I'm admittedly a little late with my year-end backward glance and look-forward prognostications. But so it is these days... so much to do, seemingly so little time.
2014 is a milestone year, of sorts. TurfNet turns 20 on February 1 and I turn 60 on July 4. I'm not sure which is more monumental. Probably the former, given the odds.
As I have said many times, one of my first goals as a newbie entrepreneur slicing through the uncharted waters of a paid information service/networking platform-to-be in the golf course business was simply to NOT be one of the estimated 90% of new businesses that fail within five years.
We made it.
How? For starters, I'm the first to admit there was no stroke of genius, no Eureka! moment, no grand plan. Start with an idea, get the adrenalin pumping, put your ear to the ground and open your eyes. Realize you'll eat what you kill (so to speak) in the early years. Listen, watch, adjust the rudder. Make mistakes, learn from them. Be honest, follow the Golden Rule (sounds corny, but it's critical). Embrace change. Tackle new challenges head-on, without fear. Seek guidance from people smarter than you are. Outsource whenever possible. Pay your suppliers promptly. Pay your taxes. Read. Listen, watch and adjust the rudder again, and again.
As the years go by, keep your ego in check. Help people, at whatever level and in whatever way you can. Be a good guy, make friends, but don't be afraid to smack those who deserve it. Call a spade a spade; no baloney or bullshit. Have fun. Work hard. Enjoy the ride.
All pretty simple. Easier said than done, but that's it, in a nutshell.
Now, back to the 60 thing. I'm not one to dwell on age, and I don't fear aging, as every stage in life has it's pleasures and problems. I can't think of any period in my life that I'd want to go back and repeat. Plenty of things I'd do over, differently, but no great longing for any particular era.
Oddly enough, I have no bucket list. I live in two places, by the sea and in the mountains, both of which inspire me. I've been married to my best friend for 36 years, an item for 40. Daughters A and B are lighting up their respective professions (both in senior positions in digital marketing and communication... cue the sounds of apples falling from trees). One is married, the other mouthing the bait. No grandkids, but two granddogs in addition to our own two.
I have worked at home for 20 years. Burned a lot of wood in the fireplace. Traveled a little bit, seen a little bit of the world. No great desire for more. Some may say that's sad, but I call it liberating. The future is an open book to be written as I see fit.
The one thing about aging that I don't like is diminishing stamina, both physical and mental. I usually start work between 5 and 6AM, and find my mind going soft by late afternoon. On the rare days that I can goof off, I like to load my chainsaw and gear into the bucket of my Kubota and head off into the woods. I used to be able to start at dawn and finish at dusk, but these days about four or five hours of that and I'm done.
But here again, observe, realize and adjust the rudder.
What's ahead? I believe it's foolhardy these days to plan any farther than five years out, but it's also a good idea to keep one eye on the present and the other on the road ahead. Given all that I've encapsulated above, I see no real need or desire to retire. Or, until I "become irrelevant", as my late friend Gordon Witteveen once said.
One would think that technology would make things easier, but it has made our (meaning myself and my compatriots') business much more complex and demanding. Smartphones and tablets have to be reckoned with, social media integrated. Before that it was online video and webcasts.
We have been able to do all that with the same core staff and a small army of contributors. But we're flat out, at the wall. I would like to do more observing, planning and adjusting rather than executing. So, at some point in the fairly near future, we're going to have to add someone to the mix to initially assist and augment... and, if the right person, eventually morph into the next maestro (lower-case 'm').
That should be an interesting job description to write.