Leading businesses into making an environmental impact
“Real leadership is just leading yourself”
My name is Christian Bryce and I am an entrepreneur from Toronto, Canada. My work focuses on how businesses can have a positive impact. I like to explore new ways of leveraging businesses and I have a passion for the outdoors and community engagement.
The first chapter of my life was somewhat rocky. My parents were hippies and when they had me they were still taking time to find themselves. As a result, my parents split up and I was left with two families. Between the ages of 6 to 18, things were particularly tough and I ended up in a bunch of foster homes and living with 7 to 8 different families. This helped me to gain an aptitude for neutralising myself.
My time in the foster home created a lot of confusion. I did not know where my parents were and this meant that I lacked a figure who could provide all the answers. In all honesty, I think that they did what they thought was best in bringing me up. My father had a new relationship and my mother was trying to bring three boys up on her own.
Despite this, I never felt too sorry for myself and I realised that this was not the best approach. I also found sport was a good way of engaging in the community. In particular, I loved baseball and I found this to be quite sentimental, as it was an activity that I completed with my Dad. Of course, I had dreams of being a professional baseball player. I even wrote to the Toronto Bluejays about this and I received an encouraging response. However, like many other children that age, this was not a career that I pursued. Instead, I spent a lot of my time competing in endurance sports, such as cross-country.
Although I was working in a restaurant at the age of 18, I then made one of the most important decisions of my life. I left everything and moved to California to set up a non-profit and a small community organisation. I got into digital arts and this was incredibly exciting because this was not something that I had done before.
From here, I met a designer in California and we started a business building digital things and we opened a digital shop. This was a really multi-layered experience. The dream of the sun and the chilled-out lifestyle is always on your mind. Day to day, however, there is somewhat of a separation from this. I was always driven by the attraction of doing things outside and this was one of the things that attracted me to California the most.
Eventually, however, I ended up moving back to Toronto and decided to raise capital. Thankfully I met the right people at the right time and began building websites for a property management company who owned twenty shopping centres. In turn, this meant that there was a constant workflow and we continued to operate on an agency model.
The company was then bought by the salesforce and things continuously progressed. The company grew and grew and we ended up creating lots of amazing partners. Of course, there were lots of high and lows but the portfolio was always expanding. Then came the economic crash and this smoked a lot of our clients. Things became difficult and we had to make a decision to pursue operations purely in California or Toronto. In the end, we decided to focus on Toronto and to move away from the digital marketing side of things. The market had progressed by this time and our clients needed specific experts. We were better focused on design and development and we spent a lot of time building platforms on Adobe. Overall, this helped us to find a renewed vision about what our services were.
At the start of our journey, we were fuelled by enthusiasm and there was nothing else that we wanted to do. This raw enthusiasm stretched across the first 5 years and we were really ahead of the curve in selling data analytics.
In turn, I spent more time pursuing my passions outside of work. I was a semi-professional mountain-biker and this allowed me to travel the world. I also think that my decision to not have kids provided a different journey, with potentially more spare-time.
My working experience also taught me the importance of people management. We grew from 3 employees to 20 employees to many more. I found that it was increasingly important to maintain that hospitable environment and I did not want us to lose our family culture. In a way, I had to let go of trying to control everything. Despite this, it was important to me that we employed people that shared our vision.
Speaking as a business owner, I believe that we have a responsibility to make a positive impact within the community. We also need to work hard to ensure that there is a greater consideration of mental health.
So far, life has taught me many things. Notably, true friends are the ones who let you go out and expand but are also able to reel you in when needed. Life is all about wandering what is around the corner. Real leadership is about leading yourself and finally, you should also listen to the voice that is in the back of your mind.
Overall, I want to leave behind a business that employs lots of people and allows them to thrive in doing things that they enjoy. Finally, I want to be seen as someone who did the most with the cards that they were dealt.