Welcome to Mission Critical
Mission Critical is a weekly podcast hosted by Editor-in-Chief Lance Chung that focuses on the shared pursuit of success (however you define it) and, most importantly, the values that drive today’s most inspiring leaders. It’s about the stuff that’s bigger than the bottom line—it’s about purpose and impact.
Picking up where Bay Street Bull’s print edition leaves off, you’ll be able to hear directly from today’s most respected leaders and distill key learnings that pertain to each person’s area of expertise. From innovative entrepreneurs to cultural game-changers, each episode will introduce you to someone new who is defining their community and redefining the status quo.
While all of our guests are very different from each other, the question at the end of the day remains the same: what’s your mission?
Mission Critical will be available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and anywhere you listen to podcasts with new episodes released every Thursday starting October 1st. Listen to the trailer below.
E21 Donté Colley: How Can We Protect Our Joy?
Finding and harnessing happiness was an effort that many tasked people themselves with throughout 2020. At the forefront of this campaign? Influencer and social media’s unofficial Chief Joy Officer, Donté Colley. Known for his infectious TiKTok videos full of encouragement and signature dance moves, Donté established his platform (which now boasts over one million followers) to bring more positivity to people’s lives.
While he may count celebrities like Ariana Grande and Beyonce as fans, his true power is his ability to put his audience at ease while tackling topics like mental health and self-love. It is this journey of affirmation that he invites his followers on daily that has made Colley a beacon of joy for those in need of a positive boost.
On today’s episode, I chat with Donte, who is featured in our Bay Street Bull 30X30 guide, about cultivating and protecting your joy.
E20 Priyanka (Drag Queen): What Can Drag Queens Teach Us About Being the Ultimate Entrepreneur?
It can be objectively stated that drag queens are masters of marketing and are some of the most impressive entrepreneurs out there. In addition to Rupaul’s core tenets of a winning queen—that is, charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent—they also possess all of the traits that we often associate with entrepreneurship, like resilience, agility, and resourcefulness. Today’s top drag queens are not only the ultimate entertainers but also powerful brands that companies are more than eager to work with. There’s a lot that we can learn from drag queens as business owners and stewards of our own brands.
In today’s episode, Lance sits down with Priyanka on the set of her Bay Street Bull cover shoot to discuss her journey, the mainstreaming of drag culture, and the most important lessons in business we can learn from today’s top drag queens.
E19 Jen Wong (COO, Reddit): How Can Online Communities Drive Real-World Change?
Since 2005, Reddit has been a pioneer in building passionate online communities. The company’s mission is to instill a sense of belonging amongst its users—to empower them to share information, have authentic conversations, and drive change. There’s no better recent example of how digital communities can influence transformational change than the GameStop stock-buying frenzy that occurred in early 2021.
In this episode, Lance chats with Reddit Chief Operating Officer Jen Wong about driving real-world change, what brands can do to build an engaged online community, and the most interesting things she’s found on the platform.
E18 Roy Woods (Musician): How Can We Better Support Emerging Artists?
Denzel Spencer (you may know him by his stage name Roy Woods) is a rapper, singer, and songwriter signed to OVO Sound. Known for his signature R&B and hip-hop sound, the Canadian artist has already accomplished what many would only dream of in his early twenties. But despite his success and having the support of the biggest names in the industry today, Roy understands what it’s like to struggle as an artist, which is why he’s giving back as co-founder of LOOP/POOL. The Canadian cannabis brand offers a unique proposition in that it is owned by artists like Roy, Our Lady Peace, and dvsn (alongside CEO Ian Kwechansky), and gives five percent of its proceeds into a music fund earmarked for emerging artists in desperate need of support, especially due to the pandemic.
In this episode, Lance speaks with Roy about his path to entrepreneurship and how to support emerging artists. Ian joins as well to talk more about LOOP/POOL and how artists are embracing an innovative mindset.
E17 Hali Borenstein and Kathleen Talbot (CEO, CSO; Reformation): How Are Environmental and Racial Justice Connected?
Reformation is a popular women’s clothing brand with a mission to bring sustainable fashion to the masses. What started out in 2009 as a vintage clothing store quickly evolved into a fashion brand with a core focus on making people look great without hurting the environment in doing so. Since 2015, Reformation (or “Ref” as they’re colloquially known) has been carbon neutral and aim to be climate positive by 2025.
But for a company built so firmly on a foundation of transparency and progressive values, they’ve also had to face their own demons along the way. In 2020, then CEO and founder Yael Aflalo stepped down from her position after allegations of racism from previous employees made their way online.
Since then, Reformation has been committed to right their wrongs. They’ve launched a Diversity and Inclusion board, created an anonymous employee communication platform, joined the Black in Fashion Council to help advance Black and other underrepresented individuals in the industry, and more to keep themselves accountable.
