Two types of thinking.

My son makes albums. That’s not news. Today he simultaneously released his ninth and tenth album under his musical name, Spectra.

Album cover for Oh Hi, Gemini by Uncle Eric D.

Why release two albums on the same day? One thing I love about the way my son Ivan makes albums is that he always has a spark of inspiration as to why he wants to make an album.

In this case, he realized that sometimes he has a seed of an idea and wants to get the music out quickly, in an improvisatory way. And sometimes he wants to form something with thought and planning and revisions and be more mindful of what he’s producing. Sometimes he wants to move quickly and sometimes he wants to plan.

Album cover for Giant Furry Animals by Uncle Eric D.

So he made two companion EPs simultaneously. When he had a rough idea and wanted to throw the song down and move on, he put it on an album called Oh Hi, Gemini. When he wanted to work on a song, get it right, write and re-write lyrics ahead of time, he put it on album called Giant Furry Animals.

It was super fun to help him make these albums. I learned a lot in the process about creating containers for different kinds of work. There’s fast and dirty and done-is-better-than-perfect work. And there’s planned, know-it-has-to-be-right, pre-meditated work. Both are good and important, and it’s helpful to be clear on what method we want to use at any given time and why.

So enjoy these two albums. You can pay any price you want to for them, including nothing at all. They were super fun for him to make.

Knives and forks, a community investment co-op.

In my role at Vancity, I think a lot about an inclusive, sustainable and also vibrant local economy. And I am a hypocrite.

Oh, I’m not alone, all my colleagues and peers are hypocrites too.

We support local businesses. Especially businesses that create a local food economy, hire people with barriers to employment, support new Canadians as they settle so they can be productive and happy in their new country, help companies trying to reduce the carbon emissions they put into the environment and help people reduce the carbons they emit in their lives.

Why are we hypocrites? Our personal investments can’t be put into these kinds of companies. Instead, at best, our mutual funds can screen out companies whose ethics we disagree with. But you can’t screen out everything we disagree with or there’d be almost nothing left to invest in. Big banks? No thanks. Oil and gas? Uh-uh. Resource extraction? No way.

Assuming we’re all investing in socially responsible investments, we’re investing in national and multi-national companies that are moving along a spectrum towards greater sustainability. That’s better than putting our hard-earned money capitalizing companies that we don’t support, endorse or whose practices we actively disagree with. But the government says we can’t invest in the local food market down the street trying to bring local food to our community. (No one sums this up better than Michael H. Shuman.)

The government says we can go to the casino down the road and gamble away our life savings. Sure, that’s allowed. But putting some retirement savings into a local business we can touch and shop at and support? That’s verboten.

Until now.

12072555_1168714549823067_2646994795263451844_nSay hello to the Knives and Forks Community Investment Co-op – it’s the newest co-op that I’m a member of. It uses the co-operative structure to allow ordinary people (aka: unaccredited investors) to invest increments of $2,400 into local businesses after becoming a co-op member for a $100 membership share purchase. Knives and Forks focuses on local businesses involved in the local food economy. Restaurants, growers, producers, value-add suppliers, and so on.

It’s a needed addition to our options as local BC citizens trying to support the businesses that we believe in. A central tenet of investing is to invest in companies whose products you use and enjoy. As much as I love Apple and enjoy their products and am proud of their major leaps in environmental sustainability, I don’t know them in the same way that I know my local, organic grocer that I go to every week and can chat with and ask for products that are relevant to me and my family. Or a local butcher, fishery co-operative, raspberry farm, etc…

That’s the best kind of investment.

Originally published on the Co-op Water Cooler.

My experience with Filene.

Today, Filene published a blog post I co-wrote called Failure, Future and Cooperative Finance. Here’s the story…

In August of 2012, I was so excited to be invited to participate in the Filene i3 program, focused on ideas, innovation and implementation within credit unions. It was a real honour, and I was lucky enough to get to work with the amazing David Klavitter of Dupaco Credit Union.

He and I worked together on something called the Credit Union Well-Being Incentive Program.

Along the way, although we loved all the people we met at Filene and what they stand for, we discovered what worked, and what didn’t work for us, about this prestigious program.

David and I wrote a blog post about our experience and what sprung from it at our credit unions. Filene was kind and supportive enough to run that blog post. It’s called Failure, Future and Cooperative Finance.

Check it out…

A digital evolution.

I think I’m seeing a trend, but maybe it’s just a couple of random examples. I’m curious if any of you have seen it too.

People I know who embraced digital early, stuck with it and become known for their leadership in applying digital tools to further business goals are moving away from digital. I recently made this move, and today I was speaking to a colleague at another company and he’s making a similar decision. And as we chatted I thought of a couple of other people I know who pioneered digital areas in their organizations who are being tapped to apply their backgrounds, which were full of smart risk-taking, innovation and seeing things a little differently, to other key areas that need that kind of intrapreneurial aptitude.

Here’s what I think. As more and more people in organizations have evolved to be able to harness digital tools, as marketing departments grow this competency, as social media becomes just another tool and maybe we can finally stop navel-gazing about it, there is less of a need for “gurus” and more of a need for a team of people who embrace these tools. That normalization of previously new media may lead to a kind of boredom and restlessness among the digital specialists and leaders within organizations, which frees them up to focus elsewhere. It’s also time for new people in these organizations to bring their creative ideas and acumen to the table and fresh thinking and energy to the utilization of digital tools. I have seen that in the people who have taken over my former accountabilities. They bring ideas I didn’t have and are focusing on places that I didn’t see. It’s very exciting to watch. It’s evolution.

If you’re at an organization with someone who has moved your digital agenda forward, maybe it’s time to think about getting them to focus on organizational change, or leadership development, or moving your organization to new places. Ask them to help solve over-arching business problems. Redeploy them.

So is it just me, or is this a trend?

Honoured and amazed…

The Top 10 People of 2009As I was getting ready for work this morning, I looked at my computer a little bleary-eyed and saw this tweet from Jeff Stephens. It was a nice way to start the day.

A few weeks back, Bank Technology News told me I had been named one of the top 10 innovators of 2009. I was humbled, kind of in disbelief, honoured and thrilled.

Today, they published The Top 10 People of 2009. I netted out in the coveted number 2-3-4 spot, along with Aaron Patzer of mint.com and Jeff Carter, CEO of azigo.com and co-founder of the Center for Future Banking at MIT’s Media Lab.

Bank Technology News wrangled us together on a conference call and published this story: Where Innovation Is, and Isn’t, in Retail Banking.

So, I guess this constitutes a good day…