Tech CEO Ross Andrew Paquette Read His First Book This Year. Here's Why.
He advocates for growing your business without investors.
Who are you?
Ross Andrew Paquette: I’m the founder, chairman, and CEO of Maropost, one of Canada’s fastest-growing and most profitable tech companies since 2014. I do what I do because the industry needs disruption. After working for two marketing technology companies, I found that the services and customer support were overpriced and lacking results. Organizations need services and partners who are worth the investment. We focus on building partnerships with our clients and driving value instead of treating them as a number.
Share an interesting fact about yourself that not many people would know.
Ross Andrew Paquette: I’m an adopted only child from a small mining and forestry town in Ontario, Canada, that has about 40,000 people. There isn’t much technology there, and we didn’t have the financial options that many others do. I also didn’t have a computer until I was 14.
As a result, I’m appreciative of what I have and focused on helping others. Being an only child also gave me a strong sense of ownership and drove my creativity. Because there wasn’t much else to do, I also played an array of sports growing up. I skied professionally and was third in the country as a rower.
What book changed your mindset or life?
Ross Andrew Paquette: “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future” showed me that I’m not alone in my struggles against what seems like everyone. While it may be difficult, you can build anything with hard work and creativity.
This was the first book I ever read — and I read it this year. It opened my eyes to a hobby that I could have taken advantage of over the years. However, I also believe that you shouldn’t learn exclusively from others and should grow from your own lessons. I disagree with the entrepreneurs I’ve met who built their companies based on books they’ve read. I believe that you need to have your own ideas as well.
I also realize that you can skip ahead by learning others’ processes and strategies, and as such, I plan to continue with my newfound hobby.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Ross Andrew Paquette: After bootstrapping Maropost while working as a sales executive, I sold part of the company to investors and didn’t get the support I expected. It became clear that our investors had opposing views, so we exited them from the business.
I would tell my younger self that investors are not your friends, partners or mentors, so tread lightly. They have only one goal: getting a return on their investment. Most don’t care about you as the founder or about your vision, for that matter. Entrepreneurs often don’t talk about this issue for fear that they may need investors someday. However, I’ve felt that Basecamp CEO Jason Fried is a great resource on the topic.
What excites you the most about your business right now?
Ross Andrew Paquette: Buying out the partners who weren’t aligned with our goals completely reinvigorated our company, team, and customers. Now, I’m excited to say that we will never have investors until we go public someday.
In addition, we have two new products coming online that will strengthen our long-term global strategy. JetSend lets organizations send emails to their users directly from their applications about everything from forgotten passwords to delivery confirmation and receipts. Maropost for Commerce helps entrepreneurs and e-commerce companies sell products online, with solutions for shopping carts, payment processing, managing subscriptions, reporting and much more.
What’s the biggest common leadership mistake?
Ross Andrew Paquette: Assuming that everyone knows what you know. Most leaders think that others will understand what they’re saying and see the path forward immediately. While it can be a struggle, you have to continuously adapt your communication to better align with your team, your company and society in general.
How do you identify a good business partner?
Ross Andrew Paquette: Good business partners trust each other blindly. If either side doesn’t, then any friction, conflicts or frustration will be exacerbated 100-fold.
How do you prevent burnout?
Ross Andrew Paquette: Until recently, I thought I was special because I didn’t think that I would ever burn out. But after seven years, I finally did. So today, I ensure that I break away from my phone, meditate, exercise and balance business with personal travel — even while working 10 hours a day or more and thinking of the company around the clock.
While you can work 365 days a year, it certainly helps to control your atmosphere; being in the sun, on the beach, at a ski hill and so on can create a sense of calm even in the toughest times.
If you ever start a charity, what would it be called and what would it do?
Ross Andrew Paquette: We have a charity called Maropost CARES, which focuses on protection, conservation and education around environmental and wildlife issues by supporting organizations like the World Wildlife Fund, Sea Turtle Conservancy and Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Eventually, we also plan to run our own programs and events where our team can contribute with Maropost’s support.
What do you want to be known for, or what do you want your legacy to be?
Ross Andrew Paquette: I’ve never focused on being “known” and am split between an introvert and an extrovert, depending on the situation. But I would like Maropost to be known as a global organization with a range of products. I’d like its legacy to focus on our goodwill and care, as well as our innovation and unique story. I’d also like part of our legacy to be showing other entrepreneurs that you don’t need funding to build a successful company.
The words and opinions expressed in this interview are those of the interviewee alone. What worked for them may not work for everyone. Any claims in this article have not been independently verified.