50 Coffees #50 – Mike Magee


A little over 50 weeks ago I read a theory that going for 50 coffees with people you’ve never met is the entrepreneur’s equivalent to the theory that doing anything for 10,000 hours will make you an expert on it. While I get the idea, 50 coffees is far easier than practicing something for ten years, and while I’m far from lazy I decided to set out on a fairly simple mission: over 50 weeks I decided to invite 50 interesting Vancouverites, most of whom I had never met before, to go for coffee. I used this as an exercise in networking for myself and for V.I.A. while also using it as a platform to introduce you to some people who are doing really cool stuff in the city you live in.

Name: Mike Magee
Occupation: Chief of Staff
Beverage: Soy latte

So today’s the big day; the final coffee in my series of 50! Over the past year I’ve met with CEOs, doctors, journalists, urbanists, authors, musicians, city planners, entrepreneurs, marketing folks, an MLA, a former mayor and even a senator in what was by far the best networking project I’ve ever initiated. I made new friends and allies, heard many interesting stories about people’s inspirations and their work, and I now feel 50 times more connected to this city than I was before I started. I also got to check out new places I wouldn’t normally go for coffee at, and see more of the city.

For this extra special 50th feature I figured it would be fitting to have someone who over the past few years has consistently been featured close to the top of Vancouver Magazine’s Vancouver Power 50 list. Mike Magee is the City of Vancouver’s Chief of Staff and is #9 on the list this year, right between City Manager Penny Ballem and real estate marketer and art collector Bob Rennie. We didn’t delve too far into what his average workday looks like and I don’t expect the average reader of our site knows exactly what a Chief of Staff does, so I’d like to quote Frances Bula from an article she wrote about Mike a couple of years back. In it she says that the “bosses” of Chiefs of Staff (in this case, our Mayor Gregor Robertson) are “hindered by a time-sucking toll of meetings and ceremonial duties” and that “the chiefs are key to the essential task of politics — turning the platform into reality — while emptying the fire extinguisher on unexpected eruptions.”. I imagine that’s pretty much what Mike does.

We met at The Edge just off Cambie and talked about our mutual love of fishing, about Mayor Gregor’s upcoming Creative Mornings talk as well as the future of the creative sectors in our city. I haven’t treated these 50 Coffees meetings like interviews and let you know all of the juicy details of what we discussed and I’ll make no exception today. However I will tell you that Mike has an incredibly funny story about his first encounter with a black bear in the wilderness of BC just outside of Tofino, and if you ever have coffee with him you should ask him about it.

So that’s it! Now that I’ve completed these 50 Coffees I’m going to kick my feet up, retreat back into my office and smoke cigars for the next 50 weeks. I kid, of course. I’ve decided to continue this series until we get to 500 Coffees! I said that 50 was a breeze so I figure that 500 might prove to be an actual challenge. I’ve got 450 more Coffees to go, friends. Come along for the ride over the next 8 years or so and see where they take me.

Stay tuned for 450 more Coffees!

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Bob is our founder and Editor-in-Chief. A family man and outdoors enthusiast in his 3rd decade of publishing, he steers the V.I.A. ship, hosts our 'BC Was Awesome' history TV show and co-hosts our weekly podcast. bobk@vancouverisawesome.com