10 Days to 2018 – 2018 Is Your Social Enterprise Year

I don’t need you to start one, but I want you to spend the last 10 days of 2017 exploring all the social enterprises among you, so you can spend next year supporting the movement better.

There are lots of ways to be/become a social enterprise. I went into some pretty serious detail in this month’s Renfrew-Collingwood Community News, which is itself a social enterprise of the Renfrew-Collingwood Neighbourhood House in East Vancouver.

I also write about them on my blog quite a bit.

Many people are justifiably cynical about corporations that claim to be awesome because they support various charities, yet destroy the world or people. Social entrepreneurs are sick of that too.

So the criteria matters. See my link above.

And YOUR job, if you’re not already a social enterprise, is to first support those around you. Increasingly, and again in 2019.

And along the way you’ll find ways that your organization isn’t a social enterprise, but could be. From transforming your mission, to becoming a B corp, to your hiring/promotion practices to altering your legal structure.

But you don’t need to do that all before the end of January or anything. But if you aren’t thinking about radical changes to improve your credibility as an entity, you’ll soon start being wedged out by those who do.

And then there are the millennials. They care about caring, vision, values, social consequences of action. That kind of thing. Not that previous generations didn’t, but we didn’t…at least compared to them.

Millennials are already the largest workforce cohort today and soon they’ll be over 50% of the working world. If we aren’t thinking about how to exist in a world they’ll soon transform, that’s on us. And I’ll tell you right now, I’m looking forward to a 2018 with far more of a focus on the social side of enterprise.

11 Days to 2018 – Moving From Nice Guy to Good Man

The patriarchy is taking a beating, and it’s about time. Let’s make sure 2018 is filled with more power drills and sledgehammers taking down The Grand Entitlement! I certainly will be doing so in my workshops and consulting.

In our workplaces, political environments and society as a whole, men have been reaping the benefits of a system stacked for them, for centuries. And yes, all men. Not #NotAllMen.

The recent movements started with Bill Cosby and Jian Ghomeshi being outed as sexual predators, with Ghomeshi being an open secret apparently with no one acting on it for a long time.

Then Weinstein’s open secret was called out as unacceptable. And in the middle of that President “locker room talk” inspired the January 21, 2017 global march.

Things are changing, and that’s good. It will take a while, but along the way we need to bring men along.

I’ve noticed a resurgence of #NotAllMen, with very polite objections to people painting all men with too broad a brush. Because lots of men aren’t predators, rapists, chauvinist pigs, date rapists, etc. And many men are already feminists, which is great.

But we need to move past being nice guys and into the place of being good men.

Nice guys sometimes say #NotAllMen. Nice guys haven’t ever been sexually inappropriate and respect women. Nice guys may not know, however, that they’ve benefited from pro-male systemic discrimination. And that’s not good enough.

Good men help bring down patriarchy, however, because they know that we have benefited from patriarchy forever. Some of us more than others, but most men don’t live with constant discrimination and fear like most women do.

And most men have no idea what kind of pro-male, anti-female biases have made life easier for us as working people or people just living lives in society. I don’t recall ever leveraging my maleness to get some dude to give me a job. It doesn’t have to be like that.

I don’t know–I can’t know–the extent of privileges and entitlements I’ve benefited from because I’m a man. Plus, because I’m white, straight, cis, Canadian-born, English-speaking, with university degrees, born into an upper middle-class household. You get the picture.

So all you nice guys out there who keep thinking about #NotAllMen and maybe Matt Damon has a point.

You need to level up as a good man. If you are deluded into thinking you have no male privileges, maybe you’re a devotee of bootstrapism, whatever, you need to help other good men bring down the insidious patriarchal structures that impede women. And many other identifiable groups of people have suffered under discrimination for centuries.



12 Days to 2018 – Lessons From a Huge Concept Failure

So I experienced a pretty pesky concept failure in the last year or so that has taught me a few things that I’ll be carrying with me into 2018. And it’s OK to go public with this now because I’ve been scooped by Elon Musk, and his ship has sailed and there’s no way I could catch him.

