Dear friends and family,
2020. The world is on fire.
How do we even begin this letter to the people who have supported our company over the years? Is it appropriate to talk about ourselves while the world is literally burning? Maybe, maybe not. Read on, and do share with us your thoughts.
The first Accountability Report received a surprising number of responses, which compelled us to keep up this practice. So here we go again, with the intent of showing how your investments (time, love, wisdom, money) in Pixel Dreams are making a difference in the world.
Accountability. It is a big word.
What are we holding ourselves accountable to? In essence, it is the relentless pursuit of purpose. It is to help raise Intelligence and Consciousness (“raise I+C” is a phrase you will hear again and again).
In a year that brought much uncertainty and anxiety, the return on investment from raising I+C among our team was unity and resilience. In a recent reflection and envision exercise, our team members reported gratitude and optimism. There is a clear sense of wellbeing, and an even stronger sense of duty to deliver value. Amidst chaos, this kind of clarity keeps us moving onward.
When the world is set on fire ― let’s be water.
“For me 2020 could be summed up with this quote: ‘Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.’” ― Saif
Our team summarized 2020 in one word. It’s not COVID (close contender, but not quite). It’s GRATITUDE. One we seem to have little control over, while the other we certainly have plenty.
Grateful to be alive. Alive to witness the state of the world, which is a constant reminder of the I+C imperative. It drives the missions we take on and the culture we live out. So we won’t have to experience Idiocracy for real.
Besides growing the business (to fund the purpose), there are two themes in the missions we take on. First, to spread the knowledge and wisdom gained along the way, and second, to give back and pay forward through philanthropic means.
Spreading knowledge and wisdom
Have you heard of the battle between “ignorance on fire” and “knowledge on ice”? The winner is still up for debate. What’s for sure is the uselessness of sleeping knowledge and wisdom. And so, awaken these giants we must.
Book publishing, endorsing, and giving
If you’ve read this far, you probably already know how vital reading is around here. So much so, we’ve begun writing, producing, and publishing books ourselves.
- Launch of PDverse ― publishing division of PD
- In December, PDverse went live with the release of ‘Hungry Little Monster’ ― a storybook for children.
- Around the same time, the first draft of ‘How to Talk to Conspiracy Theorists’ was done. Now in editing, it is releasing in Q2-2021.
- Six more books are available for pre-order (and are receiving pre-orders), with various publication dates set between Q2 and Q4 of 2021.
- Recommendations for teams, clients, friends, and familyTop 5 most recommended books
- A New Earth: Awakening Your Life’s Purpose ― Eckhart Tolle
- The Art of Thinking Clearly ― Rolf Dobelli
- Principles: Life and Work ― Ray Dalio
- Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones ― James Clear
- Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art ― James Nestor
Continued mandatory books across teams and disciplines
- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team ― Patrick Lencioni
- Extreme Ownership ― Jocko Willink & Leif Babin
- The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership ― John C. Maxwell
- Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time ― Jeff Sutherland
- The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph ― Ryan Holiday
- Ego is the Enemy ― Ryan Holiday
Presentations, discussions, and workshops
You may have already been to one or more of our learning events, led by team members and sometimes special guests.
- Some notable topics
- Prison Reform in Canada: presentation by Dr Christopher DiCarlo
- Culture-led Operations ― the PDT way: workshop by Kal Mokhtarzada
- Thinking Clearly: group discussion among PDT
- Critical Thinking: presentation by Dr Christopher DiCarlo
- Human Potential: conversation with Casey James Combden
- Optimistic October: month-long discussions among PDT & guests
- Always Look on the Bright Side: presentation by Dr Christopher DiCarlo
- Learned Optimism: presentation by Daniel Libby
- Pandemic in Perspective: presentation by Daniel Libby
- How to Manage Projects and Anything: workshop by Kal Mokhtarzada
- How to Take Better Care of Our Health: group discussion among PDT
- The Ethics of Hunting: presentation by Darnell Toth
Often heard around here
“I’ve never read as much as I have here at PD. It used to be a chore, now I always look forward to reading time.”
“Applying what I learned from the XYZ book you recommended has changed my life. I recommended it to my friends and family. And now I’ve heard from multiple people how it’s changed their lives.”
Giving back and paying forward
Even with personal development being a non-negotiable, no one is ‘self-made’. For every success and blessing, there is always help from others along the way making it possible. There is so much to be thankful for, which has enabled us to continue giving back and paying it forward, especially in a year when so many have been impacted. Here are a few of the organizations we supported in 2020.
- Fundraisers and donations
- Daily Bread Food Bank to help feed those hungry
- Amnesty International to help support human rights
- Afghan Institute of Learning to help young Afghans trade guns for books
- Wikipedia Foundation to help make the world’s information and knowledge accessible
- Kurzgesagt (In a Nutshell) to help open minds through explainer videos
- Benevolent Fund to help local people who have lost jobs through the pandemic
- And more…
- Pro bono work
- Tech Spark: Ongoing collaboration to build out a high school curriculum on Entrepreneurship, piloting in 2 highs schools in Ajax, before expanding to other school boards across Canada
- Chris Hadfield’s Generator: Creating advertising materials to promote this mind-expanding show
- Centennial College: Ongoing participation in program advisory committee for the design program
- Waldorf Academy: Ongoing consultation on improvements for marketing and operations
- And more…
If you’re reading this far, you must be a big supporter (thank you!), and probably know how important it is for us to mindfully cultivate our company culture like a garden, keeping the weeds out (unless they have healing properties, of course). Until we can invite you to immerse in our culture in person again, here are some reflections on the past year.
