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It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over – The Pekarsky & Co. October 2015 Newsletter

October 1, 2015

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

The best thing about Stampede Wrestling, the glorious Stu Hart production of the 80s, was its simplicity.  Its predictability. Every Saturday at 1 p.m., da da daa, da da daa, da da da da daa. A plodding undercard, usually something like the Cuban Assassin against Iron Mike Shaw. Followed by a tag team match of some sort, say, Duke Myers and Kerry Brown versus Honky Tonk Man and Dr. D. David Schultz in a Coal Miner’s Glove match. And, the crescendo, the main event. Dynamite Kid or Gamma Singh or Archie the Stomper squaring off against Bret Hart; Bret, the good guy, everyone else, the heel. The ref, Ron Hater or Cedric Hathaway, turning away or otherwise disposed at the very moment the heel revealed the brass knuckles from his trunks only to clock the unsuspecting Bret into oblivion. Sometimes the good guy won, sometimes he lost; it wasn’t always fair but it was always clear. Binary. Simple. Understandable. The injustice of evil prevailing or the triumph of the good guys winning fair and square and the restoration of faith in all that was right. Watching the old footage on YouTube, it seems so dated and naive and charmingly simplistic.

vince

Then it all changed. It was no longer about right versus wrong, good versus bad.  Vince McMahon, the Trump-like caricature and promoter of World Wrestling Entertainment, née Federation, transformed the purity and predictability of it all into a garish, gaudy, steroid-soaked soap opera far more inappropriate for young eyes, for mine were still young in the halcyon days of WWF, than Bad News Allen gouging Mr. Hito with a fork and staining the mat red at the old Victoria Pavilion. Alliances were formed and broken for no reason, with little provocation. Tag team partnerships came and went. Loyalty disappeared. The things you came to rely upon, though you despised them, eroded.  Good became bad and vice versa. Hulk Hogan, a heel? C’mon. Suddenly, it didn’t make sense.  It didn’t make sense.

And so, stick with me here, as I walk the half-empty streets of Calgary (and let’s be clear; they are half empty, not half full), the refrain is It’s different this time. It’s really bad out there. It’s going to last a long time. There are those, of course, who say It’s going to get better. It always does. I’ve seen It before, they say. It comes, It goes. It goes down, It goes up. It’s just a matter of time. But when will It end and is the thing we’ve always thought It was, still the thing It is?

The rules seem to have changed. Volatility and uncertainty is the new normal and to think It will return to the way It was may not actually be true at all. It was easier not that long ago. The Cold War: west versus east. Trusting Iran’s nuclear program: bad idea. Alberta: Conservative. Old truths have given way to new realities and with them new uncertainties. Just this week, President Obama, in an address to the United Nations General Assembly, said: “Dangerous currents risk pulling us back into a darker, more disordered world.” I blame Vince McMahon.

stephen-king-IT-remake

But what is It? Walking the streets of Calgary it would appear that horror writer Stephen King had the right idea: an eponymous being which exploits the fears and phobias of its victims in order to disguise itself while hunting its prey. As the weekly toll of layoffs mounts, spreading like some virus to which no one is immune, the old rules of supply and demand, and what goes down must go up sound somehow, well, dated and naive and charmingly simplistic. As the late Yogi Berra said, the future ain’t what it used to be.

Lurking within all that uncertainty, however, lies opportunity. Organizations nimble enough to adapt to this new reality will not only survive It, they’ll thrive in It. Those that can’t or won’t or simply don’t see It, will not. Here at Pekarsky & Co., we’re nimble and we’re battling through It. What’s the alternative? Truth is, a search firm like ours can add immense value in a market like this. Every organization wants the very best people on the team. When the apple orchard is full of apples, it’s much more difficult to find the best one. Craig Conroy, the Calgary Flames Assistant GM, and featured speaker at the recent Pekarsky & Co. We Know People speaker series, spoke about this during his talk to a group of our friends and clients. It was a wonderful evening; while the figurative storm lashed the windows up our office upstairs, we sought shelter in our basement (The Cellar wine store) and took refuge in the form of good wine and great conversation. Quoting his boss, Brian Burke, who said “if I can’t win a Stanley Cup with you, you shouldn’t be on my team” Craig did a great job highlighting the many similarities and challenges he faces in building a winner in a competitive conference (the eponymous being in his case likely taking the form of Connor McDavid) that our clients face in their day jobs, too. I realize that in this current market, we don’t all have such lofty goals; some are merely trying to make the playoffs, or worse. But this is the type of market that allows a rare opportunity to stack your team with talent. Only when the tide goes out, do you discover whose been swimming naked, goes the saying. And when It turns, when the tide rolls back in, the hiring frenzy will be upon us. And It will hit like a folded steel chair.

EdmCgyNewCollage

In Edmonton, Rick and team certainly kept winning, successfully launching another search for CNIB, this time a Director, Public Affairs on the heels of successfully completing a Director, Philanthropy search earlier in the summer. And the efforts around the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) Board recruitment ramped up, too. Fittingly, Rick spoke at an Institute of Corporate Directors event on Board Recruitment further establishing himself and our firm as the ‘go to’ for Board search work in Alberta. In Calgary, successful closes of a Chief Operating Officer search and a brand new engagement for a public company General Counsel search keep us out of trouble.

In closing, I would just say this: whatever It is, to me at least it feels like we are bouncing along the bottom of It. We continue to be there for our clients and our community and each other. We stay positive and we stay in touch. We know you’re not going to buy a snow shovel in the middle of summer, but we also know the seasons do change eventually. Just look outside.

But, as Yogi Berra most famously said: It ain’t over ‘til It’s over.

Regards,


In loving memory of Gus.

 

Gus

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