Canucks champs at smiling

On my recent trip to Geneva, I experienced first hand the importance of being a welcoming nation to tourists.

We were at the Geneva International Motor Show displaying the world’s first flying car. Geneva, around the time of the Motor Show, is not an inexpensive place to visit with hotel prices up around $1,300 per night.

Thankfully, we found a small French chateau about 30 minutes outside Geneva at a good value. 

With the company having unloaded a sizeable amount of cash in to the Geneva economy to be part of the Motor show, one would assume that hospitality would be important.

It turns out that Geneva may not have too many smile schools. The tourism sector usually prides itself on the quality of the reception they give tourists, but based on my experience, we were not terribly welcome.

The first challenge (which almost any city has with a big exhibition centre) was that traffic was a nightmare. On my first evening, almost four hours to do 12 kilometres was just a little excessive, yet this was normal for Geneva.

As you know, I like driving, but this was more dynamic parking than driving. Why a major trade show complex was built and integrated into airport traffic with single lane road access is beyond me because getting into and out of the arena complex involved similar amounts of time.

Parking once you arrived was also complex. On the first day after being delayed in significant traffic again, we had to pay at a booth before we walked to a bus to get to the show. I showed my exhibitor pass, but was asked to cough up money for parking regardless; no included parking for exhibitors.

I had no choice, so I paid, the teller smiled at me and the person behind me started their transaction. Surprised that I had no ticket or receipt, I left anyway. That day, we had a party on the stand and left close to midnight. 

We hailed a taxi who asked for the address. Car Park number 78 I replied. In French only, the cab driver told us to get out of his cab if we did not know an address. Again we said Car Park #78 at the site here. No go.

“Get out of my cab,” was his rude response in French. We persisted and gave him instructions to get to our car park and he very reluctantly drove us two kilometres for a 30-franc fare — then complained. 

At least we made it to the car park. I noticed they had security still, so we could at least get out and we were the last car in the lot.

Well, we thought we could. It turns out you cannot get out without a ticket, whichI had paid for earlier. We explained our predicament to which, again, we rudely received the reply, no ticket no exit.

By this time we were frustrated as well as tired, but as much as we explained we had paid earlier, we were deemed to be criminals who were trying to cheat. Another 25 euros later, we were on our way.

The next day proved to be a repeat of the first except with U.S. clients accompanying us. The car park situation became worse, our clients were treated rudely and the taxi driver almost physically threw us out of the taxi.

It made me remember that in Canada we know how to look after tourists.

Whether it is our ski hills, golf courses or restaurants, we receive accolades for being a welcoming country.

I cannot wait to take my wife back to the delightful French chateau we stayed in, but one thing for sure, I will not step inside the Swiss border after the experience I had.

We’ll save Geneva for another life. 


Flying car lands In Geneva

I have spent the last several days in Geneva. In fact, I spent the first few days buried in a snow storm in the U.K. and then came to Geneva.

It was a milestone event for us as a team at PAL-V. We were able to deliver the world's very first commercially produced flying car to the media and public at the show.

Several years ago, when we commenced work with PAL-V, the vision was clear. To execute on a plan to deliver the first flying car to the market that conforms in every aspect and detail with the aviation and road transportation regulations to clients around the world.

That, we have achieved.

Some of our clients form North America and around the world travelled to the Geneva Motor Show to see first hand the vehicle that they purchased.

The energy in the team was electric and media from every corner of the world was clamouring around the stand to speak to someone about this remarkable achievement. 

My hat's off to the team at PAL-V. They have already achieved what many have only talked about. The PAL-V will be one of the safest vehicles to fly in, will be fully certified and will also be a thrill to drive on the road.

Before too long, we will see them in the streets of European cities and flying over the countryside and, shortly after that, our clients in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico will take delivery. 

For a look at a live Facebook video from the show follow this link:


One man's garbage...

Life has been a little frenetic recently and after travelling to the eastern U.S. for meetings, I had three days at home before heading out to the U.K.

I just managed to beat the “Beast From The East” as it slams in to the southern U.K. shores to deposit copious amounts of snow (relatively).