In this episode, Lance speaks with CEO Hali Borenstein and Chief Sustainability Officer Kathleen Talbot about how Reformation has grown as a company, the importance of sustainability, and how environmental and racial justice are connected.
E16 Arianna Huffington (CEO, Thrive Global): How to Tackle Burnout Culture
We’ve learned many lessons from the pandemic but perhaps one of the biggest takeaways is the impact of burnout on our wellbeing and mental health. Arianna Huffington is no stranger to burnout culture. Back in 2007, the media mogul reached a breaking point when she collapsed from sleep deprivation and exhaustion after working 18-hour days building her news website, The Huffington Post. It was this experience that would set her on the path to eventually leaving her namesake site and starting Thrive Global, a behaviour-change technology company whose sole mission is to help others tackle the culture of overwork and burnout.
In today’s episode, Lance chats with Arianna and is joined by Nabeela Ixtabalan, Executive Vice President of People and Corporate Affairs at Walmart Canada. The trio sits down to discuss how Thrive Global works with today’s leading companies, the new era of leadership, and how burnout culture uniquely affects women.
E15 Manjit Minhas (CEO, Minhas Brewery, Distillery, Winery): How to Work With Your Family
From the coffee shop on the corner to the real estate agent that your friend keeps referring you to, family businesses are everywhere and have a significant impact on our economy. But running one can be a complicated matter, especially when the line between personal and professional boundaries is so easily blurred.
Entrepreneur Manjit Minhas can certainly speak to the nuances of running a family business. At 19, the Dragons’ Den investor started her first company in the booze business with her brother, Ravinder. Today, that company they started—Minhas Brewery, Distillery, and Winery—has grown into a global empire with annual revenues in excess of $220 million dollars. In this episode, Lance chats with Manjit about how she built her global empire, the importance of giving back to your community, and what advice she has to offer when it comes to working with your family.
E14 Michael Katchen (CEO, Wealthsimple): How Can We Get More Comfortable Talking About Money?
Talking about money can often feel taboo when it should feel empowering. Let’s face it, personal finance remains an uncomfortable topic to broach for many. When Michael Katchen arrived on the scene back in 2014 with his new fintech startup Wealthsimple, he had lofty dreams of simplifying our relationship with money. Fast forward six short years and Wealthsimple has become a certified unicorn company. And while they’ve certainly come a long way, their mission has stayed the same: to bring a sense of humanity to finance. On today’s episode, Lance chats with Michael about the biggest challenges when it comes to financial literacy, what it means to be a human-centered brand, and how we can all get more comfortable talking about money.
E13 Scott Cutler (CEO, StockX): Are Sneakers The Next Big Asset Class?
Over the years, the collecting and trading of sneakers has grown from past-time hobby into multi-billion-dollar global industry. Thanks to a passionate community of enthusiasts (or sneakerheads) the art of collecting kicks has fueled a category that is now considered a rising asset class. In this episode, Lance chats with Scott Cutler, CEO of online marketplace StockX, about “hype,” redefining the rules of commerce, and the business of sneakers.
E12 Justin McLeod (CEO, Hinge): How Can We Use Data to Crack the Code on Dating?
Dating at the best of times can be an awkward experience. So how does one find romance during a pandemic? On today’s episode, Justin McLeod, founder and CEO of online dating platform Hinge, joins us to talk about love and data. Described as a dating app designed to be deleted, Lance chats with Justin about Hinge, digital courtship in the age of a pandemic, and how he’s using data to crack the code on dating. Listen
E11 James Jones (Notorious Cree): How Can We Find New Ways to Pass On Our Culture?
What does it mean to embrace your culture? To reclaim your cultural identity? On today’s episode, Lance chats with James Jones (otherwise known as Notorious Cree) about connecting with and celebrating your culture. With a social media audience of over 2.5 million followers, James is applying a modern use of technology and social media to depict Indigenous culture and traditions. And what he is doing is teaching his millions of followers is to be proud of your culture, to unapologetically embrace the path to discovering your heritage, and perhaps most importantly, that you are not alone in that journey. Listen
E10 Nick Nurse (Toronto Raptors): How to Build A Team of Champions
What does it mean to win? For Nick Nurse, head coach of the Toronto Raptors and the Canadian men’s national basketball team, victory is measured in more ways than one.
