Over 13 years ago, I left a permanent job to take a 3-month contract doing digital project management and marketing at Vancity. It probably wasn’t the “responsible” thing to do, especially seeing that my wife and I had an eleven-month old at home. Yet, it was the totally responsible thing to do – responsible to a higher purpose.
I had realized some time earlier that I needed to live a life that reflected my values. My work had been a major disconnect from my values. I had spent several years working in digital marketing in Seattle, Los Angeles and Vancouver, and I was feeling more and more weary of helping to sell more shoes, motorcycles or movie tickets to truly terrible movies (and a couple of really truly amazing ones too). This wasn’t how I wanted to spend my life.
I feel incredibly grateful to Vancity for giving me a job where purpose and productivity are so easily married. I have received many opportunities within the organization – I mean where else could a digital marketing manager be promoted and shift roles and shimmy around and end up in charge of business banking and community investment? Amazing!
But all good things must come to an end.
In mid-June I will start a new adventure as CEO of Brightside Community Homes Foundation, one of the province’s largest not-for-profit affordable housing providers. Brightside is dedicated to making housing accessible for those who struggle to meet the demands of market housing in Vancouver, one of the most unaffordable cities on the planet
After many years of working in community investment, I am extremely excited to move from an important enabling role, providing financial support to local businesses and organizations, to delivering services and helping tackle the affordable housing crisis in my home city.
The people at Vancity I want to thank and recognize are just too numerous to mention. Leaving the people is always the hardest part, and the people at Vancity – as well as those I’ve met in the wider Credit Union movement over the last decade – are magnificent. I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am without them.
I am thrilled to join the team at Brightside to help play a larger and direct role in ensuring our neighbours and community members have safe, stable and appropriate housing. I am excited about the work ahead and to help create meaningful impact in our community.
Back in September, I wrote a post about a book I had been wanting to write for quite some time, but had been making no progress on. It was called Everything I Learned About Leadership I Learned From Filmmaking. I focused on stories interweaving those lessons from early in my career making low-budget independent films to my lessons today as a credit union executive.
I declared back in September that I wanted to have a first draft done by the end of 2018. I put this on my blog because I wanted people to know my intentions and to hold me accountable for meeting my objective of finishing that first draft.
I want to thank a bunch of you for doing that. There are people who read that post who, when I saw them, would ask how the book was going and whether I met my deadline. For some of them it may well have felt awkward to ask me about my self-imposed deadline, but I truly appreciate them. It was their kind prodding that kept me going.
In fact, I got through not just a basic first draft but a decent second draft by New Year’s Eve. I was at a point where I could show it to others.
Posting about the book on my blog opened up an invite from a friend who works in Communications, asking if she could edit that early draft. Yesterday we met, along with my wife who is an excellent copy-editor and discussed where my book has strengths, where it really works, and where it falls short. I am very appreciative of her time and perspective and excellent feedback.
She and my wife helped me see the forest for the trees, and know where I need to go with my next draft. They helped me understand what was working and what wasn’t coming across on the page as well as what I had imagined.
So today I start my third draft, based on all their feedback and wisdom. My new goal, the new note I am putting my the digital fridge, is the end of March. By then, I will have that third draft done and will be ready to do a final shape-up to start approaching publishers.
Wish me luck, and I appreciate all your encouragement!
Back in October of 2012 I gave a talk at the CU Water Cooler Symposium in Nashville about the leadership lessons I draw on daily that I learned from my dozen years as an independent filmmaker.
I was really psyched about this presentation and when I came home from Nashville the ideas kept swirling around in my head. Between that October and the end of 2012 I started writing those ideas into a book I named after my talk: Everything I Learned About Leadership I Learned From Filmmaking. I put down the concepts I explored in my talk, plus a bunch more. I had a couple of incredibly productive writing months.
For some reason, as 2012 drew to a close I stopped adding to the book, and it sat abandoned. It’s not like I didn’t think about the book, quite the opposite I thought about it a lot, figured I’d get back to it some day, but that day was never today.
Since 2012 my career has progressed quite a bit and my leadership muscles have been stressed and tested and strengthened, and I think about those filmmaking lessons all the time. Recently, I began to feel that I need to revisit that book. Not at some vague time in the future “when I have more time,” but now, immediately.
I brought the book up on my computer a couple of weeks ago, the first time in an embarrassingly long time, and re-watched the talk (above) and found myself making time in my schedule to expand on where I started. I put energy into the book for the first time in several years. It felt very very good.
There is a concept I spoke about in my talk about putting a note on the fridge. When I used to make films there came a point where I knew I could continue to just talk about making a film, but if it was going to actually get made I needed to get serious. At that point, I would write a date on a note and stick it to the fridge. That date was the date when I would begin principal photography – when I would begin shooting my movie. And everything worked back from that date. I had to look at it every day, I would tell people the date – I couldn’t escape it. I used my embarrassment of public failure and letting down those who believed in me as a way to get shit done.
So, here I am using my blog as an electronic fridge and publicly declaring that by the end of the year, I will have a first draft of my book done. More drafts will be needed, more notes on the fridge will be required for future milestones, and a whole lot of work lies in front of me, but I need an initial deadline to get a first draft completed. I am using you, anyone who is reading to hold me accountable for completing that first draft.
It’s been three years since I first ran for the Board of Modo, our local car sharing co-operative. Serving on the Modo board has been an immense privilege and pleasure. It’s an amazing organization, a great board, incredible staff and an important mission. It’s what I’ll likely be speaking about at the upcoming Disruption ’17 by CU Water Cooler conference.
I’m privileged to have been the board chair for the last couple of years, and hope to continue serving the members as I run for my second term as a volunteer director. If you’re a Modo member, please log in and vote, and, hey, if you’re voting, please consider voting for me.
I’m William Azaroff, vice president of community investment at Vancity and current chair of Modo Co-operative’s volunteer board of directors. I’m up for re-election this year, and I hope you’ll vote for me to continue serving Modo’s membership.
I’m extremely proud to be a part of the Modo board. In the three years since my election, we have successfully merged with Victoria Carshare Co-op, brought in new leadership and renewed our strategic planning process.
Patrick Nangle came to Modo from Purolator Canada, where he was also CEO. He is a values-based leader whose deep knowledge of business, operations and technology will move our co-op forward in the increasingly complex and competitive world of car sharing.
With Patrick on board, we have begun a new strategic planning process to map out which roads are right for us. We are at a pivotal time in car sharing. Our local co-operative has a strong brand, loyal members and solid partnerships; yet our competitors are multi-national corporations who have the deepest pockets imaginable. Disruption is everywhere. Electric vehicles have far longer ranges and more affordable price points; self-driving cars are emerging on roads; and multi-modal transportation is expanding and evolving. We need people on our board who can solidify a local co-op’s place amongst global players – people who can focus on competing against corporate giants while staying true to our core values.
I would be honoured to earn your vote to continue this good work on behalf of the Modo membership.
Since my son and I gave our talk at the Credit Union Water Cooler Symposium last October, we’ve been asked repeatedly if a video was made of the event. Well, here it is…
Last October, I had a profound experience when I presented on the topic of raising an Autistic child at the CU Water Cooler in Kansas City, Missouri. I had never given a talk about my family’s experience with Autism, so I was nervous about it. But I felt compelled to speak about my son’s experiences, and how his special interest in music helped him through his challenges.
What made the experience so meaningful for me, was that after I spoke my son played several of his songs live in front of 150 people – to a standing ovation.
Check it out and leave a comment to tell me what you think…