An Open Letter from Andrew Johns to Kevin O'Leary

Hi Kevin,

I read your Open Letter to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. While you provide some helpful solutions, shame on you for twisting so many of what you call “the facts”.

I don’t live in Alberta, nor am I a supporter of Rachel or the NDP.  I’m not as rich as you, but I have reached significant wealth through hard work, commitment and a bit of luck. I, too, am not a shameless publicity seeker.

You seem to imply that the jobs being lost in Alberta in the Energy Sector are a result of Mrs. Notley’s policies and decisions (or lack there of). However, if you simply look at the share price performance of the world’s largest energy companies, then Alberta’s big companies such as; Suncor, Canadian Natural Resources and Imperial Oil are holding up pretty well by comparison. If you need evidence, this graph shows you the price performance of these various energy companies since Mrs. Notley was sworn-in on May 24, 2015. (ref. Google Finance)

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Slashing Royalty Rates ≠ More Jobs

First you write, “Now let’s talk about the 63,000 people that have lost their jobs. This is 100% your fault in my opinion.”  Are you kidding me? Unless you expect Rachel to nationalize every energy company in Alberta and put every worker on government payroll, there’s no way she is responsible for all of these job losses. But who knows, maybe this 1980s communist style of government is what you’re looking for.

Then you state the Alberta Government should, “On existing gas and oil production, slash royalty rates by 50% for the next 24 months so that companies have more cash to do their own employee retention.”  Do you honestly think for a second that if the government did this, it would translate into a reduction of layoffs? You know full well that these layoffs are happening globally and no matter what government policies are implemented, a CEO of a publicly listed energy company would be strung up at the nearest tree by one of your own portfolio managers for not cutting costs, including jobs!

If Alberta energy companies were the only companies laying people off globally, you would have a point. Unfortunately you completely fail with this argument.

Make Alberta Oil Attractive

You claim your strategy as follows: “The whole idea is to make Alberta the most attractive domain on earth to invest the incremental energy dollar for any investor anywhere.” You know full well Alberta oil production needs at least a market price of $50-$80/barrel to garner a small profit.  The amount of concessions, tax dollars and resources that would have to go into making Alberta energy exploration and production, “the most attractive domain on earth” is a complete pipe dream.

Weak Canadian Dollar

Somehow you suggest that Mrs. Notley’s poor policy choices or inaction to adapting to the changing energy market is the primary reason the Canadian dollar has weakened so much.  Are you out of your mind?  First, no Premier in Canada’s history has ever wielded so much power as to be able to dominate the direction of the Canadian dollar. And if Mrs. Notley was this powerful, should she get credit for the 4.5% gain in the strength of the loonie since the beginning of 2016.

But never mind my opinion.  The charts don’t lie…

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Look at the correlation of the Canadian dollar and oil prices over the last fifteen years!  This comes from a great report, published by the University of British Columbia.

Some Good Points

Despite all of the above, you do offer some good points:

  • “On new oil and gas production capital expenditures implement a 12-month capital cost allowance acceleration.”
  • “On any new capital investment there will be a 36 month royalty holiday on any new production of oil and gas flows.“
  • “On your way home stop in Ottawa and tell finance minister Bill Morneau and PM Justin Trudeau that you need an additional $500 million in loans for Alberta. They were happy to give $4.2 Billion to foreigners during Justin’s first 60 days as PM and they didn’t give a damn about any Canadian workers, yours our anybody else’s.“

Just as you are, “… planning to keep Canadian taxpayers posted about [Rachel Notley’s] progress or lack of it,” I plan to call you out on any further outrageous statements or claims.

Andrew Johns

Time for a Reality Check

We’ve all heard the quintessential saying “The early bird catches the worm” or “Work hard and good things will happen.”  But does this really work?  At what point should you expect to see meaningful signs of success from your efforts?


Well here’s the unfortunate truth.  You probably haven’t worked hard enough, for long enough.

