Investor Spotlight with Brian Pageau

Posted in News on December 15, 2020

Investor Spotlight with Brian Pageau

 

image-40.jpgBio
Brian Pageau 
President, Foresight Management

Brian Pageau lives in Holland, MI with his wife of 17 years, Anne, and their two young children, Maeve (2.5 yrs) and Simon (10 months). Nothing he is associated with below is remotely possible without his exceedingly talented partner in business and life, Anne Pageau.  Additionally, Brian has been supported and guided by amazing mentors, friends, and parents along the way.  
 
“It takes a village” as they say…
 
Brian Pageau graduated from Hope College in 2003 with a degree in History and secondary education.  After teaching for a few years, he helped start an environmentally friendly office supply company.  In 2010, Brian joined Foresight Management (then Midwest Energy Group) in a sales and marketing role.  Brian was promoted to General Manager in 2013 and became President in 2015.  As President, Brian has led Foresight from a (5) employee Michigan-based energy retrofit contractor, to a (21) employee full-service energy and sustainability consulting firm with a global client base.  
 
Brian currently serves as Board President of Community Action House (www.communityactionhouse.org), Board and Executive Committee member of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council (www.mieibc.org), and Chair of the Holland Community Energy Plan’s current Strategic Development Team.
 
Along the way…Brian co-founded MaxOne, (https://maxone.ai/) a SaaS start up in 2014, was named a Grand Rapids Business Journal “40 under 40” recipient in 2017, was a Varsity high school basketball coach from 2004-2015, was a Committee Member for Holland Area Young Life (https://holland.younglife.org/)
from 2005-2012, and served as the Citizen Spokesperson for Holland’s Community Energy Plan Commercial/Institutional task force in 2014.
 
 
Questions:
 
Brian, you have years of Senior Executive leadership experience, in which I’m sure a lot of lessons were learned. What has been one that you’ve been able to pass along?

Many people have seen potential and gifts in me that I did not see in myself.  They trusted me, encouraged me, gave me responsibility, and gave me autonomy when I had most definitely not yet earned those things.  They didn’t make me work to earn their trust…it was mine from the beginning, to keep, or to lose.
 
I can’t overstate how much that trust and belief in me has shaped me, so I do my best to pass those amazing gifts along to others.  Hopefully the people I interact with, especially those whom I work with, would say I passed trust, encouragement, responsibility, and autonomy on to them right from the beginning of our relationship.
 
Talk to us about company culture. What are some values that you and your team live by?

My primary responsibility at Foresight is to create an environment where our team members can become the best versions of themselves.  Not the best worker they can be for Foresight, but the best version of themselves as a human-being. If the people I work with are healthy and flourishing, we’ll get closer to fulfilling our purpose and mission as an organization. Our company’s culture is where I spend much of my time and I believe is the vehicle with which we unlock our potential as individuals and as a team.
 
Our four core values at Foresight are vulnerability, curiosity, enthusiasm, and competitive greatness.  
 
We believe a thriving work environment is built on a foundation of vulnerability.  Each individual on our team must feel safe enough to be vulnerable and valued enough to be heard.  We believe great ideas can come from anyone on the team, regardless of position or experience.  If our people don’t feel it’s psychologically safe to share their ideas, then we are stifling innovation and human flourishing.  Additionally, it takes vulnerability to admit mistakes. We talk about and celebrate mistakes every Friday in our all-team meeting, so failure is de-stigmatized and people (hopefully) aren’t afraid of it.  Failure is simply an opportunity to learn, and we can’t learn from each other if we don’t feel the psychological safety that comes with healthy vulnerability.
 
We believe the root of all innovation is, in its most basic form, a spirit of curiosity and the continual adoption of a “beginner’s mindset”. Our willingness and capacity to be inquisitive empowers us to build trust with teammates and clients. Curiosity enables a sense of wonder and humility, ultimately exposing opportunities to serve teammates and clients in more impactful ways.  Curiosity is how we disrupt our own way of doing things.
 