Once upon a time, I started work on a joint venture to do that magical thing: fixing 2 complementary pain points.

People own homes and buildings. Predictably, roofs need replacing eventually.

Solar electric generation costs have been screaming down to the earth at a brisk and steady pace in this century.

When people replace roofs, a bunch of folks are up there doing work. Why not take advantage of the chaos and make a lot more work by getting a solar system installed once the new roof is on.

Solar systems pay for themselves in an increasingly speedy period of time, then they generate income by spewing electrons back into the grid. That will change eventually when centralized grid transmission ceases to provide some or most residences with power…when homes go off grid and not just because they’re in the middle of nowhere.

And since the roof costs a bundle too, instead of pocketing the cash from the surplus electrons heading into the grid, building/home owners could repay themselves for the cost of the roof.

And smart public power utilities would able to help homeowners finance such huge infrastructure projects, while putting themselves out of business [creative destruction] as residences and small buildings become self-sufficient power producers. Win win.

Isn’t it pretty!

So then Elon Musk started squawking off about solar roofs. Then he bought Solar City. Now they’ve released solar roof shingles. And with a Tesla Powerwall [Tesla car itself is optional in this scenario], homes can go off grid. Period.

Thanks, dude.

Why did this fail?

  1. I didn’t really have the time or human resources infrastructure to pull this together faster than Tesla did.
  2. I didn’t know that Tesla was already working on it. No one did up until a point recently.
  3. I didn’t end up talking to enough roofers or solar wizards to find some people to solve this twin pain point issue.
  4. I wasn’t able to convince potential players that they should be on the bleeding edge of something new. Ultimately, that’s ok. If we got something off the ground initially, we would have been crushed by the Tesla solar roof, so it’s all for the best.

Lessons for 2018 and beyond?

  1. Of the 4 points above, #1 explains #3, #4 takes care of itself, #2 is beyond my scope of action.
  2. Keep looking for bleeding edge solutions to solve multiple pain points.
  3. Talk to random visionaries more.
  4. Introduce brilliant people to other brilliant people even/especially if their fields have nothing to do with each other. I have a track record of doing weird things like those people who dipped chocolate into peanut butter, which apparently is a bit of a hit. I need to build more time into making random connections. There will be more Patios for the People next year, obviously.
  5. I’ve “decided” to try to put together 2 joint ventures in 2018. Why 2? Because it’s more than one, but not too many. And I don’t have a prescribed notion of what they’ll be in. But with a goal for 2, I will be more intentional about trying to tick those boxes instead of letting purely random events guide me to the light bulb eureka aha moment.
  6. Tell all of you. I’m fine admitting the solar-roof concept now because, like I said above, I can’t catch Musk even if I tried. But I do want to alert you all to the reality that I’m looking to put together apples and dump trucks. Sea horses and Minecraft mods. Peanut butter and chocolate.

My expectation is that inspiration will continue to come from random zones of delight. And I want you all to be a part of it all.

Grab a shovel and dig in! It’s a big party; you’ll be welcome here!

And I’ll give you a hint. I’m looking at solar roadways, geothermal power generation and the ET3 and Hyperloop. Yes. I think big!

13 Days to 2018 – Your New Brain in 13 Days

We’re all pretty smart, but most of us are trapped in our paradigms.

Sometimes, someone comes at us from a random place and fills us with wisdom that speaks to us deeply, yet we’re wondering why they have such insight when they don’t know us or The Thing[s] that we do.

And eventually in life, we learn to expect this. But we don’t always seek out the atypical people to get exposed to new wisdom.

Then I saw this:

Can training the mind make us more attentive, altruistic, and serene? Can we learn to manage our disturbing emotions in an optimal way? What are the transformations that occur in the brain when we practice meditation? In a new book titled Beyond the Self, two friends—Matthieu Ricard, who left a career as a molecular biologist to become a Buddhist monk in Nepal, and Wolf Singer, a distinguished neuroscientist—engage in an unusually well-matched conversation about meditation and the brain. Below is a condensed and edited excerpt.

