Eulogy for Darlene Grunder

Daryl HattonPersonal

I’m Daryl Hatton – Darlene’s eldest child. I’d like to share with you some stories of my mom and what I’ve learned from her.

Darlene Marie Shorten, was born New Year’s Eve, 1937. In thinking about how she lived her life – this seems like the perfect day! Being very unselfish, she generously shared her special day with the rest of the world and, in response, the world threw the biggest party you can imagine, on that night, EVERY YEAR. There were even fireworks!

But the underlying point is that, to her, it was never about her birthday, or for that matter, about her at all. Ever. With husband Art by her side, the progressive New Year’s Eve dinners with friends were one of the highlights of her year. Not because it was her birthday but because it was just another great opportunity to get together with people she loved, to celebrate endings and new beginnings. Her generosity and focus on the experience of others was a foundation of her life. She cared deeply for people and put others first, sometimes perhaps to her detriment.

Her goodwill towards others showed up in many subtle but powerful ways. My son Ben’s birth was a very difficult delivery over multiple days ending with my wife Myra having an emergency C section. Darlene was the first person to come to the hospital but instead of racing to see the new baby, she stood at the foot of Myra’s bed until she woke. And then, she smiled and simply said, “good job”. It meant a lot.

Darlene was curious about other people. Sometimes embarrassingly curious. She was gregarious and loved talking with people. And she was community focused, always wanting to help out, even if she hadn’t been asked. When we were young, mom would start talking with anyone who was close by; in the line at the grocery store, at the next table in a restaurant, while waiting in the doctor’s office. I’d cringe as she struck up a conversation with yet another TOTAL STRANGER. As kids, we’re not supposed to do that, right??? She’d recommend items on the menu, or talk about recipes for fresh vegetables or would share details of family health issues. Sometimes I just wanted to crawl under a rock and die.

And then I had kids. And somewhere along the line I started talking with strangers. In the line at the coffee shop. Or at the airport. Or at the next table. And I’d recommend one of the menu items. And my kids would cringe. And I realized I’d become my mother!

Fortunately, my kids have apparently learned that this behavior is OK much faster than I have. That’s good because the unexpected benefit of this little quirk is that it naturally and painlessly strengthens our community. It is friendly and inclusive and tolerant and magnanimous; all things we need more of in society right now.

One trait that I acquired from my mom was her empathy; the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. She was so good at it she’d end up crying at sappy commercials on television … and I was right there with her.

Growing up I looked at this as a weakness. I was very uncomfortable with all the emotions that would bubble up and tried to suppress them. But when mom moved to BC after her divorce and in the many conversations we had at that time about life, and purpose, relationships and family, about forgiveness and not holding a grudge, loving ourselves and being grateful for every challenge we encounter, I started to learn what an incredible gift empathy is. What better way to help someone feel safe and loved than to share in their emotional journey, not from a position of weakness but from one of strength and caring? To be a rock they lean on and a guide to support them in finding their path forward. While I am still sometimes very uncomfortable with the unpleasant side effects of having strong empathy, I consider it one of the greatest and most amazing gifts she has given me. When I accept my weaknesses and turn them into strengths, I win. It’s a powerful lesson.

One of my favorite memories of Darlene is from 1988 when she took a trip to Europe with Kate to celebrate Kate’s graduation from UBC. I sneakily arranged to fly over and surprise them in Paris. After creating quite the scene in the train station (Kate was screaming “What are YOU doing here!” Repeatedly! It cleared the platform…) we set out to explore Paris. For the first time, instead of being parent & child, we were just people sharing an experience. And mom was FUN! I’ll never forget her dancing her way down a Paris street near the Eiffel Tower, swinging from the lamp posts, trying her best to emulate Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain, and singing at the top of her lungs. The wine she’d drunk (“But I only had one glass – Yes, mom, but they refilled it multiple times!”) contributed to the enthusiasm but in the end, I remember vividly seeing the young woman inside of her, free from the constraints of motherhood, simply living life fully and with passion. It inspires me to remember to take time out to play.

Darlene was adventurous. I didn’t recognize this for a long time, as a young boy having mentally positioned her in the “boring, stay-at-home mom” category. But there were lots of examples.