On this episode of Mission Critical, Lance chats with Nick about what it takes to create a championship-winning team. Under Nick’s guidance, the Toronto Raptors famously won the NBA Championship in 2019, marking the first time a Canadian team has won the elusive title in the sport’s history. The reigning NBA Coach of the Year talks about leadership on (and off) the court, using your platform for good, and why he keeps a literal elephant in his office. Listen
E09 Greg Brown (AsapSCIENCE): How to Think Like A Scientist
In a time characterized by “fake news” and conspiracy theories, it feels like we’ve reached a boiling point with our current culture of doubt. But misinformaton (and the spread of it) is not a new phenomenon. One could even argue that it has existed for as long as the study of science, itself. In this episode, Lance chats with Greg Brown, one-half of the social media sensation that is AsapSCIENCE. Greg and his partner, Mitchell, are queer educators that have amassed a social media audience of over nine million followers who tune in daily to learn about a wide range of science topics. As cases continue to climb and various parts of Canada enter lockdown, Lance and Greg talk about how to talk to trolls, what we can do to curb conspiracy theories, and how to think more like a scientist. Listen
E08 Allen Lau (CEO, Wattpad): How to Unearth the Next Big Thing
Since the dawn of humanity, humans have been enchanted and spellbound by the art of storytelling. Today, in a time characterized by the democratization of media, our ability to share stories has never been more powerful thanks to technology.
Leading the charge of the next generation of storytellers is Wattpad, led by co-founder Allen Lau. They’ve helped launch writing careers and have adapted user-generated stories into hit movies and TV shows. Needless to say, they know what it takes to tell a great story.
In today’s episode, Lance speaks with Allen about how (and why) he created Wattpad, the importance of telling diverse stories, and how they’re using technology to unearth the next big thing. Listen
E07 Bruce Poon Tip (CEO, G Adventures): How Do We Travel with Purpose?
Travel. At some point this year, we’ve all probably daydreamed about our next big trip—the next adventure to go on after the pandemic is over, the people we would go with, the sights to see, and, of course, the food to eat. It’s no surprise that, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism industry has been one of the hardest hit. It begs the question: how—and when—will we as a society feel safe to travel freely again? In this episode, Lance chats with Bruce Poon Tip, founder of G Adventures, an award-winning small group adventure travel company pioneering community tourism, about how we can embrace our spirit of exploration and make an impact at the same time. Listen
E06 Arlene Dickinson (CEO, District Ventures): How Do We Reinvent Ourselves?
How important is optimism in a time where everything seems to be in a general state of chaos? One could argue that entrepreneurs are inherently optimistic given the nature of the business, what with the number of hurdles, uphill battles, and rate of failure that entrepreneurs often experience. District Ventures CEO and Dragons’ Den investor Arlene Dickinson understands this well. In today’s episode, Lance and Arlene chat about reinvention, mental health, and the importance of optimism. Listen / Show Notes
E05 Byron and Dexter Peart (Co-founders, Goodee): What Does the Future of Luxury Look Like?
Fashion has always been about commentary. No one knows this better than Byron and Dexter Peart, juggernauts of the fashion industry who cut their teeth building their minimalist lifestyle brand, WANT Les Essentiels, into a global empire before departing to start something new. That something was Goodee, an online marketplace that focuses on “good people, good design, and good impact.” In this episode, Lance chats with Byron and Dexter about conscious consumption and the future of luxury. Listen / Show Notes
E04 Joey Zwillinger (CEO, Allbirds): Should Companies Pay for Their Carbon?
Joey Zwillinger is the CEO and co-founder of Allbirds, a San Francisco-based material innovation company that specializes in making the world’s most comfortable shoes (and now, apparel!) More importantly, they’re a company on a mission to tackle what Joey calls the biggest problem of our lifetime: climate change. In this episode, Joey and Lance talk about sustainability, activism, and whether companies should pay for their pollution. Listen / Show Notes
E03 Dr. Kamran Khan (CEO, BlueDot): How Can We Use Artificial Intelligence to Disrupt Infectious Diseases?
Tackling a pandemic like COVID-19 requires lightning-fast agility in order to disseminate critical information to key decision-makers. No one understands this better than Dr. Kamran Khan, epidemiologist and founder of BlueDot, a Toronto-based social enterprise that harnesses artificial intelligence as an early warning detection system for infectious diseases. In today’s episode, Dr. Khan and Lance chat about why he started BlueDot, profit-purpose harmony, and using big data to disrupt disease. Listen / Show Notes
E02 Maitreyi Ramakrishnan (Actor, Never Have I Ever): How Can We Fight for Better Representation in Hollywood?
Mississauga-born Maitreyi Ramakrishnan beat out 15,000 other girls when she landed the lead role of the Netflix original series Never Have I Ever, a groundbreaking show that tells a coming-of-age story focusing on family dynamics, relationships, grief, and friendship through the lens of an Indian-American household. In this episode, Maitreyi chats with Lance about representation, identity, and leadership. Also, what’s Mindy Kaling like as a boss? Listen / Show Notes
E01 Michele Romanow (Serial Entrepreneur): How Can Entrepreneurs Help Solve Today’s Toughest Problems?
Michele Romanow is a serial entrepreneur, an investor on Dragons’ Den, and co-founder of the world’s largest e-commerce investment company, Clearbanc. In this episode, Lance and Michele talk about equity and equality, humility, and how entrepreneurship can be a vehicle for solving today’s toughest problems—especially if we work together. Listen / Show Notes