John Brown

Today is the first day of Winter Break, the time between the Fall and Spring Semesters. I have vivid memories of this time from my own college experience: At my alma mater, exams ended on about Dec. 23 and we returned to school the first weekday right after January 1st. The greatest part of this tight schedule was that we got out of school at the end of April and had a jump on summer jobs. The bad news was that there was little time to prepare for the holidays, do something adventurous, or unwind. It would take me three days after I got home just to quell the nagging feeling that I was supposed to be doing something and by the time I did silence that inner voice, it was time to prepare to go back to school.

Winter Break at UCF is a month. It is way too much time to spend all of it procrastinating, eating cookies and getting fat. So I’m seeking examples of interesting, productive things people do over Winter a Break. Things that build their professional portfolio or prepare them for a new challenge during the long holiday season.

My inspiration here is John Brown. Yes, that is his real name. I am outing him a bit, because he seems fearful that his fellow students will be horrified by the realization that he actually knows the Dean. That said, John is resilient. I’m sure he will get over me exposing this secret.

John, is what I would term a holiday opportunist (read risk-taker). He sees Winter Break as a season full of people with needs for unusual services that he can provide. Some time back, John began an exterior maintenance company in Denver. As an adrenalin junky, he managed to create a business repelling off the sides of glass sky scrapers in order to clean the windows. In Denver the window cleaning business shuts down in November (kinda of like us). So, what did he do with his off time? He took his unique repelling talent and did a job no one wants to do in the winter in Denver: hang Christmas lights off of slippery roofs. He turned his slow period into a boon. Another year, a friend came to John with a problem: His limousine company was seeing a dramatic decrease in business during the month of December. John saw the slowdown as an opportunity to create a special limousine service for families. He developed a Christmas lights tour of Orlando and Winter Park. You can now sit in the back of a plush limousine and enjoy all the lights while drinking hot chocolate, eating cookies and listening to Holiday music. Frankly, this is my version of hell, but by all accounts it’s been a big hit with many tours booked through the coming weeks. (Two Lessons: (1) it is not about your needs..it’s about theirs; (2) you can frequently repackage your assets, add a little twist and diversify your revenue streams.)

So, I wonder if my readers could give me some other examples of people like John Brown and how they are using this time of year to learn more about what they want to do after graduation, develop their business skills, or further their professional development in some way. I will also provide a few suggestions you could try over the break, let’s call them Winter Break Wednesdays…(eh, if you got a better title here, let me know).

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One thought on “John Brown

  1. I spend most of the winter break going around the country as a continuing education discussion leader for the AICPA. This provides me the opportunity to touch base with “real practitioners” and to learn from them what entry level skill set they expect accounting graduates to possess. From this information, I see what I can do to integrate the learning of these skills with the technical content of my spring classes. I find it extremely rewarding to be part of bringing the “real world” into my classroom!

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