500 Coffees #58 – Ron Burnett


58 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 got the idea, 50 coffees was far easier than practicing something for ten years, so after completing that challenge I decided to make a major commitment and publish 500 over the next few years. In this series I introduce you to interesting Vancouverites, many of whom I had never met before. It’s an exercise in networking for myself and for V.I.A. while also being a platform through which I to introduce you to some people who are doing really cool stuff in the city you live in.

Name: Ron Burnett
Occupation: President and Vice-Chancellor
Beverage: Water

Meet Ron Burnett. Published author, photographer, videomaker, filmmaker, President and Vice-Chancellor of Emily Carr University of Art and Design and “one of the biggest nerds in the city” if you ask him. Ron was dialing in to BBSs in the 80’s, started a personal BLOG which he has kept since the early 90’s, and was editor-in-chief and founder of Ciné-Tracts Magazine. One other thing about Ron is that he received a knighthood from the French Government a couple years back, and it was amazing to be able to sit down with this “big nerd” and first chat about the evolution of the internet, and our personal experiences on and with it.

We met at Caffe Artigiano near the V.I.A. office downtown and beyond publishing we chatted about the exciting news of Emily Carr moving to a bold new facility in False Creek Flats, on Great Northern Way. It was interesting to hear that the move (breaking ground in May 2014) has been in process for the past ten years. Sometimes you get a press release from the government (that’s how I found out about the move) and you assume somebody’s ponying for the election and decided to throw some money in a good direction to boost their polling. That’s not what happened here. Ron and his team worked on an incredible amount of planning over the last decade, proving the business case to the government that building this new facility will bring economic returns to the province, and will be one of 3 or 4 cultural anchors in the city.

The conversation then went into art school and employment. Being a self taught creative/entrepreneur myself I was actually shocked to learn that 30-40% of Emily Carr grads start their own businesses or are self employed after they graduate. 92% of their grads get employment in their respected fields. That’s a crazy amount of revenue for the government.

Below is the quick video about their upcoming Great Northern Way campus which we shared a few weeks back. Have a look in case you missed it…

Follow Ron on TWITTER, check out his BLOG, and be sure to keep your eye on the progress of the new Emily Carr University’s Great Northern Way Campus as it transforms the flats, our city and our province as a whole.

Stay tuned for 442 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