Search This Blog

CCE in brief

My photo
Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Friday, 6 November 2015

StoriesOfOurs: Bandana Singh's Guitar Tale

How Stupid is Smart?






Yesterday, I had a frustrating conversation (which I'll get into shortly) that got me thinking about smarts, communication and ego.  It was going to be one of those threads that just weaved its way through my brain for a bit untapped, but then I read the piece linked above.  

Two pokes was enough for me to need to explore this tangent here.

I won't comment on Salutin's interpretations of who is and isn't smart, except to pause on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for a bit.  Since he's entered political life, I've heard completely polarized opinions on whether he is "smart" and strategic or vacuous, but an excellent showman.

Having only met the guy once, my in-person impressions are limited (but found here).  What I really want to explore though is the notion of what "smart" actually means.

First, some personal background:

Based on technical definitions and standardized testing and diagnosis formulas, I am considered both low-end genius and full-on learning disabled.  Throughout my life, I've struggled with this duality - I've been a poor student and a trend-sending innovator, a respected mentor to some and a useless idiot to others.  

With time, I have come to recognize the root of this duality; my brain is a constant buzz of synaptic activity, linking the various bits and bobs of knowledge I've picked up over the years together.  This might be systems-thinking; it might just as well be random nonsense that signifies nothing.  I'm sure there's a bit of both.

By standard definitions, this connect-the-dots ability might be considered "smart", as in a good thing. In practice, though, the metric that matters most is success - how your ideas become action. If you can't communicate what you're thinking, of what relevance is the thought itself?

Success tends to be transactional.  The best communicators are simplifiers.  We are all told that you should only communicate one thing at one time.  Too many priorities equals no priorities.  KISS.

How smart can genius (about complexity) be if success is communication and communication is about simplicity? 

To me, "genius" is just one more category of socially less-capable; it's like being an ESL student struggling to put native concepts into words in a foreign tongue.  Sadly, the way our language, culture and perception of smarts works, to even hint at this concept smacks of condescension.  

If you tell someone "I'm having trouble putting what I'm thinking into words that make sense to you" in a non English Second Language way, you are being condescending and egotistical, even if that's the furthest thing from what you want to convey.

Or put it another way - it's like having a ton of energy, but poor motor control.  What good is being the fastest kid on the track if you can't keep yourself pointed in one direction?

My frustrating conversation from yesterday provided a painful reminder of a time I worked with one of the most successful political people in the country.  I know I drove her bananas.  I know she got the same impression my convo partner from yesterday did - that I was condescending, that I was communicating some sense of intellectual superiority which I didn't feel, at all.  It came to the point where I started to hold my tongue, even if I had insights that I felt were valuable, because I couldn't be sure those insights actual were or if they were, if I could ever get them across.

It doesn't matter what you can think if you can't communicate.  

You can have the best product or service in the world - if you can't sell it, what value does it have? What value do you have?

One of the most successful, influential people I know (who considers me dumb) once told me "you don't have to know what you're talking about, just sound confident while you say it."  I doubt this fellow has had an original idea in his life; he's terrible with remembering names, or details, or commitments.  Does it matter, though?  He is a success story.

Is Rob Ford stupid?  The man got elected mayor of the biggest city in Canada.  If you say that reflects on the intelligence of the general population, how are you any different from the pollsters or politicians who say their methodology is right, it's people who are wrong?

I think Donald Trump is a narcissistic bully with a poor grasp of complexity.  For his part, Trump could care less what people like me think - he's wealthy, successful and a serious contender to be the next President of the United States.

I've seen people who consider themselves smart (and who say things like "we are smart, they are dumb") do incredibly short-sighted things.  I've been blown over by the subtle wisdom of people who consider themselves mental light-weights. 

One of the most emotionally intelligent people I have met has Down Syndrome; there's nothing more powerful or heartbreaking than to see this fellow intuitively respond to a person's emotional state in just the right way to bring them to balance, yet be unable to communicate in words what they're doing or have that amazing skill recognized and harnessed for the greater good.  He is gifted; he is a gift, yet one that will never reach it's maximum potential.

We've all seen the reverse, too - people able to grasp complex ideas or write code the way Mozart wrote music who are socially/emotionally hopeless.

