Caption: Rick (left) enjoying a round of golf with long-time friends pre-pandemic.
Foresight’s Executives in Residence are a talented bunch with valuable experience that they share with ventures in our Acceleration programs through 1:1 coaching. Rick Gagner plays an important role with many companies in our Grow program, with a focus on building their leadership team. Like many in the Foresight world, he considers himself privileged to work with our ventures.
1) How long have you been an EIR with Foresight?
Since the inception of the Grow program in January 2018.
2) What do you like most about your work as an EIR?
I love working with entrepreneurs, helping them gain clarity around their vision, and growing and scaling their enterprises. We focus a lot of attention on traditional business functions like strategy, technology, marketing and finance. But I spend a lot more of my time getting leaders to focus on building healthy, cohesive teams and business cultures.
Second, I love the ecosystem around cleantech, in particular, the leadership of Foresight beginning with Jeanette and her team, and the EIR community. I’ve learned so much from colleagues like Beth Loughney, Kirk Hamilton, and Mark Grist.
3) Share a success story.
Ah…that’s unfair. It’s like asking you to pick a favourite amongst your kids! Every conversation, and every training session is geared to add value, whether it is helping a business client get clear about its reason for being and how they are going to compete to what ‘s most important right now? Each conversation is different and is mostly listening and applying appropriate comments where necessary. Most of the time, clients have the answer; they just need someone that they can bounce their thoughts off of to clarify their thinking.
4) What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
Don’t just focus on being the smartest company in your space. Competitive intelligence is not a lasting competitive advantage. What matters more is building the healthiest, most cohesive team you can be! That means answering a handful of simple questions and then being completely aligned and clear about those answers throughout the leadership team and organization. When you are, you’ll solve the challenges you face and get smarter too, because you’ll address critical issues promptly, recover from mistakes faster, and learn from one another and teach your teams to do the same. That is how you create lasting competitive advantage. Credit to Patrick Lencioni.
5) What excites you most about working in cleantech?
We’ve got amazing people with amazing vision, employing brilliant solutions to some of life’s most pressing challenges. The leaders I get to work with care deeply and want to make an impact on sustainability and ecological improvement using the most advanced applications of electronics, robotics, AI, industrial IOT and agtech to provide real solutions to real-world problems. In short, what a privilege to work in this industry.
I formed an immediate connection with Rick. He went far above the basic expectations of the Foresight program, and provided excellent advice and key contacts that really pushed our company forward. Rick Retzlaff, CEO, LightLeaf Solar Ltd.