Pounce on your Opportunities


Introducing Ken MacLeod

Sometimes the only thing holding you back from achieving any goal is your own hesitation. No journey has ever happened where someone hasn’t taken the first step. Ken MacLeod and the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra know all about this.

Back in 2002, Ken’s daughter had finally been accepted into the NBYO after applying for her third time. When Ken was dropping her off at a summer camp weekend, when he heard that the NBYO had been invited to perform at Carnegie Hall. There was only one problem; the orchestra was not in the financial position to accept the invite.   However, Ken thought, “how can we not say yes?” and started working toward raising the $140,000 it would take to join the show. At the time, the orchestra comprised of 70 musicians and one orchestra. They had an annual budget of $25,000 and only two part-time staff members. The orchestra would perform five concerts with a total of 1,000 patrons. Not only did Ken raise the money for the Carnegie Hall concert, but over the years and under his leadership the orchestra now has 800 kids with a budget of $2.5 million, 55 employees, 82 concerts yearly, with 31,000 patrons.

Ken credits the success from recognizing opportunities when they come and pouncing on them. He sees decisiveness as the number one quality of leadership and through his lack of hesitation the NBYO has won an East Coast Music Award, been nominated for three others. They have also been the subject of two nationally televised documentaries (including Sistema Revolution produced by Hemmings House Pictures). Most importantly the NBYO has produced social change for underprivileged children by increasing their focus, cooperation, and discipline, as well as, improving their academic performance and school absenteeism.

Check out this week’s Boiling Point to learn why it is important to jump at your opportunities and to see how a small group of people can make real social change.

In this episode

  • Ken tells us how he got involved with the NBYO and how he knows Greg.
  • We hear about the amazing transformation the NBYO has had in the last decade.
  • Ken tells us how pouncing at opportunities is the real key to success.
  • Ken tells us how a revolutionary program in Venezuela impacted the NBYO and how both programs have become a shining example to the world.
  • We discuss how classical music is not just for the elite and can actually be the spark toward social change.
  • We learn how the NBYO and El Sistema have changed the lives of kids in New Brunswick.
  • Ken discusses the perils of hesitation and how leadership is just ordinary people doing extraordinary things one-step at a time.
  • Ken also tells us what is next for the NBYO.
  • Dave appreciates Ken’s approach to leadership and his practical way of seeing opportunity and taking steps toward it.
  • Greg is inspired by how Ken puts in so much time toward something that isn’t his fulltime job and how a small group of people can make such a huge impact.
  • Greg also tells our audience how they can see Hemmings House’s “Sistema Revolution”



The New Brunswick Youth Orchestra Website

The New Brunswick Youth Orchestra on Facebook

The New Brunswick Youth Orchestra on Twitter

The New Brunswick Youth Orchestra on YouTube

El Sistema Websites

Watch Sistema Revolution (Canadians Only)