Why Are We Waiting?

There’s a nervousness growing on the streets and in the conversations happening in our coffee shops across Alberta. There is concern and angst among people who are typically risk-takers, adventurers and entrepreneurs.

And it’s becoming infectious. And it’s becoming concerning.

Alberta has a long history of an unusual economy – filled with highs and lows, droughts and floods, journeys and discoveries. It’s been a land of opportunity between periods of hardship, and our culture of camaraderie and cooperation has prevailed when times were most tough. And we’ve always fought through it, together.

Optimism is a key virtue of living here, as is hard work. There is no room for entitlement, and pointing fingers and complaining leaves you sitting very alone. If something needs fixing, we fix it. If something needs doing, we do it. And if someone needs help, we help them. It’s pretty simple.

So why has developing a budget and a policy framework become so difficult?

In today’s world of economic uncertainty, our individuals, families, businesses, farmers and non-profits all need some help, some guidance, some direction in terms of what they can expect … such that they can plan and make decisions that positively affect their future.

Instead, we’re playing politics and waiting for a federal election before taking care of our own?

That’s certainly not the culture that’s made us successful. That’s certainly not how we build our province. And that’s certainly not any form of leadership.

People expect more. And when you can taste fear hovering in the air … people need action.

Let’s see some leadership and some action … please.

PC Candidate: Rumour or Truth

If the rumours are true, this will be an exciting week ahead.

If rumours are true, then Chris Labossiere (@chrislabossiere) will be declaring his intention to run as the Edmonton-Rutherford candidate for the Alberta PC Party in the next provincial election, and this is great news for Edmonton.

Consistently inspired by public service, Chris has been a force for change in our province over the past decade, and has been an inter-generational, selfless leader for a hard-working, responsible and tolerant Alberta.

Over my past two years at EEDC, no one has come to me with more ideas, no one has been more willing to roll up their sleeves, and no has been more willing to challenge the status quo as Chris Labossiere.

If this is the caliber of candidate that Jim Prentice and the PCAA team is attracting to lead this province in the future, then I’m looking forward to what is to come.

I do not live in Edmonton-Rutherford and cannot cast a vote for Chris or anyone else running to make the necessary changes that are needed. But I encourage all Edmontonians to take the time to get to know him, as he will likely be a major player in the years ahead … and his heart and soul is firmly rooted in our fabulous city which will benefit profoundly from his service.

This is one rumour I hope is true.

Are We Smart Enough?

Complacency is a dangerous disease. It’s forever affected General Motors, Kodak, Microsoft and Blockbuster. And it is a widespread addiction amongst Alberta companies.

Why?

Because things are good. Why change? Why invest? Why try harder … when you can just sit back and enjoy the prosperity that comes from underlying economic growth?

Look at your own organization. Look at yourself. What are you investing in today that will allow you to reap dividends in 2-3 years or 5-7 years?

These are important questions, and they are the questions every Albertan should be asking every day. They are the questions that we will explore at E-Town (www.e-town.ca) next week, and it is important that you invite yourself to the conversation. Here’s why (true stories from the past week):

Me: Is your team coming to e-town this year?
CEO: It looks fabulous, but we’re too busy working too hard.
Me: Is working harder your competitive advantage?
CEO: Ummm … shut up.

Employee: I’d like to attend e-town this year. It only costs only $399.
Boss: What will you learn?
Employee: Technology, leadership and creativity trends affecting our business.
Boss: I don’t think those are our priorities right now.

Do these stories sound familiar? Are we simply trying to win by working harder? Or is it time we start thinking about competing by being smarter than your competition? One of our speakers, Estelle Metayer, focuses solely on this topic, and I’m probably looking forward to her session the most.

Why?

Because it strikes at the heart of our economic future. And you can’t afford to miss it.

Register yourself and your employees at www.e-town.ca.

Thank you.

Dare to re Discover

Eras are often defined by the visions of leaders: the Carnegie era defined the important connection between industrialist and philanthropist; the Kennedy era defined the culture of US risk-taking by charting a path to the moon; and the Jobs era defined unlimited innovation with the interdependence of technology and humanity.

