AMAZON EFFECT: MYTH OR REALITY?
VICTORIAâ€™S BIG HOCKEY SCORE
A CASE STUDY IN BUSINESS CRISIS
CHANGING THE WAY WE LEAD IAN CHISHOLM REDEFINES LEADERSHIP
MAYORS IN THE HOT SEAT LISA HELPS AND FRED HAYNES TACKLE TOUGH QUESTIONS
Ian Chisholm, president, Roy Group
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CONTENTS FEATURES 32
These innovators are pushing boundaries in their fields — and creating world-changing results. BY SUSAN HOLLIS
Mayors in the Spotlight Douglas puts big questions to Victoria mayor Lisa Helps and Saanich mayor Fred Haynes. BY DAVID LENNAM
The Amazon Effect What do big online retailers mean for our local bricks-and-mortar businesses? The answer may surprise you. BY KEITH NORBURY
Coming Through Crisis A diagnosis of brain cancer forces a local business owner to face frightening questions, including how to keep the company alive as he fights for his life. BY JIM BEATTY
DEPARTMENTS 8 FROM THE EDITOR 11 IN THE KNOW Living cartoons, playing cards with a purpose, the success of Island Good, local tech news, and where business happens.
18 IN CONVERSATION Social innovator and business yoda Ian Chisholm is shaping this city’s promising leaders into worldclass mentors. BY ALEX VAN TOL
26 BIG IDEA The Capital Region is hungry for hockey — and sports tourism means big business. BY BILL CURRIE
62 LAST PAGE Scientist Kurtis Baute takes a stand on climate change. BY SUSAN HOLLIS
INTEL (BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE) 56 ENTREPRENEUR The power of #MeToo. BY ERIN SKILLEN 57 BREAKTHROUGH Is Agile dead? BY ALEX VAN TOL
59 GROWTH In this tight hiring market, it’s time for employers to rethink everything. BY CLEMENS RETTICH
“With the help of investors, I was able to expand my business.”
READY TO SELL YOUR BUSINESS? We are buying and investing in local businesses in BC. Contact us to start the conversation. Call or email to learn more
JEFFREY BOSDET/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
FROM THE EDITOR
Here’s to Independent Spirit
I’VE SPENT MOST OF MY CAREER writing or editing CELEBRATING magazines. I love everything about this industry and I have the great fortune to work for a publishing company that has created a rare culture of creativity and integrity, with an artisan-like focus on quality and a philosophy that values independent editorial. This kind of culture is exceedingly rare — and it doesn’t happen by accident. As organizational expert (and this month’s cover personality) Ian Chisholm says, “The way you choose to conduct yourself creates an atmosphere inside others. That’s what leadership has always been and what it will always be.” I want to shine a spotlight on two entrepreneurs who are great examples of what Ian is talking about — Douglas magazine’s publishers Lise Gyorkos and Georgina Camilleri. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Page One Publishing, the company they founded and grew into a media success story. Today, Page One is the publisher behind three of our region’s best-read magazines: Douglas, YAM and our newest magazine, Spruce, and a host of custom publications, including Victoria’s Vital Signs. It’s never been easy to succeed in the publishing industry, especially in the age of digital disruption, but Georgina and Lise have proven that magazines could not only survive — they could thrive — if you remained agile, were willing to take risks and respected your readers and advertisers by refusing to compromise on quality. After years of dire predictions, the magazine industry has not died. Instead, it underwent a massive renaissance, largely driven by independents like Page One. And I think it’s due to that independence that Page One never lost its entrepreneurial spirit or its spirited culture of people. I think that spirit comes through in every issue of Douglas or YAM or Spruce, magazines developed by people who are dedicated to creating the best possible experience for our readers and the best value for the advertisers who support our publications. Going back to what Ian said, that’s the atmosphere Lise and Georgina have inspired. I have no doubt that at this point Lise and Georgia would want me to stop singing their praises and instead return to doing something they’ve been passionate about since day one — shining the spotlight on the people, businesses and community who inspire great content. So Happy Anniversary to Lise and Georgina and Page One, and here’s to many more stories and years of success.
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This kind of culture is exceedingly rare — and it doesn’t happen by accident.
— Kerry Slavens firstname.lastname@example.org
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www.douglasmagazine.com VOLUME 13 NUMBER 1
We believe the ultimate measure of our performance is our client’s success. It has guided our approach for over 30 years.
PUBLISHERS Lise Gyorkos, Georgina Camilleri
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Kerry Slavens
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY Jeffrey Bosdet
PRODUCTION MANAGER Jennifer Kühtz
SALES AND MARKETING MANAGER Amanda Wilson
LEAD GRAPHIC DESIGNER Jo-Ann Loro DEPUTY EDITOR Athena McKenzie STAFF WRITER Susan Hollis
ASSOCIATE GRAPHIC DESIGNER Janice Hildybrant
PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Belle White
ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVES Deana Brown, Sharon Davies, Cynthia Hanischuk CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Jim Beatty, Bill Currie, David Lennam, Keith Norbury, Clemens Rettich, Erin Skillen, Alex Van Tol CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Jeffrey Bosdet, Derek Ford, Jo-Ann Loro, James MacDonald
Ian Clark, CFP 250-405-2928 iandavidclark.ca
Joseph Alkana, CIM, FCSI 250-405-2960 josephalkana.com
Steve Bokor, CFA 250-405-2930 stevebokor.com
PROOFREADER Renée Layberry
CONTRIBUTING AGENCIES Thinkstock p. 13, 44, 56; Alamy p. 48
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INNOVATION | DESIGN | BUSINESS | STYLE | PEOPLE
[IN THE KNOW ] INNOVATION BEYOND WORDS
JEFFREY BOSDET/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
If Wonderheads had an elevator pitch, it might describe the local theatrical production company as “live-action Pixar or a living cartoon,” says co-founding artistic director Andrew Phoenix. Wonderheads’ wordless theatrical productions are performed in full-face masks to allow the shows to use a childlike lens to explore deeper, darker
themes, such as in their original production Grim & Fisher, which takes on death. “People are surprised that they go on an emotional journey; there’s magic in the masks,” says Wonderheads’ other co-founding artistic director Kate Braidwood, who spends 50 to 80 hours making each mask.
THEMED PLAYING CARDS
ALL HANDS ON DECK
A fun, simple way to learn the essentials of graphic design
WHETHER YOU’RE PLAYING POKER OR DOING CARD TRICKS, THERE’S A LESSON IN BEN BARRETT-FORREST’S CARD DECKS.
A typography textbook crammed into a casinoquality deck of cards
A deck of playing cards about the wide world of weed
BY SUSAN HOLLIS
[ HERE + HAPPENING ]
hat if you could learn about cannabis or typography while playing a game of rummy? And I mean real, coffee-table rummy — not the online version. Victoria entrepreneur Ben BarrettForrest creates playing-card decks that do just that. Each of his decks is illustrated with custom suits to match the deck’s topic, and each card conveys a simply stated, wellresearched fact. His latest, the Weed Deck, covers the more critical aspects of cannabis. “It’s not endorsing smoking weed, it’s not demonizing it,” he says. “It’s just presenting useful, scientifically backed facts about cannabis and its effects.” Previous decks include the Design Deck, a carefully curated history of graphic design, and the Font Deck, a detailed look at the evolution of typography. The Design Deck launched after Barrett-Forrest was encouraged by a professor to start a Kickstarter account to raise funds to get the deck printed and distributed
professionally. He raised $26,615 over his $600 goal, allowing him to have the cards printed by the United States Playing Card Company, producers of the world’s most recognizable playing cards (think Bicycle). “There seems to be an amazing appetite for graphic design and typographical information,” says Barrett-Forrest, a former Globe and Mail art director. “It’s just so hot on the Internet right now. I think people realize graphic design is part of everything — it’s a useful skill.” Barret-Forrest followed the Design Deck’s success with the Font Deck in 2017. Then, inspired by months of headlines and contradictory information around cannabis, he created the Weed Deck. Illustrated by Celia Krampien, the deck covers everything from chemistry to mental effects to strains, edibles and oils, and involved hundreds of hours spent researching academic and scientific papers about cannabis. “There’s something about having 52 cards with fewer than
five sentences on each card about just the important topics,” says Barrett-Forrest, “and the promise that everything you read on each card is relevant and important.” With his Design Deck and Font Deck selling in 90 countries, and the Weed Deck just released, one has to wonder what Barrett-Forrest will think of next. But if he knows, he’s keeping his cards close to his chest.
Ben BarrettForrest has sold more than
card decks in 90 countries since 2014.
[ A WINNING PLAY ]
[ DRIVE TO SUCCEED ]
[ SIZE ISN’T EVERYTHING ]
SendtoNews (STN) is now the top digital video platform in sports, above outlets like ESPN, CBS Sports, Yahoo and Fox. The release of August’s U.S. Comscore rankings has the digital sports platform listed as #1 in unique viewers and total video views for the first time in the Victoria company’s history.
Following its mainland route expansion in the wake of Greyhound’s demise, Wilson’s Transportation is expanding again by acquiring Tofino Bus and its 40-vehicle fleet. Founder Dylan Green will stay on with Tofino Bus on a one-year contract. All 41 employees are expected to remain.
Despite being a small gaming studio faced with some of the industry’s biggest players, Cloudhead Games of Qualicum Beach took home the coveted VR Game of the Year Award 2018 for The Gallery: Episode 2: Heart of the Emberstone. The award was presented at the VR Awards ceremony in London, U.K. in October.
HOW THEY DID IT INNOVATE
BUSINESS IMPACT WHAT BUSINESS NEEDS TO KNOW
U-BICYCLE UPS ITS GAME CHALLENGE Create a service to improve city living through eco-friendly transportation options that are convenient and affordable.
SOLUTION A year and a half after piloting the nowubiquitous green U-bicycle in Victoria, the Vancouver-based company has expanded to eight cities, including its first out-of-province location in Calgary. U-bicycle now boasts 20,000 users and counting, plus more than 60,000 trips logged by the GPS units built into the bikes. U-bicycle executives say they’ve lost 10 per cent of their fleet to theft and damage in their pilot city of Victoria, and the frequency of bikes being left far outside the downtown core has led to a change in the company’s return systems. Whereas users could previously leave the bikes wherever they wanted, they must now return them to virtual docking stations scattered throughout downtown. “We want to prevent the bikes from cluttering the city, and we’ve had some feedback from users that sometimes they just can’t find a bike nearby,” says Robert Tanra, head of business development. “That’s why we made the decision to implement the docking station — to ensure availability.” U-bicycle is also partnering with car share company Modo to provide multi-modal transportation, expanding options for those who both drive and ride. Victoria property management company Devon Properties has also partnered with the company, to offer U-bicycle memberships to employees and tenants at a discounted rate.
Like it or not, registration begins for the B.C. Employer Health Tax on January 7, 2019. Eligible employers must register by May 15 and pay the first instalment by June 15.
B.C.’s Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claire Trevena will talk roads, transit and green initiatives at the Chamber Luncheon on January 30. victoriachamber.ca
Vancouver Island Economic Alliance (VIEA) teams with Advanced Business Match (ABM) for the first VIEA Business Match (March 11 to 13) at the Victoria Conference Centre. Delegates bring solid business opportunities for partnership, investment, goods or services. The ABM system then identifies their interests and matches them with solution providers. viea.ca
GLOBAL TO LOCAL INTERNATIONAL SOFTWARE COMPANY DAITAN CHOOSES VICTORIA FOR EXPANSION When the head of international software firm Daitan Group was scouting for a locale for the company’s first Canadian location, he first set his sights on Vancouver. But a chance trip to B.C.’s capital led him to choose downtown Victoria instead. With 11 mostly millennial employees settling into the new digs, Daitan’s Brazilian owner and co-founder Augusto Cavalcanti says Victoria had the right balance of environment, lifestyle and location for his company’s product and ethos. “I wanted some closeness to the Silicon Valley, where most of our customers are,” he says, “and I wanted somewhere that we could visit customers easily, in the same time zone, and it’s just a couple hours’ flight.” Cavalcanti knew Victoria was the right location as soon as he landed in the downtown core. “We’re all about long-term partnership — with our customers, our employees, the community,” he says, “and we really, really liked the community, so we thought it would be the best place for us.” He credits the South Island Prosperity Project for helping his team — which he hopes to eventually expand to about 100 employees — to settle in and source everybody from accountants to office managers to wellbeing practitioners. Headquartered in San Ramon, California, Daitan provides software product development, maintenance and quality assurance services to leading global tech companies. They also have offices in Chicago, Illinois and Campinos, Brazil.
