All right. Well, today's guest is Frederick Grenier. She's a passionate and self-driven product owner at Novatize, which is an amazing eCommerce agency in Quebec City. Make sure to check them out. They're great. And a little bit about Frederick. She's a passionate problem solver. That's, I think, one of her favorite things she does, and she loves investment legends like Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett for their innovative ways to solve challenges. Welcome Frederick. We're so happy to have you today.
It's an honor for me to be your first guest, Suzie, I believe.
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I'm super pumped, super excited. Thank you for accepting to join us today. And last time we spoke, Frederick, I think you were telling me you've been working at Novatize for about three years, four years. Wow, that's-
Three. [inaudible 00:01:03].
Oh, three. Okay.
I'm on my fourth now. Yeah.
Okay, great. Well, that's great. And one of the first things you told me was, "I treat this agency as if it were mine," which I loved hearing that. I'd like to know, tell us a bit about your background with Novatize. What brought you to it?
Yeah, like you said, I genuinely want Novatize to succeed. I treat it as my own. What I like the most is to be surrounded by people who I admire, and there are so many great minds at Novatize, so that's what I like most about my job. I believe that when you surround yourself with driven people, with people who are as driven by successes as you are, I mean, that's the key to... I realized I just found the work that feels like play in a way. It meets my two passions, eCommerce and tech. That's why I love my job so much.
My background, well, Suzie, like I told you, I've done the traditional path. I have a bachelor degree in administration, business administration at Laval University. I always thought that I would work in marketing like my mother. She was... And my mother and my grandfather, they were on the client side managing the relationship between the clients and the marketing agency, and I always wanted to do what they were doing, so to be between the client and the agency, but in the marketing. For me, working in marketing was like, I don't know if you watched the show Mad Men, but I wanted to be-
Yeah, I wanted to be Don Draper. But advertising in the fifties, sixties, and seventies, and advertising right now where it's all Facebook ads, Google Ads and stuff, not the same. Yeah, so all my studies after my bachelor degree, I did an MBA in strategic marketing and international business. I've done lots of case studies and international case study competition. It's like universities, they gather one weekend and you work on case studies where you are isolated and you have a multidisciplinary team and you solve challenges and stuff.
And it's like you solve challenges within different industries, so you really need to learn about every industries, what are the KPIs of every industries, like what's the business model of every industry? It's really shaped my brain so that now whatever I look, even if it can be a chair, it can be a business, whatever, I have the business model canvas in my head, and I'm trying to, okay, what are their revenue stream, what our stakeholders and stuff. It really shaped my brain. That's where I developed my business acumen and stuff.
And after my MBA, I was 23, and I don't... I say 23. Yes, I was 23 and I was not ready to go on the market, the job market, because I felt like I'm too young for that, I don't know. And I always cherished the dream of working in the US because when I was growing up, I was a soccer player, so I played collegial triple A, but I wasn't... Yeah, sports really taught me about work ethic and about always going the extra mile, giving the second and the third effort. I've never, in my life, all along my life, I've never been the most talented, but I've always been the one with the bigger heart. I used to say, "Never underestimate the heart of a champion," because heart can bring you further than only talent. That's the work ethic that I developed in sport, but I bring along me in my professional development.
Yeah, I've always cherished the dream of working in the US. When I was young, I wanted to go to the University of Florida, and I wanted to play soccer there, but $50,000 a session, my dad basically told me, "Freddo, you've got to find another dream because this one won't happen." After my MBA, I was like, "Okay, I still want to work in the US and I really want to see if that's what I really want." I was looking for internships. I think that a part of me just wasn't ready for the job market so I wanted a way out. I found one, but a fulfilling one. I slid into DMs of startups that I saw on Instagram, Facebook and stuff, and I was just like, "Hey, I'm a marketing specialist. I have an MBA, blah, blah, blah. I can do whatever you want. I'll help you scale your business and stuff."
And one time, there's a guy who had a business that's called GoDID, it's a mobile app. And he said, "Hey, Freddo, we would be interested," and we chat a little and stuff and he said, "We can't pay you. We honestly can't pay you, but we can give you a stipend so we can pay your food and we can pay your transportation and stuff." And I had savings on my side and I was like, "Okay, I know I'm going to lose money, but I'm going to gain so much more," so I just went. I left for New York for three months working there. It was amazing. I lived in an Airbnb in Brooklyn and I was commuting to Williamsburg. And there, it was really a calling because I was working for a mobile app, so I was surrounded by web developers. We had calls and stuff, and in my mind just remembered that I thought of myself as a marketing girl. I wanted to do advertising and stuff, and I wanted to help the business, GoDID, on that side.
