Cindy Gordon – The Future of Canadian AI

    Cindy Gordon | 2017 Recipient of the Startup Canada Senior Entrepreneurship Award

    “Passion, persistence, patience and prioritization equals resilient results.”

    Cindy Gordon has established herself as a force to be reckoned with in the Canadian entrepreneurship community.

    In 2011, she founded SalesChoice Inc. – Canada’s first Cognitive Sciences SaaS company that applies AI and Machine Learning techniques to customer relationship management business challenges.

    SalesChoice prioritizes all sales opportunities, leveraging data in the CRM and outside the CRM, to predict future outcomes, with up to 95 per cent accuracy. Their clients have experienced top-line revenue growth, improved sales forecasting accuracy, reduced cost of sales, and more focused sales forces. Did you know that over 30% of sales professionals suffer from Attention Deficit Disorders, impacting performance levels. SalesChoice is committed to improving cognitive signals in a new AI category called: Guided Selling.

    Cindy is supporting corporate Canada to use augmented intelligence using AI, and advanced data science methods to prepare for a more efficient and effective future.

    SN: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

    CG: My father, John Benjamin Gordon, was a co-founder of a construction, oil and gas company, and my mother, Norma Gordon, was also a co-founder. They were focused on developing an innovative company, so the roots of exposure gave me the confidence I needed. My mother had one saying to us as children, ‘You can always climb any mountain and I will be there on the other side.’

    SN: What is your biggest lesson learned to date?
    CG: Passion, persistence, patience and prioritization equals resilient results.

    SN: What advice do you have to those starting up today?

    1. Create a core culture focused on value based leadership.
    2. Get a CEO coach and listen hard. It’s hard to change but be open always. When a CEO stops learning – it is time to stop.
    3. Ensure you have an experienced Board of Trusted Advisors or Directors.
    4. Have collaborative team DNA. Talent is #1 as they will help guide your sales in the right direction.
    5. Build a community ecosystem. Start Up Canada makes a difference!
    6. Go global fast. Look beyond Canada. We move too slowly and don’t buy Canadian solutions fast enough for innovation success.
    7. Keep vigilant focus on cash flow outlooks.
    8. Hold your control as long as you can or don’t under estimate the complexity of shareholder management 
    9. Ethical transparency is imperative at all times.
    10. Surround yourself with value centric people at all levels – not everyone is kind or thoughtful.
    11. When you are disappointed, learn from your challenges, and put the doubts behind you and go forward – Persistency Counts!
    12. Learn to have balance and practice Mindfulness – a walk, a swim, yoga, diving – silence is your friend and simply BEING. This is critical to suspend judgement.

    SN: What is the one thing we need to do as a nation, today, to position Canada as a global innovation and entrepreneurial leader?

    CG: Invest in more women in STEM (Science, Technology, Education, Math) programs. Also, change VC allocations to ensure more equitable diversity for investing in women CEOs in the tech sector. What is happening in North America in this area should be recognized as an economic growth and innovation risk, as we need more diversity and gender balance in every company. It is proven more balanced cultures have higher levels of performance and success. No more studies please. Leaders simply do it and lead – your daughters and grandchildren are counting on you to make our world a better place before we leave this earth. Let’s make their future more Joyous and more equitable. Canada is currently rated a D in Innovation and if we get this right – we can help advance the world to a more diverse workforce in STEM.

    SN: What is your vision for the next 150 years?

    CG: Human evolution will evolve into augmented intelligence. I hope to see man and machine functioning in harmony. I hope to see that ethics, mindfulness and cyber security will increase to cope in the continual seas of the big data explosions everywhere for humans to cognitively lead productive lives in business and in our communities.

    I hope to see that we will have eradicated cancer, alzheimer’s disease, tuberculosis and other life threatening neurological diseases. There is nothing more precious than a healthy body to have a healthy mind.

    In 150 years, I see 80% of the jobs that we know of today to have disappeared. Robots, AI and smart sensing technologies will be fully integrated into both our family and office environments. I also see all farmland vanishing due to population explosions, and limited water supplies. Agraponic skyscraper farming will be the new norm. Oil and Gas Supplies will be sputtering on empty as alternative energy sources are in hyper pervasiveness.  Finally, I see that global warming has taken its toll on us, and the climate warnings governments have not heeded and put heavy taxes on businesses or cancelled their rights to operate.  We will experience the consequences, and all forecasts indicate this is inevitable. We are living for today rather than making the tough calls needed to have a better tomorrow.

    Ultimately, I see that AI has transformed everything and man and machine are striving for a more sustainable balance as the next evolution is already underway.

    SN: What is your message to the world?

    CG: Develop thoughtful ethical regulatory, legal and governance operating frameworks to govern AI and robots. The evolution is moving more rapidly than policy, legislation and global ethical practises. When a Saudi Arabian robot has more legal rights than a female (human), this is a signal for us to reflect upon – is this the world we want to create for our children?

    SN: How have you benefited from being a recipient of the Startup Canada Awards?

    CG: The calibre of talent recognized by Startup Canada is creating a powerful community to support Canadian entrepreneurship, raising our brand profile to be recognized by our peers and by the prestigious judges. The corporate sponsors, like BDC, who are championing the alumni network I would like to acknowledge as they are making a difference in  strengthening the lives of Canadians. Thank you. In many ways, this is recognition for my life’s work; I have always been a change agent and an innovator. What is important is this award is very motivational to our team, our customers, and to our community ecosystem(s) we hold in the highest regard. I look forward to helping all my fellow entrepreneurs succeed in their dreams and in life. Just reach out to me on LinkedIn. I will respond. PROMISE.

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    Lindsay is a freelance journalist passionate about startups, entrepreneurship and small business. A graduate from Carleton University’s journalism program, Lindsay enjoys traveling across Canada to cover Canada’s entrepreneurship community.