Pharmpreneur of the week Bruce Moody: "Be relentlessly positive."

I think it's important to share that, for me, the day I made the decision to become an entrepreneur has led me on an unbelievable journey of discovery and joy.
Bruce Moody


Current role Role/Title

  • CEO Moody Holdings Inc.
  • Chairman HumanisRx
  • Chairman Sotera Investigative Group
  • Chairman Moody Family Foundation  

What excites you about being an entrepreneur?

I feel a tremendous level of personal joy that comes from starting with a vision and arriving at a place in time where all your planning and hard work have come together with the creation of a self-sustaining company – one that provides true value to those that choose to become customers while creating a healthy, productive and fun work environment for those that choose to work there.

How has your entrepreneurial career evolved since your graduation?

My current 44-year career started post-graduation from high school in Moncton, New Brunswick. While I always recognized in myself that I was more entrepreneurial in my thinking than most, I did not become a fully-fledged, “skin in game” entrepreneur until 2006. When I originally arrived in the business world, I learned quite quickly that I was an outlier with respect to not having the level of patience and tolerance necessary to work within environments that were not open to calculated risk taking. Now, this is not a criticism of anyone other than of myself. I had the great pleasure working for some great companies and some highly talented, wonderful people. I just found that the longer my career went on the less accepting of these elements I became and realized I had to exorcize my demons and start my own business. 

What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?

In hindsight, I believe there were three pieces to this question. Firstly, I wanted to accomplish something my family could be proud of me for achieving. Secondly, to prove to myself that I could in fact create a company and ultimately a career without having to conform to traditional business practices and methods. Thirdly, to prove to myself that I could meet my goals without a formal education. That said, I do not want to infer that an education in any fashion is nothing less than the best path for anyone to follow. I am saying in my journey, I found a way to see things differently in the absence of post-secondary education. Perhaps I am not bound by structured thinking, which has turned out to be helpful for my career. I must say that I have heard the criticism countless times about my lack of a formal education. Without a doubt, these criticisms served as additional motivators for me. 

How do you define success?

On a personal basis, I define success in how my family sees me as a husband and father. Building a career like mine, as an example, takes incredible levels of sacrifice in terms of time away from your family. Especially so in the earlier days of the journey. Missed dance recitals, hockey games, wedding anniversaries and yes, a birthday or two. I work very hard on making up for lost time. From a business perspective I am very proud of both my corporate life and entrepreneurial life. Corporately, I know that I have left my roles there better off than when I assumed them and entrepreneurially, I have had the wonderful pleasure of participating in building sustainable companies that make a difference in society.

As a successful entrepreneur, what continues to drive you?

I am continually driven to see the business world through the questioning lens of, how can we do things better or more efficiently. I also have significant philanthropic goals, as does my family.

What are the biggest challenges to being an entrepreneur?

Well, there are some significant ones. Sacrifice. As I mentioned earlier, you really need to prepare yourself for this. It isn’t easy to be sitting in a meeting room to solve a pressing business issue thousands of miles from a birthday party you should be attending. A vital element to this type of sacrifice is to consider your spouse’s mindset. You both must be aligned and prepared to make and accept the same sacrifices. In essence, when you have children, your spouse will become a single parent from time to time. Courage is a large challenge and manifests itself in numerous ways. Possessing personal courage is a fundamental component to becoming a successful entrepreneur. Courage to make tough decisions. Courage to stay true to your vision. Courage to deflect criticism. Courage to accept poor business results. Courage to take risks. Patience is key as business growth is painfully slow. Nothing happens quickly and you must find a way to remain patient at a level that is difficult to accept. Hiring errors are so very costly for entrepreneurial start-ups. While you will feel terrific that you arrive at a point in time that you are able to hire someone, I have learned the truth that hiring people is not an exact science. You will make mistakes. These errors are particularly costly when they occur in the early stages, at a time when you can least afford it. I have painfully learned that delaying the tough decision to correct your hiring mistake is extremely costly in financial terms and in slowing business development.

How do you manage work/life balance?

This is an area that I continually work at and remains top of mind for me. That said, with a bit of success, I have gained more time flexibility compared to earlier in my career. With a view towards clearing my mind, participating in sports is very helpful for me; I do something athletic every day. The creation of our family foundation, which our entire family is involved in, has become a wonderful activity. Another healthy diversion has been the arrival of a family pet. My wife Nancy and I got a Covid puppy. This is our first pet and I have to admit, it has been the best experience. Creating family moments with our adult children and their partners is a priority. Whether this be in the form of travel, golf or a family dinner, we make it a point to get together as often as we can.  

What books/resources do you recommend for every entrepreneur to check-out?

I should say that I am an avid reader. Early in my career the only subjects I read were based on business topics. Over the past several years, I make my reading choices based on subjects or issues that have caught my attention that are not business-based. Of the business books that have resonated with me the most in past is Good to Great by Jim Collins. In a more recent title, I would recommend The Wisdom of the Bullfrog by Admiral William H. McRaven. Both present solid views on simplifying the business process and focusing our minds on what is truly important. 

What advice would you give to colleagues who want to become entrepreneurs?

Advice is a difficult word for me as I don’t believe that I have the right to consider my approach as the only path one could follow or that my words are absolute. If I may change the question slightly and change the word advice to experience, I would share the following learnings from my experiences. Some of the following I anticipated, some I did not. Even for those elements I did anticipate, I was not aware of the depths of their significance and impact.

  • The relationship you have with your spouse is crucial. They too share in the exact same risks and challenges that will undoubtedly arise.
  • Have a solid vision for your business along with a bullet proof business plan.
  • Maintain an unrelenting focus on simplification. The best compliment you can hear from your industry is, I could have done that. The truth is, if they could have, they would have. The development of strategies and tactics that goes on behind the scenes is the true brilliance of a successful company. When it appears simple, you’re on the right path. In other words, when your tactics and strategies are seen as straightforward, you are succeeding. The truth is, no business is simple or easy.
  • You will be personally challenged with finding a level of courage you have never experienced before. There will be many demanding days and your leadership skills will be tested.
  • Stay disciplining towards achieving your business plan. There will be many instances where you will be tempted to get off course on non-essential tasks.
  • Hiring is not an exact science. Accept that you will make mistakes and be relentless in correcting these mistakes as quickly as you can. Not doing so can cause damage to your business and in some cases be the cause for failure.
  • Become an evangelist with respect to the tone of internal communication. If in doubt, over communicate.
  • Be relentlessly positive. There will be many days when you have to dig deep and find positivity; especially important to demonstrate to those that you work with. A negative minded leader will not be followed.
  • There are no shortcuts in the journey to create a company. Be ready to work harder than you thought you were capable of.
  • Be ready for success. This may sound strange however, think through what your world will look like when you get there. Don’t expect that you will receive recognition for all your risks and hard work. With a level of success comes criticism. When an entrepreneur archives some level of success, people only see the success, they don’t recognize or understand how many sacrifices and how much hard work has gone into the process.

Now that I have probably scared the heck out of anyone reading this who may be considering an entrepreneurial path, I think it's important to share that, for me, the day I made the decision to become an entrepreneur has led me on an unbelievable journey of discovery and joy.