Thierry Lindor: Find your voice.
I do not remember how I knew Thierry, but it must be through social networks, because it’s a bit much what has changed its way. On the menu with in this interview with Thierry Lindor: Influence, Basketball, Freedom of Expression and the Obama.
So, I knew you a little like the real estate agent, tell me a little bit about your career, which certainly led you on quite interesting paths since in the last days, you were with Casey Neistat, the famous youtuber for those who do not know him.
Listen Norm, I’m the oldest boy in a family of 10 children, 6 girls and 4 boys, my mother is Parisian, my father was born in Haiti, but he grew up in Chicago. That makes me a Moroccan Magrebin (laughs). As soon as you have dark skin in Montreal and you have a little accent, you make yourself look funny. All jokes apart, I am Métis, I grew up in Montreal, in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. I like to say that I became a man in Saint-Michel, I started playing basketball at a very young age, I played at a professional level in Europe, I played 1 year and a half, I I was hurt, and as soon as I got hurt, I knew I was good at doing something, Communicating.
And in communication, you have two choices, whether you go back to work or you go on sale. The sale is comm, I always said that. And I understood that I was not worse in real estate sales and I did not want to do the pharmaceutical or sell weapons, anything illegal, so I went back to real estate, I bought my first block (apartment), I had to be 20-21 years old, I had already bought a block in partnership, but the first with my means, I was 21 years old. And I took the sting, and the person doing my job, I took a broker, but I can do that too. It was 15 years ago. Three and a half years ago, I bought Remax Griffintown’s rights in downtown Montreal, and I started doing things differently: little videos, very Instagram, and so on. I thought, you know what? We will attract attention in value and as soon as we bring them value, they will trust us. And as soon as we have their confidence, they will deal with us, and it worked. We have grown the Remax office from 3 brokers to 27 brokers in 2.5 years. And recently, I took partners, which allowed me to withdraw a bit of Remax and real estate, I always do it, I have a broker team that works for me, we serve even more 150 clients a year. I do not need to do “day to day” anymore. I like to say that I am the face of the shop, but I am not in the operations, I do not fulfill the contracts, I do not make visits, except when it is Nicolas, Nicolas Duvernois, for him, I made visits. I went back on the road, I had a hiatus of 1 year and a half, and I went back with him and we helped him make his recent acquisition.
A beautiful place that I had the chance to visit elsewhere.
Yes, so we built the real estate business, but I’ve always been passionate about influence, I’m obsessed with influence to be exact. I’m obsessed, for example, How can Norm influence me so much that today I’m in front of him doing an interview. What did Norm do, how did he use his influence? Was it conscious? Was it unconscious? Was it calculated? You know, that always interested me.
In fact, I’ll be honest with you, it was calculated because I was looking at my magazine and I found it a bit too white, I wanted diversity, knowing that it’s a men’s magazine, there will be a little less female content, but there will be a little, and also for Mother’s Day, but to have that part of the Montreal community that I know a little less, and you know a lot by your actions (invite kids to see Black Panther for example) and I thought it was important to be diverse and to showcase people and to show an inspiring journey and meet other interesting people.
I tell you honestly, Norm, congrats. Because you know that Quebec’s diversity and diversity in Montreal are two realities. 25 years ago, there was Gregory Charles, that was cultural diversity.
I was born in Quebec City and I remember that we had a black in our school, one is not huge.
And it was the star? Because the black was either the star or he was taking shots. Today, it is to say that Quebec is diversified. Last year, there was an event in Quebec City where something terrible happened in a mosque. You would never have heard of that 25 years ago, there was no mosque in Quebec City (laughs). Knowing that it is a reality in which we are, I say bravo. As modern media, that’s what you do. It’s important that part of the black community, who identifies with me, maybe part of my community do not follow RDPMAG, and they say to themselves, you know what, that’s a cool mag, they have Thierry feature, and Thierry is prodiversity.
I am a proMontreal and a proQuebec, but I think there is a dichotomy in what Quebec is today and our elected Quebecers. And a disparity of clairvoyance. And that’s why I created Influence Orbis too. Because with Influcence Orbis, to finally get into the subject, my goal was to redefine what is the influencer. I wanted to allow internationally renowned influencers to mingle and interact with local influencers. This weekend we had Casey Neistat.
Yeah, I had a class, I had to miss that.
So we had Casey and Elizabeth Rioux who comes to say to me: You’ve done my day, I love Casey, I’m admiring Casey, it’s not a groupie, but it’s an opportunity to interact with these people (a little inaccessible) and there, they know each other suddenly and to push the deal, that’s noble, but it’s who was the thread of the event, the catalyst to start Influence Orbis, I went in all possible conferences: Las Vegas, New York, Paris, I go everywhere. And I was sick of not seeing people of color in conferences. So I told myself, I’m going to create a conference and diversity will be embraced without excluding whites, without excluding anyone. How do you do to attract diversity? You make your conference affordable. So we, our prices: $ 99, and you see Casey Nesitat. This is unheard of.
