Wow! Has it been a full month already?
Mrs. Claus & I spent the bulk of February at the refugee camp in Africa. It has been very rewarding to work with the refugee children all month long. It was hard work... exhausting, really. We were up every morning 2 to 3 hours before sunrise so we could help prepare breakfast. Then it was off to the medical tents to help the doctors and nurses however we could through the morning hours. We returned to help serve lunch. In the afternoon, we ran sports & games camps for the kids after they finished their lessons. Late afternoons, we were part of the convoy that made trips into the nearest city (which I can not name here for security reasons) to pick up supplies. We returned in time to unload, grab a quick bite to eat, and head over to the gathering area to read to the children around the fires. The first night we read, we had maybe 10 kids. By the end of the month, there were 100s of children at our nightly reading of children's books. You could see them escape this horrible, depressing camp in their minds as we read. They sank deep into the stories while everything around them faded away. It was the highlight of each day for us.
We did take some time for a safari. It was incredible. We spent three nights in a remote lodge and one night in tents... even deeper in the African interior. The day/night we were in the tents, we were awakened by giraffes wandering through camp. We took jeeps out after breakfast each day for a couple of hours. We then returned for long lunches and a quick naps before heading out again in time to reach our destinations just before dusk. We saw a wide range of amazing animals including lions & elephants. It was truly amazing. Each night we returned back to the lodge (or camp) and enjoyed fantastic gourmet meals featuring local specialities and African wines. We were with four other couples that we did not know before (at least, they didn't know us.... we, of course, knew their entire "naughty/nice" history)... two from the UK, one from Korea, and one from the US. We got along splendidly and found ourselves up to the wee hours each night, laughing and sharing stories by the fire pit. We certainly made some good friends on that trip. You can imagine how surprised they were when we finally admitted who we actually were on the last night! I don't think they believed us until we invited them to the North Pole for next year's Christmas Party. Actually, a couple of them are still skeptical... but that will make it that much more fun when I show up with the reindeer & sled to pick them for the party.
I did take time early in February to go back to the North Pole for the staff meeting. We only hold it on a monthly cadence during the "off-season" so it's a full day meeting. Even though I'm not necessarily engaged in the day-to-day January-October, the organization is very busy with preparations. The biggest topic of the day was a proposal by Jangle, our Chief Financial Officer, to seek a partner for "best-shoring" some of our manufacturing activities. The concern is that the combination of worldwide population growth with a steady year-over-year increase of the "nice list" percentage will drive our costs beyond our means. At the current rate, we could end up losing money by 2011 and completely going bankrupt by 2017. Labor rates are one of the few critical levers we have to control costs. As such, we ended up tasking Candy with developing & presenting back proposals & options by the mid-April meeting. She will consider a variety of scenarios outsourcing & moving specific activites to "best shore" locations. Those scenarios will range from targeting only "new or incremental growth" to targeting specific activities (such as the manufacturing of common parts & materials) to targeting full functions (such as warehousing & distribution). One thing is clear, we do need to take action to stay fiscally afloat for generations to come.
Well... I hope you have a great month of March! Be nice!
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Wow! Has it been a full month already?