OBJ, chamber launch new club to bring together city’s brightest business minds

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Tom Pechloff
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The Ottawa Business Journal and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce have recognized 680 Forty under 40 recipients over the last 17 years. Now, they are teaming up to form a new club aimed at reconnecting a select group of these leading entrepreneurs.

HazloLaw - Business Lawyers founder and CEO Hugues Boisvert.

Modelled after the Harvard Alumni worldwide network, the Forty Under 40 Growth Club hopes to foster an environment of shared knowledge, ideas and experience, where members can support each other professionally and personally. The club would also form a board of advisers to which each member would have access.

The club is the brainchild of Ottawa lawyer Hugues Boisvert of HazloLaw - Business Lawyers. Mr. Boisvert, himself a 2013 Forty under 40 recipient, says the club is built on the idea that success cannot be achieved in isolation. It requires collective input and support of the community.

He said being recognized last year was a great honour, but short-lived.

“You get the event, the gala, the brand recognition for one night and a piece in the paper, but after that, that’s it,” he said. “You have no way to connect with these people. You see them at one cocktail party and often times, you just exchange business cards and after this, you never see them ever again.”

Until now.

“We have the resources, we have the people, and we have the connections to make things happen. Let’s do this,” said Mr. Boisvert, who stressed the club will be more than just another networking group.

Ottawa Business Events, a joint venture between OBJ and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, will help organize the club. Its vice-president, Susan Blain, said it’s something that has been long overdue.

“There’s a lot of wealth in that group, a lot of knowledge, a lot of experience, expertise,” said Ms. Blain, “and I’m really excited to part of it and see what great ideas and concepts come out of it for this city and for the individuals who participate.”

Members need to be genuine, Mr. Boisvert said, and be willing to open up, leaving their egos at the door.

That’s why the application form is simply a written response to two questions:

What is your definition of success?

What is your biggest failure and how did it impact your life and/or business?

Those who advance past the application process will move on to the interview phase, where they will have to talk openly about their failures.

“It appears easy,” said Mr. Boisvert. “But to actually sit down in front of a group of 10 people ... and talk openly about your failure, it’s not everyone who is willing to do that.”

The successful applicants can expect three events in the first year, with the first one to be held some time in October. There, they will once again open up about their successes and failures and get a chance to really know each other.

Members will then decide what the final two events will be. Mr. Boisvert said he would rather start with three meaningful events instead of six events where members might feel as though they wasted their night.

Mr. Boisvert said he sees multiple benefits to membership in the club.

“You really have all the trailblazers of Ottawa in politics, business, not-for-profit, government you really have some serious heavy hitters here,” he said.

The deadline for applications is Sept. 22. The membership fee is $650 plus HST, with the money going to organize the year’s events.

Organizations: Harvard Alumni, Growth Club, Ottawa Chamber of Commerce

Geographic location: Ottawa

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