ISLAND GOOD’S GREAT RESULTS When the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance (VIEA) piloted Island Good in spring 2018, they were betting that labelling and promoting Island-made foods and beverages at four participating grocery chains — Country Grocer, 49th Parallel Grocery, Quality Foods and Thrifty Foods — would boost sales. They were right. Here are the results:
16% Hothouse Marketing designed an Island Good label to help consumers easily identify Island products; and a PR campaign began.
Average sales increased 16.4% during a 6-month pilot. New stakeholders, from growers to grocers, are clamouring to come on board.
Based on the pilot’s success, VIEA has opened up Island Good licensing to new business participants. Visit viea.ca.
SOURCE: MANPOWERGROUP, 2018
REAL ESTATE KNOWLEDGE IS POWER Chronicling investment and development activity in Greater Victoria.
“S.O.U.P. is a collaboratively rich space with a casual vibe that is open to absolutely everyone. It’s having fun, helping each other and engaging.”
WHERE BUSINESS HAPPENS
— SID GUPTA, MANAGER, SUSTAINABLE OPPORTUNITY UNITING PEOPLE (S.O.U.P.) COWORK
S.O.U.P. nurtures collaborative coworking in Nanaimo
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IT’S HAPPENING With a central Nanaimo locale and hip design, S.O.U.P. is a vibrant hub for entrepreneurs seeking dedicated desks or hot desks, and businesses who want space, but not too much. There’s a boardroom, kitchen and virtual office services too.
IT’S AN ECOSYSTEM S.O.U.P. is managed by the Vancouver Island Organizing Committee (VIOC) as an ecosystem with entrepreneur resources and access to industry experts such as executivein-residence Peter Lange and success coach Sharon Kelly.
IT’S DIVERSE Home to businesses like East Side Games and iDUS Controls and nonprofits like the Better Together Seniors Connect and BC First Nations Forestry Council, S.O.U.P. is more than a hub for enterprise — it’s a touchpoint for community.
IDEAS TO ACTION
Dustin Miller, Managing Broker 8X Ventures Inc.
LOCAL TECH HITS NEW HIGH
TECH IS GROWING
The tech sector has a total economic impact of $5.22 billion and 16,775 employees, according to VIATEC’s recent “Economic Impact Study of the Technology Sector in Greater Victoria.” The study, which surveyed local technology companies through independent researcher Alan Chaffe (senior economics lecturer at the University of Victoria), shows a growth of 30 per cent since the last study was released in 2013.
NUMBER OF TECH FIRMS IN REGION
NUMBER OF TECH EMPLOYEES IN REGION
ANNUAL $5.22 TOTAL ECONOMIC IMPACT BILLION ON THE REGION SOURCE: ECONOMIC IMPACT OF THE TECHNOLOGY SECTOR IN GREATER VICTORIA, VIATEC, 2018
HOW TO REALLY STOP PROCRASTINATING “FOR MOST PEOPLE, PROCRASTINATION IS NOT A SIGN OF LAZINESS,” SAYS KAREN LUNIW, A TOP 10 ITUNES PODCASTER AND FOUNDER OF NOLIMITSBUSINESSWOMAN.COM. THAT’S THE GOOD NEWS. SO HOW DO WE STOP?
ALL KINDS OF REASONS So-called procrastination usually breaks down into four categories: 1) deadline driven 2) incomplete setup (not enough info or help) 3) boring/difficult task 4) fear-based Each of these is specific to the task at hand, so every time you find yourself procrastinating, the reason may be different.
WHAT KIND OF PROCRASTINATION IS IT?
Of the types mentioned above, two aren’t actually procrastination: deadline driven and incomplete setup. When dealing with these, it’s important to honour the way you work — or consider that it may not be time for that particular task.
LISTEN TO NIKE But let’s say you are procrastinating because a task is boring or difficult. In that case,
realize that you may never be in the mood for it, so Just Do It. Devote a specific amount of time to the task and make it happen. There are many apps out there to help. Try Procraster!
WHAT SCARES YOU? We get confused when what we really want is on the other side of action we’re not taking. So why don’t we take action? Some of our reasons could be fear of failure, fear of success or fear of looking foolish. Identify your fear and eliminate the belief behind it.
DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP Being hard on yourself drains your personal resources, which only limits the energy and shortens the time you have to get things done. Identify the type of procrastination you’re involved in and put a plan in place. You’ll feel better and more in control.
DOUGLAS READS On his Bulletproof Radio podcast, Dave Asprey ends each expert interview with this question: “What are your top three recommendations for people who want to kick more ass?” His new book, Game Changers, compiles this wisdom, breaking down the advice into three main categories: body, mind and spirit. Consider it a playbook for not only how to become more successful, but also how to be happier and healthier.
DESIGN | BUILD
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PROVIDING OCULOPLASTIC COSMETIC & AESTHETIC TREATMENTS SINCE 2000
CRAVE A FEW MOMENTS of solitude in your work day? Haven — an inflatable pod that creates a private space — could be the answer. “Haven is a creative, contemplative or restful space,” says Holly Hofmann, producer at Tangible Interaction, a multidisciplinary studio in Vancouver that creates sensory installations where participation is key. Along with quiet time, studios and companies can use Haven for small meetings or a place for employees “to recharge” — office speak for nap.
Ecostar award winner Dockside Physiotherapy is a certified Vancouver Island Green Business.
2018 ECOSTAR AWARD WINNERS
JEFFREY BOSDET/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
Restaurateurs, tourism operators and tech firms were among the businesses recognized at the 2018 Vancouver Island EcoStar Awards on November 22 at Delta’s Ocean Pointe Resort. “We keep getting more and more applicants every year,” says Jill Doucette of the Synergy Sustainability Institute, which has hosted the awards for four years. “We’re seeing more creativity, ideas and collaboration, so the interest keeps growing.”
Welcome to Victoria YOU HAVE ARRIVED Make the Business Hub at City Hall your first stop!
THE 2018 AWARD WINNERS ARE: AWARD
Oughtred Coffee & Tea
Leadership in Design & Construction
Western Interior Design Group Ltd.
Big Wheel Burger
The Root Cellar Village Green Grocer
Ecological Stewardship (Business)
Lodging & Accommodation
Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort
Ecological Stewardship (Non-Profit)
Municipal Natural Assets Initiative
Victoria Soda Works
Eco-Preneur of the Year
Paula & Nairn McPhee, Zero Waste Emporium
Georgia Strait Alliance
Victoria Butterfly Gardens
Cowichan Green Community
Empire Hydrogen Energy Systems
Pizzeria Prima Strada
Cowichan Bio-Diesel Co-op
Level 10 Eurospa
Waste to Resource
Tire Stewardship BC
Crystal Cove Beach Resort
MERRIDALE IN THE CITY
PHOTOS: MICHAEL MOODY
If you are an entrepreneur or investor looking to do business in Victoria, we will connect you with the resources and information you need to open your business quickly. If you’re thinking cider when you think of Merridale’s new location in Dockside Green in Victoria, think again. The planned four-storey brewhouse and distillery complex will focus on grain-based products. “The concept is going to be Merridale in the city to go with Merridale at the farm,” says Janet Docherty, president of Merridale Cidery and Distillery. “We’re going to brew beer onsite for people to drink there or take home in growlers. We won’t be packaging for sale elsewhere.” Merridale’s distillery will focus on whiskey and gin and vodka while fruit-based products will continue to be made at the farm.
Dockside Green’s philosophy of sustainable planning is what drew Merridale to the new location at 356 Harbour Road. Plans also include a fullservice kitchen, plus a taproom and retail space. Everything will be done to LEED certification. Docherty, who sits on the board of Destination Greater Victoria, says she has witnessed “huge growth” in the food and culinary appeal of the city. “The idea was to build it for the people of the area, which is becoming much higher density, and encouraging bike riding,” Doherty says. “But it’s also going to be a tourist attraction, catering to those interested in the food and culinary scene.”
Open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 1 Centennial Square, Victoria 250.361.0629 email@example.com victoria.ca/bizhub DOUGLAS 17
IN CONVERSATION WITH IAN CHISHOLM, PRESIDENT AND FOUNDING PARTNER, ROY GROUP
WHY THE WORLD NEEDS MORE
SMALL GIANTS With his crack team of advisors at Roy Group, social innovator and business yoda Ian Chisholm is shaping this city’s leaders into world-class mentors.
BY ALEX VAN TOL
PHOTO BY JEFFREY BOSDET
an Chisholm — Chiz to those who know him — is pretty open about being a bit of a zealot: he sees leadership in everybody. And, after decades of guiding people to bring only their best selves to every single interaction, he’s become one of Western Canada’s most in-demand organizational alchemists, working with government ministries as well as organizations like Fountain Tire, ATB Wealth, West Point Grey Academy, St. Michaels University School and Fraser Academy. A hardworking farm kid from Saskatchewan, Chisholm entered leadership development in New York City, taking talented innercity kids through a leadership development program, a job that had grown out of his summer internships with the American Management Association. During his time in the Big Apple, Chisholm helped to expand that initiative to multiple centres across the U.S. When an opportunity arose to head up an entire centre for international leadership development, he jumped — even though it was on the Isle of Skye. At the age of 27, Chisholm moved to Scotland and took the reins at Columba 1400 Community and International Leadership Centre, pairing tough and trust-broken Glasgow kids with buttoned-up finance executives from Edinburgh. He had them coach each other through a leadership program. By the end of the experiment, the organization had garnered HRH The Princess Royal’s patronage, and Chisholm was named the first Fellow of Columba 1400. The program now runs in three centres in Scotland, one in South Africa and one in Australia. After Columba 1400, Chisholm knew he had a formula that could change the world. So when he and his wife, Ann-Marie Daniel, arrived in Victoria in 2004, he immediately set to work bringing that formula to life. He called it Roy Group. 18 DOUGLAS
Whether it’s with young people or adults, you’ve been focused on leadership development since you reached adulthood. What’s your drive?
I think at the core, all of our work — and my drive — is about the sovereignty of the human spirit. People wanting to be their best and to leverage that into the world. Everything we do is about inviting that potential out. And addressing anything that’s getting in the way of it. Roy Group focuses on “small giants” — organizations that want to be great, not big — as well as leaders in education, public service and non-profits. Why these audiences?
They each deliver a high impact on society over the long term. These are the kinds of companies that create meaningful work, meaningful progress and a stronger community. We like to work with ... leaders who unfold the kinds of stories that our world needs more and more of. I’m convinced the world needs more small giants because it creates a really high calibre of work, of quality, of creativity, of ownership. I just think it creates a better human life. How do you help organizations level up?
Through emerging leaders. Organizations who want their game to go to the next level have to invite everyone to start practicing leadership. Regardless of their position, anyone can choose leadership and use their work as a way to become a more masterful
leader. We also work with existing leaders in key positions, or as my father-in-law (a former university president) calls them, “The Deans of the University.” This refers to the level of leaders who take the vision from the senior team and translate that vision into what it means day to day. They’re the ones who disproportionately create the culture of the organization. What about seasoned leaders?
Seasoned leaders in an organization choose a very special kind of leadership: mentorship. That’s the real leverage. It means learning how to instruct, how to advise, how to coach. So in addition to creating value because of what you do and what you know, mentorship is really about creating value because of who you are. Taking leaders across this threshold is a specialty at Roy Group. It is personal. And delicate. And not easy. But it’s where the magic happens. All of the so-called challenges — recruitment, retention, learning, engagement, performance, succession — just melt away as challenges when leaders become mentors. What’s the distinction between leadership and mentorship?
To me, leadership has to involve going beyond getting things done, even big things, and must involve the practice of developing the capacity and the potential of others. If you’re not doing that, what you are doing is not leadership. That makes mentorship a very special form of leadership — one where the
The way you choose to conduct yourself creates an atmosphere inside others. That’s what leadership has always been and it’s what it will always be.
connection is selfless and valuable, supporting and challenging, safe and invested. Not all leaders are mentors. The Roy Group is in an interesting space. You’re a business, yes, but you provide a service, not widgets.
It’s very much business to business. All of our clients are businesses or organizations. Our job is to make them better at what they do. And that is an indirect thing. I’ve often envied, you know, whisky makers who get to hold it up to the light, and say, ‘I made this.’ We never really get to do that. Our successes are our clients’ successes. What holds good leaders back from becoming truly great?
