I’m very sorry to say that Jim Rudnick passed away last week.
Jim was an important community builder in Hamilton’s startup community. Back in 2010-11 when institutions like Innovation Factory were first getting off the ground, Jim was the number one networker and community cheerleader in this area. They gave him the first DiFizen award for making a difference in the community. Jim had everybody’s back, and people loved him for it.
Some of us will be getting together this Friday March 10th from 5pm-7pm at SERVE Ping Pong bar to have a pint in honour of Jim and tell some of our favourite stories.
Corrected update: this article was briefly updated to mention that Jim’s memorial service had been made public. This was a miscommunication. That memorial service will need to remain private for his family, due to space restrictions it may not be able to accommodate everyone. The Friday drinks will go on as planned though.
I’m not sure it’s my place, I’m not so good at these things, but I’ll tell a quick story.
DemoCampHamilton1 was the first big community event I had ever planned. Until then my life was a more like a typical computer science grad student… sitting behind a desk, working away on math problems that had nothing to do with people.
I was way out of my element at the time doing something social and business oriented, and to be honest totally scared out of mind. I was worried sick things would go off the rails. The day of that first DemoCamp I actually hadn’t slept a wink for the prior two nights.
But this guy Jim Rudnick who had been e-mailing me since announcing the event really wanted to go out to lunch the day of the DemoCamp. He listened, gave advice, shared his own experiences, and put me at ease. You kinda had to know him, but he had a way of delivering advice that was fine-tuned to his listener in a way that let them know what they needed to know without causing them to put their guard up. I think it’s because you got the sense he really wanted you to succeed.
When we were done our lunch he made a small gesture that I’ll never forget. As we were about to leave the restaurant he turned to me and said, “I’m behind you” and patted me on the back, and then let me walk ahead of him. I know it’s such a little thing, but it meant a lot.
I think that’s what Jim did for a lot of people too – he had their backs. There was a bunch of us that were young and/or new to Hamilton. Maybe not as secure in themselves or their abilities just yet, let alone secure in their careers, or startup, or family life. And at the same time all these people were “trying really hard to make it in life”. They were stressed out from running the rat race, working long hours, and dealing with competition. And though a lot of these people were learners and hard workers with goals they wanted to achieve, due to their stage of life and career, they were understandably tense, anxious and unsure.
Where as Jim was our Obi-Wan Kenobi. He had the wisdom of seeing it before, and coming at things from the end of his career, he could be more relaxed and detached than the rest of us. He modelled a lot of behaviours that the rest of us followed… like the importance of “opening up the rolodex”, supporting people, leadership, sharing good ideas even if it meant others would implement them instead of you, and seeing the best in others (I’ve never met anyone better than him at that in particular).
Over the years Jim kinda became an informal mentor for me. We would meetup for lunch and beers every so often and talk about business, life and family. He retired not very long ago and wrote a lot of SciFi books, which was great to see him get to do something he loved. He had the best sense of humour, and always expressed love for his family and friends.
I’ll miss you buddy.