Category Archives: Community
There are those in the Startup/tech community who often say “stay out of my way and let me do my job mentality” to Government.
Take this article for example: JUSTIN TRUDEAU SHOULD DO NOTHING FOR STARTUPS
This feels like a lack the understanding of how Government at all its levels can impact on the ability of the business community to grow and be global champions.
I spent four years in elected office at cabinet level (Cornwall County Council, UK) with one of my remits been Economic Development of Creative Industries and for the last seven years I have being a part of the Vancouver Tech/Startup scene. This has given me some experience, thoughts, problems, solutions for what any place that wants to consider Startups as a part of their economic strength.
I worry like many, that Vancouver will become a resort town.. technology is one pathway to diversify it. Over the last decade I feel the BC Provincial Government has failed actual Startups (those who are not large Tech companies), at time that could have made a real difference, they made their economic focus elsewhere.
Here is a list of areas to explore before the Provincial Elections in British Columbia in 2017.
Most ideas/solutions/problems will have to be solved in partnership with Vancouver City, Federal Government, businesses, teachers, unions and many others.
1. Listen and understand what Startups offer – not just “leaders talking to leaders”
By engaging with the industry and community leaders to explore approaches and strategies both with the leaders and their employees.
It needs to be wider then the traditional old boys network, so not just friends/connections/trade associations. The traditional group of “talked to” are generally mostly men, white and from well off backgrounds. Talk to women, which our sector is so sorely missing in the top positions. So talk to people like Maura Rodgers or Jenn Cooper people who have created actual communities. Look for who is excluded and work out why.
2. Understand the businesses at their different stages – Not just one type of entrepreneur
By exploring the different needs of different sized organizations whether they are small, medium or large. It tends to be the larger ones that can afford lobbying, lets not ignore the small. The needs of Hootsuite are different to those of a five person startup, or the startup whose main target is a non Canadian market i.e Payroll Hero.
3. Involve Traditional and non Traditional Education institutions
By ensuring that all teaching and training organizations (including schools, colleges, Universities, bootcamps i.e. CodeCore and other private training organizations) that educate or train people are involved in the on-going journey to strengthen our knowledge based economy.
It seems that some of traditional educational institutes only talk to the really large companies i.e. E.A. or Sage or SAP. They often want experience with a C variant or Java. Whilst most startups want a framework/language that lets them to get up and running within a 3-6 month window and experimenting with a product to market fit. They do not always have time to train a person in a new language. Some Universities in the US have recognized this and have Startup Engineering programs i.e. Stanford.
I think Bootcamps and on-line learning platforms are an important part of our future learning culture as they adapt much faster then Universities and Colleges in which programming languages/frameworks/techniques to teach.
P.S. Who teaching people how to learn? Schools, Colleges or Universities?
4. BC Training grants DO NOT recognize online learning
This is the case for monthly subscription learning which can occasionally have the most up to date knowledge. In a place the size of BC it is not always economically to get a trainer out to the middle of no where. The mentality of BC Government is that they want you to give a job to a trainer and get them to train your people in personal. This can be very expensive. Reduce the barriers to learning not increase them. Are they environmental benefits from delivering online?
5. Developing effective skills training in schools
By exploring which skills are needed in an effective knowledge based economy. That these skills become fully understood and clear strategies are developed to to ensure they are gained from School upto University e.g
- Change management
- Conflict management
- Risk taking
To consider how these skills compare on the Global stage, Vancouver/BC is competing against every other city/area on the planet. What are Vancouverites poor at, how can we improve it? I feel that I have seen a lot of conflict avoidance (rather then conflict resolution) in my time in Vancouver is this just my experience or is it a “Trait” of Vancouver? Lets understand our vulnerabilities and counter them rather than ignore them.
6. Growing Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship is encouraged at every level of education, from school upwards e.g. Young Enterprise in the UK. It should become part of the school system to teach children conflict management, understanding risk, managing stress and managing change. Maybe the program should consider Social enterprise and not just be limited to private enterprise.
7. Coding for all ages
I am not convinced that programming is for everyone, we humans are far much more diverse then that. One UK programmers’ feelings are well expressed here – Learn To Code, It’s Harder Than You Think
But we should consider Programming a good way to teach problem solving, logical analysis and critical thinking and not just as a career. As it is in UK, US and Nova Scotia.
8. Career changing
Why do Governments only consider this when the shit has hit the fan? Its a reality of now and the future, there are no jobs for life. We should teach the reality in schools, rather then just try and box people for life in a career through poor decision tree mechanics.
How do we make this easier and less feared, almost part of our natural lives like it will be for any Gen Yers.
Consider how people can support themselves whilst re-training, consider how to make this possible for shift work. Consider online as well as physical education.
Developing alliances between industry and research institutions to create innovation infrastructure is of courses necessary, and some exists, but is currently poor. Maybe make some of the “intellectual property” known about.. Hacking events? Open Transparent patent libraries, people whose job is to market their intellectual property.
10. Support the jobs that are actually needed i.e. Software Engineers not just Post Grads
Most government programs support PHds and Masters, but we actually need far more people with Bachelors in Software Engineering. Also what about the 40% of people that learn programming themselves? Could we better support them they are a large chunk of our software environment.
11. Support of growth Technology Leaders
Consider how to support the next generation of CTOs, from co-founding to a full CTO with a scaled up business. There are many programs that support the CEO/Founders but to be truly successful you need the product to scale. It seems like we have few homegrown success (if we do why not celebrate them rather then just the CEOs?), most companies want “magical” tech “genius” or “star” or “rockstar” or “ninja” from some other country. We have no programs to support Tech Founder to CTO, why? To have a successful tech community we need many of these people.
12. Open Government – Community, Procurement and Solutions
The Government needs to lead by example and considers how startups/SMEs can help them in all aspects of their scope, make parts of their systems more efficient e.g. innovate through Government Hacking events, fairer procurement procedures for SMEs. That Startups are looked at like NGOs as a possible solution to a problem i.e. how to make government delivery of services faster, more efficient. IBM or other large corporates are not the only ones with solutions and frankly some startups could beat the large corporates in producing solutions i.e. The Obama health online system
13. Social Enterprise
That Startups who work with Government or NGOs, should consider sharing their success with Government and/or NGOs who were core partners. For example either paying back any, grants when they can afford it (i.e. making a lot of profit), or even better give a number of shares to represent the initial investment or revenue sharing.
14. Evolving beyond “Me too” products
To consider how we can come up with something new, rather than the solely Canadian version of this or that. I feel that productivity in the innovation economy comes from generating new ideas that generate new revenue. Yet where is the support to take Visionary or high risk projects in B.C.? I hear many people in Vancouver tech conferences call for this, but the Angels do not invest in these, IRAP does not invest in these. NVBC never lets these through. We need some way of support high risk ventures, yes maybe limited it per year, but something.
15. Why the basis for B2B and B2C in BC?
Explore what we in BC have failed to produce more successes with B2C companies here, as we seem limited to B2B. Why?
16. Avoiding the Social Problems seen in Silicon Valley/San Francisco and Seattle – “Cruel Gentrification”
For us to consider a kinder approach to gentrification, bringing the startup community together with the community they often displace, and develop solutions that could help both succeed. There was an event to explore this but it was more hype then solution based. The solutions offered were just give more money to charities. It like many meetings really avoided Gentrification. We can see this happening in Gastown and to some degree China town, how can we create a proactive “kind gentrification”?
17. Involvement in Policy
Canadians entrepreneurs can help our policy makers design strategic policies for intellectual property rights in trade agreements, judicial strategies when ideas ownership is on the line, technology standards strategies and many others. And please talk to people outside the “Canadian maple syrup mafia“. I am not discounting their wisdom/experience but we need the next generation involved to and those who are currently excluded.
18. Upgrade SR&ED
First of all Thank You (yes I know its federal). It does make a difference. But make it easier to apply for the smaller startups. I think the documentation process is so complex that now consultants help lots of companies, or worse startups have to invest a lot of time in it. This program needs to be streamlined.
19. The ability to solve a problem
They maybe some that think that start Startups are just for making money but like NGOs they can solve any problem. Software Engineers are problem solver machines. This is a resource under used by Governments at every level and by every party. There could be Startup Weekend events or Hacking events that target specific areas of concern i.e. Government, Health, casework database, transit systems, etc Maybe Government contracts should include a clause that every large spend on IT systems should work with Startups or support the community in some fashion. Or maybe you have a open competition over a week and compete startups against corporates?
