The Caribbean, John Lennon, And Adam Smith

Geoff Smith Portrait

BY Geoff Smith

POSTED ON JULY 2, 2013

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In the 1990’s, EllisDon made an ill-advised investment in St. Lucia. Today, that investment is an outstanding Villa Resort called Windjammer Landing (and you must immediately book your next vacation there). But in the mid nineties, it looked very much like it might be the death of us.

Of course, it was illogical for EllisDon to own a Caribbean resort, and for several years back then we spent a huge amount of effort trying to ‘divest’. For years, we entertained every type of advisor, agent, bottom fisher, freeloader, even one or two actual prospects, and obtained not one serious offer. It was not just a wholly unsuccessful distraction of senior management time and resources; it was also extremely disruptive to the operation of the resort and the morale of the hard working staff. Finally, around 2002 (and against continuing conventional advice to the contrary) I gave up that effort, took the resort off the market and faced the truth: We owned a resort, and unless we took a $50 million writedown, plus lawsuits, and severely damaged our reputation, we were going to continue to own a resort. So we got down to work on that reality.

By coincidence, at exactly that time, I tripped over John Lennon’s cautionary observation: ‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.’ And at pretty much the same moment, my wife Megan said “Do you realize we have celebrated every one of Adam’s birthdays at Windjammer?” (My then ten year old son, the slightly less famous Adam Smith, had been born during March Break week.)

So there it was: My life – on both the business and family fronts – had been happening to me while I was very busily making other plans.

I’m still making lots of plans (I love plans), and life is still happening to me, and to EllisDon. I also know the rationalists and focused thinkers would dismiss this blog as undisciplined soft-headedness.

But I bet even they don’t change the station when ‘Imagine’ comes on.

Thanks for reading.