The Man Behind Vancouver’s Olympic Opening Ceremony

David Atkins is the man from Down Under, the creative genius behind the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympics.

Superlatives for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games are still being reported.

Four out of five Canadians from coast to coast to coast watched these spectacular ceremonies which have ignited a patriotism that is rarely witnessed. Flags are flown everywhere – from cars, bicycles, apartment buildings, bridges, private homes, and city hall. Downtown Vancouver is a sea of red, and each afternoon and evening it reminds one of walking the streets in New York – there are so many people!

Timothy Egan, writes in his February 17 blog post for the New York Times, “Vancouver is Manhattan with mountains.”

A reporter for the Los Angeles Times said that if the Brady Bunch had a country, it would be Canada. Please and thank you, and polite manners are everywhere – that’s the Canadian way.

So, you may ask, who created the Opening Ceremonies? The multi-talented David Atkins produced the event, as well as the evening Victory/Medal Ceremonies at B.C. Place.
The following excerpt is from the official site.

“Atkins, who was the Executive Producer and Artistic Director of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Summer Games Ceremonies as well as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 15th Asian Games in Doha in 2006, admits that working on the Olympic Games becomes a bit addictive.

“The pressure is quite extraordinary on every member of the team. These are once-only events. It’s a highly-charged experience with years of work coming down to one night, one time, and one place.”

In a breakfast meeting with Shel Piercy, Associate Producer of the 2010 Winter Olympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies, Shel shared with me seven principles David Atkins lives by. 

David’s 7 Rules

1. For these Canadian games, David has a staff of 190 men and women, and he knows every person by name.

2. A true leader never asks any member of his team to do anything he wouldn’t do.

3. David understands the pressure he is under, in that everything he produces must be world-class.

4. Every member of David’s staff attends every production meeting – no excuses. If a meeting is called and you have another appointment, then change it.

5. David is insistent that you must rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, then practice, practice, practice. How can a show be world-class if you don’t rehearse and practice? It’s impossible to just perform on the day if you don’t put in the time.

6. Yes, it takes a huge financial investment, but David’s entire team has made an emotional investment. Without this emotional investment, it just doesn’t happen. As I’ve said in the past, “Without an emotional attachment to a business idea or career, you will not pursue it with passion. If the idea or deal has not been properly thought through, success is not likely. You need to balance the two for success.”

7. David doesn’t want to hear what you can’t do, he only wants to hear what you can do.

This is not bad advice for running our business and our lives.

The Closing Ceremonies are only five days away. Don’t miss them!!