20. Explore the support of turning a service company into product
So two companies that evolved products from a service company (Web Agencies) Vision Critical and Hootsuite. Is this something we can repeat, is there a way to support this?
21. With Industry define targets of success could really look like
By using the above to develop achievable targets for expansion with specific strategies linked to specific industries.
This is my first time voting at the Federal level in Canada.
After being so heavily involved in Politics in the UK I needed time to recover. Most voters do not consider the cost to the citizens that make our democracy work. There is a high cost for politicians, their staff and all the people that get them elected. Let alone those that run our countries as civil servants.
When I first looked at voting (in the UK) and polices I voted Green (European Elections), the UK party that interested me was the Social Democrat Party in part because they were more favourable towards Europe (they merged into the Liberal Democrats). My political journey came out of student politics where I was an advocate for free education. It was interesting reviewing my policy journey and looking where I ended up now. I would say that I am Liberal in my outlook and believe in a balance of the needs of the community and the individual.
Trying to ignore politics
Canada makes it easy to not be involved, you are not allowed to vote until you are a Canadian citizen about 5-7 years, even though you pay taxes all the time.
In my opinion democracies and voting is a bit backwards. People are always talking about demanding more and better performance from elected officials, but when you get right down to it, shouldn’t a democracy demand more and better performance from the citizens who vote? If they do their job well (e.g. like research, understand policies, question candidates, volunteer), then the quality of those they elect will naturally follow..
Ok that failed
My first involvement I guess was working for Angus Reid, then helping out on the Startup Visa. My first vote was for Vancouver City Council, then next was the Vancouver Transit plebiscite. This led me to sit on the Vancouver Active Transportation Council.
“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”
So what about the Conservatives?
The Canadian federal elections gave me the incentive to learn what is going in Canada’s politics. To choose a political party to get behind. I started by reading a couple books on Canadian politics and visiting a number of Canadian museums. Without a doubt the torch was A Party of One by Michael Harris. It both horrified me and made me furious. It walks you through some of the Conservatives major decisions and how they handled them.
The things about the Conservatives that bother me:
- The removal of debate in parliament and not providing details when correctly asked
- The removal of powers from independent Auditors/Boards who work to ensure no party politics
- The Nuclear Safety Failure – the CNSC under Linda Keen – they ignored her warnings of dangers
- The removal of protection of our environment. Harpers Navigation Protection Act removed the protection of 31,000+ lakes. Leaving just 97 Lakes protected and most of them are in Conservative Ridings. Under the act construction of dams, bridges and other protected structures would be permitted without prior environmental approval. The national energy board is now responsible for navigable waters.. wait what..
- Their relationship with the First Nations and “delayed” involvement in pipeline projects
- The lack of care of our Veterans and overloading of caseworkers that support them
- C23 – The unfair elections act – The changing of election laws that benefit the rich voters and suppress poorer voters
- The cuts to the CBC
- The muzzling of scientists and other civil servants by Stephen Harper and his office
- The abusing of omnibus bills – the act of combining budgets and laws – leading to lack of scrutiny
- C51 – its reduction of freedom of speech and groups gathering
- The approach to International Relations is arrogant and hostile.
- The way they use fear as an election tactic and the copying of US Republican campaign tactics
- The converting of Canada to be the extra 10 US States.
- Wide spread corruption for which they were elected to clear up
- The lack of “courageous truth” on the costings of the F35 and firing the Parliamentary Budget Officer when he told the truth
- The inability to admit when they got it wrong and then learn and become better
- The lack of funding transparency and management
The lack of information on spending and on results achieved for money spent is a common theme throughout Ferguson’s report, which includes 11 chapters in total.
And for all the claims about being better for the Economy, the Conservatives managed to get rid of the surplus that the previous Government had, selling off National assets to governments with questionable humans rights. They then claim a surplus in the elections (2015), of course what they had not told people is they underspent on Veterans ($1.1 Billion) and Migrants ($350 Million). I imagine in part this was created by the closing Veterans Affairs offices, leaving some Veterans several hour journeys to get to see their caseworkers.
Sad thing is bill C23 pushed through by the Stephen Harpers Conservatives reduced Elections Canada to enforce or investigate any voter suppression/ Robocalls scam, I wonder why..
They use fear as their way to get people to follow them. When I ask another Canadian to define what makes them Canadian they often say “We are not American”. Yet Stephen Harper is Americanising Canada and has enacted more US Republicans policies here in Canada then they could in the US.
This removed the Conservatives as a viable option leaving me with National Democratic Party (NDP) or the Liberals. I guess you could called me a Strategic Voter or anything but Conservative for this election.
So what about the NDP and Liberals?
I tried out a couple sites to look at issue/policy comparisons such as isidewith which was a helpful start, but maybe a little off. The was also a good piece in the National Post (yes I know its Conservative in its views, but also has some well written articles). The best for last though I Can Party.
Federally I was more inclined to vote for Liberals before I started my journey to understand the NDP and Liberals. This was in in part because I voted/supported and worked for Liberal Democrats in the UK.
Now I had some biases going into this — I did not like that the BC NDP had run a campaign against HST in BC (it was better than the current system). I felt they misrepresented the tax system. I get that people were angry the way it was implemented by the BC Liberals (which is fair) but process overtook a good improvement. I have also not been impressed with the BC Liberals and their ability to listen and learn.
This was partly countered by the NDP in Alberta who did many things, but very importantly they reduced the ways companies AND unions could contribute to election campaigns. This inspired me.
I do know political parties work very differently at federal and provincial level, I also had some biases at the federal level.
How do the political parties create their policies?
Most political parties have conferences where all the members submit policy ideas and the members vote on them. Each party comes with its people; So we think that the Conservatives are controlled by businesses, Liberals by rich people and NDP by Unions. Of course the truth is far much more complex.
So, I was also worried about the grip of the Unions on the NDP — are the Unions progressive enough? I was a member of a teachers union when I taught at BCIT. They never contacted me and it seemed like they considered me lower class when I spoke to them because I was part-time even though I was a paid member. That said, Unions are something I believe are necessary and could be a potential progressive force in our democracy. Also, upon exploring the NDP policy making structure, I discovered it is one member one vote, which is good as opposed to Unions having block votes.
A lot of pundits (i.e. pollsters and media) I spoke to said that the Liberals were a lot more controlled from the centre, similar to the Conservatives that candidates had to check in with their central HQ before doing polling or some messaging. They also mentioned, that year after year it was the same people you spoke to, where as the NDP you saw a respectable turnover. Whilst there is always a measure of top down it feels like it is greatest in the Conservatives, whose many candidates rarely attend all party candidates meeting so voters can see them debate. The next seems like the Liberals and then the NDP.
Trudeau spent a year traveling the country, meeting with Canadians, and talking with them about the values they thought were essential to the country.He then recruited people, created several policy groups, and gave them instructions to come up with polices that reflected Liberal values; and, then, to find the ones that were right for Canada, rather than the ones that would win an election. Trudeau took his party through an elaborate, three-year strategic planning exercise for Canada, driven by an overarching commitment to “get it right.”
At this point I had removed some of my misconceptions of both parties structures, policy making and started filling in actual facts.
Comparing policy documents
There are policies I like in both and some I felt were weak and need more input from respective stakeholders. For example I would like to improve some of the NDP thinking on Corporations and Startups. I felt the NDP had thought more about how to evolve economy to one that works with our Environment rather ripping it to shreds.
Initially I was frustrated by not being able to find NDP policies and costings, yet could find the Liberals and they were good. Eventually I found policy books for both. I read both and compared.
In terms of costings for all parties they are weak, not surprising really consider how much work it takes, in government you have an entire civil service to help you.
Where am I coming from when comparing these?
I feel I have been lucky in life: I have had jobs when needed. I am happy to pay taxes in order to help others, whether it be those with disabilities, single parents or our elders. We survive together. Education is paramount for our future as well as our environment. No Environment, no planet, no human race. We also need to define ourselves as competitive to other nations, and science should be a core part of that, other nations should know we are not just their gas tank or wood supply.
Looking at the policy spread I did not disagree with any of the NDP or Liberals policies in terms of what needs to be done, but when it came to the ‘how’ I had some suggestions.
What sets NDP and Liberals apart for me?
