Meet the People Who Inspired the PROFIT 500

Steve Jobs, Napoleon and 50 Cent: Meet the entrepreneurs who inspire the leaders of Canada's Fastest-Growing Companies

Written by PROFIT staff

Greatness inspires greatness, and there’s ample evidence of that among this year’s PROFIT 500. When we asked the leaders of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies to reveal their entrepreneurial heroes, we received a truly impressive array of responses. Yes, there was quite a bit of common ground—the five most commonly cited role models were Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Bill Gates and “my dad”—but there were also some unexpected, and fascinating, suggestions. Here’s a list of some of our favourites:

Napoleon Bonaparte

“Recently, I have been spending a lot of time reading how Napoleon took over France and, basically, all of the known Western world at the time. Not quite your standard entrepreneur, but his use of different forms of strategy I find applicable.
—Kelly Candy, president, 3C Information Solutions Inc. (No. 445)

Samuel de Champlain

“For the extraordinary vision he had for developing a new world and the flexibility he used in trying new methods having access to only very limited resources. Truly Canada’s first entrepreneur!”
—Randall Litchfield, CEO, Inbox Marketer Corp. (No. 432)

Angus Reid

“He’s my father. He has great intuition in business situations and ruthless ability to strive for results. He’s always worried about what’s behind him and what can disrupt. He has tons of enthusiasm and energy about his business and legacy. There are many reasons to see my father as a hero, but most importantly he pioneered an industry that I’m looking to take to the next level.”
—Andrew Reid, president, founder and chief product officer, Vision Critical Communications Inc. (No. 281)

James Jerome Hill

“He was a 19th century railroad-builder and in many ways far ahead of his time in how he ran his businesses. He was a true visionary and leader who built the Great Northern Railroad without government subsidies.”—Ulrich Seufert, President, Seufert Transportation Systems Ltd. (No. 457)

Enzo Ferrari

“He was single-minded in the vision for his company. His goal was to race cars competitively at the highest level and built the entire company to that end. The cars he produced served only to fund his passion.”
—Walter Rhoddy, president, Rhoddy Design Inc. (No. 291)

George Lucas

“Along with the company he founded, Industrial Light & Magic. He wanted to make Star Wars trilogy, and had to invent the solutions as he went.”
—Barry Dodd, CEO, ParetoLogic Inc. (No. 425)

Curtis Jackson (a.k.a 50 Cent)

“He has been able to leverage his popularity to grow various companies outside the scope of his entertainment career. Curtis realizes that lifestyle challenges the traditional demographic-focused marketing strategies, eliminating the limitations of territory specifics.”
—Jonathan Morello, CEO, president and founder, Backstage Commerce Inc. (No. 24)

Vince Lombardi

“The coach of the Green Bay Packers in the 1960s was not an entrepreneur in the true sense of the word, but he was an individual that was dedicated to his craft of leadership and absolute about the value of working together as a team. He had passion for his profession and never wavered in his determination to get everything out of an individual to support their role in the greater team. He was maybe a little too authoritarian in his leadership approach by today’s standards, but that just showed he was human and in the end, his team followed him unequivocally and without question to great achievement and success.”
—Chris Campbell, co-founder and COO, CT Innovation Inc. (No. 491)

My old boss

“I last worked for him 15 years ago. He did not believe in customer loyalty, quality products, or his staff’s well-being. He went out of business. He is my role model because he is a cautionary tale of what not to do. I reflect on what he did, and how that turned out for him and act accordingly in my business.”
—Michael Orloff, president and CEO, Broadview Networks Inc. (No. 426)

My Big Brother (through Big Brothers and Big Sisters)

“When I was a kid I grew up without an old man and I had this young guy as my Big Brother who owned a restaurant in Guelph, Ont. At a young age I was exposed to the trials and tribulations of a young guy in the restaurant world.”
—Troy Ferguson, president and CEO, Redrock Camps Inc. (No. 74)

Mick Jagger

“He is always present in the Rolling Stones, and he has constantly reinvented himself. He’s never gone out of style and it’s not an accident. Like Madonna, he doesn’t get stuck in the times. He’s not a trendsetter, he’s a trend follower and he’s smart about it.”
—Abe Wellman, president, Eglinton Avenue Maintenance Ltd. (No. 76)

Oliver Twist

“If you’re familiar with Charles Dickens’ story, on the first page of the book when he talks about how Oliver’s mother was delivering him at birth, there was a complication, and he almost died. But because Oliver had to fight to survive and fight to breathe because otherwise he’d be dead, he had that fight in him, he survived and came into this world and grew up alive. My philosophy is fight for survival, work hard, do everything you can to stay above water. What is here could be gone tomorrow, you just have to work hard every day to survive.”
—Mark Moness, president, Quarterback Transportation Inc. (No. 383)

John D. Rockefeller

“I find several things quite amazing about his story.  He start with the equivalent of a $4,000 investment and his net worth when he died would be approximately $600 to $800 billion by today’s numbers. But that is not what is most amazing about him. Two other things come to mind. One, he grew his business Standard Oil by convincing other entrepreneurs to join him, so he was a leader of leaders.  Second, his wealth was so vast that when he put it towards philanthropic use, he was able to make monumental advancements in health care, education, the arts and more. His donations single-handedly eradicated yellow fever off the earth. He built the University of Chicago, funded the Museum of Modern Art and, through his son, saved the Redwood Forest.”
—Jory Lamb, president, VistaVu Solutions Inc. (No. 359)

No one

“I have never read a single book on business (and I have no intention to ever read one).  I think that you are born and enter your first job with or without the ability to start and run a firm. If you don’t, no model will improve this much.”
—Don Pinchin, president, Pinchin Environmental (No. 495)

Click here for the complete 2014 PROFIT 500

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com