dogsworld127-51-edit.jpgMy life is centered around my family, my paddling, and Jackson Kayak.   My family and my paddling are also centered around Jackson Kayak with each of us making our living through our business, and of  course, we spend a good portion of each day paddling our own products, Jackson Kayaks.

Like all things, the bigger it is the more complex, the more people, and the more challenges, but also the more opportunities.    Two years ago the economy went South, people were running scared, and there were tons of unknown variables.   We muddeled through 2009, not achieving our goals, but still managing to grow our business, when many were declining.   Not acheiving your goals is tough, however, and never good for business, but we could have done worse.   In 2010 our game plan was much more focused on the state of the world, including economy, our strengths and weaknesses, and was better laid out given the set of cards we were dealt and we will end up a good 50% up in growth and profits over last year.    Still short of our goals, however, with some extra challenges at the factory that were a drag on profits, etc..     We just had meetings with all of our management/ownership, and an outside consultant on our 2011 season and dug into our plans, goals, and challenges and have emerged with what we believe we can pull off next year that is good for our business, good for our customers, dealers, and our communitiy.    Where we fell short on specific goals in 2010, we have plans to assure that doesn’t happen again.       I am pretty fired up about this coming year.

The responsibility of having 100+ people working for us and depending on our business is quite large and we take it very seriously.   Stumbling and falling is not an option.     Protecting the business from a downside is important, of course, but no business is successful playing defense only.    A solid offense is the key to assuring our success in 2011.    We play offense really well.    When many are saying,  “boo hoo, bad economy” we are saying,  “let’s go, we can sell more, make more, and deliver more in this economy than we did last year in that economy” and plan to do it.    That attitude alone in our organization has really made us what we are today.      It is a very encouraging organization that way, and if we don’t know the way, we find the way.     Being around our people is a self improvement program in of itself.   Smart, motivated, happy, honest, hard working, hard playing people.     I am glad my kids are exposed to them as well, they are growing up (emily is grown up, and I am just trying to keep up with her) and really taking on their own personas and hold down their own forts.   Kristine has always been my anchor and sounding board that keeps me on track and from going on tangents that don’t move me in the direction I truly want to go.    She is invaluable to me in so many ways, and improves my effectiveness on top of what she produces.

Coming from a six month road trip to being back home and focusing on planning, operating the business, producing product, developing product, improving product, is a big switch in the type of daily activities i am involved in.    I truly enjoy the process and am fired up on this time of year.   It is not easy, in that Dane, Nick, and Clay are all at the Green, preparing for the Green Race this weekend.   That, too, is something that is super fun for me.    Switching gears and running to the Green today to train for a day and race isn’t my style, however.   I am obsessive, compulsive, and want to win competitions, not just participate.   I would need a few days do dial my lines in and have my head on straight to race to my potential.    I would also not get the stuff done I want to do for the marketing meetings we have next week when James and Lee come into town from Canada and Colorado.    So, I am leaving the Green for Dane, Clay, and Nick and by the videos I am seeing (like Dane’s 10 Gorilla Runs in a row on his way down the river) they are holding down the fort.   People will see the Villain in action and you can’t watch that boat without seeing how good it is on the steep stuff.

I had a good season in competition this year and am planning my 2011 season as well.    2011 is a World Championships year and, well, I failed to win my 5th World Championship title in freestyle in 2009, with Nick taking the 1st place position and me behind him.    That event will be harder to win in 2011 than any previous year, I think.   It is at a playspot that the Europeans have trained and competed in for many years.   The European teams are getting stronger and are hungry to take the title away from the North Americans.   (Men’s kayak class has been won by a North American paddler in 1993, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 with a Germany winning in Germany in 1995 only.   )     If you watch their training rides, or competition rides on youtube, they are kicking butt over there.

There are a ton of other fun things going on that make for an exciting 2011.    A major (MAJOR) brand is going to do a profile on the Jackson Kayak business and our use of their products in December.     Hollywood is knocking about a TV series next year, and we are working on  more awesome products for next year.  

2011 will be another notch up in terms of the scope of our activities, and our goals.    My personal goals and life remains the same, with my situations in different areas of my life changing, but my focus is the same…

My priority list is unchanged:

1. Kristine- my relationship with my wife is my single most protected asset…   Live or die.

2. My kids- While it seems weird to put them on a lower tier to many- they are their own people and have to come second to Kristine- putting them first or even could mean that they don’t have two parents under one roof.   I don’t think you can maintain a proper husband/wife relationship unless it gets priority one.    They are turning out OK, if I don’t say so myself. 

3. My paddling- My favorite activity in the world is kayaking.   playing, creeking, river running, fishing, floating, or whatever..  i want to be in my kayak.   It takes priority over any other activity, including work.   Why work if you aren’t happy.  to make money?  Why make money if you aren’t happy?  to eat?  Why eat if you aren’t happy, to live?  Why live if you aren’t happy?  See- that is how my mind works.   So- kayaking is my priority, above work.

4. Jackson Kayak-  at Number 4, I still have plenty of time for it.   In fact, much of  my time with my wife, kids, and paddling is also directly related to my Jackson Kayak focus and responsibilities i have taken on.    go kayaking= time with kids and testing boats, marketing, and sales…   RV tour is time with Kristine, kids, paddling.     

So the general concept of my life is the same for next year as this year.    Normally I wait until New Year’s Eve to do my resolutions and reflect on how I did in the previous year.   Putting Jackson Kayak’s actions/results/goals under the microscope this week has me putting Eric Jackson’s actions/results/goals under the microscope as well.     Two months earlier than last year.   Cool- that is two more months to think about how to make next year a banner year that I can look back at in 20 years and say,  “Look at how much fun Kristine and I had,with the Kids, while paddling, and running our business!”    Sweet.

OK- time to review my task list for marketing for 2011.   If i don’t get on that, I might as well go to Asheville this weekend.   Kristine, KC, and I are going on a bike ride today (Kristine and Emily ran the Marine Corps Marathon last weekend in DC and are doing a 100 mile bike race this month in AZ)   I’ll pull KC in the trailer on Nick’s Mountain Bike, while the girls ride their road bikes.

Have a great day!