Five years ago, networking had such a profound impact on my life I had to express my gratitude over and above a simple ‘thank you’. The “Golden Crab award” was born in 2011. Since then, I have taken a few days at the start of each year to reflect on who has had the most impact on my life, work, career and thank them publicly. If you feel inclined, here are 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014’s winners. This year held massive change and challenge for me, almost every single person who has been named on this list helped in some way to push and pull me past my fears and helped me to make the change I knew needed to happen. Not just a job change, but a change in the very way I think and live. To every person reading this post who is part of my network, if you have not read this post on all you do for me please do. These are the four people who I have to call out for making 2014 my greatest year on earth. Calling out this first person is kind of awkward, because up until recently, I worked for him. But I’ve known him for almost 15 years, he’s been a teacher and mentor for much of that time and now that I don’t work for him I can go back to being on the executive of his fan club. It’s no surprise to anyone that Malcolm Burrows is first on this list. One of the most emotionally intelligent human beings I know on earth, he taught me the value of imperfection, flexibility and focus. He challenged me and gave me the chance to ride along on the adventure that is his work and impact on Canada’s philanthropic sector. What I admire most is for someone who has accomplished much he retains a sense of curiosity, play and humility that is an inspiration in my work and life. It sounds so easy to call out the head of my beloved Canadian Association of Gift Planners, Ruth MacKenzie. But she’s on this list first for what she has taught me about being a courageous human being and a leader, secondly for her profound impact on the community that is the fuel for my career and increasingly, weaved into my DNA. I value humility, kindness, wisdom but I also require unequivocal excellence in the people I elect to be on my personal board of directors. What Ruth has done, in service to the volunteers, with strategy and action – caused me to rethink what I’m doing with my life. And in the middle of a personal crisis this year, we had a talk that reminded me what real heroes are made of. This is a networking award, a leadership award an expression of admiration and gratitude. Ruth, you are a rockstar. I’m grateful to be part of your team and for your partnership, mentorship and unabashed awesomeness. I almost forgot people like you exist until this year. In 2012 I set a goal that took me two years to achieve. As the leadership guru Napoleon Hill once said – a dream is useless until it’s spoken out loud and then it becomes a goal. I told my dream to Charles O’Neil, that I was becoming an isolated expert and needed to figure out how to get to the east coast of Canada to listen and learn from peers there. Of all the people I asked for help with this goal, Charles was the person to work to make this dream possible. This past fall I got to spend time doing exactly what I needed. Listening, being in dialogue, expanding my network and learning about the culture and climate of philanthropy in a community I really didn’t understand. I have been given the honour of teaching in several roles and I want to ensure my perspective is national and grounded in the real work done by peers in the philanthropic sector. Charles made that possible with such generosity, he reminded me why he recently won the highest award in my profession. When I talk about having a personal board, I often talk about the need for a spot for someone younger than you who often will ‘scare you forward’ by their sheer awesomeness. Some people are annoyed by a younger person out pacing them and challenging their personal best – I’m inspired by it. Rory Green was that person for me in 2014. I was in Canada’s national newspaper the Globe & Mail earlier this year confessing that I’m a ‘wanna be Millennial’ because of their skill, drive, values and how they manifest them very early in a career. It was Rory’s story I was telling. Overcoming challenges, and like me at a younger career moment, the haters. Rory collaborated on numerous networking events and ideas, gave so generously and connected like a networking boss. She pushed herself in speaking roles, social media strategy and career. Many young professionals in social-profit consider Rory a rockstar. She is and I’m so proud and grateful to know her. Earlier this year I called all the previous Golden Crabs together for a dinner. And each of them continue to play a pivotal role in my work and life, they are my MVP’s of networking after all. Alan, Ann, Kate, Promod, Clare, Christina, Leah, John, Brock, Lisa, Emma, Nizam, David and Shannon – thank you for all you have done and continue to do for me and our shared network. Shout outs this year go to:
- Maeve Strathy and all the young professionals who have given me the chance to be their personal board and part of the most exciting moments in their careers
- Heather Jewell and Jason Shim for creating “Pints Not Profits” a networking group for technical professionals in the social-profit community
- Elizabeth Rejman and Janice Cunning for constantly collaborating and allowing me to be part of their professional evolution and being such a strong part of mine.
- Jaime, Heidi, Peter and the Tangerine network. For leading by example, teaching by doing and reminding the world that social business is real and there’s huge value in it
- Lina Duque for her kind feature on me in the Globe & Mail and her course at Ryerson University as well as teachers like Don Tapscott and the ever-awesome Terry O’Reilly and CBC Radio for producing the greatest brain food in Canada
- Anthony and Vivian at Mancave Barbershop for helping me change how I thought of me before I could change how the world did. And Tom Mihalik Jr. for being my style guide and generously speaking again to help guys suit up and restart their own self image.
- The teams at Gift Planning in Canada, Hilborn Fundrasing eNews, AFP eWire, the Globe and Mail Giving Guide, Charity Executive TV and CharityVillage for allowing me to write and be part of their education and service to the sector
- The hundreds of people who have come with me on the road and netwalked in 2014!
I can’t say it enough dear network – I kind of don’t exist without you. You are how I succeed and achieve my life mission to help others do the same. Thank you for all you do, who you are and letting me be part of it! My best wishes to you for great success in 2015 and as always please remember that I’m at your service – let me know how I can help you get to where you want to be in 2016. With great gratitude, Paul