I do emotionally favour the Liberal policy of spending on infrastructure when the interest rate is low. I feel that Canada has to spend a lot of money on infrastructure for us to move to a more environmentally conscience country and to be ready for the lack of Gas and Oil in our futures. That said, it could leave debt for future generations. I was a little frustrated that the NDP was committing to a fiscally conservative budget for a few years – this is similar to what Labour (in the UK) did when they got elected in 1997. That said with flux with oil prices at the moment perhaps we should consider a more fiscal approach. The NDP have a fiscal approach.
One in five Canadians are raised by a single mother
Clear areas of difference existed around:
- A new election system – NDP Proposition Representation – Liberal vague commitment to something
- Civil Liberties/C51 – Harper and Trudeau both got into bed very quickly with each other on C51. When a law that questions basic freedoms and refuses to clarify its scope, people will come to expect the worst. The fact is they do not trust Canadians and Harper appears to be trying to turn us into another United States.
- Universal Childcare – For childcare, the Conservative and Liberals are just offering one system: the tax benefit. The NDP will support an additional one, by ensuring Childcare spots at just $15 days, keeping it affordable for all families and helping women have the choice about going to work.
- Prescriptions – NDP offer a solid plan where as the Liberals is a step forward but not enough
- Keystone XL Pipeline – Harper and Trudeau both had a pipe dream on the Keystone XL Pipeline yet both Hilary Clinton/Obama don’t want it. Is this the pipeline to nowhere? We need a Government that can work with others, like the Americans or the First Nations or even our environment.
- War and defence – Liberals would keep using our forces in an offensive role the NDP would not. We are a very small contributor in terms of ‘Allied’ forces. Would our money be better spent on solely ‘Humanitarian’ roles. In part the Conservatives have made us a target, and dropped our Peacekeeping vision to one of offensive and a target, thus needing more security..
- He let the Conservative budget in 2009, 2010 budgets pass unopposed
- And he voted with Stephen Harper on 70 confidence votes
Some will say that the Liberals wanted time to rebuild, for the new leader to establish himself and to save us from another immediate election after election.
- The Keystone XL Pipeline process
- C51 – Justin Trudeau voted with Stephen Harper on Bill C-51. He said – he didn’t want Stephen Harper to make “political hay” out of it.
- Approach to International Relations and the use of our armed forces
I reflect on the party in the UK (Liberal Democrats – Under Charles Kennedy) I used to be a member of and they would not have supported any of this Conservative acts that attack Civil Liberties or the Environment. The Liberals have a lot of history of campaigning on the left and governing on the right. I am having a hard time getting over the Liberals supporting C51.
Watching the first debate I felt Trudeau was robotic and off his game, Mulcair was good and Harper defended himself well, but was not entirely honest.
The second debate all party leaders did well, Mulcair was sharp, calm yet fast, Trudeau was very aggressive (I got a little tired of his interruptions) and Harper was solid – but clearly twisted some points from fantasy into fact i.e. That carbon emissions have gone down during is time – this is more to do with the reduction in the economy not his policies.
Trudeau feels like an emotive “connecter,” a nearly USA-style, touchy-feely politician. Without a doubt there is potential here, the campaign will allow us to see who he is. I found his book a bit cheesy at times, but informative and worth the read. I share a lot of his views.
Mulcair appears sharp, fast-talking, analytic, policy-focused politician. When he brings up his upbringing and personal history he does a bit of sociology about the meaning of coming from a big Catholic family in Laval, Quebec. Watching some of parliamentary speeches he was impressive. Two things single him out:
- He quit his job as Environmental Minister for QC Liberals when they told him to build in a National Park
- He joined the NDP when they were the fourth party and no where to be seen in QC
This to me, shows courage, and principles.
One other thing that makes a real difference for me is the willingness to work with other parties i.e. Green, Liberal and NDP. Possibly in a coalition. Trudeau has said he will work with the NDP but not Mulcair, that seems a little petty to me. Mulcair has said he will work with the Liberals.
The Liberals appears largely non-ideological, they tend to take a centralised, symmetrical and anti-Quebec nationalist approach to federalism, and most of the time they are to the Left of the Conservatives – but occasionally jump to the right with the Conservatives. That said they have some good policies out there, some are lacking details but the intentions appear good. They are very different from Liberal Democrats in the UK. Maybe they will what we hope for. Their policies target the middle class.
The NDP appears moderate, but still left-leaning, social democratic party that is ideologically committed to social justice, progressive social policies and egalitarianism in general (but they’re less socialist than they used to be).
The NDP remains committed to social democracy (a well regulated, mixed market economy with a strong welfare system), and they are uncompromising on social policies (abortion, gay rights, trans rights, etc.). Also, they’re more open to Quebec nationalism and the idea of asymmetrical federalism than the Liberals. Their policies target less fortunate people.
So they are different how?
The NDP has “modernized” (i.e. moving from a socialist party to a social democrat party) and has passion, it still recognizes that governing will inevitably means choosing between competing and contradictory interests.You can please some of the people, some of the time; but you can’t please everyone, all of the time.
Trudeau, appears to be all things to all people. He is a friend to rich and poor, alike. He is for the environment and First Nations while supportive of the Keystone XL pipeline. Trudeau’s vision does not require making any difficult choices, yet. It seems the Liberal Party has been about the pursuit of power, not ideals, and with Trudeau at its head the Party, it may avoid any stances that might upset the elite and established. I am interested to see how this changes through the campaign.
For both we often just have the past to make a judgement, and it can often be hard to really understand their potential. Either have the potential.
I think we need a Government who can upset the cart to transform us into a country ready for the future.
Listening to friends
Most of my Canadian friends had no idea, undecideds, something between Liberal and NDP, and a small number of Conservatives. Many wanting real change to the Canadian future, i.e. anti Conservative
Where can I help the most?
Swing Ridings are where all the tough battles are fought between parties and there is a likely chance of change or maybe the riding is new. Two groups make it easier to see where strategic voting will help:
I explored all the Vancouver ridings to see which had Conservatives leading or second, with another party close behind or leading. Vancouver Granville and Vancouver South seemed likely swing ridings (i.e. change seems in the realm of possibility). Vancouver South has a very strong Liberal candidate so no need to help there.
Lead Now showed that Vancouver Granville is close as NDP is in the lead with Conservative second. This seems like a fight
Vancouver Granville: State Of Play – August 15-18 LeadNow poll
- NDP 36%
- Conservative 30%
- Liberal 24%
- Green 10%
I have worked on a lot of campaigns, it is very possible to move a campaign by 10% locally but anything above usually needs some mistakes, exceptions or global shifts. For example if the national leader clearly outpaces the others in terms of perception, this will help local campaigns but not define it. In my own election we shifted the vote by 14%. I was really helped by a very successful national campaign and clearly very different types of candidates, combined with some successful issue campaigns in the area of electors. It makes sense to help the NDP candidate to ensure the Conservative does not get in.
On the point of polls, I have seen hundreds (working for a polling company and as a campaign manager) in most have not predicted the actual result. National Polls are even worse they often ask 3-5 per riding, so do not help on the local level. They are helpful for identifying issues and how they play. And seat predictors are very dangerous. I worry about their impact on people creating a self fulfilling prophecy, by following a leader rather choosing what is “right” in their perspective by policy and candidate comparison. I suspect that the national polls may be more important their candidates, policies, etc to voters
Let me clear Strategic voting could be useful, but should not be the whole equation, just one part. You vote for one candidate in your local riding, that candidate has to be good and they have to be a party that you can accept with policies that work for the place you want.
Meeting the local candidates
So with the goal of helping to shift the vote, I met both the Liberal (Jody Wilson-Raybould) and the NDP (Mira Oreck) candidates for the Vancouver Granville riding today. The campaign office NDP was faster to respond and it started with a long phone call with Mira Oreck and then a face to face meeting with her and her campaign team. The Liberal campaign was a little slower to respond and I was invited along to a “coffee meeting” at their office.
They are both good candidates. Very different candidates and teams. I asked a lot of questions and tried to see where I would be the better fit. I felt that Mira dealt better with my tougher more aggressive questions. Jody redirected some of my questions and relied very much on the national platform for her answers. Mira was more willing to share her personal feelings where Jody was a bit more standoffish. When I ask Jody what she thought of Mira, she said she had never met her. Which is curious because they had already being to at least one all candidates meeting. Mira was kind about Jody. I think that was a decider..
