Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Thank You

It was April 16, 2007. I didn’t know what I was getting into, what exactly it would be like nor how long I’d be there. It was my first day at Incite and I’d just come from leaving work on my MBA behind so my head was in a bit of a spiral. All I know now is that the worry of that day turned into one of my best ever decisions. What I’ve taken from being an Inciter is far more than I could ever possibly give back. As such, leaving last fall was one of the toughest decisions I’ve faced and was only spurred on by my desire to explore work back in the sports world.

As I’ve reflected on my years there and my departure, a few things have resonated and will stick with me.

You can run a business with friends

Jared and Ted always said a major motivation for them starting Incite was the desire, as friends, to work together but also to bring in more friends as part of the team. That was definitely true. I was always amazed at how quickly I was part of the family and how new Inciters, a mere month into their tenure, were indispensable team members. I always felt I was working with friends. Yes, that sounds hokey but it’s absolutely true. Friends and colleagues can be synonyms.

The high road is always open

Business can be cutthroat with people regularly looking out for self-interest. Ted and Jared believed strongly that the high road is always an option and should be the option unless it’s impossible. Often this road wasn’t in the immediate best interest of us as a company but that didn’t matter if it was the right thing to do. This will stick with me forever.

Belief from people is powerful

I certainly had moments in my time at Incite that I was not at my best. Mostly that was related to my own anxiety, depression or insecurity yet the support from people around me never wavered. In fact that support was felt more than ever at those times. Being named a director, being asked to become a partner, hearing the kind words from our team about how I’d supported them, being asked “how can I help” after deciding I was going to move on - these all led to me believing more in myself. I can’t begin to express how important this was to me.

Vulnerability can be taught

I don’t claim to be an open book. That’s never really been my forte. That has changed because of my time at Incite. Largely I think this came through our work with Roy Group and the development of our coaching culture. This put me in situations where opening up seemed like the right and comfortable thing to do. I can still remember at one of our Victoria management retreats, we were sent out of the main room to work in pairs. With Ted as my partner, I remember coming to tears over some stuff I was uncovering about myself. That would’ve never happened before.

My favourite memories

There are many but here are a few:

  • My screen display getting flipped upside down but the monitor being left alone
  • Our trips to Victoria and time as a management team
  • Our friendship with everyone at Roy Group – those sessions changed me
  • The camaraderie on our 10th anniversary trip to Jasper
  • Incite Nights – car rallies, kite building/less successful flying, Iron Chef
  • The random laughter coming from all over in the current office
  • Tunes at Two
  • The intensity of our hockey playoff auctions
  • Daily quizzes
  • Our community excursions (Running for Christy, Food Bank etc.)
  •  My incredible monthly meetings with the Account Executives (thanks for being so open)

I will always be an Inciter. Whether that means I’m back in those doors as an employee or I’m espousing the values and knowledge I gained to people around me, this chapter of my life will always be one of the most profound.

Mostly though, I just want to say thank you.

…to Ted and Jared for taking a chance on me.
…to my fellow partners and directors for being such great mentors.
…to our project managers and administration team who always kept everything ticking.
…to all the Account Executives I worked with over the years for teaching me more than I did any of you.
…to our web team who were always so patient with my crazy questions.
…to our incredible designers, writers and planners – I continuously marveled at the ingenuity.

To everyone and everything that made it an incredibly special 8+ years...a million times, thank you.

Monday, March 30, 2015

At 40

Well this past weekend I turned 40. As I write that, it seems a bit strange but to be honest I’m not overly worried about it. I won’t go into the “it’s only a number” game but to me it’s just the start of another decade. 

Now, I’m sentimental most of the time but this milestone got me thinking about all kinds of things. This blog will thus be a bit self-serving as more of a random journal of what I’ve appreciated in 40 years.

I remember my sisters being born and being excited at both their arrivals.

I’m proud of having earned my degree and joining the long list of family members who’d graduated from the University of Alberta.

I recall feeling I was the luckiest kid in the world having my grandparents all live across the street from each other when I was young.

I fondly look back on being part of the Edmonton 2001 World Championships in Athletics team which allowed me to live out a lifelong dream of being part of a major sporting event in my home town.

