Monthly Archive: April 2012

Florence Mary Eaton McEachren 1919-2012

There are many whose deaths signal the end of an era but none so much as Florence Mary McEachren (nee Eaton) who died this week. Florence was the last of the children of Sir John and Lady Eaton. Sir John was the merchant prince of Eaton’s, the son of Timothy, founder of that great institution. Sir John died in 1922, when Florence was just a toddler. Lady Eaton carried on as the family’s public face for almost 50 years before dying in 1970. Florence lived a life of privilege of the sort that no longer exists. Her mother adopted an...

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Why RIM went blooey (Part two)

Here’s the continuation of the dozen reasons why I think Research In Motion is in trouble: • Seven: Too few at the top. For most of the last ten years, upper management at RIM remained  little changed. I admire a lean machine but as the company grew from a bit player to a Goliath, more talent at the top would have been helpful … particularly in marketing. They hired an outsider but he didn’t last. Jim took over the job despite the fact that he already had plenty on his plate. • Eight: Too many outside interests. I greatly admire and...

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Why RIM went blooey (Part one)

In May 2010, I went to Washington, D.C. as part of the U.S. book launch and had lunch with two friends who live there. One of them arrived at the restaurant excitedly holding a new iPhone and she would not stop talking about it. Right then, I knew BlackBerry was in trouble. I’d read about the lineups at release dates, but this was my first encounter with a devotee. I thought to myself, I published that book about BlackBerry just in the nick of time. Since then, it’s been all down hill for Research In Motion (RIM). At the peak,...

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The loneliness of the short distance leader

The TV ads, paid for by the Conservative Party, attacking interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae are devastating. “He couldn’t run a province. He can’t run Canada” goes the tagline along with a voiceover about the deficit he created. The words are rough enough, but what really impales Rae is his own laughtrack, a “heh-heh-heh-heh” that sounds smug and uncaring. In the background is some music that reminds me of the Three Stooges. I like Bob Rae, but I don’t think he should run for Liberal leader. By the time the next election occurs, he will be 67. The country needs...

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The future ain’t what it used to be

I heard Anna Porter deliver a delightful talk last night at McMaster University about her career in Canadian publishing and the future of the book. Unfortunately, the past looks better than what’s coming next. Porter was a co-founder of Key Porter Books, one of Canada’s great houses. She sold her interest in 2004 and the company has since gone bust, as have several other former major players. An author of six books herself, most recently the award-winning The Ghosts of Europe, Porter is uniquely qualified to talk about publishing. Of all the publishers I’ve ever worked with, she was unique....

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Seven mysteries of life

1. Why whenever a plane crashes is there always so much earnest blather about finding the flight recorder when the resulting information won’t be available for months? 2. Why did Stephen Harper run for office, finally win a majority, and then show no particular vision of the country as a whole place in the recent budget? 3. Why are Canadians so introverted? Yesterday I came upon a lineup of maybe fifty people outside my local fish and chip store. I asked those at the head of the line, “What’s happening? Are they giving it away?” No one said anything. Not...

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