After I debated strongly: should I help the Liberals take Conservatives voters ensuring more of a fight between the Liberal and the NDP or should I help one to try to win outright.
Now I have to decide which one to help get elected. I will help one for the rest of the campaign so 3-4 weeks of volunteering.
What do I want from a Government
I would like Government to provide stability for our businesses (thus taxation allows us to provide services), guide us to keeping our environment healthy, help us as citizens find our potential, allow us to be different, find the right choice between our freedom and security. And I want it to protect the vulnerable and help them climb the ladder to a better place. Maybe I do not need as much help as others, but I want to know that the Government has their back. In terms of international relations I want us to be open to others and different cultures, and not enforce our culture on them.
Making a Decision
In the end we are judged by our actions, not our intentions. I felt the NDP in Parliament have done a better job than the Liberals in the last term (I feel that you should reward the behaviours you want to see). The Liberals seem to swing to right when uncertain. NDP seem to know who they are. Mira is a strong candidate in Vancouver Granville with clear principles.
After a time of having unprincipled leadership in Stephen Harper I feel we need a leader with core values, tested principles and a will to take us back to a compassionate, forward looking Canada. Trudeau’s support of C51 really worries me, and I am not ready to get passed. Yes we need security but at what price to our democracy or to our freedom of speech? Would we need this extra security if our international relations was done with more respect, tact and finesse?
I feel that Tom Mulcair at this time shows guts, experience, compassion, respect and ability to listen.
Thus I decided to support the Mira Oreck NDP candidate in Vancouver Granville, in this election. I feel she is one of the strongest candidates in Vancouver area and I feel she will be a strong advocate for both her riding and Vancouver. I will reflect after the election.
[Update] Watching the all candidates meeting (about 500 people turned up), I felt Mira did an amazing job with both the introduction and questions, the next best was without a doubt the Green candidate (Michael) he had a lot of courage and then Erin the Conservative (I did not like what he said but he presented himself well). Jody did well on a couple questions. Watching this debate it was confirmed for me that Mira would do right by this Riding, and achieve results in Ottawa for us.
What should you do?
I would would prefer you travel your own journey, learn about what is important to you, take time to understand the people and policies and choose the right candidate for you. Often people vote lazily i.e. they choose just the party, please don’t do this get to know your local candidates choose the representative for your riding and your beliefs. Every party is the sum of its parts and its individual members of parliament will impact on the “sum” or overall picture.
Action Plan for you
If you have not received a voters card:
- Get your postcode
- Know what riding you are in, go to this website (Elections Canada)
- Check to see if you are registered to vote here the deadline is Tuesday, October 13 at 6:00 p.m. (local time) you can do this online or at a local office
Find out who your local candidates are?
- Go to the Elections Canada website, on the right enter your postcode. New Page on the right click on “Who are the candidates in my electoral district?”
- Do a web search on each candidate looking for the next All Candidates meeting. Go and see them talk.
Understand what each of the parties will do?
- First write a list of things you think are important now.
- Then add items that are important to people you care about
- This site does a comparison of policies – I Can Party
- Then checkout each parties website, refer to your list, it may grow thats ok.
If you could read one book?
P.S. What about Greens?
I strongly believe if we don’t get a grip on the impact of us and our economy on the environment soon, we will move the planet to a point that it cannot heal from. I think environmental impact should be a part of every policy. I also felt Elizabeth May did very well in the first debate. But I want to get involved in actually evolving policy, in a party that has the ability to form a Government or a strong opposition. I imagine the Green Party will teach me many things and I will listen and learn.
This is my third RailsConf, having attending them in Portland and Chicago. I have found the Rails community as mostly open, people generally easy to ask questions off, and a good range of talks. Railsconf are well organized conferences, they feel professional and evolve each year.
This year the courses seemed to concentrate between the beginner and the intermediate with occasional spikes into the advanced. A lot of the course titles were a little abstract and thus encouraged you or discouraged you (depending how tired you were) from reading the actual description.
It was noticeable this year the number of women that attended (i.e. a larger number) and equally notable how few Blacks there were attending the conference. There were a lot more talks about how software developers are human and soft skills.
The main thing I get from the conference is the people I meet, the conversations I have, the things I learn from attendees.
I felt all four were really good and worth attending and worth watching when they become available.
DHH Rambled a bit, but got to a good point that Rails is a backpack to build a medium sized company like Github or Shopify. He took on the criticism about Monolith architecture and termed the phrase Majestic Monolith and ‘integrated systems’. Again this created some great lunchtime and evening conversation. We also talked about two features in development for Rails 5 Turbolinks 3 and Active Cable. His talk.
I see you have a poorly structured monolith. Would you like me to convert it into a poorly structured set of microservices?
— Architect Clippy (@architectclippy) February 24, 2015
Sarah Chipps talked about her journey. I love that she gave up part of her talk time to some students and their journey to coding and drones.
Aaron Patterson did his usually trolling and then talked about the areas he is now working on – some great stuff on controller and integration tests. I love that he walks us through the process, I learn each time he does. His talk.
I found that day two and day three had more topics I was interested in. Here are some of my favourites:
- Good education talks included Sandy Metz on Nothing is Something (talk) followed by React.JS by Michael Chan. I call them educational because I learnt something from them.
- A great comparison talk on Processes and Threads – Resque vs Sidekick by James Dabbs
- Interesting journey/scaling talk on High Performance APIs in Ruby using ActiveRecord and Goliath by Dan Kazlowski and Colin Kelley
I heard some good things about:
- Ernie Millers‘ Humane Development
- Bending the Curve: How Rust Helped Us Write Better Ruby by Yehuda Katz, Tom Dale
- Playing Games in the cloud presented by: Nadia Odunayo
- Why we’re bad at hiring (and how to fix it) presented by: Kerri Miller
New things at the conference
Each year the conference improves I am impressed with how well organized overall the conference is for a non-profit organization relying on volunteers.
- The theming of topics was really good and helped participants navigate talks
- The Rails core team talk was very informative
- Having many big boards with schedule on, was great
- Having a mobile app was very useful
- I think the notice board was a lot bigger
- Lightning talks had a lot of talkers
- Separate page for sponsored parties. It would be good to have this one page for all the after parties. Often they get booked really quickly but only the people in the know.
Old Things and still good
Railsconf has a scholarship scheme which gives free tickets to a number of people who are coming to the conference for the first time and might otherwise be able to. I love this. I was a scholar in my first year and have being a guide in the last two. I think Ruby Central is awesome to provide this.
Are a great way for people to try out presenting or were not able to be fitted onto the whole schedule. I would suggest moving this to a morning, they are good but often get tagged on the end of the day and maybe a little tired.
This was very useful with both the schedule and the map. Meet the team is a nice touch, maybe add what role they are playing at the conference.
I loved this, I feel having more would be great, I suppose I miss the fourth day!
Venue – The Mart
Of the three RailsConfs I have attended, this year there was either a lot of noise pollution (e.g. Bang Bang, or the equivalent to a freight train going over your head). In the main room there was a lot of echo, if you managed to avoid the really big pillars. In the smaller rooms, there were several issues with the projectors not being powerful to counter the lights and no one knew how to turn the lights down. All of that said this was the best WIFI hands down.
Sorry this was not a great venue.
The first lunch was a little light. The second and third lunches were really good. The snacks were all gone by the time I got there, though there was fruit
Was it worth the trip?
Conferences are essentially a social experience, as most of the videos/decks appear online, thus the most valuable part is the people I meet at conferences. I wonder what the future of conferences is, with all the content being streamed, will they become totally virtual or in fact will they become more social. The problem with big conferences is that you can get comfortable with sticking with your team or people you know and not meet new people. For me this is what I get:
- I meet new peers and mentors
- Discover new perspectives
- Discover how others solved a similar problem
- Share what I know and become a useful part of the community
- I can ask questions in talks to clarify my understanding
- Sometimes a talk will teach you something new, or you learn to communicate something complex in a new way or you realize that you know this topic.
- Find people you want to work with
- It was not my favourite year for talks
But I am an extrovert, I will actively introduce myself to a lot of people. That said it tires me out!
This year I sent three people and myself (from Vancouver, BC). There were some great talks, but more average talks then I had seen in the past. I feel the social aspect is one of the areas we could evolve and make the conference even better. It is also what I think will keep bringing people back. For the social members of my team the conference was good, for non social the talks were not compelling enough on their own this year, in part due to the level of expertise and in some cases because of venue distractions during the presentations.