So what is smart?  Is smart the ability to connect dots?  Is it knowledge?  Is it the ability to simplify, or motivate, or hustle?

There's no definition of smart that everyone agrees with.  There's surely some confirmation bias mixed into our individual perceptions of who exemplifies smart.  

What matters, at the end of the day, is results.  

Which brings us back to Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau is an effective communicator.  Well, duh - he just became Prime Minister with a majority government.  You can say he was stage-managed by smarter team-members, but who assembled that team?  Either way you slice it, Trudeau made it work.

I've heard some people complain that he's got this uncanny (or unnerving) ability to always be looking at the camera.  People who took a picture of him posing with someone else will still find that he is perfectly positioned to make their shot look good.  

Isn't that a gift?

Trudeau has ego (who doesn't that feels they should run for political office?), but he's also incredibly emotionally intelligent.  While always staying true to himself, Trudeau has an incredible ability to slide into speech and physical movement patterns that align with whoever he is speak with.  

When I spoke with him, he became a reflection of my frame of mind at the time - less chit-chat or enjoying a moment with a celebrity, but trying to quickly get a point across that I thought was relevant.  His whole body took the pose of a coach listening to advice from one of his players.  Next conversation over, Trudeau was smiles, shoulder touches and collegial - because that's what the next person over was looking for.

That's unquestionably a gift.

Broadly, I suspect Trudeau is a lot more "intelligent-smart" than he gets credit for.  My guess is that he may think in systems and connections too, but has a honed ability to channel the relevant bits or simply abstain from sharing too much.  I could be totally wrong, mind you - I'm as much victim of confirmation bias as anyone, and there's clear reason why I might want to believe you can be a lateral thinker and yet still manage to be successful.

Try not to get hung up on definitions of who is smart.  Recognize that everyone has value.  Never think that you are smart and they are dumb - the truth is that they will invariably have insights that you don't.  You may think those insights worthless, but that says more about you than it does about them.

And please don't ever feel that whatever advice I share in person or in writing is some kind of holier-than-though prescription - it isn't.  It's just my opinion.

In that opinion of mine - the "smarest" people aren't the ones who feel they are better than everyone else in the room, but the ones best able to bring those people together.

If smart is a form of individual superiority, than  leadership is the ability to create community.  

Give me a leader over a smart guy any day.



Thursday, 5 November 2015

It's only a passing thing, Harper's Legacy




Full of darkness and danger they were,
and sometimes you didn't want to know the end.
Because how could the end be happy.
How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened.
But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow.
Even darkness must pass.A new day will come.
And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.


In 2006, Stephen Harper said "You won't recognize Canada when I'm through with it."  After ten years as Prime Minister, this is arguably true - much that once was was lost.  

We have a new Prime Minister now - one who speaks about a new dawn and sunny ways.  

Some stories that have hit the news since Justin Trudeau was sworn in:





Two days, folks.  All that in two days.

Of course, Team Trudeau has the better part of four years to unravel Stephen Harper's efforts to remake Canada to fit his ideological perspective, plus bring in some of their own initiatives.

They are seriously hitting the ground running.  Can this monentum be sustained?  What bumps and unexpected challenges will get in their way?  How committed can Team Trudeau be to sunny ways when the opposition starts raining on their parade?

We'll see what we see, but if the present is any indication, it isn't going to take all that long to undue Stephen Harper's reformed Canada.

That's got to sting a little bit.

For Stephen Harper, there was much to watch and wonder how things might have turned out had he been less aristocratic, acerbic and antagonistic.

Indeed.

JT on Teaching and Leadership

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Strength Through Diversity: The Force Awakens, Eh?



Black Jedi?
50% female Cabinet?

It's true - all of it.

You can't stop the change any more than you can stop the suns from setting - so train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.

The force of change will be with us - always.  And that's a good thing.


Trudeau's Wood






"Give me better wood and I will make you a better cabinet."

- Sir John A MacDonald








As offering thoughts on Canada's new Cabinet is the thing to do today, here are my thoughts based on who/what I know:

First off - the Liberal Party was fortunate to have a lot of fine wood from which to build our Cabinet. That matters.  Having said that, much credit goes to Gerry Butts, Katie Telford, Trudeau himself and whoever else was part of the selection process.  

