, greener blue. Or whatever it is that they’re doing than we are. So we’ve got to catch up with them. We’re all on our own journey, not on somebody else’s journey.
Absolutely. And you’re in the venture capital world. It’s such a fascinating and amazing world to me. Because I love entrepreneurs, I love businesses, I love logistics. What are some common myths, I guess that you would like to bust in that realm today? Or like common misconceptions or something? And then also, what kind of are the biggest success factors that you look for when you invest in a company? So that would be cool to hear?
You know, I think everybody sort of sees venture capital as a bit of a lottery, you have no control over your success. As you put a bunch of bets down a little bit like going to Vegas and sitting at the roulette table. Where you just put a bunch of bets all over the board, and you hope it lands on black 27 or whatever it is. It’s certainly higher risk, but it’s not gambling if that makes sense. So everybody’s got a well you invest in tend to have one success. Or I don’t know anybody who plays by those kinds of ratios. Every company we invest in, we believe will be successful.
You know, we have not had a company and adventure book. Not to say everything has been wildly successful. We haven’t had a failure. And I don’t think that’s because we’re super smart. But I think we’re cautious, I think we do our homework. I think we think things through and I think we stick to discipline so that that’s worked for us. But this whole myth of you know, one of your companies grows 20 times and eight, grow two times and to fail. Whatever those numbers are that I keep reading about. I don’t know anybody who plays by that math, that’s certainly not what I see out there.
I think as well that everybody sort of, everybody’s got a Facebook story where somebody painted a wall on Facebook in the early days. They walked away with options that are now worth a gajillion dollars. Okay, I don’t know anybody who’s been that lucky. I’m sure somebody was once, most companies grow modestly. Some companies don’t grow much. A few companies grow exponentially. So you want to try and find the companies that grow exponentially or at least find the companies that grow modestly. So you’re trying to work in that what we look for. Our discipline is we try to find companies that have about a million dollars in revenue. And that can be you had a million dollars last year. Well, last month was at 6000.
So you’re on pace to do about a million dollars. And we’d like to see that revenue comes from people you’re not related to it would be great to see about 10 employees. The basis for that is, you know, can you begin to build its kind of founder begin to build a team? Can they begin to think about their org charts? and motivate people? Can they hire the right people, can they retain people can they build a culture. And again, preferably those 10 people don’t have the same last name as the founder. We’d like to see a founder who’s kind of all in, and whatever that means for that person.
That doesn’t necessarily mean financially or lead. But they’ve got to be at least time all in. So this has to be the thing for them, they have to get up thinking about it could have been thinking about it. You know, I hate to say it, go to the shower, go to the washroom thinking about it. This has got to be the one true love for now, not forever, but for now. Got to be their passion project, the thing that they really want to see succeed.
What Would Yuri’s Older Self Tell His Younger Self
That’s amazing. And through your experience in the VC world, you’re in. I mean, this could be personal. This could be business, this could be really anything. But this is one of my favorite questions, which is, you know, what would your older self tell your younger self based on what you know now. I know you’ve dropped so many gems throughout the interview. But that’s something that either you can get give both business or professional?
Well, mine would be to be kind of, I think I was, I reflect on the Yuri in his 20s. I was pretty intolerant. By that I mean, I didn’t put up with much, I was pretty inflexible. And I know I was arrogant. And I think the learning as you get older is that that kindness goes a long way. It makes you feel better, as the person being kind. It sure makes the people around. You feel better, and it builds a stronger world. So I think if I had the chance to talk to my 25-year-old self. I think I might have had to sort of give myself a bit of a whack on the noggin. To tell me to be kinder, but that’s what it would be kind
Oh that and what advice would you give to an entrepreneur who’s a startup or aspiring to build their business. To somehow one day scale it through a VC firm or really, really anything? It’s their dream? What would you? What would your recommendation be to them?
Yes, the first thing is yes. If you believe in it, and you’re passionate about the answer is yes. Do it! be realistic, the number of pitches, we see where the number ends in a billion in five years. It’s sort of eight out of 10, eight out of 10 businesses don’t end in a billion dollars. Be realistic back to again, modestly successful is better than unsuccessful. Or better than a constant fight with your shareholders. Because you’re not delivering on what you promised. Try and be shareholder-friendly. Bring in shareholders because they believe in you. And believe in where you’re going. And you believe where you go. So don’t lie about what you think the opportunity is. Don’t exaggerate, be optimistic, but don’t exaggerate if that makes sense.
Everybody wants you to be confident and optimistic. But Don’t exaggerate. Don’t tell us things that aren’t going to prove to be true or that you’re not sure are going to prove to be true. Just be clear and honest. You want people on your rocket ship, who are volunteers, not conscripts, and not prisoners. If you know what I mean, don’t take prisoners with you, because there’ll be looking to get off your ship as fast as they can. And at the worst time, and they’ll get off loudly and they tend to jump off to get like prisoners they will get off together. Because the breakout won’t leave you a pretty rocket ship. You know to fly, get people who want to be there who understand why they are on the same mission you are going on.
The same place you are the same objectives share good news and bad news. As you and I have discussed today that there’s no magic here. The path is not going to be rosy the whole time, the direction is not up all of the time. Nobody expects that. If all you tell people is this good story. People become very suspicious. We know it’s not true. We know there are obstacles we know things are going wrong. Tell us what they are. Maybe we can help. Maybe we can’t pull appreciate the honesty.
