Mike Mack’s Lunch with Leaders features insights and wisdom from 12 Canadian executives.
The banker-turned-entrepreneur had been in Edmonton for many years, but he says he didn’t know many people. After reading the book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi, he realized the value of “breaking bread together” and developing relationships over time.
Eighteen years, hundreds of leaders supported, and four published books later, Mack says his network today is “a real gift.” He has grown his company from a small one-person startup to a thriving consultancy with a growing number of leaders who turn to X5 for coaching and counsel.
“As my business evolved, I had the privilege of working with a lot of executives,” Mack says. “I always say, from the janitor to the CEO, I’m blessed with a really good cross-section of people in my network.”
Lessons in leadership
Mack has leveraged that talent at networking into a new book, Lunch with Leaders: Real Stories for Pivotal Moments for Today’s Executives. Self-financed and published on Amazon in January, Lunch with Leaders is the product of relationships. It features stories and perspectives of 12 respected Canadian executives.
“The book isn’t about me. It’s about leadership and the journey,” he says.
“Everybody’s got a story. That was really the learning for me, and I was privileged enough to have an opportunity to share that through their words.”
Each chapter features a different leader from Mack’s network and beyond.
Interviews include Angela Santiago of the Little Potato Company in Edmonton, renowned innovation strategist, author, and speaker Shawn Kanungo, cannabis entrepreneur and Token Naturals CEO Keenan Pascal, and Graham Sherman of Calgary’s Tool Shed Brewing, and more.
Lunch with Leaders is the product of two years of work—interviews, writing, editing, revisions, and design work. There were also unforeseen challenges such as his first publisher going bankrupt.
“My book was 70% done, so I had to pivot, literally.”
Pivoting and perseverance
Being able to pivot and cope with adversity are common themes in the book. Mack explores what makes highly successful leaders tick—and what keeps them motivated to build on their successes and failures.
In some cases, that means pivoting from the loss of a loved one, a business partnership gone sour, lawsuits, or, in the case of Little Potato Company, expanding a small Canadian brand to major U.S. markets.
“Little potatoes are big business. I mean, that’s the reality that it’s turned into an incredibly impressive story,” says Mack.
Publishing teaches lessons in writing, business
Lunch with Leaders is Mack’s fourth book after earlier works focused on relationships, customer service, and employee retention. The new work reflects not only his growth as a writer and the lessons learned in publishing but also his expertise in business and strategy.
“You don’t make a lot of money selling a book, but you do produce future opportunities.”
Mack says he could sell thousands of copies of the book and not recoup his investment in the publishing. But if Lunch with Leaders gets the attention of just one corporate client interested in X5 Management’s services, it pays for itself.
“We’re in the people business. I wrote it because I believe it will add value and resonate with an audience that we service.”
Impact of AU’s MBA program
Mack says he’s proud of the final work and compilation of each leader’s story. He’s also proud of its Athabasca University connections.
Fellow AU MBA grad Curtis Stange, CEO of ATB Financial, wrote the foreword. The two have been friends for nearly 40 years going back to their roots in banking in Regina, Sask.
“I’m very proud and honoured that he agreed to write the foreword of the book. That meant a lot to me,” Mack says.
“My MBA journey with AU was a major factor to be where I am today.”