That’s the tricky part. It’s different for every person. The greatness is different — and the myriad of things getting in the way of good leadership is different. That makes teams an even more complicated puzzle. Saying that, the one mistake that my colleagues and I often see early on is that leaders underestimate the impact their conduct has on those around them.
“I’ve often envied, you know, whisky makers who get to hold it up to the light, and say, ‘I made this.’ We never really get to do that. Our successes are our clients’ successes.” And it’s not about being perfect, is it? After all, you’ve helped launch Fuckup Nights in Victoria so that people can share their stories of so-called failure and learn from each other.
In partnership with Jim Hayhurst [CEO of Pretio Interactive], yes. He’s another of these people I’ve learned a lot from. We’ve been through a lot together, beginning with our work on the board of Pearson College where we worked together for seven years. You really get to know someone. Late one night we were talking about how we wanted to do some learning together. I said, “I can’t go to another conference where people talk about how great things are. I want to go to a conference about epic failure.” Jim did some looking around and found Fuckup Nights. We decided that night we would bring it to Victoria. You spoke at a recent Fuckup night about your experience on Scotland’s Isle of Skye where you almost cratered the organization you worked for with a $650,000 tax bill because you hadn’t done due diligence on the accounting behind your business model.
That was a bad day. On Skye, there were so many fuckups. I was 27 years old in a small 20 DOUGLAS
rural community. Thank goodness I had a board that had faith in me, and that allowed me to make mistakes and recover from them. There were financial mistakes and personnel mistakes and strategic mistakes, and at the end of the day you just learn from those fuckups and still make it happen. In terms of viability as an idea — to start a leadership centre for young people from tough realities at the north end of the Isle of Skye, five hours from the nearest city — it was a total long shot. Even with all those fuckups I made, which were numerous and which we publicly got hammered for, me and my team were able to make that thing happen. Tell me what you’re up to with VIATEC’s Orca Pod.
VIATEC has its finger on the pulse of the potential of this city. VIATEC’s CEO Dan Gunn and COO Rob Bennett have curated a group of 40 (soon to be 65) senior-level leaders — nononsense, highly effective community-minded leaders — to work with Roy Group. We’re really honoured to be asked to be a partner in something so visionary and impactful. We’ve had some great discussions and experiments with VIATEC focused on developing the kinds of leaders in Victoria’s tech sector who can build toward what VIATEC believes is possible here. And what is possible here?
In a world where many organizations can choose where they want to be, Victoria has a distinct advantage. We have the opportunity to fill this city to the brim with creative, effective and talented people who raise their families here and make us better. As a city, you can’t lose if you do that well. People like to grumble about the public service. What do you say to them, after having worked with so many of its talented leaders?
People who grumble often don’t understand the public service. I know I didn’t before moving to Victoria. Our attention gets drawn to the “elected circus” — think Trump. I understand the grumbling about that! But true public service is a very potent case study of leadership — think [of U.S. special counsel Robert] Mueller. They tackle long-term, wicked issues. They’re asked to work in a way that is very consultative and collaborative across ministries and functions. They’re asked never to fail publicly — an impossible request. They’re asked to be incredibly careful with public money. When the bottom falls out of society, we all turn to the public service to find a way forward. You say listening is important for leaders to do. But we’re all in a rush. Listening takes time. And people whine. How does a leader handle that?
We have a fundamental principle at Roy Group: “The way you choose to conduct yourself creates an atmosphere inside others.” That’s
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what leadership has always been and it’s what it will always be. Conduct is kind of an oldfashioned word ... but it’s where everything inside a person meets the rest of the world. To master yourself, and to become a master of storymaking, you’re going to have to master the way you conduct yourself. Listening is just a form of conduct. It sends a message to people around you that you believe they are intelligent and thoughtful and capable. Real leaders want the people around them to feel this way. You’re an inspiration to so many leaders. Where do you draw your wisdom and influences from?
I had the chance to be coached by some of
the U.K.’s most incredible coaches, people I really consider mentors. Being 27 years old and reporting to a very capable board really evolved me, supplemented by working with people I will consider mentors for the rest of my life. I’ve had a chance to meet extremely skilled people and learn why and how they do what they do. That’s how I learn the most. What one book would you most recommend for leaders to read?
Small Giants by Bo Burlingham. I knew immediately those were the kinds of clients I wanted to have, and that’s the kind of company I wanted to be.
What was your first job?
In addition to being a farm kid from Saskatchewan (I don’t remember not having jobs that needed to be done), I was the janitor at my dad’s accounting office. Every Friday after school, I would sweep and wash all the floors and clean the bathrooms. I knew that it was not pretend work; I really needed to own it. If I didn’t, I heard about it. I’m grateful in retrospect for being responsible for a real thing. If you hadn’t ended up doing this, what would you be doing?
Well, I didn’t get into med school, so ... the initial dream was to be an actor, making stories come to life. Pretty much the same vocation as the one I’ve answered! You talk a lot about “story.” Why is it so vital to developing leadership?
Because that’s the only thing that leaders ever leave behind. Bakers bake bread; leaders create stories. So if you’re responsible for unfolding stories in the world, you have to understand the architecture of story. You have to understand the importance of character and of being a character in the lives of other people. You have to have a strange appetite for adversity, because without that, the stories are not that engaging, and characters don’t become deep friends. You have to recognize when it’s time for a new chapter. Where does your gift for story come from?
There’s no such thing as a born leader
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My apprenticeship into leadership came in the form of posts inside nonprofits and social enterprises. In these sectors, story is key. If you can’t capture people’s imaginations with a story about practical ways that the world can be better, you’re done. What inspires you?
People whose conduct changes the story or whose phrases stir people for the better. In my iTunes, I have a lot of speeches from people like Churchill and Mandela and Kennedy. People who used phrases to stir people. The poetry of that inspires me. What are you quite hopeless at?
Finance. I couldn’t create a spreadsheet or an accurate financial report if my life depended on it. Finally, I hear you’re working on a script?
I’m working with a great screenwriter named Marcus Gautesen (This Means War) to create a six-season series. Great characters. Deep flaws. Epic situations. Mythical significance. It’s about the last 20 years of human existence before AI (with no malice) comes to the very logical decision to remove human beings from all major decision-making for the planet. It’s been a wonderful way to find out what is actually happening in the world. ■
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BIG IDEA ■ BY BILL CURRIE ■ PHOTO BY JAMES MACDONALD
All eyes will be on Victoria this holiday season when the IIHF World Junior Championship comes to Vancouver Island for the first time. It’s a big strategic win on the part of local organizers, a hot ticket for hockey fans — and a multimillion-dollar score for the Capital Region.
HOCKEY Barry Petrachenko, CEO of BC Hockey (pictured here at Save On Foods Memorial Centre) was an early champion of bringing the World Juniors to Victoria and Vancouver.
HUNGER DOUGLAS 27
here’s always a lot going on in a hockey locker room that fans aren’t aware of when the puck drops. The same can be said about behind the scenes when it comes to deciding who gets to host the 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Junior Championship (WJC). This year, for the first time, Victoria is hosting this prestigious event (a.k.a. the World Juniors) in partnership with Vancouver. And with this victory comes the stage to showcase the beauty of Vancouver Island for the world to see. So how did Victoria and Vancouver manage to pull it off? As is often the case, it came down to a phone call once Hockey Canada opened the bid in April 2016. “I called Ron Toigo and it was as if we were talking about the bid for a year,” says Barry Petrachenko, CEO of BC Hockey, the Victoriabased governing body of amateur hockey. Toigo, majority owner of the Vancouver Grizzlies (WHL), was pivotal. In 2006, he had been instrumental in bringing the WJC to Vancouver, Kamloops and Kelowna. So Petrachenko knew he had to move fast. “We were in action within a week,” he says. First things first: get the Vancouver Canucks
and the Victoria Royals on side and lock down Rogers Arena and Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, while assembling management teams to build the bid and find the money. Tourism Vancouver and Sport Hosting Vancouver reached out to Tourism Victoria and Sport Host Victoria (now Greater Victoria Sport Tourism Commission). They put together a $600,000 bid, 80 per cent Vancouver and 20 per cent Victoria. “The money for this bid came off the backs of hotels,” says Paul Nursey, CEO, Destination Greater Victoria (DGV), formerly known as Tourism Victoria. “They’re often overlooked. They benefit for sure, but they also pay out.” The province provided $2.3 million for the operational side of running the games. As well, organizers are targeting $2 million in sponsorship money, which goes to Hockey Canada and the Canadian Hockey League for event organization and legacy programs, according to Petrachenko. Things eventually got a little more exciting when Vancouver, determined to leave nothing to chance, upped its ante to help secure the bid. “Vancouver took the strategic opportunity to increase their financial contribution to a million dollars,” says Nursey, “and for Victoria to stay in, we had to come up too. I had about 24 hours to make that decision.”
Victoria went into action to raise another $100,000. Nursey quickly took to the phones, securing $50,000 from the City of Victoria and $10,000 from the Downtown Victoria Business Association, while DGV anted up the balance of $40,000. Victoria was back in the game thanks to the power of collaboration. In a nail-biter of a bidding game, Vancouver and Victoria beat out three strong competing bids from Edmonton-Calgary, London-Windsor, and Winnipeg-Saskatoon.
The financial benefit of the World Juniors is expected to be in the tens of millions of dollars. “It’s going to fill us up at a traditionally quieter time of the year,” says Paul Nursey, CEO of Destination Greater Victoria.
PART OF A TRADITION Of course, money alone doesn’t win a bid. Hockey Canada requires many conditions, such as a strong relationship with junior hockey, sufficient population, a strong volunteer base and experience in running major events.
Asked why Vancouver and Victoria won, Petrachenko points to three factors: “People want to come to B.C. from all over the world, and certainly Vancouver and Victoria are event cities, so that’s huge. I think [the event] needed to come west because it hadn’t been here for a while. And the fact it’s the 100th anniversary [in 2019] of amateur hockey in B.C. added a grassroots feel to the event.” Petrachenko and Toigo became co-chairs in the World Junior Championships, which have been more than an annual tournament for 40 years — they are a veritable Canadian holiday tradition, a time when friends and families tune into junior hockey at its finest. The puck drops on Boxing Day and the competition wraps up on January 5. While the focus is on what’s happening on the ice as the best under-20 players from 10 nations go for gold, the Capital Region will cash in on the glitter and glory. According to Hockey Canada, economic impact studies of the 2015 WJC, held in Toronto and Montreal, estimated the financial benefit for the host communities was more than $80 million. “We expect it would be in the tens of millions of dollars,” says Nursey. “It’s going to fill us up at a traditionally quieter time of the year.” With the teams, officials and scouts alone, Nursey expects between 4,500 and 6,000 guests. And with all the fans heading here for the 14 games, the town’s hockey fans are stoked.
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THE EXCITEMENT BUILDS Here’s how the teams line up: Victoria, with the smaller arena, will host Group B comprised of the USA, Sweden, Finland, Slovakia and Kazakhstan. Vancouver, with the larger venue,
Every harbour shot, every ferry image, every video of the verdant front lawn of the Legislature is going to have a searing impact on the millions of frozen viewers across Canada and Europe.
Where and when will this year’s World Juniors tournament take place? Co-hosted by Vancouver and Victoria, the tournament starts on Boxing Day, and finishes on January 5 with the gold medal game. Ten countries will play 31 tournament games (excluding pre-competition games). The USA, Sweden, Finland, Slovakia and Kazakhstan will play their round robin games in Victoria, while Canada, Russia, Czech Republic, Denmark and Switzerland will play theirs in Vancouver. Team Canada will play two pre-competition games in Victoria, and preliminary-round games in Vancouver.
What are the IIHF Ice Hockey World Junior Championships? Known as the World Juniors, these championships are an annual event organized by the International Ice Hockey Federation for national under-20 ice hockey teams from around the world.
Where will the medal games be played? Two quarter-finals will be played in Victoria, with the balance of the medal round played in Vancouver. If Team Canada qualifies, it will play all of its medalround games in Vancouver at Rogers Arena. Notably, Team Canada holds the record with 17 gold medals, followed by Russia with 13, since the IIFA World Junior Championship officially began in 1977.
Team Canada celebrating with the championship trophy after a 3-1 gold medal game win over Sweden at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship, which took place in Buffalo, New York.
