Hoo boy, it’s been a while since I’ve given an update on my book, Everything I Learned About Leadership I Learned From Filmmaking. My last update was in February of 2019. At that time, I was zeroing in on a pretty good draft. And then shortly after that I landed my current job as CEO at Brightside Community Homes Foundation. It seemed pretty silly to publish a book on leadership when I was just about to embark on a brand new adventure in a new leadership position. So I put the book away and focused on my new role and organization.
Over the Xmas holidays at the beginning of this year, I pulled the book out again. Enough time had gone by and I felt settled into my new role to the point that it felt right to work on the book again.
It was a worthwhile break, because I could look at the writing from a fresher perspective and wrote several drafts, incorporating lessons I have learned since early 2019 when I put the book aside and started my journey as a CEO. I showed drafts to a few people for feedback and think I have now narrowed in on a final draft (fingers crossed).
I’m looking into self-publishing options to get it into digital bookstores like Apple Books and Kindle. When I was at Vancity, I felt an internalized pressure to get the book out there and get some sales. I think I saw the book connected to my next career phase. Now, it feels a lot more like I used to feel when I made films. I worked on a film because I fell in love with a concept so much I couldn’t not make it. And then I put it out there to do whatever it was going to do. I tried to remove a lot of the pressure of the marketplace and just focus on putting out work that I liked and was proud of.
Similarly, I wrote this book because it felt really good to write it. I truly enjoyed the process of thinking through the similarities, overlaps and parallels between making films and leading people. Soon I’ll put it out there, not because I hope it’ll see like crazy (it won’t), but because I’m proud of it and want people to be able to read it. I feel fortunate that I love what I do enough that I don’t feel a lot of pressure to push it and get sales going. For me, this isn’t a commercial activity.
I’m happy to get an update out there, and hopefully soon I can put out a concrete plan for releasing my book so those of you who want to get it can read it.
I made it a goal at the beginning of the year to focus on reading more books. I used to read a lot, but over the last several years I have been distracted by articles and short reads I stumble across on social media and haven’t focused as much on a good book. I began to miss that feeling of small accomplishment I have when I finish a book.
Little did I know that 2020 would give me ample opportunity to hunker down at home and read. This year was a blend of plowing through some familiar comfort books during the pandemic as well as attempts to re-educate myself as a white man on how the world actually functions, plus some other books that felt important to check out.
If I had to pick out a couple of outstanding books, I would say: Caste by Isabel Wilkerson is one of the best books I’ve ever read and helped me rethink how our society functions around race and class mobility (or lack thereof). Ministry For The Future by Kim Stanley Robinson is a must-read and frames climate change against a narrative science-fiction structure that brings a sense of urgency that is hard to achieve in non-fiction.
I went through some phases where I couldn’t focus on reading because of how much was going on in life and society, or times when I became frustrated because I had three different books on the go and couldn’t finish any of them because I was so distracted, and then nice, long stretches when I was very focused and just couldn’t stop reading. Ah, 2020.
Plus I almost began and ended the year with a book by a Klein, which feels like a nice pair of bookends.
Here’s my list:
Why We’re Polarized – Ezra Klein
The Inconvenient Indian – Thomas King
Set The Boy Free – Johnny Marr
The Sport and Prey of Capitalists – Linda McQuaig
The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams
The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe – Douglas Adams
Life, The Universe and Everything – Douglas Adams
So Long and Thanks For All The Fish – Douglas Adams
Mostly Harmless – Douglas Adams
Kafka On The Shore – Haruki Murakami
Me and White Supremacy – Layla Saad
White Fragility – Robin DiAngelo
So You Want to Talk About Race – Ijeoma Oluo
How To Be An Anti-Racist – Ibram X. Kendi
Why Fish Don’t Exist – Lulu Miller
Policing Black Lives – Robin Maynard
Make Change – Shaun King
Caste – Isabel Wilkerson
Born A Crime – Trevor Noah
The Skin We’re In – Desmond Cole
The Martian – Andy Weir
Golden Gates – Conor Dougherty
Creativity – John Cleese
A Good War – Seth Klein
The Ministry For The Future – Kim Stanley Robinson
If any of these look good to you, enjoy! I’ll start 2021 with Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo, which I’m excited to start.
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.