Nolan Watson, CPA, CFA, is one of the most astute CEOs in mining under 40. In 2005, he became the first employee of Silver Wheaton after it was spun out of Ian Telfer’s Goldcorp. Watson was appointed CFO shortly thereafter and the company quickly became the world’s largest silver producer. Watson left Silver Wheaton in 2008 to co-found Sandstorm Gold (TSE:SSL), a gold streaming and royalty business. Coming out of the financial crisis, Watson raised several hundred million dollars as president, CEO and Chairman of Sandstorm, helping the company to acquire ten streams and thirty six royalties on various precious metals projects around the world. Mr. Watson is also the founder of Nations Cry, a non-profit organization focused on improving the lives of disadvantaged youth, especially in Africa. Mr. Watson’s business and philanthropic aspirations are massive. Sandstorm Gold, worth roughly $400 million today, will eventually surpass a $10 billion market capitalization if Mr. Watson has his way. The up and coming gold streaming titan generously shared some of his perspectives on success with me over coffee the other day. Below are select excerpts from our conversation:
Nolan, what is your advice to the young man or women who aspires to be rich?
Many young entrepreneurs, business graduates, and sometimes everyday people spend vast amounts of mental effort thinking about how to get rich. They obsess over it, they day dream about it, and they are convinced their lives will be better if they can accomplish it. I believe they are misguided and wrong.
If someone begins their career with the main goal of “becoming rich” what they are effectively unconsciously saying is that life has no purpose other than to serve oneself, and their ultimate goal is to increase their stature and their consumption of meaningless things. I believe the opposite, which is that life is full of purpose, and a material mental effort should be dedicated to evaluating what that purpose is and how to accomplish it. Living a life of purpose and attempting to leave the world in a better place is a worthy endeavour and it is entirely possible, perhaps even probable, that accomplishing such purpose will require resources, such as money. To that extent, it is critical to understand that money is a very important means to an end, and the ability to possess it, and control it may be required to accomplish your purpose.
I’ve heard you talk about hard work, long term, and not cutting corners…
The surest way to fail at acquiring wealth is to try to do it fast. People often forget to invest in themselves first and they quickly rush into great sounding ideas and business and then proceed to lose everything they had, because they lacked the knowledge, experience and wisdom required to succeed. If you want to acquire wealth, you should invest in yourself first, and sometimes that takes time.
What are your feelings about living with debt?
I have always lived a debt free life. Even as CFO of a multi-billion dollar company, I rented a basement suite, because I wanted to avoid personal debt. I didn’t buy my first house until I could pay in cash. Some people consider this too conservative however I knew that sometimes in order to become successful you have to take risk. I have seen many people have great opportunities in life that they had to pass up because they had debt and couldn’t take the risk of things going wrong financially. By avoiding debt, I was able to take financial risks at a young age such as walking away from a good job to start up Sandstorm Gold.
How important is health and exercise to finding success in business?
Being successful at what you do requires that you are a resilient person. Resilient people can withstand stress better, think more clearly, stay positive in challenging situations and bounce back from failure more quickly. Health and exercise are crucial elements of being a resilient person. Over the years, I have learned this lesson the hard way and now working out is a regular part of my life.
How about having a vision coupled with sound experience to execute your goals?
Without vision you can’t get started and without experience you likely won’t finish.
What is the best way to preserve wealth?
Living within your means is the best way to preserve your wealth, but it is harder to do than one expects. It means saying no to your ego which is hard for most people to do. The best way to live within your means is to continually focus on your purpose and trying to make the world a better place. If you do that, you have a chance at staying focused on what matters and realizing that life is about what you do, not about what you have.
Who are some of the people that have influenced you in your life?
I am very close to my family and they have the single largest influence on my life. They keep me focused on my values, and remind me of the importance of integrity.
What’s more thrilling for you, chasing the money, or enjoying it once you’ve got it?
Chasing the money is the most thrilling part, but if you live right, re-deploying it is the most meaningful part.
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This website contains “forward-looking statements”, within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and applicable Canadian securities legislation, concerning the business, operations and financial performance and condition of Sandstorm Gold Ltd. (“Sandstorm”). Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements with respect to the future price of commodities, the estimation of mineral reserves and resources, the realization of mineral reserve estimates, the timing and amount of estimated future production, costs of production, capital expenditures, costs and timing of the development of new deposits, success of exploration activities, permitting time lines, hedging practices, currency exchange rate fluctuations, requirements for additional capital, government regulation of mining operations, environmental risks, unanticipated reclamation expenses, timing and possible outcome of pending litigation, title disputes or claims and limitations on insurance coverage. Generally, these forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “plans”, “expects” or “does not expect”, “is expected”, “budget”, “scheduled”, “estimates”, “forecasts”, “intends”, “anticipates” or “does not anticipate”, “believes” or variations of such words and phrases or statements that certain actions, events or results “may”, “could”, “would”, “might” or “will be taken”, “occur” or “be achieved”. Forward-looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements of Sandstorm to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements, including but not limited to: risks related to the integration of acquisitions; risks related to international operations; risks related to joint venture operations; actual results of current exploration activities; actual results of current reclamation activities; conclusions of economic evaluations; changes in project parameters as plans continue to be refined; future prices of comodities; possible variations in ore reserves, grade or recovery rates; failure of plant, equipment or processes to operate as anticipated; accidents, labour disputes; delays in obtaining governmental approvals or financing or in the completion of development or construction activities and other risks of the mining industry, as well as those factors discussed in the section entitled “Description of the Business — Risk Factors” in Sandstorm’s annual information form for the year ended December 31, 2011 available at www.sedar.com. Although Sandstorm has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking statements, there may be other factors that cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Sandstorm does not undertake to update any forward-looking statements that are included in this document, except in accordance with applicable securities laws.
Disclosure of Mineral Reserves and Mineral Resources
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