University of Calgary

Your Alumni

An alumna who really gets it

By Matthew Fox

Many authors write books on personal development thinking they are the experts. Not so for Avil Beckford, BComm’91. When she wrote such a book, she sought insight from people from all walks of life—business leaders, cancer survivors, coaches and accountants.

“I wanted answers to the questions I had for the interviewees,” the Toronto-based Beckford says. “And I figured if I wanted to know the answers, likely other people wanted them as well.”
Beckford’s recently published book, Tales of People Who Get It, is an extension of her regular newsletter, Ambeck Edge for Ambeck Enterprise, her business information research, analysis and writing services company.

In it, she interviews 34 people, including journalist Claire Hoy, business leader Purdy Crawford, business consultant and academic Joseph Martin, and Reelworld Film Festival founder Tonya Lee Williams. Beckford groups the interviews into five sections: leadership; change management; innovation; personal beliefs and “getting what we need.”

Each interviewee describes a challenge, its resolution, lessons learned and more personal observations such as major regrets, favourite quotes and influential books. Beckford includes her own insights, a section for self-evaluation and, tucked away in an appendix, she answers her own interview questions.

“Writing this book transformed me,” Beckford says. “The interviewees are my invisible mentors.”
Beckford notes that the same themes kept arising from the interviews, despite how diverse her sources were. “We are not as different from each other as we think,” she says. “To be successful, you have to be passionate, focused and engaged in continuous learning—that’s the foundation of personal fulfillment.”

Beckford hints at the possibility of a future edition given that she continues to interview engaging people. She recently spoke with Linda Hollander, an entrepreneur and consultant known as the “Wealthy Bag Lady,” and Beckford hopes to one day connect with Richard Branson and Warren Buffett.

Tales of People Who Get It and its workbook companion, Journey to Getting It, are available at Beckford has just shot a video promoting the book for YouTube and is planning a book launch in her native Jamaica later this spring.