But I still realized that one, I have no talent to take pictures, so my Instagram stories were horrible and I didn't feel the fire in me. It didn't enlighten me to create social media playbooks and stuff and trying to find strategies. What really drove me and what really piqued my interest was working with the developers. And after the guy at GoDID, he would bring me on Madison Avenue in the financial district on Wall Street to go meet with clients and agencies, and there we were pitching them our solution to see how it could help them because it was an app that could help businesses to further their corporate social responsibility goals, because it was an app that was giving users the opportunity to give back to the community, so to participate in events, to give back to the community, so they had a strong B2B side.
And so that's where I just, okay, I really like being in the middle of clients and developers. And so I came back after my internship and I wanted them to sponsor me. I really wanted to move to New York, but I missed my mom and my dad and my sister and my dog. I missed everyone. But still a part of me was like, "Okay, no, but you need to focus on the goal." Anyways, I came back into Quebec and then there was a programming bootcamp. I heard of a programming bootcamp that was just starting. And once again, I think that this was just another way out because I wasn't ready for the job market, but it was a fulfilling one also, once again. Yeah, I have a lot of ways to...
And yeah, so I enrolled, it's 18 weeks. Basically my brain was bleeding every night. It's so exhausting because you learn how to code, you learn the basics, but in a week you can learn five programming languages. I've done stuff that I don't know how I did them because you are on adrenaline during 18 weeks, and after that it's like you have all the basics to be employed as a junior developer by your firm and then continue your training from there. But I didn't want to become a junior developer. The reason I enrolled in this bootcamp, I forgot to say, it's not because I wanted a way out. It's more because when I was in New York, I realized that yes, I want to be between the clients and the web developers, but I had the imposter syndrome in a way, like how can I be the best suitable person for that role if I don't know how to code, if I don't know what HTML is, if I don't know how you build an app?
Everything I knew, I knew out of my intense curiosity. I knew about blockchain. Remember in that time, blockchain was very a la mode. Everything that I knew about, I learned it by myself, but really I had no concrete knowledge. I just thought of myself, "Freddo, you have no credibility to advise a client on what is the best technical solution for his problem and stuff." When I arrived in Quebec, that's when I saw the opportunity to enroll in the bootcamp and I said, "Aha, that's how I can learn and be hands-on, and that's how I can cure that imposter syndrome. And after that, I'm going to have all the tools in my arc, I don't know, to be the best at what I want to become, at what I want to be." So I did that.
After that, I got a job in marketing, but once again, I just thought, "Okay, no, that's really not for me." Google Ads, managing Google Ads and doing LinkedIn posts, it really doesn't enlighten me. It's not my purpose. After that, I worked as a web project coordinator and then COVID hit, then I lost my job, and then I just found one at Novatize as a project manager. And from there I just evolved and I made my role evolve because I also evolved along the agency and made the agency evolve. My role changed from a project manager into a product owner. I helped to shape the product owner role at Novatize. I like to believe that it's just because I wanted this role so bad, I just made it happen, and then everyone suffers because of me because of that.
No, but yeah, and what sets me apart as a product owner is that I have such strong business acumen and intense curiosity, and I'm really passionate. During weekends and in my off time, I read case studies, whether it's technical case studies, like on Spotify engineering blog, on Uber engineering blogs. It's amazing the kind of gems that you can find there, not only about the business case studies, but also the technical case studies. And so all my business acumen mixed with my technical know-how and my technical skills, and not only my skills, but the skills that I continue to acquire because I mean, I like to say that what I like the most about my job is the infinite learning potential that we have in the field. The fact that I'm so keen on just getting better and learning something new every day, I read so many things and I feel like my knowledge compounds over time.
Yep, it does.
That's what sets me apart because I'm able to see what are the client's needs, really understand the client needs, and then go back with my team and really think about, okay, but what are the technical solutions that we can build for them to fulfill their needs, but in the best way possible? Because oftentimes when you deal with clients, sometimes the clients think they know the problem or they think they know the solution, and that's when...
In my intro you talked about how I admire Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger for so many reasons, but one of them is because of their problem solving abilities, is because they use the inversion method. They see, okay, you really make sure to understand what's the problem, what's the issue, what's the need? And then you invert, you go back from there, and then you make your way to the solutions because there can be many good solutions. But if you don't think it through, there can be a lot of bad solutions too. In tech, oftentimes the solution needs to be scalable because maybe now the client's problem is only in this area, but if the client wants to scale his or her business, the solution has to scale too. That's the problem solving part that I like the most about my job. Yeah.
Yeah, that's amazing. And what I really love, Fred, what you're talking about and saying is when you talk about the imposter syndrome, a lot of people will see that on a negative side and see it as a weakness, but what I love with what you did is you took that and you turned it into a strength, which just made you thirstier, even more curious, and you just took that in as fuel to learn more and just be the best in what you're doing. And I find that your career journey is definitely very unique with it brought you to do a lot of things. I'd just be curious, do you have a big challenge you faced throughout your journey that you'd like to share and maybe let us know how you solved that?
