GUEST: Garry Ridge
How does happiness have a direct impact on how people feel and how they belong at work and in the boardroom?
“I think sometimes we create our own ceiling to our organizations because we get to be control freaks or whatever.” 0:08:46 – Dave Mowat
Meet Dave Mowat
Dave Mowat was named by glass door as the #1 CEO in Alberta and one of the top 50 of the most influential people in Alberta.
He’s sat on the board of STARS, The Citadel Theatre, and currently on the board at Telus Communications, Dave Mowat joins Lisa and Lorne for happy hour.
Welcome to business, uncorked. We’re so excited to have you here right now for wine Wednesdays, cheers. Our goal really is to be a really informative and have a fun experience with you. While we are interviewing extraordinary leaders, talking about topics of business leadership, culture, belonging, you know, enjoying all of our favorite things with a favorite glass of wine with our guests. You can find Lauren and I live every Wednesday, right here on LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube. And in case you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting me, my name is Lisa Patrick. And well, I’m considered the Nancy Drew of your business, helping thought leaders create and amplify their personal brands. And I’d like to introduce to you Oh, actually this way. My friend and partner Lauren rubis. Lauren has recently retired from the C suite as a culture amplifier and is growing his personal brand more ruthless. And he’s really helping others create extraordinary and adaptable cultures. But it’s with great honor and I have goosebumps to introduce today’s guest Dave Mowat. He’s a CEO from retired from ATP and a rock star in the C suite. He’s named by glass doors and number one CEO in Alberta and top 50 Most Influential People in Alberta. He sat on the board of stars. He’s currently on the TELUS board. And Lauren, and I would like to welcome Dave for happy hour.
Lorne Rubis: Hey, Dave.
Dave Mowat: Hey, how you doing, Lisa? Hi, Lorne.
Good It’s easier for me to point the new child in its opposite right? The mirror.
Lorne Rubis 01:49
So you are a brave man, you are in the Vancouver airport. And wow. So obviously social distance off from everybody except for the Plant behind you. You’re all good.
Dave Mowat 02:01
Yeah, it’s a it’s a bit of an insight into the economy right now. There’s nobody here. So it actually feels quite safe. I’m not sure. an airport, whether you get the announcements to I’m telling the truth. But if it was full, it would be a different story. So everybody seems to be taking the right precautions and staying away from each other and wear masks.
Dave Mowat 02:24
And yes, it’s you know, and Lisa, you know, that I’m kind of, you know, I’m pretty public out there around being one of Dave motes, number one fans, I mean, I’ve just had the pleasure of working for him for a considerable amount of time, not long enough, in my opinion, but a good seven years that were really important and huge years in my life, and I had a chance to watch him become that number one rated CEO and all of Glassdoor at one point. He had the highest score of anybody in any glass store in North America was nine 9%. And pretty hard talk. But I Tom, I know you’re always pretty gracious about it, but totally earned and well deserved. And so we’re here to and so you know, so great to have you part of the our kicking, kicking this off day. Because we just felt like a lot of podcasts, need to talk to CEOs and leaders that really kind of created conditions for happiness, it’s happy hour for a reason, partly because we have our glasses of wine and, and we’ll have some fun with that. But part of it is because the world right now I think needs some of these more positive and happy kind of stories around around creating conditions for that. And hopefully we can, can can explore that and, and get your thoughts around and your experiences around. What do you think created some of those conditions for happiness? And we’ll share some of the anecdotes between us and things we did. That.
Lisa Patrick 04:01
Stories. Gentlemen, I want stories. That’s all I have to say. I have a question for you, Dave. When you were a little boy, What did you think you would be when you grew up?
Dave Mowat 04:14
You know, I don’t think I had any real clear plan. Yeah, banking was always kind of an interest. You know, is it when I was in university, a couple of friends and I had a loan fund sounds better than a loan shark fund. So I think that always kind of was a curiosity for me. And you know, I can remember when I did get my first job, I kind of was doing commercial banking and my mind was really going to, you know, I can do this for a few years. I get to look at everybody’s business. How good is that? It’s like walking through a neighborhood when everybody has their lights on you get to see inside their houses and I would find a place For myself to be and I ultimately ended up loving doing it banking is, you know, I think if you do it right, you can be a facilitator for people. And that was a fascination for me. And, you know, then we got on to other things. And kind of 40 years later, I was still doing the same thing.
Lisa Patrick 05:19
Well, that’s a testament to the passion behind the project.
Lorne Rubis 05:23
Yeah, so Dave, one of the things when we had a lot of debate about this, when we, with the help of wonderful people, like Peggy Garrity, who was chief of reputation and brand built out, sort of refreshed purpose statement for ATP, the word happiness was prominent in there. And, and, you know, what was your thinking behind that? I mean, that’s a word that’s still not seen very much in, in, you know, in the business world out the coal, what was your thinking? How did that emerge to be so much a part of our, our purpose statement?
