By Tom Keenan

Business Edge News Magazine

You could say that Rob Driscoll is driven to succeed.

In 2017 alone, he drove the TransCanada Highway between Vancouver and Calgary more than 50 times.

To some, that might sound like a highway to hell. Driscoll, however, considers each road trip through the Rockies a heavenly experience that helps produce mountains of good fortune.

“I never get tired of the scenery and notice something new every time,” Driscoll says. “I feel inspired in the mountains, and I do my best thinking and writing - using the voice recognition feature - as I drive.”

Driscoll used that focused alone time to devise three business models, each in a different industry. All three businesses - Business Edge Media and Corporate Communications, Court Wizard Legal Support Services, and More L Support Services - launched in December.

1. I did not see transport/trucking on your profile. Why the heck do you drive back and forth between Alberta and B.C. so much?

I consider myself a resident of Calcouver, constantly rotating between Calgary and Vancouver. Edmonton and the Okanagan are also part of the mix.

I have many customers in each city and enjoy spreading my time among them. I also play in volleyball tournaments all over Alberta and B.C. in the spring and summer. My kids also love the beach life so they join me on trips regularly.

2. What is the new Business Edge about and how is it different from the business you asked me to start writing for in the year 2000?

After many tumultuous years, riding the ups and downs of the advertising world, I finally shut down the business and went back to the drawing board.

With plenty of help from my new board of directors, I came up with a business model that is perfectly suited for the times.

Business Edge Media and Corporate Communications has a much broader mandate. Business Edge News Magazine is now just one part of a high-powered communications agency that offers services including investor relations, public relations, marketing strategy, branding, design, and any type of writing and editing support.

3. Who is your target customer?

We can help virtually any company that wants to grow and/or improve their communication lines.

If your business’s target audience is Canadian business decision makers or the wealthiest consumers/investors, I do not believe there is a marketing option that comes close to Business Edge in delivering leads of the highest quality.

The hard-copy magazine is delivered directly to an unrivalled 157,000 businesses per issue and reaches about 98% of business addresses in 53 markets from Victoria to Ottawa with every two issues. The digital edition is read by thousands more, and our social media reach is fantastic.

With LinkedIn, for example, many boast about having 10,000 or however many people in their networks. But they usually go silent when you ask how many they have engaged in person, by phone or through direct messaging.

We have 13,000+ LinkedIn connections, a very high percentage of which are C-suite executives and business owners. I make it a point to connect personally with as many as possible. I can’t have 13,000 beer-drinking buddies, but I can sure as heck take the time to exchange pleasantries and quickly explore business synergies. It translates to a potent network, some fascinating relationships and a better understanding of the inner workings of our economy.

4. Do you consider Business Edge to be part of the dwindling print industry?

Business Edge has always had print and digital offerings, but we have taken aggressive steps with the new company to grow our digital presence dramatically.

Bringing on Sarah Kirkpatrick of Jumping Elephant was a crucial step for Business Edge. She put together a market research document that blew me away with its breadth and level of insight. Then we had a long meeting in which she asked about 100 questions and requested that I present to her as I would to a Toronto ad agency. A couple weeks later, she presented me with a book that included detailed strategy and an execution schedule. Sarah and her team are truly amazing and are a big part of what has been a great start for Business Edge Media.

Meanwhile, our print audience is larger than ever, thanks mostly to attrition. These days, instead of 10-20 magazines on the corporate reception tables as there would have been prior to the recession that hit in 2008, there are three or four now. That translates to more readers per copy for Business Edge.

5. Is there a viable future for print products?

Of course. A lot of players in the print world have been phased out, but I see a bright future for media firms that offer the best of both the print and digital worlds. The digital realm is obviously king of the hill, but print is still a huge part of the industry and will be for many years to come.

I spend most of my work life in coffee shops and bouncing from office to office, and I can tell you without question that print products are still very popular. Many people prefer to look at a book, magazine or newspaper rather than a screen. It is better for our eyes and there is something nice, even romantic, about the experience of holding paper instead of always feeding our electronic addictions.

The best proof, though, is in the reports from our advertisers and editorial subjects. Our digital platforms generate a lot of reaction, but most of the response comes from readers of the hard-copy edition.

6. What else is new at the new Business Edge?

We had an architect who happens to be one of the best designers in the country update the design. We recruited several brilliant journalists to complement our all-star core. We will not have the most coverage, but we will have the most intelligent and relevant coverage of the key issues.

We have a new section called Investing Edge, which presents exceptional and highly educational coverage of the issues that matter most to investors. We then convert the section to a newsletter format, and disseminate it to our fast-growing database of investors.

Most important, we brought on Brad Krizan as chief operating officer. I have followed Brad’s career for years and am thrilled to have him help run the company. He is a very intelligent and detail-oriented leader, and therefore a great complement to my skill set, which is more about sales and the creative side.

