Venture Out Profile: Adam McLeod On Entrepreneurship, Bodybuilding, and How His LGBTQA+ Identity Contributed To His Success

From Newmarket Ontario, Adam McLeod has worked in many industries over the years from professional figure skater, to barista, to insurance representative and now in his latest role as Founder of Adam Helps. In his spare time he trains and diets religiously for bodybuilding competitions and enjoys spending time with friends and traveling. Adam is also passionate about giving back to the LGBTQA+ community as a proud partner of PFLAG Toronto.

VO: How did you get involved in tech/entrepreneurship?

AM: I think a lot of ideas come first from an observation. I saw there was a problem and I started to think of ways we could leverage technology to solve it. I worked evenings and weekends (around my full-time job in Insurance) on my pitch deck and looked at a myriad of potential investors. It only took my 2nd pitch meeting to get an offer and we’ve continued that same investing relationship since day 1.

VO: What impact (if any) has your LGBTQA+ identity had on your career?

AM: Being openly Gay has had a hugely positive impact on my career. I was bullied for years when I was younger and went through some really tough times; but it’s because of the bullying that I got strong. I tuned my wit to get out of tough situations, I learned that tough days will pass, that you get stronger not weaker with time. All these lessons I’ve had the benefit of learning, have contributed to being a strong, empathetic, and even fearless leader in Tech.

VO: What is one thing managers or those in leadership positions can do to make their teams / workplaces more inclusive?

AM: Be inclusive. Sit with different people at lunch, offer team building exercises if possible, reveal yourself to be someone who is not only technically strong, but smart enough to know that a team who feels comfortable being themselves will excel because they will WANT to work for you.

VO: What is one piece of advice you have for LGBTQA+ folks just starting out in their careers in tech or entrepreneurship?

AM: You have a place here. It is still new territory for our LGBTQA+ community as start-ups have sometimes been referred to as a ‘bro culture’. The things that make you different are what make you special as an individual, and as an investment potential. Visionary investors know that you don’t get true change or disruption by hiring the same group of ‘bros’ so you do you, do you the best you can, and the right people will want to join your team.

VO: To what extent do you think attitudes within the tech/startup industry have shifted over time?

AM: Investors are starting to get it; let’s change things up and look outside Silicon Valley and outside of this ‘bro culture’. We have some great organizations like Venture Out really gaining some traction to support the LGBTQA+community and even groups of LGBTQA+ Angel Investors. It’s getting easier for LGBTQA+ Founders to find real viable sources of investment which is great for the industry.

VO: Anything else that you’d like to highlight?

If you’re a member of the LGBTQA+ community, you’ve already proven yourself. You’ve learned lessons from coming out to new coworkers, family, friends. You’ve gone against the grain by holding your partners hand in public. You are richer because of all these unique experiences so pull from the strength you’ve gained, stand tall, own the pitch meeting, be unapologetic, work harder than anyone else, LOVE what you’re doing and you will be a force to be reckoned with. Rock on my little Unicorns.

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