Dave Mowat 06:01
You know, I think lots of times, you know, that sounds a bit artsy fartsy, I’m going to try and be happy. But, you know, I think there was two sides of it. One is, whenever you talk to customers, you know, they never came up with our competency matrix that we would classically have, what they came up with is somebody who knew what they were talking about, and was able to explain it in a way that they could understand. And so that, in order to do that you have to be, you have to have an element of confidence, but you also have to have an element of humility. And in order to put those together, you know, you tend to need to be pretty satisfied with life and liking what you’re doing and having a kind of a happy disposition. You know, even I hear myself saying the word happy, and it sounds a bit dippie. But, you know, that was the customer side of it, when we looked at the business side of it. People who are good at what they do their content in their role, they’re happy with where they are, they’re more productive. So we made more money with happy people, grouchy people tend to spend too much time around the water cooler kind of comparing horror stories or kind of seeing cups half full. And it’s, the people at the other end of the scale, literally just got on with things, you know, they’re the kind of person that’s kind of as hungry is has the ability to be motivated by them, not only by themselves, but by their customers. So all of a sudden, everything was pointing at doing a good job for the customer. And as soon as you do that, life just gets a whole bunch easier, because customers are asking you for things instead of having to sell. And you’re just in a spot where just things take less time, there’s less bureaucracy, we tend to over manage our workforces right now. Because we can’t get people to that spot when we get them there. It’s a much lighter touch your management for sure.
Lorne Rubis 08:16
Yeah. And, like, you know, like, you know, just a bit kind of translate, translating this into a personal kind of thing Dave, like, I mean, when you were at your happiest being a CEO, like, what, you know, what, what were the what were the aspects behind that? What made you like you did every day wasn’t a happy day, right? You had some crappy days and moments, when you were at your happiest when you were leading the company? What, what was going on? What was there?
Dave Mowat 08:46
You know, I think there’s two elements, you know, when I was inside the four walls of the place, you know, my absolute happiest days, were when somebody thought of something I wouldn’t have thought of in a million years, you know, which just means you got some people around you that don’t think like you, they’re, they’re willing to put their ideas forward. And, you know, I think sometimes we create our own ceiling to our organizations, because we get to be control freaks or whatever.
And, and then we’re just limited by things we can think of. And so those days when I’m, you know, just I would just be beaming kind of thing, and just because I you could have given me 1000 years, and I scratchpad and I would have never ever thought of it that way and come up with it that way. And then the other side is when you’re out talking to people and whether it’s someone in the community that our people have volunteered at or whether it’s a person we’ve given their first loan to, to buy a house or whether it’s somebody with help build their business. You know, I think Hearing about people’s successes and knowing that, you know, you’re part of something that is helping them get to that success, I think there’s an awful lot of reward. In that, you know, I, I think as banks, we kind of lost our way a little bit, you know, a decade or two decades ago, you know, we thought we were the product, and we’re not never have been never will be, we are kind of grease on the skids. We don’t do anything. I’m gonna get cards and letters from bankers now.
But really, you know, it’s the people who do stuff, people save money, they invest money, they earn money, they create wealth, they run businesses, they create profit. It’s those people working hard that that do that. And what we have the ability to do is provide capital knowledge advice, to help them do an even better job or give them scale. And so that’s, to me, that’s a very rewarding bit. And I think so those are my two happiest days learn other than when you’re around.
Lorne Rubis 11:12
Well, I you know, I one of the things that I Lisa, I want to turn it over to you, because I know you’ve got some things you want to put definitely want to, but I saw you when you were at your whiteboard, like you know, your English for your whiteboard, like when Dave went to his whiteboard, man, you were in for a ride? Because, you know, you were like, you’re on a flow you were you were ripping and it was really fun to be part of that. And yeah, so those are those are I could see you like when you have that kind of you are also creating when you are co creating with people, that was fun to kind of kind of watch to so at least I know you want to go down a couple of roads? Oh,
Lisa Patrick 11:50
yeah, no, I was just gonna say, God bless a whiteboard. That’s all I have to say, I love the whiteboard. Like there’s more I’ve gone through more permanent or non permanent markers on a whiteboard through my career. I mean, that is a staple of business, right, like, but you said something that really resonated me. And I think, because I’m not from the corporate side, I’m from the entrepreneurial space. I think, for those listeners who are asking or thinking about what you’re saying, How did you manage to really, truly create, and I know, Lorne, this is a lot of your work, as well as safe place where people authentically could show up so that they could give you those ideas and gift you those ideas and give you a different vision that you might not necessarily have seen. And they felt comfortable enough to do that. And I think that’s a unique gift.
Dave Mowat 12:44
Yeah, you know, I’m not sure there’s anything really magic. But creating a safe place, you know, that’s something Lauren. I guess politely a dog with a bone on. But you know, I think all of us got to the spot where we truly believe that that the organization work, the safer and safer it got. That being said, You can’t just say that. So you know, and we won Best workplace and we want all kinds of stuff. And some days, you’d think it was just a country club. But you know, we were like we have more rules, not rules, we have some really clear attributes that we use to get rid of people. And, you know, that sounds harsh, but a few things happen. When you get rid of the right people. The first thing is the rest of the team says What took you so long, you know, we’ve known that for years, that person’s been collecting the same paycheck, we have been, and they do half the work or, or, or whatever. And, and I think something magical starts to happen when you start. And it’s not like you’re creating the moonies, you’re not giving people things, you know, read after me and bow down in the morning, things like that. You’re just it’s not that people think the same that matter of fact, they think more differently, because you’re getting quite a bit more differentiation in your workforce.