We believe people and organizations care about energy and the environment, yet these same organizations often have higher priorities that diminish their ability to execute.  This gap, between “desire” and “action”, is basically at the core of why our clients hire us. Our insights, character, and expertise are qualities our team brings to our clients, but those valuable attributes are not enough to inspire action. Unbridled enthusiasm is contagious and the special ingredient we try to bring to our clients. Enthusiasm creates momentum and inspires action. 
 
And finally, Competitive Greatness.  I’m a basketball coach at heart, so if you know hoops, you won’t be surprised to hear that John Wooden’s teachings have heavily influenced me. In his pyramid of success, Coach Wooden puts “Competitive Greatness” at the top of the pyramid and says, “Competitive Greatness is having a real love for the hard battle knowing it offers the opportunity to be at your best when your best is required.”
 
At Foresight, we believe Competitive Greatness is not limited to a particular function or moment in time, it is a posture and attitude we all strive to embody every day.  Our goal is to fall in love with the pursuit of being our best.  Energy and sustainability can be tough and challenging topics for many companies. When we are hired, our job is to embrace the challenge and relish in the opportunity to be our best when our best is required.
 
 
Sustainability is a topic that you and your team have deep and wide expertise on. Can you describe Foresight’s philosophy around sustainability and describe how it intersects with other business priorities? 

At Foresight, we believe Sustainability and its underlying business concepts and practices, is a driving force behind the shift from a “Shareholder Driven Economy” to an “Stakeholder Driven Economy”.  There’s a ton of great literature and content out there about these economic philosophies and the shift that is taking place, so I won’t go into detail here.  A simple way to think about it is the “Shareholder Driven Economy” is overly focused on driving value to shareholders to the point where other stakeholder groups are diminished, companies stop thinking long-term, and quarterly financial results are the only priority.  The “Stakeholder Driven Economy” is the idea that company decisions should create value for as many stakeholders as possible, and no decision is made at the expense of any one stakeholder group.  (Stakeholders at a company are typically defined as, employees, customers, leadership, shareholders, suppliers/vendors, the local community, and the natural environment the business operates in.)
 
Companies that pursue Sustainability and sustainable business practices (Stakeholder Driven Economy) have been proven to outperform other business models because they are purpose driven, attract better talent, are focused on innovation, are thinking about the long-term, and most importantly, are empowering human flourishing.  
 
We believe financial excellence does not have to come at the expense of the environment, the worker, the customer, or a company’s supply chain.  In fact, we believe the opposite is true.  Lasting financial excellence happens because of value creation for the worker, the customer, the supply chain, and the environment.  
 
It’s an honor and privilege for our team to partner with companies who choose to go on this journey, because when fully adopted, Sustainability is all-encompassing and transformational.
 
What is a book that you’ve read or an influencer that you watch that has made you a better leader?

There are way too many to name.  I love to read and listen to books, and I listen to a lot of podcasts as well.  Here’s a few that come to mind…in no particular order because I love them all!
 
  • Conscious Capitalism – John Mackey and Raj Sisodia
  • The Obstacle is the Way – Ryan Holiday
  • Lessons in Leadership – John Wooden
  • Dare to Lead, Daring Greatly, and The Gifts of Imperfection – Brene Brown
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
  • Drive – Daniel Pink
  • Delivering Happiness – Tony Hsieh
  • Start with Why – Simon Sinek (Ted Talk is just as good as the book in my opinion)
  • Good to Great and Great by Choice – Jim Collins
  • Grit – Angela Duckworth
  • Give and Take – Adam Grant
  • Culture Code and Talent Code – Daniel Coyle
  • Thinking in Bets – Annie Duke
  • Sapiens – Yuval Noah Harari
  • Principles – Ray Dalio
  • Flourish – Martin Seligman
  • Podcast – The Knowledge Project – Shane Parrish
  • Podcast – The Daily Stoic – Ryan Holiday
  • Podcast – Revisionist History – Malcolm Gladwell
Can you share why it’s a priority to Foresight Management as an energy and sustainability company to invest in economic development?
 
West Michigan is home to our workforce and many of our families, and even though many of our clients are spread out all over North America, we believe it’s so important to support our local economy however we can. The collaborative nature of economic development in bringing together large and small companies, non-profits, educational institutions and municipalities is inspiring and vital. In fact, it’s a great example of “Sustainability” at work!