A blast from my own personal past

Friday, August 14, 2015
by Nick Charney RSS / cpsrenewalFacebook / cpsrenewalLinkedIn / Nick Charneytwitter / nickcharneygovloop / nickcharneyGoogle+ / nickcharney

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of sitting in on a presentation by Gilles Paquet as a part of the Institute on Governance's (IOG) Executive Leadership Program. It had been almost 7 years since I last saw Gilles and he's still a firecracker at the age of 79.

I first met Gilles back in August of 2008 when I was asked to sit as a discussant at an internal seminar about Leadership as Governance at what was then HRSDC (See: Speaking Notes on Leadership as Governance). At the time I was less than 2 years into my career in government and only about 4 months into blogging about the public service. At the time I was both nervous and excited. It was the first time I was ever asked to speak publicly about the public service. It was also one of the most transformative experiences of my life. I can honestly say that Gilles sent me down the path that has lead me to where I am today. What is most impressive is that he did it with a simple challenge. He simply asked me to put my money where my mouth and scheme virtuously.

Scheming virtuously not only immediately became the tag line for the blog but also inspired Scheming Virtuously: A Handbook for Public Servants which I published a few months later. The handbook was well received and everything just kind of snowballed from there. A year later Gilles called me out of nowhere to tell me that he dropped a note into his latest book entitled Scheming Virtuously: The Road to Collaborative Governance pointing people here, telling them to visit the site to gain greater insight into the practical application of the book's findings. A few years later, I took the time to review the book and I've been trying my best to keep scheming virtuously every since.

When I found out Gilles was the speaker for the evening I was naturally excited. I hadn't seen the man in years and was eager to take some time to speak with him and share my appreciation for his little nudge early in my career. Much to my amazement he took the time to speak with me prior to giving his remarks, made a handful of references that only I would understand given our past, and generally made me laugh aloud. I hadn't realized how much of Gilles style, attitude and ethos I had appropriated until I saw him speak to a crowd again.

There were two things that really amazed me about my interactions with Gilles that night. The first was that he had details about my career path that I hadn't given him, that he must have gleaned from others. To me that signalled an interest that I didn't know was there, and to be honest it was incredibly humbling. The second was that he knew exactly how to push me again on the way out:
"You think Nicholas is dangerous now? You should have seen him when he was young. What I love about him is that you can push him a bit and watch how far he runs."
Time to dig in I suppose.

Keep scheming (virtuously) everyone, I'll see you on the road to collaborative governance.