I’ve been delving into behavioural epigenetics lately. Having accepted the premise, I now MUST seek out new insight from very unusual suspects.

I need to be educated, schooled and mentored by people I’ve never seen before.

And this is good.

There are 13 days to 2018. The start of a year is really hectic, not like the second half of December isn’t, but unless we get moving on some new sources of inspiration, it’s hard to expect that we can reframe our whole new year when we’re STARTING the daily things OF the new year.

Thinking about brains differently, understanding just one or two new truths or hypotheses about neurodiversity, seeking a new empathy insight into people you work with or people who vex you: all these things destabilizing [no, I won’t write “disrupt”] your norm have the potential to enrich 2018 in ways you are far from expecting.

So for the next 13 days, do 4 things, in amongst everything else:

  1. Seek out something new about how brains work; the link above can do that.
  2. Try to develop at least a Wikipedia-first-paragraph understanding of neurotypical and neurodiversity. Just knowing those terms opens up massive potential new lenses to view the people around you.
  3. Think of someone you work with who you’re not particularly close to. Write a list of 3 things you know of them or how they work. Pick one to use for a deep empathy dive. Ask this, “What are a few credible explanations for one of the things on the list?”
  4. Think of someone who vexes you. Do #3. This is harder. And in the process, get all metacognitive: examine your experience trying this. The wisdom you get from the second part may be more profound that then first part.

I know you are dug in to work, life, family, friends, broader vocation, hopes of giving back to your communities. But I want you to give your brain/mind/whatever a chance to be surprised next year.

But don’t waste these 13 days.

14 Days Until 2018 – Ending Fossil Fuels Before We Die

Once upon a time, we had the Beverly Hillbillies, who became rich from oil on their land and moved to Beverly. Hijinks ensued. But we’re there now, in BC, in real life.

People still pushing fossil fuel development, particularly oil, gas and coal in BC, are increasingly sounding like the Beverly Hillbillies to me.

Solar, tidal, wind, geothermal, solar roadways, ETs, Hyperloop, solar roofs, Tesla Powerwalls, hybrid and electric cars, etc.: why are we still talking about fossil fuels and unnecessary dams like the Site C that exacerbate international relations with First Nations communities and flood farmland, all to power more fossil fuel development.

Solar now is cheaper than the price of the future energy required to pay off the Site C dam. What grid customers around North America will pay enough for those expensive Site C electrons so that BC taxpayers aren’t subsidizing the fossil fuel companies even more to produce energy from sources we don’t want anymore.

It’s ludicrous!

Solar energy will continue to drop in price, as will other green energy platforms, especially ones that won’t need a transmission grid like Site C.

As we move forward into 2018, I no longer hope to see fossil fuels end before I die. I want them gone now. Or 12 years, at the latest.

And anyone who keeps pushing them is missing out on the reality of capitalism and divestment. Large investors are already divesting from fossil fuels. The later anyone divests or transitions, the costlier it will be for them and their constituents. That’s us.

2018 is my year to dig in to energy liberation: from foolish political megaproject stunts, to lying politicians, to politicians trying to fool us with bad math, to any group that doesn’t see the future is in transitioning infrastructure, workers and systems onto sustainable energy that isn’t tethered to the grid.

I’m not waiting for January 1. I’m already ramping up my capacity to do what only mega-corporations could do in the past: generate lots of energy, but in a way that liberates people from being energy hostages of fossil fuel companies or their compliant governments.

When the people lead, the leaders will follow. Or else.

Join me. It’s time!

15 Days Until 2018 – Why Stones Are Heavy

Sometimes, when people talk about rocks and stones, I flip back to Frozen, where a bunch of stones rolled around and sang. They sang about how people need work. We’re not complete. We’re in progress. And that’s OK. 2018 is a time to get some momentum, but that doesn’t have to wait until January 1.

