Monthly Archives: September 2013

Hump Day: Running your own business is not for everyone

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

I helped a friend come out of the closet the other day. It was a proud moment when I saw the light bulb go off over her head when she realized that it was OK to be who she really was deep down inside.

No, we weren’t talking about her sexuality. We were talking about her not being an entrepreneur. After months of struggling at building a business, she finally had the courage to admit that she just wasn’t cut out for it. And by “not cut out” — I don’t mean she wasn’t capable of doing it — I mean she didn’t want to do it.

Unfortunately, many people had suggested to her previously after a job ended that being in business for herself was the only way to go. The roads would be paved with gold. Rainbows would follow her everywhere. She could just bark out orders and have a staff of 50 people jump. She’d be starting fires using $100 bills as kindling. You know — like it is for every entrepreneur. (I think I’m doing something wrong!) The fact is, it wasn’t in her. She hated it. She wanted to manage projects. She didn’t want to invoice clients. She didn’t want to negotiate prices. (She practically got hives just thinking about it). And she certainly didn’t want to work 60 to 80 hours per week with no guarantee of money-paying con­tracts at the end of it.

She wanted to be an employee. She wanted to go home at the end of the day and have an office somewhere other than her home. She wanted to have paid vacation. She didn’t want to chase contracts and constantly worry about where her next $100, $1,000 or even $10,000 was coming from. She wanted to go to an office supplies cabinet and have it filled with stuff she needed without having to make a special trip into town just to buy more staples.

Years ago, someone had told her they saw an “entrepreneur” in her. Since then, she felt obligated to pursue that path. Isn’t it everyone’s dream to have their own business? Well, to be honest, it isn’t – but for a long time she felt like she was a lesser person for wanting to be “just” an employee.

I’d seen her struggle with being an entrepreneur. A small contract here. A small contract there. The lack of a really ingrained local network didn’t help, but she was out there meeting people. She was trying. Yes, she certainly was – but it was kind of like someone trying to convince themselves that they were a tightrope walker when they were actually quite terrified of heights. And you know what? Their life could still be quite happy and fulfilled — emotionally, career-wise and financially — without having to do something they hated.

I’ve seen many people throughout my years thinking that they should be an entrepreneur because someone else told them they should. How can you ever be free without owning your own business? How could you ever be financially successful without owning your own business? Well, the fact is that many are doing just fine, thank you, by working for others. There’s something to be said for a pension plan, health benefits and paid vacation.

I sat across from my friend in the coffee shop. I finally figured out that she needed to come out. “You’re not an entrepreneur,” I told her. She thought about it for a minute and replied, “I’m not.” Then I did the sign of the cross to her like the pope does to the crowds at the Vatican when he’s blessing them. “I hereby declare you to be an employee and also decree that it’s perfectly OK.”

The weight of the world lifted from her shoulders. I think I was the first person to ever tell her it’s OK not to want to run your own business. There’s so much glamour and myth around running your own business that many think there must be something wrong with them for “just” wanting a job. In fact, those who “just” want a job are looked down upon by many entrepreneurs.

It’s not because you’re any less of a person. It’s probably because we just want you to share the problems and challenges of running your own business. There are great rewards, of course, but there are also challenges. And one of those challenges — especially when you’re heart isn’t in it — is likely going to mean not having much money. It’s hard to turn a lack of passion into cash. The world just doesn’t work that way. If you just don’t care and don’t enjoy something, the chances are slim that you’ll succeed.

There are lots and lots (and lots!) of people who are “just” employees who have big houses, nice cars and go on trips. The myth (mostly spread by entrepreneurs) that you can’t be happy working for some­one else is a bunch of hogwash. You can be happy, fulfilled and successful and have a nice bank account, too.

But if you’re miserable being an employee, you won’t likely have any of it. The key here is to love what you do. If you’re an entrepreneur and passionate about it – great! No one can guarantee that you’ll be a millionaire, but at least you’ll have fun trying.

And for all the entrepreneurs out there trying to spread the gospel that owning your own business is the only way to live, it’s time to stop. No, it’s not for everyone. It doesn’t mean you’re good or you’re bad if you want to be an employee. It means you’re you. Employees wouldn’t exist without entrepreneurs and vice versa. It’s time to give each other a break and embrace each other’s strengths. Entrepreneurs need to stop being so judgmental about those who don’t share their desires. We all play a valuable role.

Hump Day: No Metro bylaw can correct a lack of common courtesy

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Why do we even have laws? Sometimes I wonder. I feel a rant coming on about a number of things. I feel like whining and being judgmental. Bear with me this week as I point fingers and act holier than thou. If you thought Archie Bunker was cranky, I’m going to try to give him a run for his money.

