#105 Ron MacDonald, President, CEO & Director of Zinc8 Energy Solutions
Mr. MacDonald has over 35 years of both public and private sector experience, ranging from international roles within the Parliament of Canada to serving on the boards of numerous publicly listed resource companies. From 1988 to 1997, he was the Member of Parliament for Halifax, Nova Scotia, during which time he was appointed by the Prime Minister of Canada as Parliamentary Secretary of International Trade. From 1997-2002, Mr. MacDonald was President and CEO of the Council of Forest Industries, a large lumber manufacturing, grading and marketing group, where he developed new markets in China, Korea, India and Japan. In recent years Mr. MacDonald has served as President of NRStor Remote Communities and Mines, a Canadian company focused on partnering with off-grid Indigenous communities and mines to develop renewable energy and energy storage projects.
Today he is the President, CEO, and Director of Zinc8 Energy Solutions.
Bigger Than Us Episode 105
This transcription has been lightly edited for readability.
Host Raj Daniels 03:26
If you were asked to share something interesting about yourself, what would it be?
Ron MacDonald 03:30
Well, I’m the son of a Cape Breton coal miner. And we grew up poor. But poor is a relative thing, right? So if you got a lot of rich people around you, and you don’t have what they’ve got, then you think you’re poor. If you got a lot of poor people around you, then you don’t think you’re poor. So I never knew I was poor until I got off Cape Breton Island, went to university. But you know what, it’s kind of a relative thing, right? When I say that I grew up poor, I grew up in the best community I could possibly grow up in. There was a collective sense that everybody looked after everybody in that community. And it was because it was a coal mining community. It was a community that was merged with tragedy when these coal mines would go five, six miles under the Atlantic Ocean, and there’d be stone falls, and there’d be explosions. So in the round of the year, there’d be a number of kids in my school who would lose a dad. And so there was this kind of collective “we have to look after each other.” And I think that that’s made me who I am.
I remember one time, it was a convent school that we went to, and I think it was in grade three. Even though when we were poor, we weren’t dirty. We had clothes that were clean, and we were fed. But there were some people that were really poor even in that poor community. I remember one family, and they were dirt poor. First snow and the girl came, and she was wearing what we call jellies back then, the plastic sandals, and there was snow coming down. And she had a sweater with no buttons on it, and the kids made fun of her. I come home and I told my mom and my mom, she just stiffened up and she said, “were you one of the people that were making fun of her?” And I said, “no.” She said, “you get over here.” And I said, “no Mom, I didn’t.” And she tapped me on the back of the head, which he’s prone to be prone to do. And she said, “Did you intervene?” And I said, “no.” And she said, “why not?” And I said, “I don’t know.” She said, “I’m going to tell you something right now.” She said, “there’s nobody any better than you in this community. And you’re no better than anybody else. And you’re responsible for yourself, but you’re also responsible for people that need your help.” That has been a fundamental thing that has driven me my entire life. I get carried up sometimes when I think about that because my mom is gone now. But a lesson learned in humility. It’s followed me all my life. It is what has given me a good life. And an outlook that’s allowed me to go to places that probably shouldn’t go but have been lucky enough to.
Host Raj Daniels 06:13
You know, there are a few things I want to tease out from that. Thank you for sharing that personal story. First, you mentioned about being poor. And I’m not going to say that people don’t suffer hardship, people do. But I think sometimes, poverty can also be a mindset. And I think that what your parents and what the community instilled within you is that, just because you might not have resources, you don’t have to have a poor mindset. And the other part of that, you mentioned regarding your mother asking you if you did anything about it. And I think all too often when we are ambivalent, we think that we perhaps don’t have to engage. But I think there’s a difference between being ambivalent and taking a stand against things. And I think, right now, as we’re going through these difficult times, whether it’s around, you know, Black Lives Matter, or COVID, and other things that are going on politically, I think we need to sometimes realize that there are times to take stands, and maybe now is the time.
