Do what you love. Don’t do what you think is going to make you rich.
That’s the advice P.E.I.’s Darren Blanchard has for new entrepreneurs. Originally from Sudbury, Ont., Blanchard, 46, has worked as a staffing recruiter and owned his own company – NIMTech. After some life changes, including his business going bankrupt, his philosophy and approach to business has changed.
Blanchard moved to the Island in 2006. Eventually, he got into the organic sea salt business, first with Black Whale Salt Co. and then rebranded with the P.E.I. Salt Co. with co-founder, Nathan Gamauf.
The Harrington, P.E.I.-based company also has a social conscience with an initiative called Salts of the Earth, comprised of a pack of imported organic sea salt – Italian (Mediterranean), Red Hawaiian, Pink Himalayan and Australian – in reusable grinders. A portion of the proceeds goes to charities, including the Canadian Mental Health Association and Random Acts of Kindness.
Blanchard calls himself a new age millionaire. He wants to change a million lives.
Blanchard sat down with The Guardian this week to talk about his business philosophy and charitable activities.
Q: Why did you want to get involved in the organic sea salt business on P.E.I.?
A: I wasn’t going after the dollar anymore. Even in the consulting game, I was making a good six-figure salary. And, if I can make a living and create a couple of good jobs for people and they get paid well, have benefits and listen to Led Zeppelin and literally enjoy our day where there is no stress. It’s more about quality of life and work life balance is what I was looking for when I invested in the company. All I have to do is convince people to buy a premium product. And, salt because it’s in every home. When people actually try a good, premium salt, there is a big difference.
Q: Your company donates to Random Acts of Kindness and the Canadian Mental Health Association. What is your connection to those organizations?
A: I made a donation for a fundraiser that Random Acts of Kindness was doing. The young lady (Anna Howard) came to pick up the cheque. I ended up talking to her for about an hour. She had battled depression for quite a while and got diagnosed as bi-polar. She was going to help volunteer for the project (Salts of the Earth). I connected with the Canadian Mental Health Association more or less around her situation. It made me realize how fragile we all really are. It made me readdress my own past and dealings with depression. She ended up taking her own life. When that happened, it made me start to look at the mental health situation here on P.E.I. I though with this project I can create an interesting tool because salt is always on the table. So, when you use our salt with the people you are breaking bread with – have a real, authentic conversation with them. You never know when something might take a turn. We’re hopefully going to be a part of creating awareness and the discussion and raise some funds for the organizations.
Q: How has your business philosophy changed over the years?
A: Success is basically defined by the individual. What I considered success (as a teenager) was I want three different colours of that Lamborghinis (and) the condo in New York, you know what I mean. When my company NIMTech went bankrupt at the end of 2013 and into 2014, I made me really sit back. And, I had been dealing with depression for a while, but it really put me into a ‘what do I do now?’ That was my identity. I was the CEO of NIMTech. I was a multi-millionaire on paper. So, when my company went bankrupt and I was starting anew, I realized that I don’t care about money. I’m much more interested in creating relationships. And my legacy is I’m a new age millionaire, where I want to change a million people’s lives. My goal right now is to build sustainable businesses focused around the environment and creating good quality jobs. As a company, if we find and hear of people in a situation and we have the money to be able to help them out, I’d love to be able to do that. That’s a part of our business model.
Q: Based on your work experience and life experience, what advice do you have for new entrepreneurs?
A: Do what you love. Don’t do what you think is going to make you rich. I think that too many young people are focused on that path and they’re not doing what they truly love and truly enjoy. Hey, if you’re putting in 18-hour days and you don’t love what you’re doing, it’s a tough grind.