Tag Archive for azaroff

This is my 1,000th blog post.

Neat.

1,000

Photo credit: mightyboybrian on Flickr.

Thanks for your vote and support.

Modo

Thank you! I am so humbled and honoured to have been elected to the Board of Directors of the Modo Co-operative. It’s a great organization, and I look forward to being useful to the organization, the management and the members as we all work to develop “vibrant communities created through sustainable transportation”.

I deeply appreciate all the Modo members who voted for me, as well as any of you who endorsed me, or simply expressed support. It means a lot to me!

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Why I want to be elected to the Modo Board.

I’m running for election to the Modo Co-operative Board of Directors. If you’re a Modo member, I’d love to earn your vote online or at the AGM.

If you’re not from around here, you may wonder, what’s Modo?

Modo is a not-for-profit carsharing co-operative incorporated in 1997 to foster carsharing and raise awareness about the benefits of sharing cars over individual ownership.

Modo Co-op

Why do I want to serve on the Board of Modo? Well, I have four main reasons, actually. Here’s my campaign video, and my reasons are spelled out below.

My first reason is that I’m a co-operator at heart. I love co-ops for their democratic and community ownership model, and have belonged to many co-ops over the years. I lived in a housing co-op, where I served on the Board as Treasurer, and currently work at Vancity, a financial co-operative and one of this area’s great supporters of co-op development. In 2009, Vancity sent me to Bologna, Italy to study co-ops with a few members of our staff, our Board and our community partners in a region where co-ops flourish and prosper. I believe I can help make Modo a stronger co-op.

My second reason is that I’m a digital leader. I worked as a digital strategist and producer for well over a decade, and for many years at Vancity I was the Director of Digital & Community Engagement where I oversaw online banking, our intranet, social media and other digital channels. My experience will serve me well at Modo because digital tools are crucial to members to book our cars and engage with Modo, and we support other car sharing co-ops through licensing our online booking system.

This is me at the party after last year's AGM.

This is me at the Modo party after last year’s AGM.

My third reason is my strong community investment experience. As Vancity’s Director of Business & Community Development I lead a team that invests Vancity’s assets in community projects, organizations, entrepreneurs and companies that contribute to a more equitable, sustainable and vibrant place to live and work. I understand the role Modo plays in our community ecosystem, shaping the transportation and community infrastructure required for a sustainable, inclusive future.

My fourth and final reason is that I’m very passionate about Modo. I strongly admire Modo’s brand focused on “disownership” – a brand that competes very effectively against larger corporate players. I am fascinated by the sharing economy, and I believe I can help Modo enable more people not to own a car of their own (or at least a second car), which is critical to reduce greenhouse gases and increase our region’s livability. I have been excited about being on the Modo Board for the past year since I attended last year’s AGM.

I’d be deeply honoured to be on the Modo Board if the members choose me to represent them. If you’re a Modo member, I do hope you’ll consider voting for me online or at the AGM.

Thank you,
William

Be a great crowd.

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Iron & Wine at the Commodore Ballroom, November 3, 2013

When I was growing up, Vancouver was a much smaller city. It was a city that, when I visited the States, many people I met hadn’t heard of (and sometimes they didn’t even realize that Canada extended all the way north of Seattle).

As an avid concert goer, we got a lot of tours coming through Vancouver, but many others skipped us. Now Vancouver is a world-class city and virtually every musician includes us in their itineraries.

I’ve lived in Seattle, Los Angeles and Vancouver, and, having been back for over a decade now, I’ve noticed something remarkable about artists when they play Vancouver. They seem humbled, sometimes ever overwhelmed by the audience’s love and support. Vancouver has some of the best crowds I’ve ever been a part of, and they create fertile ground for some amazing shows. They create an energy that is amazing to be part of, and they create a mood that encourages musicians to perform at their best. In fact, they often remark on how great our crowds are.

I took the shot above when I saw Iron & Wine this past week, and he seemed truly honoured to be playing for us. You could feel the connection between artist and audience – almost a sacred bond of trust. And you know what, I bet he’ll never skip Vancouver when he tours. That energy will keep him coming back for more.

