2019 Was Difficult, But Here Are 20 Reasons Why I Feel Blessed Going Into 2020.
2017 and 2018 marked two of the best years for my company since its founding in 2006. Hemings House enjoyed great sales with a net profit that would make any business analyst or bank lender excited for us. But then 2019 hit, and we suffered a decrease in sales and a net-loss that has kept me up some nights. There are a few factors that led to this, some we have figured out, others still a mystery.
But 2019 is behind us and already 2020 is shaping up to be an impactful (and fun) year with a few solid contracts that have been signed. There is also new energy with the team to see a strong year so we can continue to grow the business and give more back to our community.
Despite us having a difficult year, on New Year’s day I honoured my tradition of acknowledging our biggest wins (family and business) of the year that just ended. I made a list of the 20 things (in honour of 2020) that made me say to myself, “yeah…life is good, I’m blessed.”
There is no order of preference for the first 19, but the number 1 item is certainly my proudest accomplishment :-)
There is a lot to celebrate here and I am going to add a bunch of links. I do not expect anyone to read and click everything in here, but I want to share all of it in case there are elements in here that inspire you to make a similar list!
20 — Helping raise close to 2 Million Dollars for our community!
I, along with my good friend Dave Veale of Vision Coaching are the co-chairs of our local United Way fundraising campaign. Last year we helped inspire our community to raised 1.75 Million dollars to help strengthen our community! We are at it again this year and are aiming to raise $1.8 Million this year!
Also, Hemmings House was involved with helping organize the Songs for the City event at the Imperial Theatre. This was an evening of live music by local musicians performing songs inspired by the stories of real people who have been positively impacted by the United Way programs. The video series we filmed captures the evening and focuses on the storytellers who vulnerably shared their un-ignorable stories. Please do watch. They are incredibly inspiring and emotional.
19 — Hemmings House Commits $100,000 over 10 years to help our community
Hemmings House is a founding member of the 1 Million Dollar Pledge. We are one of 12 (and growing!) companies committing $10,000 per year for a full decade! We raise at least $120,000 per year to support a cause we collectively agree on. We flow the money through the United Way and meet quarterly as an investment club. It’s a fun way for business leaders to get together and make real impact in our community. Here is a Huddle article that explains where our first investment went and the impact it has made in a small New Brunswick community!
Not all businesses can afford $10,000 per year, so a group of business owners started a cousin program inspired by the 1 Million Dollar Pledge called the Quarter Club that sees investments of $2,500 per company per year. Now that’s inspiring! Here is a Huddle article featuring this investment club.
18 — Hemmings House offsets it’s greenhouse gas emissions!
The team at Hemmings House wanted to lower our environmental impact in 2019 to help deal with the climate crisis. Until we started tracking it, we didn’t realize that we are a pretty heavy CO2 polluter (we spend a lot of time up in the clouds flying in aeroplanes!)
We decided to partner with Community Forests International to calculate our greenhouse gas emissions and help us offset them. In 2019 we offset the full 292.28 tonnes of CO2 by helping Community Forests International purchase and protect one of the best carbon vacuum cleaners on the market…12.6 acres of New Brunswick Forest. We are going to continue offsetting all of our GHCs with this progressive organization.
Check out our Impact Report from Community Forests International
I also talk about our motivation to go carbon neutral in a podcast called “Pleasure Doing Business” produced by Teed Saunders Doyle.
Episode 21: Greg Hemmings of Hemmings House and The Boiling Point Podcast — Teed Saunders Doyle
“I’ve spent a lot of time with earlier start-upstart up film people helping them start their business, because I’m an…
Hemmings House also joined over 500 other B Corps to be represented at the United Nations Climate Change Conference ( COP25 ) to commit to total carbon neutrality by 2030. Check out this awesome video highlighting our commitment.
17 — Helping to create a Love-based Economy
A few years ago I met three incredible women from the Social Venture Circle and B Corp communities. Julie Fahnestock, Sierra Flannigan and Lori Hanau. We were attracted to each other by a common passion to see a love-based economy emerge. An economy where there are no stakeholders experiencing pain, but rather abundance. We had our first event in Greenwich Village, New York, then a while later we gathered again in Harlem, then Brooklyn (a few times), Boston, Philadelphia, Vermont and Berkley, California. We have had the privilege of attracting business and community leaders to break bread together, experience live music, meditation and circle discussions in the name of empowering the attendees to be agents of love in our economy. I have brought a slice of the Love Economy to Saint John with my friend Jaclyn Trecartin. For all of 2019 and now into 2020 we have been gathering at The Wheelhouse of Waterloo Village for a lunchtime talk series called “Love Lunches”. It has been very impactful. Hearing vulnerable stories from leaders in our community about how love can show up in our city has been nothing but an inspiration. We have recorded the talks and they will be released as a podcast soon!