A few days ago, Vancouver’s Kaare Long tweeted the rich simplicity of Amelia Earhart:

It’s only our perception that deludes us into thinking we’re stuck, like a rock that can’t roll.

We can all roll. But we need to blow away the fog, or unstick ourselves from the muskeg of self-doubt, shame or self-attack. And we need a trigger.

When I started the Health and Wellness for Teachers workshop, I didn’t expect, for instance, a pressing need to spin it off into another Health and Wellness for Male Feminist Teachers workshop [title still to be streamlined, perhaps]. The eruptions in our world against male and white supremacy threaten to overturn the order we have known. That very entitled order. I welcome this. But there’s so much heavy lifting.

As we confront well-meaning men who push the empty #NotAllMen “defense” against demands for equality and justice, we need to find or create safe spaces for men to rebuild ourselves in positive images, not predatory or superior ones.

2018 means I’m ramping up the value of both Teachers workshops. But I didn’t wait for 2018 to begin to help many more teachers and male feminist teachers to create a world of real equality and liberation from all of our gender prisons.

Aren’t we all fixer uppers?

And you don’t have to figure out how to become a rolling stone 15 days from now. You can make a lot of progress in the next 15 days.

Stones are heavy. That makes them useful for being weighty, in place, for stability, so much can grow from a firm place.

Stones are heavy. When they move, they are mighty. They gain momentum and crash through old systems that need smashing.

And when the stones say we’re all fixer uppers, we need to listen to them.

And if you know any teachers and professors who need help with health and wellness and precarious work, send them to the link above. There is space for growth.

And we’re all a part of it!

16 Days Until 2018 – 1. Run Away; 2. Join Circus

It just made sense to take the kids to see Cirque du Soleil last night.

While today’s countdown to 2018 post won’t include an explanation about why I’m running away to join the circus next year, please do keep that sentiment in mind as we think about how we want to start next year.

It’s not true that organizations never hire process consultants when things are going well, because they do. But consultants are often at the front of leaders’ minds when there’s a crisis. Or one beginning to erupt.

Toxic personalities have an uncanny ability to freeze people. Leaders can ponder too long to avoid acting too fast, but then toxic behaviour can entrench.

By the time we reach adulthood we generally embrace a kind of social maturity where people treat each other with respect.


The #MeToo movement, harrowing conversations about consent and rape and patriarchy, and #BlackLivesMatter are but a few examples of how “generally” can be a word to keep us all complacent, reminding those with privilege that things aren’t truly decaying right before our eyes.

But they are.

And it happens at work too. Corporations, government, non-profits, co-ops…it doesn’t matter. Where there are people, there will be anti-social personalities. Sexual predators who are experts at spotting and victimizing the vulnerable, and bullies whose power in adolescence continues to inspire them to, again, victimize the vulnerable. And, of course, others.

It does make us want to run away to join the circus.

But when organizations have crises and if leaders and people freeze and manifest inaction, someone needs to step up.

But we can’t live in the delusion. We can’t live in the mood where you’re going to pack your bag tonight to stow away on the circus train that leaves in the morning.

But instead of forever living in the toxic zone of teenage bullying and predatory behaviour, we need to embrace a different kind of childhood wonder. Like at the #Kurios.

The Band

Last night, the band was tight and soothing, and in sync with the rest of the cast. And sure, there is tension in a circus, what with superhumans defying gravity, with wires tethering them to the top of the tent. But there is tension at work as well. And we need a soundtrack, a backing band that creates a tone of stability DESPITE the ups and downs of tension. Our job in organizations is to ensure that people feel safe.

We sat very near the Cirque du Soleil superhighway last night. It was the one pole that everyone used when they were going to work at the top of the tent, or going up there or coming down. The crew and the anti-gravity personnel. Every single one of them walked to the bottom of the latter, attached their tether and ascended. Coming down everyone one touched the ground and transferred their tether to the pole.

