Our #CapRegionRocks !!

What do our borders really mean? They were drawn on the map for political purposes over 100 years ago and determine where we pay taxes and where we call home. But on a daily basis we cross them like crossing a street, without thought or hesitation. Why? Because at the end of the day, among our many we are one.

I was born in St. Albert but delivered at the University hospital. I now live in Edmonton but serve those in Sherwood Park and St. Albert. I have operated campgrounds in Strathcona County and corporate retreats in Sturdeon County. I fly out of Leduc/Nisku and I coach hockey in Parkland County. At the end of the day, among our many we are one.

Over the past decades we have spent endless effort trying to define ourselves in opposition to each other, when maybe we should have been celebrating what we have in common. Whether it was you, your parents, your grandparents or your grandparents’ parents, we all came to this region in search of opportunity … and we all choose to stay here because we are part of building something. It could be your career, your family, your education, your life … whatever your opportunity is … we are all building it here.

So as we move forward and compete in a global world, we are better together … unified, strong and full of weird, quirky communities that give us character, charm and allure. The Capital Region does rock, and I believe the years ahead will be years of celebrating together and years of competing as one.


Defining Powerful Women

The most powerful woman in Alberta is Mother Nature. She put an exclamation point on that fact earlier this year, and has the ability to show her strength again at the blink of an eye. She creates life, demonstrates balance, ensures humility, demands respect and governs all. Yup, she’s definitely all powerful and is deserving of the top honour.

But, who else is on the list of most powerful women? That’s the question that The Wanderer has posed to the Edmonton community and is looking for submissions before Aug 15th. I’m most interested in the range of candidates, as I believe there should be many.

Many ask why we need to categorize and have separate awards for leaders of various genders? Haven’t we come far enough in the world of equality that we don’t need to have separate awards? Haven’t we increased participation to the point where we no longer need initiatives regarding the status of women? On one hand we have come a long way since the age of The Office; but on the other hand, industry is still dominated by the hunter-gatherer, masculine mentality and is in dire need of gender, generational and geographic diversity at the stewardship level … and by that I mean participation on Boards.

Over the years, I have participated on Boards that were highly diverse as well as on Boards that were incredibly homogenous. What I have learned is that diversity broadens perspectives and enriches the debate at the table … and the organizations have benefited from that immensely. I have come to appreciate that those in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s provide three very different viewpoints on societal, technological and environmental trends, while a balanced mix of men and women create a more comprehensive understanding of how the organization creates value … beyond just profits to include impact on people and their communities.

If we restrict our definition of powerful women only to those that come from the world of business, we greatly miss out on a vast number of leaders with experience originating in the not-for-profit, educational, healthcare and public service sectors … as well as women from the arts and cultural sectors or those who are community league leaders, event organizers, academic researchers and from so many other diverse disciplines that are traditionally not included in the definition of “business leader.”

Contrasting a gender, generational and geographic diverse Board against a room full of 58-year old white males who all come from like-minded industries, I start to appreciate that diversity at the Board level may well begin to unlock the unspeakable topics of executive compensation, environmental impact and societal value.

So, as we consider the fantastic women for submission for the Top 100, lets broaden our definition in a similar manner to how Edmonton-based organizations will benefit from widening their criteria for selecting Boards.

I don’t think Mother Nature had an ounce of business experience, but damn she’d be a great Board Member.

Cleaner, Greener, Safer, Friendlier.

There wasn’t a smile in the room. No one dared make eye contact. We were sitting in a P&G sales meeting listening to why our market share had fallen to #2 versus Colgate. This had never happened before, and according to the wildly frustrated VP at the front of the room, there would be hell to pay if it were to ever happen again.

The brand team rolled out their new in-store displays, the account teams announced new discounting and the ad agency showed the new line of commercials … all proving that Crest did in fact make teeth brighter and whiter versus the competition. Then, out of no where, an irreverent kid in the back of the room raised his hand, stood up and cleared his throat.

“Excuse me, but instead of discounting, why don’t we give away a small tube of toothpaste to a family in need for every tube our customers buy? Why don’t we connect our customers emotionally with our brand and forever differentiate ourselves from the competition?”

Silence. Complete silence followed … until the VP shook his head, continued on his rant and moved to the next slide in his “we must be better, faster, cheaper” powerpoint presentation.

Better, faster, cheaper has had its day. That day is over. Today’s companies need to stand for something larger than just the products they sell … something that defines purpose, communicates conviction and inspires a new generation of employees with a sense of meaning. Companies devoted to profit as well as larger missions are winning … winning RFPs, winning the battle for talent and winning the hearts and minds of consumers.

What is your differentiation? What is your mission? What is your conviction?

Ghandi called out for each of us to “be the change you want to see in the world” yet most of us live in a short-term, extraction-based mentality during the day (better, faster, cheaper) and only turn our attention to the quality of our communities and planet at night. What if each of our companies embraced a mission of being cleaner, greener, safer, friendlier? What if we woke up every morning inspired to go to work because we knew what we were doing made our homes, our communities, our cities, our surroundings a whole lot cleaner, greener, safer, friendlier?

People are in search for meaning. People want to be a part of something that makes a difference. People want to work for something that matters. I’m sorry but better, faster, cheaper just doesn’t turn people on, it doesn’t make better communities … and it just isn’t going to change our world.

What if every company in Edmonton had the mission and the conviction to make every day a little bit cleaner, greener, safer, friendlier? What would happen to our brand if the world knew every company in Edmonton was working to make things a bit cleaner, greener, safer, friendlier? What if we embedded a larger purpose into our business models and established a bit of humanity alongside the products and services we sell?

Sorry for raising my hand. I’ll sit back down now. You can continue with the same powerpoint presentation as last year.