January 5, 2012

Going out on a high

I got this email. Just now.

I must admit that part of me ponders the implication of being called a little genius (does it mean I’m smart but not that smart, or does it mean the person who wrote it is physically huge and therefore considers me a tiny guy–albeit a smart tiny guy? Hmmm…)

Most of me, though, still cannot believe the high I get from knowing that someone, not only enjoyed my book, but also benefited from it in some way.
That’s a high money can never buy.

Notice that last sentence, the one that asks, “When is your next book coming out?”
While I do have one in the works, odds are that it won’t see the light of day for another 18-24 months.
Yeah, I know, I’m a slow novelist.

But it’s not only that.
It’s also that, right now, I’m incredibly busy at my day job, the one that sees me as an accountant who writes.
Lots of writing, teaching and consulting projects on the go, right now.

And, when I take a respite from all that, I’d really like to use that downtime to work on ze novel.
And so…
I feel I need to take a sabbatical from this blog.
For how long, I don’t know.

If you’d like to keep in touch, I will continue to update my other site, my business site.
The one over at dilauro.ca.
So maybe I’ll see you there.
Whether you migrate over or not, I’d like to thank each of you, from the bottom of my heart, for reading my ongoing ramblings, for buying my book and, especially, for taking the time to post comments here on this blog.

As I said, I will be posting here again one day.
In the meantime, thank you and Arrivederci.

December 20, 2011

A musical holiday greeting

And now, the explanation.
As promised in the video, here’s why I chose to play this song this year.
First off, the piece is called Prelude (Preludio) in C Minor, and it was written by the superb Paraguayan guitarist and composer Augustin Barrios Mangoré.

But, why this song?
Well here’s why…
Toward the end of my book, there’s a chapter that see Charles wandering aimlessly through the park. He’s devastated–events at the office took a cruel turn–and and he’s feeling sorry for himself. Really sorry for himself.
Waiting with increasing impatience for Fay to arrive, Charles has his iPod with him, and there’s  one song—one soulful, wistful lament—that his iPod is playing, in and endless loop, over and over again.

Yes, you guessed it, Barrios’ Prelude in C Minor is that song.
It’s a gorgeous piece of music, and it’s one I’ll never grow tired of.
And just like Charles who listens to it over and over, I don’t think I’ll ever stop practicing it, over and over, in the hopes of, one day, perfecting it.

And so, there you go. That’s why I chose the song, I hope you enjoyed it, my 2011 Musical Holiday Greeting.
Now, before I go, let me, once more, wish each of you a wonderful holiday season and a super 2012!

So you wanna be a musician?
Oh, one more thing! I’d like to take a quick moment to put in a plug for my guitar teacher, Chris McCourt.
Seven or eight years ago, Chris introduced me to classical guitar music and, for the last seven or eight years, Chris has demonstrated the patience of Job as I work at coaxing (I hope!) ever less painful sounds from this wonderful instrument called the nylon-string guitar.
And so…
If you’d like to learn music, and if you’re in Ottawa, get in touch with the McCourts—Chris for guitar lessons and Janet for piano and voice. Just click here to visit their website.

Thank you and talk soon!

December 12, 2011

A sad tale. A Saab story

Have you heard that Saab is near bankrupt?
Saab, in case you don’t know, is a Swedish car manufacturer––founded in 1937––that for the longest time had a rigorous, loyal, and yet somewhat stingy following.
Beatniks bought Saabs.
And college professors. College professors, that is, in snow belts.
Saab’s cars were quirky, off-beat and as loveable as a three-legged mutt with a loopy grin.
In the automobile landscape, Saab was a fringe player destined to remain a fringe player.

I loved Saabs, though. Still do.
I loved their independent appeal, their doing-it-my-way bent.
So, how come I never bought one?
Don’t know, really. Too young to be a beatnik, maybe. Or too dumb to be a college professor.

The truth is I don’t know why I never bought one. But I do know that, now, it might just be too late.
Why? Because of General Motors, that’s why. And Saab management’s strategic error of shacking up with a company infinitely larger than its own.
You see, in 1990, General Motors courted Saab; whispered sweet nothings about more market share and bigger profits.
And when a big company approaches your little company with big ideas and an even bigger cheque, it takes strong nerves and an iron will to not let yourself get wooed.
So, in the end, Saab capitulated. It became General Motors with a Swedish accent.

And now, and now… Saab is just about bankrupt. Mostly because the company that was going to give it wings (get the pun? No? Then read this) is now the one shooting it down.
I’ll spare you the details, the board-room maneuvering, behind this unfortunate tale, and I’ll just point you here for the deets.
Because the point I want to make is it all reminds me of something an elderly bookkeeper told me, years ago, when I was making my start in business. “Business,” she cautioned me, “Has no soul.”
And, if you read the background on the Saab/GM soap opera, you’d say touché to that opinion, wouldn’t you?

The other thing I’m reminded of is that I often caution my clients about getting cozy with big business.
Sure, sometimes it pays off.
But here’s what you have to understand about big business. They have a tendency to change their minds.
And when they do, they don’t waste too much time explaining why.
And yet, despite my words of warning to others, I do understand how alluring that siren call can be. I understand it all too well because I once (and only once) fell for it myself.
Yes, it’s true. Years ago, I too got into bed with a big business. A huge business.
Words got used. Impressive words like synergy and leverage.
We’d work together, they said, build something long-term, something mutually profitable.
And I let myself get wooed too.

Bottom line is I felt, first-hand, the pain of having the bottom fall out of that basket holding all my eggs.
And lest you think otherwise, the pain is more than financial. It affects you mentally and emotionally too. And, let me tell you, you take it personally.
Which is why, I suppose, Marc Cuban once said, “Business is always personal.”

So where does all this leave us?
Hopefully it leaves you with a lesson in strategic management.
As for me, I’m hoping that Saab pulls out of this mess. And, should the worst happen, I’m perusing the autotrader, wondering about a used Saab.

December 5, 2011

Life in 46 seconds

Have you seen this?

My life.
Your life.
Explained in 46 seconds.
Brilliant. Just brilliant.