Reflections of Our CEO: A Moment of Contemplation

Every year at this time, I take a day or two out of seasonal festivities to reflect on the year that was and to set intentions for the year ahead. This year, as the decade also comes to a close, it feels like an important moment.

Consider the passing of the decades…. For me, 1990 was the year I graduated high school. (I now have a 19-year-old son; he reminds me of those optimistic, light-hearted, fun-filled days, and the turning of attention to post-secondary learning and adventure.) In the year 2000, I was newly married and the world felt full of promise as the dotcom bubble grew and grew, seemingly without end. (Only to crash down the following year! A story for another post.) And there was 2010—Vancouver’s Olympic year. Snowless mountains and sun-soaked parties in the streets.

A moment to pause, appreciate, and consider what’s next.

Consider the passing of another year…. As 2019 comes to a close, I’m particularly grateful Junxion has had opportunities to work with a long list of incredible clients—from the UN to The Body Shop, from Footprints Africa, to Covenant House Vancouver, and many more. I also felt fortunate to emcee the opening night of Social Venture Circle’s annual conference, to co-host an incredible 24th annual Social Venture Institute, and to step into a new role as chair of Hollyhock.

Now, as we amble toward the end of another year, it’s a powerful moment to pause, look around, appreciate what has happened, and consider what’s next….

Look Back to Look Ahead….

Over the years, I’ve collected a great many thought-provoking questions that I’ve used to anchor my reflections on the year that was. Some of them I’ve written about before. This year, there are three that are really piquing my interest….

What did 2019 reveal? I like how this implies a sense of ongoing learning, as if as we navigate life there’s a great, hidden meaning to it all just waiting to be disclosed. It’s a far more poetic way of asking after what we’ve learned.

Each year, I look back at my calendar, reflecting on the people, places, and moments that stand out, whether positively or not. This year, I’ll be asking what they revealed. What have I learned from the acquaintances and friends, events and spaces, clients and experiences I’ve encountered through 2019? What have you learned from those you encountered?

Name what is enough for you. At a time of year when rampant consumption seems to mark the season, this feels like an interesting counterpoint. But this isn’t just about money and stuff. What is enough work? What is enough learning? What is enough adventure? Sport?… Sleep?! What is enough for you to be you, in the fullest sense of yourself?

Answering this often helps me identify the answer to another hard question: When should I say “no?” Such a short word. But for so many entrepreneurs and those who feel engaged with the world, it can be ironically hard to say! But ‘no’ leaves more space to say ‘yes’ to that which we really want. So can you name what is enough for you?

Inspiration is a matter of leadership.

What always brings tears to your eyes? What a simple, gorgeous way to ask after inspiration. As someone who is prone to cry during well-produced TV commercials, answering this can often look like a laundry list for me! Except that a few things are always at the top of the list: A hug from my daughter. A victorious underdog. Sacrifice, in the name of service.

Fundamentally, this is a question about leadership. It gives us a cue as to how we want to show up in the world, in our work, for our families and friends. That hug? Unapologetic, unflinching, unconditional love for those I hold dear. The underdog? Striving against all odds, especially in the face of unfairness. Sacrifice? Because each of us has a role to play in making our homes, our communities, our world healthier, stronger, and happier. What brings a tear to your eyes?

So What Will 2020 bring?…

I’ll be exploring these questions and others in the few weeks ahead…. I’ll take time to think, to talk with family and friends, to reflect on what has made me grateful in 2019. Most of all, I’ll give myself time to dream, to imagine what’s possible, and to contemplate big life goals—and the next steps toward achieving them.

Perhaps you’ll explore these questions, too? Note your own learnings, set your own intentions, and define your own next steps, to make your 2020 amazing.

Dream boldly.

I encourage you to dream boldly, for there’s extraordinary power in our dreams. Make time to let your imagination run—for yourself and for those you love…. And then give yourself permission to take your next ambitious step….

Here’s one more prompt for you: Write the words you need to hear.

Put what you write into an envelope. Then ask a friend to mail it to you on March 15. You’ll receive it just as the promise of spring is unfolding….

May it be an incredible year….


Be well,

Be love,




Mike Rowlands is President & CEO at Junxion. Some days, his degree in philosophy has a way of sneaking into his writing…. You can reach him via [email protected].

Comments 2

  1. Shainoor Khoja

    Dear Mike,

    Wonderful contemplative, reflective, learning and humble enquiries – thought provoking bringing dreams and reality to mind at the same time. Thank you for sharing these questions and thank you for the wonderful work that Junxion does. I enjoy reading these communications. Here wishing all of you a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. Shainoor.

    1. Post
      Mike Rowlands

      And thank you, Shainoor, for your shining example of leadership. Certainly, as I look back on 2019, your keynote at Social Venture Institute stands among the most powerful, inspiring moments of the year.

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