I’m thankful for my dad for coaching me at hockey and for my mom selflessly driving me to 7am basketball practices.

My first basketball broadcast in Lethbridge with AJ was amazing and I’ve been fortunate to turn that into many more since.

I look back on being simultaneously incredibly excited yet almost nervous at meeting each of my nephews. I’m sure it’ll be a similar feeling meeting my new niece or nephew this spring.

I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been to work with so many amazing people at Incite and to be a partner is an added incredible bonus.

Je souviens de mes premières journées à Father Jan où je ne connaissais personne, ni la langue. Je suis chanceux maintenant que mes parents m’ont mis en immersion.

I still feel the anticipation of flying to live in Brussels or driving across the country to live in Montreal.

I appreciate all the support and guidance from my parents over the years and that continues to today.

I remember playing cops and robbers on between 10 and 12 Finch with my sisters and Waters. Kellie and I always got the walkie-talkies (as the older kids should).

The Friday afternoons during university spent in the Butterdome with Yen, GQ and Stu were some of my favourite basketball memories.

I remember all the years playing basketball with Ben, Paul and Guy and for making the senior team (and playing quite a bit) even after being cut in grade 11.

I can hear the 11,000 screaming fans still at Rexall Place when Ben Thomson scored those two goals to win the Golden Bears the 2005 University Cup and how great it was to work with our Athletics crew.

I’m proud to be a member of Delta Chi and of all the lifelong friends I’ve made because of it.

The Commonwealth Games in 1978 and Universiade in 1983 opened my eyes to how amazing international sport is.

I recall my first solo trip to Vancouver at age 9 and all the many since spending time with the Norwoods and McLeans.

I’m thankful to the Jakubecs, Volorneys and Waters for all the times spent at their houses playing hoops, hanging out or playing. It was great to grow up with AJ, Ben and Kellie.

I’m fortunate to have great brothers-in-law that I can love spending time with.

Flying around the world to work at World University Games is something I never thought I’d be able to do.

I’m thankful for all the trips across Canada my parents took us on so I could have an appreciation for what a great country we have.

I have and still enjoy all the times I get to visit with aunts, uncles, cousins and the next generation.

I've loved the guys’ trips taken with JCT, Sean, Ben, Farrukh, ACI and many others over the years and look forward to many more.

There have certainly been far more ups and downs in 40 years. Hitting this age has given me the chance to appreciate them and to look forward to more to come.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Being Edmontonian

Edmonton is a different place than it was a few years ago. I’m not sure what about a recent visit to Credo that sparked this thought but this time I noticed it. On this rainy Sunday there was a palpable confidence and enthusiasm in the air. I’m sure it’s been there for awhile but it finally hit me.

This got me thinking about what being an Edmontonian really means. I’m a born and raised one (ok…I grew up in St. Albert but come on, I’m an Edmontonian) so I think I have a pretty good perspective on the concept. Go back ten, or even five, years ago and being an Edmontonian meant being reluctant and unsure. Reluctant to speak too loudly about your home even when you liked it. Unsure about what being from here meant. But it’s changing.

Now people are defining for themselves what being an Edmontonian is and are taking every opportunity to create their own stories. Each story might include different amounts of new restaurant sampling, trail hiking or event hopping but it’s the cumulative effect of these stories that’s changing the face of this city. Citizens see this as their home.

Being a citizen of a city as opposed to just living in it, or having a home rather than just an address, means embracing it all. Much like you take and love all about your significant other, faults included, you do the same as a citizen. Life as an Edmontonian now is about embracing the whole and being ecstatic about the good.

To me it’s the internal dialogue between citizens that’s changed the most. The label of ‘Edmontonian’ feels cozy. People young and old are engaging with this city in their own ways which is generating a confidence and sense of home I’m not sure has existed since the punch above our weight times of the 1970s. Confidence is tricky to measure but you feel it on the streets, in the cafés, in the boardrooms, on social media and in conversation. It’s there and it’s growing.

It doesn’t mean all 1.2 million of us are enamoured with everything here. It does though mean that we’ll accept the bad and work at improving it because there’s so darn much good going on. As people create their own stories of living here they recognize they like, no love, being Edmontonian. And for many in this city, that’s new.