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Mentor Spotlight: Q&A with Brian Scharfstein of Canadian Footwear

Futurpreneur | December 13, 2017

Here at Futurpreneur, we are big believers in the power of mentorship.

The right mentor can help a young entrepreneur turn a burgeoning business into a successful enterprise.

Brian Scharfstein is just one of the many mentors volunteering their time to support new Canadian business owners. Based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, He is the principal owner of Canadian Footwear and the FootHealth Centre in Winnipeg and Calgary. Brian’s passion for footwear and foot care dates to his childhood as his family owned a footwear business.

We caught up with Brian to learn more about him, his experience and his passion for mentorship.

Tell me a bit about yourself.

I have been self-employed in Winnipeg for approximately fifty years. I have been a chronic entrepreneur since I was seventeen years old. I have both successfully and unsuccessfully run a number of businesses. My formal education really did not begin until I was forty years old. Brand building, Marketing, and promoting my businesses have always been my specialty.

Tell me about your experience and career path. 

I started my sales career buying outdoor clothing and footwear, then traveling to northern communities selling my products. I opened my first wholesale distribution company when I was seventeen. Shortly after that, I opened my first retail outlet. I constantly marketed and promoted sales events. Retail has always been in my blood. In the 1980s, I took a short sabbatical and sold both residential and commercial real estate. In 2000, I achieved my designation as a Certified Pedorthist (Canada). Combining my new profession and my retail experience, I bought Canadian Footwear.

What made you want to become a mentor?

The best way to learn is to help others. Mentoring has gifted me the opportunity to challenge myself and others.

What has been the most rewarding part about being a mentor?

Investing my time in listening and sharing the ideas that entrepreneurs are so passionate about, provides me with the fuel to continue to grow my interests in business.

What has been the biggest challenge of mentoring?

The biggest challenge is finding the right mentee. A bad match is not a good thing.

Why do you feel it’s important young entrepreneurs have mentors?

Everyone should have a sounding board. It can be a small selected group or one person. Mentors provide the opportunity to reflect and self-examine.

Why would you recommend that other people become mentors?

Being a mentor keeps you on your toes all the time. Mentoring is inspiring.

What do you feel makes a successful mentor/mentee relationship?

When both the mentor and mentee are willing to listen to each other, then you have half of the recipe for success. The other half requires a proper plan for the process.

Anything else you’d like to add?

You’ve heard this before. Remember your personal strength. Success is based on relationships and experiences. Always be honest and sell yourself first. You are the primary brand in your business.

Interested in becoming a volunteer business mentor? Click here

Written by: Jasmine Williams, Social Media and Content Specialist, Futurpreneur Canada