After the death of my mother

Daryl Hatton Personal

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 Hatton Personal

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 Hatton ConnectionPoint, 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 Hatton Social 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.

Damned if we …

Daryl Hatton ConnectionPoint, Entrepreneurship, FundRazr

When I started FundRazr I never expected we’d end up on the horns of a moral dilemma…

Crowdfunding helps people deal with life’s financial challenges by collecting contributions from family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and others in our personal networks. Sometimes these challenges are tragic in nature such as for emergency healthcare or recovery from accidents and are easy for the community to get behind and support. However, as crowdfunding has grown, some of the challenges are starting to involve the “messy” parts of living in a complex civil society.

Last week brought a great example of this. Michael Slager, a white South Carolina police officer, was captured on video shooting eight rounds into the back of an unarmed and fleeing black man named Walter Scott. On receipt of the video, the chief of police fired Slager and arrested him on charges of murder. Given the current racial tensions in the US this situation has been covered extensively by the media.

A social media group was formed on Facebook to help support and defend Slager. They launched a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe to raise funds for Slager’s legal defense. After two days, GoFundMe shut down the campaign on grounds it violates their Terms of Service which provides for stopping campaigns that match a list of issues including:

  • Campaigns in defense of formal charges of heinous crimes, including violent, hateful, or sexual acts

The defense group shifted their efforts to running a similar themed campaign on Indiegogo. At the time, an Indiegogo spokesperson claimed, “Indiegogo allows anyone, anywhere to fund ideas that matter to them and just like other open platforms — such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter — we don’t judge the content of campaigns as long as they are in compliance with our Terms of Use.”

Two days later, and after suffering significant negative social media pressure, Indiegogo terminated the campaign claiming it did not meet the criteria of their Trust and Safety team.

On FundRazr, we had one campaign start to raise funds for the same purpose as the campaigns on the other platforms. However, the campaign owner deleted it after receiving negative social media feedback and before we evaluated it. Even during the short time the campaign was live, it attracted traditional and social media attention and they demanded to know if we intended to allow the campaign to continue. If we had, given the tone of the queries we can safely assume we would have had to endure an onslaught of negative media coverage.

Some would say, “And you’d deserve it! Why would you allow him or anyone who supports him to run a campaign? He committed a terrible crime and doesn’t deserve any help!”

While I personally agree that it appears he committed a despicable crime we have a number of important concepts in our supposedly civil society that become very important in situations like this.

The first is the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

It seems pretty clear from the video evidence that Slager did what he has been charged with. We have a legal system run by very qualified and experienced individuals whom we entrust to rule on this issue in accordance with the laws of our society and dispense punishment (if appropriate) on our behalf. I expect they’ll do a good job and justice will be served.

Yet, in this case, some vocal members of the crowd (and some members of the media for that matter) are outraged at his (alleged) crime and are looking for immediate and satisfying punishment. This is vigilante behavior.  As you can surely see, this is in direct contravention of a principle most of us would desperately want to rely on if we made a major mistake in our own lives and is a cornerstone of a fair and just legal system. In addition, as a side effect, in the vigilantes’ view anyone associated with wanting to help him is immediately suspect and judged morally inferior. This is worrying.

The second is the right to a fair trial.

These days a trial involving charges of murder, especially one with high profile media coverage, can be very expensive. It can be expected that in this sensitive situation the prosecution will invest significant time and resources to develop and present their case. In that light, and to fully counter that investment, the defense team will need to expend similar resources. This level of expenditure would bankrupt most people if they could even afford to pay any of it. Crowdfunding is one way a person could help themselves in this circumstance.

Bankrupting the defendant can be viewed as all well and good if we think we are just punishing the person accused of the crime. But by extension, this also affects Slager’s pregnant wife and unborn child and his two step-children. While we may question her judgement for being involved with a person capable of this crime it is highly likely there is way more going on than we can fully learn and understand and it certainly doesn’t make sense to accuse the unborn child or step-children of any complicity or for them to suffer because of it.

One of the concepts expressed by the social media group raising money was that Slager’s wife may require financial support through what will be a very challenging period in her life. While I doubt the intentions behind the campaign were actually good (I suspect someone was taking an opportunist view of the situation and was trying to inject themselves into it for other reasons) there are compassionate arguments that can be made to fully justify helping her out. Sadly, given the nature of the crime and the anger of the community this is not likely to happen. And therein lies the rub.

While the Indiegogo campaign was live, there were loud and angry calls across social media for the company to shutdown (censor) the campaign. When the initial protests were not responded to immediately, the crowd started to demand a boycott of Indiegogo and even tried to raise money using the service (!) to place a billboard across the street from their headquarters accusing them of supporting racist cops.

At FundRazr we’ve experienced similar calls in the past for boycotts and threats of disruptive behavior against ourselves and other campaigns on our platform. It cannot be said strongly enough that this is bullying, disrespectful, censoring, anti-social and even vigilante behavior that has no place in a civil society.

