Getting to the start

After the team's para-motor world record several years ago, my wife wrote a book titled Getting To The Start.

The book was originally going to be called Getting To The Finish in relation to an attempt in the famous Dakar Rally.

The team that wanted me to drive subsequently pulled out, so we pivoted with a new adventure. 

History repeats itself as we are firing up the Canadian rally team this year. 

Try as hard as we might, it is still never easy to get to the start line.

Initially, the U.S. vehicle we purchased has a race logbook, a record of its verifications in terms of ability to use as a race car. It should have been enough to enter our first planned event in May this year, the Rocky Mountain Rally in Invermere.

Just a few weeks before the event, we found out that subsequent rule changes had impacted our ability to enter the event.

Next was to replace the cage to satisfy the technical scrutineers. I ordered one from the U.K. The company promised it would be here in August and after checking with them in early August admitted they could not make it until the end of September. 

I quickly cancelled the order and called a new company and placed an order. They promptly advised that they could not deliver the product I ordered on their website. I selected another and they responded the same.

After changing their website, finally, for twice the price, they agreed to send a cage to me for a local welder to install - yipppeee, we are on our way. 

Now, today, the shipment has not arrived. We are running out of time again and guaranteed, the quest to get to the start line will be more difficult than the quest to get to the finish line. 

This story is precisely why, when you stick your hand up and say you are going to do something that very few people do, you have already separated yourself from the crowd.

It is precisely what very few people stand on the summit of Everest, start their own business or 
You will find out why few people venture on to the less trodden ground you are walking on and you will find out the meaning of true grit. 

What happens to you along the way does not determine your ultimate success, it is how you react to what happens.

Getting to the start is almost always the most challenging part of the journey in life, business or adventure, don’t despair. 


A plea for help?

The recent op-ed column in the New York Times in regard to subterfuge in the White House at a very senior level is causing quite a debate, which warrants thought and discussion.

For a senior member of the president’s staff (which we can only assume based on the word of the editors at the New York Times) to write an article on clandestine moves by a team of staffers art the White House is at first concerning.

Several journalists have picked up on the fact that it is nothing short of outrageous, if not illegal, that a group of “appointed” individuals would organize an operation to defy the authority of the president of the United States in the name of protecting the people.

The theory is, of course, that the people are not in need of protecting; they voted the president in and if they don’t like him, they will vote him out. 

This is democracy at its finest. That is unless there are theatrics at play during the elections.

If a person is a good actor, they are able to sway public opinion. Some might say that most politicians are good actors and that none of them are “people of their word." But Trump we know is a liar and has a penchant for acting.

Other columnists are taking the stance that this is a brave attempt to save the mighty U.S.A.from global embarrassment, although one could argue it is already too late for that.

They suggest we should be thankful that the group is willing to risk everything, their personal careers, their reputations to ensure that the citizens of the U.S.A can rest assured that the president does not “hit the red button” in a moment of frenzied anger.

I totally get the arguments presented from both sides, but I think there is another story being overlooked.
There is the story of the Republican party that is so concerned by its commitment to doing anything the opposing party does not want it to, that it is left spineless in the face of what may appear to be a renegade president.

There is mounting evidence that President Donald Trump has surrounded himself with colourful characters and criminals who are testifying under oath to receiving orders form the president to break the law. The good news is that no president is above the law — at least not in the U.S.A.

The way I view the op-ed piece is a desperate last chance to reach out to the Republican party to indicate that the group is running out of time, needs help and needs it now. 

There is no glory in writing an “anonymous” op-ed piece. There is no purpose, unless it is a message to the establishment to say something is broken and needs fixing.

Frankly, all it does is enrage an already enraged animal.

If this were reality TV, Trump's ratings would indeed be better than his standings in the polls, which do not bode well for the Republican party in the midterms. 

With that being said, it is also as complicated and intriguing as a John LeCarré novel. 

Perhaps he knows what is going on?

Learning from our mistakes

Now, we are all in the pipeline business.

You can wish your children Merry Christmas for many years to come as we now start to pay off the $4.5 billion our government has committed to pay for a pipeline that the highest appeals court in the country has just declined. 

In a previous column, I indicated that I can see both sides of the argument to get our oil to market, both for and against.

What I could not see was why our government would step in with a guarantee to reward Trans Canada shareholders in a less then stable environment.

I guess it is always easier to gamble with someone else’s money. It now appears this was not a winning bet. 

To make matters worse, the work over the next few years, which it only makes sense to commit to now we are $4.5 billion in to it, is probably going to double the purchase price.

Don’t believe me? Check back in a couple of years and we will see who is closer. 

The point is, there is no private buyer in the market place (hence the Trans Canada deal) to take it over without a guarantee of success, so our insurance policy, the Liberal government, stepped in.

We are very likely in for a protracted secondary review process that will lead to more serious negotiations with the First Nations and a likely higher tab to do what we likely should never have started in the first place given the fragility of the west coast eco system. 

The theory is we learn from our mistakes, we will see…


We need town squares

On a recent vacation to Europe and Morocco, the same emotions were evoked whenever we went to the town or village square.

Something that is mostly missing in North American planned communities is a simple, common meeting area. Depending on what country you are in, you will find the pétanque area, music area, chess area or whatever is the flavour of the month in that region.

In Morocco, the village of Chefchaouen had a square with performers. The whole place was crawling with people, a great atmosphere was created and all the sidewalk cafes and restaurants were full to the brim.

On our return to Canada, a local restaurant owner in Kaslo asked if I would bring my guitar and play some jazz with a few local musicians one evening.

It was a big stretch outside my comfort zone, but i had a fabulous evening and people were drawn to the entertainment and the atmosphere.

As the evening went on, more people came and stood around his patio to listen to the music and as the crowd grew, it reminded me of Europe.

It made me wonder why we don’t have more pedestrian areas in village and town centres. Our reliance on technology and transport is so strong that we lose the desire to walk even a short distance.

As a store or cafe owner, we rationalize that the lack of drive-by traffic would destroy our business.

But would it? 

Years ago in Canmore, I remember joking that all the Everest climbers in town were not prepared to walk a kilometre. Everybody got in the car to go to the local dinner party and talked about epic tales of adventure in the Himalayas.

Perhaps, we can walk just a little further than we normally do, and don’t forget to keep Fido on a leash.

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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