You can’t rely solely on other people to get things done — Put your faith in yourself and you will be rewarded.
Be bold and take well thought out chances — Some of the biggest risks of my career have resulted in the biggest successes.
Don’t stop enjoying the ride because when you get to the finish line, you’ll realize it isn’t actually the finish line. There’s always going to be new challenges and goals as you move through life.
Find a couple people you trust to lean on for advice over the years — I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of a couple of my closest confidantes
Invest in Apple — DUH!
As a part of my series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Vince Guzzo, star of Dragons’ Den and serial entrepreneur.
As the son of Italian immigrants, Guzzo looked forward to joining the family business from a young age. He worked in his father’s cinema as a young boy and bussed tables as a teen, constantly searching for ways to hone his skills and improve his knowledge of the business world. Guzzo acquired a bachelor’s degree in economics from Western University in 1991, which he then followed up with a law degree from Université du Québec à Montréal. Following the completion of his schooling, Guzzo Cinemas squared off against — and defeated — Cineplex Odeon and other industry leaders over film purchasing rights, the ownership of which would ultimately prove essential in expanding the family’s theatre empire. The fashion-forward entrepreneur eventually engineered the expansion of Guzzo Cinemas to include ten current locations across Quebec with two more slated for opening, dominating the provincial market share and making Guzzo a household name in Eastern Canada. Not one to rest on his laurels, he’s also developed one of the most successful independent contracting companies in the province, Le Groupe Guzzo Construction, a series of fine dining restaurants and the Guzzo Medical, which has helped raise millions for medical research.
Having planted his flag in the theatre business, Guzzo is now front and center as CBC’s newest Dragon, breathing metaphorical fire at nervous entrepreneurs while striking deals with others that come prepared and offer pitches that make sense in relation to the rest of his business portfolio.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in and around my father’s theatre business. I worked in the cinema doing everything from helping clean auditoriums to clipping tickets. It was a true community environment and serving the local neighborhood each and every week was one of my fondest childhood memories.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
It’s not really a story so much as a feeling that led me to enter the family business. That, and my Italian background of course! It was the deep feeling of satisfaction I got from interacting with moviegoers and everything else that went along with the movie business that made me fall in love with it from a young age. From the sound of film reels to some of the classic Hollywood flicks we screened, I loved it all and never envisioned myself in any other line of work.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Not sure if it’s the most interesting but running my cinema business and overseeing my businesses led to my role on Dragons’ Den which is definitely one of the most memorable and satisfying periods of my career. I’ve met so many unique entrepreneurs and been exposed to many amazing ideas, it’s been really fascinating to be along for the ride.
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?
I thought Dippin Dots might become a big thing. They didn’t.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Aside from Dragons’ Den, I’m also working on one new theatre opening and planning two others. Everything about the construction business is really interesting and there’s never a dull day with two large projects on the go.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Of course. I’ve made it a huge emphasis to support locally made films in Quebec and understand the need to amplify the world’s unheard voices. First of all, this allows for the widespread sharing of different ideas and cultures. Second, it serves to support underserved communities and local movements. And lastly, it’s essential that we weed out some of the stigmas that have persisted in society for too long by supporting diversity and inclusion.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- You can’t rely solely on other people to get things done — Put your faith in yourself and you will be rewarded.
- Be bold and take well thought out chances — Some of the biggest risks of my career have resulted in the biggest successes.
- Don’t stop enjoying the ride because when you get to the finish line, you’ll realize it isn’t actually the finish line. There’s always going to be new challenges and goals as you move through life.
- Find a couple people you trust to lean on for advice over the years — I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of a couple of my closest confidantes
- Invest in Apple — DUH!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Remember, you only have one shot at life, this isn’t a dress rehearsal, there’s no second chance. Keep that in mind and you’ll be grateful for what you have and embrace each and every day.
You are a person of enormous 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. 🙂
They call me Mr. Sunshine on Dragons’ Den, so of course I’d love to be a source of inspiration and positivity to all my fans and the show’s viewers.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My Grade 9 teacher helped me realize that I was dyslexic and helped me through that the whole way. It was one of his proudest moments when I made it into law school.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Expect nothing yet be grateful for everything. I have so much in my life, a supportive wife and five children. I never knew how my life would turn out when I first started but I now have a lot of reasons to be grateful each and every day.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
It would have been Steve Jobs. I would’ve asked him, ‘when you know when to walk away?’
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Instagram — @lordguzzo
Facebook — @mrsunshine.vincenzoguzzo
Twitter — @Guzzo_Vincenzo
Website — MrSunshine.com
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!