Having a vision for what you want your life to encompass is easier said than done. With Benoit (Ben) Lemelin joining Stradigi AI this year, we were eager to sit down with him and gather some of his most treasured leadership insights and learn more about his unique visioning process.
In his quest to stay true to his vision – Ben leads the companies he impacts (he was previously at Pharmascience and Fengate Asset Management) with the following pillars: intimacy, authenticity, and daring to care.
Below, we discuss what makes great leadership, motivations, and the fallacy of the “perfect” work-life balance. Contrary to popular belief, Ben posits that work and life are not two opposing entities — they’re interwoven.
Have you always been a “people person”? Did this inspire you to go into HR?
Yes! I have always been a people person – and my entourage was a huge influence on this. Looking back on my childhood, there were many job opportunities I received, based in large part because of my personality. As an example, I would be asked by the city of Montreal to host the Tour de l’Ile as an MC, and at eight years old my mother would call on me to introduce the hosts at her annual fashion shows.
Throughout my high school years, I would volunteer to visit the elderly twice a week, which shaped the career path I envisioned in my youth: becoming a teacher or a social worker. I did my life coach certification fifteen years ago, and I started applying those skills, which I honed and refined, into my day-to-day at work. I found that being a great listener was a key component I was missing. It’s harder than it sounds.
What has motivated you in your career?
Within the last twenty years, my motivation has been to be as real and authentic as possible. Between the ages of 28 and 30, I started thinking of my future and began a “life visioning” exercise. Throughout this exercise, I would consistently ask myself: what will my measure of success be when I’m 80? What am I going to be proud of? When you do a visioning exercise, you start to conceptualize what you want your future to look like in your career, and personal life – father, partner, employee, and manager. You begin to build a clearer picture of your goals and how to get there. Two years into the analysis, I narrowed it down to wanting intimacy. Having intimacy with my family and my peers allows me to be authentic and honest. And, this ties into my favorite motto: dare to care.
What constitutes a “perfect” leader? How would you define great leadership?
I have never met a perfect leader, and I don’t believe a perfect leader exists. The textbook version of the perfect leader holds qualities and characteristics we all idolize, such as humility, transparency, confidence, and vision. But these are rarely found in one single individual. Everyone has their own DNA, which is why I enjoy coaching so much. Coaching is about overlaying a “frame” or structure onto the DNA of an individual, to help them be as successful as possible, as they strive to be the best leader they can be.
You’ve heard from our CEO, Basil, on what he envisions for the company 5-10 years down the line. What do you hope to accomplish?
From an HR perspective, my goal is always the same: I strive to make the company a top employer. This goes beyond making the notable lists of top employers in Forbes, Fortune and Canada’s Top 100. It’s being able to say that we know we are an employer of choice because our employees are happy and motivated to come to work.
Culture and all it entails is my true driver. I’m motivated by the personal and professional growth of individuals within the organization as the underlying enabler to overall success. Finally, and most importantly, it is about having fun as we set to accomplish our goals.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned since starting at Stradigi AI?
I love the Monday kick-offs and Friday breakfasts. There’s something magical about bringing people together frequently. I have gone back to former colleagues and told them about this approach we have here at Stradigi AI. I love the spontaneous recognition to employees during these events, and that we’ve maintained an informal departmental update that is quick and intimate. It says so much about the company culture to see the entire organization come together twice a week to create alignment and feel proud of the accomplishments and learnings.