Humbled with Humboldt, and Heartbreak For All

Accountability Community Empathy


Note: The cartoon above is by Bruce MacKinnon, an award-winning cartoonist with the Halifax Chronicle Herald. It shows a hockey player dressed in the Broncos green and gold slumped over on his skates with the word “Sask” across his back. He is supported by 10 other players dressed in red with the provinces’ short forms on their jerseys.

Story: The Humboldt Broncos tragedy, where 16 coaches, trainers, and players on the junior hockey team’s bus, died in a horrific collision with a semi-trailer truck on April 6, has triggered something extraordinary across an entire country. This heart crunching, soul searing story seems to have painfully touched us all in very personal and profound ways. This week, I was leading one of our sessions on company culture and nearly 40 of us were circled together, ready to kick the meeting off. One of my teammates had gone out the night before and purchased a hockey stick, and on the blade tape wrote #HumboldtStrong. (Someone in the country had started this symbolic gesture of putting hockey sticks out on the front porch as a statement of compassion and care for the team, families and community. I genuinely believe millions hockey sticks will be placed on the front doors of Canadians everywhere). I put the hockey stick in the middle, kind of like at center-ice, and asked for a moment of reflection. Not a dry eye in the house.

Key Point: They say a change in perspective can increase our IQ. Perhaps one shred of good from this mind-numbing wreckage will be a wee change in perspective for some of us. We are grief stricken. To help underscore our national sense of loss, I’ve shared the following excerpt from the editorial board of The Toronto star:

“…It may be that Canadian hearts have never ached together in quite the way they have these last few days for a little hockey town in Saskatchewan and the 15 souls (NB now 16) lost when a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos to a playoff hockey game collided with a transport truck at a Prairie intersection.

For Humboldt, history divided forever in that moment — to time as it was before, and the time after.

And a nation grieved because it knew that the Broncos were us and, but for chance, we and ours were them.

Such horrors are inherently humbling. They show us how fragile even the strongest of bodies are. They make mockery of our plans and, in the lottery of things, our delusions of control.

They remind us, if only for a time, what’s important. And, always, it is love.

If the loss and heartbreak are beyond measuring, it is also the case that this vast country felt very, very small this past weekend…”

Personal Leadership Moves :

  1. Remember that what you experienced at work today, the job you have or you don’t, the career progression you’re on or not, is just NOT that important. Please allow yourself just to humbled by Humboldt just for a moment, even if all too fleeting of time. Wait until next week before you float back into the proverbial rat race. It’s LOVE that counts over all. Fate is often there to make a mockery of our perfectly coiffed plans.
  2. Be present, be grateful, and live the life you deserve to live NOW. Make that small gesture as a lasting tribute to the memory of the people on that bus, their loved ones, and the forever changed community. Please embrace some small goodness from this unspeakable carnage.
  3. And also consider, if you haven’t already, putting a hockey stick on your front porch or balcony to remind you and the rest of us… If for just a while.

Heartbroken in personal leadership,


One Millennial View: With one Twitter or Instagram search, it’s amazing to see the outpour of support for Humboldt from all over the world. Even here in Austin, there are a variety of examples of local Texans lending their participation to the #PutYourSticksOut movement. Keep in mind, this is a city with only one regulation sized hockey rink. It’s primarily football country, and frankly, it’s probably easier to ride a horse or bull around here than organize a hockey game on ice skates. Nevertheless, there is not one of us who can’t feel, fear and be humbled by a tragic crash with a young sports team, just trying to get to a playoff game. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis


Children of God

Accountability Community Growth mindset


Key Point: We have a long way to go before achieving ubiquitous diversity/inclusion in organizations, and our everyday experiences provides an opportunity to advance this agenda. We just need to be awake enough to understand this. Boards of Directors can lead the way! So can you and I as we go about our daily routine. We just have to want to look, really see, and constructively act. 

I’m taking a course put on by the Institute of Corporate Directors through the University of Alberta and University of Toronto. It’s an awesome program, and a tremendous privilege to be a student. One of the areas of focus for board members is to help management crystallize an organization’s strategic intent. This includes a full exploration of the institution’s approach to diversity and inclusion.

As if on cue to underscore this point, I recently attended a powerful play called The Children of God, at Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre. The play is a snapshot of Canada’s ugly and misguided attempt to erase the indigenous culture by sending First Nations people to Residential Schools. The impact has been one of lasting intergenerational trauma. The story on stage is very honest and difficult, and the theater has even made support counselors available for patrons. I’m still thinking about the production.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. We have to open our eyes and become more aware. Preconceived notions, biases, and judgment does not advance ALL of us.
  2. Those of us in leadership positions must provide for more insight and inspire action. In the case of indigenous communities, we need to intentionally hire and promote more of them to allow their narrative to complete a richer story for us ALL.
  3. All Canadians (and the rest of our readers) would benefit from reading
    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Findings.

Humbled in personal leadership,


One Millennial View: I’m happy to note that I’ve always worked in organizations that hire people from all walks of life, every crayon in the box, and I’m willing to bet that many Millennials have similar experiences in their office spaces. It’s great that productions like “Children of God” exist to help raise awareness today. Little known disturbing fact: Writer of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” L. Frank Baum, was once a reporter in South Dakota and wrote an article advocating for the “Extermination of Native Americans” in the 1890s. Those days were incomprehensibly hideous in comparison to today’s, but of course, work still needs to be done. Thankfully, present day yellow brick roads tend to lead more towards inclusivity, not genocide.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Garbage Men Dave and Rudy Teach Us WOW

Abundance Community Kindness


Key Point: Our company has a value based on WOWing each other on a daily basis. I often have people look at me in bewilderment when we discuss this, like “how could I possibly do that in my role?” Well, look for guidance from Nova Scotia garbage men Dave and Rudy. You may want to watch the video in this CTV News article:

Every Wednesday, three-year-old Hiro Getson walks to the end of his driveway, sits down and waits for the garbage truck. Like many kids his age, the toddler from Eastern Passage, N.S. has developed a love of big trucks. But even stronger than that early fascination is his unlikely friendship with two garbage men he greets each week.

Dave Nickerson said he and his colleague, Rudy, have developed a weekly ritual.

Hiro Getson, 3, and his mom check out a garbage truck at the end of their driveway.

‘Rain or shine, he’s at the end of the driveway. So we started watching for him, honking the horn for him, getting out and letting him play with the handles,’ Nickerson told CTV Atlantic.

Since Hiro took an interest in the garbage truck and its drivers last year, he’s baked them cookies and, most recently, gave them cards on Valentine’s Day. To repay the little boy’s kindness, the garbage men brought Hiro a special gift this week for his birthday: a toy garbage truck that resembles his favourite ride. They painted the truck the same shade of green and included small, personal details.”

So now, Hiro has a cool garbage truck with Dave and Rudy decals on the toy doors. And, Dave and Rudy make this child happy every Wednesday while getting his affection, occasionally expressed in cookies. If you Google this trend, there are actually quite a few stories where garbage men see themselves as more than people who take away our refuse. They bring cleanliness and friendliness to the community. They could just be cantankerous workers, feeling victimized by their role and frustrated by the underlying aspect of garbage. It’s even likely some days are that way for Dave and Rudy. However, what a difference when we have the ability to reframe what’s in front of us. Let’s face it, everyone of us picks up garbage in our work. What if we challenged ourselves to reframe our jobs with a little bit of WOW?

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Pause to think how we might WOW someone we interact with regularly. It doesn’t have to expensive or big. It is often just the statement that: “I see you, and appreciate that you’re there for me.”
  2. Be like Dave and Rudy this week. Wow someone who faithfully comes out to see you “every Wednesday.” Buy ’em a toy truck. Yay for Dave and Rudy’s inspirational act.

More than garbage in Personal Leadership,


One Millennial View: I remember when one of my co-workers (who I didn’t really interact with much at the time) attended The Masters golf tournament with her husband. I was the only worker on my team interested in the event, and most other employees didn’t understand the appeal. Well, when I returned to my desk the week after, the co-worker who attended The Masters left me a small, green, plastic cup she acquired while there. It was likely free, but it was the idea that she hauled it back from Augusta, Georgia that meant so much. I still use it as a water cup on a regular basis. Definitely a WOW move.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

To Our Readers and Followers

Abundance Community Gratitude


After four plus years, publishing two blogs per week (about 450 blog posts), Garrett and I are taking a vacation until the first Tuesday in September!! We are looking forward to refueling and breathing in “white space” as we reload. We love sharing our thoughts with you, and are grateful for your encouragement and feedback. Thank you!

In the fall, you will see a revamped Lorne Rubis website and the addition of a podcast. Our continued commitment is to bring you thoughts that inspire, and meaningful insights that are both accessible and actionable. Your readership propels us forward everyday.

Have a great rest of the summer. We hope you will continue with us in the fall.

Lorne and Garrett

Have Fun at Work Every Day

Community Organizational culture Respect


Key Point: If you are not having fun at work most of the time, I have one strong recommendation: QUIT ASAP and find somewhere where you can! So what does having fun at work mean to me? The following may not translate the same way for you, but here is what I believe helps me have fun everyday:

  1. Do not take yourself or your work too seriously! Most of us are not saving lives or the planet. Even if we are, we benefit from being humble and self-deprecating in a balanced way. I enjoy teasing and being teased by others if it is not mean-spirited.
  1. Find the humor in every day things. Point out the quirkiness surrounding you and your team, and enjoy the heck out of it. The team I’m part of pokes fun at the biases we have, language we use, and viewpoints we carry around.
  1. Pull practical jokes. I have punk’d all of my teammates, and most of my direct reports. I could share pranks that would have you doubled over in laughter. We love each other more after. The stories become embellished over time.
  1. Celebrate wins and the idea of togetherness. I remember the first time in the early 90’s when I went to Japan. On Thursday and Friday nights, the streets were filled with happy (often-inebriated) teams, weaving arm-in-arm in the Ginza. I’m not necessarily advocating the incorporation of alcohol, but I am encouraging team celebrations and fun together. Go Bowling! Skeet Shooting! Dragon Boat racing! Any social activity!
  1. Laugh out loud multiple times a day. Every interaction, every meeting, (except with the odd case of a termination), should involve an “LOL.” I’m serous. LOL, many times, every day. Every meeting or interaction has a laugh meter that keeps us real and authentic.

Character Moves:

  1. What is your “laugh out loud factor” everyday at work? If it doesn’t happen at least once per day, ask yourself why.
  1. Embrace the humor in our “EVERY DAY.” Appreciate our personal vulnerability; perhaps even our shortcomings. We all want to be loved, embraced and to be our authentic selves. We are all naturally funny.

LOL everyday in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: In the classroom, we all had to be quiet. Curbing disruption makes more sense there. I wonder if that’s why there’s some myth where “fun at work” means you aren’t getting results, or aren’t doing your job properly. C’mon though. We’ve graduated. Even if you’re stuck filling out spread-sheet after spread-sheet, there’s no way that you can’t find the humor in how boring Excel can be with the person at the cube next to you. If people aren’t finding ways to joke at work, it’s likely because they’re afraid to, and that’s a shame.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis