Adam Grossman – ICBC’s man on the North Shore

Who are you?

I am husband and dad. I think these are the most important roles I have in my life and the ones I focus on getting right more than anything else. Being surrounded by women at home – the wifey, two daughters (an almost four-year-old and a just-more-than-four-month-old), and a ginger cat who’s also a gal (apparently very rare) – keeps me strictly in line.

When I get some free time from the demands, ahem joys, of home, I work at ICBC in my paid gig as their spokesperson (yeah, that’s a communications job with some challenges) and my non-paid gig as the President of the Canadian Public Relations Society of Vancouver. After years as a frustrated and poorly-paid journalist (is there any other type?), I’m grateful to work in Vancouver’s vibrant, bustling, growing and inter-connected PR industry. It’s a lot of fun.

In my make-believe life, I play guitar in a rock ‘n’ roll band and am also a Michelin-star chef.

What do you do for fun?

I’m training for those Michelin stars. Before I met my wife Kate, my culinary skills included cheese on toast, spaghetti with a jar of tomato sauce and a stir-fry with pre-chopped veggies and chicken. Kate took me on as her sous-chef padawan, but now I have become the Jedi food-master. I’m a food-obsessive now and would love to be 17 again so I could leave my life of desk jobs behind and train to become a chef.

My other obsession is music – a passion that kept me from a cigarette-addiction like so many of my school and university friends. I spent all the money I had on records so never had enough left for cigarettes (of course, I’d smoke my friend’sMalboros whenever I could). The life-changing bands in my life? INXS, Nirvana, Metallica, Oasis and Ryan Adams. You can pretty much track my life from 12 to 34 via those bands.

Of course, nothing is more fun than the gals back home. I never thought I’d know as much as I do about Disney Princesses but that’s what having a three-year-old daughter does for you. My youngest is going to be a tomboy who plays drums in a rock band. It’s my mission.

As for the good lady wife, I moved to Canada with her in 2004 with no money, nowhere to live and no friends. Seven years later and things have worked out very nicely. I’m glad we made the leap of faith together. Canada will always be our home and we’re proud to have become citizens of this beautiful country two years ago.

What is your favourite community and why?

North Vancouver is a wonderful place to live and work. It’s a joy to live in such a safe, community-minded hood, which is growing and becoming a more funky place to live year-on-year, while also being a great place to bring up a family. Having the water, beaches and mountains all within close reach is perfect, and I can walk to work, dinner and the shops. What more could I want?

Can I have a second choice? Then it’s the Cool-Music-Community. I love going to gigs – it’s always been the place of ultimate nirvana for me. Whenever I’m at a rock show, I do wonder where all these people come from. I have a good group of friends to go to shows with but there are clearly so many more of you out there, for which I salute you. My next show? BonIver at the Orpheum later this month. I hope to see you there.

What is your Superpower?

Life is complicated but I can make it simple. I’d like to be able to fly or make myself invisible but I’ve never been much good at either.

How do you use it to build community?

I see frustrations every day when people don’t understand things, or can’t work together to solve problems. Watch the world news and this is at the root of most of the world’s problems.

In any PR job, the ability to take complicated information and make it simple – to tell a story – is perhaps the most important skill there is so I believe is serves me well. It’s a skill that’s just as important at home where I know the decisions mum and dad make can be complicated to my three-year-old.

My Three Favourite Things About Adam Grossman Are…

1.  General Industriousness. Adam gets stuff done. Whether it’s fielding dozens of calls from every news station across Canada looking to get a quote/clip on the latest ICBC rate hike or his ongoing exceptional work heading up one of the largest and most active public relations professional association in the country, he is a man of action. 

2. Soft but snappy British accent. Some things make your heart smile for odd reasons. That’s what Adam’s British accent does for me. Plus it just makes him sound that much smarter than all us “simple-speaking” Canadians. 

3. Happy go Lucky. Adam is a generally happy fellow. No doubt one can chock a lot of that up to his lovely family. He’s always got a smile on his face, even when dealing with a challenging or stressful situation (which as ICBC spokesperson, there are doubtlessly many of these). His friendly and calm demeanor make him an ideal community builder. 

Riding with headphones – illegal, immoral or irrelevant?

I’ve had three incidents in the past month that have got me thinking about my bike riding etiquette. Twice in the past couple months friends have stopped me as I took headphones out of my ears to tut-tut me on riding while listening to music. This afternoon, on my way home from a doctors appointment, a self-identified off-duty RCMP officer instructed me (to her credit, in a kindly way) that riding with headphone on was illegal and she had pulled over dozens of people for impaired riding.

The bike shop guys I asked later in the day confirmed it was a contravention of the BC Motor Vehicle Act. Unfortunately, my legal prowess is limited and after a quick search of the Act, I wasn’t able to discover any evidence to confirm this is the case. Though I’ve yet to find the precise legal wording one thing I have found is that in all my time riding, I’ve never run into troubles with a police officer for riding with headphones (despite being pulled over several times for other infractions). What’s most striking is that if it is actually a law, it’s one of the most ignored ones in history. Sitting at the Union St Cafe at the corner of Union and Hawkes, it’s hard to find a cyclist (particularly during the morning commute) who isn’t listening to tunes on a small portable i-phone or music player.  For me it begs the question of the relevance of such a rule. Is this another road rule that everyone (including the cops ignores) or is it something we all really should be paying attention to?

Fun tech friend or public enemy #1?

On the one hand, I understand how listening to music at a moderate volume can a) distract you from your environment and b) take away from your peripheral hearing. But is that really so different from the car radio (particularly at a high volume)? If you’re hands free and you are alert and listening to a music at a low volume, is this really so bad? And if this is the case, what about joggers? Should they not be held to the same standard?

What is most frustrating about this issue is that this prohibition isn’t really clear to cyclists (or anyone for that matter). It’s hard to find evidence one way or another on the ICBC website and there certainly seems to be a gap in public education around all matters of proper riding ediquette (apparently it’s also illegal to ride without a bell – really!?). In any event, if the rule isn’t being enforced, is it really a good rule to have? Practice seems to be very different from principle on this issue.