I belong to a Vistage group of local CEOs who meet once a month to discuss issues that are important for our growing companies. We usually have a nationally-known speaker, followed by a rather intense discussion session where we deal with problems we are facing. However, every few months we do something different-- golfing in Park City, group dinner with our spouses, or something just plain fun.
Last Friday (March 15) we spent the morning discussing mergers and acquisitions, something that I did a fair amount of in a prior life. The discussion was intense and interesting, filled with war stories (both good and bad) and I think we all came away with some new perspectives on things like the importance of company culture, especially during a merger, when two competing cultures often clash. Company culture is important!
In the afternoon, we drove up to Coalville to go snowmobiling for a couple of hours. The place wasn't super easy to find, but we got there, and I have to say that these guys delivered a really good time for the money. The base was at about 7500 feet elevation, and things were pretty slushy and muddy that weekend, because it had been unseasonably warm for the last week. But they led us on a long tree-lined trail up to a wide-open meadow at about 9800 feet, where we could run the machines at full speed.
I hadn't been on a snowmobile in probably 30 years, but it was a great time. A snowmobile is a funny thing-- it goes in loose powder, packed snow, or anything in between, and even on mud, rocks or pavement (for short distances), but it doesn't always go exactly where you point it. The handlebars give the snowmobile suggestions for direction, not real commands, and where it actually goes depends on lots of other factors. On top of that, the trails through the trees winding up to the meadow featured hard-packed snow right under the trail, where lots of machines had passed, but the snow on either side was heavy and wet from the warm spring conditions, so if you started to get off the trail, it was easy to submerge a ski in snow that was the consistency of wet concrete, bringing you to an abrupt halt, where you had to get off and dig yourself out. So in the trees, you really wanted to pay close attention and stay right on the trails, while in the meadow, you could go pretty much anywhere you wanted.
Life is like that-- sometimes you are in a wide-open meadow and can do pretty much anything you want. Other times, you are in the trees, and it really pays to follow someone who knows the trail, and to stick to that trail as closely as you can. But for most of the fun aspects of life, you never want to go alone. Fun things are always better when shared.