It’s a lesson for all of us. To be grateful and humble and supportive and devoted. To be a great audience and keep our heroes coming back and wanting more. Whether that’s our members or customers, our staff, our colleagues or our boss. It’s a simple lesson from the mosh pits of Vancouver.

The meaning of life, the universe and everything.

I turned 43 recently. On my 42nd birthday, I quipped on Facebook that this was my Douglas Adams year. The exact age when I would discover the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything.

William and Pizza

Photo of me eating pizza (back when I could still eat pizza) at a Vancity branch by Terry Davis

Little did I know how right I was – that this was the year when I was to go through the most profound career shift I’d made in a dozen years (and perhaps ever).

My first career was in filmmaking. I got into filmmaking to make films that were personal, hopefully important. Films that I wanted to provoke thought and conversation and make a statement. But after a dozen years of slogging through projects, I found that life as a filmmaker just wasn’t fulfilling for me anymore, and I was hungry to do something that I felt could replace film as my life’s calling, and enable me to do more than just make “product”.

At exactly that time, filmmaking was going through a major disruption. Digital technology was, for the first time, giving the ability to make films to people without extraordinary means. The technology and tools – which hadn’t had a major innovation in the hundred years since Edison invented them – were being democratized. It started in the editing room with Avid editing systems, and continued to DV cameras and editing films on a home computer. I embraced this new technology, and became an early adopter of digital filmmaking.

In Nashville last year at the Credit Union Water Cooler Symposium, I gave a talk called Everything I Learned About Leadership, I Learned From Filmmaking. In it I talked about the tension between persistence and delusion. To be a struggling filmmaker is to know that tension well. I got into a great chat with the audience about this tension in my Q&A, and it was Ron Shevlin who pointed out that, simply, it had to do with maintaining a passion for, and love of what you’re doing. As long as that spark is alive, it’s persistence; when it’s gone, it’s delusion (did I get that right, Ron?). I always promised myself that I’d only make films if I couldn’t not make films. After a dozen years struggling as a filmmaker, I hit a point where I could absolutely and happily not make films. It was on to the next challenge for me.

My second career was in digital. When I made films, I used to read about the early pioneers of filmmaking, breaking into a nascent industry and jumping in where no one else had. I envied them. I saw the web and digital as an opportunity to do that for myself. I followed the path from digital filmmaking tools to producing web and digital projects. It’s rare in life that we get to experience something new, something untried. The migration from film to digital was a natural one, and one I enjoyed tremendously. I got to be there for the birth of a new era, and was lucky enough to be in Seattle, an epicenter of the new medium, to experience it.

One day while walking on the beach with my wife in LA, where I worked as a digital producer, we chatted about what we wanted from life. Walking in the sunshine, we decided that what we wanted was a reality in which our life choices and core values were inseparable – that when we described our lives (everything from where we lived and where we worked, to what we drove) we would really be elaborating on our values. That, we felt, would not be possible for us while living in LA.

The next several years were a circuitous adventure, leading me and my wife back to my hometown of Vancouver, having our son, and, for me, eventually aiming for and landing employment at Vancity. I am immensely thankful to work for a generous and special kind of organization that took chances with me and allowed me to jump into new areas and new roles, embracing new opportunities without having to leave the organization.

It was the jump into social media in 2006 that provided me with a new purpose, the biggest opportunity I had since filmmaking to embark on something career-defining and bold. It was the leaping off point to new destinations, new relationships and a powerful sense of fulfillment. Unexpectedly, it was social media that led me to community engagement, which led me right out of digital and into my current role in community investment, where I am further discovering the meaning and fulfillment I have always been looking for.

The one defining theme in my life has truly been: Do what you love, and the money will follow. I loved filmmaking, but when it was no longer my singular passion, I moved on. I loved social media and tinkering with it to fulfill an organization’s mission a little before others did, but when it starting getting stale for me, I was happy to try new things. Following my bliss led me into film, and past it into a world of working with a virtual community, and finally to working with community partners to hopefully help make my hometown a better place.

So we know that the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42. The unknown part remains: what is the right question? In my case, I think that the right question is simply: At what age will I make a huge pivot toward doing my life’s work?