Ron MacDonald 07:10
Poverty is a relative thing. And poverty isn’t just money. It’s other things as well. But I grew up in Cape Breton Island, a tough place to grow up, I got to tell you. In different coal mining communities, there were different gangs by different parts of the town. And I wanted to leave. When I was a kid, this is kind of funny, because our community was right on the Atlantic Ocean, the North Atlantic, and I used to lay down on my little transistor and I would get Larry King. It would be scratching, coming in and out of New York City. And I would lay there at night when I would get the signal and wouldn’t stay. And I would sort of dream about going to New York City. And then I would go sometimes in the summer, and the 40-foot cliffs down to the ocean, I’d lay in the field. And I would because I knew when these things were coming, and I would wait for the transatlantic flights, going from Europe to New York, because they would stop and gander. And then they fly right over my hometown way up. And I used to sit there and I used to think about stuff. I used to think about what it must be like to fly in an airplane, used to think about what it was like to go to New York City, I’d think about things like, what does Europe look like?
By the time I was 10, I had read, we had a thing called The Books of Knowledge—this guy was really nerdy, apparently—and The Books of Knowledge, you could buy it on credit. And so my mom bought it, and by the time I was probably 10, I had read every one of those at least twice. So what I knew then is that I had an insatiable thirst for just knowledge. Right? Just knowledge. So growing up in Cape Breton was wonderful for me. Leaving there gave me an opportunity to really realize my dreams, and to see what I could do. So that was the beginning of my life. At 26, I was the chief of staff to the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada. At 27, I was chief of staff to the leader of the government in the Senate. At 31, I got elected to the Canadian Parliament. So you know, my mother said one time, “Ron, we’re really proud of you. But we think you got a bit of a defect.” And I said, “what’s that mom?” And she said, “You lack that little thing that says, wait, think about this before you do it. You think you can do anything.” I remember that well, and I probably do. And I probably still think that. I don’t know if it’s a good or a bad thing, but it is who I am.
Host Raj Daniels 09:57
Well, that’s fantastic. And I think it’s a great segue Because I’m excited to, you know, make a right turn here and move into Zinc8 Energy. Can you give us an overview of Zinc8 Energy?
Ron MacDonald 10:10
These are really difficult times, but they’re exciting times. There is a collective global demand, not a will, but a demand that we’ve got to look after this earth that we inhabit. That we’ve got to make the right choices, not just for us, but for future generations, or there won’t be future generations. So renewable energy, sustainable forestry, all of these things have been happening over the years. Renewable energy, I’ve been around this for quite a while. And you know that these technologies are there, but they kind of weren’t really economic. And they were tilting pardon the pun at big windmills, you know, with the coal-fired generators and, oil, gas, gas peaking plants. Renewables have been around for quite a while and everyone says “no, no, they don’t work. They don’t make money.” They don’t make any of that stuff because of self-interest.
Well, they do work. And they’re getting to a point that they are economic. Getting to your question, coming out of COVID, I just sense by everybody I talk to is that know that they can change their future. They can have clean air, they can have clean water, they can do things differently. They can and must be sustainable. So Zinc8 is a novel, it’s a very unique approach to energy storage. So everybody knows energy storage, they think of Tesla electric vehicles. That’s right, that’s lithium-ion batteries. And they’re absolutely great. They’ve started to change the world.
But when you get into larger applications, where you’re looking at decarbonizing the buildings in New York City, or if you’re looking at the massive, fast pace of electrification, some countries like Britain are going to get away get they’re going to ban the internal combustion engine, they have by 2040 might go down to 2035. States in the United States are going the same way. So electrification is happening, and it’s happening from renewables. But in order to make that happen, you’ve got to have some system of long duration economic storage. Lithium-ion batteries, about four hours. The battery here that we’ve developed over 12 years at Zinc8 Energy Solutions, is one that provides the most economic long-duration storage that we can see anywhere in the world other than pumped hydro, which is a dam, or case, which is compressed air and underground, unused or abandoned, say salt mines. So what these guys have done, and gals at the company that I was lucky enough to take over last year, is over these years, they have developed a very unique way to enable the greening of our economy through renewable energy.