“What?” you respond. “I’m well educated, with an undergraduate degree. I spent a lot of time perfecting my resume.  I network with the right people. I’m a nice person and I work hard.”

So here’s the reality check…

Education

It means so much and yet so little.  Your undergrad degree or even Masters degree helps open doors. But once you’re in your job, your manager is going to quickly forget about your interview or resume. They simply don’t care about your education. What they care about (or should) are your results.

Networking

Doesn’t mean much. To me, networking is massive waste of time. Networking implies you are building relationships from which you can advance your career or get someone to buy whatever you’re selling. Here’s the problem with “networking” everyone you are speaking with is trying to do the same thing.

Now, relationship building is extremely important. But that comes through one-on-one meetings. Perhaps over dinner or even better in a closed room for the sole purpose of discussing how each other can mutually benefit from working together.

Nice Guys (& Girls)

Being a nice person is important. Don’t let that asshole manager you know, convince you that being a jerk is the only way to advance your career. Especially if he is 50+ and Caucasian. He probably sold himself short of his own potential and got to where he is largely off of an old path to success. Continue being nice, but be assertive too.

I Work Hard

Really? Are you sure?

This is probably the one greatest shortcoming for most people. You see, most of us think we work hard, but we don’t.  Here are a few questions you should answer honestly:

1) Are you consistently the first to work? Not just every now and then. Always?

2) Are you almost always the last to leave the office?

3) How many times in the month do you come back to the office after dinner or come in on the weekend to finish up the work you didn’t get to that week?

4) How often do you wish you were out with your friends for lunch or a evening drink but need to stay and finish your project?

5) When you go to bed at night, do you nearly fall asleep before you even hit the mattress from pure exhaustion?

6) Do your friends or work colleagues tell you “You work too much.”

7) Do you ever wonder if all this work your putting is worth it? (It is BTW!)


My Advice

If you truly want to be successful in your career and life, make a god damn effort. Quit spending time dwelling over someone else’s success. Stop making excuses. Get up early. Make your bed. Do some push-ups. Say hello to your neighbour. Get to work early. Be nice to your colleagues. Work your ass off. Learn as much as you can. Be humble. Stay late. Eat a healthy dinner. Watch a little TV. Be thankful for everything you have and even more hungry for everything you don’t. Go to bed. Repeat until…

You’ll know when.


“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison 

B.C. Family Day

I’m a husband and father of three young children and am writing to my fellow British Columbians for your support. 

Background

B.C.’s Family Day will take place this year on Monday, February 8th, which is a week before the other provinces in Canada who recognize their respective statutory holidays on the following Monday – including the entire United States.

In May 2012, the Provincial Government undertook a public engagement process to which they state they “received an overwhelming response,” garnering 31,146 responses.  This represents less than 1% of the provincial population. 18,202 or 58% of these votes elected for the second Monday in February. These votes were strongly supported by ski and tourism sectors, as certain ski resorts leveraged their social media reach to have members vote on-line. 

Negative Impact

Since the Province of B.C. published their BC Family Day Public Engagement and Consultation report, it is clear that a number of unintended consequences have resulted in choosing a different day from the rest of the country and U.S. There are two costs we as British Columbians incur every year this happens:

Social

Who Doesn’t Benefit:

  • A child with a parent who works in financial services, import/export or is a federal employee.
  • Any parent with a child going to university/college in another province.
  • A young person from another province going to university/college in B.C.
  • A family with brothers/sisters/parents/grand-parents living across multiple provinces or in the U.S.

Economic

Here’s how the numbers stack up:

  • Annual GDP for the Province of B.C. is $237.2 billion.

Ski resorts represent $731 million or 0.30%.

Goods and Services exported to other provinces ($38.4 billion) and to the United States ($17.5 billion) total $55.9 billion or 23.6%.