When you have a safety net or a tether, you are free to risk more. I would often look up and see the crew in black at the top of the tent assembling a variety of gear and assisting the anti-gravity folks as they reached the sky or descended from it. Knowing you will not die when at work, allows for far more responsible risk-taking. Without a tether, the #1 thing on your mind is “don’t fall” [and do whatever work you can, but really, just…don’t…fall.]

Our job is to make work safe, with bedrock layers of stability. Toxic people are an existential threat to that. And in the circus, EVERYone works together so everyone is safe and soars. Often literally.

Don’t we deserve that too?

Lifting Each Other Up

We need to lift each other up.

Toxic people at work do their best to weaken others, often for their own enjoyment or to soothe their own personal weaknesses.

We cannot do great things alone. Our support networks and concentric circles of guidance and wisdom are always there, on the surface or buried in our souls.

At Kurios last night, we saw mutual interdependence dozens of times every minute. They are incapable of defeating gravity and normal human limitations without each other.

In our workplaces, we need to provide opportunities to lift each other up. Constantly We need to expect it of others and provide it ourselves.

And those of us in charge are responsible for ensuring not only the stability of the band, but the interdependence of the players. I don’t want to go into weakest link cliches but they’re real. And we all see them.

16 Days to 2018

So now you have 16 days to learn from Kurious.

We need to assess how strong is our base and how tight are our relationships. You can try to do this on January 2, but I think you should start thinking about that now.

And consultants, while knowing they’re often hired in crises, also know that they don’t get hired much in December.

But I want to challenge you to use this last week before everything becomes like a dotted line between Christmas and New Year’s. If you know your organization needs a tune up, make that decision and commitment now. Even to begin talking about a new direction with less toxicity and more stability.

We all know the first couple weeks back after the holidays are profoundly busy and scattering. It could be the end of January before you get around to addressing something you can do this week.

Be intentional, don’t be reactive.

Do you see what’s in that bell jar below?

It’s your future. It’s what 2018 wants to be.

You don’t have to run away to join the circus, but you can bring the intensity and rewards of the circus to where you work.

Pack your bag. You have 16 days left.


17 Days Until 2018 – Prioritizing Our People

Our people enrich us.

They’re our family or chosen family. Our work colleagues, or schemers and dreamers and calibrators and the precious folks who give us the WTF when we need a tune-up.

They inhabit the concentric circles of intimacies. We’re constantly entrenching our relationships with all of them. Either intentionally–I hope!–or inadvertently. I’m always a big fan of intentionality.

And we’re often promoting worthy people to a more inner circle and sometimes demoting people to an outer circle.

And we have mortal coils that join us to each of them. They are rich umbilicals that are thick or thin or frayed or metallic or glass, transparent or “complicated,” well-anchored on each end or not.

And these tethers keep us grounded, but can also fling us up into the air like a blanket toss, fearlessly because we’re still tethered to our people.

2018 approaching should be a time to draw out your concentric circles. Doing it over the next 17 days will help you take stock of all the people you’ve brought with you, who needs a promotion and who may need to step back a bit for your own mental/emotional health. You’ll know. And you can bring your circle drawing to everyone in your inner circle to get the wisdom and feedback that got them there in the first place.

Starting 2018 with intentionality means ensuring that we are getting all we need from our people, but reciprocally, it means making sure we are living up to all the ways we can be healing our people. These are the principles embedded in all the work that I do: organizational design and stakeholder engagement, Path Consulting, Health and Wellness for Teachers. There’s no room to do any of this without all these umbilicals in place.

Our goal isn’t to bring everyone into the first concentric circle. And we shouldn’t try to be in everyone else’s first circle. It’s not practical or wise.

But in our intimate relationships, our friendships, our colleagues, our co-conspirators, our workmates and schemers and dreamers: we can’t afford to take anyone for granted.

