3 min read

New year, no motivation

Choosing between money and power allows entrepreneurs to come to grips with what success means to them. Founders who want to manage empires will not believe they are successes if they lose control, even if they end up rich. Conversely, founders who understand that their goal is to amass wealth will not view themselves as failures when they step down from the top job… Once they realize why they are turning entrepreneur, founders must, as the old Chinese proverb says, “decide on three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time.” — The Founder’s Dilemma, Harvard Business Review

post-holiday slump hits owner-operator hard

In today’s news… surprising exactly zero people.

Getting thrown back into work this week’s been characterized by that inertia which strikes the first week of December every year without fail. Christmas has, since my childhood, always been that most meaningful time of year, and the way it dovetails into the new year which then dovetails further into my birthday—not as significant as the public holidays but significant this time around because 2023 is the year I officially leave my 20’s behind—and makes me incredibly reluctant to touch or even think about work.

But our freezer broke over our closure and duty came a-knocking.

It was bound to happen, of course
It was bound to happen, of course
On the bright side: an excellent excuse for a deep clean
On the bright side: an excellent excuse for a deep clean

The reassurance I felt at being able to approximate the dollar value loss and later crunching the numbers to confirm my guess was short-lived. I started projecting: that’s a decent chunk of payroll; oh, that’s like four weeks worth of milk deliveries; shoot, that’s about two weeks of coffee down the drain.

Small business. You win some, you lose some.

foraging for joy

Work leaves little time to pick up hobbies throughout the year, which makes the holidays the only block of time when I can let my attention truly wander and brush up on old skills, or hone new ones. Apart from the hours of mahjong—I’ve got family visiting from overseas and clocked months since I last clacked tiles together—I dusted off my old studio monitor speakers, an obsolete audio interface, and shifted the communal piano to my office.

I’ve since started Open Studio Jazz’s fundamentals course and have so far benefited from the structured approach to practice. The last lesson I took was over fifteen years ago.

I also found some time to watch ‘Maestro’, a look into the insular world of classical music conducting and, personally, something to whet the appetite in anticipation of Tár’s release in late-January.

Media like this has been incredibly instructive as I constantly look at other industries, fields, and experts, asking, ‘How have other people solved the exact same problems I consistently run into?’ It turns out conducting demands the same technical brilliance (barista), the same onus to interpret someone else’s work on their behalf (coffee growers, roasters) and presenting it to an audience whose experiences and preferences run the gamut (sweet milky beverages, single origin espresso, manual brew, etc.), the same emotional availability beyond the day to day minutiae (management and operations in a nutshell); most importantly the ability to teach—and not just teach, but to mentor and cultivate the passion and drive of a chosen few.

In short, the shaping of a legacy that might outlast the venture itself.


Since we’re on the topic of music, here’s a pop palate cleanser: while I can’t remember how I fell into this particular rabbit hole, I wholeheartedly enjoyed the soundtrack to Whitney Houston’s biopic, ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’. (I haven’t seen the movie, and probably never will—I’m on the fence with this style of media.)

My top three tracks have to be the eponymous opening track, John Clayton’s sublime arrangement of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’, and what to me is peak-Houston: a medley of ‘I Wants to Stay Here’, ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’, and ‘I Have Nothing’. There’s a YouTube clip floating around the last track’s performance and boy, is it something.

bonus round

Wondering what Christmas really means to Filipinos? A chance to shop at the world’s largest IKEA.

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