But he does not do a lot of conference either?
Casey does about fifty a year. But that makes two who do with us, because he likes what we do and two, when I went to New York, the first time I met Casey, he said your mission is noble, I adhere what you do and I will encourage what you do. So I have discounts, it does not move for free either. But, I have a big discount on the usual price, but more importantly, Casey likes the fact that we are affordable, that we are diverse and inclusive. This is the mission: Affordability, Diversity and Inclusiveness. I do not want anyone to be left outside. If you’re not able to save $ 99 to come to a conference that does not exist, there’s no one doing what you’re doing right now. C2 Montreal, I’m a big fan, I go every year, it’s beautiful what they do.
It’s not the same audience.
That’s right, and it costs $ 2,500. When we went to Toronto, I never had the vision to bring the world to me, I want to go to the world. When you charge $ 2,500 for a conference like C2, you make your conference exclusive. You have people from Brazil coming from Tokyo, that’s perfect. They succeed and brilliantly meet their challenge, but my greatest pride since I started my conference is to say how I stay inclusive, affordable, and diverse with the award. Now, how do I go to the water world instead of waiting for the world to come. Although my first edition in Toronto, there is a reporter from the Globe and Mail, because I want to do, it made him think of the beginnings of Ted Talk. He told me, you are like a Canadian Ted Talk. I was very proud because in my business plan I wrote: I want to create the first Canadian Ted Talk by exporting Quebec entrepreneurship around the world. Like a crazy young man did 35 years ago when he exported the art and culture of Quebec around the world with Cirque du Soleil.
My dream is to be able to say, in a couple of years, Influence Shanghai, Influence Dubai, Influence NYC, I want us to be everywhere. Everywhere, with a signature conference each year and micro-conferences like Influence Generation for young people, Influence Create for all creators, I’m sure you’ll be there.
Why not Influence Grey for the older ones.
Ah Ah, it could be interesting a conference on the resumption. There was InfluenceHer for women, we want to do things differently by nanoconferences (200 people and less), micro-conferences (500 people and less) and macro-conferences (500 people and more). At least seven, we are waiting for a big name, I can not say who it is, but we are waiting for 2000 people in Montreal. For Toronto, it’s going to be a year Toronto, a year Vancouver. Montreal every year without fail.
I know you also have a small family (3 children), how do you manage that?
You know what? I always say it’s my strength and weakness. Sometimes I get too attached to my employees and treat them as better than my children. I definitely spend more time with them than with my family.
But at least your office is not too far away.
I’m lucky to live in the Tour des Canadiens and I’m in front of the offices of influence (at WeWork), but it’s a strength, but also a weakness. You know when you treat your employees as family, they devote themselves to you, they kill themselves for you, they create beautiful things for you. But eventually, it’s hard to let them go if they do not do the job. It is also a reality of entrepreneurship. Sometimes yiu got to let some people go. This is the tough part, and the very tough part is not to forget the line. My children, they are my real children, not them. My wife is my real wife, I do not have an office wive. I started to improve.
I guess the atmosphere should not be the same as in Remax.
Yes, it’s more independent, sellers who are all $ 150 00 / year, it’s rough. But here it’s a more creative, family atmosphere, although at Remax we also managed to do that.
Would you like it to go where, how do you manage that, Canada must be a little easier than say Paris for example.
Of course I always say it in ems interviews, the important thing is not who you know, but who you know. I am lucky to say today that many people are proud to know me, or at the very least to say, yes I know this guy: Casey Nesitat, Gary Vaynerchuck, Grant Cardone, etc. I have relationships with them, I’m lucky, it’s like mentors.
In France, I can talk about it now, because it did not happen, our main speaker was Michelle Obama. So when you arrive in Paris, what is Influence? If you have Michelle Obama as a keynote speaker, they’ll get to know you quickly. When you want to go to those international cities, you have to go with a bing-bang, you can not go with a strategy of having some local influencers of pseudo-popular speakers. No you have to go with a big name. Often, they are political speakers. It would be nonsense to believe that I could bring my mark to the international without an important political figure, or a Richard Branson. That’s the influence. I think like Guy Laliberté. When he made marks in other countries at the start, he went with his best show, he delivered the goods, after he experimented .. The first time, you go with your big show, the one that will fill the room. But hey, this is only part of the discount. I will try to do things differently. I think I also had a lot of restrictions from the Obama clan because they did not know me. I do not pretend today to say that the Obama knows me, but works on it, and it’s coming. The day they will meet me, I think there will be a few fewer restrictions in my contract. I look forward to that.
When we look at what you do, do you have other projects?
