Old NBTelers keep popping up everywhere

I have in the past lamented what happened to NBTel. Not what happened in a pragmatic sense. The telco sector was consolidating all over North America and NBTel was bound to be swallowed up in some Bell-icious moment.

No, that’s not what I lamented. I was saddened to watch NBTel and its little kitty of keen idea -logues slowly get ground up in the hamburger of a national telco.

I am sure there’s a lesson in there about being a small province in a large country – but I’ll skip that for now.

The upside of NBTel giving up the ghost – so to speak – is that all these old phantoms keep coming out of the woodwork and doing neat things. Gerry Pond has been involved in a number of interesting ventures. Names like Marcel Lebrun and Curtis Howe keep popping up. The venerable Larry Shaw just popped up as the VP sales for an Irish e-Learning company. Larry, of course, is based in New Brunswick. Then there is Ian Cavanaugh over at Ambir Solutions. Ian followed the call of the wild back in the mid 1990s and went to California during the dot.com gold rush. Like Lassie of old, however; Ian found his way back and now is planted in New Brunswick spinning out IT shtick like the rest.

I have mulled this over a lot to try and figure out what keeps these guys/gals here and what brings them back. After all, isn’t New Brunswick the cruddy little place everyone wants to leave?

Apparently, not everyone. Take it from me. Most of these guys/gals would have made a lot more dough elsewhere but they made a conscious choice to stay in New Brunswick – particularly Saint John. You’ll find them behind a number of new intiatives and companies in the port city.

Ultimately, the work-live-family balance is a complex dynamic. But the balance for a lot of folks in New Brunswick – even highly talented folks – can be found right here. Sure, family connections matter. Roots put down in a community matter. But at the end of the day, there must be something here beyond the lobster and maple syrup that is attractive.

I have travelled a lot in my career – relatively speaking – and have studied a lot of other community. Great places. Places like Phoenix (although I wasn’t there in 45 degree heat), Charlottesville, VA, Raleigh, NC, Atlanta Georgia, San Antonio, TX, San Francisco, Calgary, AB, Dublin, Ireland, Sao Paulo, Brazil, London, England, Paris, France – and my #1 place in the love to visit/not live category – New York City – I get tingles just thinking about it.

But when I crunch the numbers – all the numbers – Moncton – freaky stuff – is a pretty neat place to live. I walk to work from my downtown house which would cost a fortune in a big city. People talk about crime here – but really – let’s try and be serious. Winter? My wife hates it but I kind of like it (just a bit too long for my taste). And the people? I am not exactly Mr. Social but when I do bump up against others in the market, they say “excuse me” and you are likely to get some help when your tire goes flat. And, of course, there’s the whole Reader’s Digest’ example of Moncton being the most honest city in Canada.

And when I get a little cabin fever, I jump in the plane and find myself in a big city somewhere enjoying immensely the food and flavour of that environment but I always find my way back here and never once – not one single time – have I wished for a moment that I had stayed in any of those remarkable places.

So maybe I belong to that exNBTelers club – in a spiritual sense.

Actually, in the interest of full disclosure – I worked for NBTel once – I made it 11 months before getting summarily fired. I probably shouldn’t have lasted that long – I don’t seem to function that well in large bureaucratic environments.

Never mind all that. Getting fired is a humiliating but also liberating thing. I suggest you try it sometime.

Anyway, maybe all the professionals who could have easily left NB for ‘greener’ pastures are all exNBTelers.

All we need is our own song. Maybe an adapted version of Al Jolson’s “California, Here I Come!” from my 1920s collection.

I don’t know. That’s the thing about exNBTelers. Good lot but not much on the creative side.