Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Ron Daniels/ "Helping entrepreneurs take that Next step"

Nov. 6, 2017 The Ladder: Ron Daniels: Today I found this article in the Globe and Mail:

Ron Daniels, 58, of Toronto, became president of Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University in 2009. He is a professor in its department of political science and in the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

In its RCMP uniform, my (1.5-metre-tall) moose sits by a window; every so often students ask what it's doing in the president's office. My wife and kids got me a Toronto Maple Leafs' jersey so we might put it over its shoulders to get the total Canadian effect. Because Hopkins teams are called the Blue Jays, when I got here and the students yelled, "Go Blue Jays!" I was entirely with the bros (Toronto Blue Jays).

I was born and grew up in Toronto; always interested in public policy, my undergraduate degree was in economics and political science. I was drawn to policy issues. I saw a significant role for law and legal institutions explaining policies and the role lawyers play in the public-policy arena. For me, it was important that responsibility, public engagement and community service be part of a rounded legal career.

Another part of that is my family coming to Canada in 1939, literally on the eve of the First World War. Having escaped Nazi persecution gives one a strong sense of the strength and frailties of legal institutions.

A manifestation of a rounded career is Pro Bono Students Canada, started when I was dean at University of Toronto's Faculty of Law; 21 years later, it's a national organization in every law school. I started a summer program for high school students, also a program at two city schools.

I welcomed that first class in our lecture theatre by saying, "My hope is some of you are here years from now, welcomed as members of a starting class." Seven years later, sure enough. And, visiting last year, I took a campus shortcut. There was this big tent with some ceremony – a graduation ceremony for kids from that program. These are beautiful moments for me.

In 10 years as dean, I helped boost endowment from $1-million to $57-million. What one learns is to keep surgically focused on your highest priorities – and find creative ways to build public-private partnerships that fuel the core mission.

One of my themes, from my U of T experience, is an interdisciplinary ethos, where 40 per cent of faculty were cross-appointed to another department or school; law was deeply suffused. You could take on issues important to society, not just through the prism of a single discipline.

When I got to Hopkins, I went to Mike Bloomberg saying Hopkins has several campuses, but here's the next best thing – let's recruit the best and brightest but tether appointments to multiple schools, make them essentially human bridges to link disciplines. Mike was very supportive; he invested $350-million in Bloomberg Distinguished Professorships. You can have the loftiest of dreams but if you don't have the resources to fuel them, well…

The people here surprised me the morning I was going to Washington to get the Order of Canada [in September]. My office was strewn with Canadian flags; they even had Tim Hortons doughnuts – the chocolate melted, though, so people didn't get the full experience.

I still don't understand how – I say this hopefully – we don't have comprehensive and universal health care here. We're spending twice per capita that Canada is, not delivering universal care and outcomes are poor.

On every dimension, this is a system where there's lots of room for improvement. Hopkins has tentacles of excellence in so many areas. For me, it's extremely interesting to figure out – in the context of a large, integrated health system – how we're able to provide good accessible care to patients, at the same time fuelling core educational and research missions at the heart of academic medicine.

A university can help a city in various ways. We're a key stakeholder in a $1.8-billion East Baltimore project. In loving public policy, the nexus among government, university and corporate sectors allows me to see possibilities and ways we can make connections. People see creative collaborations they never would have thought of previously.

Cultural touchstones in Baltimore are authentic and extraordinary, with an exciting narrative bringing millennials to the city. The other, much more sobering, narrative is violence, poverty and strife. What I find exciting about being able to lead this institution is community engagement – linking narratives.

We adopted a comprehensive program, HopkinsLocal, with clear measurable targets in hiring, procurement and construction – with significant impact in resolving conflict – such great and tangible initiatives, when the city was still reeling. We're creating economic opportunity and inclusivity, bringing jobs and security to more people.

Nov. 11, 2017 "Helping entrepreneurs take that Next step": Today I found this article by Virgnia Galt in the Globe and Mail:

Wearable tech entrepreneur Karl Martin has always built things – toys as a young child, robots as a teenager, a biometric verification process using heartbeats to authenticate identity (in lieu of passwords and key cards) while completing his PhD in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Toronto.

