Success comes to those who are patient, persistent and who have a clear purpose in mind. It also helps to work hard and have a great team to support you.
These themes kept surfacing in the presentations offered by three remarkable young business leaders who addressed guests at the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce lunch Thursday.
The speakers had all at one time been recognized in the Business in Vancouver magazine's coveted top 40 under 40 list.
Michael Gokturk, the CEO of Payfirma Corp., and Anita Huberman, Surrey Board of Trade CEO, were both on the 2011 list while Abbotsford Shawn Neuman, founder of web design firm Domain7 Solutions Inc., was on the 2007 list.
Neuman, 39, believes that pursing success can be illusory while identifying and following a purpose in life is what often leads to true satisfaction.
"Grounding yourself in purpose, I think, is an all-important thing to do," said Neuman, who was born in Kathmandu, Nepal, where his socially-conscious parents were involved in small business development.
He opened with a quote that said success alone can't be sought, but it "must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended consequence of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself."
That principal has guided him, rather successfully, in his endeavours for the past 15 years.
At 25, Neumann founded the web design firm Domain7 Solutions Inc. He joined the board of directors of Envision Financial the following year and remains a board member today.
Domain7 made it through the dot-com crash unscathed. It has helped companies such as MTV, Palliser Furniture and JYSK Canada, as well as a number of non-profit agencies, to build websites or to tweak existing ones.
Neumann intends to make Domain7 the leading web-based marketing and solutions provider in Western Canada. He has challenged his 17 employees to top the 40 per cent year-over-year growth the company has enjoyed since 2004.
Whatever the endeavour, it is not a solitary journey.
All three talked about the importance of bringing talented, like-minded people on board.
Gokturk, 36, emphasized choosing the right people with which to partner - family or friends are not always the best choice. He learned the lesson the hard way.
Gokturk explained how two years ago he lost control of Versapay, the electronic payment service company he founded in 2005.
When he wanted to further his vision for the company, he felt trapped and restrained.
"I kind of felt like I was in prison," he said. "[Eventually] the board pushed me out. It was one of the darkest days of my life, and one of the best days of my life."
Partners should share your vision, and possess traits that complement yours, he said, and be ready to take part in healthy debate.
"Surround yourself with people who are better than you," he said.
Family or friends don't always make the grade. Gokturk re-established himself with Payfirma Corporation, which provides a range of electronic payment processing and e-commerce services, including a new mobile-payment system that turns iPhones, iPads or BlackBerrys into credit card readers.
Gokturk involves everyone in his 40-person company, from the janitor to secretary, in healthy debate, and is enjoying the process much more. They've just launched a pay app, and "it's so awesome," he said. The company now partners with Apple Inc. and Greyhound.
Huberman, 38, knows the value of working with the right people, and building up the team.
As Surrey Board of Trade CEO in B.C.'s second most populous city, she oversees eight staff, 400 volunteers and a budget of nearly $1 million.
"Surround yourself with people who will enrich your business or organization," she said. "Staff and volunteers are such an important part of the organization. They are part of the recipe that makes our organization so great."
Huberman practically grew up with the SBT - she began working there part-time as a tourism clerk when she was a 19-year-old Simon Fraser University student.
Like Neuman and Gokturk, Huberman pushes herself and her co-workers to look ahead, to offer something new.
With Surrey expected to be the largest city in B.C. in the next decade, the SBT is working to establish relationships with the International Chamber of Commerce and to open an ICC office itself, she said.
Like her colleagues, she has found it was vital to "be yourself."
"It's so important to have your own philosophy and work ethics."