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A bi-weekly column with timely, relevant and possibly irreverent insight into the BC technology industry.

Something Ventured:
December 7th, 2007

By Brent Holliday
Greenstone Venture Partners

Happy Christmas


“He fell asleep with his head against the window,
He said an honest man’s pillow is his peace of mind.
This world offers riches and riches will grow wings,
I don’t take stock in those uncertain things” – John Cougar Mellencamp, Minutes to Memories


It’s Christmas time… a time of giving and good cheer.  Are you happy?  Depends on your perspective…

If you are in sales and you haven’t made your quarter or your year yet, then Christmas is a pain because you lose the last 12 days of the month… there will be no sales, therefore no bonus, therefore coal for your kids.  Unless you made your numbers already.  Then it’s party time!  Spread the wealth… support the retail economy.

If you are in finance and your company is profitable, then shutting down the office for a long paid break is a well-earned reward.  Spend some time with family or on the ski hills or on the beach somewhere.  If you aren’t profitable and the cash is low, then from December 1st on you have been sweating… this time of year stinks for raising money.  Decisions for investing in private companies get put on hold until January.  Of course, you can rationalize shutting down the office because nothing major will happen… but you might be taking un-paid leave and the beach just doesn’t feel as warm and relaxing in this situation, does it?

If you are in product development then you really don’t notice that it’s Christmas.  You have milestones and deliverables and your world is a never ending series of Microsoft Project timelines that start at Week 1 and end at Gold master.  There is no real world calendar attached.  You might get a day or two off to go and show up at a family dinner, but then it’s back to Red Bull and wasabi peas and plenty of coding.  Sounds like a Douglas Coupland novel?  Well it isn’t far from the truth.  Hey, maybe you can be an extra in the TV version of jPod?

If you are in marketing, then this time of year is a re-charge.  No trade shows until January, the last press releases are going out next week because news is “canned” for two weeks around Christmas anyway.  All the on-line campaigns wind down until the New Year as well.  Sure, you can plan, strategize, work on the plan to re-energize the brand, but hey, it’s Christmas… let’s focus on the company’s charitable giving, company culture and new sustainable “green” plan.  The feel-good stuff that goes with the season.  Time to bond with the development team that usually roll their eyes whenever marketing people speak.  And when you are back in January, it’s new marketing budget time.  Yee-haw.  Time to spend those investor dollars on new initiatives.  It’s like a January sale for marketing types.  Something to look forward to as the season progresses.

And what of the CEO?  What is Christmas like for you?  Let’s be honest… for most of you, it’s time to catch up.  Not with your family… I’m talking about catching up on:

  • the 8,000 messages in your Inbox.
  • the strategy document you owe your Board.
  • the 2008 budget that had to be re-worked.
  • the staffing issues that have been boiling but you can’t fire someone before Christmas so you had ignore it until now.
  • actually reading and reviewing the pile of un-read mail on your desk.
  • spending time looking on-line or at trade journals to see what the hell your competition is up to.
  • worrying.  You just haven’t done enough worrying lately.  You’ve been too busy.  Time to worry about your product offering, value proposition vis a vis your competition, whether you have a world-class team or not, whether you will lose all of Uncle Chuck’s money in this venture, whether your being a good mother/father because your working so damn hard, and whatever else get’s your stomach acid churning

The silver lining for the CEO?  At least you do have some down time to tick off a few tasks before January comes and you have to hit the ground running full speed again.  And seriously, if you do have your life in some sort of order, you can turn off the work brain for a few days and enjoy your family and friends.  Unfortunately for many of you entrepreneurs, there is no off switch for your work brain.

So, are you happy?  Chances are that there a thousand work-related reasons that you are stressed, which tends to NOT help overall happiness.

All fun aside, it’s time for some perspective.  It is a time of year, regardless of religion, work ethic or personal stress level where you should be thinking of others.  If you are reading this, you are at the top of the charts among your fellow human beings. You are a success by any measure… look at this: 


If the embed didn’t work for you, go here.)  

I know, not fair… I sucked you into a story about how tough work is and then hit you with the softy “big picture” video.  Well, it is the time of year for you to take a little time and reflect that the issues at work, while important, are dwarfed by the challenges faced by others.  I urge you to put down the Red Bull for a minute, leave the pile of e-mails for a second and figure out how you will make Christmas time a happy time for someone else.  It’s not hard.  And any contribution makes a difference.

You are lucky to be where you are, even if you don’t feel that lucky most of the time. 

Have a great holiday season. 

What Do You Think? Talk Back To Brent Holliday

Something Ventured
is a bi-weekly column designed to supplement the T-Net British Columbia web site with some timely, relevant and possibly irreverent insight into the industry. I hope to share some of the perspective and trends that I see in my role as a VC. The column is always followed by feedback (if its positive or constructive. I'll keep the flames to myself, thanks).

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