Episode 002 – ‘The Start of My GGCLC Experience’

In this episode, I will summarize the opening day of the 2012 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference

Intro

Hi there! Welcome to the 2nd episode of the Voices of Canadian Leadership podcast. As I’m creating this episode this first episode of VOCL has just been approved by iTunes. Although the episode was uploaded to the internet and available to all as of 13 March, it took two days for iTunes to approve the podcast – I believe that they check for formatting, that the content meets the guidelines, and that the language was indeed “clean” (as opposed to “explicit”). I believe that iTunes is the most popular way for people to download podcasts, but I can take the time to upload it to other sites if there is a demand. I will also make sure that I put links to the podcast on the Facebook page and the website.

Speaking of website, I’ve decided to create a website focussed on the VOCL content and discussions. It can be found at VOCL.ca. I plan on uploading the show notes and transcripts (if available) so that the hearing-impaired can also participate in the online community, much like this podcast can be accessed by the visually-impaired. I just created the website a few days ago, and will be working at building it up over the next few weeks (again, your feedback is important). I am still keeping the chrishache.com website as my personal blog, but it will be reserved for items outside of the VOCL scope. Since I’ve created a new website, I also have a new email – you can now reach me at info@vocl.ca. I am still on FaceBook (look for the Voices of Canadian Leadership page) and Twitter (I’m VOCLChris) – contact details are in this episode’s show notes.

I’ve also decided on the initial format for the pre-recorded interviews. There will be a quick introduction of each guest, followed by discussions on several leadership aspects. Although the specifics may change based on the pre-interview chats, I will be looking at the following:

1 – How do you use your leadership skills in your work and everyday life?

2 – If you were to mentor a younger version of yourself, what advice would you give knowing what you know today?

3 – Who have been the influential leaders in your life and why?

4 – If you could pick any Canadian to mentor you, who would it be and why?

5 – What do you think are the three most important attributes that a leader can possess? If you could pick only one, which would it be?

6 – Do you research or attend seminars about leadership? If so, where do you turn to for knowledge?

7 – What do you think of the state of leadership in Canada today? What are the key strengths and/or weaknesses?

Finally, guests will have the chance to address any other topics that haven’t been covered.

Main Topic

We will now look at the main topic of the show – the opening day of the GGCLC that was held in Halifax, NS on the 1st of June, 2012. Most of the content comes from the blog – since this area became primarily my responsibility, you’ll notice that the style will be very familiar. Credit must also be given to my fellow NB syndicate members (especially John Vicq) for the provision of proofreading, perspectives, and comments. What is really interesting about the plenary sessions is that, well, all conference attendees saw and heard the same speakers. What we understood from the speakers was subject to our own personal filters. As such, please go to http://www.leadershipcanada.ca and look for the individual study group blogs to get potentially different perspectives.

Let’s go back in time!

NB – Day 1 – Let The Adventure Begin!

Posted on June 2, 2012 by New Brunswick Study Group

What a fantastic way to start to a potentially life-changing event!

We arrived as individuals from across Canada, with diverse backgrounds and beliefs, but with a common desire to see how leadership can best be used in sustainable communities. This theme, selected by the Governor General, was repeated several times throughout the day. Every time these words were said, in slightly different contexts, it served to demonstrate the magnitude of what is being asked of conference attendees.

But we digress.

The Westin is a wonderful facility in the south end of Halifax. It is well suited to hold large crowds in one room for plenary sessions, and has plenty of breakout rooms to host the 16 different groups that will be presenting their findings at the end of the conference. The reception and conference check-in were fast and efficient, even though many people arrived simultaneously.

After checking in, most people gathered in the lunch room. This was the first chance to meet the other participants in general, but also to finally meet the the other members of the study group “family”. It was a chance to put personalities and voices to pictures and 100-word biographies. If Day 1 is any indication of the future, it is believed that we will get along very well indeed.

