On Being A Positive Sh!T Disturber

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese people are Positive Sh!t-Disturbers

Are you a positive shit disturber? If you are, I’d love to buy you a coffee. Positive Sh!t Disturbers can be seen throughout the world disturbing the status quo and making a difference. In fact, I think that most positive change comes from those who disrupt in a thoughtful way and use as much positive energy as they can to improve our world.  Essentially these brave folks recognize that something needs to be changed and see themselves as the vehicle for making that happen.

We all know the names of people who have changed thousands of lives for the better like Martin Luther King and Mother Theresa. But there are some other folks who are doing incredible work right now to make the world a better place. Want some examples? Sure you do. Ever hear of Jessica Jackley and Matt Flannery? No? Well they started a little organization called Kiva which gives people a chance to loan money to entrepreneurs in the third world. This bringing together of lender and borrower known as “micro-lending” has changed the lives of thousands of people in places like Vietnam, Cambodia and Bolivia to name a few.  People have been able to start businesses and increase the level of prosperity for their families and the positive ripple effects for the community are huge.

The benefits of being a lender (and yes, I am looking at you) are really something also. When you lend money on Kiva, you read a person’s story and feel part of their entrepreneurial journey. It’s amazing to get an update that says “Maya has purchased noodles, sugar and other supplies to restock her store and can’t wait to get started” or “Miguel has purchased construction supplies for his new business and has begun his first project”.  It has been my pleasure to lend to Kiva for a while now, and I still get a ton of satisfaction from seeing people do such great stuff. You might want to check out their site here Be warned though, once you get started on lending to people it can be highly addictive.

Check out Kiva here…


What the heck is the “Wisdom in the Room?”


The Wisdom In The Room

Have a group of people? Sure you do.

Got a problem? Got a situation? Need to figure something out? I don’t have the answer, but you do!

What the heck am I talking about? Well, I believe in the power of collaboration, I believe that a group of people thinking about the same issue or facing the same challenge are infinitely more powerful than one person trying to hammer out a solution. It seems to me that as individuals we often don’t have the entire solution to a problem. We might have a piece of it that we are pretty proud of, but the whole thing? That’s pretty rare. However, our piece of the puzzle might be pretty significant, and somebody across the room might have a great piece of the puzzle as well. Heck, somebody might have even defined the question in an interesting way that takes the discussion in an entirely new direction. When people come together and commit to “The Wisdom in The Room” process very good things happen. This has been explored with Cancer Patients, Health Care Professionals and Social Media Experts. Its fun, stimulating, challenging and a ton of fun.

Recently I had the honour of exploring The Wisdom In the Room with a group of talented people for The Ontario Hospital Association. It was an absolute blast.  We weren’t messing around either. We were doing hard core work on how to increase patient engagement through social media. After about 15 minutes ideas were flying. People were sharing their strategies on how to improve the experience of patients across the province. I am struck by the idea that many times we actually have the resources we need to do what we want to do. We just have to be brave enough and generous enough to share our ideas with a like minded group of people and then the magic happens.

Rockin’ the house at Waterloo!

waterloo enginerring


The skills of creativity and collaboration never go out of style. It was an absolute blast to present my workshop Fast Track To Collaboration for The University of Waterloo Engineering Department on Monday. Together, 60 students and myself dove into the skills of creating as a group. Technical skills are amazing and many of our best callings in life require a great deal of technical knowledge. However, being able to contribute in a meaningful way to a collaborative effort can be the difference between mediocrity and excellence for an organization. A highly motivated and committed group of students explored this concept with me in a hardcore two hour workshop on one of the coldest days of the year.

We learned the essential elements of teamwork. We demonstrated the skills of accepting ideas and then adding to them in a meaningful way. We learned how to create trust in a team and increase the level of contribution of each individual. We also saw how creating in a group can leverage our skills.

