Find a good group of people you look up to and add value. — The most important factor is ‘people’ that helps you get ahead in this industry. So, my best advice to the prospering industry professionals is to find individuals you can relate to, look up to, add value to them and see what happens. In my experience, it will open many successful avenues for you to grow.
As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Konnert.
As CEO of Vizsla Silver Corp., Michael Konnert is the face of the evolving mining and mineral exploration industry. For this 33-year-old young entrepreneur, his hands-on approach to mastering the business of mineral exploration, combined with his prophetic ability to discover business potential, has taken him to unforeseen success for a businessman his age. In this sense, he has been referred to as an Alchemist within his close circle. He is usually the first to spot opportunities in untapped spaces and transforms them into golden investment opportunities.
His ability to resurrect the Panuco mine, which had been dormant for several years, is one such success story. Michael raised over 100 Million dollars for Vizsla Silver, while providing a much-needed lifeline to the local community just outside the town of Concordia in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico.
His vision for the company is to establish themselves as a world leader in finding, financing and developing minerals and in setting the stage for the 4th industrial revolution. He strives towards building a resilient organization that is value-driven and has a persistent culture that allows adapting to ever-changing industry conditions.
This young man envisions himself as a forward-thinking “Mining Millennial” who speaks the language of and represents the aspirations of the new generation of leaders in the mining and exploration industry with a clear commitment to ethics, workplace safety, diversity and inclusion, ESG and constructive relationships.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you please tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I have had an active interest in investing from an early age. My ambition, persistence and dedicated energy have led me to where I am today. When I was 13 years old, I bought my first stock after having saved money doing odd jobs. I always had a vision for myself and kept on pursuing my goals. Today, I am the Founder and CEO of Vizsla Silver and Managing Director of Inventa Capital. I have raised over 110M dollars for the company and have acquired the district-scale Panuco Project, which delivers high-grade silver and gold, and with drilling in place since last year.
What makes it meaningful for me is the way that these projects can materially improve the lives of our shareholders, as well as the communities in which we operate. As a ‘Mining Millennial’, I place great emphasis on ethical and sustainable businesses. I hope to challenge preconceived notions and show an evolved and progressive side to mining, while also building bridges among all our stakeholder groups.
Can you please share with us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
When I was younger, I thought that I was going to be the next big thing in real estate. At age 18, I bought my first house, refurbished it, and managed to sell it right before the global financial crisis of 2008. Luckily, I was able to foresee the upcoming crash and managed to get out on time without any losses. That lead me to reconsider my choices. I finished my degree in entrepreneurship and ended up in the minerals and mining space afterward.
Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?
My philosophy in life has been to make money while being cognizant of the public good. I have also been fortunate to have received great mentorship from people whom I look up to along the way, so I try to be very generous with my time and provide advice and guidance to people in my extended circle of friends. Similarly in my career, I invest my time into adding value to our shareholders and promoting an ethical, sustainable, and community-driven approach to doing business. My goal is to build a resilient organization, one that is guided by values, being trendsetters, doing it in our own way and adapt to changing conditions.
Ok thank you for that. Let’s now move to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change the World”?
My big idea revolves around making ‘good money’. I believe that if every company in minerals and mining placed importance on the ‘business of good’ and building strong communities then the world would be a much better place. I acquired the Panuco Project through Vizsla Silver in Sinaloa, Mexico, after it had been underdeveloped and undercapitalized for many years. The community had previously relied on mining for generations, so it has been very meaningful to me to be an integral part of the community’s revitalization and long-term economic wellbeing. We are not there to make money quickly and leave. We want to want to make sure that we create a positive impact and leave a legacy for generations to come.
How do you think this will change the world?
Every progressive organization must think of the long-term impact of its operations and the legacy it leaves behind. I strongly believe that if we take this approach to measure success then the world would be a better place. ESG adherence, management quality and long-term community impacts should be on every investor’s radar before they choose which companies to support. Likewise, companies must choose their investors as well. Shared vision is important — as to how and where that money is to be invested. We have turned down money from groups that did not share our values and approach at the time. I would also highly encourage companies to be more intuitive, to check in and listen to all stakeholders involved and to adapt their strategy so that its truly a win-win situation for all.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?
