Growing up on a farm I quickly learned (at an early age) if you don’t contribute, you don’t eat. By the time I was twelve I could operate almost every type of equipment on the farm – trucks, tractors, combines, seeders, swathers, discers and plows.
Upon completion of my schooling and not yet knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up I took a job at the Cassiar Asbestos mine in northern BC. After two long, cold winters of driving fuel truck and working in the mill I knew that physical labor would not be part of my life’s goals.
So I moved back south and began my professional career at a chartered accounting firm in Dawson Creek. This suited me – I was clean, warm and had a knack for it. It was not long until I moved to Edmonton (1970) and went to work for an accounting firm that utilized a Univac 9300 computer. It was kept in a climate-controlled, living room sized office and used punch cards – modern technology – I was hooked.
Although I enjoyed accounting I despised doing tax returns and 4 years later switched to private accounting. This was my first experience with the hospitality industry. In a hotel, each area is its own profit center – it was like running 7 businesses at the same time – what a rush! Within 4 years I had surrendered to my desires to be more involved in the decision making process and had worked my way up to assistant manager of a new 110 room full facility hotel.
As with most startup companies they had an excellent concept but were short on money and the necessary skills. Improvisation was the word of day. 60-100 hour weeks were the norm and we spent as much time putting out fires (I learned to do almost every job in the hotel) as we did moving ahead.
This is when I discovered I had a creative side. Advertising Marketing programs, systems, controls, and business administration had to be done in a cost effective manner (i.e. cheaply) yet still be highly effective.
Then I learned the second great truth about businesses – they go through different development stages and each stage requires different skill levels. After about 2 years (as they become stabilized, systems are in place and staff are trained) most companies tend to bring in new management that are suited for the slower pace of long-term development.