Gender parity.  Regional representation.  Ethnic diversity.  Seasoned vets and fresh blood.  Political acumen and real-life experience.  They really managed to hit every box they needed to.  That's all surface, mind you - the real test comes when the work starts and we see how well this group functions at a team.  It bodes well that they have a cheerleader/teacher as their stone.

Now, the people:

Justin Trudeau (Quebec) - Prime Minister, Intergovernmental Affairs and Youth

Remember the chiding he got for being the youth guy?  Note the youth turnout this past election? It's a smart move, this.  Same is true for holding the Intergovernmental Affairs file.  This is Trudeau playing to his strengths, thinking strategically and being what the Prime minister is supposed to be, all in one.

Sphane Dion (Quebec) - Foreign Affairs

I don't know how you can be a follower of Canadian politics and not admire this guy.  He's not the most gregarious or charming of people - I remember struggling to find something we could connect over when we met during his leadership run - but he's smart, and dedicated to his country and his belief in what Canada to be in ways not enough people truly appreciate.  We're lucky to have him.

John McCallum (Ontario) - Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

The moment I saw this, I poked at friends in the Canadian Arab Institute and let them know things were in good hands.

Carolyn Bennett (Ontario) - Indigenous and Northern Affairs

Carolyn is a WSIC veteran and a fan of Terri Chu, so it's not hard to see why I'm a fan of hers.  She's a warm person, dedicated, passionate, does her homework, great at outreach.  There are many voices in Canada's Indigenous communities excited to see her in this file - and that really says all that needs said.

Scott Brison (Nova Scotia) - Treasury Board President

I know Brison more by reputation and performance than as a person, but from what I've seen he's going to get along famously with the Canadian Open Community.  While Clement did some good stuff on opening public data for business, Brison will truly understand why OpenGov is about much, much more.  

We're gonna have fun.

Navdeep Bains (Ontario) - Innovation, Science and Economic Development

You can't know Navdeep and not love him.  The guy is a big teddy bear and his mom makes amazing cookies.  I got to know him on a couple Mississauga-area campaigns, and he was magic at the door.

I can't speak to his familiarity with his file, but he's smart, organized and has some business savy to him.  Really interested to see how he does with this file

Which, for the record, is completely different than pure science.  Thank god Team Trudeau recognized this.  If you're focused on sales, you're focused on product, which is not what pure science is about.  Science is about understanding how things work and what things can do.  Science can be turned to marketable opportunities, eventually, but it is smart to keep these two files separate.  I'm crediting this one to GMB.

Kirsty Duncan (Ontario) - Science

Breaking the CBC's order, but it kinda makes sense to put Science next, don't you think?

Full confession - when I first met Duncan, I thought she was fake.  I remember sitting at Queen's Park during a media event with Positive Change and thinking "nobody that empathetic can be successful in politics, so it's gotta be a show."  

Which of course it wasn't.  She really is that empathic.  I have no idea how she does it - I would be so completely drained if I cared as deeply about so many as she did, especially in relation to communities that have faced such hardship.  She truly is a wonder.

Oh - and the Nobel Prize thing, and the Spanish flu research.  They help too.


Maryam Monsef (Ontario) - Democratic Institutions

I can't be the only person that teared up a bit as Maryam Monsef gave the oath.  Such a powerful story, such an inspirational human being.  It's the sort of story that, to me, exemplifies Canada at its best.  Monsef has her work cut out for her, but her sincerity and passion shine and you bet she's committed to a strong, dynamic democracy.

I don't know her, but as my folks' MP I hope to have the chance.  

Hunter Tootoo (Nunavut) - Fisheries and Oceans, and Canadian Coast Guard

An inspired choice that I'm also going to guess was a GMB pick.  

Harper has continuously failed to deliver success of any kind on Canada's North and our northern waters in particular.  He simply didn't understand what was necessary.  The North can't just be a border and some potential resources, so far away from mainstreet Canada - it has to be a community, it has to be a part of the whole.  There needs to be a human stake which, of course, there is.

I'm really excited to see what Tootoo brings to his files.

That's it, my initial thoughts on the people.  Additionally, of course, there's Cabinet Committees - one thing at a time though.  