PD and Kaizen
A chance synchronicity: PD, short for Pixel Dreams, is also an abbreviation for Personal Development and Professional Development. Appropriate, because personal and professional development is the non-negotiable foundation of our company. The Japanese term Kaizen ― 改善 ― also inspires this culture of ceaseless improvements.
Learning & studying
“I am in awe on how amazingly I grew this past 6 months.” ― Diane
- Books & audiobooks
“We like big books and we cannot lie.” ― Sir Read A Lot, a PDT member
Yes, you read it right, here we go with books, again. Most read subject matters:
- Business & Leadership
- Spirituality & Philosophy
- Health & Habits
- History & Biographies
- Love & Relationships
- Memento Mori
- The Arts
- Courses & workshops
From Masterclass, Skillshare, Udemy, and the like, our people gobble up online courses like a famine is coming. Most studied subject matters:
- Business & Leadership
- Art & Design
- Communication & Writing
- Personal Development
- Coaches & mentorsTapping into the timeless wisdom and brutal honesty of people who care about raising our performance across disciplines:
- Human Potential
- Health & Fitness
- Business & Leadership
- Advertising & Design
- Communication & Presentation
- Finance & Taxation
Tracking & reflecting
“Vital: I now have a place to share my thought of a day, and see other stories from the team.” ― Augustin
“Practice gratitude daily: Practicing gratitude has been a big positive change in my life, in the way I think.” ― Lily
- Ongoing practice
- Continued daily personal journaling and sharing via internal platform VITAL
- Continued weekly company-wide reflection and gratitude practice
- End-of-year reflection and new-year envision exercise, done on both a personal and collective level (you’re reading the results of the collective one)
Dream and play
As a creative company, dreaming and playing are essential to the quality of our work and life. When darkness is around, dreaming and playing help bring out the inner light. While 2020 was a year of intense work, we carved out some essential time for fun.
- Notable events
- Kal Fury ― fundraiser and party, the last in-person event before almost all human interactions went online
- Cottage Getaway ― team trip, the last together before travelling is a distant memory
- Hackathon ― full-day collaboration to publish Vol.2 of CULT magazine, on the topics of Love, Death, Now, and Peace.
- 2020 Winter Holidays ― virtual game show and party with the whole team, lots of laughs felt and gratitude expressed.
Health and food
Health at PD is a shared and promoted priority, which includes Physical, Spiritual, Mental, and Emotional health (we refer to this health system P-S-M-E). With 2020 being 2020, lots of personal and collective efforts were put on health.
- Healthy habits & rituals
- Meditation, yoga, breathing, stretching, walking, running, weight-lifting, and laughing
- Digital detox and minimizing time on social media
- Increases in picking up and practicing various musical instruments
- More team members partaking in gardening, planting, growing, and harvesting
- Breaking bread together
Since we began working from home, our daily tradition of cooking lunch and eating together has become:
- Frequent deliveries of homemade bread and baked goods by Peter’s Rise
- Meal-delivery vouchers and care packages to team members
- Company donations to local food banks
- Intermittent fasting practiced by some team members
The theme of 2021 is ‘build’. With uncertainty rising all around the world, we are doubling down on ‘raising I+C’ investments. As we ‘strengthen the foundation’, 2021 is about being ‘under construction’ and setting ‘progress in motion’. With eyes set on 2022, here are a number of things we are working on in 2021 (you can expect a report next year):
- What we’re up to in 2021
- Promote and empower ongoing personal and professional development, including education, mentorship, coaching, and training ― across company and community
- Deliver 12 presentations and workshops on various I+C topics (one per month)
- Publish 8 books by EOY, including fiction and non-fiction for children, young adults, and adults (two per quarter)
- Further the Prison Reform efforts initiated from last year
- Get involved in local community centers (mentoring, teaching, giving)
- Support people in need
On to the next one
2021 began with a bang: more lockdowns, more riots, more polarity, more turmoil, more and more. But…
Spreading just as fast are the seeds of awakening and the opportunities for transformation. So, buckle up, Buckaroos! Things are gonna be wild for a while longer.
If the past is the wisest teacher, the future the boldest dreamer, then the present is the earnest striver. No matter how small or difficult, here’s to what can be achieved, today.
As for the recent reflection and envision exercise mentioned above, it was a long and laborious process, but truly fruitful. A number of people have asked us to share it, so, here’s a template to use.
Lastly, if you are curious about anything we have said or done, want to teach us something or learn anything from us, or simply to have a conversation, feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the world that is on fire, we shall be water.
Your PDT ― Pixel Dreams Team