So we have developed a benign technology. It doesn’t burn, like some other batteries, which can explode. It is non-toxic, we can put it in the school, in a building anywhere. It’s a 20-year battery. And it’s got the lowest cost of any battery on the market today. And so I’ve been blessed to come in here. And my job when I come in was to help the company commercialize, to take this message to the world in a way that, my end users that were credible. I’m so happy, we’re gonna play a major role in the advancement of green energy globally. And I know some people will say, well, that’s a stretch, it’s not a stretch. And that’s where we’re heading. That’s what our target is. And we don’t get absolutely there, were going to get further ahead then if we didn’t have that target.
So Zinc8 Energy Solution, we’re producing a new type of energy storage. It’s applicable globally. Our first launches are going to be in New York, New York State, we love New York. First manufacturing fabrication plants going to be in New York State. We’re going to be creating sustainable green jobs. And we’re going to be providing technology to the world that will allow for the rapid integration into grids of renewable energy. So that’s the story. That’s where we’re at. We’ve only been public as a public company for a year. So a lot has happened in the last year. And a lot more it’s going to happen in the next two. So that’s what my company does.
Host Raj Daniels 14:21
So we know that storage is the third leg of the stool, we have generation storage and distribution. Storage is going to be very important going forward. Without giving away any trade secrets, can you get perhaps a little technical and share how it works?
Ron MacDonald 14:37
So how it works is it’s a component system. This been developed over about 12 years. It goes way back to a company in California maybe 17 years ago. It’s very simple when you look at it, but it’s taken us $72 million to get this simple.
So it’s got three components, it’s got a zinc regenerator. And so what we do is in that zinc regenerator, we take zinc, and we generate zinc particles in the zinc regenerator. And we release some oxygen into the atmosphere, very pure oxygen, so it’s positive. And then the zinc particles go over to a storage tank, it’s just a plastic tank. And it’s maintained in a KOH electrolyte, which is potassium hydroxide, which is basically potash fertilizer. When the power is needed, we pump it to the third unit, and the zinc particles are delivered to the power stack, and they grab some oxygen that they had given up in the first one. And we generate power. So we can hold power for long periods of time. It’s a 20-year battery, and it’s extremely economic. It doesn’t have these exotic metals or minerals like rare earth, or cobalt and stuff. Zinc is everywhere, it’s very plentiful. So, and we don’t use the zinc. This is amazing. So we don’t use the zinc, it doesn’t get consumed, we use it over and over and over again for the 20-year life cycle of the battery. So this is very unique. It’s taken a lot of smart people a lot of trial and error to get to this point.
We’ve got 20 patents on this, we got four us patents pending, and we get three patents being written. And we’re going to be delivering our batteries, first batteries getting delivered in four weeks in Vancouver here to support a net-zero 358-foot long building. So that’s generally it. I mean, it’s a three-component, there’s a lot of technology around it. But it’s a system that can be easily built anywhere in the world because its component, we can size it up or we can size it down. So that’s generally how it works.
Host Raj Daniels 16:48
And for those of you listening, there’s a beautiful visual of it on the website, I’m gonna put a link to it in the show notes. So Ron, how many hours of storage can a battery hold?
Ron MacDonald 17:00
I’m going to tell you a little story. If anybody’s looking, if they get to the website, our name, Zinc8, it means something. The Zinc8, it’s the number eight, it almost looks like, if you put it on the side, it’s the symbol for infinity. And there’s a bunch of other reasons why Zinc8 works. I guess there’s limits to everything. But we can do eight hours, 10 hours, 30 hours, 50 hours, a hundred hours of storage. We can do multi-day, we can do, multiple week storage if it’s required. And the more storage that you build-out, the cheaper per unit of storage gets. So let’s say at eight hours of storage, it’s about, say, $250 per kilowatt-hour installed. And then when you go further down, say 40 hours, I’d say 40 hours of storage, but 30 hours, it’s $100 a kilowatt-hour, 40 hours goes down to $86. 100 hours, it goes down to $62. So this system is built for large applications. So the infinity symbol kind of tells us that that’s where we’re going. Because we think in the future, in order to have full electrification from renewables, you’re going to have to have multi-week systems in some places, and our system and some other technologies that are developing are going to be able to provide that so we can actually make that switch from GHG producing emissions to absolutely renewable sources of power.