Ideas for next year
Its not just our code base that needs to evolve and grow, the conference does to, here are some thoughts/ideas/suggestions that may improve the experience.
1. Making the conference more social
You can see all the talks online, why attend if not for the social aspects?
- Publish the attendance list. As people register, ask them Name, Company, Title, length of time coding, and what they want to get out of the conference.
- I suggested a couple things last year in my rails 2014 blog and rails 2013 blog
2. Upping the quality of the talks
- Coaching for first time talkers, from communication experts, education experts and experienced presenters (I will volunteer for this)
- Learning style guide – help speakers think through the styles to make easier for all to absorb
- Feedback for each talk by participants to be fed to the speaker, this would be great in mobile app
- Room instructions – How do I turn lights down/up, who fixes the projector
- Pretest room for computers and projectors
- Hands on masterclasses and workshops with very experienced people like Metz and DHH
3. Interview DHH
This would be even more fun if it was Aaron Paterson who did it..
4. Grow the conference committee to include people who have sole responsible for:
Scholars champion – Have a person own this and evolve it each year. Make sure there is a table that scholars can go to and make sure they have space to see the keynotes, check on the beginners track to ensure the content is actually beginner friendly.
Connections champion – Work in ways to help other newbies/lone travellers meet others. Be the person who can introduce people to other people.
Presenter Experts Volunteer Pool – Ask the community to apply to help out first timer presenters and those that would like a sanity check pre-conference and in-confrence.
5. A non interruption space and a “singles” want to meet people space
Most of us occasionally need to work/code get shit done. Maybe we could have a space when we have power and can code without interruption or sound sshhh. And then another space where I will code/play/experiment but happy to be meet people, in fact please interrupt me. Its kind of like a singles bars, in that it is easier to approach people, making it a bit easier for all. You could have board with I would love to speak to people about x and here is my twitter handle (in case I am not in the room at the time you step in).
Great food and calming accent. I also visited Martin Luther King jr. centre and Human Rights Centre were emotionally overwhelming as well as educational.
There was a stark contrast between the Race of the attendees of the conference a lot of white and some others, against all of the people who served the food and drink who were Black.
As a community I think we are welcoming. Bootcamps seem to help those with money. Ruby Central offers scholarships (reduced ticket price to free) for all minorities and those with little money, which is awesome.
I feel the lack of certain communities in software development is not just a Rails/Ruby problem, but wider. I wonder what we can do as a wider community to add more to our diversity? We are after all in the hometown of Martin Luther King, Jr. Is it an issue of poverty, education, role models or something else. How do we make it better? If there is a software community that could consider this and maybe make it better – I think it is the Rails community…
I will vote yes for the Mayors Transit plan for Vancouver, BC
As an elected councillor in my past I have seen how badly underfunded public transport hurts people both in the medium and long term. How it does immense damage to the vulnerable in our society. And how do we want to treat our environment? How clean do we want our air? Our populations are always growing, how many cars do we really need?
Newquay North, Cornwall County Council, UK, 2005
Should we have a better Transit System?
I would like Vancouver to become a better place for everyone. That people can get around easier without cars (e.g. children/elders, the vulnerable), that they can choose jobs/schools further afield, that they can explore more of Vancouver and discover “new” shops/businesses to become customers of. I would like to see a city that manages its carbon footprint better as it grows. A big step to ensure our future is smog free is to invest in our public transport infrastructure.
I have seen the impact of under investment in public transport. Rising house prices, congestion, more anger from traffic jams or the buses being full, the reduction in family time due to longer commutes, smog and the impact on businesses. People’s health (both physical and mental), finances and job satisfaction all take a middle and long term hit. It can be easy to fall into the trap of anger.
I remember when I lived in London, before they got congestion under control, my snot was often black. After it went back to green and clear.
Why did the Mayors decide to fund it this way
You pay your taxes, you pay for your monthly bus pass. And then the bus you rely on is late, or is full, and you miss an important meeting or you’re late to a friend’s birthday. The anger and the disappointment have lead us to resentment, and it is clouding or judgment in this matter. We have to find it within ourselves to move past the anger and to forgive. Only once we’ve forgiven can we begin to see the solutions, and begin to part of the solution. Don’t simply look at this campaign as voting to part with your money. The mayors council looked at a bunch of different ways to fund it and all but one mayor agreed 22 out of 23, as this every happened before? The summary and the detail – Look at Appendix F
We live in a community to help each other not just ourselves
Whilst I appreciate that my tax dollars are going into this project, I will not wholly benefit myself as I live downtown and walk 30/40 mins to work. Even though I do not care to ride a bike (as I prefer to walk), I appreciate the need for them – they give us the option to be car free. Community is not just about my personal needs, it is also about how kind thoughtful I am, my willingness to share and collaborate with all. And most importantly, don’t simply think of improving your situation. Remember the elderly person down the street who needs Handydart, and how a line to UBC would improve the state for students. It is the glue of our society and our community.
Should we have had a vote?
I agree that this should have being decided by politicians. But with the HST popular vote, we now have a well funded anti-tax, anti-government campaign that will plague every decision and ask for a refer on everything now. Many of the decisions “blamed” on Translink were actually decided by politicians at the Provincial level. While I will vote yes, I will also be looking for new politicians in the next provincial elections that will make the right decisions for our future and some will not be popular.
Has Translink being Audited?
Three years ago the province responded by auditing TransLink to find efficiencies. That 2012 audit identified $41m in potential savings. Which is great. Over the previous two years, TransLink themselves had already found $98m in internal savings. That’s $139m in total savings over 3-4 years.That doesn’t sound like rampant mismanagement to me. That sounds like an organization actively trying to save public tax dollars. And succeeding. Despite all that, none of those savings was enough to fund future growth.
Who is actually delivering the Compass Card?
For example for the Compass Card TransLink contracts out installation, maintenance, and daily operation of the system to San Diego based Cubic Transportation Systems. This company was chosen by Provincial politicians, not Translink and why not they implemented the Oyster card in London, UK. The delay and extra cost is focus on the type of system i.e. double tap, one tap is ready to go, the double tap is not. The most detail I could find was the technology on buses is not able to cope with the demand that may occur.
“From my knowledge the system runs on Windows CE and there are no issues with that as far as I’m concerned, as long as it’s the newest and most updated system,” he said. “But what is more likely the culprit is the local telecommunications system that the [mobile card readers] are operated on. Our wireless network can be unreliable and even spotty particularly with data.”
This is definitely a problem. Vancouver is not alone in seeing this type of project overrun, most seem overrun by years.
- TransLink’s Compass Card system struggles with another glitch
- Seattle’s transit card seems to work, why not TransLink’s Compass Card?
“The fare gates were imposed on TransLink by then Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon and [then Premier] Gordon Campbell and they did that through an unelected, unaccountable board that they also imposed on TransLink,” said NDP TransLink critic George Heyman. “So that’s where I lay the blame for the fare gates and the Compass Cards.”
How does Translink compare to other transit authorities?
How well funded is Translink?
Translink has being deeply underfunded for a while now.
Metro Vancouver’s proposed transit improvements will cost an estimated $7.5 billion over 10 years. It’s money TransLink doesn’t have; the corporation is already $5 billion in debt and barely meets its annual operating costs with existing fares and various tax-funded mechanisms.
This reminds me that as a citizen of Vancouver and of BC, to pay attention to politics both at the city and provincial level. To not trust the “facts” delivered by angry bloggers, who have no accountability, and instead to listen and to research, to discover if their comments are true or false. It is important for us to look at how Translink is held accountable, how it grows and learns both from its customers, its employees and the “Governments”. How it learns from other cities successes and failures. All of that said you cannot expect an underfunded organization to always perform well.
Innovation means getting somethings wrong
I believe that Translink is not perfect, as no human organization is. Destroying an organization ignores the fact that we as humans can learn from our mistakes, and organization are no different. Many of us have relied on the forgiveness from “our bosses” when we got wrong, to not be fired and instead to learn from our mistakes and grow. As citizens we are the boss of our public transport infrastructure. And the best “bosses” allow us for experimentation and innovation — which always comes with the risk to get it wrong. The worse bosses stay angry and persecute us for past transgressions that have now being corrected. Innovation is key to our survival and future and if we kill it with anger and mistrust, we will fail as a human race. Either way the Translink CEO was fired, how much more revenge needs to be taken?
