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August 30, 2012
EDITOR’S NOTE: Twice a month Shawn Brown will write a column that will, in his words, ‘engage the reader on a journey of (business) discovery’ by using his real world experiences from the beginning of his corporate career to his transition to entrepreneur and business owner. Each column will eventually be a chapter of his book Rules of Behaviour. The book will be available in 2013.
EDMONTON, AB, Aug 30, 2012/ Troy Media/ – The transition to my new company was as quick and easy as I could have hoped for. I knew the industry and the accounts, I just needed to get comfortable with my new team, and learn a number of new product lines. Both occurred quite quickly.
The biggest change for me was a totally new sense of optimism about the changes that were occurring in the industry. Instead of constantly being in fear that we were going to lose another client and that, even worse, the company couldn’t or wouldn’t do anything about it, it was now the exact opposite: change was embraced and prepared for.
And I got the sense the company was looking at a much bigger picture and opportunity than I, or even my new colleagues who had been there for quite a while, new about.
Finally, my new team was young, energetic, and welcomed me aboard completely. I felt great about where I had landed, and something inside me told me good things were in store.
It should be noted at this point that I had always believed strongly in the ‘work hard/play hard’ motto. I will be the first to admit that I have always had a very difficult time saying no to a friend or work colleague who asked to go for a beer after work. Aside from the fact that I truly love a good beer, throughout my career I have found that a business relationship, at any level, almost always rises to a new level when you can discuss the day’s events over an ice cold beer (or any other form of imbibing)!
When I started out in Tisdale, Sask., I ended up meeting the person who would become my ‘brother from another mother.’ John Vancise was the youngest son of a very high-profile judge in Regina and had ended up in Tisdale where he started an amazing (for that time and place) clothing store and a high-end audio store. We all worked in the brand new mall that had been built on the edge of town, and from the moment I met him, I knew I had met my new best friend and that our time together in that small town was going to be memorable, to say the least.
And it was. Many, many nights after work we found ourselves at one of the local pubs, and then at any number of friend’s places to finish off what started out to be a casual beer after work. I always had to be at work at 6:00 a.m., but that never stopped me. And time and time again, as I was trying to have my produce stand filled for 9:00 a.m. when the store opened, I would see John finally dragging himself into his store either right at, or often after 9:00, struggling to stay upright. I’d see him later in the morning for a life-saving coffee, and then most often we would repeat it all over again that night.
Our paths finally took us away from Tisdale. His back to Regina, where he and his brother opened up what is to this very day one of the most incredible live music rooms and venues I have ever seen. Called the Venue, they brought bands into Regina that wouldn’t have stopped there in a hundred years if it wasn’t for them and that room.
I, meanwhile, was nicely settled into my new company and role in Saskatoon. However, about once a month I would take the three hour drive to Regina to visit John. We often would hang with the bands after the shows, and continue the evening’s work well into the wee hours of the morning.
One of the bands that came to the Venue early and often was a little known band called The Tragically Hip. They had just released their first album, and had embarked on their first cross-Canada journey to try and establish a name for themselves. They immediately fell in love with the club, and even more importantly, we actually all ended up becoming good friends.
Little did I know at the time that some of my most important business and eventual partnership lessons would be learned from John and Bob Vancise, and particularly Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip. And all centred around beer, and often very late nights. But that’s the subject for my next column.
Shawn Brown is the Founder and President of Forest For the Trees, a boutique business advisory service headquartered in Edmonton, AB. http://www.forestnow.com/
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