Up until last Monday, my career has had two distinct phases.
When I was a kid, all I wanted was to be involved with films and theatre. I acted as a kid, and in high school I started directing and working with video. For a dozen years I made films. Sometimes I had a day job, sometimes I was lucky enough not to, but from 18 years old to about 30 I produced, edited, wrote and directed short films and one feature.
I always had a rule for myself. After each film was made I looked at it starkly and honestly and asked myself, Am I truly great at this? After my feature, I began to realize that I was decent at filmmaking, but not great. Not if I was truly honest with myself.
And that could have been the beginning of a huge unraveling for me, because my commitment to filmmaking was so great that I starved myself of a backup plan. I was flying without a net.
But my net came in the form of the dot.com era (no pun intended). I was making films in Seattle, and my experience with digital distribution and production was interesting to a few local startups. My vine swing from independent filmmaker to digital producer was beginning.
And soon enough I felt very fortunate to have something other than filmmaking to do, something I loved, seemed to be great at, and something that paid the bills a whole hell of a lot better than no-budget filmmaking. And the digital world has been fascinating, inspiring and has served me very well. That has been my career for the last dozen years, since I was 30. Funny how these eras seem to come in a dozen years for me.
At the beginning of last year, a new vine swing began for me. I started doing Community Engagement work at Vancity. My department gained the honour of distributing some of Vancity’s grants, and overseeing sponsorships and community events. It was something totally different, spoke directly to the mission of Vancity, and all the reasons I was a member and, later, employee of this great organization. It also said something about Vancity leadership that they saw abilities in me that no one had ever exploited.
Now, I am beginning the third chapter in my career. I am leaving digital behind completely, and am embarking on community engagement and development full time. It’s a big exciting move. In the digital arena, I have long been both a leader and deep subject matter expert at Vancity. And now, I get to work with people with far more experience and depth in community development than I have. I am no longer the subject matter expert.
So I begin my new journey as Director, Business & Community Development at Vancity, still overseeing community events and sponsorships, but joining a department running multiple granting and microfinance programs, managing financial literacy initiatives for our members and their neighbours, investing in local businesses having a positive impact in our communities, and developing focus in critical areas where Vancity can create positive change, all to help achieve Vancity’s vision of Redefining Wealth. It is an unbelievable honour and opportunity. I get to work with amazing and inspiring people, and develop relationships with community partners and members.
So let my third chapter begin. Given my track record, check back in to see what I’ll be doing at, say, 54 or so.
Wow, that’s fantastic William! Congrats on the change, it sounds like an absolutely fantastic gig and something you’ll be great at. 🙂
Congrats William – this seems like a very natural progression, both from a career and personal perspective.
Here’s hoping I get to come back and by part of your community again once of these days.
William my friend, it is still an honor to see your leadership continue burgeoning, and your heart and mind are both satisfied by your new path. You remain my hero. Love, ABC
Actually, it’s not too hard to see a pretty seamless connection between your new role and your last one. They’re both drawing on your rare skill at connecting people and communities, at seeing the potential for easier and more meaningful engagement, and at finding (and creating!) opportunities to make positive change in the world.
Can’t wait for our next chance to talk, amigo. But in the meantime, many congratulations.
(P.S. – What do I check if I am a spambot?)
Congratulations William, you’ll be awesome in this new role!
What a great announcement, William.
The “third chapter” seems to be about right for our age group as expertise, interests and opportunity evolve. Hopefully life allows for a “fourth chapter” as well as a fifth.
You have inspired me to think about what descriptive words have already been replaced from my own website banner as what new words are awaiting future discovery.
Congratulations on the next chapter, it is an ever interesting story!
Thanks everyone. It’s nice to feel over my head again. Lots to learn and figure out, as I try and be useful in my new role. Feels good.
Thanks for all the support and good wishes! It means a lot to me.
What a fantastic opportunity for you William! Still remember our days at TELUS working on web campaigns together. You were a joy to work with.
All the best with this new phase of life. If you are ever interested in developing an international microcredit program in Haiti, let me know!
You are definitely the right person to further help Vancity “develop our community”. You are going to be great in this exciting new role. Congratulations!
Very exciting for you William. You certainly have made an impression on everyone you’ve worked with in the past, including myself. I cannot wait to see the great things you do with your new role and how our community improves because of it.
As a startup owner, I’ve become quite disillusioned by the support network to help local businesses sprout and grow beyond the startup phase. It has left me cynical about lending institutions and local/provincial government. They talk the talk, but most definitely do not walk the walk. I have a renewed sense of hope that you will breathe some new life to the startup community in vancouver.
Congratulations and Best Wishes
Yeah William! Can’t wait to see what the future brings for you and the industry. I’m sure you’ll raise the bar for us once again.
I couldn’t be happier or prouder of you!
@ Jim: Thanks so much. Your support over the years has meant a lot to me.
@ Scott: Thanks. A book is a good analogy, I feel like I need to learn to read again!
This actually does not surprise me one bit William. I know that you will leave your mark on this path as you have on the others. Good luck!
Congrats William. Enjoy the new chapter…make it into a book
Very exciting…you deserve it. Lucky Vancity.
@ Jason: Thanks man!
@ John: True enough, I’m guessing the kind of conferences I attend will change pretty radically (and be entirely more radical). I bet our paths will still cross. Small town…
Congratulations William. This is very exciting news. I hope this doesn’t mean that we won’t run into to each other at local conferences and such. I’m afraid it might, which means we might not be able to share a panel as we had once talked about.
Best of luck and hope our paths continue to cross.
You drive and passion can only result in making all things good, better.
What a fantastic opportunity. So excited for you!
I didn’t know about your experience in film. Interesting to hear about the path and that high bar you set for yourself.
Thanks Matt. Our friendship has meant a lot to me over the years, that’s for sure.
The weirdest part was removing the word “Digital” from my website banner line:
Social. Financial. Co-operative. Vancouverite. Um, I guess that covers it.
The small things symbolize the big things.
I’ve learned so much from you over the years, William. I can’t wait to see you grow and thrive in this new role…it’s perfect for you (and Vancity).