Evan Drisner is an experienced leader in the finance, construction and non-profit industries and works as Sales and Business Development Manager for Nu-Fab Building Products. He is passionate about business and community building and has been actively involved in the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce. He has served as board member, committee member, co-host of the SABEX Awards, and for the past 9 years, as host of the popular networking event Chamber on Tap, profiling Saskatoon business leaders for a “pint-sized chat.”
Evan Drisner convinced me to join the Chamber on Tap committee almost a decade ago, just as he was taking over as host. My commitment was asking local business leaders & entrepreneurs to be our guests (and trying to keep Evan on track during the event). It was rewarding shining the light on the talented guests and giving them a platform to share their story in a casual, conversation-style interview. We would select our guests intentionally, knowing that they had to be comfortable with Evan’s entertaining, self-deprecating humour and (sometimes shocking) random comments. A natural on-stage and not one to follow a script, Evan made it look easy and usually had the guest at ease and the audience engaged and quickly laughing. Anyone attending would learn from the respected guests as they opened-up and shared their successes, challenges and perspective on doing business in Saskatchewan. As the host, Evan’s experience was unique and as he concludes his final season as host of Chamber on Tap, I had the opportunity to interview him. No doubt, he had many insights gained from interviewing almost 100 Saskatoon business leaders. Evan was able to summarize what he heard most consistently. No one said it quite the same, but there were three main themes all of which are intertwined. Just as Evan has applied the insights in his own life and business, he hopes that you can do the same.
1. Seasons for everything. Any person in business long enough knows you can’t control the markets and the ebbs and flow of business. There are seasons for everything including your business. The key is to recognize when you are in a season and don’t pretend you are not. In Evan’s words, “If you are in winter, don’t put on shorts and t-shirt and complain that you are freezing.” Don’t force it. Be patient. Be consistent and work hard and opportunities are going to come back. The season will come again.
2. No one can do it alone. Strong character, authenticity and kindness are the qualities you must have to build trustworthy relationships. A common message in all interviews was that other people helped those entrepreneurs get to where they were, whether it was mentoring, advice, strategic alliances, sales or networking. If you want to be helped, you need to be helpful. If you don’t have strong character, you are not going to build trust. If you are not authentic, people are going to see through you. If you are not kind, people are not going to want to be around you. As Evan said, “it’s much like life, we don’t spend our time around toxic people with poor character who are rude and unkind, so why would people in business want to surround themselves with that, let alone help you?” Relationships matter, especially in smaller markets like Saskatoon.
3. Believe in yourself. Everyone interviewed had above average belief in themselves. Not in an arrogant way, but in a way that they could push themselves further than anyone else could. As entrepreneurs, if you don’t believe in yourself, you are going to struggle and it’s going to be an up-hill battle. You must have confidence to execute your goals and learn how to get over fear of the unknown. Having confidence and knowing yourself helps. Evan cautions, “If you are super confident, but borderline pass confidence to arrogance and no one trusts you or likes you, you are not authentic or kind to people, then you are by yourself.” Believing in yourself only works if you have learned the first two things, which is to be patient and build good relationships so that other people can trust and believe in you too. “The seasons do not push another; neither do clouds race the wind across the sky. All things happen in their own good time.” – Dan Millman
Thank you, Evan Drisner, for your commitment to our business community and for the many years served as host of Chamber on Tap. The optimist, the comedian, the music lover, Reverend, the business leader and devoted husband and father – thank you for sharing a window into your life for all of us and reminding us not to take ourselves too serious. Just as you always closed the show, we won’t forget where to find you…“for quality cabinets at a fair price.”
First published in the July/August 2018 edition of The Business Voice.