FUTURE INNOVATOR CHALLENGE Final Pitch Event An initiative of
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will host Canada, Russia, Czech Republic, Denmark and Switzerland. Local fans also get to watch Team Canada in action as Victoria is home-base for its training camp, which attracts considerable national media attention. Also included are two pretournament matches. “We knew it would be popular in Victoria,” says Petrachenko. “People were buying tickets even before knowing what teams would be here, and that’s an indicator about how excited the community is.” Organizers say ticket prices were kept lower than in previous years, averaging about $28. It’s expected some tickets will be available at the door, but these will be very limited, according to Petrachenko. Another benchmark of the mounting civic enthusiasm is the overwhelming response of volunteers, so many that a lot had to be turned away. “We actually had to say sorry,” Petrachenko admits. “That was a true indicator of how excited and worthwhile the community feels about this event.” The World Juniors will be seen by millions of people around the world via host broadcaster TSN. And the TSN coverage alone will pay dividends down the road, according to Keith Wells, executive director of the Greater Victoria Sport Tourism Commission. As a former long-time broadcaster, Wells knows the power of pictures. “With the TV piece, this event will undoubtedly be an amazing showcase for the Capital Region…,” he says. “Every harbour shot, every ferry image, every video of the verdant front lawn of the Legislature is going to have a searing impact on the millions of frozen viewers across Canada and Europe.” Not all of the action is on the ice. In partnership with the Victoria Curling Club, as many as 1,000 fans can gather for pre- and postgame entertainment. Also, mark down Friday, December 21 as “Wear Your Jersey Day” to kick off the tournament and welcome the world to Victoria. Petrachenko projects the overall profit of the event between $15 and $20 million. “We’re hopeful the legacy to our hockey programming will be upwards of $500,000 or $600,000,” he says, and that’s money that will go to the recruitment of girls and boys and help build upon the volunteer network as BC Hockey celebrates its centennial year. Petrachenko’s voice escalates with emotion as he describes his experience: “Every once in a while I’ll be driving home and my thoughts will drift off, and I’ll be reminded just how special this experience is … a very special ride.” And it’s a ride that’s expected to add huge traction to the growth of sports tourism in the Capital Region as Canada goes for gold. ■
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Changemakers To create a better world (and in one case, a more fun world), these innovators are pushing boundaries in their fields, from designing amusement park technologies to advancing cancer treatment to saving the bees.
BY SUSAN HOLLIS
THE BEE CHAMPION
piarists around B.C. have long been struggling to stabilize and grow dwindling honey bee populations, but a B.C. expert has been working to prove it’s not better parasite medication or masses of imported bees that will save Vancouver Island’s shrinking apiaries — subsequently improving the pollination of local crops and the production of honey. According to master beekeeper Iain Glass, who has spent the better part of a decade experimenting with bee populations to determine their strengths, all it takes is isolating and reproducing the 10 to 15 per cent of healthy, treatment-and-stress-free honeybees that occur naturally, and letting the rest die off. Now in the second year of a fouryear mandate to improve the Island’s bees through selective breeding, Glass is working with local beekeepers under a provincially funded program called Ethical Bees through Bee BC, which supplies equipment and funding to the project. “The thought was to say, ‘Let’s start at a grassroots basis and show people [that
medicating bees] is not necessary,” says Glass, who is building a local, treatmentfree queen bee breeding industry, which can be used to establish healthy colonies. He is also educating apiarists and farmers about the benefits of his approach — doing one without the other is pointless. “You can go and make a better local bee, but if people don’t know you’ll never scale it up,” says Glass. Around 30 hobbyist and small-scale beekeepers have been training under Glass, who has passed on his methods of testing and selecting bees that are naturally resistant to the most common, destructive maladies like varroa and foulbrood. “I saw this as an opportunity to first test out some of the genetic rapid adaptation principles and then secondly scale it and get a lot more people involved,” says Glass, adding that beekeeping strategy is no more complex than general animal husbandry. “It was an effective way of saying, ‘Who is really interested in changing the status quo on Vancouver Island?’ And we’ve got some nice momentum out of that.”
What’s the first thing you do each day (to set the tone for productivity)? We have a team discussion prior to the start of each day setting the goals and objectives. We also give pointers on how to get more efficient — as an example, we talk about “slow down to get faster” and explain the application of small details to achieve this. When you stall on an idea or problem, how do you work through it? Most of what we are doing is scaling a series of smaller experiments. We also read the appropriate peer-reviewed literature and also review similar grantfund-program goals and results being undertaken by other groups of North American beekeepers. Who inspires you? There are research groups I have a large amount of admiration for. The top two would be the United States Department of Agriculture Bee Lab in Baton Rouge, and Tom Seeley at Cornell. The success of what we have accomplished to date factors largely. And results/validation inspires me. The queens we introduced onto Vancouver Island last year overwintered without chemical treatment and were good honey producers this year. How do you decompress? Exchanging ideas with like-minded beekeepers, and exercise.
JEFFREY BOSDET/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
Master beekeeper Iain Glass works with local apiarists to help the Islandâ€™s struggling honey-bee population. Honey bees play a critical role as crop pollinators, contributing about $470 million to the B.C. economy.
THE CARBON OFFSETTER
Wendy Burton believes tree hugging and business do mix. The CEO and president of World Tree has long promoted the environmental and economic benefits of the Empress Tree for carbon offsets.
What’s the first thing you do each day (to set the tone for productivity)? First thing every morning, I meditate. It sets the tone for being grounded. And when I’m grounded, I flow into productivity. When you stall on an idea or problem, how do you work through it? We have a saying at World Tree: “When we have a breakdown, 34 DOUGLAS
we have an opportunity for a breakthrough.” So if we are stalled, or have a problem, a meeting is called and we all sit around the table and put our collective minds together to create a breakthrough. Every single time we’ve emerged with a new path or solution and [are] grateful for the breakdown because now we know what not to do.
Who inspires you? Oprah. I had the opportunity to be on her stage several years ago, and her influence is astounding. [I’m] so grateful she is using it to create positive change in the world. How do you decompress? I take a walk in the forest ... followed by a movie. One settles my brain; the other helps me escape it.
JEFFREY BOSDET/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
f a tree could be a demigod, the Paulownia tomentosa would be Thor. Stronger, more resilient and faster growing than most hardwoods, the tree — a.k.a. the the Empress Splendour — pulls 11 times more carbon from the air than any other tree on earth. The Empress is also a financial investment that, through Victoria-based World Tree Carbon Offset Program (COP), can offset the carbon footprint of investors and, when harvested, provide financial benefits to the farmers who care for them. Launched in 2015 by Sidney’s Wendy Burton, who sold the tree as a straight commodity for over a decade, the World Tree COP initial offering sold out in six week, offsetting the entire carbon footprint of Victoria for a year. Investors for 2018 will reap a share of the income generated from the harvest of the trees in 2028 — and Burton says she’s never sold the wood for less than $10.66 per board foot — similar, if not more, than the average price of oak. “It was such a synergistic fit to say to individuals, ‘You don’t have to change your lifestyle, you don’t have to change what you do.’ Because people aren’t going to change ...” says Burton. “To be able to plant trees to offset what people are doing so we can draw down that carbon and reward them for doing it, that’s really the key.” Intercropped across continents to protect investors from losing entire acres due to natural disasters, the trees are planted in Costa Rica, the Southeastern U.S., and the Pacific Northwest, including in Cedar on the Island. In 2019, the investments will be sold for $3,000 per acre (110 trees), with each acre averaging a minimum harvest of 30,000 board feet per decade. Profits are shared three ways: 25 per cent each to investors and the company; 50 per cent to the farmers. “There’s a lot of innovative ideas out there that say, ‘If you spend money and do this, you get to feel good,’” says Burton, “but there are very few that say, ‘If you do this, we are going to give you a potential return.’”
THE VISIONARY OF FUN
n an era of rapidly morphing creative what kinds of new attractions, like the ones technology, it’s quite a thing to envision created by DreamCraft’s designers, will the future, but for Vernon McGugan of succeed. DreamCraft Attractions it’s as common as The first VR experience game the taking cream with coffee. company created was installed at Busch As CEO of the Victoria-based company, which Gardens in Virginia and involved a standardcreates virtual (VR) and augmented reality (AR) motion base combined with virtual-reality games for theme parks, McGugan takes the experience — essentially combining real entertainment business seriously, with a smile. movement with virtual reality — like being “In theme parks right now there is no realin a video game where you can feel the hills time technology being used for rides, so this rolling underneath you. is a really innovative idea,” he says of DreamCraft’s primary function. “VR has been experimented with, Along with decades of but not in a real-time way, not in an experience at Disney, immersive way like we’re doing.” DreamCraft CEO With 22 years at Disney and 20 Vernon McGugan was years at Universal Studios Japan and project executive for Universal Creative under his belt, the design, construction and operations planning McGugan can comfortably say he for the Harry Potter knows the theme park world, which attraction at Universal uniquely positions him to assess
They’ll soon be installing another 24 units at a theme park in China, and have patented hygienic VR head gear technology, because would you want to wear a headpiece that thousands of people had used before you? “It’s a hugely rewarding opportunity in theme parks because you get to see people enjoying them,” says McGugan. “Oftentimes, when you manufacture things you don’t get to see the joy that you bring when someone has a great experience.”
What’s the first thing you do each day (to set the tone for productivity)? I talk with the senior management team to establish priorities. There are also standup meetings with each team to discuss their project activities for the day. When you stall on an idea or problem, how do you work through it? Our approach is that all problems have a solution. Given that, once we hit a roadblock we convene a team from various disciplines to look at the issue from a fresh perspective.
How do you decompress? I play golf.
Who inspires you? A gentleman who passed away recently named Marty Sklar. He was the head of Walt Disney Imagineering for many years and worked with Walt Disney to design the theme parks. He treated everyone with dignity and respect.
Whatâ€™s the first thing you do each day (to set the tone for productivity)? I cycle to work year round and see lots of other folks doing the same on their way to make a difference in our city and the world. When you stall on an idea or problem, how do you work through it? I get back into the lab. Doing background experiments often helps reframe a problem and remind me of what is possible. Who inspires you? My research team. My students bring diverse backgrounds and incredible energy to cracking some of the toughest, most important problems of our era.
JEFFREY BOSDET/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
How do you decompress? I windsurf! Being on the ocean in big swell reminds me of how small we are, and how much nature has to offer us.
THE GREEN CHEMIST
he ingredients in many cosmetic and cleaning products have been called into question in recent years, but even the greenest of companies has had to rely on environmentally damaging preservatives like parabens and methylisothiazolinone to keep their products fresh. Now a U.S.–Canada team of scientists led by University of Victoria green chemist and assistant professor of engineering Dr. Heather Buckley is set to change that. With an eye on consumer and ecological health, Buckley and her team have created an ecofriendly preservative as a sustainable, viable alternative to parabens. Their creation won first prize and $35,000 from the Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3) in Massachusetts. UVic’s portion of the prize will be used to fund a graduate student to explore a secondary use for the preservative in preventing bio-fouling in water treatment systems. “One of the things we really are trying to do is create a situation where you don’t need to have a PhD in chemistry to choose what soap you want to take home and use on your kids,” says Buckley. “It should be that all of the choices on the shelf are safe.” Buckley started working on the preservative as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California Berkeley Centre for Green Chemistry. As her research and development gained traction, she and her team started working with eco-product giants like Method, Seventh Generation and Beauty Counter to improve their lines of home and personal care products. “I’m really driven by the fact that I believe we can do better, and I believe that as we have more information and better understanding, there doesn’t have to be a trade-off between safety and efficacy,” she says. “That dichotomy is kind of a false one that’s been constructed in many areas in our world.”
University of Victoria green chemist and civil engineer Dr. Heather Buckley successfully led a team to find safe alternatives to environmentally damaging preservatives that exist in many shampoos, sunscreens, cosmetics, toothpastes and cleaning products.
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Dr. Brad Nelson and his team designed the cutting-edge Conconi Family Immunotherapy Lab, one of few such specialized clean rooms for cancer treatment in the country.