In between the two trips, I had a few days to rest at home in Kaslo. As I travel, particularly when I am on flying car business, I get to see an affluent side of life. The perspective I am privileged to witness in Kaslo is enough keep me grounded.

In perusing the local Kaslo Buy and Sell group recently on Facebook, I could not quite believe what people were selling with a price tag associated with it. 

Having recently moved from Kelowna, Habitat for Humanity was a massive benefactor during our move. They were also a personal saviour - all the stuff I couldn’t (or didn’t want to) fit in to my moving truck. 

On reflection, I realize now that all of the items I gave away that I thought had no value, and indeed probably had no value in the Kelowna area, had a very tangible value in Kaslo.

Looking at an advert for a pair of old metal framed chairs that a church might have used 40 years ago I realized that the half dozen I had thrown away in Kelowna actually had a value of $30 each in Kaslo… bizarre.

Then, I also realized that all  the more expensive rubbish I had taken to Kaslo probably had no value to anyone in the community if I sold it.

This little mountain town has an odd way of keeping everything real.

In Kaslo, some people might tell you how proud they are about how little they spent purchasing their crappy boat.

In Kelowna, people would comment on your crappy boat and made sure you were aware how much they had spent on their rather expensive boat. 

The only boat I like is the one you pay cash for.


Never a good time to quit

By all accounts, I am not the only one who feels like that occasionally.

It is in these times, that we truly need a mentor. For me, and I would recommend for you, there is only one kind of mentor that is worth any value… the one who has been where you are at or want to be. The person with experience in your very circumstance.

On our world-record paramotor expedition in Australia I wanted to quit. We were 70 per cent complete, but were struggling with some equipment challenges. I could not think of a way out. 

I texted my wife back in Canada: “Gotta quit; our equipment is broken."

A few second later I received the uplifting reply: “If you think you are coming back to this house without a Guinness World Record after all the money we have spent and the time we have invested, think again!” 

Looking for an easy way out, I texted my main sponsor in the U.K. who would have been in bed at 3 a.m. “Jim, we can’t finish; we are unable to start the motors."

Jim’s response (within a few seconds) was: “Don’t quit. I will ship two motors to you overnight, you are so close; you can do it."

Add to that two Facebook messages that randomly dropped in to my account from friends in Canada at that exact time. They were both extremely encouraging and the support made me rethink my decision to quit.

At that time, I remembered reading a book — Tough Times Never Last Tough People Do — and I followed one of the tips in the book.

I wrote a list of 10 ways to overcome the problem. The list could include crazy ideas, but I wrote them down anyway. It is not really a surprise, but one of them worked.

We were back in the game and went on to claim a new world record.

The same is true in business. You can feel like all the cards are stacked against you and give in too quickly. You need to build three key elements in to your plan to overcome those feelings of failure:

  • A supportive network that has bought in to your vision.
  • A group of mentors you can reach out to in a similar field
  • A thick skin. Don’t let you feelings overwhelm your ability to dig out of the hole you feel you might be in.

Even in bankruptcy, you are still dealing with assets that have value and there is always a way out if you keep a cool head and have the above network and thought processes in place.

Famed hotelier Conrad Hilton, who was responsible for developing the world’s first global hotel chain, was extremely successful until the Great Depression.

Because of the turn in revenues, the banks seized his assets. He was forced in to bankruptcy.

But he knew his business. He did not go and crawl into a hole and quit. He put himself back on his feet, started again and eventually acquired all of his properties from the bank. 

He died one of the wealthiest men of his generation not that many years later.

More It's All About . . . articles

About the Author

Mark has been an entrepreneur for over forty years. His experience spans many commercial sectors and aspects of business. He was one of the youngest people to be appointed as a Fellow of the prestigious Institute of Sales and Marketing Management before he left the UK in 1988.

His column focuses on ways we can improve on success in our lives. Whether it is business, relationships, or health, Mark has a well-rounded perspective on how to stay focused for growth and development.

His influences come from the various travels he undertakes as an adventurer, philanthropist and keynote speaker. More information can be found on Mark at his website www.markjenningsbates.com

He is a Venture Partner with www.DutchOracle.com a global Alternative Investment company.

Mark Jennings-Bates:
[email protected]

Photo credit: www.SteveAustin.ca 

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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