Derek MacDonald: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Calgary-based mover and shaker Derek MacDonald, who’s making a major impression on the city’s creative scene both individually and through his company, Boom Goes the Drum. Here’s how…


Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
I come up with cool ideas to bring people together around an occasion, cause or brand. Then I find ways to broadcast that story to a bigger audience.

What was the inspiration for your career route?
I started my career as an entrepreneur with a retail vintage clothing store in my early twenties. What I loved most about it was creating a unique feeling and energy around the identity of the business that attracted people to the story of what we were doing.

When I sold the store I wanted to find a career that allowed me to create that same kind of energy around other people’s causes and organizations. It’s a powerful thing to have people gather around a story that is being told (in whatever format) and I am addicted to the thrill of making moments that are worthy of people’s attention.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
Having Contemporary Calgary’s LOOK2016 being in the top 10 Hottest Canadian Parties to attend in 2016 via the Globe & Mail (it was the only event in Calgary on the list).

Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
After being an entrepreneur for so many years I don’t focus too much on destinations anymore. I feel super blessed that I get to wake up everyday and be creative and collaborative with a group of incredibly talented people. But most importantly I am grateful that I get to participate in doing things that make a difference in my community and hopefully the world. So I like to focus on continuing to do that, in whatever form it takes in the future, for as long as I am able.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Figure out what is most important to you and do that. When you are working hard towards the things that are most important to you, life can feel like an obstacle course of distraction (uh, hello snapchat). The goal is to be in the driver’s seat and though you might take some side trips, once you know your path, always make sure you get back on it. Our world is designed to distract, and I believe the people who can master the skill of focus are the ones who go the furthest.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
I support many not-for-profit organizations. But if I had to choose one that is important to me I would have to say Contemporary Calgary. When I was a creative, outsider kid (read weirdo) there were not many organizations that celebrated creativity and art the way Contemporary Calgary does. So it is special for me to participate in building this major destination for modern and contemporary art in the city that I grew up in.

This year is the third annual LOOK (in support of Contemporary Calgary) and in a bittersweet way I am looking forward to the event on October 22 because it will be the last LOOK in its current format. The Centennial Planetarium, which I remember from my childhood, will go under construction immediately following the event. And while I am thrilled that Contemporary Calgary is now one step closer to opening its doors in the Planetarium, I have to say it has been a total dream come true the last three years to transform the near forgotten architectural gem for one night.

What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Not listening to my instinct. Some of the biggest lessons in my life have come about because I was ignoring the little voice that I now think of as my inner compass. It has taken me a long time to realize that voice is ALWAYS right. The hard part about it is that sometimes you have to turn the volume way down on everything else to be able to hear it.

What does the word notable mean to you?
Notable to me means living with an authenticity and gratitude that underscore the fact that life only happens once – make sure you don’t miss out on it.


Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
Suzette Bistro in Mission. They get it on all levels. It’s the best French food I’ve ever eaten outside of France (the fish! omg the fish). Plus, the staff are wickedly good at what they do and genuinely happy to see you.

What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
Website: (obvs)
Song: Anything by Fleetwood Mac.

Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
@esdevlin – She is the world’s best stage designer (she did Beyonce’s stage design).

What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
My favourite country to travel to is a new one.

What gives you the greatest FOMO?
My family has these big, noisy Sunday dinners (every Sunday) and when I am on the road for work I miss all the chaos and hilarity.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Old Dutch lightly salted ripple chips and dill pickle dip.

What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
Food in airports.

And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
Taking care of myself and my family, having meaningful connections, growing all ways and making a difference in the world around me. If I can do these things I will be successful.


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