Host Raj Daniels 18:31
It’s funny you say that about the figure eight, I have an eight year old daughter, and I told her that eight I think is a fantastic ages, the best age because of that symbol goes to infinity. And when you’re nine, you’re closer to double digit. So I appreciate that comment regarding the eight.
Ron MacDonald 18:44
Yeah, yes, of course.
Host Raj Daniels 18:47
specifically about your unit. Is it scalable? Like, do we need multiple? Or is one unit or a bigger unit in order to to hold more energy?
Ron MacDonald 18:57
It depends on what you want. And this is what’s really good. So in other battery systems, your amount of power, and the amount of storage has got to be one to one, right? Like lithium-ion batteries, the power is stored in an electrolyte in the power stack. We don’t store it in the power stack, we stored in a separate tank. So if you want twice as much power, we just double the size of your stack. If you want double the amount of storage, we don’t have to double the stack, we just double the storage tank, and we generate more zinc to sit in that storage tank. And there are some other technologies that are out there, right, hydrogen and some others where you got to generate the hydrogen off-site, then you take it and you use it in your battery system, in your fuel cell. We don’t have to do that. We produce the fuel right in the unit. So you know if this is in at an industrial site, if it’s to provide backup power for a hospital or a university campus, they tell us what they want and we give them what they want. We don’t give them the other stuff that adds to the cost. We just build a system to what their needs are. Because its component.
So if you want to double your power, as I said the stack. But this is what so economic. The cheapest part of our system is a storage tank. And that’s what keeps our costs down. So yeah, we can go up if somebody wants one megawatt of power, and they want 40 hours, we can build that system for them. Not going to be a problem. And that they did 50 they wanted 60, it’s going to get cheaper, every kilowatt of power that you stored the storage capacity that you want, the overall system cost gets cheaper.
Host Raj Daniels 20:34
And is there any ongoing maintenance required?
Ron MacDonald 20:38
Yeah, of course, with anything, there’s maintenance, but the maintenance is very low. So if I look at maintenance, we say it’s a 20-year battery, 20,000 cycles. And the only real thing that we have to change over that life cycle is at about eight years—depending on the use—we have to replace the cathode, and the cathode is one of the least expensive parts of the system. So when we sit down and we say this is the cost of the battery, this the lifetime cost of your energy storage system, it includes any upgrades, it includes the maintenance, and it includes any perks like the cathodes that would be replaced at probably every eight years. So our cost, when we give the cost, it’s all in. That’s all part of the cost of the system.
Host Raj Daniels 21:27
Sounds like an attractive opportunity. Now, can you share a bit about the business model? Are you direct to consumer, are you B2B?
Ron MacDonald 21:37
It’s kind of interesting because there are enough challenges and trying to take a tech company public, and to develop a product and then to take the product not just regionally or globally or nationally, but globally. So the strategy that we’ve adopted here is that we will grow through partnerships, and partners that have pipelines of potential projects. So I don’t have a single salesperson here. My VP, myself, and two other people that do other jobs here as well. That’s the team. So we’ve negotiated a couple of deals with one company in India, Vijai Electricals, they have been the second-largest manufacturer of transformers in the world. They operate in a country, they’re in every state in India plus, at the federal utility level, they’re in 42 countries, they’ve got a pipeline. So we just announced a week ago Monday that we’re going to be partnering with them to come up with some way that we can joint venture to access that market.
We’ve got the two projects, we’ve got New York state the one with NYPA, the New York Power Authority. They have probably hundreds of projects where this type of system will aid in the economics and the robustness of their TND system, transmission distribution. The other one that we’ve got with Digital Energy out of Rochester, for big project that we’re going to be doing, I think we’ve mentioned it down in New York City. They’ve got over 100 projects that they’ve already built out where this technology could improve the efficiency and the economics. So we’re going to grow through pipelines. It will not be direct to consumers, but hopefully, known brands that have exceptional distribution systems will be able to take this to industrial commercial residential users globally over the next few years.
Host Raj Daniels 23:34
So let me ask you this, then if there’s an adventurous entrepreneur, who thinks he or she can get involved and perhaps create a pipeline in the future, would you be willing to work with someone like that?
