Firstly and most importantly, from my family to yours, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for 2017.
2016 has been an extraordinary year in many ways. As I focus on celebrating its passing, I am also reflecting on what I have learnt this year. Below are my top five lessons, most of them are not new but have been reinforced through events this year.
- Expect the unexpected and quickly look for the opportunities when the unexpected happens.
I did not expect the UK to vote to leave the European Union; the Canadian Liberal party to bring in a national carbon tax rising progressively to $50 per tonne of CO2; the Alberta NDP party to quasi re-regulate the electricity market; or Donald Trump to be President Elect of the United States… However, what I have learnt, is that the pace of change in business has accelerated and by expecting the unexpected and thinking about the what/if scenario, I am better prepared for when it happens. This year particularly, there were a number of times when I found myself saying “let’s not focus on why we don’t agree with this, let’s focus on playing the game with the new rules.” This attitude helped me move to a proactive opportunity/discovery mode more quickly. Moving beyond negativity is very important in times of great change.
- Re-run the numbers on projects that weren’t economic in the past.
At De Paoli & Associates we help to formulate and develop business and project economics for a wide range of sectors. What surprised me this year was how dramatically things have changed, particularly in the fields of renewable energy. With rising electrical distribution costs, off grid projects that were a no go two years ago look completely different now. It’s so important to build models that you can quickly update if something changes. Even if it doesn’t work today it might be a winner tomorrow.
- Keep on top of regulatory change.
There has been so much change in the Alberta and Canadian political landscape this year, it is important not to underestimate the impact of this on businesses. Carbon taxation alone is a game changer for many industries. Keeping up to date with change is time consuming, but it is hugely important.
- Great things come through collaboration.
I have had the honour and privilege of working and collaborating with a great team this year. I have worked on projects with a huge range of scope. This would not have been possible without a diverse team with a huge depth of knowledge. In my volunteering role I learnt a great deal about the history of our community and how much can be achieved by a team of people who want to build a strong community. I am truly grateful for the people I have worked with and for this year, thank you all.
- Play the long game.
Every time we start a business my father tells me it will take 5 years, and every time I say it won’t. Well he is right (of course)! As we enter our 5th year of De Paoli & Associates I can clearly elaborate my mission for our company: “To start, grow and support businesses in rural communities so that these communities become and remain viable. In doing so we help preserve a rural lifestyle.” Reading Greg McKeown’s book, “Essentialism”, helped me to take this step; to say no to things that don’t fit in order to make room for the things that do. It takes time to grow and develop a business and I relearnt that you have to play the long game and allow things to evolve.