  • Estimated loss of exports is estimated at $153 million.
  • Higher labour costs (by way of overtime pay) for employers to keep their businesses open.
  • Lower productivity for businesses who sell to other provinces and the U.S. the following Monday.
  • Added child care expenses for parents of young children who have to work.

Make a Change

Christy Clark and the current provincial government should be applauded for bringing the Family Day holiday to B.C.  Most British Columbians benefit from having a statutory holiday during the long period between New Years and Easter.  If the “spirit” of the holiday is to bring as many families together as possible, then changing the holiday to the third Monday in February just makes sense. I’m asking the Government of British Columbia to change B.C. Family Day to the third Monday in February. Let’s make this a holiday that everyone can enjoy.

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If you support this initiative, please:

We Vote Every Day – With Our Dollars

Every 1-2 years a federal, provincial or municipal election comes upon us. For many, this is the time to jump on the party “booster bus” and proclaim one’s commitment to the cause. For many more, it seems to be an important topic to discuss around the office or during a get together with friends.

Questions like “Who are you going to vote for?” or “Should I vote for the candidate or the party?” come to mind.  It seems to be a very important decision for many of us, because it’s our chance to change the world!

Weeks and months go by after these seemingly important elections and back we go to our daily routines, with little change to the pre-election days.  Sadly, one the fundamental problems in a first-past-the-post election system is that your vote either counted or it didn’t.  Winner takes all.

Capitalism has a few well publicized flaws and all sorts of unobvious benefits to society.  Whether your political stance is strongly liberal, conservative or somewhere in the middle, we all live in a capitalist world.  I know in Canada you could debate this, but on a wide spectrum of options, we are more “American” than many would like to admit.

Despite all the time, money and human capital spent on convincing you that your electoral vote is worth something, it is not nearly as powerful as that dollar in your pocket.  In order to support aspects of society you value and discourage aspects you dislike, put your dollars to work.

Examples

Crime/Terrorism

Vote – Conservative

$$$ – Don’t spend your money buying illegal drugs (never mind that it messes up your life).  Don’t buy pirated software, music or movies.  Don’t invest in OTCBB stocks which are prone to be fronts for money laundering and terrorist financing.


Environment

Vote – Green

$$$ – Insert the phrase “Think Globally. Act Locally.” Buying organic means pesticides and GMO aren’t being supported by your dollars.  Locally grown food from your farmers market helps support the local economy and has a lower carbon footprint.


Healthcare

Vote – Liberal/NDP

$$$ – Use private healthcare if you can afford it. This takes stress off the public healthcare system and you’ll receive catered treatment. Be mindful of when you are going to pay a visit to the hospital. A lot of Canadians don’t appreciate the cost to the government for medical treatment.


Exercising your vote is the foundation of the democratic process.  But never forget… you vote with your dollars every day.

Air Travel Etiquette

I’ve always wondered if air travel would be a lot more pleasant if the airlines were permitted to replace their safety video with an “in-air courtesy” video.

Instead of explaining how to secure a life vest to our body so that when the aircraft smashes into the ocean and everyone plummets to their death, at least the recovery team with be able to see my corpse floating in the water. I can see my obituary now, “A loving son, husband and father. Tried to preserve his life with a life preserver. Unfortunately he died from either the impact to hitting the ocean at 500km/hr, hypothermia or choking on his beer nuts.”

Anyways, below is my list of air travel courtesies. 


Sitting down

Air planes have tight spaces. When sitting down in your seat, do it slowly, so as to not knock the items off of the person’s tray table behind you.

When getting up, make sure not to yank on the headrest of the seat in front of you. Consider getting up and down in your economy seat as a good core exercise.

Seat back

OK, now you’re in your seat and it’s time to sleep or kick back and watch a movie.

The person in front of you might be doing just the same thing. Just as you lean forward to grab something, Wham! You take a flurry to the cortex and spend the rest of the flight recovering from the “aggressive seat recliner” in front of you.