A few months ago, I took on those who constantly complained about illegally parked cars in downtown Moncton. Basically, my argument was simple. As long as people keep ignoring signs and continue to park on other people’s private property, you will get fined, booted or towed.

Pay your fine like an adult. You made a mistake – or you parked illegally on purpose and played the odds. Perhaps you do this often and never get caught, but this time you did. Your vehicle’s been impounded or you find yourself immobilized by a boot that stops your car’s wheel from turning and you need to pay a hefty fee to have it removed. But really, you need to suck it up, buttercup!

You’re not happy. I don’t blame you. You tell everyone you know about how the the boot should be illegal, etc. You post on Facebook. Many of your friends agree with you. The entire world is out to get you. You are a victim. “The Man” has it in for you. “The Man” wants you to die poor with no car.

Well, sorry to say, but my advice hasn’t changed: Stop parking where you’re not supposed to. Simple as that! (Send my Nobel Peace Prize c/o this newspaper).

And then there are bike lanes. Yeah, bike lanes. No — this isn’t a rant against bike lanes. Far from it. Properly planned and installed, bike lanes are a good thing and are safer for cyclists to use than just riding on the road or on the sidewalk — where they’re not supposed to be anyway.

Whenever I see someone driving in a bike lane who’s wearing a helmet and obeying the rules of the road, it makes me happy. How hard can that be? Here’s what bike lanes in Moncton are not for, however: people pushing baby carriages, skateboarders going the wrong way (or even the right way), pedestrians (there’s a perfectly good sidewalk!) or my favourite… runners running against traffic.

I had a debate online a few weeks ago about how runners are not allowed in bike lanes in Moncton. Oh boy, was I berated for that one. I was lectured on runner safety, etiquette, etc., by a number of people. Unfortunately, it seems runners in this city are being taught to run in bike lanes even though it is categorically prohibited in the City of Moncton’s own literature regarding bike lanes and I quote: “The bicycle lanes are restricted to bicycle travel only. Pedestrians, roller blades, skateboards, and strollers are not permitted on designated bike lanes.”

Every day, I see children riding around my neighbourhood on their bikes while not wearing a helmet. I would say that 75 per cent have no helmet on. This week, I saw a child who was no more than four years old riding on his bicycle alongside an older boy (perhaps his brother of around 10 years of age). Neither was wearing a helmet and, to make matters worse, they were attempting to cross Lewisville Road in Moncton against heavy traffic. Where are the parents in all of this?

I would just like to see some enforcement here. I realize that bike helmets aren’t on the same level as murder, kidnapping or bank robbery, but why even have the laws on the books if they’re going to be blatantly ignored? Bicycle helmets and handheld cell phone use in cars — both have got to be the most widely ignored laws I’ve ever seen.

I was at an event this weekend where a bunch of dogs were present. Dogs were sniffing each others’ butts all over the place. For the most part, everything went well. There was the odd growl and angry bark here and there, but it was a fun event with not much doggie drama — that is, until a boxer (who was actually on a leash) sniffed my dog and took a lunge at her head to try to bite her. Those big jaws opened up and my dog bolted out of reach pretty quickly.

The consequences would have not been pretty had he managed to grab her in those powerful jaws. Even with both owners there, it wouldn’t take long for damage to occur — especially since the other dog was five times the size of my little white fluff ball. Oh trust me, I would have bit the other dog so hard he’d still be yelping if he’d attacked mine. You bite my dog, I bite you.

The owner’s attitude upon his dog nearly biting off my dog’s head? Didn’t say a word. Acted like it never happened. The woman I was with was traumatized by what nearly occurred. He didn’t berate the dog or bring him away from mine. He just stood there watching his dog literally lunge at mine and try to snap his jaws or my dog’s pretty little head. A simple, “Rover! Bad dog! Sorry about that!” would have done. Anything!

Yeah, I was feeling a bit stressed today, so I even treated myself to a nice glass of wine. I had a hangover before the glass was empty. Shoot me now.

OK, I feel this tantrum subsiding. I guess I just had to vent. Venting is a good thing every so often. I’m writing this late at night, so maybe it’s time to get out my soother, change my diaper and take my sippy cup to bed with me so that I wake up tomorrow a little bit less cranky and judgmental.

Hump Day: There are perks and pitfalls in marching to your own drum

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Every week, I put together a free newsletter for friends, clients and readers. My Sunday evenings are mostly spent putting it together to send out on Monday. Come rain or shine since December, I’ve made a point of ensuring the newsletter gets sent!

