Who wants to be a billionaire?
Twenty questions with Cameron Chell, CEO of Chell Merchant Capital Group.
1. First, letâ€™s take care of business. Will you sell me your home?
â€œYup. Everythingâ€™s for sale. Itâ€™s been appraised at over $10 million, but I didnâ€™t pay anything near that. I donâ€™t like the notion of getting attached to material things. But would I sell out a friendship or a relationship? Not for any price in the world.â€
2. You recently became a father. Will this slow your pace?
â€œI enjoy the pace â€” I love sleeping three hours a night, sleeping on planes, different cities, going deep, cutting deals and really making things happen, because I know weâ€™re creating a ton of value out there.
3. So life is work?
â€œJust about everything revolves around working. I donâ€™t live to work or work to live. Itâ€™s just what I do and itâ€™s really stimulating.â€
4. Your house is on fire. You have time to rescue three possessions . . .
â€œMy dogs (two chocolate Labs), my laptop and my cellphone. As long as I can communicate, Iâ€™m fine.â€
5. What business philosophy allows one to come so far so fast?
â€œAs a philosophy, I believe you always have to put yourself second in your dealings. If everyone else makes money, youâ€™ll make money.â€
6. Financially, whatâ€™s your target?
â€œIâ€™d like to be a multi-billionaire thatâ€™s liquid with a billion dollars by the time Iâ€™m 40. Until it (net worth) gets well over a billion dollars, Iâ€™m not slowinâ€™ down.â€
7. How can you fathom that much money?
â€œThere are six billion people in the world and less than one per cent of them are hooked up to the Internet. When I start to grasp the enormity of that, I realize a billion dollars is just nothing.â€
8. And the ultimate goal?
â€œThe ultimate goal is the relationships I derive. The money is a scorecard. My dad (Art) used to say: â€˜The rich know money, the wealthy know people.â€™ â€
9. Your first job?
â€œCleaning the Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod after the Saturday matinees. I was nine or 10. I got paid 50 cents plus free movies.â€
10. Who has had the greatest impact on your life?
â€œDefinitely my father. Heâ€™d walk down the (theatre) aisles and say: â€˜Oh, you missed that.â€™ Iâ€™d say: â€˜They just want me to pick up the big stuff.â€™ Heâ€™d say: â€˜Do more than they expect. Sweep it anyway, go that extra mile.â€™ When I shovelled the walk, heâ€™d insist I also shovel half the neighboursâ€™ walk on either side. Heâ€™d say: â€˜It takes 10 minutes and youâ€™re building friendships and relationships for life.â€™ â€
11. Would you say that youâ€™ve put those values to good use?
â€œAfter he passed away (five years ago), things just exploded. I think that was kind of the calling card to say: â€˜OK, youâ€™re now the guy to carry this philosophy forward.â€™ I started acting smarter.â€
12. What did the son of a butcher in Fort Macleod dream about?
â€œAthletics and business. Then, I realized I was never going to make the Olympics in decathlon. And when that didnâ€™t have to be a personal vixen that was killing me any more, I focused on business. What Iâ€™m doing now is what Iâ€™ve always wanted to do.â€
13. Your prized sword, a gift from a publisher interested in a book, symbolizes leadership as defined by the Knights of the Round Table. How do you define leadership?
â€œLeadership is not defined by position, title or education but by character and action.â€
14. Your thoughts on formal education?
â€œIâ€™m a Grade 10 dropout. I was bored.â€
15. Does decathlon imitate business in any way?
â€œIn a huge way. The unique thing about decathlon is that youâ€™re never out to beat the guy beside you. Heâ€™s helping you. In a business deal, I donâ€™t look at it as a win-lose scenario. Itâ€™s win-win.â€
16. Is winning everything?
â€œIf winning means Iâ€™ve got to beat somebody to a pulp, no. We try to create win-win situations. If thereâ€™s a win-lose scenario, we simply cut our losses generally and walk away because itâ€™s not worth the energy. Sometimes, youâ€™ve got to play to win. Youâ€™re in the middle of a deal and the stakes are so high and youâ€™re invested so deeply that you canâ€™t afford to lose. So you take the gloves off. I can very confidently say that weâ€™ve never lost.â€
17. You built FutureLink, FutureLink sued you, you sued FutureLink, they fired you, the two sides settled earlier this year. Your reflections?
â€œThat was a situation where somebody adopted a win-lose scenario. And we couldnâ€™t back out of it. So we took the gloves off and we won. I did my job there. The stock went from 17 cents to $37 two years later with a market cap of $2.3 billion.â€
18. Where do you see cMeRun Corp., of which you are the founder/chairman, running to in the next five years?
â€œI believe the cMeRun service will be as dominant a service as basically the largest telcos or as dominant as a Yahoo or an Intel brand within the new economy. There are going to be lots of people interested in buying it out and thatâ€™s going to become a shareholdersâ€™ decision. But I believe if left alone to continue on its path, it will have the strength of a Yahoo brand within Iâ€™ll say three to five years.â€
19. God taps you on the shoulder and says you could do one thing over . . .
â€œI signed one settlement agreement (over a disciplinary ruling by the Alberta Stock Exchange on dealings as a stock broker in 1997) in my life and never again will I do that if something is compromising my principles. I knew a bunch of stuff wasnâ€™t true. Iâ€™d give up all of this times 10 to go back and fight that agreement. But I also have to say it isnâ€™t a bad thing that I have to justify every action I do beyond measure. It made me philosophically what I am â€” we go the extra mile no matter what it costs.â€
20. Do you lose sleep over how others perceive you?
â€œAll I know is the people on my team win. Thatâ€™s all I care about. The people who have been persecuted and hated â€” and Iâ€™m not putting myself anywhere near that category â€” have been the people who have done the most good in the world. People like Galileo, Michaelangelo. Even Clinton. He made huge mistakes, but he also resided over the greatest economic boom and greatest sustained peace weâ€™ve seen in history.â€
* Chell Merchant Capital Group
* Brass: Cameron Chell, Chair/CEO.
* Industry: Chell Group is a technology merchant capital provider founded by Cameron Chell to test and grow businesses out of the latest technology and service innovations with a focus on the application service provider (ASP) industry. An ASP is a third-party service firm which rents out the use of an application for a centrally located Internet server.
* Recent stock quote: Chell (CHEL-Nasdaq, $3.94 US), cMeRun (CMERE-U.S. OTCBB, $1.52 US).
* Mission: To have fun creating billion-dollar technology companies in the ASP space.
* Web site: Chell.com
* Address: #500 630 8th Ave. S.W.
IN PROFILE: Cameron Chell
* Born/raised/age: Fort Macleod, 32.
* Titles: Chair/CEO, Chell Merchant Capital Group; founder/chairman, cMeRun; founder/vice-chair, ASP Industry Consortium; founder, FutureLink; co-founder, Jaws Technology; chair/director, VC Advantage Fund.
* Education: Grade 9.
* Claim to fame: Instrumental in founding of the ASP industry, taking cMeRun from a sketch on a dinner napkin to a public company in 90 days, Canadian top-10 decathlon star.
* Kicks back by: Waxing his two prized chocolate Labradors in 100-metre sprints at his Springbank home, snowboarding at Whitefish, Mont., California surfing, Rocky Mountain biking, bungee jumping 101 times in one day for charities such as the Childrenâ€™s Wish Foundation.