But what you’re doing is getting rid of people that don’t have the attributes that our customers want, and that the organization needs to be a safe place to have innovation happening every single day. So Lorne was a big part. And, you know, we worked on three attributes that, you know, honest to god if we and we never got to this spot, but if we could, we would have had somebody else just go through kind of basic educational requirements. And for the most part, just throwing the resumes away. Because you know, these three attributes, you know, I won’t take all kinds of time and explain them but Honestly, if you close your eyes, and I explained them to you, that’s who you want to work with. And that’s who you want to be on your team-work for work with, whatever it might be. And, and they might not be right, and they probably aren’t perfect. But you know, as soon as you start saying, you know what we’re looking for all three, we’re not looking for two or three, we’re not looking to 75%, on this one we’re looking for as good as we can get on all three of those, then you start to high grade, your workforce, and the place just starts to kick ass, like, it’s quite amazing. When you can see those kind of teams start to form that we’ve really worked on getting the right people in place.
Lisa Patrick 15:47
entrepreneurial space, and a lot of entrepreneurs don’t take time, truly layers, they’re running at such a fast pace, or they’re limited in resources, or they don’t have the knowledge to actually sit back and be that reflective with the attributes and really understand who should be sitting at the table beside them. So you know, kudos to you guys for doing that. Because I think that’s something that all entrepreneurs, small business or like, small, large, you know, no matter what size a team is, really should take time to reflect on that. So thank you appreciate that.
Lorne Rubis 16:19
One of the things that Dave added magic way of doing it is that all 5000 people that work there all felt like they knew him personally. Like I mean, like it wasn’t like a you that it was a moment. It’s like they do they motive you said, you know, you know, you know, they would say Well, yeah, I don’t like and it was a lot of pressure on did because yet, it’s one of the reasons why I was so helpful to have an ATV name badge, because, you know, everybody was like, you know, don’t you remember be Dave and he would be remarkably would say, yeah, remember that time when I ran into it. And it was like he was renowned for that. The one of the things, though, that’s part of that that goes back to the safety issue is that I don’t ever recall anyone saying that they needed permission to go talk to Dave wasn’t like you had to go through the security guard on the 21st floor you had to go through, you know, you have to fight your way past. You know, Doris days very capable EA or me, maybe you did a little bit.
But generally Dave, you were out there talking to people all the time. So if anybody had an idea or a thought they just know that it could they could talk to Dave about it. And but that was we were all I think we made it that was a model for all of us to be pretty accessible. You expected there was no, you know, to take the status differentiate. You know, you were available. You were in a leadership while you were you were you and so we almost didn’t need offices at the end. Dave, you had one of the smallest offices do it they get they have we weren’t there anyway, none of us really were out there.
Dave Mowat 17:52
Right? Yeah, I think sometimes, you know, Doris coppice was took me six months to spell that man.
Lorne Rubis 18:03
How long did it take you to say it?
Dave Mowat 18:07
Right, she was totally amazing. And, you know, because because I think you could fall into the trap, like, you feel pretty important when you’re busy. And, you know, I think what Doris did for me is gave the illusion that my calendar was always clear. And, you know, I know he wants to talk to you, and, you know, you name the time. And then she would kind of work come to a time I so it was, as Lauren says, I think it is important to be accessible. And you combine that with the safety, we did a great big banking conversion. And I don’t know if your bank has ever done a banking conversion, but it couldn’t possibly go well. They never do. And so we had this campaign, blue string around your finger and all the branches and basically, kind of what it said is, you know, we’re going to do a banking conversion. And it’s about as exciting as getting new tires for your car. It’s a whole lot safer. It’s a whole lot better, but you know, you don’t you won’t even know it it. Is there. Am I still with you, Lorne? I think
you’re still here.
I just I just made you the center of the screen.
Dave Mowat 19:21
Oh, yeah, I felt important. All right. So anyway, we had this campaign that basically said all of that, and plus, you know what, our staff are learning this system at the same time you are so don’t yell at them. If you want to yell at somebody yell at Dave. And then we put my email on my cell phone out there, which sounded good in concept. We had 700,000 customers and you know if you do it right, like I never got a 95% mark and university or even a 99% Mark, but you know, If you even if you got 5%, there’s 35,000 people out there that are mad as hell at you because you screwed something up for them. So anyway, so I got a lot of calls. And it turned into a pretty cool thing because we had a little war room of dealing with all the calls.
But anyway, there was this one lady, we had this, everybody can identify with this is you get a loan from your bank, and the bank automatically takes your payments out every month or every two weeks or whatever it is. And so that system wasn’t working, so we weren’t taking anybody’s payments. But the system that was working perfectly was one that said sent the Dunning letter that said, You deadbeat you haven’t paid any of your payments, blah, blah, blah, blah. So that created a little acrimony. So I’m, this lady is on to me, and she is really mad at with all she should be. Stuff like that. So finally, you know, I just tried to bring it to closure, and I saw I was texting her and I texted her Ma’am, I will personally look after your loans. And then I sent that looked down. And it had changed it to loins. I’m holding my breath and wondering what my next career might be. And I get a little buzz coming back, as she says, I think just my loans would be fine.
Oh, so you just want to crawl in a hole? Yeah, well, they had a stupid CEO tricks, just like David Letterman at stupid pet tricks. And they, they had quite a few of them at a TV. Yeah.
Lorne Rubis 21:39
And one of the things that I that I noticed a lot is that when you were when we were together, there was like that we almost have to close your doors sometime, if you ever were in the office around the laughter around them. And there was their laughter was a real part of our institution. We were always something funny going on. And we laugh, we always took the time to laugh about it. And and, you know, again, Dave, so now we’re in this covert situation. So, you know, what, what, how do you think about it differently. But now that we’re kind of, because you’re a pretty tactile kind of guy, right? You, you were out there. And here we known people, you know what you’re thinking about in this remote world that we’re living in around these conditions of accessibility and laughter and fun around? How do you how do you think about that? And as a board member? How do you guide management around that?
