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'Will my contributions have a positive ripple effect?"

Brian Scudamore, 36 Founder and CEO, 1-800-Got Junk?, Vancouver


Okay, let's get the first question out of the way. What was it like appearing on Oprah?

"Pretty cool," Brian Scudamore says. "And I'm someone who, when I give a speech or do an interview, there's a little bit of nervousness, and, you know, with Oprah, I thought I was going to be crazy nervous. But I was just going, wow, is this unreal."

In fact, it had always been one of Mr. Scudamore's goals to give Ms. Winfrey, someone he's long admired, a hug. It was up there on the head office's "Can You Imagine?" wall, along with "Can you imagine us hitting a billion in sales?"

Mr. Scudamore founded his company at age 18, hoping to earn some cash to pay for university. But he soon realized he was learning more about business with his junk-hauling service than he was in the University of British Columbia's commerce course -- and having more fun to boot.

Today, 1-800-Got-Junk?'s growth -- from $1-million in revenue in 1999 to $66-million last year -- is almost as mind-boggling as some of the items the company has been hired to cart away: prosthetic legs, a defused Second World War bomb, 18,000 cans of expired sardines and an entire McDonald's McHappy Land play set.

What's more, only about 40 per cent of that goes to landfill; the rest is recycled and donated to charities.

"I'll sit back and look at the growth for about two seconds, then go, okay, so how do we get it bigger?" he says.

"For me, business is a game, and is all about growth."

With 246 franchises and a current earnings trend of $119-million, Mr. Scudamore's ambition is to build what he calls "the Fed-Ex of junk removal. Clean, shiny trucks, friendly, uniformed drivers, and service upfront."

Among the many highlights of Mr. Scudamore's life has been the Birthing of Giants course he took at Boston's prestigious MIT. With a 10-per-cent acceptance rate and entrepreneurs the average age of 35 doing a minimum $3-million a year in sales, "it was the best course I've ever taken," he says, "almost like a university for all these ADHD, high-growth, don't-follow-the-rules, don't-pay-attention-type students. We came together and the bond was unbelievable, the networking and learning among ourselves even better."

The kind of boss who eschews a private office to hijack vacant desks around what employees call the Junktion, close rapport with his staff is a high priority.

"I feel I'm doing a good job if I can help everyone in this company grow to the point where one day we're looked at not for what we built, but how we built it," Mr. Scudamore says.

His goals include transforming 1-800-Got-Junk? into a globally admired brand, and, of course, hitting that billion a year in sales, something he's targeted for 2012.

Craig Kielburger, 23 Chair and founder, Free the Children, Toronto


Some people thought he'd surely peaked at age 13.

By then, Craig Kielburger of Thornhill, Ont., was one of the most famous children in the world, profiled internationally in the press and on such major TV journals as 60 Minutes.

He'd met with Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Mother Teresa and addressed a gathering of U.S. congressional leaders.

It all sprang from reading a newspaper article about a Pakistani boy of 12 -- Mr. Kielburger's age at the time -- who spoke out about his forced-labour plight and was murdered in retaliation. Mr. Kielburger gathered some classmates to form Free the Children to protest such atrocities and became an overnight media sensation when he staged a press conference during a seven-week tour of Southeast Asia (with an adult chaperone) to demand that the Prime Minister increase Canada's attention to human rights.

Staffed largely by youth and as much as 70 per cent funded by donations from schoolchildren, Free the Children has to date built some 420 schools in the developing world, provided $9-million (U.S.) in medical supplies and been nominated three times since 2002 for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The phenomenon, in a word, continues today through a professional development agency that has helped create programs for such heavy hitters as Oprah Winfrey's charity.

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