Parting thoughts:

- Watching the swearing in, I almost felt I looking at the CSI community (albeit in fancier clothes) than a cabinet.  It feels, looks, sounds different than anything we've seen before - and that's a good thing.

- Having said that - did the new Ministers individually choose their outfits, or was there a coordinated effort by the Centre to tell a story?  Freeland's dress in particular stands out.  It's a little thing, this, but potentially concerning if Team Trudeau is scripted down to their attire from day one.  Something to watch out for.



That's all I've got.  What were your thoughts?  Don't feel shy about commenting below!

Could Brownell Night Go Federal? (What JT could learn from JB)







Lots of talk lately about Trudeau's commitment to make half of his reduced Cabinet women.  Why that's a good thing is clear to many and, over the coming years, will make sense to most: the things that define us shape our world view, our priorities, our challenges and our opportunities.

The more policy-makers can reflect the general population, the closer we will get to policies that work towards everyone's best interests.

Diversity is strength.  The task of leadership is empowering all these different people, perspectives, sectors and systems to be more than the sum of their parts.  A big piece of that is knowing how to listen, make connections, nurture relationships - the stuff of community building.

This the challenge Justin Trudeau has taken on.

It's a challenge my old boss Jim Brownell and I are familiar with, though on a much smaller scale.

Anyone who worked for the Ontario Liberal Party or its MPPs during Jim's time at Queen's Park will remember him fondly.  Jim was a dedicated constituency guy, a strong advocate for rural Ontario and all things history and heritage.  He was also a great mentor and the kind of boss most people dream of having; a retired teacher, Jim had mastered the art of balancing direction, guidance and space to help his staff become the best public servants they could be.

Jim's legacy is written all over Ontario (some examples can be found here) but what political staff remember him for the most is the community incubator he started - Brownell Night.

On the surface, Brownell Night was a simple concept - once a month, Jim would host a gathering at the Duke of York, a pub not far from the Legislature.  Political staff and friends would come together, have a few drinks, tell a few stories, meet some new faces.

Of course what Brownell Night did was something much more profound.  

There aren't a lot of opportunities for political staff - especially staff for a governing party - to connect beyond the transactional level.  You may attend some meetings, you may attending some briefings, regional caucus roundups and maybe even a training or two, but on the whole there's no real opportunity (or incentive) to build relationships.

Without relationships, you don't have community.  Community is a breeding ground for opportunity, for idea sharing, problem identification and solution-building.

Community is what creates a whole that is more than a sum of its parts - that turns diversity into strength.  Put plainly, community-animating is the number one function of leadership, and is what Justin Trudeau has set out to do.

I didn't realize it at the time, but what we did - what Jim nurtured - was community animation.  

Now that I'm literally writing the book on community animation for CSI Regent Park, I find myself reflecting on the genius of Brownell Night and Jim's unique gift for bringing diverse groups of folk - people from his community, staff at Queen's Park, sector stakeholders, even public servants - together in celebration of the things we have in common.  

As Jim liked to say, no deals were ever struck at Brownell Night - that wasn't the point.  Instead, friendships were formed, ideas were explored and new opportunities emerged.  It still tickles me pink that an introduction I made at Brownell Night led to a marriage (the couple just celebrated eight years together - man, how time flies!)

One thing I always hoped to do with Brownell Night but never quite achieved was to make it more multi-partisan.  I felt then as I do now - that if political staff who were often nudged into viewing their counterparts from other parties as foes could hang out over drinks, chat issues and really get to know each other, we could change the "blood sport" nature of politics into something more collegial.

We never got to the point where Brownell Night was as open as I wanted it to be; if Jim had stayed for one more term or if another MPP had taken up the mantle (believe me, we tried really hard to make that happen), I know we could have gotten there.  

As it stood, I did get to know a couple of amazing folk from the other side of the political spectrum, in particular Megan Boyle and Beth Corbett).  It's no surprise that we disagreed on a lot of issues. 

What shouldn't have been surprising but was - the underlying intent of our positions often turned out to be the same.

Not only did I get to meet and know some amazing people, those two Conservative operatives challenged me and opened me to new perspectives.  I would never have had that opportunity if I'd only looked at them as foes.


Without community, diversity is opposition.  Community is the pot in which different ingredients become a stew of possibility.  Leadership, of course, is what brings it all together.