Dave Mowat 22:37
You know, I think Well, there’s two halves of this. One is, I think there’s lots of stuff we’re doing quite a bit better, you know, we’ve shed, we have faster decision making, we’ve shed bureaucracy, we’re, you know, being pragmatic, we have shorter meetings. So, so I think there’s lots we’re going to take away from this is gonna be better. You know, I think if if I worry about one thing, and Lauren would actually identify with this, because Lauren ran this great big, huge project for us, we turned the whole place over to Google. And it had real short timelines, and people were working all night sometimes and huge deadlines and stuff like that. And there’s an adrenaline that gets you through that. And, and these people did a fabulous job. You know, Google uses that as a case study around the world now, how well it went and stuff like that. But when we finished that, we actually had a hard time holding on to a lot of the people because they became this kind of project junkie, they love the high of getting stuff done and stuff.
So I think, you know, and I’m not talking about a specific company, but the ones that I kind of watch, you know, we’ve kind of got through it. And watch what I do know, well is tell us, you know, it’s it’s actually outperformed a lot of its competitors. It had a great digital kind of positioning. And people are have overperformed so and now I’m not talking about TELUS but I just, you look at a lot of companies, I think we have to the care and feeding of our people over the next six months is going to be critical because we might get a set of bounces, we might get a SAG, you know, it’s you know, when you’re running and stuff, the adrenaline wears off, you’re just beat kind of thing and all of a sudden, and I think we’re seeing a little bit of it with people going back to school, you know, is Oh my god, this is gonna carry on. I kind of got through this and I got through that. And so I think we just have to watch that because I do kind of believe in that emotional bank account. And I think we’ve taken Kind of fair amount out of it over that time, we’ll have to watch. watch that. And just different ways of, you know, I think. And I think if we learn anything from experiences, you know, if people are going to sag a little bit, it’s the little things that piss them off. And so sometimes, you know, great big, important managers, we’re not so interested in dealing with the little stuff, but it might be the little stuff that kind of continues to put the human touch on things show we care and, and it’s just something for everybody to watch.
Yeah. Good morning from Adelaide in South Australia, Australia. So it’s a Hello there, Leanne. Thank you for being with us. Do you think people are though, you know, learning I’ve had this conversation actually not too long ago about being COVID. overload, right? Like, you just don’t have that anymore to do to get to that next? Because it feels like you’re just constrained in ways of doing things, right.
Lorne Rubis 26:02
Yeah, one little people story about Dave and that I want to talk about Vaughn because I’m not sure our audience knows about Vaughn, it’s really quite an unusual thing. And I can’t help but, um, so my wife Kathy and I are celebrating our wedding anniversary, and we were having dinner next to the office, and it was, we’re going to go to the theater. And Dave comes by the window, and we happen to have a table at the window, and Dave’s making faces that his stuff, man. And we’re the kind of laugh and and. And then he disappears, and we finish on with their dinner, and I’m go about to pay. And the waiter says, Don’t worry about it. This has been covered for you. And I know. So he took the time to go back around, pay our dinner bill, just a way of saying thank you, but stuff like that. He did all the time. And it was it was the thoughtfulness and the care that and I think bringing that into this remote environment, you have to find other ways of doing it. Because that was a moment, you know, because we were there and around each other. And the segue that I want to lead to is bond. You know, this drove me crazy damn dog.
A dog, did you see a dog, your dog Dave. Dave decides is a CEO of the company on the plane and traveling all the time. And he decides to get this dog and train this dog and we all love this dog and but the dog became a part of all of our lives. And it’s really in some ways, just such a crazy damn thing. You’re running this company and you decide to get this damn doc. And I think people I’d love to hear the story about about Vaughn, just to share it around what was your thinking and and the impact that it had on you and the company and hold down province in some weird kind of way. So this is a tribute and I picked that damn dog’s dog poo up so many dads anyway.
Well knows who to go to for picking up dog poo in the years to come.
As part of the thing if you are going to be around Dave and the dog you you took bone out for a walk?
Dave Mowat 28:23
Yes, the little missing part of that story is Vaughn was in training to work with autistic children and with blind. So a little plug for dogs with wings. in Edmonton who trains those dogs, they literally change people’s lives. But you know, I think Lauren The truth of the matter. And if my wife was there, she said I didn’t even think about it. I didn’t have a plan. But you know what happened is we went to this demonstration Edmonton Foundation was kind of showcasing that various charities and dogs with wings is one of them. What dogs can do is amazing.
Like they you know, if you’re standing at the bus stop and you’re blind and you drop your quarter, or your loony or your bust hit that dog can actually pick it up and put it back in your hand and he will recognize you don’t have to say I dropped something he will be watching and he sees that or if you’re in a wheelchair, you help you take your pants off at night you know you’ll pull even work taking your socks off. He’ll go to the house and turn off all the lights you know in the house because a blind person gets out the lights are on and so and what they do with autistic children is like I’ll start crying if I tell that story, but I couldn’t. Like I had no idea like I it was kind of a romantic thing to do. I should have known because the place is really particular about who raises their dogs you can imagine they’re, I think they got about $40,000 in each dog time he gets to two years old. But anyway, so, so it’s like, they want to trial you out. And so they give you about a six month old dog. And for the weekend and just, I guess if you kill it, you don’t say that way. And if you don’t treat it well, you’re not going to be one of their puppy raisers. Anyway. We had some energy and I had some stuff we had to return to IKEA just in and out and stuff like that. So to to carry it. So we left him in the car, we just ran in and came back. He had eaten the console, like are so like $5,000 worth. I should have known at that point. I wasn’t cut out. But anyway, as Lauren says, it was really um, it was actually hard on myself esteem because everybody wanted to know where Vaughn was I’ve ever split up without fun.