Yeah, but it's crazy that you're speaking about imposter syndrome because one of my challenge is overcoming the imposter syndrome on a daily basis because in me, just like you said, there's a contradiction. I'm a lady of contradictions, but I embrace the imposter syndrome because I like... Some people say, "Would you rather be the worst player on the best team or the best player on the worst team?" And I would choose anytime, I always want to be the worst player on the best team because there is learning potential. I can learn from others and level up from there. And I told you about soccer earlier, but I was never the most talented, but each year I was in a better team and then I was the worst performing player. But then I watched all the great players around me and I just learned from them, and I just strived to be better every time and I just put the heart and effort in.
I crave the imposter syndrome. I like that feeling because it keeps me humble, it keeps me from... It makes me want to get better, and I surround myself with better people and I learn from them and then I get better. But on a daily basis, it can be really exhausting to always have to battle with the imposter syndrome. And I feel like one way that I overcame this, it's just reminding myself that everybody has the imposter syndrome, they're just better at hiding it, I think. Or if you don't have the imposter syndrome, then you just think you're smarter than you actually are. I don't know. I just feel like it's sane to have the imposter syndrome because it challenges you to always get better. And you probably heard that quote before, but to get what you've never had, you must do what you've never done. I'm a huge quote girl. I have so many.
Yeah, I love it. Love quotes.
Yeah, but also, I have the imposter syndrome and I am also a people pleaser and when you are working with clients, I always want all my clients to love me and stuff. I always have to... You have to... [foreign language 00:18:44].
Okay. I'm also a people pleaser and at Novatize, so I'm constantly in relationship with clients and I love that, but I realize that I have a huge inner scorecard. I put a lot of pressure on myself because I want my clients to love me and I want everything to be, I want them to be satisfied, and it's really something that I think at Novatize, we really care about our clients, but sometimes I put so much pressure on myself. Some things are just out of my control. I do the best that I can and we as a team do the best that we can, but sometimes clients, they will need to put the work on their side to work on their data and stuff.
And I really wish it was that simple to create an eCommerce and stuff, and that they don't have to work on their side. But truth is, we do work on our side, but the clients also have to work on their side. It's always trying to balance how can I make them like me, but tell them the truth in a way. And sometimes you have to talk about tough subjects, which is cost overruns, or maybe we will go live, maybe they had a due date in time, they had a go live date in their head, but we are going to postpone that go live from two weeks or a month because of things out of our controls. That's something that I always have to remind myself that I am doing the best job that I can and I have to do... And this people pleasing side of me, it also... [foreign language 00:21:12].
And this people pleasing side of me happens in my day-to-day life, in my personal life too. I just have to remember, what's something that I really want to work on this year is I want to work on, I want to have an inner scorecard instead of having an outer scorecard, because I think I give too much credit to others' opinions of what I do. I should do things for yourself first and the people around you who love you, they're going to be happy. That's something that I really want to work on in my professional life, but also in my personal life.
Mm-hmm. I love it. Definitely. I think there's, from what I'm hearing, there's a constant battle between negative self-talk and positive self-talk, and it's just trying to find ways and tricks to be on the good side of this and use everything that's happening. And people pleasing has two sides. There's the bad side, yes, but there's also the good side. And you can use that just like you did with the imposter syndrome, keeps you humble, it keeps you on your feet. If you use that, again, as a force, as a strength, and to just ground you and make you realize what's most important in life and for you, it's great. It has a lot of positives, and I love the fact that you tell us what you've accomplished, but you're also not saying you've mastered it yet. It's a daily something we all work on and I love that you've been vulnerable about it because definitely, it's all something that we have to deal with. And people that, like you said, that don't talk about it, well, maybe that should uncover something else. Yeah, it's great.
I'd be curious, do you have maybe one piece... If you go back to your younger self, if you think back and maybe 10 years ago, five years ago, I don't know, is there one piece of advice you would give to yourself today, or to the younger self from what you've learned?
You can see water in my eyes, but yes, the advice that I would give my younger self is to not inflict on me what I inflicted myself. We talked about my battle with eating disorders. At the age of 16, I developed this eating disorder, and I'm now 30 and I'm still battling it, so what, 14 years now? And I would just tell the little girl, the little Freddo, please don't give up on yourself. Keep loving yourself. Realize that you are enough, that you deserve love, that you...