That's what politics should be and can be - committed public servants, elected representatives and political staff hacking issues and finding the best solutions.

It's totally doable, too.  Jim Brownell proved that.

As the Conservatives and NDP seek to find their footing in our new political reality, there's some consideration being given to Trudeau's sunny ways and what lessons can be learned from his approach.

Trudeau and his team have a long-standing commitment to do politics differently, too, with a clear emphasis on looking at the other parties as neighbours rather than opponents.
There are many ways Team Trudeau can build the bridges of community with their peers, if that's something they mean to follow through on.  

A monthly gathering of political staff from all parties would be a great one.

I bet if he were asked nicely, Jim Brownell would even help out.  He's just that kind of guy.

A community builder.  A leader.  A teacher.




Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Slave Leia and Social Change



Stephen Harper - 2012 - "I will never tell my young daughter that a woman should should wear a slave leia costume because she is woman."


Rumor: Disney May Be Retiring "Slave Leia" Merchandise For Good


Several sources, including the text above from this one.

The comments sections of articles discussing the issue - or Leia actress Carrie Fisher's advice to Daisy Ridley about not letting anyone put her into a slave outfit - are telling.

Fisher gets criticism about her weight, her not minding when she was making money, about not having read the script, about her drug challenges, etc.  Not so much about the pressure faced by actresses in general at the time (and now) to dress as told and lose weight as told or never get work.

Disney gets accused of liberal conspiracies - probably along the same lines as the secret Jewish (JJ Abrams) plot to hand white actor jobs to black actors like John Boyega.


Remember the ruffled feathers from that time Imperator Furiosa was a major (and major awesome) character in Mad Max: Fury Road?  

Recognize the tizzy some journalists and other pundits are getting themselves into over Justin Trudeau's decision to make his cabinet 50% women?

There's a pattern emerging, here:

- Institutions are slowly starting to reflect ground-level demographic reality in the policy-and-culture-setting pieces of our society.

- The folks who've never had to fight against gender, ethnicity or religious stereotypes are feeling threatened, and pushing back.

These aren't stories about ethnic conspiracies, or liberal agendas, or feminist plots.  

Nope.

These are stories about a sub-culture of men feeling threatened by a reality that takes away privilege they never had to earn.

Hate to break it to ya, fellas, but time and tide wait for no man to catch up.

Those who can't adapt to the new reality, well - we know how survival of the fittest really works, don't we?




Value Add: Meritocracy vs Mentorship




Andrew Coyne makes some fair points about best person for the job, etc. He also wisely points out the unconscious biases that, far more than actual "merit", determine hires.  

I've responded to the uproar about a commitment to more women in Cabinet elsewhere; it's this concept of merit that will be my focus here. 

What is merit? Is merit the proven ability to do a job?  By and large, that seems to be the definition being used in the modern labour market. The expectation is that employers will hire the person with the best demonstrated ability to do the job in question. How have they demonstrated this ability? Through having done it before, naturally.  

It's a message I have heard time and time again - find the one thing you're great at, then just keep doing it. The emphasis in this frame is the ability to sell to land the job or get the contract, then do it again, then do it again.  

You eat what you kill, the saying goes. People hire based on your number of kills.  This, too, I've seen again and again - experts who move from contract to contract, essentially repeating what's worked elsewhere, like a Sparky Polastri (or a Lynton Crosby).

Imagine school worked that way - to get in, you have to prove you can pass all the tests on day one. Or how about sports? Imagine talent scouts went from game to game, rejecting out of hand young talent because they weren't able to compete with the pros right out of the starting gate.  

How exactly does one become an expert without experience?

The counter-argument is that the gaining of expertise isn't the employer's problem - that's all on the prospect. They can get schooling, volunteer, whatever it takes to build their portfolio and ‎demonstrate their merit.  

After all, ‎that's WHY we have school - for kids to learn before entering the workforce. Right?

Employers spend their own money - it's entirely reasonable for them to want to reduce risk and only invest in sure things. Especially with the economy as uncertain as it is and all kinds of system shifts to worry about.  

