Return of Ian Hill

Ian Hill, March 19, photo by Paul Jen

The return to Fort McMurray by former venture capitalist, current philanthropist Ian Hill following his transformative time here in January during the Leading the North conference was much anticipated.  Many of us gathered at MacDonald Island last night to mix, mingle and absorb the infectious enthusiasm of this incredible motivational speaker.

Something (or several things) about Fort McMurray has descended into Ian's gut, something that compels him to believe that we have the capacity to "define history," to become the next Athens.  He posits that we have the perfect mix of talent, treasure and alignment to make this happen, to be a "beacon of hope for the world".

There were two ideas or concepts that rose to the top for me in this 90 minute presentation/discussion.  The first one pivots around the fundamental flaw of human nature to do the things we do because that's the way  they've always been done.  How many organizations are doing kinda/sorta/maybe the same things?  How many like-missioned nonprofits are fighting against each other for the small scraps of available funding dollars?

Mr. Hill suggested that in every community there are examples of organizations who continue to exist though their time of relevance has come to end.  Do we have some of those?  Do we have organizations that could be more effective and sustainable if they were to merge?  I don't have those answers, but I think they are questions worth exploring.

The other itch that Ian was trying to scratch during last evening's session was the idea of harnessing our untapped human capital through the power of making new connections.  If we surround ourselves by the same people within organizations and initiatives, the best, most innovative ideas will remain unearthed.

He used the term "loose relationships," which to me is problematic due to its unavoidable counter meaning. I like the term "new connections" better, as it captures the idea of reaching out to the streams of people coming into our community who have incredible talents, passion, and energy.  We were recently blown away by this dynamic at the Leadership Wood Buffalo information evening.

"What are you doing to tap into those of us here who don't get into the program," asked a young lady in attendance.

I believe that was a key question that Mr. Hill was suggesting we need to ask ourselves and find an answer to in the coming weeks and months.  He used the word "ignite".  The moment he said it I felt like it fit perfectly.

IGNITE Wood Buffalo - I feel a newcomer mixer coming on!

Thanks Ian.  Enjoy your week in our region!


  1. Thanks Russell.... hope we can all help in the igniting!!!

  2. One of the best speakers I have seen yet!

  3. Understanding what each of us can contribute to the community from life experience and the passion we bring to the table is the best gift of all.


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