From the looks of Mike O’Kane’s early college years, you probably wouldn’t have pegged him as a future successful entrepreneur.
“I wasn’t really going to school,” he says. “I was actually playing sports and hanging out, where my metric for school success was to be able to drop a class without having to pay for it.”
But life has a way of throwing curve balls from the most unlikely of places, and it threw one square at Mike O’Kane.
“I was in a very bad car accident that had me incapacitated for quite some time. I went home to recuperate, and afterward I decided to leave and establish myself elsewhere as many of my friends had.”
Mike headed to Saskatoon in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, where his parents were originally from, to attend the University of Saskatchewan. He studied to become a geotechnical engineer so he could get into the mining industry like his father and brother.
Learning From the School of Hard Knocks
“My father worked for very large consulting companies,” Mike says. “By the time I had my degree, he was consulting on his own. I sort of just started a Saskatoon office for a client company that he had, but essentially I was operating on my own.”
Mike created his own business plan and got a small line of credit from the bank. He wasn’t even sure what a business plan was, but he looked it up in a book and then just wrote one.
One of his first jobs was to subcontract an earthmoving job. After the work was done, he submitted an invoice — one of the first big invoices he had done. The invoice wasn’t paid on time and, despite several follow-ups, he didn’t receive the money until some six or seven months later. Once he received the money, he paid his subcontractors and he ended up going without pay himself for nine months.
“I tore through my line of credit and I learned that I was naive about somebody taking advantage of me. But I realized I had brought it on myself. It was a hard lesson to learn. I think that I was very fortunate. And I realized that a lot of people who are entrepreneurs say, ‘Oh, I was very fortunate to be in the right circumstances.’ But I’m also a big believer that you need to take advantage of those circumstances.”
“We have a 25-year-old brand, but a five-year-old company,” Mike says. “I believe that bringing in EOS is what made our company real. To me, the beauty and the elegance and the importance of EOS is that it really shows just how important leadership is.
When they first brought in Certified EOS Implementer® Andrew LeMoine, O’Kane Consultants was struggling to really understand what an accountability chart was, and then actually using it as a tool to help themselves. It really came down to the seats on the Accountability Chart™ and then, once those seats were defined, having the courage to hold those people accountable.
“One of the things they were struggling with,” says Andrew, “was the challenge of getting everybody on the same page and rowing in the same direction… just getting crystal clear on accountability. I think they’ve done a fantastic job of really perpetuating the vision and values and getting the right people in the right seats.”
Reaching Out to Reflect the World
“I think my personal evolution on this journey is that I’m in a better place personally,” Mike says. “I’ve come to understand the importance of core values and what my purpose is. EOS has really helped with that. I also learned that you should try and function as much as you possibly can without ego. A lot of times, you say to yourself, ‘I’m going to prove it, I’m going to be right,’ and you just realize what a struggle that is. It’s a hard way to be, a hard way to live. It’s not fun.
Looking back over 25 years and where the company is today, Mike easily points to what has been the biggest factor in helping him create a successful business.
“Amazing people. Our company is filled with so many nice people, so many kind people.”
As O’Kane Consultants continues to grow and mature, Mike is clear about his objectives.
“I want to continue building relationships with key people in our mining industry,” he says, “but also, particularly in Canada, relationships with First Nation indigenous communities, to be able to really understand how we can help them. The indigenous population is the fastest-growing population in Canada.” That desire to reach out to a diverse population touches his business as well.
“We have strong gender diversity within our company and our management team, but we’re lacking in other areas of diversity. I think it’s important that we move towards reflecting the world we live in, to create those deeper connections.”
As the business continues to move forward, Andrew LeMoine has witnessed the progress firsthand.
“O’Kane Consultants is a very young and energetic team,” says Andrew. “And they’re super- passionate about what they’re trying to do in the mining industry, for improving the industry that they operate in, and at the same time, improving their business and their commitment to their people and their culture.”
For Mike O’Kane, it all boils down to his purpose of making a difference by helping the mining industry get to a better place.
Okane Consultants is implementing EOS with the help of Certified EOS Implementer® Andrew LeMoine