THE TRAILBLAZER FOR A CURE
JEFFREY BOSDET/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
What’s the first thing you do each day (to set the tone for productivity)? On my bike ride to work, I pass by the Terry Fox statue at Mile 0. As I ride by, I say hi to Terry and spend the next few minutes thinking about the day that lies ahead. I challenge myself to ensure that everything I do that day, even the most routine admin work, contributes to a cure for cancer. When you stall on an idea or problem, how do you work through it? Some problems I work through on my own by writing down my ideas, drawing diagrams, 38 DOUGLAS
reading the literature, or playing the guitar. For problems outside my expertise, I pull together a team to brainstorm. The quality of your work is proportional to the quality of people you work with. Who inspires you? People who seek the truth in this world, whether it’s in science, art, politics or spirituality. How do you decompress? Camping on the Island with my friends [with] music, beer, campfires and no cell service!
n a realm of research that is defined by innovation, Dr. Brad Nelson is a trailblazer. As director of the BC Cancer Agency’s Trev and Joyce Deeley Research Centre (DRC) in Victoria, Nelson’s specific focus is immunotherapy — activating various aspects of the body’s immune system to detect and fight cancer cells — and he’s set to roll out a series of promising clinical trials that will see new immunotherapy techniques applied to gynecological and blood cancers early in 2019. The trials can take place in part because of a state-of-the-art “clean room,” also known as the Conconi Family Immunotherapy Lab. This clean room allows scientists to apply their T-cell technology — which involves removing, fortifying and returning to the body naturally existing cancer fighting T-cells. Established by Nelson in 2016, this clean room is one of few such spaces in Canada. Despite the difficult narrative surrounding cancer, a talk with Nelson reveals that ample hope and motivation drive the research. The recent Nobel Prize awarded to scientists James Allison and Tasuku Honjo for their work in the field of cancer immunotherapy adds to that foundation. “Most days what I’m feeling is that I can see the future, and there’s no question in my mind that we have already cured some cancers, and we are going to figure out how to cure the others,” says Nelson, who has a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley. “Every day I see so much progress that I have to run as fast as I can just to keep up with the field, it’s moving so quickly, so we will get there.”
outique investment firm DeLuca Veale Investment Counsel is expanding their reach on Vancouver Island to better serve their Victoria-based investors and grow their South Island clientele. The 14-year-old independent investment management company known for lower fees, full service discretionary portfolio management and now their four-year-old $50M real estate investment portfolio, RealStream Income Properties, has recently leased prominent, centrally located office space on Highway 1 at Tillicum Road in Victoria. As part of this expansion, the company is very pleased to announce they have hired Brenda MacFarlane (MBA, CFP, CIM), experienced Portfolio Manager to many of the Island’s medical professionals as the firm’s first Victoria PM. Brenda joined DeLuca Veale to benefit from the firm’s unique offering and style. Formerly, Brenda was with a large professional organization which had recently joined forces with a major Canadian bank. Wanting a smaller, more flexible and local approach to serve her clients, Brenda sought out DeLuca Veale. The firm’s founders Jonathan Veale and Richard DeLuca are also pleased to be keeping offices in the new Victoria space alongside Brenda and are inspired to see the talented islandbased team grow to eleven strong.
Newly appointed Portfolio Manager, Brenda MacFarlane
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LOWERING COST, NOT SERVICE AND ADVICE “Our competitive advantages are smaller size, a low-cost fee structure and our RealStream portfolio, which nicely complements our stock and bond portfolios Economics in 1993. Stewart left a career as for those clients interested in owning quality Deputy Assessor with BC Assessment, and income producing real estate,” says Richard DeLuca and Veale left careers with large DeLuca. “We are large enough to possess investment firms when they saw the constant top-quality infrastructure for research and drain on client resources that came from trading, and small enough to build close impersonal trading, layered fees and remote personal relationships with our clients, decision-making. ensuring they are treated as the most important part of our business,” notes EXPERTISE AND EXPERIENCE Veale. DeLuca and Veale built their firm on The firm believes in cutting out Left to right: Richard DeLuca, Jonathan Veale and Jim Stewart customized, independent financial advice middlemen, not client support, to keep their delivered by experts. Veale completed fees low and their investment performance the coveted CFA charter in 2000 and CIM in 1996, and DeLuca directly benefitting clients as much as possible — this means received his CIM to complement his Commerce degree in 2006, very limited use of mutual funds in their investment portfolios. qualifying them to become discretionary Portfolio Managers for Lead portfolio manager Jonathan Veale is an award-winning their clients. This expert approach has allowed them to grow investment manager who is proud to be expanding the firm their client base to over 350 high-net-worth households, all of into Victoria with his partner Richard DeLuca, who has history whom enjoy customized results-driven portfolios overseen by in Victoria having attended UVic to acquire his Bachelor of the firm’s four Portfolio Managers. Veale notes, “Having Brenda Commerce in 1995, and both partners have supported clients MacFarlane offering this same level of independent, qualified in the area for over a decade. Their partner in the RealStream advice as part of DeLuca Veale is a great milestone for the firm Income Properties portfolio, Jim Stewart, was born and raised and a real positive we believe for Brenda’s clients.” in Victoria, also attending UVic and completing a BSc. in
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DELUCA VEALE CLIENT-FOCUSED INVESTMENT LEADER EXPANDS TO SOUTH ISLAND
BY DAVID LENNAM PHOTOS BY JEFFREY BOSDET
MAYORS IN THE SPOTLIGHT
LISA HELPS “WE’RE AT A CRITICAL TIME.”
MAYOR OF VICTORIA
What did you learn from the election campaign?
What I learned is Victorians are overwhelmingly, by a margin of 3,800 votes or so, going to support positivity over negativity, optimism and hope over fear and anger, and a vision for the future that’s engaging and inspiring. Did NewCouncil’s negative campaign tell you this isn’t the same Victoria as it was when you were first elected mayor four years ago? Oh, I think it’s
profoundly the same Victoria. When I went around the city and listened … I heard all the things people love and care about. They care about affordability, the natural environment and climate change. At our core, I think people have a desire to hold on to those values even as the city grows and changes. Any sense the Together Victoria councillors plan to hold you accountable for some of the more progressive elements of your social policy? What
we heard on the campaign trail is that the key issues in Victoria right now are affordability and climate change. If we don’t take bold action on those issues in the next four years, we are going to have a very different city and a very different planet. I think there’s strong alignment from most of us at the table on those two issues … Which of the trio of controversies — bridge, bike lanes, Sir John A. MacDonald statue — have been the most politically damaging? I would say
none of them … If they were, I would have been thrown out of office. People say, “Well, she didn’t have the majority of the votes,” but I received the most votes of any mayor, ever, in recent history.
What do you say to downtown business owners fed up with vandalism, violence, needles, etc.?
What I say is thank you for being part of the solution. They’ve been incredibly patient, generous and compassionate. But I also say that, for the first time in the region’s history, we actually have money and a plan to deal with it. Given the recent backlash from developers to a motion put forward by councillors Isitt and Loveday to require 10 to 15 per cent affordable units in all new condo developments, what is your view? How should we move forward? In response to the
motion, council directed staff to form a working group including people from the development industry, renters and others with a keen interest. To come up with a viable path forward — and avoid unintended consequences like slowing down the development of new housing in the city — we need to first understand each other’s perspectives. You said former police chief Frank Elsner was the best thing to ever happen to Victoria, but two months earlier you were informed about allegations of sexual harassment. How do you move forward with the police? I’ve got a very good
relationship with the police union head. What’s needed now is healing and trust building. That was an impossible situation for everyone for so many reasons. When I made those statements, I was representing the position of the board as the board chair. What we need to focus on now is, the police are woefully under-resourced, they do not have enough officers out there, they’re stressed, and what I can do is make sure they have enough resources to do their job.
You’ve been accused of a top-down approach I heard someone during the election say, “Make to consultation, pushing ahead with Victoria boring again.” Are we storming ahead too decisions, only to back down or fast? No, we’re really not. apologize when it’s clear those We’re at a critical time. The affected aren’t on board. Will Victoria voters were Intergovernmental Panel on you change tactics? That was 66.5% in favour of moving Climate Change report came
a story from NewCouncil. This is the problem with being an effective leader working with a council that gets a lot done … We did over 200 projects in the last four years, and people wanted to criticize and poke holes in four or five of them … I think that was a story that got created and got a lot of legs. 40 DOUGLAS
forward with a study on amalgamation. Are you for amalgamation?
In theory, on the surface it seems like a good idea, but I do not want to presuppose the outcome of the citizens’ assembly. My commitment is: whatever the citizens’ assembly recommends I will honour.
out midway through the election campaign. It said we have 12 years to get our act together and hold global temperature increases to less than 1.5 per cent. We’re so woefully behind as a city, country and world that we can’t move fast enough on climate change or affordability, so there’s no slowing down.
HOW WILL THEY HANDLE KEY ISSUES?
MAYOR OF SAANICH
“ROBUST, RESPECTFUL, INTELLIGENT DEBATE.” What did you learn from the election campaign? … strong resonance on lack of
of care on the province and federal government to step up and do more.
housing for working families or working individuals seeking rental or purchased housing in Saanich. It’s unacceptable young working families need to drive to the West Shore on a daily basis [to live], work in Saanich and have that commute time. The other was concern about road safety and congestion, to a larger degree than I expected. Third was a need for green and agricultural space and an improved supply of quality daycare and family support services … Half your council is new, young and talking about environmental stewardship. Do you see yourself being challenged? This is probably the
most forward-looking, energized council in the history of Saanich in terms of the age diversity, gender mix and educational experience … My sense is this council has a common vision. I expect we’ll see robust, respectful, intelligent debate … Were you in favour of the way Saanich reacted to the tent city and its removal? Yes, given
Canada is a land of laws and there’s a right to shelter overnight in parks, we work with laws and compassion. I think it will become apparent, now the injunction has been approved, that the Saanich approach delivered that result in the most efficient, fastest time possible, and this result will be held up by other municipalities as a standard to achieve. What if another tent city sets up? I don’t
support use of Saanich parks for protest tent cities; however, I’m deeply involved with addressing solutions for housing for those who struggle to find [it]. It’s unfortunate money spent on a protest camp couldn’t have been spent on housing. Should Saanich buy land for affordable and supportive housing? I don’t think Saanich should
be buying land. There seems to be a misconception municipalities have the answers. We don’t have the fiscal resources. One of the reasons we’re dealing with the homelessness situation is that the province emptied institutions that were supposed to care for people in need, with mental-health issues, with addictions. What did they think was going to happen? There’s a duty
Victoria is in the midst of trying to figure out a inclusionary housing policy that will require new developments to include a certain percentage of affordable units. Will Saanich do the same? In Saanich, we are looking for flexible
urban containment boundary and by respecting the role of the ALR … The Minister has been clear: agricultural lands need to be used for agriculture. We should not use those lands for parks … the other piece is to revitalize the use of those lands for farming.
inclusionary options in multi-family developments. These could be 5-10-15 per cent or so and balanced with a bonus density so the municipality has skin in the game as well … We can say if you give us 10 per cent inclusionary housing below market rate, we’ll give you the extra floor or two to cover fiscal responsibility for that. You said you don’t want to raise residential taxes; what about commercial taxes? I’ve no
belief in the value of increasing commercial taxes. Instead, expand the commercial space and use of it … We already have a business case in place for at least two medium-sized hotels and that could be linked to a convention centre or improved sports stadium at UVic. These are just ideas. You’ve said Saanich is fertile ground for a film studio. We’re home to some of the best
film talent and they go to Vancouver and earn that city millions … Why would we want one? One, we have the talent here. Two, we’re missing the economic opportunity. Look at the Okanagan. They’ve got a film studio. Each year they’re getting $100 million from one client, Netflix, producing films … It’s one of the great economic areas where we could get expansion in that’s gentle on the environment. How do you protect Agricultural Land Reserve [ALR] land from development? By maintaining our
Saanich voters were 56% in favour of moving forward with a study on amalgamation. Are you for amalgamation? I’m open to looking at it. I’m data driven — we need to come up with a process both councils agree is in the best interest of their own residents and the collective residents of both municipalities ... and then address the key issues of benefits and risk. The idea it would save money and somehow reduce costs has not been proven anywhere in Canada where there’s been an amalgamation.
The Amazon Effect While online shopping giants like Amazon have helped to deep-six many businesses, others have found ways to survive and even thrive. Hereâ€™s how they did it.