We’ve managed to survive these attacks in the past but usually because the issues were less sensitive and dramatic. For example, our platform is currently used to raise money for the legal defense of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden among others. We could have barred their campaign on the basis that some in the US government painted their actions as treasonous acts. However, the same issues of innocence and fair trial are present in those situations as well and we elected to allow the campaigns to continue to help support the fundamental principles behind them. This occasionally results in negative social media but in general has been tolerable.

I care deeply about respecting and supporting the foundations of our society and especially in the areas of fundamental freedoms. We are in a unique situation in our small company in that we are creating a massive change in the way critical situations around the world are funded. As a very young company and young industry we are constantly encountering new situations and are developing our policies and responses as we go. We take this duty very seriously and do our best to act with the best interests of society in mind at all times. Our hope is that we can provide a platform that can be trusted to not only operate securely and in the best interests of our customers and community but to be there to help people when they need it most.

However, we are very vulnerable to the actions of the vigilante crowd. If we stand up for what is right and just and in protection of our joint fundamental freedoms we stand the risk of losing everything we have built and killing off our ability to execute our mission to help everyone who needs a mechanism to deal with critical funding challenges in their lives.

But every time we pull back and censor a campaign based on some arbitrary criteria we might establish to keep ourselves safer while still delivering our service we weaken our society. We can think of this like seeing bullying behavior in the workforce and turning away without addressing it so that we keep the peace. Eventually the bullying behavior will take over as the norm and everyone will get hurt.

So we are damned if we do (allow controversial campaigns to run) and damned if we don’t. In the first situation we harm ourselves and our ability to help our customers as we take the brunt of their social media displeasure. In the second, we undermine our fundamental freedoms and slowly chip away at the foundations of our society.

I likely can’t be perfect in this but I need to be courageous and chose to let campaigns run. Many people gave their lives to help me have these freedoms. I need to remember that and act accordingly.

In memory of Michael Joss

Daryl Hatton Personal

This is what I said today at the Celebration of Life of Michael Joss.

My name is Daryl Hatton. I met Michael through Judy Bishop. Judy was working with my company as a strategic advisor. For a little while in 2010 she went kind of quiet. When we caught up again it was obvious from the sparkle in her eye and the spring in her step that something exciting was happening in her life. She explained she’d reconnected with Michael and this was a “good thing”.

I first met Michael in person at a technology industry event he attended with Judy. Seemed like a nice guy. Judy was radiant when he was around. I was happy for her. Didn’t think much more about it.

My wife Myra and I were heading to the Okanagan for a short getaway to tour some wineries. Judy insisted we call Michael and get a tour of La Stella and Le Vieux Pin. Sounded good so we set it up.

We were expecting we’d meet, shake hands and Michael would show us around for a few minutes and we’d be on our way. What happened next wasn’t that at all and has become one of my most treasured memories of the Okanagan.

Michael essentially took us under his wing and over the rest of the day explained in great detail and in a very entertaining way many aspects of the wine business in the region; the history, the players, the terroir, the techniques, the economics and even the politics.

He did this while generously taking us on a personal tour of not only his wineries but many of the others in the area. We ended up at Le Vieux Pin later that afternoon just as they started crushing chardonnay. He introduced us to his team, explained the whole process and snagged some of the fresh juice for us to try. For a couple of neophytes in the world of wine, this was AMAZING!

Along the way we listened in awe as Michael told us his life story. Each chapter was incredible: funny, surprising, insightful, elegant, personal, sometimes poignant and very full of goodwill.

After he finished describing each adventure, he would pause, his eyes would twinkle and then he’d say “And Then The Phone Rang” and off we’d go and dive into a new tale. What a story teller!

With his accent and his good looks, his gentlemanly manner, his dry humor and that mischievous sparkle in his eye, I was glad he was involved with Judy or else he might have charmed the pants off Myra!

I’m honored that we became friends. We’ve had a number of amazing meetings over dinner where we got to talk about life and about business and about people and the strange miracle of our human existence. What I admired about Michael in these conversations was not only his intellect, his wisdom and his humor but his generosity, his compassion and his humanity.

In December we met again. I explained the new direction I’m taking my company and was surprised to see Michael was really interested and eager to help out.  We decided that after they returned from Mexico we’d get together and figure out how we could work together. I was thrilled!

Obviously that didn’t work out and I’m deeply disappointed we didn’t have a chance to give it a try. It would have been another wonderful adventure for both of us. I was inspired by Michael to look at my life and my work in a bigger context and it has given me courage to try to follow his example of a passionate man accomplishing extraordinary things. I can only wonder what we might have accomplished together.

My only regret is that I didn’t push Michael harder to put his stories to paper so that more people had a chance to experience the richness of his life and his being.

Michael, you will be missed. I’m hoping we meet again someday and really look forward to hearing of new adventures that lead off with the line: “And Then The Phone Rang”.