Ron MacDonald 23:44
You know, I’ve never turned down any opportunity in my life. And so we never say no, we say, let’s see if this can work.
Host Raj Daniels 23:52
I love that. Thank you so much for that. So I’m going to switch gears here. Get to the crux of our conversation, the why behind what you do now. Earlier in the conversation, you shared how optimistic you are your outlook on life, you kind of identified some of the pathways you’ve taken. But why Zic8 Energy Solutions? Why now? What keeps you motivated? What drives you?
Ron MacDonald 24:14
Well, I think a couple of things. I think a lot of time in life, people get too comfortable. I’ve never been comfortable in my life. I’ve always been uncomfortable because I always wanted to do more. People become comfortable. They become complacent. They because they say okay, I know this, this is my job. And I’m not going to move to another job that may be more stimulating because I’m worried about a…I don’t worry about stuff. There are things I worry about. But for me when opportunities are dropped in front of you, even if they’re kind of scary, and even if they’re kind of disruptive, don’t be afraid to take them. I wasn’t. I didn’t even know about this company two years ago. I was about to retire for the fourth or maybe fifth time in my life. And I was quite serious this time. I’m done. I’m going on boards. That’s it. And I’m going to semi-retire.
And I got a call. I got a call from a friend of mine that wanted to invest in what became Zinc8. And I encouraged him not to do it. And he said, “why?” And I said, “because there are no Zinc8 batteries anywhere close to primetime, just don’t waste your money.” And he said, “Ron, I’m going to send you this, could you look at it?” And my business partner got his engineers to have a look at it with no urgency. They come back, they said, “We think there’s something here. If they’re telling the truth, they made some major breakthroughs.” So I was in Toronto running a company, I flew up to Vancouver, and thought about it. And they said, Ron, would you go on the board? Let me think about it.
Anyway, fast forward a couple of months, I said, I drink this Kool-Aid, this is a major technological breakthrough in storage. And I want to be part of it. I want to be part of the success of this. That’s kind of how I got into Zinc8 Energy Storage. We came in and it was having trouble. Things were financially difficult. And just focus on the technology, focus on the product, focus on the market. And I’m 65, I feel like I’m 27. Again, I gotta tell you. That’s how I got here. And we’re going to take this to commercialization. And then we’re going to leave it to somebody else to take it to the next level.
Host Raj Daniels 26:41
Well, you sound like you’re 25. I’m gonna rephrase my question regarding, you know, you’re working on a project that then has benefits for the environment and the climate itself. What drives you? Why do you think that’s important?
Ron MacDonald 26:56
Because I want my kids, and if I ever get grandkids from my kids, I want them to understand that there are better ways to do things. I want clean air. For some of my life, I was involved in different activities where maybe I wasn’t so environmentally responsible, shall I say. But you grow, right? And I do want cleaner air, I want things to be different. I want a better connection for me personally, with my environment. And I want to be able to provide tools for other people to be able to have that better interaction and lower carbon footprint, lower impact on our environment. I’m just a poor boy from Cape Breton. And to be allowed to participate in something like this, that can have such an impact is really a blessing.
Host Raj Daniels
And before we move on, I want to highlight and congratulate you on the recent award. I won’t share what it is. Can you share with me the recent award that Zinc8 won?
Yeah. So back on Earth Day, the city of New York through its department of buildings announced a decarbonization challenge for New York City. All the boroughs. It was supported by a number of local laws, which required buildings of over say 25,000 square feet, I think it was, to come up with plans to lower their carbon footprint. This is in New York City, New York state are leading globally, I gotta tell you, with the policies to move towards this new economy. And so they came out with a challenge. My Senior Product Development VP here took the time to send in what we thought we had that might contribute. And then we kind of forgot about it to be quite honest, because we’re kind of busy. And then about two and a half weeks ago, got a note saying you’re in the finals, you’ve been shortlisted. So then I virtually did a five or six-minute presentation.