Once again, when reclining your seat, slow and gradual is best.

Middle seat

Like being a middle child, the middle seat kinda sucks. You don’t get the view of the window or the ease of exit from the aisle.  As such, throw the person in the middle seat a bone. It is common courtesy to provide them with full access to the two armrests.

Talking

This is a tough one, as everyone is different and sometimes in just different moods.  Generally people who tend to travel a lot for work see their flight time as down time to read, sleep or watch a movie.  Take a moment to make eye contact and say hello.  Then use your best judgement as to whether to carry on a conversation.  If you are getting a lot of single word answers or the person is not reciprocating the questions you are asking them, it’s a good sign that they want to be left alone.

Departure

One of my biggest pet peeves is someone who gets up as soon as the seat-belt lights are turned off and starts trying to walk to the front of the plane.  Unfortunately, despite how your mom made you feel as a child, you are not the centre of the universe.

Everyone has to get off the plane, so do your part and stay in your row until it’s your turn.  Feel free to stand up if you need to.  If being one of the first people off of the plane is so important to you, spend the extra money next time and fly business class.

Note: When you have finally reach the inside of the terminal from the ramp, please don’t stop to look around in amazement or try to figure out where the baggage pickup is.  I’ll guarantee you that wherever you have to go, it’s going to be at least 10-15 metres further than the ramp exit.


I hope everyone sitting in front, behind or next to me reads this the next time the randomly decide to travel on the same flight as me.

What It Takes

For those aspiring business students that are finishing school soon and about to land their first job… Congratulations! Welcome to the workforce.

School has prepared you to start your career with enough knowledge to get through a week and understand and apply the basics. Here is some advice as you enter the corporate jungle:

(Note: this article is especially useful for those finance students who are going to work for a bank or brokerage firm)

Prove Yourself

All too often I see young people who can’t seem to advance in their early careers, while a few of their peers do.

Your attitude at work should be “I need to prove myself first. I need to show my employer why I am so valuable to the business and giving me opportunities will benefit the business.”

Evenings and Weekends

Successful business people aren’t told or asked to work evenings and weekends. They just do.

It doesn’t have to be all the time. But ask yourself, how many of my peers are working late into the evening or on a weekend? The answer is nearly none.

So why should you work the odd weekend or evening?

Because doing so gives you a serious one-up on your peers. You will be able to relate to the long hours your managers have had to make during their careers. You will get ahead on your work. And you’ll learn a lot (especially with no distractions).

1-2yrs is Nothing

After committing oneself to a few years of hard work you should be quickly advancing your career, right?

Maybe, but be patient.

Think of this. You took 12 years to get through grade school and then another 4 years to get your degree. One to two years of time spent in the workforce is nothing. Especially when you have just started.

From the perspective of your 40-50 year old manager, your 1-2 years of work is a useful but minor contribution to the overall business.

Be Inquisitive

Did you ever take a course in school that you found totally boring and as such, took little interest in the course, professor or material?  Don’t do this in business.

One of the most important things you should have attained coming out of university is the ability and importance of learning. Take interest in your work. Don’t just be an information regurgitator. Understand what you are working on and how it fits into the overall business. What may seem useless information today, may become important for you years later in your career.

Be Coachable

Your parents and the business school you paid thousands of dollars in tuition fees to have been telling you for years … Your smart. You have a bright future. The world is yours for the taking.

It’s probably all true. Just don’t forget to be willing to take direction.

Don’t be offended if your manager isn’t kind or tactful in their delivery. Not everyone has the nicest delivery. But listen to their message. You might learn something valuable.

Take Pride

You are now in the working world. School (for the time being at least) is behind you. Be proud of the achievements you’ve made and express it at work. Enthusiasm is a very strong quality and is infectious. You might not bring wisdom to the workplace, but your youthful demeanour and excitement to contribute will take your early career a long way.


Follow me on Twitter at andrewnjohns.