16 — We by mistake built a new home!
Jessica and I found the property of our dreams on the water. The property is on a beach on Ragged Point that sits where the mighty Kennebecasis River meets with the Wolastoq before emptying into the Bay of Fundy. The energy here is powerful (tidal & spiritual). The little home that sat on the property however, needed some renovation love, so we started the journey of raising the roof to create cathedral ceilings and knock some walls down to create an open concept. After we built the new roof, we realized that we should have torn the whole house down and just built from scratch. EEEK! We decided to keep our new roof, and build a brand new home from the roof down. I captured so much of this tragic and humorous experience on my iPhone and made a YouTube series out of it! Would you like to watch the series? It’s called ‘The Ragged Life” and can be found here.
15 — Hemmings House has a new office!
Hemmings House moved! We spent several years at a very cool spot in the Creative Soup Building, sharing space over the years with our friends at Acre Architects, Revolution Strategy, Kim Jakobsen Design, Kefi Travel and Civilized. After 8 years it was time for us to find a place of our own and we did! We even got some engraved marble to make it official!
14 — We are attracting kick-ass adventure film festivals in our city.
We have been hosting film screenings for years. Sean Creary at River and Trail Outdoor Company approached me four years ago to see if I would like to co-host the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Saint John with him. We did, and we sold out our first year, then the second, then the third! The fourth-year is coming up in a week at the Imperial Theatre and it is already sold out! WOW! Sean and I have also come together to host the International Paddling Film Festival annually in our city! This led us to create a small website and email list to keep the outdoor film fans up to speed with tickets and events! Sign up here at our webpage.
13 — We are producing water-based films that feature the cleanup and protection of our environment.
The outdoor film festivals we have been involved with inspired us to start making films about people playing in and protecting the wild natural playgrounds that surround our city. We produced two films this year that we are so proud of and excited to share with you.
From the Water — A film about surfing the tides and waves of the Bay of Fundy. Watch the film here.
The Window — A film about a man who wants to protect the Fundy Isles: Watch the film here.
12 — My 10-year-old daughter’s YouTube channel has led to her on stage in front of more than 7000 people.
Our eldest daughter Kaiya started a YouTube channel and social enterprise at the age of 6 called Heart Fun. Her message is one of kindness and inclusion. She designed and sold shirts to raise money for local food banks for a few years which led to several really cool speaking gigs and other opportunities.
Here are three incredible experiences Kaiya was able to have as a result:
Kaiya meets and interviews the late New Brunswick Lt.-Gov. Jocelyne Roy Vienneau.
CBC Kids News hired Kaiya to report on the great floods of the St. John River this May. Check out her reporting here!
Kaiya was invited to speak in front of 7000 students at a WE Day affiliated event called WE BELIEVE. Here is her speech!
11 — I am now a repped public speaker! I now have an agent!
In 2019 I finally decided to take my public speaking to the next level and sign with an agency! I will be preparing for some pretty cool speaking gigs shortly. My speaker’s web page is here: https://www.greghemmings.me/
One of my favourite 2019 talks was when I was flown to Seattle to do a Pecha Kucha lecture at the National Nordic Museum! I was able to recount the number of film trips that I have had to the arctic and other Nordic regions of the world.
Here is my speaker reel (needs to be updated!)
10 — We produced a film and storytelling event in Hollywood.
Hemmings House produced an event in Los Angeles that attracted hundreds of people to watch films, experience live music, poetry and hear stories of epic local change-makers in the LA area. We gathered at Wanderlust’s Hollywood venue, complete with meditation, sound baths, food, drink, music, talks and films. It was incredible. This was in partnership with B-Lab, Participant, and SoulPancake, and I also had the privilege of being the host MC!
9 — I celebrated 10 years of being part of my Wallace McCain Institute cohort…in Turks & Caicos!
Way back in 2009 I was honoured to be chosen as one of 15 entrepreneurs in the 2nd cohort of the Wallace McCain Institute’s Entrepreneur Leadership Program (ELP). After that first epic year, our group has continued to meet quarterly for the last ten years. To celebrate we all met in Turks and Caicos this year to look back at a decade of such high growth and change for so many of us, and to imagine what the next decade could look like for us all. A few months later we all got together again to climb Mount Katahdin!
8 — My favourite Hemmings House project in 2019: The Ballet Sessions
Hemmings House produced a very cool project with Tourism New Brunswick and the Atlantic Ballet of Canada. It is called the Ballet Sessions. We partnered with local musicians to make music for the dancers as they danced in front of iconic New Brunswick landscapes. You can watch all of the ballet sessions here.