Becoming part of the solution
I have applied to be on the Citizen Council for Transport because I want to do my part. Whether I succeed or fail I am becoming better informed! I have hope for Vancouver to become a better city as it grows. Going forward, I will pay better attention to those that serve us. I am one of those crazy people who still says thank you to the bus driver when I get off, because I appreciate the human that serves us — whether it be the bus driver, the union that protects their rights or Translink who manages our infrastructure. All three have had to do this in an environment that is underfunded and not ready for the future, because citizens have not been doing their part.
It’s time to change this and think/reflect/imagine the city we want.. become solution providers rather than just armchair critics.
Holy shit smile emoticon They said yes!
“Thank you for your application for appointment to the Active Transportation Policy Council.
At its In Camera meeting on March 3, 2015. Vancouver City Council appointed you to the Active Transportation Policy Council, for a term to commence immediately and end February 28, 2017. ”
Looking forward to it smile emoticon
Articles that I found useful:
- No side reaps rewards of 30 years of anti-tax rhetoric
- Why we’re voting “yes” to new transit and transportation funding in the referendum
- The psychology of ‘no’: Vancouver transit vote is case study in why it’s so hard to do what makes us happy
- The ‘No Transit Tax’ campaign’s biggest myths on TransLink
- In a peer review conducted by Seattle, Translink was probably the most efficient agency studied: http://tinyurl.com/orn956o , http://tinyurl.com/p42vqr3, http://tinyurl.com/q7kd8ok.
- As public vote on Translink tax hike nears, skepticism and name-calling increases
- If you don’t like a sales tax hike, here’s a peek at one alternative
- More than 400,000 full buses had to skip stops last year: TransLink
This is pretty much one of my strongest beliefs. For me it applies in terms of other peoples’ beliefs, mindsets and even genetics. We never know what we might need to survive. Of course this does not relate to just humans, but also to animals, plants, fish – the organic world – or even inorganic things.
You could say I am trying to keep my options open, not for me, but the human race. It could be the reason why I am politically liberal. It is why I am respectful (to a point*) of all religions, philosophic beliefs, value sets, and political beliefs. Respectful does not mean I will also agree or that I will live my life in a similar fashion.
“As you think, so shall you become” Master Bruce Lee
The *”to a point” then becomes my filter: there are counter balances to my core belief (infinite diversity can lead to infinite possibility). Here are some of them:
Respect for life
This may sound obvious, but I don’t mean just human, but also animals, plants and the planet we live on. It does not follow from this that I am anti-war – avoid it yes- but at all costs, no. I personally would not tolerate Hitler or Sadam Hussain. If that meant I would have to serve, I would.
“We must be the change we wish to see in the world” Mahatma Gandhi
Equality of opportunity
I do believe in social justice, which for me means not to tolerate sexism, racism, or homophobia. It also means that we should have an excellent education and health system. Through this I would not want to wipe out the differences, for example between male and female gender, I love that we are different (and of course find myself occasionally frustrated by it!) Our differences in all forms allow us to develop different art forms, innovate new solutions and discover something never personally felt. I believe effective education is the key to achieving ‘Equality of opportunity’ and it is also a key part of us all being personally accountable.
“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” Ronald E. Osborn
A balance between the community’s needs and the individual’s needs
I think the Libertian approach where people can do anything they want is not in the best interest for the human race or our planet. I also think that Communism will fail unless you find a way for individuals to succeed and excel, whilst countering greed. I also think Capitalism has many weaknesses. In terms of the divide between rich and poor, the wider it becomes the more likely there will be a revolution. I believe their has to be a tax system that allows for a redistribution of wealth, allowing us to have ‘safety net’ to protect the poor and vulnerable. This safety net should always where possible, encourage further growth and where possible not allow dependency. I do not believe that laziness should be rewarded. That said for those who are successful should be rewarded for their efforts. Whilst capitalism does this through money, I wonder if there are other models that might work.
“New ideas come from differences. They come from having different perspectives and juxtaposing different theories.” Nicholas Negroponte
Clash of Cultures..
I love diversity. I will not tolerate sexisim, racisim or homophobia. That said each characteristic e.g. gender or sex gives us each a different foundation to build upon, i.e. we are not all the same. This I like
I think immigration when not abused is a good thing. Its like having a good team: they are often comprised of very different personalities and approaches, when brought together well they will outstrip a team of clones. Immigration in my head is just a macro version of this. Most first world countries depend on immigrates to keep their economies competitive, maintain the skills/knowledge advantage and to do the jobs that first worlders no longer want to do. On a different but related note Immigrants have started nearly half of America’s 50 top venture-funded companies.
Whilst I would love for us all to one day to have a common language I would not want us to only speak one language. I speak bad English and even worse Spanish and both languages allow me to express myself in different ways. In a past life I was the Chair of the Cornish Language partnership as I held the belief, that the more languages a young child can learn, will give them extra ways express and create in, giving them more options in all things.
I worry when minority groups became overly defensive (i.e. adopt a siege mentaility) and exclusive (to themselves) rather then inclusive, as I see this can led to the inevitable decline of that ‘culture’. I will have to think more on this…
Respect for the ecology
No planet: no human race. I believe in the principles of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. I don’t own a car or a bike, I use my legs and public transport.
“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” Michelangelo
Think to the future
I am a strong believer that governments should think to the future. This highlights one of the problems with democracy. The election cycle often demands more short term gains by the voters and thus the politicians. Innovation and taking some the risk out of innovation should be part of a government’s role. How? Now that is a debate I would love to have.. In the end if we are to survive as a human race I am sure that many of the petty differences that we currently view as so important will disappear once we come together as one human race. To do that we will have to tackle poverty worldwide, find solutions to shortages of food, water, power and education/health AND ‘get over’ nations. We after all live on one planet.. and eventually it will not be able to provide for us all, so we will have to expand beyond it and into space.
“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been” Wayne Getzky
Great advisers (that are different to their leaders) make great leaders
I believe the best leaders have great advisers (with different perspectives) who never get shot down for giving advice, the leader still chooses what to do. Its no different for good people they are often surrounded with many friends who have different opinions who can always give advice to their friend.
“It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” Sir Winston Churchill
Every week of my life has changed me.. my views will evolve as my understanding of others evolves. I often debate or have great dialogue with those who once I disagreed with and occasionally my view will change and occasionally their view will change. Together as human race this is one journey of discovery and I am not sure we will ever find ‘perfect truths’ or principles that help us in every situation.
“Problems cannot be solved by thinking within the framework in which they were created.” Albert Einstein
Most of this academic term I have being teaching (4 courses – marketing, advertising, public and government relations) and being a student (3 courses all – HTML/CSS/Java/Systems Design) in the evenings, with my days left to Professional You – so I have participated in a few startup events and I was keen to see who is new on the scene. This event seemed a good way of finding out. You never know who you will meet and what you will learn.
The essence, is you “form” a business” in 54 hours over a weekend. You pitch and people choose to join your team. And you and your team, show off in a 4 minute pitch (to all the teams) on sunday evening and a bunch of judges choose.
Overall it was an excellent weekend, I met a lot of people in the startup community that I had not met before. More importantly I met a lot of people I want to stay in contact with. I learned somethings about myself. In fact I enjoyed the event so much that if I can afford the time and cash I will go to the one in Seattle in January 2012.
I think these sort of ‘networking whilst doing‘ events, could become an important of part Vancouvers’ tech community (in fact any community that wants to encourage and generate more startups). I love the way it brings people together and gives them a window into what it is like to work with people. I could see greater potential in finding your co-founder or your first team at an event like this.
The Journey – Day One – Start 5.30pm
The first engagement (except buying the ticket) was an invite to the community site – Kohort, this happened on the first day before the event. We were all encouraged to start to get to know each other and share ideas. Frankly this start was pretty awesome, as people filled out profiles and started talking and sharing their thoughts, ideas and capabilities.
I got to the venue early, almost two hours – yes I was eager :-) The Segal Centre, Granville Street, Vancouver.
As the event started, people started intensely networking with 80% of participants having high energy and 20% were just shy. We were encouraged to fill out badges and colour them according to our capabilities i.e. business, designer or developer. Some people like me are mutates/mongrels (or multiple talented), so we had colourful badges. This time went REALLY fast as there were so many people to meet
The speeches were ok Joel Solomon?? (a social conscience VC), Jason Bailey was Jason Bailey (casual, offensive/ruffin, uncaring/tough love ). Dave Olson (Director of Marketing Hootsuite) was standup comedy act.
