The newest “dragon” to join CBC’s hit show Dragon’s Den, Lane Merrifield is one of Canada’s leading tech entrepreneurs. He is the founder of Club Penguin, the largest children’s online social network. At age 28, he sold it to Disney for $350 million, and, as their youngest executive vice president, turned it into a billion-dollar brand.
In 2012, Lane returned to his entrepreneurial roots and launched FreshGrade, a learning assessment tool that connects teachers, parents, and students to help personalize and improve learning. It’s now used in 80% of districts across Canada. Lane is also the founder of Wheelhouse, an organization that invests in and supports early-stage tech companies and entrepreneurs through mentorship, access to capital, and connections to global business networks.
Under his leadership, Lane’s teams have won dozens of awards including a prestigious BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television) award for Club Penguin. Lane is also the recipient of an Honorary Fellows Award and a Business Leader of the Year award from the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, and has been named as one of the “Top 35 Executives Under 35” by The Hollywood Reporter.
Lane currently sits on the board of Spin Master and the TELUS Friendly Future Foundation.
We’re so excited to share our conversation with Lane Merrifield with you! Kristi & I both met Lane at Baldface Lodge separately, four years apart. But it was the same qualities in Lane that struck us both. He’s one of the most down-to-earth, welcoming, engaging, and interested people we’ve ever met. Yes, interest-ED (also interest-ing, but we’re sticking with ED for now). He truly wants to connect and learn from everyone he encounters now matter how different their respective walks-of-life may be.
Lane has achieved a level of business and financial success that many of us could only dream of, but it’s not his success itself that we admire, but how grounded, unchanged, and unattached to it he is. Lane has maintained a level perspective and always remains focused on how he can contribute to the world around him.
In this episode we discuss:
The three skills/subjects that are the most important for students to learn, but are often overlooked
How being aligned in the ‘why’ is crucial to business success
How Lane went from running remote controlled alligators at Disney Land to being an executive vice president at Disney
The benefit of not identifying what you do with who you are
Lane’s foray into reality television as a dragon on Dragon’s Den (what Shark Tank is to the rest of the world)
“One of the upsides of my school experience as a kid, was that I had to make sure I wasn’t defined by what I did in school… as I got older I learned to not overly associate who I am with what I do.”
“If you don’t let it define you when you have it, then you’re not going to let it define you when you don’t.”
“There’s a thrill in overcoming the fear, there’s a thrill in moving past the fear.”
“You have to take risk in order to get better at anything in life.”
“That’s what it’s about, like ‘how am I getting better?’ Not this idea that if I can’t be the best, then I’m just not going to do it all.”
“I love life. I’ve always loved taking risks and doing crazy things.”
“Just leave it better than when you came. Leave this world a little better environmentally, in business, friendships, relationships, even if you part ways. Just be good to people and everything tends to work out.”
The title of Lane’s episode is “Being aligned in the ‘why.’” it’s this element that has kept Lane grounded through all of the highs-and-lows of his business and a large part of his business success – Club Penguin, Freshgrade and beyond. Lane didn’t set out to make a fortune. He set out to solve a problem for his children, he has a strong raison d’etre, as the French would say, a reason for being. And for all of us, this is an important concept to absorb from Lane’s story.
When we lose sight of our why, when start taking action for reasons that aren’t in alignment with our values, we quickly burnout. When what we’re focused on is the outward manifestation of success – lots of money, big houses, a ton of Instagram followers, we fail to acknowledge the success of showing up to contribute to the world in a meaningful way, even if it goes unnoticed by everyone around us.
So, are you living in alignment with your why? If not, what can you remove or add to get you closer to being aligned with why you’re showing up each day? And for those of you who’ve never thought about this concept, take some time to reflect on what truly lights you up and see what you can do to create more of that.
As always, thanks for tuning in! It’s an honor to spend this time with each of you & we appreciate your ongoing support. Have a wonderful week & we’ll be back soon!