Lorne Rubis 31:05
It was, how long was been with you? For 14 months?
Dave Mowat 31:10
Lorne Rubis 31:12
And then you had this emotional reunion the new about out not too long ago, right. Now, the young lady Leanne, who has him, you know, and she suffers from a variety of things. Anyway, which physically and kind of mentally caused her she was almost a hermit. She wasn’t going to school, I don’t think and was almost just living in a room. They gave her Vaughn and he became kind of her best friend. All of a sudden she was going to school. And this reunion Lauren’s talking about is when I was retiring, they brought Leanne and Vaughn in and she gave us a chat. I don’t know two or 300 people learn. And her parents were just crying because they had never seen that wasn’t even their daughter. They wouldn’t do it. Let alone she achiever do it.
Dave Mowat 32:07
Right? There’s so many funny stories, like the dog flew pretty much first class, I’m always greeted with the dog. And pretty much everybody knew I’m like Dave said, and you know, and but there are moments like Dave and I went to up, we were invited to remember, those Eagles had that concert at that thing. And we brought what we have in the concert they’re playing but it was so hard to zero. Dave had to take take him out of there and, and but their attire, I was trying to give a speech one time, and then just let him in there. And I pretty soon like I’m trying to talk to the audience, and everybody’s turned around looking at. It was like trashed by speech. But we there were so many funny stories, but he became part of our fabric. But he was such a statement about about you. And I don’t know, I just, it was just quite a remarkable kind of an unexpected addition to a statement about your care. And anyway, and making us all more vulnerable and more real, I think, don’t you think? Do you know we’re kind of a wave in bed? Yeah. And I think always want to the young lady who has gone right now. It pulled her out of her shell. Because people wanted to talk to her because she had this cool dog who could do all kinds of things. And I think that happens to all of us, you know, and when we went into a branch all of a sudden, it’s just easier. You know, if you were a shy boy in grade eight, and you met a pretty girl who had a dog, it wouldn’t be a whole lot easier to talk to her that it would be if she didn’t stop. So I think that that happened to us around the organization. Hey, Lorne, there’s Mike Labrecque is on the call.
Dave Mowat 34:05
Lorne Rubis 34:07
Yeah, great to have you.
Lisa Patrick 34:09
I am so now with all your board work that you do. Dave, do you recommend that they get a dog if they’re having trouble?
Dave Mowat 34:19
Yeah, very good. It wouldn’t hurt. Let me tell you. I know it’s a you’re on the last word on this as I say. Yeah. I get credited with mon but really it was Doris and Lorne and all the people on our floor Really? Like he when he needs to go he needs to go and when you’re on the 11th floor, you know, it’s a little bit of work and stuff like that. He was read by the family.
Lorne Rubis 34:51
It was fun. It was minus 35 that it took out a different context. But they but no was we there was just part of our it became part Have all of us and, and one of the things that, that when when we did the kind of fun, you know, back to happy hour theme a little bit you know, one of them, we always made time to kind of have these kind of laughs and that kind of stuff, it was kind of like, we always made some room for sort of the, you know, the personal side of that. And, like, so what, you know, this idea about, you know, all businesses kind of personal, how do you you know, you know, how did that become part of your thinking? And what is your advice to people out there as they listen to you and your leadership role around that whole personal side making those personal connections?
Dave Mowat 35:48
Yeah, you know, and I think it’s what our customers want, you know, everybody, you know, they want you to be competent, and they want you to know what they’re doing what you’re doing. But really, you know, they want you to be interested in them, they want you to be interested in their business, they want you to understand what they’re doing. They want you to remember their kids, you know, especially small entrepreneurs and stuff like that. There’s, they’re very proud of their kids, and they’re very proud of their business. And so, so I think it’s good practice inside the organization to make sure we’re kind of modeling that all the time. And, you know, I think making those personal connections, Lauren is the guy that really pioneered this stuff for us. It just puts everybody at ease. And when you get better at it works better on your sports team, at cocktail parties, at your church, in the band, whatever you just be. I can remember, I’m not really an extrovert, and I’ve trained myself do I stay eight going to cocktail parties, you always admire that person who stood one place and never move. And, you know, which just means a conversation kind of float around them. And I think we’re all self conscious that we’re kind of walking around and trying to make, make it look like we’re talking to lots of people and stuff like that.
Lorne Rubis 37:23
I want to explore You know, I think people don’t think you have as an introvert, but I know that you are, you’re maybe more of an omnivore. But I think you’re more of an introvert and extrovert. You used to you and I did this a couple times but used to host a dinner, people would bid on it and auction at Dave motels and Dave, and Dave would cook and I would be a sous chef for wash the dishes after something like that. But we did that. Why would you go and do that? Like what’s the you know, you got 5000 person $50 billion in assets? Kind of a big shot. And here you are you got teams that have been an auction and having dinner your house and you’re cooking dinner? And what’s the story behind that?