Sean (one of the hosts) presented us some awesome slides giving us advice about how to pull the team and business idea together.
Next up it was time for the participants to start working. Each pitcher was given 60 seconds to rally us to there cause, there were a LOT, I am guessing 50+. I had being thinking about pitching but I decided not too, as my brain was numbed after all the pitches!
I wrote comments for each e.g.
- did I like the idea
- did I like the person pitching
- who did they want
Some pitchers stated they wanted only developers, so I crossed them out (I am a growing developer, but only asking for a developer and not a designer or marketing person said something to me about the person pitching). There was some interesting ideas and some crazy ones.
The wall was than covered with posters for each pitch/idea and we the participants had to choose by voting. The top 15ish ideas that would go ahead. Every attendee had three votes and they chose which projects they liked. This was really interesting to watch as a lot of pitchers seemed to assume that people would vote for the idea not, not the pitcher – thus many of the pitchers did not really try to recruit. My votes went to the people as much as the idea. I voted for Organised Good, My best helper and Jukenuke (which were all pitched by woman).
The most popular pitches (the 15ish with the most votes) were chosen to have the opportunity to talk again and we were given time to explore the idea with each of the pitchers and choose our teams. This was hard.
There was a couple I considered e.g. My Best Helper, one to match mentors with mentorees, one for mobile voting, one mobile app to monitor your houses electricity usage (so you could see when you left electrical appliances on). I did not want to do anything like my current Startup i.e.Professional You. I circled each team to get a sense of what skill sets they already had (you could tell by the colour of their badges), see how big they were. I also avoided the ideas that were clearly mature as I was not sure if I would just become a freebie for the weekend.
I chose Organized Good, in part because I thought it would be most difficult problem to solve. A social pitch with encouraging online and off dialogue with a focus on civic engagement, politics and local community.
The initial team was a cool bunch of people Tara (the pitcher), Fiona (her partner), Steve, Ash and Murf. We got together and Tara downloaded the idea with us and we starting talking and kept talking until 1.30am. In terms of capabilities we had four business people, 1.5 designer and 1.5 developer (I count as the halves as I wanted to play a different role i.e. 19 years of marketing with a computer science degree (refreshing at BCIT presently)).
8.30am the team slowly trickled in. We debated the idea a lot.
There is a journey for initial pitchers e.g. letting others take apart and grow their idea. We talked about the online versus offline, Generation Y versus inviting the whole community. We agreed on a lot more than we disagreed:
- We wanted people to meet face to face
- Local (almost hyper) community (down to neighbourhood/street level)
- That it should be social, community, civic and political – we were worried about this language as it might turn people off, but the spirit was right
- That its was about action, not just talk, we wanted to help communities solve problems
- We wanted to encourage solutions not rants or endlessly debating issues.
- We wanted to help the community help its self
- That meetings and encouraging collaborative projects would be important
Some concepts I noticed with our team and other teams at play:
- Democratizing the idea – would the idea be allowed to grow beyond the pitchers’ visions?
- Idea ownership – would the pitcher give up the idea so it became owned by the team and maybe something bigger.
- Idea maturity – The ideas that had being developed for a while (like the winner) clearly had the advantage.
I wondered how good would I be in giving up the idea and letting others grow it.
With a basic idea agreed upon we split into groups (of pairs) one working on market research, one on the revenue model and one on the design. I worked on the site layout and wireframes as well creating an early story deck.
There was food at some point (for those that know me e.g. ex-chef – food is important to me, so I was either in love, in the zone or asleep), but it existed and was gone as I was still chewing on some of our other dilemmas.
We setup the Facebook page, and watched it slowly climb to 25 Likes so you can own the URL – this was painful and bribes were offered.
Today we got additional help from Thor and Azita who dropped in for part of the evening (she helped Tara and Fiona develop the initial idea but yesterday(friday) was her birthday, with Fiona off to work (poor her) yes life still goes on.. the team continued until our brains dribbled out of our ears and alcohol was needed (yes and sleep).
The breakfast was a lot better today, not just muffins, there was fruit too and things with chocolate inside them. Azita joined us full-time today she was fresh with energy and smiles:-) with further reinforcements brought in by Fiona (Chris and Shelby)
We had a diverse revenue model sorted (1Million after three years and in 53 communities).. we came up with a clever new approach to online dialogue.. we even got some expressions of interest to invest.. we worked out the initial organizations that would fund the initial technology.. we established which would be the first local communities we would start with (in Vancouver).. we got support from a local celebrity tech startup CEO.. Some good looking design work (Steve!!). This was our peak.
The basic 10 second pitch was Stackoverflow (online problem solving) merged with meetup.com (getting people in the same room) focused on their community, civic and politics.
Telling the story
We had a lot of different approaches and it took us a while to agree how to tell the story. We all had different levels of tolerance how emotive and challenging we wanted/could be. Than some unhelpful mentor popped in and stated that should only do 5 slides and spend 30-40 seconds (some of team took this to heart) on each. This caused a lot of friction inside the team (or was it just me?!). Sometimes ‘advice’ is unhelpful, as it disrupted the flow of the team. From this point we lost our flow, we were tired and over coffeed. We tried a number of different angles. Towards the end we got some of our flow back with some concrete examples of how we would tell the story. Tara asked Azita to help her pitch on stage and this was our front team.
The venue was The 560 Club which was pretty awesome. Some of the pitches were freckin awesome and some were not. A lot of groups had travelled a long way with a spark of an idea in a short time.
We were the sixth pitch. Tara led the way with Azita(one of the original idea originators). In someways you could see that we were going to pitch to a panel of judges who care for making money through online technology, and who may not care to have a ROI as social good. To an audience who maybe be more comfortable in an online world than in the offline world. We felt as a group it was always going to be tough and yet the ladies performed superbly.
You can see who won here. We got the Best Social Cause award and thus we drank, and met many more new people.
I met some good people, worked with people who I might never had met. The event was well hosted – Joey, Mike and Sean were awesome. The volunteers never seemed in short supply or lack of enthusiasm. The venue worked well (but next time I will try and steal one of the rooms with white boards!) and we need water!
Suggestions for organization
Just because I have offered a bunch of suggestions for next time, does not mean I thought the event was weak. It was an awesome event, which will hopefully occur a couple times a year here in Vancouver, BC
1. Reward the design and developers work
It feels like the business people are rewarded but not the developers or designers. It felt like all the Angel/Judges cared little for their efforts unless it was tied into presentation. I would suggest rewards for best design and best development. Also mix up the judges with some developer and designer types rather than all angel/vc with biz backgrounds (this group are not always right!)
Ensure that everyone knows where the water is, there was a kitchen which many of us sneaked into. When you have this much coffee/caffeine we need to stay hydrated.
3. Mentor schedules
On a piece of paper given to each team. So we know where to find them. The random pop ins seemed awkward and occasionally unhelpful. I feel sorry for the mentors that came over, just as we were doing a team update and we needed to weak each other (it happened three times to us). Add mentors to Kohort. And give the times they will be around so we grab them (and maybe even plan ahead!).
4. Business Model
The business model generation book is an excellent way to help people build out their business model fast and if you could give us a big poster for each team – we can than move the stickies around as we pivot and evolve.
5. Early access to Kohort
Allow us to converse early, maybe the moment we sign up to the event we can join Kohort and get know each other.
6. Introduction to scrum
Give access to basis of scrum so that those unfamiliar can play with developers and designers more fairly and faster. One sheet. Sean mentioned it, but there were a bunch of people who had no experience of it. Maybe put it on Kohort so it can be read before. On that point make those most excellent slides available on Kohort before. Yes enough participants will prepare before the event.
7. Attendance list
I would love to know who is going to event so I can work out who I want to meet and check out. Maybe we could access this and two lines about each person.
8. The Judges need a mic
Only the first pitcher repeated the judges questions or gems of advice. So the rest was lost to the rest of the audience😦
9. Bring all the teams back together
I think if at some point on the saturday, each team could give 60 seconds on where they are and helped needed in terms of sector of specialized knowledge. There was a lot of talent tied up in different teams. Some cross pollination would help everyone and help you meet new people.
I was asked by another team to help out review their approach to (workplace) motivation (my startup is all about psychology and the matching of you to your perfect boss or team member). One of the mentors connected us. As I have spent the last two years studying all the published psychology work for the last decade and listening to all podcasts of MITs Psychology degree. We had an intense back and forth, I gave some advice, a video to watch and got back to my team.