7. Who are your competitors?

Our competitors are business publications, investor relations firms, PR firms, and creative agencies, but I suspect many of them will also become customers. We can help just about any company grow.

We lost one competitor the way no one should ever be lost. Ruth Kelly of Venture Publications, against whom I fought tooth and nail for Alberta advertisers since the day I started in this business, took her life last year. Under pressure from creditors, she decided to give up her battle to stave off bankruptcy. She also gave up on her precious life. May we all remember that while business is very important, it is nothing compared to the value of human life.

8. On to business #2. What is CourtWizard all about?

CourtWizard Legal Support Services (courtwizard.ca) is a new concept in which we help people navigate the legal system while saving a ton of money.

We help ensure that people who are representing themselves in legal matters submit highly polished documents on time and at the right place. We also help them understand important subtleties such as following protocol in the courtroom.

The name CourtWizard is a little cheeky as I am a good “speller” and also try to make magic happen on the volleyball court. I am a very court-eous person.

The feedback on our business model has been completely positive and very inspiring.

People who I have never met have called CourtWizard a “game changer” and the beginning of a “disruption of the legal industry.”

Numerous lawyers have approached me with offers to get involved. A few days after I announced the launch of CourtWizard, a gentleman walked up to me in a coffee shop, introduced himself as a lawyer who moved to another industry, said he recognized me from my LinkedIn post and congratulated me on a business model that is desperately needed.

It has been a fun ride, to say the least.

9. How did you come up with the CourtWizard concept?

I credit the separation process I have been through (and am still going through) with my ex-common-law wife, which has resulted in me becoming all too familiar with legal documents and the court system in general. I know that like me, many people find themselves with no choice but to defend their rights through the courts when another party is not willing to work out a dispute informally. But as difficult as it has been for me, I am very grateful for the experience. I would never have come up with the CourtWizard concept otherwise.At the start of the separation process, I paid lawyers a ridiculous amount of money to help me create documents that I could have written better on my own.

Many friends and associates have experienced worse. I have a female friend who is still paying off $275,000 in legal bills from her divorce. All that legal representation including way too many hours on document preparation did not help. She was only awarded $100,000 out of what she thought was a seven-figure asset base. Our legal system has some serious problems, and perhaps the biggest is the way lawyers charge about $400 per hour on average for work that can be done by someone else for pennies on the dollar.

The system is broken, and we can help.

With CourtWizard, you pay just $250 a month or $1,800 a year. We not only help you save heaps of money, I believe that in the vast majority of instances, the documents will be equally well or better written and will improve our customers’ chances for success.

10. Are you saying that lawyers are not needed?

Not at all. In fact, I am still in a legal battle in which I am in over my head and definitely need a lawyer. He is a great lawyer who actually used to be my ex’s lawyer – on a non-family matter – but is now representing me against her because he knows the truth and truly cares about justice.

I know several excellent lawyers who are worth every penny they bill for and more. I have referred several people to one family lawyer. If you are going to trial or mediation/arbitration, it is great to have a skilled lawyer guiding you through the process.

We specialize in helping self-represented litigants, but we also work with people who are working with lawyers but want to pay a fraction of the standard costs.

We help you produce brilliantly written legal documents that you can present to your lawyer. They will likely say something along the lines of, “Wow - that is good!” Regardless, they should not need to bill you for more than an hour to put their personal touches on documents for which they would otherwise typically charge in the range of $3,000-$10,000.

11. Have you seen any backlash from the establishment?

None whatsoever. We even had a lawyer subscribe as a customer a couple of weeks ago.

Although I have lawyers in my network who help with technical matters, CourtWizard is not a law firm and therefore does not provide legal advice. That keeps us out of trouble.

12. Will you become a law firm one day?

That is the plan. I would say it will happen in 2019. Of course, that will mean bringing on at least one lawyer as partner.

13. With what type of customers do you work?

We have helped an entrepreneur with documentation in the acquisition of an international company (swordsofmight.com), we help another entrepreneur with contracts for her many suppliers, we help people with documents related to various stages of divorce; there are all kinds of legal matters that are applicable.

I told one potential customer that we will do our best to have her fire us within a month. I truly hope that one elegantly written letter that eliminates the intense emotions of her divorce and presents a respectful exit from the court battle, plus a settlement agreement, is all we need. How many people do you know who spent $250 to arrive at a divorce settlement? Of course, there are scenarios in which retaining a lawyer is essential, particularly in cases dealing with a lot of assets, but I think it’s worth a shot.

14. On to business #3. What is the concept behind More L Support Services?

On one of my long drives back from the coast, I was thinking about the profound impact that my friend Magda Czyz has had on my life.