One of the sections in the newsletter contains articles of lists, for example: “10 best perks for employees,” “4 ways to tell you’re about to be fired,” “25 best websites for business,” etc. Lists like these are very popular online and generate a ton of hits for the authors. They’re usually always quick reads, too, which is good if you’re in a hurry — which most people seem to be.

In my never-ending search for entrepreneurship work-life balance (which many of these articles promise me is achievable), I’ve come across so much conflicting advice that it just boggles the mind. I’ve come to the conclusion that if you’re in business for yourself, you just pretty much have to do what works for you and your sanity. And when you feel something start to snap, it’s time to make a change.

One article will tell you to book a month’s worth of vacation every year. Another one will tell you that six weeks is what you deserve, not a month. And yet another one will tell you that if you even take five minutes to go to the bathroom, well then you deserve nothing short of immediate bankruptcy and a public flogging for daring to look away from your computer screen for five minutes like the uncommitted jerk you are!

I have to admit, I’m a bit confused. I’m terrible at taking vacations, so when I read an article about how healthy and necessary it is to take time off (I agree, by the way), I read another one shortly afterwards that berates any entrepreneur who’s so pathetic that they feel the need to actually rest.

Isn’t that what three hours of sleep per night are for? You can rest then. Oh, and there’s Christmas Day. Maybe. And that’s only if you didn’t sleep for six months in order to ensure the universe doesn’t fall apart while you’re chowing down on your turkey dinner while trying not to collapse from fatigue face down onto your plate.

Perhaps I need to find a happy medium — like taking a week off and crying the entire time. Eventually, I’d probably faint from dehydration from shedding so many tears and would end up in the hospital, hopefully heavily sedated. That would be a good way to rest, no? OK, maybe not. Maybe then I could write one of those list articles and post it to my blog. “10 ways to stop listening to others’ dumb advice.”

In fairness, there’s always something in these articles that provides some level of wisdom. Not everything, but something. I just wish it wasn’t all so contradictory at times. One article tells you to work 24/7 or you’re not worthy of calling yourself an entrepreneur, while another tells you that if you’re not home by 5 p.m. every day, your business owns you and you don’t own your business and shame on you, loser!

So many clichés, so little time. Everything has a nugget of truth in it, I just wish there was a rule book out there that would give a clear set of failure-proof guidelines. I do sincerely think that taking six weeks off per year and going home at 5 p.m. every night is a ridiculously unrealistic dream if you own your own business. There are exceptions, of course, but I haven’t met anyone yet.

It’s hard work, but I love it. It’s challenging and rewarding. Sure, I get tired. Who doesn’t? But you have to give yourself a break sometimes. I know I have to give myself a swift kick when I get tired and berate myself. An entrepreneur I was talking to the other day was complaining that he got tired and had to rest. He blamed it on age. When I asked him what time it was, he said it was 9 p.m. when he got tired. Yeah, it was 9 p.m., but he was probably awake at 5 a.m. and working diligently since then. Tired at 9 p.m.? You should get a medal, not feel bad about it. We’re only human.

I’ve done that too many times. I’m hard on myself for feeling worn out by 5 p.m., not taking into account that I’ve been awake since 6 a.m. and worked the entire day, including a working lunch with clients and no other breaks. So, 11 hours later, I need to rest for a bit and watch television and perhaps even, horrors, take a short nap. Others in the regular working world, meanwhile, are home by 5 p.m. and had a few breaks and an entire hour for lunch. And paid vacation. And benefits.

I don’t begrudge them anything, of course, but there are benefits to being an entrepreneur, too. The harder I work, the more money I make. I set my own schedule and don’t have to answer to anyone — except for my clients, of course. If I want to make more money, I just get more clients or more projects. If I worked for someone else, especially if you work for a set salary, earning more money is extremely difficult. Raises are often so minuscule and far apart that you barely even notice them.

But at least the income of a regular salaried job is usually predictable, barring a layoff. When you’re in business for yourself, there are good months and bad months — good years and bad years. Last year for me was not great. The year before was good. This year is spectacular and I’m on track for my best year yet. For that, I’m grateful.

So I’m not sure which lists to believe. Should I risk a good year and take time off that I really can’t afford to take? Or should I continue working like a dog? I’ll take working like a dog for now, thank you very much. I’ve been poor; I’ll take being tired any day of the week over wondering how I’m going to pay the bills.

Powerful and award-winning Ghosts of Violence ballet returns to Moncton on Friday, Oct. 4

Ghosts of Violence - Moncton - Oct. 4, 2013
Don’t miss Ghosts of Violence at the Capitol Theatre in Moncton on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, at 7:30 p.m.

Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada Artistic Director Igor Dobrovolskiy tackles the subject of intimate-partner violence in Ghosts of Violence, the powerful and award-winning ballet that was named Best Ballet with a Conscience by The Globe and Mail Senior Dance Critic Paula Citron in 2012. Written by theatre icon Sharon Pollock, this production is inspired by women who have lost their lives at the hands of an intimate partner and represents a touching and innovative platform for awareness and understanding.

Ghosts of Violence returns to Moncton on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre. Click here to purchase your tickets now. (Click on the photo for a larger version of the poster.)

Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada’s 2013-14 season to include new dancers, new ballet inspired by Edith Piaf

Edith Piaf
Edith Piaf

Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada begins its 13th exciting season this fall with the arrival of five new dancers, an original ballet by Artistic Director Igor Dobrovolskiy inspired by the life of French songstress Edith Piaf, a cross-Canada tour of its powerful and award-winning Ghosts of Violence ballet and many other events, including the popular Grant Thornton Velvet Gala to be held once again this year in Moncton.

“We’re looking forward to a wonderful season and infusion of exciting new dance talent that I’m positive will greatly please and enthrall our audiences,” says Susan Chalmers-Gauvin, CEO of Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada.

“Last season was one of our most exciting ever,” she says. “We performed in four provinces and New York City. Ghosts of Violence was named Best Ballet with a Conscious by The Globe and Mail’s Paula Citron and also received the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Award. As well, audiences were enamoured by our productions of Amadeus and our collaboration of Romeo and Juliet with Theatre New Brunswick. It was a very busy year, and this season is looking to be one of our busiest yet! The support from our many sponsors was also tremendous, especially Grant Thornton, our founding sponsor.”

Five new dancers will be joining the company this season – three women and two men. The female dancers are Stéphanie Audet of Montreal; Arielle Marin of Orlando, Florida; and Olga Petiteau of France; while the male dancers are Raffaele Diligente and Giacomo Vitelli, both of Italy.

The season kicks off on October 4 with a performance of Ghosts of Violence at the Capitol Theatre in Moncton (purchase tickets here), followed on October 8 with a free performance of Ghosts of Violence for Mount Allison University students. The evening performance will follow day-long exhibits by community service providers and the Mount Allison Students’ Union where students will have an opportunity to learn more about the issue of intimate-partner violence. “We are very pleased to have the strong support of Mount Allison University President Dr. Robert Campbell and the Students’ Union,” said Ms. Chalmers-Gauvin. “By exposing this issue to people at a young age, we hope to play a role in breaking the cycle.”

On November 28, Atlantic Ballet Theatre will once again host its largest fundraiser of the year – the Grant Thornton Velvet Gala, combining a series of original artistic performances at the Capitol Theatre in Moncton followed by gourmet desserts and delicacies at Hotel Beauséjour. This year’s black-tie event will likely sell out again, as it has in the past. This year’s Founders’ Circle inductees will be a number of the company’s dancers from its early years. Further details on this year’s Gala will be announced in the coming weeks.

On December 7 and 8, Atlantic Ballet Theatre dancers will take to the stage once again as guest performers in the Centre for Arts and Education’s holiday season production of A Christmas Carol at the Wesleyan Celebration Centre in Moncton.

Atlantic Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Igor Dobrovolskiy is sure to thrill audiences with an original ballet inspired by the tragic life of renowned French singer Edith Piaf, who died at the young age of 47 in 1963. The world premiere of the new ballet takes place on January 10 at The Fredericton Playhouse in Fredericton. Details on the new production will be announced in the coming weeks.

“Edith Piaf was one of the 20th century’s most talented and iconic singers whose life was filled with great highs and great lows,” says Mr. Dobrovolskiy. “We look forward to interpreting her rags-to-riches story through dance. We hope audiences will be touched by our portrayal of this beloved star.”

At the end of January, Ghosts of Violence begins a Canadian tour that will bring the ballet that raises awareness on intimate-partner violence to British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec. In April, Atlantic Ballet Theatre will partner with women’s shelters in Fredericton in a fundraiser to support local efforts against violence. Ghosts of Violence wraps up its incredible three-year journey in Montreal on May 3 after being seen by thousands of people across Canada, many of them students.

About Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada

Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada is a neo-classical ballet company dedicated to performing original works by choreographer Igor Dobrovolskiy, also Artistic Director at Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada. Founded in 2001 by Mr. Dobrovolskiy and CEO Susan Chalmers-Gauvin, the company pursues a continuous creative process through collaboration with like-minded artists attracted by the vision and artistic philosophy of its Artistic Director. Under the creative vision of Igor Dobrovolskiy the company has performed throughout Canada, as well as in the United States, Belgium, Switzerland, France and Germany. For more information on the company, visit their website at www.atlanticballet.ca.