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Pekarsky & Co. June 2016 Newsletter – Wake Up! You Need to Make Money. Yo!

June 9, 2016

Dear Friends and Colleagues,


I seem to have lost the ability to write or speak without using an analogy to describe, well, everything. It’s as though I can no longer just describe a thing. Or, rather, I can’t not describe the thing that that thing is like. I don’t know when this problem started.  It just sort of crept up on me, much like the weight I gained during my wife’s pregnancies. See? I communicate like some kind of fun house mirror that, instead of reflecting the image back as a normal mirror would, garbles the basic image to highlight and underscore certain features. Doh! I don’t know why I make life difficult by introducing that second step when often it would suffice to just describe the first one. Like drawing a detailed map instead of simply providing an address. Sigh.


And so it goes that when I’m asked about the state of our economy and hiring market out west, the questioner finds herself unwittingly stumbling through my House of Mirrors. “It’s like driving on a windy highway” I’ll say. “Where every corner is a blind corner yet you’re stuck behind a slow truck and you just want to pull out and pass but you can’t because you can never see far enough around the next bend to confidently make your move. So, you simply stay behind the slow-moving truck, biding your time until you reach a straightaway long enough and safe enough to accelerate your journey.”  Indeed, for the past 18 months life has been, as Tom Cochrane said it would be, like a highway; a twisted, nausea-inducing, dark, icy, highway full of blind corners, slow moving trucks and very few opportunities to pass.


Yet, it is on one such road that I tend to do my best thinking. You see, pretty much every Friday of the year, I sneak out of work a bit early in order that my wife and I may pick up our three kids at school and drive to our beloved Fernie. Though not a windy journey (highway 22 south to highway 3 might be one of the most scenic stretches of road on the planet, much of it dead straight), as soon as the kids drift off or bury themselves in their devices, and once my wife and I have caught up on the day’s events, the tunes get turned up and the stresses of the week wash away with each click on the odometer.


During those moments, I catch myself listening to the lyrics of the songs that shuffle through the “Fernie” playlist. And so it was, on a recent drive, as I was stressing out about what to write about for this edition of our newsletter, the 97th such dispatch if you can believe it (having bought time by off-loading the responsibility to other members of the firm for editions 95 and 96), when Stressed Out by Twenty One Pilots (I’m not really that hip, but I do have a 15 year old daughter who is and who’s often the only other one awake in the car listening with me) filled my ears.


I wish I found some better sounds no one’s ever heard,
I wish I had a better voice that sang some better words,
I wish I found some chords in an order that is new,
I wish I didn’t have to rhyme every time I sang,


I was told when I get older all my fears would shrink,
But now I’m insecure and I care what people think.


My name’s ‘Blurryface’ and I care what you think.

Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol’ days,
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.


We’re stressed out.


We used to play pretend, give each other different names,
We would build a rocket ship and then we’d fly it far away,
Used to dream of outer space but now they’re laughing at our face,


Saying, “Wake up, you need to make money.”


Yo, indeed. It’s ironic that a song with that title and those lyrics is still ringing in my ears, as we at PCo. are coming off a month which saw us open several new projects, including the CEO/Registrar of the Alberta College of Medical Diagnostic & Therapeutic Technicians; the Dean, Faculty of Fine Arts and Communications, for MacEwan University; the CEO for CKUA Radio Network; the VP & General Counsel for Stuart Olson; the Regional Manager for the Canadian Propane Association; Director of Legal Affairs for Ivanhoe Cambridge and Associate General Counsel for Capital Power Corporation.  And, a month in which we successfully closed, among many others, the very high profile Citadel Theatre Artistic Director search, for which our Edmonton team received some well-deserved praise in thepress release announcing the hire.


Not only that, but in Toronto, it took Jessica all of three months to get herself featured in the Globe and Mail for our firm’s efforts there (not sure what took her so long to conquer that city; rest assured we will be raising it at her next review). And, we found ourselves in May racking up the air-miles meeting clients in Vancouver, Saskatoon, Ottawa and Montreal and engaging with prospective candidates on one of our EVP & General Counsel searches literally from Vancouver to St. John’s.  Not so bad, right?



It could be that we’re insecure, and it could be that we care what people think, but this past month our firm took out its first ever paid advertisement, one targeted specifically at our core legal audience. Our strength continues to be our weakness in that we are known as the ‘go to’ Canadian legal search firm and that often over-shadows the fact that 60% of our firm’s business comes from non-legal searches, but we figured our maiden paid ad should play to our roots as we enter new markets like Toronto.


All this, and yet, we’re stressed out. Singing for our supper every day of every week of every month.  I wish I didn’t have to rhyme every time I sang.  It could be a sort of seven-year itch (a simile, not a metaphor, I know). We turn seven on July 28th this year, so the timing is right, but the term is most often used to suggest that happiness in a relationship declines after around year seven and our firm’s union has never been stronger. So perhaps it’s our relationship with our surroundings that’s frayed. We’re simply feeling what so many of us are feeling: it’s only June, but man, has it been a tough year.


On the active searches we do have on the go, it feels so great to just work. To do the thing we do; like we’re in control again; adding value and executing the way we’ve done for years. Like going out on tour and performing after months of toil in the studio. Like the way we all have rallied so incredibly around Ft. McMurray, not focusing so much on the fires burning out of control, but rather on the people it has so impacted. Finally, strangely, cathartically, being dealt a problem we can actually solve with our tried and true tonic of hard work, community and resiliency; antidotes that don’t seem quite powerful enough to beat back the Kryptonite of bigger political and economic shortcomings apparently, and I would argue, temporarily, beyond our control.


Yes, it has been a hard slog these last several months – my face is blurry. Yet, we continue to work hard, stay positive and find some chords in an order that is new. Whether it’s fostering a dog (the second named Lucky in our Edmonton office) displaced by the fires, as Jane recently did; or continuing to volunteer our time in our communities; or working with our suppliers and clients alike to help each other through a challenging time; or meeting every referred or displaced candidate who comes our way or, indeed, writing these monthly posts.  Still, there are days where I’d like to build a rocket ship and fly it far away.


Wake up!  You need to make money!