Introducing Nancy Mathis 

Nancy Mathis is a lady who knows how to lay down the framework that allows entrepreneurs to become better and achieve more.  She is the founding executive director of the Wallace McCain Institute; a group that was formed in 2007 to see the entrepreneurs of Atlantic Canada have a better chance of success.  Nancy has a background in chemical engineering, and a designer by nature.  Prior to the Wallace McCain institute, Nancy ran a venture capital backed company, which unfortunately went into bankruptcy.  Not to be dismayed, the unfortunate circumstance allowed her to take the reigns of an organization that has benefitted numerous entrepreneurs of her region.

The Wallace McCain Institute offers about 20 programs, serving 200 members.  It is based out of the University of New Brunswick, but is unaccredited.  Its main program is its Entrepreneurial Leadership Program, of which our hosts Greg Hemmings and Dave Veale are alumni.  This program takes in 16 rising entrepreneurs from the region that must meet once a month for two days over a yearlong period.  Not only do the entrepreneurs learn from the program, but from each other as they relate and commiserate.  The program also encourages leaders to be vulnerable and honest as everything discussed is confidential.  Entrepreneurs can often feel lonely at the top of their businesses, and such program allows them to bounce ideas off others in very similar circumstances.  The response rates show that 92% of those who take the program say their business is stronger; they feel more connected and more confident after concluding the program.

The institute was formed after a $2 million donation from Wallace McCain.  Wallace and his bother Harris formed the McCain Foods Group back in the 1950’s and it has since grown to an $8-9 billion business.  The brothers originally worked in a single office with their desks butted up against each other.  This allowed for them to connect easily and frequently bounce ideas off each other.  This idea is the spirit of the institute, to find like-minded people to foster the best courses of action.  The institute also offers programs for those that are second in command and those who are the future leaders of multigenerational businesses.


In this episode

Nancy tells us about the Wallace McCain Institute and what it has to offer entrepreneurs.  She further explains how those who have taken the program are three times more likely to helping others in the entrepreneurial ecosystem by doing things like angel investing, sitting on boards, and mentoring.  Greg and Dave recount their experiences in the program, including how Dave was labeled a dove.  Greg recounts how his experience allowed him to become vulnerable and build trust with other leaders.  Dave is inspired by the fact that the model for the program can be taken to other communities around the world.  Also, Dave and Greg jam on “Drop it like it’s Hot”.