Yes, I dream to bring the NBA to Montreal, I am very familiar with the file in fact. I do not want to go into detail, but I’m sure when the NBA comes to Montreal, I’m going to be a shareholder. With Nicolas (Duvernois), it’s one of our passions, we played together and against, for several years, it is very good elsewhere. He could have played pro. So, bring the NBA back to Montreal, I’ll tell you it’s a 20-25 year old plan. I will not have the same bank account, my influence will have grown, I think.
But in the shorter term, I start a foundation, My voice counts. Where I am taking children, and I will show them how to read. I will move street gangs into a reading gang. I will pay young people from the age of 10 to 15 years old for them to read books, I will pay them the minimum wage version Influence ($ 14 an hour) and have 3 to 4 hours to read a book then I take 5 young people, and, in fact, I went to very rough school, I have 7 of my friends who are dead murdered, 7, I think it’s too much. And when I look at the common denominator of those 7 people, there are two things. All were in single-parent families, raked communities, and did not read enough. As I like to say, a book is As I like to say, a book is a passport. If I read a book on Vietnam tomorrow, I do not need Air Canada, or almost no. Same thing for a book by Dany Laferrière that can make me understand the dark reality in Haiti. Even without going there. Who says trip says culture, who says trip wants to succeed, who says want to succeed says want a better life than your parents. And the common denominator of my friends is that they did not know how to read enough to get their passport flying. I am going to ask them to read the same books, and I will challenge them to read 3 books. 5 kids in Rivière des Prairies, 5 in Montreal North, 5 in Saint-Michel, 5 in Parc-Ex, 5 in the South West, and I want to do a pitch competition. I want to put them on an internship at Influence and I want them to debate what they have read passionately eloquently and authentically. It starts with the book and it is to make them understand that their voice, it counts.
Very interesting. Is it from your initiative of Black Panther, where you invited young people to see the film?
Yes, and it was the most-watched movie in history. It shows you one thing. Of 1, there was interest, and two, there was the craze for there to be 4 more. And there were other examples at Marvel, they took Samuel L. Jackson, a black to play Nick Fury, a white man. I say bravo, not because it’s black. I say bravo because he did, that he was good that’s it. I’m not giving someone something just because of the color of their skin. Not at all. All skills must be assessed. And when you evaluate all the skills, that’s where you see the best. Whether it’s an Asian, an aboriginal. And if the best is a white, well take a white. But if the best is a black, or a woman, well you take this person, etc. It’s not inverted racism.
For example, I have friends who go to the stm and who are told, do not waste your time, because we just hires blacks and natives. It creates inverted racism. The guy gets out of there and says I have my trip, but in the end, it’s a comeback, but it’s flat for everyone.
I know we could still talk for several hours, but my time and especially your time is precious, so I’ll go with our RDPMAG questionnaire.
Favorite city in the world?
It’s a good question. Montreal. We are the international city of the festival. We bubble, but we have French and English, one of the only places in the world where you can live your life extremely well either in French or in English. Unique. The presence of diversity. The food. The women are beautiful in Montreal. I met my wife here. A beautiful city, we have history. Otherwise, Rio de Janeiro. I went there for the Soccer World Cup and I’m definitely buying something from there.
Joe Beef, I went with François Lambert recently, I greet François. I have always had great experiences and it is in my neighborhood and more.
The Atwater Cocktail Club. Good time, good cocktails, beautiful people, zero pretentious. Not too chic. Perfect.
Tesla and Audi. I will buy an electric Audi to support them. Tesla is the best car, the most beautiful car I’ve driven. But an Audi S7 there. Wow, I got one and, Audi understood something that others did not understand. I had all the Germans, no Italians, etc. But Audi and Tesla. Wow.
British Airways. The best flights, impeccable service, super polite, super pro.
Your favorite place to go on a trip?
In Italy. Rome, Florence, Naples with my wife. We go back there for sure.
Favorite place to shop?
I do not know if I should say that. Gucci, I really like and I salute Ray Courtemanche from Mirabel who had the lucidity to develop a mega beautiful project, and the Gucci Outlet in Mirabel, they made money with me. It’s not as expensive as people think, it’s 50-60-70% off. And I already bought $ 200 Gucci shoes. You can buy Aldo shoes at $ 150. I like Gucci better, instead of 500, it’s 200. I try to focus on quality before quantity, but, sometimes Zara, but it does not last very long.
A place where you go to disconnect?
Before I went to Chapters, on the top floor in the child’s area, I took 3-4 pounds and spent 4-5 hours sitting on the floor. I started with magazines and then books. It may be because of me that the magazine has closed. Now, what I do is I walk, I like it. I discovered the mountain. I’m not a big jogger, but I really started walking again.
Something that is essential to your life?
My voice, my word. The ability to express myself, my freedom of expression.
Thierry thank you, it was great and we’ll talk again soon! To know more about Thierry Lindor projects, follow Influence Orbis!