She is the best and fastest communicator I have ever met, and she is always there for me. Always.

Whether it is a walk along the river, a quick lunch or a brief text exchange, Magda always responds with love and support.

Magda has a masters in conflict resolution and peace, a psychology degree and is a certified AromaTouch therapist. Her knowledge of aromatic, therapeutic oils is essential to those around her.

I was thinking about how nice it would be if others outside her inner circle could benefit from her great knowledge and loving spirit.

It hit me like a ton of bricks - we could offer support services in the corporate world, which, it seems, has a dire shortage of love and individual support.

Fast forward a few months and voila! (Oh yeah, she is fluent in French ... as well as Spanish, Polish and English.)

The L in More L Support stands for love. For $147 a month, you as a sole proprietor or corporation will have access to Magda for her many qualifications and loving support and me if you need some quick support in marketing, sales or leadership.

15. Can you give me a sample scenario of how it works?

Okay, you work at ABC Manufacturing, and your smart boss has subscribed by visiting morelsupport.com. You are feeling unappreciated and uninspired, so you send Magda a text. Usually within five minutes, Magda will engage and provide positive, supportive and solution-based messages. It could also be a phone call, and we also do L@L (Laugh at Life) workshops at which we will have you rolling on the floor while we provide great insights on myriad workplace challenges.

16. Do you have any competition?

No. More L is a completely new concept, and it is another business that is desperately needed in our society.

17. How about your part of More L – how much marketing support are you willing to provide for $147 a month?

I consider myself an ideas guy. If you run any marketing concept or material past me, I will almost certainly give you feedback that will kick it up at least a notch or two. I am not going to have weekly two-hour brainstorming sessions in your office, but I will always be available for rapid-response creative input.

18. So what is the deal with having yourself featured on the front page of your own magazine?

I am not going to deny that it might be partially motivated by my ego, but the biggest reason is that I know it will be good for business.

Over 17 years of publishing more than 300 issues of Business Edge, I have heard countless stories of the amazing impact of being featured in the Edge.

For example, about three weeks after we featured legendary author (The Wealthy Barber) Dave Chilton, he called to congratulate me on having such a huge audience. He said that out of the thousands of profiles done on him - including in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, London Telegraph and Globe & Mail - he saw the most reaction when he was featured in Business Edge.

It was not my idea to feature myself on the front page, and all five members of my new board of directors approved it without debate. Yes, I was one of the five.

It is part of our business plan. We figured that it would take about 17 years for me to individually contact decision makers at 157,000 businesses - or we could do it in one week with a profile in Business Edge.

19. I have met your children, but it was when most were knee-high to a grasshopper. Can you give me a quick rundown?

Nick, 25, is an amazing singer/actor/dancer who graduated cum laude from Missouri State University with a bachelor of fine arts, musical theatre, in 2016 and is a genius/trainer for Apple in Calgary.

Angela, 23, finished her stint as captain of the Mount Royal University basketball team and led the country in steals in 2016/17. She has one year left for her degree in outdoor leadership and ecotourism.

Theresa, 20, is a great athlete but focuses more on being an exceptional student at St. Mary’s University in Calgary and a hard-working employee at both a restaurant and a coffee shop.

Julianna, 18, followed Theresa’s footsteps to St. Mary’s and is similarly athletic with great work ethic. Like Nick, she has the voice of an angel and performed beautiful solos with the St. Francis High choir last year.

Christina, 16, is very mature, independent and often mistaken as the oldest of my four daughters. She has a gift for child care and is highly sought-after on the babysitting circuit. She is very athletic and loves being part of the Kits Beach volleyball scene.

Benjamin, 14, is the principal reason that I have some grey hair. Thankfully, he is starting to realize how smart, charming and athletic he is. Ben can kick a soccer ball harder than most adults. When he played in his first beach volleyball tournament at age 11 with me, we won three matches and finished in third place in Tier 2 playing against adult teams.

Trey, 12, is an athlete and highly motivated entrepreneur who spends his riches on remote-controlled vehicles. My LinkedIn post about the day he sold 253 boxes of chocolate almonds garnered more than 19,000 views.

I have always been good with numbers, but that seven-kid thing really snuck up on me. I have zero regrets and love them all deeply. Their mother Karen and I split up many years ago, but I will always be grateful to her for bringing them into my life and for helping raise good humans.

20. How do you find time to play beach volleyball?

Beach volleyball is a beautiful sport that fuels my body and soul.

When I am in Vancouver, whenever the weather is decent, I work till about 4 p.m. then throw on my board shorts, play volleyball on challenge court with an amazing group of characters on beautiful Kits Beach till sundown, then jump in the ocean. Nothing beats it.

In Calgary, it is roughly the same, although ocean views and access are obstructed by the Rocky Mountains.