Therein lies the problem with "merit"-based hiring. You, as an employer, can rely on your own experience to determine what will and won't work for your company - but if things are changing, how well do you know what skills the future will require?  If you're in competition - is more of the same in your best interest, or might you need to up your game with a bit of innovation?   If you hire people who are done learning and selling established expertise, do you run the risk of falling behind?

We've gotten used to thinking that survival and success are based on strength - the toughest guy gets the best deal, etc. On a transactional basis, this has merit‎; thing is, transactions are one-offs, tactics over strategy.   Harper was a tactician, look where that landed him. 

In evolutionary terms - the long game - it isn't strength that determines fitness, but adaptability.   Individuals don't evolve, which is why organisms adapt by adding diversity to their mix - through different genes (sex), or new technologies and systems (civilization) to new talent (Orgs like Google, for instance).  


All that before you get to value-add and loyalty.  When you hire a know commodity for what everyone already knows they can do, you're decreasing your odds of extra value being generated.  You get what you pay for.

When you hire emerging talent, you can nurture loyalty and create opportunities for unexpected gains, fresh approaches, new ideas - value-add.

You can stick with the abilities you think you know you want - or, you can take a chance and nurture some new talent.  It's impossible to know what all you might get, but you don't always know what you need, either.


#Cdnpoli: The White Man Awakens




If you look closely, you can see a trend emerging.

Imperator Furiosa headlining a Mad Max movie?  It's feminism trying to destroy American culture.

John Boyega as the new hero of Star Wars?  Clearly, a black conspiracy to undermine white culture that must be stopped

Mexicans at the border.  Terrorists at our shores.  Niqabs in our communities.  Gay people getting married.

And now, Justin Trudeau has determined that half of his Cabinet will be women.

The horror, the horror!

There are arguments made about meritocracy.  There are arguments made about special interest groups.  Conspiracy theories abound.

Funny thing is that the men crying foul tend to be the same kind that feel Oscar Pistorius was done in by a temptress, yet also hold to the line that toughness is about competitiveness and that poor/marginalized people need to suck it up and just work harder.

Badass Boyega - dark knight rising? get used to it.
The bottom line is this - the emotional argument that has supported centuries of white male imperialism (which is what it has been - get over it) no longer carries weight.  Those who have always had an unfair bias are being challenged in ways they never thought possible.

Suddenly, the "survival of the fittest" arguments that have justified white male dominance aren't as comforting as they once were.

A select group of the WASPy men on top are feeling threatened, and they don't like it. They're pushing back. They're trying to organize.

The shoe is on the other foot and suddenly, those who feel threatened find themselves doing all the things they used to deride other demographic groups for.

The best part, of course, is the response coming from the Charlize Therons and the John Boyegas of the world.  Get used to it, folks.

In short - they're doing exactly what the white men on top have been saying they need to do - hustle confidently and never back down.

You shouldn't panic, though.  Change doesn't have to be scary; ultimately, it's a healthy thing.  The natural order, if you will.

If it makes you feel any better, your kids will be totally comfortable with the new dynamic, and as a result more empathetic, more collaborative - more social.

And if it doesn't, well - we all know what happens to those who aren't able to adapt to the times, don't we?







Monday, 2 November 2015

Do You Have the Traits of a Successful Leader?


26 habits of highly successful leaders


Let's see how I fare, shall we?

1. They have a definite purpose.   I'd say that applies!

2. They know their motives.           Down to the neurochemical level.

3. They surround themselves with people smarter than them.         There's no one standard definition of smart, but yeah - I'm always seeking out people I can learn from.

4. They are self-reliant.         It's not the years that prove this one, so much as the mileage!

5. They have self-control.     I'd say this one is delectably true...

6. They are persistent.         Yep!  I'm a social gardener, after all.

7. They find productive uses for their creativity.        Indeed...

8. They are decisive.         I believe in Einstein's bit about spending most of your time analyszing, but when a decision is made, it's made - until the situation calls for adaptation.  Harper was decisive, where did it get him?

9. They gather information before reaching conclusions.        Back to what I said in 8.

10. They can control their enthusiasm.        You might not think this applies, but it does.  Frightening concept, no?

11. They are open minded.        I'm @opencce for a reason!

12. They always do more than expected.           It's called value add.  For me, the issue isn't how high to jump, it's often where to stop.

