M&M photos

As many of you know, we had an "M&M" fundraising event with Michael Ignatieff on Friday, and it was terrific! (Particularly given that it was downtown Toronto, on a Friday evening of the second-last summer weekend!) I want to thank Michael Ignatieff for taking time from his busy schedule, and I also want to thank the MHF team members who worked so incredibly hard to get this off the ground. It's always dangerous to name names because you might leave someone out, but there were a few folks who went over and above, so Carol, David, Puneet, Michele, Sid, Rahil and all the other volunteers who make our team so great, that was a great success---thank you so much!!

I also want to say a special thank you to the Twitterers, facebook folk, and the bloggers who promoted the event (and even reported on while it was happening!)---very neat :-)

Here are a few photos from the night:


Back in Ottawa.

Hello all,

Well Martha is in Willowdale but Anne-Sophie and I are busy here in Ottawa! After a few weeks away it is great to be back on the Hill. The new session buzz has started, we are all gearing up for what promises to be an exciting fall. But we can’t forget there is a little summer left to enjoy.

I was lucky enough to have to opportunity to spend some of my summer in England volunteering for the Bromley by Bow Centre, a community centre in East London. I worked with a fellow named Chris on the “Signs of Life” project painting murals and doing mosaics. “Signs of Life” is a social enterprise that helps to fund the centre. Youth from the community are invited to free art lessons, in exchange they help to paint murals, make mosaics and create other art projects that can be sold to the community. For example, a school might commission Signs of Life to paint a mural on a playground wall. The team will come into the class rooms and work through the process of designing, drawing and painting the mural with the students. Students learn how to paint, they have the chance to contribute to their school and exert their creativity. The centre receives funding that can help to fund future programs and the school is left with a beautiful painting that will last years.

Here is a photo of the mural I helped with. I worked on the stars, believe it or not the few dozen stars took an entire day!

The Bromley by Bow Centre truly is incredible, everything is so interconnected. The medical clinic works with Signs of Life to do art therapy, the learning centre works with the nursery to teach English as a second language and computer skills. The word to describe it is resourceful. I am so happy I had the chance to work with the Bromley by Bow team, as an added bonus I got to see so much more of London than the average tourist!

After the UK I headed back to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia for a quick visit with my family. After a few unusually hot days by the ocean, the first big hurricane of the season and a six am flight I am back in Ottawa.

- Liz


Cake Icing Shenanigans

You only get to turn 50 once, so it's a good thing to celebrate. It's even better when you have such a fabulous group of friends and supporters to celebrate with you. And it's even better than that, when you have friends who won't let you have a 50th birthday party without a little cake icing being tossed around. It is a testament to the fun we have in Willowdale that these particular "cake icing shenanigans" were started by someone who has been around for at least three more decades than I have. Jean, you are an inspiration :-)

More seriously, I want to say a big thank you to the Willowdale Liberal Riding Association for putting on a great birthday party for me, with a particular thank you, as always, to the Willowdale Liberal Women who do so much, all of the time. I am incredibly fortunate to have so many wonderful friends. Thank you!!

- Martha



Fifty!! I can't remember being so excited about a birthday. It really is fantastic. Now the next half century begins.....

My siblings put on a fantastic cottage birthday party for me this weekend, with a great many wonderful friends and family. Monday, my actual birthday 'day', I got to spend with my own three kids, just us, in our own little piece of heaven in Georgian Bay.

Three great kids, all healthy, happy, and good people; a wonderful family of my mum, siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews (a bunch of us had a great time together 'til the wee hours Sat. night :-) ); so many friends and colleagues for whom I have such respect and affection; and a job--a calling--that I absolutely love.

Oh yes, and a new puppy in the family!

I am incredibly fortunate that the past 50 have brought me to this place in my life.

Thank you to everyone who is sending in birthday wishes!! They all mean a great deal to me--thank you so much.



Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don’t

By Jim Collins (co-author of Built to Last); 2001, HarperCollins

See my original book review at Macleans.ca

Jim Collins is an internationally renowned business strategy guru, and is a bestselling author of business strategy books.

My son Everett gave me this “Good to Great” book, knowing my interest in business—but he also thought that I’d recognize that many of the business principles outlined in the book could also apply to politics, political parties and, indeed, Canada. That’s how I read the book—with the applicability to politics, politicians, political parties and, ultimately, Canada, in mind. It proved to be a fascinating and very instructive read.

