Saturday, March 16, 2013

Bored Meeting

Calgary Sun
March 9, 2013

Imagine my surprise when my eleven year old son announced that he couldn’t play video games with me on Sunday. Instead he had a board meeting to attend.

“A board meeting?” I asked. Maybe I was nurturing an entrepreneurial prodigy. If so, that would make him unlike most of the members of my family – myself included – who are best known for investing in magic beans and timing market crashes perfectly.

“My friends Quinn and John are setting up a business,” he explained. “We’re going to sell custom mini-block figures over the Internet.”

I’ve certainly heard worse business plans, some of which attracted millions in investment before crashing and burning.

As the practical and non-eleven year old person I felt obliged to ask a few hard banker type questions, like who pays for the materials, who puts the finished product on the Internet, and the all important how do you get paid?

Like most great entrepreneurs, my son waved away my concerns about the details. Besides, John and Quinn are twelve, so they have the combined wisdom of a 24 year old, which makes them a tad on the old side for an Internet millionaire.

The Internet is the digital age’s lemonade stand for kids. No more sitting at a table on your lawn trying to sell passing strangers watery beverages for a quarter. Every nine year old is building an app or game to sell on iTunes so they can retire by age ten.

So I dutifully dropped my son off at Quinn’s house last Sunday, chosen because “he has the best boardroom table.” I think it also may have something to do with the fact that his mother keeps a couple jars of candy open on the kitchen counter.

A couple hours later I picked him back up, wondering how soon it would be before his photo is on the cover of Forbes magazine with a feature article about his humble origins (that would be me) and his meteoric financial rise.

Instead, I learned that the board meeting didn’t go as planned.

Things were fine during the refreshments, because every board meeting needs a reception beforehand to loosen everyone up and get the creative juices flowing as part of the corporate team-building exercise.

It was when they got down to business after the cookies and juice that I think there arose the initial dispute about the “vision”.

I didn’t even get the gist of the dispute – these high level corporate issues are never easy for us laymen to understand. All I know is that someone hit someone else with a pillow over a difference of opinion on corporate strategy.

As these things do, a smack in the eye with a pillow intended as constructive criticism soon expanded into a larger discussion of fundamental issues of governance backed up with foam projectiles from a rapid fire dart gun that just happened to be handy.

Just before the meeting broke up there was a general melee that involved a fair amount of good-natured rolling around on the floor, much as I envision happens on a regular basis at companies like Blackberry and Apple.

So as far as I can tell, the business plan has been shelved for now and untold riches will have to wait until he’s at least thirteen and has the world figured out.

“So no more board meetings?” I asked on the way home.

“Oh no – we’ll keep having meetings,” he said. “They’re fun. We’ve just decided to drop the business part and go right to the wrestling.”

He’ll go far in the business world.

 © 2013 - Stephen Lautens