Manjit Minhas is a Dragon on CBC’s Dragons’ Den, and the CEO and co-founder of Minhas Breweries, Distilleries and Wineries. The entrepreneur and mother of two came to visit the True Calling studio on a recent trip to Vancouver for a round of 24 Questions, and told us about her hidden talents, what she’s least proud of, and the book that helped her business to succeed.

What breakfast kickstarts your day?

Every day it’s the same, an egg and toast!

What is your favourite city?

Calgary. I’m born and raised there. I’m a little biased!

What would your 16-year old self think of you now?

I think she would be surprised that she didn’t become an engineer and work in the oilpatch in Calgary. Because that’s what my plan, and I felt my destiny was going to be. I think that she would be proud, excited for all the new opportunities, and love all the fashion, but also be a little surprised of where life took her.

What is perfect in your life?

My family. Husband, two beautiful, smart young girls, everybody is happy and healthy.

If you weren’t doing this, what job would you most likely have?

Petroleum engineer in the oilpatch in Calgary.

What are you most scared of?

I think any parent will feel this—I didn’t feel I was ever scared of anything until I had kids. And what I would be most scared of is them being unhappy. Being hurt, and as they get older, being not true to who they believe they are.

What are you like when you’re stressed out?

Not a happy person to be around! When I’m stressed, I’m not so nice. But I don’t think many people have seen that part of me because I do handle stress in a very controlled way, I don’t like to take on too many things. I do have a nice outlet when it comes to being stressful and it’s usually my brother and a 10-minute conversation when I can call, I can vent about the things I’m frustrated about and I just sometimes need somebody to hear it, sometimes for some feedback.

What is your daily practice?

No two days are the same for me other than the fact that I talk to my husband, girls, my mom and my brother multiple times a day. I talk to those five people every single day no matter where I am around the world.

What was your first job and how did you get it?

That was at my parents’ liquor stores. They used to own three liquor stores in Calgary. Just like in any family business—mopping floors, stocking shelves, doing whatever was needed. How I got it? My parents told me to work there when they opened them when I was 13.

What’s your hidden talent?

I am a figure skater and a really good swimmer. I trained as a lifeguard in high school.

How would you like to die?


What do people think you are that you’re not?

Tall. I get that all the time: “My god! You’re short in real life!” Yeah, I am!

Who is the love of your life?

My husband.

What is your power song?

Eye of the Tiger.

Who is your mentor?

I have many. Personal life and business life—they are unique, they are different. Because I’m in such a male-dominated, very tough industry, I do have many.

What are you insecure about?

The future, for a variety of reasons. Not only about my personal future but my company’s. As you get to be such a large company you have many families and people that rely on you for a variety of things but mainly a paycheque and their livelihood. That can be an interesting stressor.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Salty chips. Chips, chips, chips!

What is your favourite swear word?

The F-word, much to my husband’s dismay.

What is your favourite movie?

Pretty Woman. I have many others, but that’s my go-to feel-good movie.

What is your favourite book?

A lot. For business, Guerilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson, one of the first books that I read to do with marketing business which I really executed on and I found really helped us become successful with our marketing and branding campaigns. On the fun side, I love reading biographies, because you get a deeper dive into people’s personal lives.

Your favourite emoji?

Kissy face.

What is your after-work drink?

These days, it’s our Polo Club Gin with tonic and a twist of lime.

What TV show do you binge watch?

I don’t binge watch TV because I like to have something to come back to every week. I have many shows that I like to watch. These days, I love This is Us. My mom and I have been watching Survivor—we are 36 seasons in! I like powerful women shows, too. Madam Secretary is one of my favourites, The Good Wife was my Sunday night ritual. But I don’t binge watch.

What are you least proud of?

As an Indian woman and mom, daughter and daughter-in-law, I’m least proud of my domestic skills and my cooking skills. In our culture, we rely on and learn how to cook Indian food. We eat it every night, I just don’t cook it. It’s a big staple and a big part of our life. Everywhere I go in the world, I look for an Indian restaurant. It is comfort food for me, it gives me variety because I am vegetarian. But yeah, my domestic skills really suck. Everything, from cooking to organizing to doing the things at home that the world feels a good mother is supposed to do. Not good, don’t love it!

Do you love what you do?

Yes, absolutely, every day. Because it’s unique, because everyday I have a new challenge, and because I get to follow and lead my own destiny.


Photo courtesy of Manjit Minhas.

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