After a quick break to brush our teeth and freshen up, we gathered in the plenary room for the warm-up. We don’t know if the other groups did the same, but we elected to sit together. We enjoyed the warm-up session, especially Maxime’s use of the canoe and dragon boat analogies to what our collective experience was expected to look like. After a quick change of clothing for some, we returned to the plenary room.

**A quick note: the schedule and the speakers for the opening and closing plenary sessions are available on the website. As such and for the purposes of brevity, this blog will not formally introduce the speakers and take some liberties with the familiar (but with the greatest of respect).**

After Annette’s opening and Albert’s blessing of the conference, we were afforded with His Excellency’s opening address. Many interesting concepts and quotes surrounding the theme were introduced; his words resulted in a long and prolonged applause from the crowd. It is certainly envisaged that these ideas (also provided to us in the binder) will be revisited many times over the course of the next few weeks. In his speech we received our task – a report and a presentation that lasts 20 minutes, and covers the theme, our understanding of the New Brunswick region, and of our experience in the journey.

On completion, we went to our breakout room to formally introduce ourselves to one another, and to set some ground rules for the group. Being a practical group, one of the first issues to be addressed was the procurement of coveralls. Coveralls? When you start digging into the provincial schedule, you realize that there is potential to get very dirty in some locations, and with a schedule that ill affords us the opportunity to change between stops. The sizing of coveralls was also of some concern, since very few had experience in selecting an appropriate size (you can’t be a Large!)

We then proceeded to Pier 21 for supper. During the pre-dinner phase, several people took the opportunity to go learn more about the facility. The location was a perfect choice; many people’s ancestors’ first exposure to Canada and their new home was through this place. Eventually, we were called to dinner, starting with a rousing performance by Drum! A very nice meal followed, but we suspect most people were eagerly anticipating the speeches by Sergio and Leo – they did not disappoint.

The musical group "DRUM"

The musical group “DRUM”

Each speaker provided interesting perspectives on leadership in sustainable communities; each perspective has been cultivated from their years of experience in reaching their current positions. A video of a young Canadian, originally taped 20 years ago and calling for world leaders to change unsustainable practices, was especially moving; on reflection, it appears that very little has changed. On completion of their presentations, both speakers choose to answer questions together. Although questions from the floor were addressed to one of the speakers, this interesting format allowed both individuals to respond with their unique perspectives. All too soon the question period came to a close; it is a shame since it appeared that the discussion had the potential to become more divergent in terms of personal viewpoints.

We finished Day 1 with no clear answers on Leadership in Sustainable Communities; rather, we came away with many more questions for the upcoming days.

I look back now at what an exciting day this was. Well, it wasn’t an exciting trip. I literally had to drive an extra seven minutes from where I work – people coming in from the airport had a longer drive! It was more the sense of anticipation. I had heard on several occasions that this would be an “intense” experience – what does THAT mean? I have faced some incredible challenges in my career – would I be up to this challenge as well? Humorously, I even wondered what a group “filled with leaders” could be like – everyone trying to take charge and no one following…

Some of my concerns were addressed during the conference warm-up. Maxime Boilard and Barbara Oberleitner were 2008 conference attendees – they gave us their perspectives on their experience, and on developing a “pacing strategy” for the long two weeks ahead of us.

Maxime Boilard and Barbara Oberleitner

Maxime Boilard and Barbara Oberleitner

Both Annette Verschuren and His Excellency, the Rt. Hon. David Johnston (hereafter referred to as the Governor General) gave us some very motivating words to formally start the conference. They spoke with passion and energy; neither of which waned over the course of the conference. The forty-five minutes allotted to them was over all too quickly; little did we know that “too little time” would become a recurring theme for us.

His Excellency, the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada

His Excellency, the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada

Meeting my fellow syndicate members for the first time was a treat. It was there that I met Eric Prud’Homme and Angela Talic (NB Study Group chairs). Not only were they fellow conference attendees, but they had been assigned the additional responsibility of being the co-chairs of our study group. They were, for all intents and purposes, our “mom and dad”. Since they were mom and dad, they asked who wanted to take on certain “chores” to ensure that everyone in the family pitched in. I decided to take on the blog – what was I thinking!