I cannot pinpoint one specific example. However, we tend to form our values and ideals over time and (hopefully) apply them into our businesses. I strongly believe that we live at a time when we can highlight the positive effect that the field of mineral exploration and mining has. I have formed those observations from working closely with industry professionals and seeing how many industry players place great emphasis on ESG components. From a community development standpoint, we ensure that we give back to communities we operate and hire local talent. Mining is needed now more than ever as we transition towards clean energy and a green economy.
What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?
For widespread adoption to happen, we need to spread the message through the right avenues. Positive media messages definitely help, as well as a mindset that is open to making money while doing good. We need to take a close look at business strategy in the long-term. It is important to maximize value for investors, while also ensuring that business decisions are mutually beneficial to all parties involved.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
1-Find a good group of people you look up to and add value
The most important factor is ‘people’ that helps you get ahead in this industry. So, my best advice to the prospering industry professionals is to find individuals you can relate to, look up to, add value to them and see what happens. In my experience, it will open many successful avenues for you to grow.
2-Be ready for long hours and rough climates
Although this is a fun challenge and what drew me to the industry, it is certainly not a 9 to 5 job. Your investors are likely to live worldwide, so you have to adapt to their time zone. Mine sites are often found in deserts or extremely cold climates far away from the comfort of city life; you must be ready for all kinds of weather conditions. In the end, the rewards outweigh all cons.
3-Knowledge of science is essential, but your network is all the more important
You must have a strong understanding of all the technical and scientific parameters of the exploration and mining process, but you will likely have a dedicated team of geologists to streamline the process. As CEO, you will spend much time in the field and in front of investors. You must feel comfortable being in the spotlight and build relationships with investors and stakeholders. If you are not a people person, then this job is not for you.
4-You must be able to preview success and have ‘prophetic’ ability
You must have a sixth sense for potential and an insatiable hunger for success. Do your research well, but also go with your gut feeling and intuition when considering prospective projects or investors. Most of all, be ready to learn and grow.
5-You need to have a purpose. Money alone is not it.
Make sure that your goal and vision are clearly laid out, and never compromise those no matter what the temptations are. You will surely make money, but that in itself should never be a goal. Think of what you are doing differently and how your career is impacting the lives of others. It all comes down to how you want to be remembered at the end of your journey.
Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?
I strongly believe that persistence is key to success. Every missed opportunity poses a learning experience and eventually leads to something bigger and better. The key is to observe, revisit and learn from past mishaps to inform your future decisions. It is also highly important to have your goals, vision, and boundaries clearly defined. Base your actions on how they impact those in your close circle and the larger community overall. To me, the need to succeed also stems from the need of making ‘good money and making a positive difference in this world, one project at a time.
Some very well-known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I would invite them to see Vizsla from a new perspective. We are rapidly becoming one of the world’s most important silver discoveries with incredible upside. Because of this, we may have the world’s most aggressive silver exploration and development program, and I think we can be in production faster than anyone expects. We are a team of forward thinkers who are highly invested in increasing shareholder value, minimizing risk while also placing great emphasis on ethical business and community development. Our Panuco Project is a district-scale asset with significant high-grade silver and gold discovery potential, containing more than 20 veins. Panuco already has substantial infrastructure, ideal location and our drill results continuously generate excellent results. Last but not the least, our engagement with the local community is solid and we share a strong collaborative relationship.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
We are very active on LinkedIn (@Vizsla Silver). We share company updates, industry news and insights, and published interviews frequently as we grow our investor base. You can also feel free to reach out to me on my personal LinkedIn for any advice, suggestions, or business inquiries. I make sure to respond to all inquiries on time and welcome all feedback.
Thank you for these great insights and for the time you spent with this interview. We wish you only continued success!