As we learn in this amazing Hands Free Mama piece:

I never had a trampoline growing up. I never had a summer trampoline sleepover. But that image is golden. It reminds us that the scope of connection available to us, is much broader than we often think.

For these 17 days left in 2017, please draw your concentric circles. They will help you cherish those you cannot lose, heal those who are too easily neglected, and pivot to the new year with a new vigor to enrich all you do because you have put your people first.

2018 will be so much richer for us all!

You don't have to be alone on your journey!

18 Days Until 2018 – Not Really Closing the Books

There are some nights, it’s like being in a cabin in the woods. Lots of snow, fireplace, and when you open the door there’s the silence and peace except for the sound of each snowflake landing on the already soft, white ground.
Almost imperceptible, but more certain when you close your eyes.
It’s in moments like this when we get the visions.
We are gifted with clarity.
We see that sometimes, tomorrow is just a blur from today. It’s not a distinct new day, but a continuation of today with just a different digit in the date.
Moving into 2018 shouldn’t be a beginning, or an end of this current year.

Not to rant against New Year’s Resolutions, but in my life now I’m feeling how important it is to note the continuity we carry with ourselves.
In 18 days we’ll be in a new year, but the progress we’ve made this year should merely keep flowing on January 1.
We don’t need to expect some grand change that by January 3, we feel the malaise of nothing PROFOUNDLY NEW engulfing us.
So join me in my slow snowy stroll into the new year.
I’m not ending a chapter or closing the books. I’m a going concern. So are you, and your paid work, and your vocation, and your volunteering and community involved, and your family [by blood and choice] and friends, and hopes and plans, and your awesome organization, non-profit, company or Grand Scheme, and your grander imaginings of far-away greatness that is really far less hypothetical than you think.

Over the next 18 days I’m going to be talking about how to stroll into the new year. With a strong light to guide the path.

And how my Path Consulting will manifest in the new year.
And my increasing obsession with geothermal energy. 🙂
And my Health and Wellness for Teachers workshops that have spawned the Health and Wellness for Male Feminist Teachers workshop, because…well, you’ve been paying attention too.
And the million metres I’m running before 2020, because Terry Fox.
And my work with social enterprises.
Sometimes, New Year’s Eve feels like an imminent car crash. A crash that doesn’t happen. We’re just waiting for it.
And that’s a distraction.

Don’t get caught up in all that.

Elsewhere I’ve written, “You’re walking across stones through a stream. The fog rolls in and it’s hard to see the Path. I’m here to help you continue. We blow away the fog, together.”

Let’s stroll into 2018 with focus and intentionality, as free of distraction and inflated expectations as we can, so we can notice those around us who need to lean on us. Because they’re out there. And you and I have lots to give.

Going Paperless, But Keeping “Paper”?

Chelsea’s sugar sheet swatchbook!

I’ve been so eager to go paperless for so long. I love books and BC’s value-added wood products, and toilet paper is pretty useful, but being a granola-eating tree-hugger means I’d love to keep the forests thick and wild.

And I recycle paper like a maniac. I’m NOT obsessive, but I really dig in.

But when I do need to print something–which is rare–I will use paper.

But not anymore. We are paperless now, but we are still using “paper.”

Here’s how.

It all started at a Sustainable Vancouver Meetup event in June. Its title was “How a family business puts sustainability front and centre.”

Minto Roy and Chelsea Gieschen came from Royal City Printers in New Westminster to talk about how as a multi-generational family printing company, they’ve…moved off of trees.

Instead, they use paper made from sugar cane. Sugar cane, yes, and actually what’s discarded when sugar is processed. I love it.

So I cruised by Royal Printers to pick up a box of printer paper, thereby saving half a tree. Did I mention that I love trees?

There is a sugar sheet swatchbook is available, for you to get a sense that there is a variety of paper stock available.

I’m going to put this in the category of “literally the least we can do” to start or continue making a difference with our environmental footprint.

So stop buying paper!

You’ll feel so good.