“Always listen for what they are not saying.” — spoken by the most street smart person I know, she’s one of the best business women I’ve come across and she never finished highschool.
As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kelsey Ramsden.
With over fifteen years founding, scaling, and operating innovative companies across Canada and the Caribbean, Kelsey Ramsden is globally recognized for building multiple multi-million dollar businesses. She twice earned the honor of being named Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneur and serves on the Entrepreneurship Council for the University of Western Ontario. Kelsey is a renowned thought leader and published author and holds an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario.
Accomplishments include founding construction firm Belvedere Place Development and residential project-management company Tallus Ridge Development in British Columbia — breaking barriers in traditionally male dominated fields.
As President and CEO of MINDCURE, Ramsden is banking on a different kind of wealth: mental.
MINDCURE’S mission is to identify and develop products that ease suffering, increase productivity, and enhance mental health. It was born, in part, as a response to the mental health crisis and the need to find effective treatments in areas beyond psychiatry. These include digital therapeutics, neuro-supports, and psychedelics.
With a psychedelic Renaissance underway, Ramsden finds herself a pioneer on a frontier (again) — and with the most precious of commodities. “We have one mind,” she said. “It’s our greatest asset.”
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I had a successful & interesting career in construction. It was amazing, I was one of the only women at a leadership table in the industry. I thought when I arrived at said place, when I’d checked all the boxes and jumped all the hoops, that I would feel whole, but I didn’t. I needed more. I am a cancer survivor, a wife, a mom to 3 kids, and I know I need complete fulfilment, not just checked-boxes. I sought psychedelic medicine as part of my journey and fell in love with the space and its potential. It has been a wholesale change in my life and my career and I’m wildly energized by it. I am not in this position because I was looking to be a founder, CEO or leader, I am here to bring this industry to everyone that needs it.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
Shifting the paradigm of mental health care toward a service model that does not require daily consumption of pills. I’m moving people from despair and dependency to hope and healing through psychedelics and AI. It’s a game change and who knew we would be talking about a publicly listed psychedelics company? That alone is mind blowing, then drill down to what we are doing and how we do it — it’s a ground shaker and I pinch myself daily.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Now that I look back on it, I laugh, but at the time it wasn’t funny at all. When I started my first construction business — the very first job I quoted and got was to remove some posts at the entry to a driveway. It was about $2500 that I would earn and my costs were going to be about $1500 if all went right. Then, the night before I realized I had not allowed for the machine rental in my pricing. I didn’t sleep all night. I was sick to my stomach to think I might actually lose money. I thought about telling the person it was going to cost more, but I could not bring myself to do it because I felt a quoted price should stay firm. In the morning, I checked my math and I had included the rental, the math was fine — I wound up making $1200 on that job instead of $1000. The funny part — self doubt is in us all and it can ruin a lot of nights that ought to have been restful. As an entrepreneur, we understand this all too well.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
I used to have the best lawyer ever — his name was Grant Shirreff and he was one of the most well respected lawyers in town. He had started the largest law firm in town some 30 years prior. I could call him on a Saturday morning at 5am and ask him questions about land development when I was just starting out. He would meet me down at his office, we would lean on the back of his car in the parking lot, drink coffee and talk about the things that I didn’t know…..and how MUCH I didn’t know is only clear to me now. He was always so understanding, willing to level with me and always had my back. He believed in me when I wasn’t sure I could believe in myself. Everyone should have a mentor like that.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
Purpose. Why change? I see a lot of folks creating businesses and disrupting for the sake of a 10% better product or service — not having accounted for the hurdles to adoption of change. Just because something is better does not mean that people will change histories, patterns, and beliefs, especially for something 10% better. I always ask if the disruption has a purpose greater than change. “Is it a revolution worth changing for?,” “Is the juice worth the squeeze?” as they say? If so, go for it. If not, we can look to books to see an item that has been adapted in a lot of ways — audio books, Kobo, made into movies, etc., and books stand and have for a few hundred years, so it might be worth keeping around while innovating around it.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
- “At the end of the day, all you have is your integrity.” — spoken by a man I love very much, when he had an opportunity to change his fortunes positively by millions, but it would have cost him his integrity — he chose to walk away. I’ll never forget that moment.
- “Always listen for what they are not saying.” — spoken by the most street smart person I know, she’s one of the best business women I’ve come across and she never finished highschool.
- “Be kind.” — Sometimes I find myself in situations when I would like to get even, but instead I remember to be kind. That old saying about not burning bridges is actually a good one. I can’t share the story, but I can tell you: kindness.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
After this company — I think I’ll write a couple more books, and buy a hotel. That’s what I think today, next week it will be different.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
Ok — so we’re going there are we? Well, I can only speak for myself, but more than the questioning of actions, questioning of ambition, questioning of mental toughness, I’d say that one thing that I find most challenging is the undercurrent belief that women who disrupt are heartless and cold. I’ve heard so many of my female colleagues described this way and I’d like to leave this perception a bit better than I found it. I believe I can be feminine, kind, clear, ambitious, tenacious, a CEO, a mother, a lover — all at once. In fact, I don’t ‘believe’ that — I am that.
Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?
The Four Agreements & The Little Engine That Could. Pair those two up and you can go pretty much anywhere and do pretty much anything if you have the work ethic and sound friends by your side.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Psychedelics for performance — total human and planet wide performance. This is the opposite of Tim Leary’s “turn on, tune in & drop out.” I’d like to see every person able to perform at their clearest, with great focus and love for their greatest desires. Imagine what we could do if our minds were clear.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My father always said: “Life is like a jet engine, you get out what you put in.” There isn’t much of a story to tell about that one aside from that it’s damn true. If you want love, give it. If you want wealth, give value. If you want respect, show it — you want a revolution, start it.
How can our readers follow you online?
Linkedin: Kelsey Ramsden
Check out MINDCURE the psychedelics company I co-founded at www.mindcure.com or put your money behind the movement and buy some stock 🙂
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!