And a week ago Sunday morning when I was having my coffee and put my computer out, they said “congratulations, you won the New York Department of Buildings Decarbonization Challenge. So we were one of four companies were the only one in the storage area. The other ones are incredible technology to help individuals. But they selected us. So we’re still trying to get our heads around what does that mean? But it means at least that they are going to be working to help incorporate our technology into the building code. And it appears that if our technology is used in projects, by buildings, to lower the carbon footprint that they probably should be fast-tracked on the regulatory side. So this is a big honor. You know, there’s a lot of companies out there and like I said, we’re a little company. And we’ve been getting awards over the last year all over the place. But the one for New York City is, it’s the Big Apple man, come on. And I even broke into a little song and the staff went “ah Ron, please don’t do that.” If we can make it here. We can make it anywhere. You know, if you make it there, you make it anywhere in New York.
So, New York, it’s almost like we fell into this track. Everybody started looking at us, then we got NYSERDA, New York. And then we got the building challenge we want to New York. So it’s big for us as a company, we have you have no idea how many calls we’re now getting from builders, from contractors from EPCs, wanting to know how our technology can help them or their clients reach these targets that have been put out by New York City.
Host Raj Daniels 30:53
Well, I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a bold statement. Earlier on in our conversation, you mentioned as a young boy, laying on the ground looking up at the planes and thinking about New York City. So I would say to some extent, you almost manifested that many years later.
Ron MacDonald 31:09
Well, that is that’s deep. That is deep. I never by never connected the two. Things happen, and sometimes you just gotta let things happen. Right? And I started to say earlier, I think, you know, Yogi Berra, when you come to a fork in the road, take it, you know, everybody laughs at that. But when opportunities come to you, don’t be afraid to let them happen. My career has been all over the place. I went to university, started building a small company, sold to my partner, then I got into politics and I was chief staff, the deputy prime minister, got elected to Parliament at 31, one of the youngest members of parliament. Then I left that at 41, ran a big Pacific Coast fishery, ran the largest forest group in Canada. I’m not a forester. I’m not a marine biologist. And I’m not an engineer. And now I’m running this company. So the reason I say that is, you know what, sometimes there is karma. And we push it away. And sometimes you just gotta let that happen.
Sometimes, when I used to do lectures at the university, and I tell people, you know, you’re young, you got the whole world ahead of you. Don’t close it off. Okay? Don’t deny it. Don’t be afraid. Take up the challenge. Don’t be afraid to do things. I’ve never been afraid to do things as I said earlier. But my mother said you lack that thing that says don’t do that. Think about it. But yeah, so now we’re here. And New York to your point, it’s come full circle, you just gave me something I can talk about the next time I give a speech.
Host Raj Daniels 32:50
And I feel like you embody that quote, about taking the leap and building your wings on the way down.
Ron MacDonald 32:57
Yeah. I want to tell you just a quick story. When I was I was responsible for implementing the Canada-US softwood lumber deal when I was Parliamentary Secretary for trade. And I thought everybody disliked me over in the forest industry because I had to approve all the quota. So the story is, I left politics, I didn’t have a job. I just figured I had to leave through it for some illness, my wife had been ill. And I made a decision that as much as I love that job, and I thought I’d never had a job that I love so much. I had to really examine what was important. And my kids were important. And I quit. Everybody thought, wow, what did he quit for? I wanted to reengage and raise my kids. Best decision I ever made.
I had no job. What happens? The Council of Forest Industries comes and they hire me. It was like, wow, tripled my salary almost overnight. The issue I’m raising about that is somebody from the National Post wanted to come and do a profile on me, and they drove up to Stanley Park, where all these old-growth trees are. And I had this sudden panic attack going in, I thought, what happens if this reporter asked me what kind of tree that is? Because I had no idea. I had no idea and I kind of panicked a bit. The reason I’m saying that is I wasn’t a forester, but the skills that you get from the previous job and from your upbringing, they’re transferable. Just let things happen. And you grow every time that happens. I grew to be the leading voice, probably in Canada, maybe internationally in forestry. Because I had a great staff. I didn’t have to be the forester. I had the best forester anybody could have supporting me. I had the best phytosanitary guy supporting me. I didn’t have to do that. So don’t be afraid just because that’s not on your path that you thought. Don’t be afraid to veer away. You’ll be surprised at some of the wonderful things that can happen.