10. Bonus Points – Whiteboards
I think better if there is a whiteboard to allow me to brainstorm, I manage better if I can see a scrum board, I tell stores better if I can develop it on a whiteboard. They also look really cool for photos. I would say teams that have a white board may have a soft advantage. If possible see if you can persuade your next venue to bring in whiteboards on wheels. Or maybe we could could borrow from local businesses. With the vancouver weekend three or four teams had white boards. I know its not an easy one but you would get bonus points (I am not sure which game to plug them into yet) and I think your teams would perform better.
They were/are freckin awesome
There are Marketers who are marketers… then there are Marketers that are techies, entrepreneurs, educators, leaders, community-builders… and marketers. I’m not your average Marketing VP: I’m a Marketing VP with benefits and I’d love to help you take your company to the next level.
To cover off on the traditional stuff first, I’ve chalked up about 19 years total in marketing, communications and campaigns. My experience in every sector from government and non-profit to private corporations, and in several markets, reflects a breadth that mirrors your client base. There are few-to-no delivery channels I have not explored, and I have a habit of driving organisations to get a ahead of the wave in using the latest and greatest, with social media no exception. I’ll leave my resume to provide the details of my engagements and achievements.
Now onto the bonus material…
You’ll find I have zero distance to travel when it comes to creating marketing strategy around a SaaS model. Spending the last two years creating a tech start-up has honed my product management, development and business model know-how to a fine point. In fact, technology is and was my first love: I have computer science degree, an IT consultancy to my name, led 110 people IT department and more recently refreshed my hands-on experience with a web dev qualification.
In addition, my career here in Canada began as VP Marketing for a Vancouver SaaS success story, Vision Critical, where I led a major re-branding initiative, a new website launch and contributed to sustained growth throughout the recession despite major marketing spend curtailments. Speaking of which, you can’t get away with working at a market research company without great data to inform and back-up your efforts: whilst there, I initiated the first customer satisfaction system. In all marketing I do, I expect to deliver ROI metrics.
I have a passion for people: I love them. I just can’t help it.
This has taken me down a number of roads, including serving, developing and communicating to communities (and the multiple groups, agencies, businesses and services therein) as a politician. What this brings to my marketing (aside from experience of managing budgets of £71 million and approximately 400 staff) is getting the balance between a results-driven and value-driven approach. All great brands are built around emotions and values.
My bordering obsession with human psychology helps me to both understand client needs, both in product features, but also in terms of the complete customer experience and the messages they want to hear. It also makes me a great leader. I’m the guy that puts out a lot of positive energy and gets to know everyone. I also relish the opportunity to grow those around me: you’ll see that education and training forms a major theme throughout my career. Right now, I teach Marketing, Public Relations and Advertising part-time for BCIT.
CEO, I hope this provides a sense of what I can bring to the table. Successful marketing requires a great CEO – Marketing relationship, so I believe fit is as important as capability and I would love the opportunity to see if we get on.
P.S. Here are a couple of opinions about me:
“Eric is a prolific thinker and one of the most well read individuals I know. While he is skilled in Marketing and Communications, he is a strategist at heart, looking for greenfield to take companies and pushing organizations to consider bold new directions. While visionary in his thinking, Eric is equally tactful in his negotiation. He is one of the few people I’ve met who can succinctly articulate and communicate multiple sides of an issue without offending anyone in the room. He knows when and how to move around roadblocks, invite debate, and get things done. Eric is someone who can really make a difference in organizations large or small if given the runway to do so.” Jason Smith, President, Vision Critical
“Eric Brooke is a professional, thoughtful, inventive and provocative marketer and communicator. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Eric on a number of projects, most recently and most deeply on a task force charged with rebranding Vision Critical and Angus Reid Strategies. In this role, Eric brought a tremendous amount of energy, branding experience and resourcefulness to the task. He did an excellent job balancing the need for being a team player with being willing to challenge conventional thinking and the status quo – a role we needed him to play.
In addition to understanding marketing, Eric also has a deep knowledge of communication, change management and organization development – in our case bringing a company brand/vision to life for staff and customers. This is something that sets him apart from those who have only had experience with traditional marketing and will be truly valued by those who require successful transformation.” Andrew Grenville, Chief Research Officer, Angus Reid Strategies
A lot of people seem to believe that a brand is about advertising. That it is merely corporate identity, the name, and the logo, the colours used.
So here is what after 19 years of marketing I uses a definition for my start-up and my marketing students.
- Its starts with the founder(s) vision,
- It shifts according to the team they have built and their values plus behaviour
- Its is limited by the technology used
- Its expressed and reflected in the product built
- And finally it is decided on by users and their experience both with the product and customer/support team
Whilst it starts with the founder(s) it is decided and defined by your users.
I believe good strategy and brand can support each other. It’s not about spending lots of money on an icon, name or colours. It is about the sum expression of what you are already doing.
For me a good strategy and brand go together through having a vision, mission and values. These will evolve but they will help guide your decisions – what space am I in (Vision – some call this Brand promise), How will I change it (mission) and how will I make decisions (Values).
Here is ours http://www.professionalyou.com/vision.html once we had done this, it was easy to develop a corporate identity as our prime value is Growth, hence the tree and colours. This value set has/is helping me make a large number of decisions about what we are and what we are NOT.
Once I wrote the vision, mission and values name came to me i.e. Professional You. Not in a sudden flash admittedly. Personally I prefer names that are concrete and that mean something. If you take no time I believe it shows your users that you do not care, that you are only temporally, why should they invest in you if you can not get the basics right. Sometimes sharing this journey (of choosing your name) can also be powerful when users want to know who you are.
It is both my strategy and brand; my pitches are cleaner for it, my messages cleaner and my decisions easier. People tend to trust clarity, if you are clear people find it an easier journey to trust you, branding can help you with this.
So far I have spent nothing on advertising, on creative agencies and a local (Vancouver) designer helped with the logo for free.
Occasionally I tweak the vision and mission as I form better ways to describe what we are up to.
It will continuing evolve but in the end users decide, so do not forget the importance of your customer/user facing staff if they are happy your customers are more likely to be also
P.S. Do tell your users who you are and what you are about. It is always disappointing if you go to the About Us on a web page, to see that you don’t care to make an effort or even bother to introduce yourselves and its not polite😉
The talkers can be interesting but like PechaKucha the quality varies. What does not vary is the quality of people the audience. I love meeting them I was talking to one of the team for TEDx Victoria and I pushed that they should consider activities and ways to make it easier for audience to get to know each other rather than rely on everyone being an extrovert and serendipity. Taking effort here will also form a stronger community.
You should apply, yes you, there is one in most energetic areas. If not create one!
The questions are not tough:
- If a friend were to describe your accomplishments in three sentences or less, what would they say?
- What are you passionate about? (Work, creative outlets, issues, communities, etc.)
- List at least one website that will help us understand you better. (This can include personal blogs, photos or sites you just generally love to check out).
- What do you hope to get out of this TEDx event?
If a friend were to describe your accomplishments in three sentences or less, what would they say? *
- Survived 12 schools and a bunch of foster homes before reaching college
- Elected as a politician and then elected by his peers onto the cornwall county council cabinet, (Cornwall, UK.)
- A connector of ideas, patterns, trends, knowledge and people e.g. he is constantly connecting people who need to meet each other, being best man five times, he has over 3,500 books..
What are you passionate about? (work, creative output, issues, communities, etc.) *
- Helping people grow
- Understanding people
- Learning and meritocracy
- Creation and creativity
- Social Justice
- Mountains, Sea and Trees
List at least one website that will help us understand you better. (This can include personal blogs, photos or sites you just generally love to check out). *
LinkedIN – http://www.linkedin.com/in/ericbrooke
My startup – www.professionalyou.com
Video (careful I swear) http://www.professionalyou.com/video.html
My thoughts – https://ericbrooke.wordpress.com/
My book collection – http://homepage.mac.com/ericbrooke/deliciouslibrary/
Twitter – @ericbrooke
What do you hope to get out of this TEDx event? *
Learning and meeting exciting people in the audience. Sharing what I learn with my friends, colleagues and random people I meet in life.
I am interested in this year’s theme as we (Professional You) are exploring the frontier of careers, talent management, recruitment and leadership. And we aim to have a revolution..