All of this and we laughed like crazy. You see, I have a theory that when we are having a great time, we learn in an easier and much more enjoyable way.  I was completely impressed by how willing everyone was to try exercises that may have stretched them a bit. Everyone dug in hard, learned, and supported each other.My thanks to everyone at Waterloo Engineering for giving their all during Fast Track to Collaboration.

Hope to see you folks again soon.


Well here’s a fine helping of Patient Engagement.

So, I’ve been talking a lot about the Ontario Hospital Association‘s conference on Social Media. One of the great examples of patient engagement came from the Niagara Health System. They have created an online community for patients who are doing dialysis.  When folks are at the hospital and doing the procedure, they are given the opportunity to log in to  “Google hangouts” (yes! you can click on that link!) and chat with each other while the process is going on. This helps them feel a sense of community and they can compare notes/give each other support while they are getting treatment. Response has been terrific.

Cool eh? I did a brief interview with Anna Cobian from The Niagara Health System. Check it out. Oh, and the link to the Niagara Health System is here. Who’s the dorky looking guy in the preview? Oh, that’s me.

Hey Niagara Health System!

On behalf of patients everywhere,  please accept this virtual cappuccino as a virtual pat on the back.  Thanks for making a difference.



Love Gilda! An interview with Lisa D’Apolito about her new film

So, Gilda Radner was all kinds of awesome. She was a brilliant, brave and very funny comedian who did pioneering work at The Second City and Saturday Night Live. She also had cancer, wrote a book about the experience and a great organization called Gilda’s Club was created in her memory. Gilda’s Club does tremendous work helping people going through cancer right now. Seriously. These places are awesome.


My friend Lisa D’Apolito is doing a film about Gilda called Love Gilda!

She took the time to do an interview with me here at roberthawke.com

Check it out!

To help bring this film to life please go to http://igg.me/at/lovegilda

How is an OHA conference like driving a red convertible?

OHA OnstagePeople are doing amazing things across the province!

It was thrilling to be a part of The Ontario Hospital Association’s Conference on Social Media. Social Media Professionals and Health Experts from across Ontario gathered together to explore how we could have more positive impact through patient engagement. I was crazy about the fact that patients were being included in the process.

It was my honour to facilitate our segment, which featured  a panel of patients advocates (Natrice Rese, Deb Maskens, Kathy Kastner, Annette McKinnon, and Zal Press) collaborating with social media experts and healthcare professionals. Questions we asked the group included “What are examples of positive patient engagement?” “How can we encourage more patient engagement?” “What innovative techniques are being used to increase patient engagement with social media right now?”

All the patients agreed that one of the main ingredients they want in their interactions with health care institutions is authenticity! It was amazing to be in an environment where patients and people working in healthcare had meaningful and honest dialogue. This isn’t always an easy process. Some of the issues we talked about do not have simple solutions, but there is tremendous value in addressing what the patient experience is really like and expressing ideas across the different silos in healthcare.

Leading a group in a collaborative discussion like this can be a bit like driving a red convertible down a road you don’t know. It’s exciting, fun, and you never really know what’s around the next turn. Also, you occasionally get bugs in your teeth.*

Quite frankly, I find it quite thrilling to be with a group of over a hundred smart people who are determined to collaborate. We made some great discoveries as we went and heard some examples of how people are making a difference right now.

 All this and they gave us butter-tarts.

Big shout outs to Toronto East General, Niagara Health Centre, and Kingston General Hospital for sharing their terrific innovations with the group.

I’m going to do a blog on the specific innovations that are happening now. When we share these advances, good things happen and everybody wins. I’m looking at you Niagara Health Centre.

 * O.K. I was exaggerating about the bugs.

To learn more about what these incredible people are doing please click on the links below…

Deb Maskens CanCertainty

Zal Press Patient Commando

Kathy Kastner Bestendings.com

Annette McKinnon @anetto

Natrice Rese @NatriceR

Also a shout out to #hcsmca . An amazing community on twitter. Check out their twitter chats on Wednesdays at 1 pm ET.

Developing a workshop for the Ontario Hospital Association. No, really.