Host Raj Daniels 34:46
I so agree with you. I think Auguste Rodin said that nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.
Ron MacDonald 34:55
Absolutely. Truer words were never written.
Host Raj Daniels 34:58
So you’ve taken quite a scenic journey. What are some of the most valuable lessons that you would say you’ve learned about yourself?
Ron MacDonald 35:08
I always had a bit of the fear of failure. And I never failed. Until I failed, right? I never failed until I failed. And failure was new to me. And I didn’t know what to do about it. I called up one of my best friends, Dennis Mills, he was in Parliament with me, they call him Mr. Toronto. He’s a wonderful individual. I called him and I told him about my failure. And he said, “You want sympathy from me because you’re not going to get it.” And I expected sympathy to be quite honest from that friend. And he did not give it. And he said, “Listen, don’t be feeling sorry for yourself. You pick yourself up, you dust yourself off, and you get right into the fray again.” And I thought that what he told me was terrible, he wasn’t very thoughtful about my frame of mind. It was the best advice, one of the best pieces of advice because I got up the next day. And I brush myself off, and you know what? I wore my failure. You have to wear your failures. Otherwise, you don’t grow. If you hide them, they stay there, and they stick and they hold you back. So that’s one of the big lessons I’ve learned in my life.
Host Raj Daniels 36:21
I love that lesson. Own your failure. So, Ron, it’s 2025. What does the future hold for Zinc8?
Ron MacDonald 36:32
I think in 2025, Zinc8 will be a global manufacturer of our storage system. It’ll be a better system. We’ve already started the next iteration for a 250-kilowatt battery. So this is a good thing about technology and science. It just continues to get better, it continues to make us better. So in 2025, I would think that we will be operating in every continent in three years, four years from now. Longer 3,4,5 years. 2025. Yeah, I think that this will be a company that will be socially conscious, that we’ll be delivering a better and better product that will allow for full integration all over the world for renewable energy, and will make people’s lives better. You have to do that. You’ve got to always make things a bit better. So that’s where I see the company. And hopefully, I’ll be sitting back and smiling internally that I was allowed to have something to do with that.
Host Raj Daniels 37:31
Well, that’s an aggressive goal. But after hearing your story, I wouldn’t bet against you.
Ron MacDonald 37:35
You got to have aggressive goals. If you don’t have aggressive goals…way back, I went up to Ottawa, from Cape Breton. And a friend of my dad’s was the Minister of Veterans Affairs. And he invited me to lunch. He had served in the war with my dad, he had lost a leg and an arm. And so I went to meet him at the parliamentary restaurant. I got there, and it was magnificent. I got there and the maitre d came over and said, “excuse me, sir, where’s your tie?” I didn’t own a tie. You couldn’t get in the restaurant without a tie. So Dan McDonald, the Minister came over. And he said, “oh, well, why don’t we take your tie? So they made sure he gave me his tie, didn’t match anything. And I sat down, and I said, You know what? I like this place. I want to be here. I’m going to run for parliament. I decided at that table. And that was so brash, like, are you serious? He didn’t even have a tie to come in here. And nine years later, I was sitting there as a member of parliament eating my first meal in the parliamentary restaurant. So aim high. Aim high.
Host Raj Daniels 38:48
So that leads beautifully into my last question. You know, you’ve given so much advice during this conversation. But if you could share some specific advice or words of wisdom with the audience, it could be professional or personal, what would it be?
Ron MacDonald 39:04
Have quiet humility in your successes. It’s not about what everybody else thinks. It’s about how you feel about what you’ve done. And all of the limits that you have, they’re in your brain. They’re like pieces of flotsam and jetsam, and they’re in there. And sometimes they scare you, right? To not do what you really, maybe were born to do. Clear the clutter out every so often. Take the time to just reflect on who you are, and how wonderful you are, and what you’ve got to contribute and then go chase it.
Before we go, I’m excited to share that we’ve launched the Bigger Than Us comic strip, The Adventures of Mira and Nexi.
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