Yeah, honestly, sometimes I think if I could go back in time, would I still relive everything that I've been through because it's made me the woman that I'm now because I'm so strong, but I mean, I've wasted so much time hating myself and destroying myself, literally waking up every morning with the one and only thought, how can I make myself more miserable today than I was miserable yesterday? And all along I was really conscious about my problem. I talked about it and I wanted to get out of it. I wanted to get better, to heal, but I didn't think I was worthy of doing the effort, or I thought... I remember maybe I was 21, 22, and I was telling my mother, "Mom, but what if I do all the work and get better, but then find out that being happy, I don't like it?"
For me, it was more easy to stay in my comfort zone being miserable than allowing myself to heal and see for myself if, yeah, being happy, it's not that complicated. You just enjoy the little moments and it's just the little moments. I mean, there's not more to that. And it's life. I mean, that's what life is. It's the little moments with the people that you love. And yes, you can have a great career, and I love my job. I love my work. And in a way, my work saved me for myself because when Novatize hired me, I remember the photographs that we take every time there's a new employee and stuff, and I was dead inside. You just look at my eyes and you say, "Oh my God, this girl is miserable."
And Novatize, they helped me find that driven woman who is a fearless leader, who has always been a fearless leader, but who somewhere along the line, she gave up on herself in a way. I didn't totally give up on myself because like you know, I did my MBA, I went to working in New York, but I was 65 pounds. I don't even know how I did it, honestly, but I did it and I succeeded. And I just think it tells you a lot about my persistence and tenacity in life. But what if I took all this power and put it towards something positive instead? Sometimes I'm just like, "Okay, yes, I did some great things, but imagine if I took all of that and put it through something that was really fulfilling instead of destroying."
In a way, the reason why I'm so grateful for Novatize and why I think maybe I think of this agency as of my own is that I believe that I give them so much and they realize everything that I bring to the agency, but they gave me so much too, and they helped me find that Freddo, and they helped me uncover the woman I think that I've always wanted to become, and that I was... I don't know, I've always been a fearless leader. I always knew I was going to accomplish great things, and I knew that the only thing standing between me and my goals was myself and my disease. Every day I wake up and I just, it's a constant battle and I want to fight it and that's what changed.
I mean, before, I wanted to have a magic wand to just heal. I didn't want to do the efforts because I was so scared about doing the efforts. But now I'm like, "Okay, doing the effort, it's terrifying. It's freaking hard," and sometimes I just don't feel like it and I have panic attacks and I cannot explain it. Maybe yesterday doing the effort, I felt strong enough to do it, but maybe today I don't feel enough strong to do it, but I have to push myself to do it anyways because if not, I mean, I cannot become the woman, the CEO that I want to become.
That's where my job helps me a lot because it keeps me grounded on my goals. It keeps me focused on my goals. Whenever I feel the anxiety and my little demon in my head coming back, I'm thinking of what I want to become career wise, but also in my personal life. I want to have a family of my own. I want to have children. I want to have two golden retrievers. I want to live on a beaut- I want to be able to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. And so yeah, if I could go back in time, I don't know what I would tell myself, but I would tell myself to love myself.
Absolutely. I mean, that's simple, but very powerful. That is such a good reminder. And Frederick, thank you so much for opening up because I'm sure it's not easy, but the number of women and just anyone that you can inspire by just being open and talking about this, you have no clue to what extent it can help, and I'm sure someone today, or many people today, needed to hear that. That is really amazing, and just enjoying the little things in life, being grateful for everything we have is really important and it's also what's going to bring you to your goals. I mean, those are wonderful goals that you have and I really wish that you can accomplish them all. You deserve them, and you definitely are enough just like anyone. We need to appreciate that.
I heard someone's, I don't remember where I heard that, but on being enough, and I think that it's something that a lot of people relate, whether it's with eating disorders or not, are we enough? The feeling of, "I'm not enough." Well, you are enough. The minute you were born, you were enough.
You do not have to deserve to be happy. You are granted this right the minute you were born on this earth. You have the right to be happy, so stop thinking you're not enough to be happy.
Mm-hmm. Exactly. Absolutely. I definitely agree. Frederick, your drive, your energy, your honesty are definitely contagious. I'd love to know where people can go to find you online.
You can follow me on Twitter. I don't know if we can say that. I'm never going to say on X or X or whatever. Follow me on Twitter @FredGrenier12th, [inaudible 00:31:54]. And if not, you can follow me on Instagram, FreddoGre, Freddo, G-R-E like Grenier, Gre, I don't know. Or on LinkedIn. I'm not a huge LinkedIn poster, like you say. I'm not a fan of LinkedIn post, but yeah, follow me on Twitter, it's the easiest way and I'm always on Twitter.
Wonderful. Thank you so much for sending out all of that information and also make sure to check out Novatize, the eCommerce agency, and that's wonderful. Well, thank you so much for your time. It was great having you today.
Thank you very much for your time and you are here and your great heart.