Q & A: lessons in success from Brandt chairman Gavin Semple
Semple to receive honourary degree from the University of Regina
Gavin Semple entered the business world in his 20s and went on to become the president and CEO of Brandt Group of Companies, Saskatchewan's largest privately-held company.
Semple is currently the chairman at Brandt, and today he and his brother, Juno-award winning musician Jack Semple, will receive honourary degrees from the University of Regina.
Semple spoke to Sheila Coles from the Morning Edition, and shared some of the secrets to his success — including dealing with failure. The interview transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.
He would not accept any of us using the word 'can't.' When we set out to do something, there was no excuse for not getting it done.- Gavin Semple
SHEILA COLES: What were your dreams and ambitions when you were a little boy?
GAVIN SEMPLE: All of us in the family sort of had big dreams. Part of it was because we didn't have much and adversity kind of creates that drive in one. There were six children plus my mom and dad living in a rather small house on a rather active, busy farm.
My father was an entrepreneur in many ways. Besides grain farming, he raised cattle and he was in the fence post business so, early on, we kind of got to see what an entrepreneur does. That causes one to dream of what's possible.
SC: Sounds like your father was quite a role model for you.
GS: He was. He taught us a lot of things; good life lessons like he would not accept any of us using the word "can't." When we set out to do something, there was no excuse for not getting it done.
The work ethic was alive and well and that was probably typical of a lot of kids on the farm back then and even true today.
I began to study successful people and what made them successful.- Gavin Semple
SC: When you said you learned to dream of what was possible, what did you think was possible for you?
GS: At various times in my life, those dreams might have been different. When I first got married — when I was 21 years old — I was still on the farm. My wife was working at SaskTel. I used to work off the farm in the winter time to earn some off-farm income and I got into sales. That's when I really first started to see what others were doing in sales and business.
I began to study successful people and what made them successful and came across a lot of books and programs. One of them that I remember clearly is the Earl Nightingale program and the Lead the Field program; basic fundamentals of success and what you must do to succeed regardless of whether you are in business or in the arts or in sports or whatever; the basic fundamentals of having a positive, expectant attitude of setting goals, of being determined of knowing how to be resilient after failure, and those types of things.
I guess I was kind of like a sponge in my early 20s; sort of absorbing all that and looking to successful people in Regina and beyond and trying to determine in my own mind "what are they doing that makes them successful?" I learned a lot and of course you learn a lot from failure too.
'You learn how to cope with failure real early on if you are in sales because no matter how great a salesperson you are, you do not close every sale.- Gavin Semple
SC: Tell me about how you experienced failure.
GS: You learn how to cope with failure real early on if you are in sales because no matter how great a salesperson you are, you do not close every sale. Depending on the business you're in, if you close two out of five, you'd be very, very successful so that means though that you are losing three.
When you experience those losses, you have to pick yourself up and remember to go at the next sale with a positive, expectant attitude. You learn that in sales and you certainly learn that in business.
My father taught us when we were teenagers, he used to box in the army, he used to teach us that when you're knocked down, you have to be able to get up and box one more round and so that was just a lesson in resiliency and it's so important in whatever one sets out to achieve whether it's business or other vocations.