Wow, what a year (2004 retrospective)

Wow, what a year. It began when I entered the January class of Leadership Vancouver along with 28 other class-mates. I had the good fortune of learning from, dancing, goofing off, and getting drunk with, and working alongside a group of fantastic individuals I would never have normally met in my regular day to day life. Together we met some of Vancouver’s top leaders and learned about issues such as Poverty, Transportation, Media, Sustainable Development, and Art & Culture. As well, my team of five people also worked with Action Schools BC! pilot project, an initiative to get school kids in grades 4-7 healthy and fit across the province. That program began officially rolling out across the province in September 2004. The people at ASBC are incredibly committed and super-human. They did in 18 months what had taken other provinces five or six years!

In March, I entered the Telus New Ventures BC business plan competition along with my friends Boris and Cathrine. We attended eight weeks of seminar sessions on business building but our plan was nixed on the second round. Good thing, because all three of us were too busy to work on it anyway! We met some very cool people in our class however and have kept in touch with some of them for our irregular biz/tech/geek beer socials at Steamworks. (Email me if you want your name on that list and it’s not on there.)

In May of this year, thanks to Roland and Boris’ constant badgering, I became a “blogger.” If you’re not sure what that is, wait a week. It seems to be finally hitting the mainstream media now. Essentially it is an author with an online “column” that people can respond to. You can see my blog at ( The great thing about having a blog was that I now had an outlet for my writing and a place to collect all of the interesting articles that I was previously annoying my friends with on email. I think they were happier than I was! (Shameless plug: Roland runs a cool company here called Streamlinewebco that hosts blogs with real URLs (like mine) and Boris and Roland together are building Bryght, a really cool company that does hosted online communities including super-duper-blogging tools.)

After much deliberation, I shut down Stream Consulting, my computer consulting company in June, ten years after I first registered it. That seemed like as fitting a time as any and there were a lot of reasons that made the timing seem right. I’m proud of the friendships that I developed with my clients that will last a lifetime and the people whose lives and businesses I had the honour of working with during that time. My clients taught me a lot about business but even more about myself. And thanks to Gary who got me started in the business. I told him that I was only going to stay for the summer!

I was not the only one looking for work at this point. I’m not sure what they put in our kool-aid on our Leadership Vancouver days but whatever it was, it caused 1/3 of our class to make a serious career change either during or immediately following the course! So it was a year of transition for many of us. Some of my classmates found new homes, and a few are still looking. If you need to hire some socially motivated top-notch people, go talk to the Leadership Vancouver office. I’m sure they can find you some. Maybe they can expand their organization into recruiting!

Late in June, I missed the Leadership Vancouver final retreat because of the mystery pox. I was COVERED in little red dots and looked like I had bubonic plague. The doctor thought it was chickenpox but it turned out that I had already had that. It went away after about a couple of weeks and I never did know what it was! But I did manage to attend our graduation ceremony and in June 2004, became a graduate of the LV 2004 Class of 2004.

July and August was beautiful so I spent a lot of time blading, swimming at Kits pool, and mountain biking with friends. I also managed to get away to Sheridan Lake with my family for an amazing five day vacation of kayaking early in the mornings, followed by reading and relaxing all day long in the shade. It was the perfect temperature and there were no mosquitoes for some bizarre reason. Not that we minded. And then as soon as I got back from vacation, I picked up and moved to a friend’s place in North Vancouver. After ten years in Kitsilano, I was more than ready to move. (To those of you snickering about my aborted move two years ago, knock it off.) I am close to the mountains, the air is fresh, and the traffic is light. It feels like a small town over here! And the recreation centre facilities and classes are incredible.

From May through August, I did some technology company startup consulting work with a couple of startups. It is a hard slog though and I had some very pivotal conversations with some key advisors over the course of summer who advised me “not to bang my head on that wall” and that led me to my next goal: finding a top-notch team to work in where I could take my self-taught sales, business development, and marketing skills and really deepen and extend them.

In September, I put a request out to my network of friends and colleagues asking for assistance with finding my new position. I was DELUGED with contacts and leads. It took me a month just to get caught up on them all. So Fall became a blur of job-hunting, networking functions, coffees, coffees, and more coffees, and interesting conversations with even more interesting companies and people. THANK YOU to all of the people who helped with this. You know who you are and there really are too many to list. If I tried, I’d probably miss half of you and feel awful.

September also witnessed my introduction to a fellow named Ean, his wife Sibylle, their two kids, and their wacky set of friends, all of whom are involved in Club Fat Ass – organizers of free “oddball, endurance events”. The joke of course is that there isn’t a fat ass to be found in the entire membership roster. In fact, many of them are used to running 50-100k races so they are all pretty damned fit ultra-trail-runners for the most part. I’m looking forward to helping the Club grow in 2005. And I’m also looking forward to getting back to running after my very long break this past 18 months. Come and join us for the New years Day Fat Ass 50!

In October, my very good friend John surprised me with a birthday gift and took me to the Massive Change Visionaries panel session at the Vogue Theatre where the panelists discussed the “design of the world”. I wrote about the day here. It was an incredible day, with some of my favourite authors and speakers talking on all of my favourite subjects. I could have stayed there for a week.

In November, I had the good fortune to assist the organizers of the Canadian IT & Biotech Financing Forum Fall session. It was an opportunity to meet more people in the local technology community and to hear a bunch of the companies presenting to the venture capitalists. I wrote about that event here if you’re interested. And I continued my attendance and involvement with the Vancouver Enterprise Forum, a local technology organization that puts on educational events for the tech sector.

November and December were spent working part-time with MacStation, a local Apple dealer, assisting them with some consulting work. It was nice to have a pseudo-office while I was looking for work. Thanks for putting up with me there guys!

In my job-search, I had originally targeted 100 companies and then short-listed those down to my top ten. And on December 13, three months after my request for help went out to my network, I signed with my #1 top choice from that short list, Business Objects. Starting January 4th, I will be working with the Enterprise Sales Team out of their Yaletown offices. My team of four people will be selling to large corporate accounts in the U.S. Business Objects is well known as one of the best companies in town for training and personnel development so I’m really looking forward to getting started and to contributing to their continued global growth. I already know quite a few of people there from the past three months of conversations!! And many of them were very helpful along the way. My starting day may feel more like a homecoming party than a first day on the job. (For those of you at BOBJ reading this, I’ll bring a big batch of goodies for my desk so you can come by and visit!)

So I guess the transition is officially over and my next stage is beginning! It has been quite a year, full of many new people and many lessons learned. I’ve been blown away by the support from my friends, family, and colleagues. This was a very difficult year in many ways but the people around me made it all much easier to handle. Your support and encouragement are awe-some in the original sense of the word. Thanks. And to those of you whom I just met this year, I hope that I can get to know you better in the new year.

I wish you all a Happy Hannukah, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year! I hope that your holidays are filled with family and friends and good food. And best wishes for a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2005!