BY KEITH NORBURY
rowsing Amazon.ca doesn’t appeal to Gayle Robinson in the least. The third-generation owner of downtown Victoria’s Robinson’s Outdoor Store would rather lace up her hiking books and trek through the real-life Amazon rainforest then return home to tell prospective adventurers all about it in her store. “We’re not just an outdoor store selling stuff, we’re gearing people up for their experience,” Robinson says shortly before leaving for a trek to Bhutan this fall. That experiential connection is hard to find online, and it’s a big part of a three-point strategy — customer service, knowledge and value — that Robinson uses to stay alive and thrive with a brick-and-mortar store in the face of competition from online retailers like Amazon. In fact, Robinson’s strategy has proved so successful, the BC Sports Rep Association invited her to talk about how to succeed in the online age. “One of the secrets to our success is [knowing] you can’t be everything to everyone,” she says. “So decide who you are and do it really well.” And what she and her staff of about a dozen adventurers do really well is share their firsthand experience of locales such as Peru’s Inca Trail and the Yukon’s Kluane National Park at monthly in-store presentations. “Our staff are hired on how much trekking and travel they’ve done — and that’s so they can gear you up because they’re passionate about it,” says Robinson, whose grandfather founded the store in 1929 as a bicycle shop. The store has since reinvented itself a few times. Now a local hub for hiking, adventure travel and fly fishing, it continues to reinvent in the age of online shopping. A THREAT, BUT HOW BIG? While online shopping has grown rapidly in recent years, it isn’t quite the across-the-board business killer everyone talks about. A 2018 eMarketer study gave Canadian e-commerce a 7.5 per cent share in 2017, projected to rise to 9.0 per cent this year and to 13.7 per cent in 2021. Flipped around, more than nine out of 10 Canadian retail dollars are still spent in the real world. How much bigger a slice of the retail piece e-commerce will consume is anyone’s guess. At the extreme is the fear that it will lead to a dystopia where people order everything online for home delivery by autonomous vehicles EMARKETER.COM or aerial drones. The website
vox.com reported this September on a supposed phenomenon of young millennial women who while away the hours in bed, ordering everything they need online. INNOVATING AMIDST DISRUPTION It probably does nothing to soothe brick-andmortar business to know that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is now the world’s wealthiest person. Bezos incorporated Amazon in July 1994 as an online bookseller. A year later, he sold Amazon’s first book, reportedly out of his garage. From that first sale, Amazon has grown to become only the second company to achieve a valuation of US$1 trillion. Nowhere has Amazon had a greater impact than in its hometown. In 2017, the company occupied 19 per cent of the city’s prime office space, the Seattle Times reported. Since that report, Amazon has also taken over the top six floors of Seattle’s downtown Macy’s department store, which is no small irony given how worried retailers are about Amazon. “The value of Amazon comes from the economies of scale, and we don’t see that only with Amazon, but there are other online sellers that have similar models,” said Dr. Pascal Courty, an economics professor at the University of Victoria. Dr. Courty recently co-authored a paper on how online retailers use scarcity and pressure tactics to induce online shoppers to buy products. They differ from traditional pressure tactics in that “they can target these messages to each consumer every time,” he says. “They know a lot more about you and your responsiveness, given past behaviour or whatever information they can acquire online.” As for pressures online retailers are exerting on the business world, Dr. Courty notes that “retail has always been exposed to revolution,” citing the examples of IKEA, shopping malls and the new business models of Walmart and Costco. He says brick-and-mortar businesses will have to reinvent themselves “to add value and create some kind of experience that they can monetize,” just as they did in the 1970s and 1980s when shopping malls threatened “high street” retail. “It’s not that shopping malls killed high street,” Dr. Courty says. “But high street had to be a different type of destination.” As the CEO of VIATEC — the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology & Entrepreneurship Council — Dan Gunn knows a lot about the region’s $5 billion tech sector, although he admits he’s not a retail expert.
Percentage of Canadian retail dollars currently spent in the offline world.
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AMAZON’S LOCAL STAKE
ne of Victoria’s great e-commerce successes has been owned by Amazon since 2008. AbeBooks — originally the Advanced Book Exchange — started shortly after Amazon. But where Amazon soon spread out to become a marketplace for other merchandise and services, AbeBooks has maintained its focus on antique and collectible books. It is now just starting to branch out into art and paper collectibles, such as postcards and magazines, says Richard Davies, the company’s public relations and content manager. AbeBooks began after Cathy Waters, who owned Timeless Books in Colwood, became frustrated with having to place ads in trade
BY KEITH NORBURY
magazines to track down rare books for her customers. She and her husband, Keith, an information technology specialist with the B.C. government, got together with friends Rick and Vivian Pura to launch an online marketplace to connect booksellers and buyers from all over the world. The company sold to German firm Hubert Burda Media in 2003. By the time Amazon took over, five years later, the founders had left AbeBooks. AbeBooks now has about 135 employees, including 100 in Victoria and 35 in Dusseldorf, Germany. That’s not a huge increase from the 100 employees the company had back in 2004, as reported in the Times Colonist.
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“We try to grow in other ways, by working smarter, by having better processes, by automating processes so we do less things manually,” Davies says during an interview at a coffee shop near the AbeBooks office in Victoria West. At the time Amazon bought AbeBooks, concerns were raised that it would soon be absorbed by the tech giant. But that hasn’t happened. It remains a standalone subsidiary, although it has been required to adopt Amazon’s corporate culture. An example of that culture is how Amazon holds meetings. Before anyone speaks, a document is distributed and everyone is given about 10 minutes to read quietly to themselves.
AbeBooks is among about three dozen subsidiary firms linked at the bottom of Amazon’s home page. Others include shoe retailer Zappos, the Internet Movie Database and Whole Foods. AbeBooks is such a small part of Amazon that founder Jeff Bezos has never visited — even though Amazon is headquartered in nearby Seattle. Many other senior Amazon executives do visit regularly, though. “The float plane terminal — they get good business from us going back and forth to Seattle,” Davies says.
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“I think the retail market is in transition,” Gunn says. “More people are finding it more convenient to buy certain things online, especially heavily commoditized and known things. So that presumably is having an impact. The other side of that is it does allow entrepreneurs to more easily reach a broader market.” Like most everyone interviewed for this article, Gunn likes to shop in the real world and online. But when he shops in a brick-and-mortar store, he often uses his smartphone to access its website, which in the case of Home Depot, for example, can point him to the exact aisle to find a product he is seeking. “I still think there’s opportunities for the boutique individual local experience, and I think there always will be,” Gunn says. “I don’t think e-commerce has peaked and I don’t think that’s a paradox to say those two things at once.” TURNING THE TABLES The arrival of the online giants like Amazon has created massive disruption, but it’s also sparking innovation as more traditional companies figure out how to deal with the digital commerce. In retail, the age of online shopping has led to some additions to the sector’s glossary. Take “showrooming,” a practice where shoppers check out goods at a store before heading home
to buy those items online. It’s been blamed, at least partly, for the demise of Sears Canada. The practice used to really frustrate the staff at Victoria’s Dodd’s Furniture, says marketing manager Jude Brown. “We are over it, so to speak,” he says, while adding, “Let’s be clear: 100 per cent we feel it.” Nowadays, Dodd’s regards showrooming as an opportunity to engage with potential customers. “That’s when we can actually talk to them about what makes us different, which is being local, employing local, investing in local, [and selling] Canadian furniture,” Brown says. Sometimes, though, even that isn’t enough. Brown often visits Dodd’s two other stores, in Nanaimo and Campbell River. At the latter, he recently ran into a couple from the north end of Vancouver Island who told him they shop on Wayfair only because Dodd’s doesn’t deliver that far north. “So definitely in places that we don’t serve logistically, we are 100 per cent losing out there,” Brown says. A major threat, he adds, is from big furniture retailers like Leon’s and The Brick, which already offer online shopping, so Dodd’s is planning to launch its own e-commerce site at an opportune moment, likely during the February lull.
41% “A 2015 survey by GoDaddy found that only 41 per cent of small businesses had a website, with 16 per cent planning to build one soon. With the tools available today, it’s vital for every business to be online and find their niche to better compete against international players.” — CATHERINE HOLT, CEO OF THE GREATER VICTORIA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
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“We’re just trying not to make a big mistake that would hurt a lot more for us than a similar size mistake for Amazon or Canadian Tire,” Brown says. Until the e-com site launches, Dodd’s has increased its online accessibility by adding a chat function that allows people to text in their questions. “It was up in five minutes, and within hours of that being on, we had a lead that closed,” Brown says. “It more than paid for the cost of this program.” While Dodd’s is savvy to the need for online presence, Catherine Holt, CEO of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce, notes that too many businesses still don’t even have a website or other digital presence. “A 2015 survey by GoDaddy found that only 41 per cent of small businesses had a website, with 16 per cent planning to build one soon,” says Holt. “With the tools available today, it’s vital for every business to be online and find their niche to better compete against international players.” PERSONALIZING IN AN IMPERSONAL AGE At the two Dig This garden store franchises in the Capital Region, staff probably wouldn’t even realize if customers were “showrooming,” says Elizabeth Cull, president of the franchisor company. What they have noticed is reverse showrooming, known as “webrooming.” Every spring, customers come to the Dig This store in Broadmead with lists of seeds they’ve collected from online catalogues “and they’ve said, ‘Would you please order these for us,’” Cull says with a laugh. While some are looking to avoid paying shipping charges, many are looking for quick answers and expert recommendations from Dig This staff. “And the same thing goes for people who are coming in looking for various hand tools,” Cull says. For example, a shopper seeking a hori hori Japanese gardening knife could easily buy one on Amazon. But if that same shopper were looking for a gift for an aunt, Amazon would be hard-pressed to suggest a hori hori. “Yeah, the millennials will order stuff online, but then they’re knowledge-hungry, and you can’t learn everything by Googling it,” says Cull. NEW OPPORTUNITIES Not all sectors are as stressed as retail about the rise of the online world. Case in point: Many courier companies have watched their businesses expand with deliveries of products consumers purchase online. It’s a contrast to the early days of the Internet when the biggest fear for courier firms was they would no longer be needed to deliver documents. While legal documents now transmit electronically,
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couriers have more than picked up the slack by delivering online purchases. Among Victoria companies that have benefited from that is Maximum Express Courier, Freight & Logistics. Maximum doesn’t contract with Amazon directly but handles overflow from an Amazon contractor. “Usually during Black Friday [and] Christmas time it is extremely busy,” says coowner Al Hasham. “We can’t even keep up.” “I have seen our business grow through every year because of the online ordering system,” adds Hasham, who founded Maximum Express 15 years ago and previously owned DanFoss Couriers on Vancouver Island in the pre-Internet days. Now the buzzing threats are drones, which Amazon has experimented with, and driverless vehicles. But those are far off and don’t really worry Hasham in any case. “It’s looking good for me because I can’t see them finding a way to zap a box or a package or a skid any time soon,” says Hasham. Despite the rise of home deliveries from online businesses, the Capital Regional District’s 2034 regional transportation plan makes no reference to e-commerce or online shopping. The transportation section of the City of Victoria’s official community plan (OCP) is equally silent, as is Saanich’s June 2017 Moving Saanich Forward Active Transportation Plan. Nevertheless, the impact of providing adequate parking for delivery vehicles is an often overlooked concern, says Holt.
Wired magazine ran a photo gallery on its website this September of abandoned shopping malls and box stores “gutted by e-commerce” in the U.S. southwest. But U.S. Census figures show that bricks-and-mortar retailers still generate 90.7% of all retail sales. “This raises the question, is the Amazon effect really an existential threat to physical retail?” asks Shane Faulkner in his 2018 SupplyChain247.com article “Should Retail Stores Tackle the Amazon Effect?” Here in Victoria, the Mayfair Shopping Centre has undergone a $72-million expansion. Mayfair is only able to make that investment
because it already owns the land, says planner Peterson. Similarly, Gayle Robinson credits the survival of her store during the lean 1990s to her grandfather’s decision to buy the present building in 1946. Today, she is in the midst of a five-year succession plan to turn the business over to a new generation — her daughter Erin Boggs and 22-year employee Matt King, who is the first non-family owner of the company. Robinson is confident they’ll put on their hiking boots and guide the store to its 100th anniversary in 2029 no matter what obstacles the Internet giants put in their path. ■
In 2019, Amazon will open a new distribution warehouse in Tsawwassen, like the one above. The warehouse will occupy more than 450,000 square feet in Delta iPort, a new industrial park on Tsawwassen First Nation land. “We have done a good job of making our cities accessible to active transportation options, but we also need to make sure delivery drivers and couriers can directly access their customers,” Holt says. “The growth of e-commerce has amplified this issue and I’m not sure city planners have it on their radar.” Less of a worry is that a flood of delivery vehicles will clog the roads. That’s not happening, says Victoria transportation policy analyst Todd Litman, because more delivery vehicles means fewer cars making short trips to the store. He says it’s more efficient to have one truck deliver hundreds of packages than “the common practice” of having hundreds of drivers in individual vehicles make separate trips to various stores to buy one item each. He even cites a study that found 30 to 40 per cent of the embodied energy in a jar of yogurt is from transportation. And most of that energy is from the retail buyer’s trip to and from the store. DOUGLAS 49
Coming Through Crisis
When the co-owner of a local video production company was diagnosed with brain cancer, he faced many huge and frightening questions, including how to keep the company he and his wife owned alive as he fought for his own life. BY JIM BEATTY
PHOTOS BY JEFFREY BOSDET
Days before Christmas and the trendy coffee shop on Pandora was hopping as harried shoppers took a breather during their gift-buying We sat at a table in the front _____________________________frenzy. window, the perfect spot for friends to catch up before the holidays.