We shared an extended family cabin on Last Mountain Lake in Saskatchewan. One time, Uncle Bob had his boat out and asked if any of the adults wanted to go water skiing. If I recall, only my mom wanted to go. I was frankly shocked to see her get up almost right away! Apparently, she was more of a natural athlete than she ever let on.

After she moved to BC, and soon after she became a grandmother, she learned to snow ski. And she was good at it! We would go night skiing on Grouse Mountain to look at the city lights and have some time to talk on the chairlifts. We got so into our conversations that a few times I turned around and skied backwards in front of her so we could continue talking! She was worried that I would run into someone, but I knew that would never happen. Across all areas of her life, personally and professionally, she was aware of everyone around her and was always looking out for others. I trusted her to guide me, and we were fine.

One story of being adventurous and also courageous really stands out for me. Growing up, we had an Olympic class racing sailboat – 13 feet 6 inches long and way too much sail if the wind got up beyond a breeze. I was skipper and mom or dad were crew which gave us an ideal weight distribution for that boat. One year dad and I won the regional qualifying races to the Summer Games. And then, for reasons I’m only now beginning to understand, we were told that there weren’t enough women on the team from our region and I had to race with my mom!

In theory, not so bad, because in light winds, our combined light weight and all that sail would make us very fast. But. The races were in Swift Current. And the winds were blowing hard. Really hard. Frankly, I was freaked out. This wasn’t going to be fun. In fact, it was actually quite dangerous.

Mom was game to go and said her famous phrase: “Don’t worry – it will all work out”. We headed out for the series of races we had to run. It was rough. Really tough. The winds were so strong we capsized multiple times each race. We were exhausted. The goal no longer was winning. It was finishing. At times it felt like just surviving would be a miracle.

But through it all, even in the worst moments, mom just stayed focused on her job. She expected and trusted me to do my job and did her best to do hers. She didn’t coach or cheerlead or push to do more. She was my mother but more importantly, my teammate. I know she was scared, too, but she had faith we’d be OK. And we were.

Faith was another of her cornerstones. Whenever things were challenging in my life or in my family’s lives, it was common to hear Darlene say to us, “Don’t worry – it will all work out”. Not as a platitude. As a simple expression of fact.

One key thing that was evident during those sailing races but really in everything she did: Darlene had an incredible work ethic. All three kids competed in figure skating and ice dance. This had a big personal impact on Darlene as she had to sew all our costumes, frequently staying up very late at night working on them. The work was long, and probably boring. But she had perseverance and got it done. Now, a common phrase used by my family when facing hard work is “Let’s just get it done.”

I asked my daughter McKenna for a few simple thoughts on her relationship with her grandma. She talked about feeling accepted and loved, proactively and unconditionally. She always felt safe and respected, as a person, not just a child. As an adult McKenna says she now understands the conflicts inherent in divorce and is grateful that Darlene willingly endured them to ensure her grandchildren had a great experience of family.

Terry Shorten, Darlene’s youngest sibling said this: From the youngest member of the family to the oldest sibling, the mentoring and guidance given while growing up will never be forgotten and the times we shared will be held close to the heart forever.

Alex Shorten, Darlene’s next youngest sibling said this: As I think of Dar the following comes to mind, “Loving big sister who was thoughtful, kind, considerate, with not a mean bone in her body or a mean thought on her mind.
As I was growing up with four older siblings and later a younger sibling, Darlene at times was a stand-in Mom, a baby sitter and a supporter of my early interest in books (I read them under the covers at night with a flashlight) and sports. She used these skills and others to develop 3 terrific children that possess many of her same characteristics.”

Darlene’s definition of family was not constrained. Quite the opposite, it was expansive. In the early days of my family and with the all complexities in our lives, it became clear we needed help at home. Lisa, a colleague of Myra’s, came to live with us and help take care of the kids. She quickly became part of our family but somewhat to our surprise, also Darlene’s. Mom adopted Lisa into her extended family because they were aligned to the same purpose – to support my family and help us be healthy and whole. Their relationship extended all the way until Darlene was in memory care. Once, when I asked mom about it, she said, “Your true family is not always related by blood”. From the way she treated Lisa, and at a deeper level, my adopted sister Kate, and step-siblings David and Linda, this rings true.

In writing this piece I realized I have many more stories than I could possibly share. And I’m feeling very grateful for that. But another thing I learned from my mom, at times like these, we have to keep moving.