For all his engineering smarts, though, Mr. Martin knew he would need a stronger business grounding to build and grow his startup, now called Nymi Inc., into “a much more significant” company.

He credits Next Founders – a unique MBA-level professional development program for entrepreneurs – with launching his company on a path that has taken it well beyond the initial goal of simply licensing its biometric technology to third parties.

“We would have definitely been underselling our potential” had the company gone no further than licensing agreements, said Mr. Martin, who developed the skills needed to raise $35-million in venture capital, create the hardware to support his technology and market it to prospective clients.

The Nymi wrist band uses each wearer’s unique electrocardiogram signal as a biometric password to gain authorized access to files and equipment.

This addresses security concerns about compromised access codes or lost key cards, he said.

The technology has been pilottested in financial institutions and industrial settings “and we’re going into scaled commercial deployment at the beginning of next year.”

Mr. Martin and his fellow students learned from the best.

Business professors from Harvard, the University of Toronto, Georgetown University and MIT’s Sloan School of Management provide the Next Founders’ academic content, which is tailored specifically for the founders of early-stage ventures “with traction.”

Subjects include “an introduction to applied economics in the context of innovation and strategy”; international business diplomacy; strategic experimentation and crowdfunding; market research and entrepreneurial finance.

Reza Satchu, managing partner of investment management firm Alignvest Management Corp., provides a pragmatic business perspective with a course that covers techniques for recognizing emerging business opportunities, understanding financing choices, managing growth and “successfully monetizing” the value of a business.

An initiative of Next Canada, a not-for-profit charity established by business and academic leaders to support the next generation of entrepreneurs, Next Founders is unique in that it provides worldclass business education – at no cost – to a select group of 15 to 20 high-potential entrepreneurs every year, said Sheldon Levy, who left his job as Ontario’s deputy minister of advanced education and skills development to become Next Canada’s chief executive officer.

Mr. Levy, who assumed his new role on Nov. 1, is also a former president of Ryerson University, which established its Digital Media Zone incubator for tech startups during his tenure.

Virtually all Canadian universities and colleges now offer academic programs in entrepreneurship studies, innovation labs and incubators for emerging entrepreneurs, Mr. Levy said.

Organizations such as Export Development Canada, Business Development Canada and Chamber of Commerce branches, among others, offer workshops, seminars and webinars on a range of business topics.

There is a lot of support for entrepreneurs in Canada, said Alexandra McGregor, Next Canada’s program manager.

Next Founders takes it to the next level, she said.

“It’s more than an MBA [for entrepreneurs],” Mr. Levy said.

“It [the program] also puts them in touch with venture capitalists, it puts them in touch with mentors who can support them. It’s extremely practical in terms of what a founder needs now … but looks forward to what they will need in the future as well.”

Based loosely on the Olympic movement’s Own the Podium concept, Next Canada’s stated mission is to increase national prosperity by supporting exceptional entrepreneurs and innovators with the potential to create globally competitive companies.

(The organization also supports the Next 36 program for student entrepreneurs and recently launched a new initiative called Next AI, a Toronto-based accelerator for artificial-intelligence startups with global ambitions.)

Many large corporations offer time off and tuition support to employees pursuing executive MBAs and other professional-development opportunities.

“In some ways, Next Founders is playing that critical role of professional development for entrepreneurs,” Mr. Levy said.

Mr. Martin, who was part of the Next Founder’s inaugural program in the summer of 2013, said he still refers regularly to the course notes he took at the time.

“One of the most immediate benefits was really being educated on venture financing,” he said.

Many first-time entrepreneurs are so focused on getting the money in the bank that they “don’t really understand the other terms and the strings that come attached with that [the early-stage] financing.”

The courses are condensed, kicking off with an immersion week in April and wrapping up in midAugust, Ms. McGregor said.

The entrepreneurs’ actual challenges are built into lesson plans and “workshopped” in class and course selection is customized to meet individual needs.

Online applications for the 2018 Next Founders program open in February.

Mr. Martin said the program was flexible enough that he was able to juggle his business demands with academic course requirements, although it wasn’t easy.

“Opportunities come and go, and you just have to run with them.” Taking a year off to pursue a more traditional executive MBA would have been out of the question.


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