Steve Bissonnette & Louis-Félix Binette (Photo: Léa Beauchamp-Yergeau)
Our new host: Bissonnette - sson = Binette!
By Rebecca West**
_As announced recently on our blog, our host since the founding of CreativeMornings Montréal in 2013, Steve Bissonnette, is stepping down this month and passing the proverbial torch to fellow MTLCM co-founder Louis-Félix Binette. We chatted about what this means to them, and to the broader CreativeMornings community. _
Steve, how does it feel to be stepping down as host of CreativeMornings Montréal after two successful years?
I’m super proud of what we’ve accomplished, and feel like I’m leaving at a good time. There is understandably some anxiety in handing over so many responsibilities, from managing our team of volunteers, to maintaining relationships with CreativeMornings’ head office in New York and with sponsors. That being said, I have total confidence that the team will be in good hands with Louis-Félix at the helm.
Louis-Félix, how are you feeling about taking on the role of host?
I’m as as excited as I’ve been since the beginning of CreativeMornings Montréal. It’s an amazing opportunity to be at the centre of such a dynamic community. There is a bit of stress associated with the added responsibilities; I don’t want to let anything fall between the cracks. On the other hand, I’ve been having good conversations with NYC, and there are a lot of great upcoming CreativeMornings initiatives that will either be coming from, or to, Montreal.
Louis-Félix, how do you think your background in politics, diplomacy and management consulting will influence your approach as host?
I feel like I’m one of many nodes in a global CreativeMornings network. As a former international diplomat, it feels like I’ve moved on to “creative diplomacy.” So I see this role as a way to bring together the things I’ve learned over the years in various contexts and apply them to make MTLCM better. A lot of thought and energy has gone into structuring the Montreal chapter, and we’ll continue to experiment and try new things — it’s always a work in progress. We’re always looking for new ways to innovate and engage Montreal’s many creative communities.
Steve, what qualities do you think make for a great host?
There are certain qualities that distinguish a great host, as I noticed in my work here in Montréal, as well as getting to know chapters around the world. You have to be a good listener, to be able to filter and process ideas coming from many directions, then synthesize them and put back out into the community in an enthusiastic way. A great host has to be aware of the big picture — within their community, in other chapters, and beyond CreativeMornings. Managing a volunteer-based organization is also unique — a careful balancing, unlike managing in a for-profit context, where everyone’s ideas are considered.
Steve, do you have any friendly advice for Louis-Félix?
It’s not an original answer but it’s one that comes up often — to trust your team and delegate! I ran into trouble in trying to personally solve problems that would come up. The role of host shouldn’t be to solve all problems, but rather to facilitate solutions. It’s a clear distinction. It’s also important to accept that despite everyone’s best efforts mistakes will happen — you simply have to own up to it, forgive them, and move on.
Louis-Félix, what are your plans for MTLCM in the next year or so?
I’m starting my host duties by trying talk to everyone on our team of volunteers, to get to know what it is about CreativeMornings that keeps them coming back every month. I also want to take stock of the last couple years and see what we’ve done well and had fun doing — to see how we can have successful events without reinventing the wheel every time. It’s also important for me to get more feedback from our community, and get them more involved in telling us what’s working and what isn’t.
In terms of specific projects coming up, there are two we’re working towards this year. Firstly, I want to make it easier to connect through CreativeMornings — not just at our breakfast events, but more broadly. Whether it’s when people are travelling internationally, or looking for a new project collaborator, I want them to have the reflex to tap into our rich network of creatives. Our second major initiative is in partnership with the economic forum je vois montréal. Last November, CreativeMornings Montreal took on an engagement to organize an economic summit on creative communities, to take place in the fall of 2015. Our goal is to bring together Montreal’s business leaders, beyond the creative industries, to take stock of what the various creative communities bring to the city in terms of economic value. We can then help ensure the survival and expansion of our city’s amazing creative vibe.
A big thank you to Steve for doing such an incredible job as host over the last couple years, and welcome to your new role Louis-Félix — it sounds like we have a lot to look forward to this year!