Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Calgary’s Shawn Freeman, who recognized his entrepreneurial calling while working in the corporate world and founded TWT Group, one of Canada’s premier IT services companies. Read all about his inspiration and five-year plan in today’s profile…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I’m a partner at TWT Group, the IT services company I founded. I inspire my team to deliver exceptional IT services and wow our clients. I ensure our team is always growing in some way. I also drive the realization of our long-term goals every day.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I founded the company because I wanted to leap off the corporate ladder and dictate my own path. I realized that work doesn’t have to be something I didn’t love. It needed to be something I loved doing. As our company has grown, I’ve realized that is a goal for all of my employees as well.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
I spend my days meeting with other entrepreneurs. It could just be grabbing a coffee to start a business venture or creating a plan for my team to solve their IT issues and make their business more effective.
The most challenging part is focus. Entrepreneurs love shiny things, and I’m no exception. I frequently remind myself that the way to get across the Atlantic Ocean is to constantly check the bearings.
What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
I’ve noticed two things that let me know the balance is off: a lack of exercise (which I try to correct quickly) and lack of travel for pleasure (for me, that means less than once a month!)
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years, I see myself still leading my team and meeting our goal to be the go-to IT company in western Canada. I see myself working from a beach more often. I also see myself having more time to mentor up-and-coming entrepreneurs in Calgary, to make this city a better place.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
My career has been short, and because I’m young, I would say my lack of experience has been my biggest challenge. It wasn’t the lack of ability, but the perception of my lack of experience that held me back in the corporate world. Luckily, that was a blessing in disguise. I was able to use it to pursue my real passion as an entrepreneur. I realized I made a terrible employee, so I found a new path.
What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Money is not happiness, but it does give you some freedom. Freedom is happiness. Success is being free to do whatever you want, including having a positive impact on other people’s lives.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
One day, I realized that I had inspired two people to pursue entrepreneurial ventures. Both of these people were successful and making a good living in the corporate world. I guarantee you they will be running very notable companies in no time. There is nothing more gratifying than knowing you inspired someone to follow their passion.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Don’t waste too much time doing something you don’t absolutely love. Don’t be shy about your passions. Let everyone know what you’re passionate about it. Eventually, they’ll get it and help you as much as they can. Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t have enough experience – a baby shark is still a shark.
Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
Variety is the spice of life, so it really depends on what I feel like. On the list would be: Bonterra Trattoria, Una Pizza, Anju and Burger 320 (a spot I visit a little too often).
When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
I love to spend time with my dog Felipe at River Park and on the bike at One Cycle working up a sweat.
Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
I love New York City. I’ve visited for the past four years and I’ve already booked my 2015 trip. Calgary is home, but NYC has my heart.
If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
Working Class Hero by John Lennon. Go listen to it and then start a business.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
I’d be starting a different business. There’s no going back on this path.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Yes. Youth Central, Boys & Girls Club of Calgary and KidSport Calgary.
Kids, recreation and sport all have special places in my heart. I wouldn’t be where I am without sport and no kid should go without it.
What to you is notable?
People with the passion and drive to make Calgary better in their own way.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
iPhone. No question. And no, the iPhone 6 Plus is not too big.