So… things I’ve learned from my mom:

• Be generous and focus on the experience of others
• Be curious, gregarious, community focused and always willing to help out
• Talk with strangers and be friendly, inclusive, tolerant and magnanimous
• Be empathetic and use empathy to show love, give protection and provide guidance
• Pay attention to relationships
• Practice forgiveness and don’t hold grudges
• Love yourself
• Be equally grateful for every gift and every challenge
• Live life fully and with passion
• Be adventurous and courageous
• Be aware of everyone around you and always look out for them
• Stay focused on the job, work hard and have perseverance.
• Always have faith that things will work out and act accordingly
• Family is very important
• Blood relatives are not the only family you’ll have
• Keep moving

In thinking about mom over the last few weeks I’ve not been surprised to recognize how important these lessons are in every part of my life: private, personal and professional. But the part that is surprising is how much they are infused in the company I’ve built. We help people use crowdfunding and social media to raise money for community causes they care about anywhere in the world. Already, we have affected millions of lives in a positive way and expect to affect many more. Our corporate culture reflects the lessons I’ve learned. Mom, you were inspiring and impactful.

I am very grateful for my time with Darlene and very proud to be her son.

She was a great woman and I miss her.



After the death of my mother

Daryl HattonPersonal

My mother Darlene died yesterday morning. It was quick and probably painless. She got up out of bed and collapsed – likely from an aneurysm in her brain. She was 80.


I’ve been sitting here tonight feeling wonderful with all the love pouring in from friends through Facebook and over the phone. But I’m still puzzled and amazed by the differences in the way I see what has happened compared with the responses from most everyone else.

My heart is not breaking. I’m not feeling a tremendous loss. I’m not going through some of the extreme pain that others are going through. I will miss her but I don’t feel like a part of me has been ripped away. And I don’t think I’m broken. Perhaps quite the contrary.

I’m celebrating her. Almost overjoyed at her ability to check out on her terms with grace and elegance and a sense of humor and, most importantly, a sense of adventure. Not because she forced her way out but because she allowed it to happen naturally. She didn’t MAKE anything happen; she ALLOWED it to happen. This is mastery.

She was an anchor of the Amica community. Her goodwill was so profound and her relationships so strong that they had to set up visitations from the residents and staff who came one at a time to see her before they took her body away. I’m told some of them thanked her for being such a good friend. She’d only known these people (who can’t remember squat) for a year and a bit. Can we say “quietly impactful”?

So I’m not upset. I’m a bit sad but mostly really happy for her.

Someone asked me how it was that I can be and think this way. I think it gets down to a few simple thoughts:

  • If you really believe in something, then act based on it i.e. trust it. I believe we are all connected regardless of this physical plane. This isn’t just about life after death; this is life outside of what we think of as life that occurs in parallel with life. If this idea is “true”, then why mourn the transition from one state to another? It is simply another step on the journey and, more likely and more importantly, a step up and forward, not back to darkness. It is something to celebrate!
  • Death is a part of life. We can choose to fear it or embrace it. I’m not looking to advance my own as I’m kind of enjoying this stage but I’m not all that afraid of it. I went to sleep the night before my heart surgery with the thought “If this was all that I did this time, it was enough – I’m OK with it”. It was an amazing feeling of peace. And I slept well.
  • People are not possessions – they are gifts from the universe of time and energy. I think many people mourn because they haven’t taken the time to take in the gift when it is presented to them. Their regrets are what hurt them.
  • It doesn’t matter how long you get with someone – every little bit is important. I’m grateful for the time I’ve had with mom, not resentful that there wasn’t more. This is a HUGELY powerful yet calming feeling.
  • I think many people are screwed up about death because of religion. The abuse of trust and the manipulation of emotions for the sake of power makes me sad and somewhat angry. It is slightly strange but I think of religion as the combinatory yin/yang of good/evil. It is both a force for good and a manifestation of evil. They are mostly in balance. Recently I see it swinging a bit in the wrong direction…

I’ve been wondering about the wisdom of turning this into a blog post as I think it may be too soon and too raw for others to deal with right now. The hardest part of this whole adventure is dealing with the hurt feelings so many people have at mom’s passing. I’m such an empath that talking with them brings out the tears in a heartbeat. As I said to my big brother uncle Terry today “it exposes the cracks in my armor and lets the knife penetrate”. He called it a family genetic defect we all share. Probably true. LOL.

