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His Dad Robbed a Bank, and Mark Ferrier Turns the Event into a Lifelong Lesson

By Diane Amato

Published October 5, 2023 • 5 Min Read

In this episode of Chatter That Matters, Mark Ferrier shares his father’s journey from his comfortable, suburban home to Millhaven Maximum Security prison. Mark chose to erase the stigma of his Dad in prison by reframing what his father did as a mistake, not a failure as a person. Acceptance and permission to make mistakes have become Mark’s greatest watchwords.

This mindset served Mark’s 25-year journey of entrepreneurship, creativity and passion well. Mark built several outstanding marketing businesses, all driven by a culture where people have permission to try.

Today, Mark is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of & Capital. He draws upon his experiences to help small business owners in infrastructure services grow their companies while concentrating on the human side of business.

Hear Mark’s remarkable journey, his views on what it takes to be a great entrepreneur, and what he believes Canada needs more of to be great.

Listen now to hear Mark’s story, his insights and advice for entrepreneurs.

In Mark’s recount of his fascinating journey, he shares key takeaways that can help other entrepreneurs find both success and purpose.

5 key takeaways from Mark Ferrier:

1)“There is a difference between a failure and a mistake.”

When Mark Ferrier’s father robbed a bank, seeing it as one of two options to solve mounting financial pressures, he made what Mark calls a “horrific mistake. But I think suicide in his world was a failure.” This was the first situation where Mark realized that in life, there is a difference between a mistake and a failure.

“Because of my dad’s experience, I think in some ways I’m more comfortable making mistakes than a lot of people – and owning up to mistakes and making sure those mistakes don’t turn into failures by letting them harbour too long.”

2) “Let your humanity show.”

While pursuing his MBA at Harvard, Mark was part of a study group, made up of entrepreneurs and business owners from around the world. One night, the group members began sharing their personal stories and for the first time, Mark shared his own experience. He reveals that in discussing the story of his father, it humanized him, with almost a superpower of confidence that hadn’t been there for the first 20 years of his career. “When you share some of your scars from the past, it connects people. I think sharing [my story] to people and watching the human energy that came back has been the greatest gift my dad gave me.”

3)“Values matter.”

Over the course of his career, Mark has realized his true passion is in unlocking growth in businesses by unlocking the power of people. With his current business, &Capital, his firm invests in businesses by taking a capital-second approach, focusing on partnering with founders who care about more than capital. “They care about legacy, they care about their customers, they care about the communities in which their employees have jobs in and pay taxes.”

When this is the case, Mark and his team can focus on values over value – “we go invest in businesses with like-minded founders and keep those businesses running for the future. We don’t bring investors in to flip companies in five to seven years – we take a permanency view that these businesses need to be in the economy for the next 50 years.”  With this approach, Mark has found his true purpose and passion in business and is running a venture that gives him fulfillment and pride.

4) “To be an entrepreneur in the future, you have to be different.”

At &Capital, Mark and his team believe in a value “creation” model as opposed to a value “capture” model, which is common with traditional private equity firms. “The question is how do you grow the business, not how do you cut costs in the business,” he says. He urges new entrepreneurs to build a structure that doesn’t come out of an MBA playbook but rather to build a value creation playbook that prioritizes the values of a business, empowers people and unlocks culture.

5) “For Canada to be a global economic leader, we need a shift in attitude – and more creativity.”

Like Tony Chapman, Mark Ferrier is passionate about building Canada to be the greatest place on earth – and both feel there is work to do. When asked what the country needs to get there, Mark believes mindset is key. “We’ve got to start with the attitude that we don’t want to be number three or four, we’ve got to start believing in our entrepreneurs and our communities. Our businesses can be number one, they can be leaders – to do that, we need to play for the title.”

On top of that, he feels entrepreneurs, financial institutions and governments need more creativity. “We need a lot more creativity in how we problem solve and how we think about business structures. We need to break some paradigms.”

Marketing Hall of Legends and Canadian Marketing and PR Hall of Fame inductee Tony Chapman hosts Chatter That Matters. Each week, Tony shares a story of someone who overcomes circumstances to chase their dreams and change their world and ours for the better.

Positivity and possibility to counter the negativity and the growing sense of impossibility.

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This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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