Different pathways to a great business and life

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Basking Ridge oak tree

Basking Ridge oak tree We’re in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, an upper-middle class community about a 30 minute drive from Newark airport (and much different socio-economic environment), and of course on the other side of the continent from San Jose, CA. The event here is a family function — my wife and son flew down from Ottawa yesterday, meeting me at the airport, and we then took a rental car to this hotel.

Obviously, this weekend portion of the journey is entirely personal and the only business I will be discussing is with relatives. It seems the routing/cost is close enough to a direct flight between San Jose and Ottawa that Google’s travel agency had no trouble in making the routing variation, so essentially Google paid my airfare costs to the family event.

In the past week, as I “hung out” on the Google campus and travelled transcontinental, the business at home continued. This is a healthy sign, of course, though I can’t say everything worked perfectly and a total absence would probably have resulted in some really awkward cheque bounces (I certainly needed to use my bank authorization to move money between accounts and it turns I had written before travelling a very large cheque on one account, but the money to cover it was in another, so if I had disappeared completely and not checked the books I would have some explaining to do.) Nevertheless, it is good that the business systems were strong enough to continue in my absence for a week.

We return home late Sunday night — wife and son on one flight (their paid tickets were cheaper on another airline) — and me on another. I’ll need to make a late-night visit to my office to gather some papers, and then be in shape for the business’s annual planning meeting on Monday morning.

The interface between business and personal space; between travel and home, between family and aloneness reminds me of my exceptional good fortune, and the intriguing questions about why so many improbable things in my life have turned out so well.

I’ve reported earlier on my imperfect personality and the odds-defying achievement of some personal and family success, but the story that comes closest to immediate circumstances is how I could overcome the odds with the Google AdSense program, becoming the only person in the program’s history to survive not one, but two account disabling experiences, to become a forum moderator (Top Contributor), receiving an invitation to the Googleplex to meet AdSense staff in person (twice, so far, now.)

This reflects the second improbability. This program, like other Google initiatives is scaled for extreme automation, and my business volume should not be great enough to have any human contact with Google — let alone access to a personal “account manager” usually reserved for accounts at the level of the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal.

The success books suggest there are some common correlations: A strong goal-setting nature, healthy perseverance, and an ability to focus energies and achieve expertise within specialized fields. I also seem to have rather good crisis-management skills. Yet I’m sure there is a healthy dose of luck in the story, as well. After all, I was born to loving upper-middle class parents in Vancouver; not a desperately poor broken or drug-addicted family in Bangladesh.

It’s a weekend morning. Today is for family stuff. Tomorrow is for family stuff, travel (and at the end of the day, a bit of business). I know I’m lucky. I’m thankful I know that.

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