Last night Myra, McKenna and I watched the Guernsey Literary Club (a movie). It was a well-acted well-written love story that dealt with many hard issues of life that came up during the German occupation of Guernsey. We laughed and cried – deeply. It was the perfect way to end the day.

Mom & I – a very long time ago…

My siren

Daryl HattonPersonal

Cute. Sweet. Gingham dress. Innocent.

You chased me ‘round the store.

“Need help finding anything?”

First thought? Your number! A dinner date?

I look at figs. And at granola. Why was I in a health food store???

You smiled. I melted. Took a risk. “Dinner?”

Yes?!?! Gulp. 7? Wow. Fear.

Knocked on your door. Heard “Wait!”

Nervous. Locked. Click. Open. Confusion!

Slip dress. Heels. Hair down. Lipstick.

Sexy. Confident. Glowing.

I’m lost. And smitten.

Drive to English Bay. Fine dining.

You look at me like I am a god.

I stutter. I brag. I try to be cool.

You flirt. Demure. Laugh. Wink.

We walk. And talk. And talk.

Hours pass. Sun sets. And starts to rise.

I take you home. Kiss you goodbye. It lingers.

I couldn’t sleep from thinking of you.

And still can’t…

Lessons learned: My BBC Interview

Daryl HattonConnectionPoint, Entrepreneurship

Tonight I had a chance to be on BBC Newsday (part of their World Service). Not once. Twice. They claim an audience of 283 million listeners as the world’s largest international broadcaster and the world’s biggest breakfast radio show. Even if only a fraction of them are listening at once they’ll number more than ALL THE RESIDENTS OF CANADA. No pressure.

I gave myself a rating of 6 out of 10 on the interviews. I’ll explain why below…

What I’ve learned about radio interviews:

  • Pay attention to the format of the show.
    Don’t get lulled into the idea that all radio interviews are the same. In my opinion, there are at least four types of shows.

    • News format shows (like BBC Newsday).
      While we may like to think of these as “Just the facts, ma’am” they are actually all about “Here is my opinion stated as facts”. The high speed tempo of the show is crucial. In most cases these are a series of facts/opinions presented in a breathless tone. Frankly, these present an opportunity for three or four 15 to 20 second sound bites of your message and content at most. Think of each of these as two or three sentences max of “punchy” statements. The focus is on “snackable content” that can be consumed while the listener is doing something else. Making the audience think is a no-no in this format. Don’t beat around the bush – tell them what you want them to know. In short sentences. Or risk the host cutting you off as happened in my second BBC interview (-1 points on the 10 point scale). I was off-tempo and deserved it.
    • Talk radio shows.
      These present an opportunity to drill into a topic by making strong statements about it. However, it is not about detail as much as it is about big, sweeping statements. In this format, controversial statements are your friend as they invite the host to drill into what you said and give you the chance to repeat the key value of your statement in multiple ways. This tactic also gives you the chance to provide more background to support your broad sweeping statement (which you should repeat as you defend it).
    • Blog style radio shows.
      These are all about deep discussions of the concepts and frequently are about the host of the show satisfying their own personal curiosity about your topic by asking you a bunch of questions. Personally, these are my favorite because when you have a good host, they “get” your expertise and, if you give them appropriate signals early in the interview by talking about the concept of “things listeners want to know”, will let you run with your own agenda (because you are making them look good) for the interview as long as you keep pushing out valuable tidbits.
    • Interview style radio shows.
      These are more about you as the authority on the topic and your view of the world. I think of these as like dating conversations. You are trying to be yourself and yet let your knowledge of the topic shine through. But in doing so, you are also essentially building a relationship with the listener so that they feel they can trust you. This is why personal anecdotes which aren’t valuable in other interview formats can be pure gold in the interview style show.
  • Remember that the person on the other end of the line has a very hard job.
    To be credible in their job they need to create the illusion that they know what they are talking about. In many interview formats, throwing them one or two softballs as you deliver your initial messages can really help them “warm” to you and cede control of the interview content over to you. For example, (only when true – don’t make this stuff up!) you might say “as you said in the intro to this segment blah blah blah” as you echo their positioning of the segment and make them look good. Now that you’ve affirmed their expertise by transferring some of your credibility over to them you can make statements that they’ll want to support and therefore continue the quid pro quo.
  • Assume the audience knows nothing.
    Seriously. Nothing.
    As people in the tech/startup industries who “make it happen” we have deep knowledge of our topics, run in circles surrounded by really smart people and tend to drop into intellectual shortcuts where we assume the audience has a basic understanding of what we are talking about. In almost all cases, this is a complete fantasy and unhelpful strategy! In my opinion, there is almost no floor to the concept of dumbing it down and keeping it very basic. While irritating (ok, I’m a snob), it does a better job of communicating your message to a much larger audience than talking to the 2% of the audience who already know something about your topic. The world is a very big place. The online audience for many shows is as well. While we want to believe that there are lots of people like us out there, it isn’t the truth. Tailor your messages accordingly.

