Bestselling author and rock star economist Jeff Rubin is no stranger to David vs. Goliath type battles. In his latest book, The Carbon Bubble: What Happens To Us When It Bursts, Jeff takes on Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s vision of Canada as an energy superpower, arguing that our country has greater, greener assets. Here, the former chief economist of CIBC World Markets, shares some of the secrets to his success including why, if you’re going to die, it would be pretty great to go out fishing:
Crash, but don’t burn
My daily ritual is to be glad I’m alive. I say that having had a lot of close calls. I burst my spleen playing tennis, if you can imagine that. I didn’t know I had mono at the time. I lost about two-thirds of my blood and almost died. Another time I fell out of a raft, rafting a class-five rapid on the Zambezi River. I was in a Beaver plane that blew its engine on a fishing trip. Luckily, we landed, over a lake. After that happened, I remember I said to myself, ‘I will never, ever, ever fly in another Beaver plane.’ The last one that came off the production line was 1963! And then just recently, I was booking this amazing fishing trip and the only way you can get there is on a Beaver. So I’m going again. I guess I believe that you shouldn’t let fear get in the way of what you love to do in life. Either that or I’m crazy. If you publish this article posthumously, at least there will be some context. Really though, if you have to check out – catching salmon in the B.C. rain forest is a lot better than being in some palliative care unit.
The benefits of having thick skin
I was baptized by criticism pretty early on in my career. I had two different finance ministers ask the bank to fire me over research that I had put out. I survived. The subjects that I am interested in and the opinions that I have are often lightning rods for people’s feelings, both pro and con. I’ve learned to become personally detached. Do I feel enraged that people can still be denying climate change in view of incontrovertible evidence? Not really. I’m comforted by the fact that a lot of those people put their money where their mouth is. One of the things you don’t get from reading the business news in Canada is what a dog fossil fuels stocks have been. For people who are still investing in that way, a bad portfolio will be the best revenge.
If it ain’t broke, don’t replace it
I have just finished up a book tour, so obviously something like that is going to contribute to a carbon footprint. I do my best, though. I drive a 15-year-old car, – an Audi 2000 – which is probably not something most people who were chief economists can say. People don’t realize that the energy required to produce a car is greater than the energy used to drive a car. They don’t just come off the assembly line without consequence. I can definitely say that I will never buy an internal-combustion car again, but then, I may never buy another car again. If I do, it will certainly be electric. My general attitude toward conservation would be to try to make do with what you’ve got rather than needing more. I haven’t bought a suit in at least six years. I’ve worn enough suits and ties to last a lifetime.
The secret to Suzuki-level stamina
I recently met David Suzuki for dinner the night before a speaking engagement. We finished off a bottle of wine and had a two-hour conversation. The man is going to be 80 next year! He is about the closest thing I would have to a hero. I’m pretty sure he has incredible genetics on his side, but there is also the passion for what he does. With my own work, that passion is what keeps me motivated. I do try to go to the gym every day in terms of keeping my energy up, but I think being so invested in what I am writing and speaking about is the key to my stamina. That and having been a chief economist for 20 years – you get pretty used to the crazy schedule, the early morning meetings.