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Pharmpreneur of the week Mike Jaczko: If you are not failing, you are not trying!

We all need purpose in our lives. My purpose is to help people and to keep paying attention. My colleagues and I remain committed to keeping independent community pharmacies in the hands of the next generation of entrepreneurs where possible.
Mike Jaczko



8T0 UofT Pharmacy Grad

Chartered Investment Manager CIM®2012

Family Enterprise Advisor, FEA 2020


Partner & Portfolio Manager, KJH Harrison & Partners, Toronto

What excites you about being an entrepreneur?

The thrill of the hunt! Every day is different, never a dull moment in my day. The art of strategically allocating capital to earn a risk-adjusted return for a client has me jumping out of bed every day. I really enjoy helping young people. 

How has your entrepreneurial career evolved since your graduation?

If you are not evolving, you are basically going backwards because competitors and the business environment you operate in are constantly changing, evolving, and expanding. Therefore, our value proposition, which was built on well established values, clearly defined goals and objectives needed to evolve to remain fresh and to provide meaningful value for the hundreds of families that my colleagues and I guide.

What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?

Change was foisted on me when we sold Big V to Shoppers in the mid-90s, which left me with unfinished business, you might say. We all need purpose in our lives. My purpose is to help people and to keep paying attention. My colleagues and I remain committed to keeping independent community pharmacies in the hands of the next generation of entrepreneurs where possible.

How do you define success?

Your definition of success must constantly change as you move through the phases of your career. This principle applies to community pharmacists and pharmacy owners as well. In fact, we’ve identified key owner needs and attributes at each stage of independent pharmacy ownership. It is important to note that adapting and making changes while your business is running well is exactly the time to advance your practice/business. Yes, it is counter-intuitive! 

As a successful entrepreneur, what continues to drive you?

The best place to establish control over your practice is to work for yourself. Young pharmacy grads should be encouraged to take control of their own destiny. Making a real measurable difference in young people’s lives, whether it be young community pharmacists or elite professional athletes. We provide sage advice and guidance – a voice they can count on. But don’t expect to the coddled!

What are the biggest challenges to being an entrepreneur?

Fear of failure. If you are not failing, you are not trying! Self-doubt is endemic in our culture. Ben Sasse writes about this in his book, “The Vanishing American Adult.” Granted, it is tougher out there for young upstarts than it was when I graduated. Many of the “old guard” pharmacy leaders and operators have retired for sure so it is getting tougher to borrow confidence from those who came before us. I encourage young entrepreneurs to find good mentors.

Furthermore, today, young entrepreneurs are not encouraged by Canadian pharmacy schools to go into business for themselves. The proliferation of PharmD programs has pushed teaching basic management principles out of most pharmacy school curriculums. I’ve always said that the business of pharmacy MUST be in balance with the profession of pharmacy. That’s why a picture of an equilibrium balance appears on the front of our co-authored book “Pharmacy Management in Canada.” Entrepreneurship requires self-awareness and problem-solving skills.

How do you manage work/life balance?

To a certain extent, work/life balance and always being in control are illusions. Full immersion and total commitment are scary stuff. Admittedly, there are times when something gives. Therefore, self-awareness and emotional intelligence are paramount to staying on the rails. Also, surrounding yourself with the right people and

experienced advisors you trust can serve as important feedback guideposts along your path…to adjust when you do stray off the path. 

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

The Vanishing American Adult by Ben Sasse

Lifespan by David A. Sinclair

Pharmacy Management in Canada – K.W. Hindmarsh, Editor-in-Chief

The Pharmacists’ Guide to Selling Their Business – Max Beairsto and Mike Jaczko

Strangers in Paradise – How Families Adapt to Wealth Across Generations – James Grubman

SkateGuard – Advice for Surviving and Thriving in Professional Hockey – Mike Jaczko and Rob Martini

Cross Cultures – How Global Families Negotiate Change Across Generations – Dennis T. Jaffe and James Grubman

Generation to Generation – Life Cycles of Family Business – Gersick, Davis, Hampton & Lansberg 

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

Find a few mentors you can trust. Read a broad range of material, not just the social media feeds that you receive daily, but rather allow yourself to see points of view that you may not necessarily gravitate to naturally. Perspective is key…. developing the ability to see things for what they truly are takes focus, success and invariably failure.

LinkedIn: @SherifGuorgui

Instagram: @SherifGuorgui

Facebook: @Sherif Seif Guorgui

Twitter: @Sherif_Guorgui

Let’s all recognize the privilege of being able to serve our patients and clients. But remember, with privilege comes responsibility to give back to the communities you practise in.

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