Dave Mowat 38:07
Yeah, I think at the front of it, we raised some pretty good money, you know, the fact we had a 5000 person organization, we could get people bidding against themselves. So we got a hell of a lot more money. Let me know that you and I might cook were worth but you know, it creates, and I don’t think you set out to try and do it. But I think maybe what kept us doing it is that, you know, it creates a little bit of urban legend around the organization, you know, the person who came in for the magic that had a little bit too much drink and, you know, told me off or told me they caught my last plan or something like that. And, you know, that’s, you know, I think that gets the rest of the organized and she didn’t get fired kind of thing. And so then becomes a bunch of stories coming out of that that, you know, you usually go along with and they’re no longer with the organization.
They all were and yeah, they were there was one very funny one is we had some I can’t remember where she was from anyway, doesn’t really matter, because I probably identify the guilty. But I think there was somebody from one of our rural branches. Who had bought it and it came as a couple’s thing and I think what we have learned five couples usually Yeah. 12 Yeah. So anyways, so I think her husband got sick at the last moment. So she invited her friend. And so her on came she wasn’t she wasn’t a team member at ATP or anything else. And she was she was at the customer and she just started ripping at the seams. Do you know
Dave Mowat 40:01
He’s on the radio What an idiot. busted. Because everybody kind of looked at each other and said, well, kind of funny.
It’s this kind of scenario where you start talking about somebody, and then everybody’s quiet. And you’re like, they’re behind me, right? Kind of that scenario.
Dave Mowat 40:23
Right? Right. Yeah, it was. It was good. I think the one that we didn’t go, we had a pastor making Party, which is actually quite a bit of fun. But everybody ends up with flour all over everything. And they’re all dressed in their good stuff. And I think we send people a lot home with an awful lot of flour on them. It was good pasta, though. For sure. The as you’re kind of, as you kind of reflect on, on that on your right as the CEO, and now that you are kind of retired. And if you’re going to write a memoir, and this, we never were not rehearsing any of this stuff. What would you What would you name the title of the book? Do you think? trials and tribulations of Lorne? That’s I try and think of an answer for that. I see Dan Allen is on an Easter run our small business practice, and was probably the best customer service person we. We had, he was always on it. And Dan, I wasn’t awake at 12:15am I just would time it to look like I was awake. Anyway, Dan’s having issues with his ticker. And from the pictures I see on social media stuff, it looks like he’s made 110% recovery. So that’s,
Lorne Rubis 41:54
I think, yeah, the United Way effort in in Calgary, right. I think, Jerry that. Yeah.
Lisa Patrick 42:03
Um, wait two more minutes. Dave, that you recently were in an accident? And how are you feeling now after your accident? Are you relatively recuperated? Or have you seen any long term effects from it?
Dave Mowat 42:28
No, it was a momentary lapse in risk management. We have two sons and son in law. And we were up to mountain biking by Squamish in Vancouver between Whistler and Squamish, and on one of these very steep downhill runs. And your house is going too fast trying to keep up to the youngsters and hit a loose rock ended up, broke a wrist, dislocated a finger separated my shoulder and broke my ankle. Which, if you want to add that all up and trying out how you go to the bath, no.
Lorne Rubis 43:12
I didn’t say that.
Dave Mowat 43:14
We’re not saying this is uncorked. So that’s how it’s Yeah, it’s getting better. Although I the sacralization stuff takes four to six weeks. The four weeks are for 16 year olds. And yeah, it’s coming along. Yeah, I’m quite lucky, still talking to you and not through a brawl or something like that.
Dave Mowat 43:36
So I think if I’m going to answer my own question around the title of your book, how things change is think I one of the things you taught me was that to think differently about is that, I think one of the things you said to me was that you said too often you sit around that we don’t think big enough, that sometime you have this thing about yet to be competent and humble at the same time. But that sometime we didn’t, we just didn’t think big enough that we were we could talk ourselves into being instead of thinking about being the best organization in the world. We’re just a little company in Alberta. And I think I’d write your I think the title of your book around thinking big would be I think you thought big and you made us all think bigger. And so what was behind that, you know, a little boy growing up and Sherwood Park shooting arrows in the, in the air and thinking big out of that app.
Dave Mowat 44:41
You know, and it’s interesting because I would say that is a shortcoming. I have is that I really don’t think big enough like I’m just in awe of Lorne made a connection for us at the most senior levels of Google and so we were down in California several times and got to spend some time with, you know, the really senior people there. And, you know, their goal was to solve world problems like, like, you know, I think they’re taking a bunch of anti-trust flack right now, but, you know, quite honestly, I just assumed, you know, large countries were in the hands of those people, rather than the people they’re in right now. Like, they do a quite a bit better job, and they would have the interests of the world art. And so those guys, men and women don’t think about keeping their jobs at Google. And, um, you know, they’re, they’re seen, you know, I think they’re kind of maligned right now. And I’m not trying to be a groupie or anything else, but I’m, you know, and even I’m on the board of TELUS and Darren Entwistle, I have a bit of a mad crush on, on Darren, like, there’s a guy who just is always thinking of the next step. So I think I aspired to do that. And I always think I fell a bit short. But I think that’s where it comes to. If you surround yourself with people that think differently than you, you’ll always be thinking of stuff. You can’t think of yourself.
Lorne Rubis 46:20
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So I want to there’s two things. One is that we’re kind of the surfer session, and I know you’ve a bunch of stuff that you wanted to ask and, and we never really put a time limit on it. And we’re kind of gonna say, you know, what, we’re kind of done talking. We’re done talking and, and, and, but I want to make sure that I don’t I could hog the time just reminiscing with day we could spend hours together. And what else is
Lisa Patrick 46:45
very interesting. I know that Dave has a flight. So I don’t know if we can hold them up too long. But I think that you know, your stories and about thinking bigger and think big. I happen to know somebody that really helped you with writing that book, by the way. I think Lorne’s onto something, Dave?