So why just 6 out of 10? I’m not being really hard on myself – just holding myself up to the ideal and making a comparison. I’m actually pretty happy with what I did but know there are areas where I want to improve. So…

  • I lost a point when the host cut me off. My topic and the words about it were running long. The host cut me off to protect the “tempo'” of the show. I got the message.
  • Totally missed the opportunity to promote my business (-2). All I needed to do was to introduce my answers to one or more of the questions with a line something like this: “As a world leading crowdfunding site, FundRazr customers tell us that …”. In this example with just a short intro I positioned the company and dropped the name into a regular answer without actually talking about the company. I had at least two opportunities to do this on these interviews and whiffed on both of them.
  • I lost a point because I failed to do enough research to know the bias of the host and the tone of the interview prior to getting into it. This is absolutely my bad. I didn’t grill the producers who contacted me enough to know the hosts’ agenda. In these interviews, it was really about positioning the US health system as having significant funding challenges. I figured it out about 20 seconds into the second interview and am happy that I was able to instantly start to reposition/address it to our advantage.

All in all, not bad, but still I can and will do better. Each one of these is an opportunity to grow. By the time we are done in this market I might actually get passably good at it (grins).

One thing that gave me a little smile was that the producers of the show assumed I was a professional PR person and didn’t hand-hold me through the interview i.e. they didn’t brief me on the format of the show, the format of the interview or even the name of the host. In contrast, CBC Vancouver did an AMAZING job of setting the stage for me so that I could deliver the content they needed for the show. It just shows that we have some amazing talent in Canada. I, personally, think we need to talk that up more.

If you have feedback or additional information on what works or doesn’t, please let me know and I’ll share it with everyone.

The Great Displacement is coming

Daryl HattonSocial issues

Technology is driving a massive change in the availability of jobs.

And it will hurt everyone, not just the low end of the socio-economic spectrum.

We are already seeing the edge of the wave. At the new restaurants in Toronto airport you place your order on a tablet at your table. People bring the food. It means half the staff to service the same number of customers. Or half the jobs of a similar size restaurant. When autonomous robots get a little cheaper even the food delivery staff will go. All but a handful of jobs will be gone.

Check out this article on LinkedIn:

The article gives stats on the forecast disruption to driving industry jobs. Adding 2 to 3 MILLION people to the pool looking for work in the US will drive wages down for those that remain. It may take a decade to get going but then the impacts will be felt quickly and intensely.

I’ve seen a stat where in the auto industry 70% of the jobs at one plant were replaced by robots and defects dropped by 80%. These people don’t just go down the road and get another job. They are out of that line of work permanently. And they are not the best group for job retraining at the scale needed to give them a new career. The result is they drop out of the economy (lowering the “participation rate”) and sometimes succumb to substance abuse and/or depression. Without income they also don’t buy as many goods and services depressing the economy for everyone.

We need to rethink our social compact and figure out how to get through this coming “Great Displacement” and take care of these people. After all they are not some abstract group but our relatives, neighbours, friends and especially our kids. If not, those people out of work will become desperate and angry. They might even elect an autocrat to represent them who will promise to make things great again. It isn’t possible – there is no going back. And the charade of pretending it can be done is not good for anyone.

The first step to solving a problem is acknowledging you have one. And we have a big one.

New Ventures BC Competition crowdfunding presentation

Daryl HattonPersonal

I had a blast delivering this talk on crowdfunding at the New Ventures BC Competition session on Capital Planning. I cover not only the various big picture crowdfunding models but give examples of both securities (equity) and rewards (incentives) crowdfunding campaigns.

Check it out: