Wisdom of Chairman of the Board



Key Point: Serious directors on boards of significant organizations have so much to teach us. Unfortunately, few of us ever get to observe, let alone participate, on public boards. And the Board Chairs are often most interesting because they have the responsiblity to extract value from both the board and management. To do this effectively requires exceptional IQ, EQ and insight to deftly guide the entity.

This past Friday, we live streamed an interview with the Chair of our Board, Brian Hesje. He is a very respected leader, recognized and admired by impact players in Alberta and throughout North America. For almost 20 years, Mr. Hesje has been at the governance helm of ATB Financial. When he took on that role, ATB, despite in existence for 60 years, was essentially insolvent. Bit by bit, with the steady guidance from Hesje, his board colleagues, and refreshed management, the company is now thriving. During the last 8 years, with Dave Mowat as CEO, the organization is arguably one of the best run companies in Canada. So what lessons did we learn from the reflections of our Chair? The following are just a few important gems that are worthy of consideration by all of us, regardless of what role we have:

  1. “One way to evaluate the value of both directors and management is the degree their driving agenda is determined by what’s best for the organization versus what’s best for them personally. Ego is well governed and the very best leaders are always about doing the right thing rather than just being right.
  2. While the fiduciary responsibility of Board members (in Canada) is about doing what’s best with the entire corporation (all stakeholders and not just the shareholders), the most important thing is to be “people first.” Hesje believes the route to happy customers and an acceptable shareholder return is through employees being at the front of the value line. 
  3. To understand what we have to do improve things for customers is sometimes overworked. Management establishes focus groups, hires consultants etc. However, if we just thoughtfully asked ourselves what makes us happy or unhappy as customers we would know what to do. Just fix the basics first.
  4. The most important product that service companies like ATB have to ‘sell’ is TRUST. Everything must be done to protect the trust between all stakeholders. This means living up to the commitments we make.
  5. Everyone in the organization must be committed to personal growth. Because the institution is made up of the collective mindset, this thinking will drive continuous innovation. No growth, no job, no company.
  6. Have the ability to consciously choose what to keep and improve, versus what to disrupt (eliminate and completely reinvent). Not everything needs to be ‘thrown out.’  Making these choices is the hard work of hard work.”

One attribute that Brian really values is the ability for leaders to think and find the essence of things. Complex problems are not necessarily calling for complex solutions. Rather, the most important contributions are often elegantly simple.

Brian… Thank you for your wisdom and taking the time to share it with all of us.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Take the time to seriously consider Mr. Hesje’s lessons and how they might make you and me better leaders and people.

Wisdom in Personal Leadership


One Millennial View: Mr. Hesje sounds like a great man with positive intentions for everyone involved with the company. Sometimes I think Millennials might hear the position of “Chair of our Board,” and immediately invision Darth Vader. Thanks to people like Mr. Hesje, we have a more balanced view of the tremendous responsibility they have to effectively govern.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis


Personal and Exponential

Abundance Resources


Key Point: The Singularity University Canada Summit‘s (currently underway in Toronto, Ontario) mission is to inspire and enable more Canadians to think BIG, take risks to drive global impact for the advancement of humankind. (Singularity U is doing this worldwide, and online).

To kick things off at the summit, one of the world’s most influential leaders and co-founder of Singularity, Peter Diamandis, took the stage to engage the conference community in understanding the difference between linear and exponential thinking. Until recently, most of the growth and change in the world has been comparatively linear. And Diamandis emphasized that the powerful advances in technology are combining to make change exponential. He went on to explain that if one took 30 linear steps forward , the outcome would be travelling a distance of approximately 30 meters across the room. 30 exponential steps however would result in us travelling 1,073,741,824 meters; 26x around the earth. That exponential world is mostly in front of us. If we think the world is changing fast now, hang onto your hats because exponential growth is going to redefine what disruptive even means. Faster, cheaper computing power including but not limited to dramatic change in networks & sensors , synthetic biology, robotics, 3D printing, virtual reality/augmented reality, Artificial Intelligence, and Blockchain/cryptocurrency are blowing up (or about to) whole industries. Business models in all industries are under assault. The best of us see this emerging world filled with abundant opportunity. Thoughtful courageous leaders know they have to think in terms of platforms rather than “pipes.” And much more.