Lorne Rubis 47:04
Yeah, there we go.
Lisa Patrick 47:05
The world, it’s an injustice, if you didn’t take what’s up here, and I have a lot, you know, I talk about this often with a lot of thought leaders and put it on paper. You know, for generations to come. It’s really important, even though you might not think that you’re a think big person, but most people don’t even think close to what you think and you’re aspiring to be bigger and think bigger. And that’s a true testament to you, and how dedicated you are to what you’re doing.
Lorne Rubis 47:36
Yeah, there’s a couple of just I’m going to just ask you to kind of respond to a couple things quick, that might be informative to all of our listeners and watchers, one is that you, someone says to you, we think we can have a branch on Boyle Street, the poorest postal code have in cattle that maybe one of them. And the homeless can actually save money. And, you know, we are concerned about our EBIT up performance and our net income performance and you decide to pave the way for that. What’s your thinking there? And? And how do you? How do you get all your net income numbers? And then do something like that as well? Why would you do it?
Dave Mowat 48:26
Um, you know, I think, because we could, like, you know, this is one thing that, you know, I go back to Darren at West palace is, you know, he talks about social capitalism. And, you know, I think, Lauren, we were coining something like that, as well. And really, I think what it speaks to is the long run. And if you’re in it for a long run, you probably actually do have to put your shoulder to some of the social problems that we all share, because communities get stronger.
They do more banking, they buy more telecom services. If you can make a organization healthier, it thrives your taxes, you know, if you can flatten some of the health care costs, so so I think it’s, it’s having that long run. And I think the other was, we are like, tell us, and I’ll stop talking about tell us. But HGTV. We were in a position to do it. And I think if we don’t do it, it never gets done. And it’s not because we’re super smart. It’s just that we have this huge infrastructure that’s already paid for.
So the marginal cost of us opening a branch in Boyle Street was almost zero wasn’t quite, but it was almost zero because it was just Like the hundred and 80th branch of ATV, it doesn’t cost us anything more to hook into that pipeline. And then it was, you know, just a fascinating challenge. Because one of the, you know, and here’s other people thinking of ideas, I wouldn’t have thought of Matter of fact, I think I almost vetoed, not vetoed, but said, you know, like, I don’t think that’ll work is we ended up using biometrics in to identify people in the poorest postal code, I think, probably in Canada, or at least in Alberta. And I was, I was in the count the same. People won’t trust that. But, again, when you go back, if you think about it, the number one hassle in banking, whether you’re a street person, or whether you’re one of the three of us, is we keep getting asked for ID and you just banker supposed to know you, you’ve been dealing with it for 40 years. Are you kidding, you don’t know who I am, you know, and they do. But they’re just appeasing some money laundering, like registrations, you need to see from everybody, even if you know them and stuff like that. And so that is compounded for somebody who’s a street person, because they don’t have ID or they lost their ID, or if they do have ID, they aren’t able to have it with them.
And so if you don’t have ID, you can’t get a bank account. And you can’t do banking. And if you don’t have banking, in Canada, you’re marginalized. Like, that’s a strike one, two, and two and a half, like even if you want it to work, you find me an employer that is willing to pay you in cash anymore, or pay you in a cheque, we all want to direct deposit it to your accounts, if you don’t have a bank account, all of a sudden, you’re not getting the job. And so So anyway, so our technology, people were playing around with Iris, scanning, and fingerprints. And so this thing was put together and everybody was either fingerprinted or their Iris were scanned. And so they never been to the place. And they never ever have ID. And it actually gave them a sense of identity. Because all of a sudden, nobody’s screwing around with me, nobody’s hassling me, my thumb. If I could ever put my thumb into the screen, my thumb is me.
When I put that down on me, and you’ll give me and it actually gave them a sense of I’m not sure what was worth or, but as opposed to my initial God, nobody ever go for that. They loved it. And the thing. So we have this, as I say, a bag at NSA, it’s staffed by the people from the street. And so they show respect, when they should actually they’re a little tough when they should be. But you know, if it’s Dave or Lauren, getting tough with someone, you know, chances are we’re not getting tough with the right person. So it has worked extremely well. And I’m not completely current on it. But it got robbed once and they figured out the people on the street came to their defense and went to the people and said Give it back. And it came back.
So you know, story that’s a master.
That’s amazing. Well, then I would do the identity of being like the fingerprint or the iris gave the people on the street, an identity as well. Like it made them feel like they mattered. Exactly. recognized.
Lorne Rubis 53:37
So yeah, I know I was animated people of ATB pretty proud to do it. Because you know, did what I always say that times we joked about it not enough, not enough, because it was funny, because we could have said that if you wanted to raise the net income of, of ATB. Dave, you could have done that overnight and a couple right, just shut down a bunch of branches here and there and do a bunch of other things that we did that we didn’t necessarily have to do. But we always said the bank that eight could be with more than a bank that would our purpose drip drove our our thinking that we really tried to make banking work for people wasn’t perfect, no organization is. But you always helped us drive back to that purpose. And that was a big differentiator for our culture. And and I think that’s what we’re trying to do here is that inspire leaders that listen in at wherever they are to lead from where they are, where they’re at. I think people need great places to work. And I think to create conditions for people to really contribute and to bring their very best This is something that we need to put it more intentionality to it. And we just don’t make it however, commercial ends we can still make a hell of a lot of money doing it.
And I think you and I with Lisa, I think you should write that book. I think it inspires and paves the way for other leaders to Think around what they might learn from those lessons. And we can’t thank you enough for being part of our first kickoff around this. You know, we’re gonna have other CEOs and chairman’s of the board and other people on it. But I think you you kick in the first the ball off the tee, I don’t know if I can use that metaphor these days or not. But I think was, it’s, it’s great. So, Lisa, what else do you have to say before we kind of let Dave go catch us? Right?
Lisa Patrick 55:29
Yeah, I think that I want to, you know, close the show out with asking Dave to give one piece of advice. And it wouldn’t matter if it was a leader of an entrepreneurial company with a staff of five or staff of 1000. What would be that one piece of advice moving forward? No, we’re moving into the quarter four of COVID. And we don’t know what the new normal is going to look like. But what’s that one piece of advice that you think that everybody could use?
Yeah, and you’ve asked the question in the context of COVID. So I go back to that, I think this is the time for us to look after the little things it’s going to be, you know, it’s it’s never the thing that sets somebody off for the things to lose you as a customer, the things that you don’t get a sale or whatever it might be, it’s never just that thing. It’s things leading up to it. So I think we’re going into a time, you know, that the chief health officer here has this said, everybody’s tagged on to and it’s really, you know, talks about being considerate to people. And so I think those small things are, we’re going to become more brittle as kind of employees, customers, human beings. And I think we all need to be thinking that those little things will become increasingly important. For sure.
Dave Mowat 56:51
Absolutely. Yeah. So
Lisa Patrick 56:53
what would be your piece of advice learn?
Lorne Rubis 56:58
Um, well, if you’re smart enough, you’re going to find a co like, mode to work for that’s the, you know, I,
I have this mantra, and I think Dave, helped me form it, it’s around this idea about kind of built on this African proverb around, I’m not going to say it exactly right. But in order to move a mountain, you have to pick up all the little stones right first. And it’s kind of like thinking big and starting small and act now that kind of, you know, I think my time at ATP helped me frame that, that way, I kind of uses a signature. And Dave, you really influence that. And it’s, you know, this thing about, think big, starting small acting now. And you can do a lot of things, when you have that frame of mind, and you have a growth mindset, and you’re with other people that make it up B help you become fearless. And your mistake, you’re going to screw up, and I did lots of it at ATP. And a lot of times Dave was pissed off and, and I get it, but always in a way that let me learn fast from it, and not be afraid to keep going forward. And and I think that adds to that environment. So anyway, yeah,
Dave Mowat 58:17
maybe largest a pile on that a little bit. It’s as close as I’m gonna get to a political kind of soapbox. But, you know, I think something that Lorne and I really kind of traded on is that concept of contradictions. It’s, it’s, you know, a customer, you know, somebody who’s really, really smart, and has no humility is just a bit of a jerk, and somebody who’s got all kinds of humility, and not very smart, just a goof. And so what customers want, is both. And so, you know, this world that has veered far to the right and far to the left, neither one of us solution for any of us like it’s totally, it’s got it unworkable. without bringing, because some of the rights agenda is a good thing. And some of the left’s agenda is a good thing, but all of both, neither of them are functionable. And it’s just like anything in life. You know, it’s balanced diets, you know, whatever it might mean. And I think, you know, I think, and I’ll just call it myself, you know, I, we’ve lost our voice, we’ve let the far right of the far light left, and they think, you know, they don’t necessarily tell they tell stuff out of context. And, and so I think what we’ve done anytime you get a bad result, I think you got to look in the mirror and say, like, we cause that like, I think we’ve been silent. So if you’re watching an NBA game, and it says vote, vote, you know, like it’s, we get what we deserve, and I think we have to be talking, whether it’s in business or whether it’s politics, or whatever it is, is that combination of those contradictions, contradictions are not bad. You know, I think I’ll butcher the same but there. And I’m, when it was one of the Kennedys said it or somebody said that, you know, the sign of a genius is someone who can hold two opposing thoughts in their mind and not be frozen to an action. And, you know, we’ve allowed that to morph into an opposing thought is wrong. And it’s not, you know, the two modify each other, to create a thought neither of you have. And, you know, this is we’re just going through a bad stretch right now, where we think right or left are only opportunities.
Lorne Rubis 1:00:48
You know, that’s a great kind of a maybe a closing kind of a thing. And it’s also kind of, I wrote this blog about you being a paradox leader, because I think you revere the paradox, right? I think used to say, if you’re in Alberta, yet, be comfortable in cowboy boots and Jimmy choos. And that contradiction being, you know, being able to bring both sides of the argument brought you to a better place if we really listened and actively carrying this for each other. And it’s a great message to leave us with Dave, thank you so much. You know, more than having worked for you. I consider you a friend and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate. Don’t say thank you, to you enough Dave, for everything. Love just hanging out with you. And Lisa, thank you for this great kickoff, I think for us, so I guess I’ll let you kind of sign off. Lisa and David say cows get better. Yeah. Thanks.
Dave Mowat 1:01:41
Lisa Patrick 1:01:42
Cheers. Thank you.
Lisa Patrick 1:01:44
We look forward to your new book called think big. Just saying.
Just saying. Have a good day.
Dave Mowat 1:01:52
Bye for now. Bye bye.orne