7 -Teaching filmmaking in Greece
Ok, this was fun. As I have been developing my education offering called Filmpreneur, I have been taking students to cool places to learn how to create films and businesses for positive impact. Along with an online course I developed, I took the first cohort to Mexico, and last year I took them to Greece with my brother Mark Hemmings (photographer). John Simon from Kefi Travel dealt with all of the logistics and it was truly a trip of a lifetime. Over a week, my brother worked with people to help them with their photography chops, and I helped my group create two films! One is called DemocraCity which is a short doc about Athens being the birthplace of democracy, and then a documentary called To Modelo where we positioned one of our students as a professional fashion model who found herself in an awkward and hilarious predicament with a couple of sleazy hustlers. You can watch both films here:
Are you interested in coming to Crete in Greece with us this coming May? Or any of our future “Eduvacations”? If so, visit here for info!
6 — Our Boiling Point Podcast has evolved into online courses and live events!
Dave Veal and I have had a blast producing over 5 years of weekly podcasts with the Boiling Point! Last year we decided to take all of our learnings from our interviews with icons like Seth Godin, Chris Hadfield, Heather Moyse and hundreds of others to create an online course called the Boiling Point Process. It’s a course that helps entrepreneurs, artists and change-makers be heard in noisy markets. This has also evolved into live full-day events teaching the same content. We show up to a city, set up the podcast desk in front of an audience of 100+, and pool on local experts to join us as guests to inspire the audience as they speak to our 5 step process of being heard.
5 — I got some glass!
I was very fortunate to be nominated by my peers to be recognized as a top 50 CEO in Atlantic Canada!
Also, I was a finalist for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year for Atlantic Canada!
4 — Pitching our documentaries and TV shows in NY
We have a few really important film projects that we are currently developing. One explores environmental fragmentation in the Amazon and how things like roads, clear cuts and buildings can rapidly move species to extinction. The other is an exploration into how plant medicines and psychedelics can positively impact humanity and reveal why they have been criminalized for so many years. We had a great trip to New York where we met with our friends at Discovery Channel, Nat Geo, A&E, CNN Films and the Food Network. We have some incredible stories to tell that we believe will make a positive impact in the world, and the television broadcasters have a big role to play in making that impact.
3 — My Medium blog blows up
I wrote a block in 2017 called “Why I Quit Working On Abusive Feature Film Sets And What I Am Trying To Do To Reframe It”. I wrote it for our friends at B The Change, the official blog for the B Corp movement.
The blog did well, but something amazing happened in 2019, someone posted my blog on the San Diego Filmmakers Facebook site and it blew up! In a week we had over 22 thousand views and over 5400 complete blog reads on Medium.com! The message of the need to build a fair, safe, equitable and respectful film industry resonated! Read the blog here!
2 — This is Wild
One of my favourite bands to see live is Phish. I have been following this band around since 1995 from show to show and festival to festival. As a drummer myself, one of my favourite members of the band is drummer Jon Fishman. Last summer I got a call from an old friend of mine who I haven’t spoken to in 20 years. His name is John Kasiewicz, and years ago I filmed his Connecticut based fusion band Rasinhill live in Halifax. John called me and told me that he had also been playing bass in another band called We’re Bionic, that Jon Fishman was also the drummer for. The frontman, J. Willis Pratt was battling cancer and they were getting the band back together again to do a fundraiser show for Willis’ medical bills. John asked if we would like to come to film the show. We said yes, of course, packed the crew into the van and drove to Plainfield, Vermont to spend a day with the band and film as much as we could in a day. What we ended up capturing was a beautiful story of friendship, sickness, health and straight-up rock. Over the years I have directed and produced so many music-based films and live concerts. What we captured this day is probably the most epic. I have been editing the film and it will be released soon!
Please sign up for the emailer to be up to speed on the release AND to see some live footage we shot for the film!
1- There are new mini Hemmings Housers in the world!
Back in August, Steve (president of Hemmings House) and Lindsay had a baby boy named Gabriel.
Then, this December (right before Christmas) baby Novah Dawn Irie Hemmings joined our family! Her name means “It’s a new day and everything is alright”. How’s that for a blessing in a name? These two “Hemmings House” kids are pretty amazing and for sure they both make the number one highlight of 2019!
I wish you the very best in this new decade. 2020 is going to be a special year for you and all of us. It has been fun to look back at all of the amazing things that happened in 2019, despite a challenging year for sales. At the end of the day, we as entrepreneurs build businesses to make an impact in our world, and the 20 points I listed here today remind me that we are blessed with all the success we could ever dream for.
Thanks for all YOU do in contributing to a happier and kinder planet.