13. They are diplomatic.        I do try!

14. They listen more than they speak.        Umm... maybe?

15. They pay attention to details.          Obsessively, possibly compulsively.

16. They can take criticism.               I worked in politics - it comes with the territory!

17. They are loyal.            Often to a fault, alas.

18. They are incredibly charismatic.            Moderately charming, I would say, depending on my mood.  Certainly I'm no Trudeau though.

19. They are focused.              Hyper-focused, though that's a hard-learned skill.

20. They learn from their mistakes.           And your mistakes, too!

21. They accept responsibility for their subordinates’ failures. The fish stinks from the head.

22. They praise the achievements of others.            One of the things that gives me greatest joy in life.

23. They treat others the way they’d like to be treated.           Do unto others, lead by example, etc.

24. They maintain a positive attitude.               Not always, but I try to keep my negative moments for myself.  People don't look to us for despair - they can despair on their own.

25. They don’t make excuses.           Never for myself, but I've been known to get defensive about others.

26. They focus on what they want.         Not sure about this one.

Anyway, that's me - what are your results like?

28 Days to Support Noura Zaina




I haven't known Noura for long - a couple of months, at most - but in that time she's impressed the hell out of me.

She's never had less than three major projects on the go - YourVoiceCAN (a civic engagement initiative) and LifeLine Syria (which has been endorsed by the Premier and Mayor of Toronto) being my favourites - and yet as harried as she gets, Noura is always smiling.

She's tireless, dedicated to a fault and she produces results.  Noura's also empathetic, appreciative and considerate of others - I'll never forget the day she plopped a salad down in front of me because she saw I was working and not taking the time to get myself some food.

In short, Noura's the best kind of person. 

And she's looking for your help.

Image result for canadian arab institute
To me and more than a few other people, Noura is the face of the Canadian Arab Institute - a think-and-do-tank that supports and empowers young Canadian Arabs to be proud and active contributors to Canadian society.

Let's pause on this a second.

Canadians have rightly recoiled in horror at the suffering of Syrians.  We have opened our hearts, wallets and even our communities to help them escape the slaughter ravaging their homeland.  

It takes a while to raise the funds, do the checks and go through the process, but before too long there will be an influx of New Canadians coming from Syria, just as there was from Vietnam in the 70s. When these Syrian refugees arrive, organizations like the Canadian Arab Institute will be crucial in helping them integrate successfully into Canadian society.

And it'll be folk like Noura who lead these efforts.

Noura's awesome.  The Canadian Arab Institute is awesome.  You, my fellow Canadians, are awesome.

All in all, it's a pretty good fit.

Back to the help.  Noura's got a small ask of you - $500 to help her and the Canadian Arab Institute keep doing the amazing work they do already.  That's $50 from ten of us or $100 from five generous patrons.

She has until November 30th - less than 28 days - to raise it.

You can help Noura by donating what you can right here.

Believe me - she's worth it.


Social Gravity

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Old Scares in New Places



From a Liberal fundraising email sent out on Halloween:

But with the Conservatives already fundraising against us -- as their latest fundraising email put it, “to build a formidable opposition to Justin Trudeau’s Liberals” -- we can’t stand still for one moment. We need to keep strengthening this movement we’ve built.
That’s why we need you to help us finish October strong with a donation right now.

This is how fundraising works - identify a threat and make it crystal clear why your donation is required so the good guys can fight that threat.  And yeah, in modern politics, you do need a lot of money for those expensive ad buys.

Two points to consider:


- it's the job of the official opposition to oppose

There are myriad reasons why the Trudeau-led Liberals won the election.  A big part was what Trudeau represented - hope, hard work, a new way of doing politics.  Another huge chunk was what Harper represented - the worst of selfish, autocratic, divide-and-conquer leadership.

Yes, the Liberals need to keep fundraising - that's part of what parties do.  They must be very cautious, however, to remember why they are in this business.  It's not about having the biggest war chest for barrages of ads between campaigns.  It's hopefully not about ensuring the next Conservative leader is DOA.  And it's not about developing a closed, efficient machine like the Tories had.

The conservatives are neighbours, remember?  It's okay for neighbours to disagree - what matters is the dialogue between them.

It would be truly frightening if the new team has forgotten these lessons learned by so many teams so recently already.