Today we present part two of Ron LeBlanc’s interview. Ron loves the concept of the hero’s journey so it’s no surprise that the one book that profoundly impacted his life is Joseph Campbell‘s The Hero With a Thousand Faces. To generate great ideas, he immerses himself in art and hangs out with “great” people. This makes sense because a study by INSEAD business school revealed that networking is one of the five discovery skills for innovation.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Ron LeBlanc: I am a 58-year old Canadian and the Chairman of Madacana Holding Inc, a fairly major player in the gem business in Madagascar. I have a sapphire mine and land bank in Madagascar. We’ve been in Madagascar since 2004, and I took over operation and control of the mine in 2006, which is located in the south of Madagascar. Prior to 2006, I was a gem buyer.
Madagascar is a complex place, but I have experience doing business in Africa and I enjoy it. Madagascar is probably the best place in the world for gems so it was the right place and the right time. I am a low functioning polymath and I have done a lot of things: I’ve been in bars, restaurants and I have been in the aesthetics business for a long, long time. After two years of exploration, I am ready to go into serious mechanized mining in the gem business in Madagascar.
As an Invisible Mentor, what is one piece of advice that you would give to readers?
Ron LeBlanc: Follow your bliss, follow your passion and stay current at all times. You are always unfinished, you are always working on something you want to be and will be. Have a leading kind of curiosity that gets you access to all the information in your particular sector. You have to be passionate, and if you are not, the universe will conspire against you. You want the universe to support you. The intelligent universe will support someone who is operating within their passion and following it.
How do you integrate your personal and professional life?
Ron LeBlanc: It’s together and I think in some ways the guys who are surviving here do not separate their personal and professional life, it’s all integrated. But when I say that, there has to be sacrifices. But most powerful people don’t see it as a sacrifice.
What’s a major regret that you’ve had in life?
Ron LeBlanc: I don’t really have any regrets. I think I will have regrets when I finish having life. While you are in life you do not have regrets. Regret is the illumination you get by looking back when you have finished having life. I do not have regrets because I keep moving forward.
What are five life lessons that you have learned so far?
- Follow your bliss, follow your passion: when you follow your passion you find that the universe conspires to help you along the way
- Notwithstanding that passion, you need an honest assessment of the possibilities within the choice which you have taken. If your passion is to move piano you know there is a limitation there. If your passion is to be a head of a company you know that’s a different thing completely so you have to have a realistic view on your ambitions
- Once your way has been chosen, the lesson in life is that you have to be the best. Every individual is unique in some way and has unique sets of talents of experiences and that uniqueness has to be shored up by all the information possible. You have to know what you are doing and be efficient in the career that you’ve chosen.
- You cannot expand your business without co-operating. One of the imperatives is survival of the co-operatives. Every expanding business needs a level of faith and you need trusting people around you. You need to be able to give up some of the power and co-operate.
- You can be wrong, and you have to be able to take a bullet, be candid about it and say that you are wrong. You have to be quick about it. That’s the best way forward. Meet those challenges, meet those failures with candor.
When you have some down time, how do you spend it?
Ron LeBlanc: I read at least 50 books each year. I am constantly reading and going to the theatre. I do this because I need the balm of escape so when I am in the theatre I just lose myself. I need that. The driving consciousness during wakefulness that I need for my business is nice, but the balm of escape allows me to get relief from that.
What process do you use to generate great ideas?
Ron LeBlanc: I hang out with great people, I read a lot, and I find that there is sympathy between what I’m reading and what I’m thinking, so the topics and the ambience is often found in the literature. I often go to the arts that I personally choose, or the friends that I hang around with, when I need to generate great ideas.
What’s your favourite quotation and why?
Ron LeBlanc: “Man plans, God laughs.” Yiddish proverb
It’s difficult to make a plan. You need a vision for it moving forward and you need to place milestones and you better be ready to adapt because making plans is like trying to predict the weather.
How do you define success?
Ron LeBlanc: I think success really is living with your passions. If you are a busker on the street and you’re playing music, or you’re trading on the floor or you’re being a mother, if you are doing what you want to do, that’s success. Living to your talents and your passions is really the measure of success.
In your opinion what’s the formula for success?
Ron LeBlanc: If you are blessed with a clearly defined and delineated passion, the formula for success is to be brave and to jump into that passion of interest.
What are the steps you took to succeed in your field?
Ron LeBlanc: Straight and unmitigated courage and confidence in my own talent and intelligence but also I have learned more and more that I need a supporting group of professionals as I move forward, education and professional support and a great deal of courage. Go for it!
What advice do you have for someone just starting out in your field?
Ron LeBlanc: Collect all the information possible about the field, look at it and really be mindful of how the field moves you, and make sure that it is field that you want to be in. Look at yourself and make sure that it is the place for you. You only have one life so you want to be sure.
If trusted friends could introduce you to five people that you’ve always wanted to meet, who would you choose? And what would you say to them?
Barack Obama: I think he is a fascinating and interesting character
Joseph Campbell: I would like to have met Joseph Campbell and talk to him about the mythological state of man and the power of myth
Albert Einstein: I would have liked to meet Einstein because I am interested in science and math and would have liked to talk to him about gravity
Georgia O’Keefe: She is an interesting and fascinating painter and of course I’d like to talk to all the painters. I’d like to talk to Clinton, Van Gogh and a few of the other guys. I’m also interested in the impressionists.
And I would like to say to them, “What have you learned?” I think every character has a place of pure experience and I would love to learn what they have learned over and above everybody else.
Which one book had a profound impact on your life? What was it about this book that impacted you so deeply? Did you have an emotional or intellectual attachment to this book? Why?
Ron LeBlanc: The Hero with a Thousand Faces (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell) by Joseph Campbell. I see myself as being on a low grade journey and I’ve always been out in the world doing deeds, and I guess this is a self mythology and Joseph Campbell without question has gathered quite clearly all the pan-global myths and has articulated a pretty distinct underpinning of man’s journey, a kind of hero’s journey. He talks about Prometheus, Jason and so on. He talks about all these journeys and he really spoke to me. I have been out there on this mythological journey. I think it is very true and we are all mythological beasts and we follow the stages of mythology whether we know it or not.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are five books that you would like to have with you and why? Summarize the book in two sentences.
Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes
Short stories by Alice Munroe
Bill Moyer’s Interview with Joseph Campbell, Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth: He asks the pivotal questions and collates the information for us
Ann Michael’s Fall On Your Knees: I love poets who become writers. The story is about the Canadian experience, very richly articulated.
Short stories by Alice Munroe: I love Alice Munroe. She can make even the most mundane experience a kind of graceful experience. She is regarded as the best short story writer in the world.
What one music CD and movie would you like to have with you (on the deserted island) and why?
Movie: The 2001 Space Odyssey
Music: The Greatest Hits of Leonard Cohen
What excites you about life?
Ron LeBlanc: Beauty
How do you nurture your soul?
Ron LeBlanc: Beauty, I am in the gems business
If you had a personal genie and she gave you one wish, what would you wish for? Or, if I gave you a magic wand, what would you use it for?
Ron LeBlanc: I have got most of what I want so maybe I wish to be more tolerant, less hostile, and to be more compassionate
Complete the following, I am happy when…..
Ron LeBlanc: I am beginning a project, the creative first few days of a project. And after a long night of dancing
What gems of wisdom can you glean from this interview? What aspects of the interview can you apply to your situation? Let’s keep the conversation flowing, please comment.