Around the table were the people with whom I would be sharing my leadership journey. I got to meet Jeff Armstrong, Rebecca Benko, Jason Charlebois, Kimberly Fairman, Elizabeth “Liz” Gomery, Miles Gorgichuk, Gouled Hassan, Sunil Johal, konwatsi’tsa:wi Meloche, Rikia Saddy, and John Vicq. We also met Captain Matt Rolls, our military liaison officer – out of all the people we could have had, I can think of no one better. He had the unenviable task of “corralling the cats”, making sure that we stayed on our hectic schedule, and resolving any problems that would face us along the way. The fact that he was able to do so with incredibly funny lines endeared him to us immediately – he wasn’t “just” the military liaison officer; he was one of us.

We also got to meet Robert Moreau, the Regional Chair for New Brunswick. He was responsible for leading his team in creating an 8-day visit across New Brunswick that would stimulate and challenge us. You will see over the next few episodes that he and the team did a remarkable job – thank you, Robert!

Sergio Marchionne and Leo Gerard are on what some people might describe as opposite sides of the bargaining table. Sergio is the President and CEO of Fiat and Chrysler Group; Leo is the International President of the United Steelworkers. Both spoke on the topic of Leadership in Sustainable Communities, but with very different perspectives.

The girl mentioned in the blog is Severn Cullis-Suzuki, the daughter of Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki. I had never seen it before, but I have looked at and thought about that speech several times since that conference. To have such poise in addressing global leaders is remarkable; to do it at the age of 12 is simply amazing. Links to the YouTube clip and the wiki page of the speech popularly known as “The Girl Who Silenced the World for 5 Minutes” can be found in the show notes.

The official events ended around 9:30pm; that’s when my work on creating the blog began. Good thing for the iPad (a gift from Margaret, my wife) and the iThoughts app – a powerful combination in recording my perspective of the conference.

Excerpts from the speeches and profiles of the people mentioned in this podcast can be accessed via the show notes.

Listener Feedback

I would like to thank everyone for the feedback so far – it’s nice to know that I’m on the right track. Several of you have provided some comments that have made me think of adding another show segment – the “question of the week” in which I would ask a leadership question (on the podcast, on Twitter, and on FaceBook) and summarize the replies in a future show. What are your thoughts on this? Let me know.

I would also like to thank Steve Runner, a fellow podcaster from Massachusetts, for mentioning this podcast on one of his shows. Steve has been podcasting for 7 years, and has consistently been encouraging people around the world to “take to the microphones.” I believe in giving credit where credit is due; Steve is one of the reasons that you are hearing me today. His feature podcast is Phedippidations, a podcast about running, but he also has a podcast for general observations (called “Intervals”) and a podcast about wines (called the “Wine Chat Podcast”). You can check out his blog and subscribe to his podcasts at http://steverunner.blogspot.ca/. Information and links will be in the show notes.

Resources and Articles

Today’s article is from Canada Newswire regarding the “La Passerelle – Intégration et Développement Économique” program, a “project in Toronto that will promote leadership among young visible minority francophone women”. I love the fact that the Canadian Government recognizes the need for programs to increase the quantity and quality of leaders. In a few episodes you will hear about my time in Moncton, New Brunswick – one place we visited was the “Centre d’accueil et d’accompagnement francophone des immigrants du Sud-Est du Nouveau Brunswick” (CAFI for short). I saw two remarkable ladies at this welcome centre for Francophone and Francophile immigrants – I picture them as ideal candidates for this program. The link to the article can be found in the show notes.

(Original article has been deleted)

If you have any suggestions for the resources and articles section, please let me know.

I’m Chris Haché, asking you to be VOCL for a better Canada.

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