Mike Walker and Amanda Eyolfson had experienced a remarkably busy 12 months guiding their boutique video production company, Roll.Focus. Productions through its best year yet. As we waited for another friend to join us, our conversation fell into predictable chit-chat — parking woes, the weather, the holidays. Then Mike said, “I’d like to get this meeting started,” which was a little odd since this was supposed to be a social visit. “I know you do crisis communications and that’s what we want to talk to you about. We have a crisis at Roll.Focus.” Crisis? What kind of crisis could a small company like Roll.Focus. have, with just Mike, Amanda and one full-time employee?
Mike then dropped a bombshell. “I have brain cancer.” Can there be four words more powerful, more scary, than these? But his ever-present megawatt smile belied the monster growing in his head, which could be any one of four types of cancer. “One of those is glioblastoma, the same kind that took Gord Downie’s life,” he said of the recently-deceased Tragically Hip frontman. “I hope it’s not that.” His voice trailed off. News of the devastating diagnosis was startling, especially for a man who hadn’t yet reached his 30th birthday. How could someone so young, so vibrant, so healthy, be dealing with something like this? He and Amanda, newly married, had just started their lives together. The mind boggled. As the news sank in, the last of our group arrived, communications veteran Bill Eisenhauer, head of engagement for the City of Victoria. As Bill received the same shocking news, we were similarly struck with a flood of emotions — concern, compassion, fear. But for Mike and Amanda this wasn’t a conversation about emotion. Over the course of the previous
In 2017, Roll.Focus. Productions owners Amanda and Mike had a banner year for their company and were named one of the Island’s top new businesses at Douglas magazine’s 10 to Watch Awards. Then Mike got the bad news.
THE TEST Roll.Focus. was incubated while Mike and Amanda were in broadcast journalism school, but Mike had always been the face of the company. Although he has left his job as sports reporter and anchor at CHEK News in 2015, his name-brand notoriety and cheery personality had continued to help Roll.Focus. attract clients. In the spring of 2016, Mike and Amanda graced the cover of this magazine as winners of the 10 To Watch awards and were dubbed one of Victoria’s gutsy new companies that “push past the comfort zone and come out on top.” Mike’s diagnosis would surely put those words to the test. Since its inception, their small firm had had a big impact, providing video services to the University of Victoria, Harbour Air, Rugby Canada, Destination Greater Victoria, the Royal BC Museum, and even broadcasting Victoria 3.3 litrethe twin-turbocharged All-Wheel Drive system V6 365-horsepower Day parade. Yes, their clients were loyal, but engine would they understand the sudden, prolonged absence of their main contact? There was little doubt Mike’s health scenario now posed a potential crisis for the company. Ask many business leaders to define a crisis and they will most likely think of product recalls, data breaches or employee misconduct. But a crisis can be anything that risks damaging the reputation of a company. The sudden resignation of a CEO, a social media blunder, an operational breakdown or a serious health issue can, if not handled properly, become a crisis of
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week, they had shed their tears, confronted their fears and braced their families for the difficult times ahead. “Telling our families and friends was hard. We knew it would be hard,” said Amanda. It was news that couldn’t be sugar-coated: No time for a biopsy. Straight to surgery. Radiation. Chemotherapy. A year-long battle to endure. But for our coffee shop meeting, just a week after diagnosis, they had checked their emotion at the door. This was business. “We need to figure out how to tell the business community,” said Mike. “In a couple of weeks, I’m going to be bald with a big scar across the side of my head. People are going to start asking questions. It could kill the business.” “Either people aren’t going to come to us because they think Mike isn’t here anymore or they won’t want to bother us while he undergoes treatment,” said Amanda. “We need to keep the business going now more than ever.” What about rumours, innuendo or losing an edge in an increasingly competitive industry? They feared the fast-growing tumour in Mike’s head had also become the biggest single threat to their livelihood.
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confidence in your business. News travels fast, especially if it’s bad news. Your response can either boost your image or damage your brand. As full-time communicators regularly challenged by crises, Bill Eisenhauer and I asked all the relevant questions and weighed all of the options. Do nothing and rumours might make the story even worse. Issuing a public statement might be overkill, identifying the health scare for those who don’t need to know. Our advice: Communicate honestly, but with confidence, to your most loyal customers. Value your trusted business relationships by ensuring they hear the news from you directly. Communicate when you need to, first to current clients then, if necessary, to others. And most of all, ensure everyone knows “it’s business as usual at Roll.Focus.” “It was good advice,” says Amanda, looking back. “You can only live in a state of fear for so long before you need to make a game plan and keep moving. We had no choice except to take action.”
“It definitely hasn’t been easy, but no matter what the crisis is, I think communicating it effectively is essential. Determining what you’re going to say and then saying it in an authentic way.” — MIKE WALKER
Jill Smillie, director of marketing for the Victoria Symphony, was among the first clients to be told about Mike’s diagnosis. “I was just shocked … I got all teary eyed, but they were absolutely professional about it,” she says. “By addressing it up front, I felt like they cared about us. Had I heard about it third- or fourth-hand I would be a little more concerned. Are you hiding something? What’s up? But the fact they were so open and honest about it made me want to continue with them even more.” The conversation with Smillie was just one of several with trusted clients in the weeks before surgery. Every customer had the same reaction: shock, fear and compassion followed by unbending loyalty. POST-OP OPTIMISM On January 16, less than a month after our pre-Christmas conversation, Mike had brain surgery to remove a large, growing tumour over his right ear. The diagnosis? A form of cancer called astrocytoma, a slower-growing, lessaggressive variety than the cancer which killed Gord Downie. “That was certainly a bit of good news,” says Mike, who now sported a large, serpentine scar. 54 DOUGLAS
CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS 101 When it comes to crises, every organization is vulnerable. From a food-borne illness to employee misconduct or staff layoffs, a crisis can be anything that threatens to interrupt business or damage reputation. Organizations have a responsibility to act before it impacts the bottom line. How do you successfully navigate a crisis? Prepare long before a crisis hits. If you don’t have a plan, you may incur even more damage. Most businesses can anticipate potential threats long before they happen.
Develop a crisis communications strategy which outlines how your company will respond to a crisis and how you will notify customers, employees and the public. It should contain key messages and
Fortunately, the surgery was a success and doctors believe they had removed more than 90 per cent of the tumour. To treat the rest, radiation would follow, bringing with it hair loss, then several months of chemotherapy. For Roll.Focus., the communications strategy also worked. Rumours weren’t allowed to sprout, clients appreciated the trusted approach and business relationships, even with competitive firms, became stronger. “We actually saw an influx of business,” says Mike. “I think because people were in our corner and wanted to see Roll.Focus. do well despite the health challenges I was up against.” Facing such extraordinary challenges and uncertainty, they hoped 2018 would be a break-even year. But that influx of business sparked expanded services, national travel, enhanced broadcasting tools and more contract employees, resulting in a 30-per-cent revenue jump. “Our growth has been great, but it isn’t due to pity,” says Amanda. “People looked past our struggles, trusting that they wouldn’t affect our work flow or our final product.” KEEPING IT REAL A year later, Mike is confident about his long-range prognosis and says Roll.Focus. is stronger than ever. He credits a crisis strategy, effective communication and a robust business plan, which included enhanced responsibilities for Amanda and other employees. “It definitely hasn’t been easy, but no matter what the crisis is, I think communicating it effectively is essential,” he says. “Determining what you’re going to say and then saying it in an authentic way. Being communicative is only going to build trust between you and your clients.” And there was one other reason for their success: “The Victoria business community had our back. And that’s an incredible feeling.” ■
holding statements for the most predictable events.
And don’t wait for it to go away. It won’t.
Identify and train your spokespeople. Offering media training sessions to your company executives can ensure they come across as confident, compassionate and competent. A crisis is no time to test drive those skills.
Understand the situation. Own it. Be human and apologize if necessary.
When the crisis hits, don’t panic.
Communicate promptly with your customers, employees and the public. Clarity and honesty are key. In a fast-moving world, where social media can drive a story, reputation management is critical.
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BY THE NUMBERS In the first 12 months after the initial #MeToo prompt from actress Alyssa Milano, the hashtag was tweeted
18 million times. SOURCE: KEYHOLE
After #MeToo went viral, there was a
65 per cent
increase in reports to police from women who had a business relationship with the perpetrator. SOURCE: STATISTICS CANADA
One in 10 women and one in 20 men said they’ve tried to change their job assignments or quit their jobs to avoid harassment.
ENTREPRENEUR BY ERIN SKILLEN
38 per cent
The Power of #MeToo
of women say they have experienced harassment in the workplace.
Collaboration and action can make this cultural movement a positive turning point for us all.
’ve been an entrepreneur for much of my career, first as a producer/co-owner of an independent TV production company and then as a techstartup founder. Most of the companies I have joined or founded were female-led businesses in male-dominated industries. I’m used to being the only woman in a group of men in a variety of professional contexts. I have learned to navigate those spaces and be comfortable within them while being conscious of having to keep myself safe. I’ve faced my share of obnoxious moments in my career. Having a former mentor greet me at a professional event by loudly telling me how sexy I looked, and then asking everyone
around us if they agreed with him. Meeting with an investor who had requested to learn more about my company, only to have him ask if I could host an open house for his condo because I had “the right look.” And even having someone offer to fund my career early on if I left my partner at the time and became his girlfriend instead. These are pretty minor infractions compared to what other women have dealt with. I was never in danger. But the fact that these things happen regularly, that there is an accumulation of these inappropriate moments, is both infuriating and exhausting. For me, #MeToo was a welcome movement that inspired and created space for women (who were safe enough to do so) to be
able speak out about the sexual harassment and assault we had been quietly facing throughout our lives. We were seen and heard and the volume could not be ignored. I hoped it meant things would change for us.
TOO BIG A RISK? Things have changed, many for the better. But at the same time we now have some people in power interpreting #MeToo as an attack to protect themselves from, rather than an opportunity to become an ally or an agent for positive change. Tony Robbins publicly admitted that because of #MeToo he has been advising male executives to not hire attractive women because “it’s too big a risk.” Several news
The most common reaction to sexual harassment and assault is anxiety or depression; 31 per cent of women and 20 per cent of men reported these effects after incidents. SOURCE: STOP STREET HARASSMENT, 2018
outlets have explored this risk, discovering many men in power will now refuse to even meet women alone because they’re scared of being wrongly accused of something inappropriate. This is so effed up. Women bravely come forward to share what has been happening to us — sometimes putting careers and reputations on the line — and rather than cultivating empathy and trying to help, some men are instead choosing to “protect” themselves and their careers from women. This fear trend insinuates that women need to
use, or misuse, #MeToo to succeed. It’s deeply appalling, especially after we’ve spent so much time and effort trying to succeed despite this extra layer of B.S. we face. I think we can all agree that the majority of women aren’t going out into the world seeking to be assaulted, or pretending to be assaulted in order to profit off of it. Most of us are simply trying to pursue our business dreams just like male entrepreneurs, on our own merits. If you agree with that and want to help women instead of hide from them, here are some ways to be an ally in the #MeToo/#TimesUp era: Provide female colleagues with opportunities to speak and to be heard. In group settings, pay attention to who is doing most of the speaking and who may need a question to give them their opening. Recognize our ideas. Don’t repeat our ideas minutes, hours or even days later and then take credit for them. This seems like a clichéd joke, but it’s only a cliché because it happens. Don’t use professional opportunities to pursue a romantic or sexual agenda. If you want a date, don’t hide it under the auspices of a business meeting. Be clear and respectful.
