My First Seven
Episode 13

A Few Good Ideas, Well Executed with Ian MacGregor

published on

What happens when you put the right mind, the right values, the right work ethic in front of the right apprenticeship and a world of opportunity? 

Ian MacGregor has had a 50+ year career as an engineer, entrepreneur, business builder, inventor, investor... it has led to a crescendo of a world-shaping master craftsman of an entrepreneur.

If you think I am exaggerating, check out the museum of antique tools and machinery that he has conceived, constructed and curated in a fantastic subterranean concrete structure in Alberta's mystic foothills. The collection includes pieces like a full sized, two story tall steam engine from the industrial revolution - buried underground; or the EXACT prototype machine that the very first helical drill bit was made on. These are things that MASSIVELY transformed our world whether you appreciate it or not. 

Or just look at the 9.5 Billion dollar, First-of-a-Kind, Bitumen to Diesel plus carbon capture refining complex that he and his partners at NorthWest Capital recently completed. If you don't know this story, you haven't been paying attention, and really missed out. NW Cap solved one of the most complex set of hurdles to get this thing done, but made it LOOK tremendously elegant and well timed. They got A LOT of haters from the both the ill-informed and overly-informed crowds the whole way, but when you look at the REAL numbers, it is a clear slam dunk economically as well as a truly forward thinking piece of design. I love seeing great examples of projects that advance us meaningfully on the sustainability continuum, trust me, it is going to lead to tremendous things for this place.

If you're an engineering nerd like I pretend to be sometimes, this is like witnessing a real life version of Iron Man or Batman at work. The guy still boxes on the weekends!

We cover topics such as:

  • Ian's thoughts on acquiring existing businesses as an entrepreneurial strategy with special points to the current owners contemplating selling
  • Ian's personal entrepreneurial journey which includes inspiration from Barber's Gamble, a $2500 loan, and an astute ability to pay attention to the right chance opportunities along the way 
  • Capturing additional risk premium as an entrepreneur through engineering knowledge
  • Managing risk, partnerships and identifying true expertise
  • Getting clear on personal values
  • Improving prioritization and decision making
  • Validating opinions for correctness
  • Deep dive on the myth of refineries being a poor economic investment
  • A little O&G Tech-Talk 
  • Future looking thoughts on what Alberta can do to remain prosperous, our place as Canadians, and leveraging idle sensors to create an open source data library for future generations of entrepreneurs 
  • Plus probably the best rapid fire sessions I've recorded including a surprising take down of discount cashflow analysis of all things

    This is what forward motion as an entrepreneur looks like. Build it deliberately and quietly, stay committed, focus on the things you're good at and enjoy, apply what you learned on previous work, but most of all, don't stop!

    Ian shared that someone once described him as "not the easiest guy in the world to work for", but I think he's probably one of a very small handful of people on this earth that I actually would relish working for. 

    I loved doing this episode, and truly hope you enjoy and get as much out of it as I did.

    Other People Mentioned
    Peter Drucker
    Abraham Lincoln
    Ulysses S. Grant 
    Ryan Holiday recounting General Sherman's March to the Sea
    Ryan Holiday - Daily Stoic
    Brian Fry - 
    Enhance Energy / Alberta Carbon Trunk Line
    Metal Tech Alley (Trail, BC)
    Carraig Ridge



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