Thursday, November 6, 2008


I'm breaking a personal rule and telling a story now of what I've done over the past few days. Just because I can. In the past 72 hours (or at least, the 72 hours before I began writing this post) I've done more than a small country does in its entire life.

Alright that's an exaggeration, I've just done a lot for me. Let's see if I can't recount it quickly.

Tuesday: Awoke at 6:30 AM, showered, shaved, mad dashed, and missed the #10 bus downtown. Hopped the #55 with Melissa and had a touch of conversation on the way toward the University in a ridiculously packed bus (seriously, it was the most I've ever seen). Upon arrival at campus I disembarked down the Gordon hill and toward the River Run center. Absolutely gorgeous morning. Showed up just in time for the 'Moving Business Forward' conference to start.

5 speakers attended the conference: Mac Voisin, founder of M&M Meat Shops; Georgina Steinsky-Schwartz, a non-profit sector expert and President/CEO of Imagine Canada; Gerry Fedchun, President and a director of the Automotie Parts Manufacturers' Association; Pamela Wallin, O.C., Chancellor of the University of Guelph and former Consul General in New York; and Frank O'Dea, once a homeless alcoholic, now cofounder of Second Cup and founder of multiple philanthropic organizations.

My apologies to Georgina and Gerry, but their talks were not illuminating to the same degree as the others - in fact I believe that they may have been prepared for entirely different audiences and not modified at all for this event. I will not dwell on them - suffice to say that they covered (in depth) the statistics surrounding the nonprofit industry and the automotive industry.

Mac gave an awesome talk. It took the audience from the founding of M&M as a single store in Kitchener on a 28 year journey all the way up to 470+ stores and an ongoing expansion into the US market at present. Mac shared the core philosophies and strategies that made M&M a success; ideas like promoting service above pretty much all else, persisting absolutely, and optimism. He delivered with gusto and knew what he was on about. Absolutely fantastic.

Pamela's talk was stirring and thoughtful. It kept everyone engaged and interested and was absolutely inspiring. Can I remember what she was saying? Not really! But that doesn't matter for some reason. I can remember a story she told about a woman in New York, about the way that you can't plan things, and her advice, "Do Your Homework", which became a theme of the day. She noted that she meant it in more than the most obvious way.

Frank's talk was unbelievably long. I am a kindred soul with the man in that we both talk an incredible amount when given the opportunity. His stories were long and winding but well told; and inspiring to boot. He took us from the streets of Toronto to political campaign offices, to the first Second Cup, to Law Offices, to a Jesuit Retreat, to the beaches of Florida, to Africa - all over the world and always learning things and bringing lessons back. He told a remarkable story and drove home the message that one person can absolutely change the world.

The day was wonderful, and I enjoyed the talk immensely. Afterward, I went to catch the buses but just missed them, and so walked back to the University. I got to LoCIS and had just enough time to help an exec with an email sent to the Chair of the Department and clean up the horrific mess the roo was in, before I had to jog off with Robyn. He went to the CPES meeting that I missed, because I boarded a bus at 5:30 PM to go to Guelph Humber for Senate, that's in Toronto. We had a great Senate meeting (by which I mean relatively short) and got home for 10:00 PM. Then it was catch a bus home, hear that Obama won, and conk out due to exhaustion.

Next morning was pack and organize and clean because ... surgery! I finally had my toe fixed (I hope it's really fixed, *knock on wood*) and had to go under a general anesthetic for it because I'm allergic to topical ones. So prepared, went, waited a very long time there for it to actually happen but at last it did, and I've been recovering ever since.

It is with that recovery time that I have done such things as open blogs and help re-organize my life.

... A blessing in disguise? - I just hope I never have to have my toe fixed again!

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