So, The Ontario Hospital Association has hired me to develop something called “The Engaging Patients and the Community Through Social Media Workshop” for their conference on the 23rd of January. I’ve been prepping like crazy and getting some help from a friend (Thank You to the very talented Colleen Young!).

Really looking forward to it. You can bet I’ll be having more than one coffee that Friday morning.

Thank You Young Adult Cancer Canada!

Sometimes the best days start almost driving into a cornfield.

You remember that bit in the office where Michael and Dwight are in a rental car and following a GPS? They scream at each other in confusion and Michael ends up driving straight into a river? Well that almost happened to my friend Geremy and I recently on the way to a gig for Young Adult Cancer Canada. We were on our way to Cobourg to a retreat centre and were frantically looking for our destination. We were lost and the GPS wasn’t helping. We sped through the rolling farmland which would have been beautiful if we weren’t freaking out because we were late. I kept telling Geremy. “Its going to be OK, Its over the next hill , I know it!” He was less enamored of the technology. “I don’t know man, this doesn’t feel right!” The clock was not our friend as it ticked ever closer to the time we were actually supposed to be performing. Suddenly the GPS perked up and sounded particularly sure of itself as it announced “Please take a sharp left. Your destination is 10 metres away.” We looked to turn left-into a corn field. This didn’t look like any retreat centre I’d seen.  We managed not to ruin the farmer’s crop and after pleading for help from people in a van buying eggs (no really), we ended up being literally escorted right to our destination. Score one for actual human contact!

We essentially walked in and started our presentation immediately. A room full of remarkably enthusiastic people greeted us and we had an absolute blast. We opened with some Improv and laughter exercises which got everyone cookin’ and then Geremy taught everybody to make homemade ice cream. Seriously. Homemade icecream. That’s what I call a good Saturday morning, and we didn’t even drive in to a river.

Hats off to the terrific people at Yonng Adult Cancer Canada. Your courage and positive energy are inspiring.





My Friend The Jedi

jediI had just grabbed my second coffee of the morning and was propping myself up with some much needed caffeine when I heard someone calling my name. “Rob Rob! Wait!”. A friend of mine rushed into the elevator and stopped the doors mid close. She piled on slightly out of breath and immediately started cracking me up on our way down to ELLICSR in the basement of TGH. A surgery she was scheduled for had been delayed and she did a hilarious imitation of the physician who delivered the news as Christopher Walken. I was in stitches.

She was funny, smart and better than many comedians I’ve seen on TV. The kicker was she has cancer and is going through treatment.


What gives? What is going on that someone I know who is going through a huge challenge in her life is bright bubbly and downright happy? On the surface it makes no sense at all. According to conventional wisdom, she should be ringing her hands and feeling terrible about the whole thing, yet she managed to cheer me up while I was going back to work. Was this some kind of Jedi mind trick that she was playing? Perhaps. Is she some kind of super being who can transcend pain and struggle? Maybe. My friend is very resilient but I also think that her mood really speaks to how we as people tend to get on with our lives regardless of what is going on. She was able to find comfort, hope and dare I say it, even a bit of happiness in her day.  To me it was this big event and I think to her, she was just going about being herself.

I’m not saying we should all expect this of ourselves. Heck, not at all. There are times when we are sad or angry or having a tough day when it is completely natural, normal and healthy to express the fact that we feel lousy. I also think that there are times when we can sneak a little bit of happiness or even joy into the process in spite of what is going on. If we can pull it off, we’ll look like Jedi Masters. I’m sure Obi Wan would be proud.

Brett Wilson of Dragon’s Den is Kicking Cancer’s Ass.


image copy 3 (1)

So, I’ve been a fan of Brett Wilson for a while. He’s been one of the good guys on Dragon’s Den. Tons of entrepreneurial smarts, a risk taker and best of all, he’s really kind to people who come on the show. An amazing example of a someone making a positive difference in the world.  He’s Kicking Cancer’s Ass again.  Cancer should be shaking in its boots.

We’re with you Brett!