Absolutely. I love that you’re I love that. Thank you so much for sharing that. And now my friend What’s up in your world in the next six to 12 months, what’s new, what’s happening?
Yeah, you know coming out of you know, the last two years have been rough COVID has not Been anybody’s friend. Whether it was financially a difficult time for business or whether it was a financially lucrative time for business. And we’ve had a bit of both, we’ve had companies were covered with big financial. Windfall where COVID was not a friend, universally, it hasn’t been a friend of teams, and the people in the business. And we’re seeing mental health cracks in teams that cause a lot at the end would personally concern. Because we care about these people and care about their emotional well-being and their families and with concern for the teams around. So I’d say, I don’t want to sound like a downer.
I think the next six to 12 months for CEOs’ care, their top priority should be the mental health of the team. And asking the tough questions, not just sort of sitting at a meeting and saying, Is everybody okay, good? Let’s move on with our agenda. But what are you building into your, your culture that makes it acceptable for people? So you know, what, actually, I’m not okay. I’m not saying I’m going to not be okay, forever. But I’m saying today when you ask, I’m not okay. And I need help. What are you doing as a leader? Whether you’re the CEO or a department leader? Are you the supervisor of people sweeping? What are you doing to make it okay for somebody to come to work and say, I’m actually not okay.
I think that’s what we need to worry about. You know, we know that everybody’s reevaluating theirs, what they call work. So they’re reevaluating the job, they have the RE evaluating where they do it. They’re re evaluating the company that works for. You know, a lot of people found different work through COVID. And maybe they liked it, maybe they liked the flexibility of what they’re doing. If you’re running a company that needs people to report to work for some amount of time, what are you doing to make that appeal? I don’t think kegs of beer or ping pong tables, that they’re not going to cut it. It’s what is the culture you’ve built? Like, you can’t make people come to work with things, you make people come to work. Because they want to be part of a team who’s at work.
So what are you doing to make your team want to be at work? Then each member wants to be part of that team? And to come to work and whether they do that virtually or in person? But what are you doing to make that team thrive? So I think the next six to 12 months is the if I’m a business leader. I’d say focus less on where’s the company going and focus more on where’s your team going? I think the companies that do that will find really strong teams ready to boom, six to 12 months from now. And those that don’t will be wondering what happened to their otherwise successful pre-COVID company.
Very interesting that there’s a massive distinction now. And that’s what I’m hearing as well, the mental health situation. And like everything was COVID just shifted the whole game with everything. So I appreciate that you shed some light on that at a high level here. Because it’s true it’s another pandemic of its own, if you will,
It is I mean if I’m being candid, I’m tired. You know, it’s been two years of supporting teams and supporting leaders. To be their best and make difficult decisions to push through when there weren’t enough employees. And when employees got sick, and when employees were frightened when employees’ families got sick. And where employees couldn’t see their families. When employees were working from their one-bedroom home with their spouse and toddler and dog in the background. You know, I remember being on a zoom early with an employee and they said, there’s a real echo, you know, where are you? he wouldn’t tell me? I said, Are you okay, what’s wrong? he changed his camera angle, and I realized he was sitting on his toilet seat.
Because his bathroom was the only quiet room and his one-bedroom condo and his wife was sitting on their bed, working from home. And the child was sort of doing schoolwork in the tiny living room, and I remember saying, I’m sorry like I feel for you. And he said, Look, period, don’t feel for me says I have work and home. But let’s feel for the people who might have neither.
So that’s easily said and generous of him and say that. But we’ve all experienced something through this, and it’s okay to acknowledge was challenging. Others may have had it worse. And for sure, you know, I can I speak from a place of privilege to say, I’m tired and I’m fatigued. But I know others have had it way worse. That doesn’t change the fact I’m tired and fatigued. And we all need to acknowledge where we stand, right and how we feel today.
100% 100% of the world needs a Reset. So what’s going to be your reset today? You know, I love it. Thank you so much. I mean, it’s just like, that was beautiful. That was absolutely beautiful. I appreciate your honesty and like just everything about you. I respect so much what you built, who you are. And the leader that you are for you and your people, the businesses, the entrepreneurs, and everybody that you influence. And it’s just it’s truly amazing. But now you’ve got to let everyone know where to find you and your awesomeness, my friend.
Well, we’re headquartered in Vancouver, fulmerandco.com. So, my name my phone number. My email is all on the website so we’re not hiding behind anybody. Feel free to reach out coffee-free online chats free. Happy to chat with great entrepreneurs doing great things. Anytime anybody,
You are amazing, my friend, thank you so, so much for being here today. So that’s it for today’s episode of underdog. Catch us next week, always dropping on Thursdays. And remember, if you’re interested in real estate or want to learn how to create more money and magic in your life, check out meetwithpamela.com and let’s chat sending you so so much love.
Tune in to the episode to hear the rest of my incredible interview with the amazing Yuri Fulmer.
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The Underdog Podcast host is none other than Pamela Bardhi. She’s rocking the Real Estate Realm and has dedicated her life as a Life Coach. She is also Forbes Real Estate Council. To know more about Pam, check out the following:
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