Whether those leaders are local, global, political, industrial, dictatorial or libertarian, leaders with commanding visions define their eras.

On a local level, we had the Stephen Mandel era, the Cal Nichols era, the Don Lowry era, the Tony Franceschini era, the Dave Mowat era, the Indira Samarasekera era, the Shelia Weatherill era and the Ross Grieve era … all different leaders that left their mark in different ways.

What is important to note is that they all progressed their causes and left their mark. Leaders have to leave a mark … have to move their organizations forward … or they are often forgotten as part of “a lost decade” era … and that is a tragedy of leadership, especially when that leader was brought in specifically to steward a public-facing organization in a defined direction.

The University of Alberta is in need of an era … and it has the opportunity to define its next decade with the selection of a leader that heightens the vision, determination and relevance of this amazing institution. Our university has the opportunity to select a President that has the following:

– Clear vision for campus development focused on enhancing the student experience;
– Understanding of our industrial and societal needs for entrepreneurial graduates;
– Capability to engage alumni, to build pride in the community and to raise capital;
– Clarity of expectations for research & teaching excellence across core faculties; and
– Ability to align all Deans to one vision, one voice, one goal … of being the best.

If we get it right, that leader will not only define the next era for the University of Alberta, but also for the City of Edmonton and the Province of Alberta. If we dare .. strive … and take risks … it will be a defining decade for all. The combination of our K-12 System, NAIT, MacEwen, NorQuest and University of Alberta has the ability to position Edmonton as the place with “the Brightest Kids in the World” and the University of Alberta is a critical cornerstone of that reputation.

So let’s Be Bold. Dare to Discover. Be Indisputably Recognized. Be a Leader.

Our Fixed-Term Premier

I love urgency. I love the adrenaline of deadlines … of the need to move forward … of the necessity to make change. Maybe that’s why I have a propensity to take on risk and debt. I like a little debt … debt gets you out of bed in the morning … knowing at the end of the day you gotta deliver … or else there are consequences.

I fear complacency. I fear the thought of coming into the office every morning, sitting at my desk, reading the newspaper … growing old and fat in my chair. Maybe that’s why I have a stand-up desk? Maybe there is something inside of me that fears getting lazy and losing the sense of urgency.

That was, and still is, my biggest fear when I decided to step out of the private sector and into the public sector. Would I become a lazy bureaucrat? Would I simply manage the piles on my desk? Or would I keep the adrenaline and the urgency going that is all so important for moving our great city and province forward?

Seriously, that’s what I think about.

And do you know who inspires me today? Who I look upon with a sense of admiration? Premier Dave Hancock.

Why? Because the guy has a sense of urgency and purpose … and I’m lovin’ it.

The guy gets dropped into the role … doesn’t ask for it … just gets dropped into a really crappy situation. And Dave has a choice … he can sit there all comfortable in his big Premier’s chair and ride out his five months … ever to be forgotten. Or he can step in, pull up his socks like a knapsack over his shoulder, and set out to put his own dent in the universe. That that’s exactly what he’s doing … and I think we could all learn something about leadership from him right now.

Dave is genuinely inspired … hell, he’s king for five months … he’s gotta be inspired. And his positive energy is soooooo apparent, sooooo welcomed and sooooo infectious that it is actually moving the stalled ship forward. He’s set out to tackle those piles of negative energy that have been just sitting on the desks in the bureaucracy … stifled by a lack of leadership and urgency … files like the innovation system and access to capital … files that have bounced through a desert of ineptitude at the very time when Alberta should be seizing the opportunities in front of us.

But there was no urgency. And now there is.

Why? Because Premier Dave Hancock will no longer be Premier in September and he wants to get things done WITH URGENCY before he’s booted out. And for that I compliment him sincerely.

His selfless but missionary style of leadership in a time of rudderless drift has accomplished more than what anyone could have imagined. He has shown the importance of energy, accessibility, humility and humanity to the leadership role. He has restored the confidence of many incredulous Albertans. And he has done it with grace.

And for that, I thank him.