Invite us into the inside track. If you notice you’re at events, meetings, etc. that are frequently all/nearly all male, invite some female colleagues to attend. Create safe spaces by speaking up. If you see something, say something. We don’t need bodyguards, but just keeping an eye out and ensuring others are keeping their behaviour in check can make a huge difference. If you call someone out for inappropriate public behaviour, it sends a message and may prevent them from harming a woman privately. While there are those who are using #MeToo as an excuse to keep women out of male-heavy sectors, I am grateful for the champions I have in my life — both male and female — who are working to get more incredible women into entrepreneurship and tech, and to create a culture that is free of harassment and assault. Collaboration and action can make #MeToo a positive turning point for us all. ■ Erin Skillen is the COO/co-founder of FamilySparks, a mental wellness startup for families and businesses. She is a VIATEC board member.
BREAKTHROUGH BY ALEX VAN TOL
Is Agile Dead? While some tech experts think Agile has been talked to death or used inappropriately, it’s still a powerful business approach.
f you’re in tech, you probably already know what Agile is. If you’re not — if you’re in marketing or, say, construction — you’ve likely heard the term, but fast and nimble might be as far as your definition goes. While Agile certainly is fast and nimble, it’s actually a development process devised by the software industry to get usable products to market as quickly as possible. The whole idea is one of efficiency and usability. Apple, Phillips, IBM, Cisco, Electronic Arts and major online retailers like Amazon use Agile. There is some controversy over whether Agile can (or should) be applied to nonsoftware sectors, but no matter what sector you are in, I think this is a breakthrough
Mobile app developer FreshWorks Studio, a fan of the Agile process, recently launched the BCGov Directory iOS app. The app makes it easy and fast to find the right government official in the right department without searching through dozens of websites and directories.
about a week back when they were a toddler.
JEFFREY BOSDET/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
IT’S CALLED COMMUNICATION (AND IT WORKS EVERY TIME)
worth noting. After all, numerous non-tech companies are already applying Agile principles to the way they’re doing business: National Public Radio in the U.S. has found using Agile resulted in more productivity and innovation when planning programming. Harvard Business Review’s direct consumer feedback mechanism has boosted sales since it began to use customer feedback for packaging. Spanish clothing manufacturer ZARA has been getting excellent results from taking an Agile managerial approach. Because ZARA keeps production largely in its own hands rather than offshoring it, and because of a commitment to keeping the design and manufacturing teams in constant contact, the company now can design, produce and deliver a new garment to its stores in about two weeks. Closer to home, just a few of the local crews embracing Agile include mobile app developer FreshWorks Studio, mobile 58 DOUGLAS
advertising provider Go2mobi, and desktop software analytics giant Redbrick. Even the BC Pension Corporation has brought an Agile project manager on board.
THE MANIFESTO THAT STARTED IT ALL Agile is guided by a manifesto (agilemanifesto.org) set forth in 2001 by a handful of software developers who for years had been working to jettison stale, cumbersome methods of product development. These methods tended to be overly planned and micromanaged. The manifesto creators (all 17 of them) understood that software developers and their customers needed a way to get better-quality products to market quicker, without getting bogged down in reams of written requirements. Their process, articulated in The Agile Manifesto, strips out cumbersome structure and documentation and emphasizes collaboration between developer and customer. It focuses on adapting the product to the customer’s feedback and quickly refining or changing the product in
order to better suit the customer’s needs. Would you like to nerd out for a moment with me? OK, good. The Agile Manifesto sets out these four elements: 1} It favours conversation over documentation. 2} It favours the idea of working software (or a functional artifact) over mounds of specification (instructions for how to make it perfectly). 3} It favours ongoing and continuous collaboration with the customer instead of being tied to a contract where every part of the project is spelled out. 4} It accepts that change is inevitable, so you plan for it. This means that any structures and frameworks you’re working with should be able to absorb change without the project falling apart. In simple terms, Agile is like parenting, where you talk with your kid about their evolving desires. Then you simply shift your practices to better support them, instead of operating from an overly detailed rulebook that worked for
At the core of Agile is this idea: a customer should not work for months creating a specification, then have a software team code for that specification for another number of months, delivering the product only after they finally get it built. Instead, Agile means the group does just enough investigation and just enough requirements gathering to start developing early prototypes. Then the developers begin delivering those early prototypes to the customer. Customer feedback is met by a responsive development team — and iteration begins. If you take software out of it, we’re talking about early prototypes of any concept you are working on. You develop early versions of that thing, deliver them to the customer and allow them to be part of the process of creation. Early and continuous delivery also means your concept improves between each iteration — much like how several rounds of editing will improve a novel. That way, if the concept is going off the rails (or in some other way won’t fulfill its function in the marketplace), the development team can correct it early — because the customer is getting access to working versions of the product as the project continues.
YOU’RE MORE AGILE THAN YOU THINK Agile was invented 18 years ago, so you might argue we shouldn’t be calling Agile a “breakthrough” approach for business. But the truth remains that applying Agile principles can open the door to your own breakthrough. No matter what kind of business you have, adopting an Agile
approach means being able to react to the unexpected, to adapt to a fast-changing market environment and to quickly respond to your customer’s needs. You might already be following Agile principles without even knowing it. If you’re already letting your employees organize themselves into functional project teams based on their interests, you’re dabbling in Agile. If you look for what motivates each person on your team and try to get them into a place where they can apply those competencies, you’re using Agile principles. If you have a constant feedback loop with your customers so you can hear how your product might improve to better meet their needs, you’re thinking Agile. Following the key steps in the Agile process effectively takes people out of their role-bound silos and reorganizes them into self-managed multidisciplinary teams, whose focus is suddenly — and with excellent results — on the customer. Agile accelerates profitable growth, gets your team more engaged in what they’re doing, and in turn more fully develops their capability to think and act with autonomy. That’s a pretty great place to get your business to. So go. Be nimble like you mean it. ■ Alex Van Tol works with organizations to shape and communicate their brand story. From real estate to tech, she uncovers what makes an organization tick — and what can help it grow.
AL’S BUSINESS TIP FOR SUCCESS “If an employee’s productivity has suddenly dropped, first ask yourself, Have I communicated my expectations and feedback clearly to steer them in the right direction?” Al Hasham, President of Maximum Express
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Why Hiring Has to Change In this tight hiring market, we need to rethink who we hire and how we set them up to succeed.
iven our current hiring crisis, many employers are willing to hire anyone with a pulse. Some are so desperate that longheld expectations such as experience and knowledge no longer come into the process. The bottom line is that the shortage of skilled labour in our communities is acute and structural. This isn’t going away soon. Given this scarcity — and the rising cost of experienced people — many employers wonder if hiring green (inexperienced) employees is a viable option. It could be, but there are some important considerations. Inexperienced employees are often younger and therefore more likely to move on and less likely to have plotted their DOUGLAS 59
VIKING’S SOLUTION The Viking Academy took the hiring crisis into its own hands, offering a six-week paid program, covering the costs of training, with the offer of a training wage during the course. Completion of the program can lead to employment with Viking Air.
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While Viking is a large enterprise with about 400 employees, small and midsized businesses who are struggling with hiring can still learn from the underpinning principles of its academy: Training and co-op programs are a way for an employer to ‘preview’ potential employees and their work habits, natural skills and social behaviours. Six weeks is long enough for a potential employee to get a sense if this kind of work is his or her thing. If the fit isn’t there, there is no disruption to the value stream of the work itself, and a clear trial period reduces the complexity of terminations. If the fit is there, when it comes time for the candidate to contribute on the shop floor, he or she has already experienced the culture, has a sense of the work, and has developed valueadding skills. Students in the Viking Academy program are paid a wage during their training, so they incur no student-loan debt to hamper them as they begin their new careers.
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Instructor Robi Bada and the fall-semester students at the Viking Academy. Classes take place at Viking Air’s assembly plant at the Victoria International Airport.
career paths. Then there’s the problem of training, which is especially critical in the trades world where apprenticeship and safety regulations make things even more complex. Sidney-based Viking Air is tackling the problem head on by setting up its own training academy (see sidebar). Many Canadian companies are taking steps to circumvent the hiring crisis, but these are one-offs. A coordinated national approach is needed.
START COLLABORATING Germany has had programs that mix work and education for years. Their national vocational training program cannot easily be transplanted to North America because it is embedded in an national educational and vocational system. But variants are sprouting up across this continent. However, while corporations like Volkswagen and Siemens have the resources to run their own vocational training programs, smaller businesses do not. The way around that is to approach the challenge collaboratively with industry partners, business organizations — such as business improvement organizations, chambers of commerce and regional economic development agencies — and educational institutions. Both the Illinois Consortium for Advanced Technical Training (ICATT) in the U.S. and the Ontario Manufacturing Learning Consortium
use collaborative models for their training. Recently at a Vancouver Island roundtable of business owners, participants floated the idea of customer-service training for a group of premier main street retailers frustrated by the lack of staff with customer-service training. I suggested they explore collaboration and work with a local business organization and local university to develop a customer-service training program. Some Vancouver Island plumbing and HVAC businesses are considering collaborating on their own training program to create a pool of qualified pre-apprenticeship employees.
we have to filter for the right attitudes and potential — and that can be one of the positives emerging from this hiring crisis.
TIME TO PLAN While we aren’t a match for Europe when it comes to visionary vocational training, Canada does have a history of industry and K to 12 and post-secondary schools collaborating in various types training initiatives. It’s time to take it a step further. We must become more agile, more responsive and significantly more collaborative. We must
expand the tent to include whole sectors, educational institutions and business organizations. A collaborative DIY approach may be a way to manufacture talent from green stock when the ripe stuff is in scarce supply, but without a bigger, coordinated solution, our capacity for growth will continue to be defined by the scarcity of talent. ■
Clemens Rettich is a business consultant with Grant Thornton LLP. He has an MBA from Royal Roads University and has spent 25 years practicing the art of management.
HIRE FOR POTENTIAL A benefit of these approaches is that they address one of my long-standing concerns where employers hire for technical skills over behavioural traits (aptitude before attitude). I think we can all acknowledge that when employer-employee relationships don’t work, it’s rarely for technical failings and almost always for poor behaviour. Yet most employers do little to filter for attitude and behaviour. So when we are forced to recruit people with the intention of training them, the bias for technical competence over attitude and social competence is minimized. Instead,
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2017-06-09 1:33 PM
MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE SCIENTIST KURTIS BAUTE SEALED HIMSELF IN AN AIRTIGHT HOMEMADE GREENHOUSE IN COURTENAY TO DRAW ATTENTION TO CLIMATE CHANGE, AND MADE INTERNATIONAL HEADLINES IN THE PROCESS. BY SUSAN HOLLIS
Sweating it out in a small, airtight, plastic-covered greenhouse he built to show his YouTube followers what climate change looks like up close, scientist Kurtis Baute went from being nervous and curious about his project to scatter-brained and sluggish as his body fell prey to the effects of the excessive carbon dioxide that gathered in the enclosed space. Though Baute successfully recreated the process of what is happening to our planet as greenhouse gasses like C02 get trapped in the atmosphere, his real mission was to raise awareness about its effects — and he achieved that in a big way. Along with coverage from TV
networks like BBC and CNN, in just 14 hours on October 24, Baute gained 4,000 new Twitter followers and made three million Twitter impressions. “We have a long way to go in terms of public science literacy,” says Baute, who has a Master of Science degree in environmental studies. “And that’s really what the issue comes down to — that people don’t understand what the air even is, so how are they going to understand something as complicated as climate change?” While he originally estimated he would be able to last three days in his airtight enclosure filled with 200 plants, upon recalculation he hoped he’d get to 21 hours. In the end, he lasted for 14 hours before being
forced out by excessive heat and unsafe C02 levels. “It’s an interesting thing in science, because when people don’t get the results they expect, the instinct is to say, ‘That’s too bad.’ But really, any result is information, and even if it doesn’t fit your hypothesis it’s still something that you’ve learned,” says the 29 year old, who makes a full-time living from his YouTube science channel. “At the same time,” he adds, “my goal wasn’t really to do research [because] scientists have done the research and we know that climate change is happening ... My goal is to raise awareness. I feel like I’ve already succeeded.”
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