So how do you and I navigate through this? I feel strongly that we have to make this very personal and immediate. Don’t wait for someone and/or your organization to “teach you.” I strongly believe that you and I must not sit on the the sidelines until technology and exponential disruptions combine to swarm over us. If we want to participate rather than spectate, it becomes very necessary to get involved NOW.

One of the thought leaders in exponential leadership is Lisa Kay Solomon, the Chair and Managing Directors of Transformational Practices at Singularity University. The following are some very practical, personal things Lisa suggests in this context of active participation in the world of  transformation:

  1. Clip headlines.
  2. Watch trends.
  3. Map uncertainties.
  4. Find patterns.
  5. Go extreme (imagine extreme outcomes).
  6. Extinction (imagine things no longer necessary).
  7. Time Travel (touch the future through experiences).
  8. Visualize (imagine what the future looks like).

We do not have to be technology experts, go out and get computer science degrees, etc. However, I cannot emphasize enough the significance of self-learning and imagining how this technology works independently, and more importantly how they combine as systems to dramatically change our lives.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Commit to experiencing (not just reading about) ALL of the following in action over the next (x) weeks. (You decide pace and order): networks & sensors, synthetic biology, robotics, 3D printing, virtual reality/augmented reality, Artificial Intelligence, and Blockchain/cryptocurrency. Play with this technology.
  2. Identify one or more leading commercial entities in each one of these areas. Follow them and learn how they are or will be transforming an industry/market.
  3. Think BIG about this. Picture and put yourself in the middle. Be a player, have courage, make a difference. 

Personal disruption in leadership,


One Millennial View: When I took the Singularity U online course, thinking exponentially makes total sense but I’m thankful for Lisa Kay Solomon’s bullet points on “how to.” Thanks to my curiosity in podcasts, I’ve learned about things like cryptocurrency and synthetic biology (check out CRISPR if you want your mind a little blown), and yeah, the future is quickly going to look a lot different. Thanks to Singularity U’s abundant take, it definitely seems like a world I’d rather be involved in than just observe.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Watch This Video – STP to Lubricate Your Communication Skills!

Accountability Resources Self-improvement


Have you used the process called STP for engaging in effective discussions and problem solving? I use it every day. It is the most useful communication tool in my daily skill value kit. Practice it and I guarantee you will be grateful for the results!

STP in the Triangle,



Will You Walk Elephants to Water?

Abundance Purpose Resources




I read Gruen’s book Water for Elephants a few years ago and enjoyed it. I recently saw the movie. What struck me as I watched it on the big screen was the beginning, which of course started at the end. The central character was at the final stage of his long life; the “circus” was a literal metaphor for life. One day, for some of us much sooner than later, we will be standing at the end looking back at our working lives. Our journey will have its ups and downs of course but what can we do now to prepare for the time when we look back over our journey? Here is what I deeply believe in:

  1. If we do what we are good at and practice it to get even better; we will have a better chance at happiness at work.
  2. If we also do what we like to most of the time; then we will take our working lives to an even higher plane.
  3. If we add the ingredients of doing #1 and #2 while giving superb value to what others need most of the time, including our team mates, clients and customers, then we will likely achieve a great sense of gratification.  

 When we can intersect these three things, and keep turning the wheel to be amazing, we will be happy to stand at the end thinking about our metaphorical circus with contentment. It won’t be perfect. It won’t be easy.  And, of course, I deeply believe the Character Triangle values will give you that character to excel.

Character Move: don’t let the world wash over us while we feel stuck getting a pay check. We can find a way to balance our talent with what we like and provide value. Yes we have obligations but that doesn’t mean we can’t find that recipe. Start to work on a plan now.

Do you really know what your good at and what you like to do? What are you practicing to get better at? How do you connect this activity into giving value? and into being amazing?

Start at the end to get to the beginning! Imagine standing there at the end. You are 70 yrs old. What did you spend time doing over the last 50 years? How do you feel?

Water that elephant in the triangle,