Mr. Collins and his research team identified and then studied a set of companies that made the leap to great results (GtoG) and sustained those results for at least 15 years, and they diligently compared them to a carefully selected set of “comparison” companies.

I can’t do the full book justice in these brief notes, so I encourage anyone interested in either business or political success to read the whole book. I try here only to summarize a few key points that really hit home for me—as a former business person, but now very much as a federal politician.

I have added into my notes the words [party] and [Canada] to encourage readers to think in those terms.

LEVEL 5 LEADERSHIP: The “great” companies were all led by individuals who showed the traits of what Colllins calls “Level 5 Leadership”. One of the most surprising conclusions was that the GtoG companies were NOT led by people who were high-profile, with “big personalities” who made headlines and became celebrities--to a person, these individuals showed a mix of personal humility and professional will. They were ambitious, very much so, but ambitious first and foremost to the company [party] [Canada] not themselves. A “Level 5 Leader” is resolved to do whatever is needed to make his or her company [party] [Canada] great, no matter how big or hard the decisions. “Level 5 Leaders” very clearly understand that the company [party] [Canada] comes first....

FIRST WHO...THEN WHAT : Transformation in the GtoG companies began by “getting the right people on the bus, and getting the wrong people off, before figuring out how to drive it.” Efforts at determining strategy and vision were only effective AFTER the right people were brought on board. The “genius with a thousand helpers” model fails as soon as the “genius” leaves. Level 5 Leaders were rigorous in people decisions; they acted when they knew they needed a people change, and they put their best people on their biggest opportunities, not their biggest problems. GtoG management teams consisted of people who debated vigorously in search of the best answers, yet who then unified behind decisions. (Interestingly, no correlation was found between greatness and executive compensation.)

CONFRONT THE BRUTAL FACTS (YET NEVER LOSE FAITH): Moving to greatness requires an honest and diligent effort to determine the truth, the real truth, of the company’s [party’s] [Canada’s] situation. This requires a culture where people are encouraged to speak and, importantly, can be heard.

THE HEDGEHOG CONCEPT: To me, this applies so much to the success of a political party and, indeed, to the success of Canada. It requires determining (i) what you are deeply passionate about; (ii) what you can be the best at (importantly, NOT what you WANT to be best at, rather what you CAN be best at); and (iii) determining what drives, in the case of a company, the “economic engine”—in the case of a political party, what drives voter and funder support. In the case of a country, the corresponding concept could be, perhaps, what makes us most proud of being Canadian. (A case in point: we might want to be a world power, but we can’t be---what we CAN be, however, is a significant participant, diplomatically, on the world stage, out of proportion to our size—we can certainly strive to be the best at that, and we know that achieving that is something that makes Canadians very proud.)

A CULTURE OF DISCIPLINE: Sustained great results require a culture of self-discipline, and a group of self-disciplined people. And it is a discipline that involves first engaging in disciplined thought, and THEN taking disciplined action. This is NOT to be confused with one person who “disciplines” the rest—as Collins puts it, “when you have disciplined people, you don’t need a bureaucracy.” This ties, of course, to the idea of “First Who... Then What”--that you need, first and foremost, to get the right people “on the bus”.

TECHNOLOGY ACCELERATORS: Interestingly, the GtoG companies never used technology as a panacea, as the “primary means of igniting a transformation.” They were, however, often “pioneers in the application of carefully selected technologies.” Key was the realization that technology was never a CAUSE of greatness---only as a source of well-selected TOOLS to more effectively implement the strategies otherwise decided on.

THE FLYWHEEL: Here I will simply quote from the book: “Those who launch revolutions, dramatic change programs, and wrenching restructurings will almost certainly fail to make the leap from good to great. No matter how dramatic the end result, the good-to-great transformations never happened in one fell swoop. There was no single defining action, no grand program, no one killer innovation, no solitary lucky break, no miracle moment. Rather, the process resembled relentlessly pushing a giant heavy flywheel in one direction, turn upon turn, building momentum until a point of breakthrough, and beyond.” In other words, achieving greatness takes time and effort, applied consistently.

FROM GOOD TO GREAT TO BUILT TO LAST: The last chapter focuses on how to take a company [party] [Canada] with great one-time or temporary results, and turn it into something enduring. Collins is unequivocal: “To make that final shift requires core values and a purpose beyond just making money.”

In that last sentence, replace “making money” with “getting votes”...... See what I mean?

- Martha