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Regional Business News
regarding the 2010 Olympics
in British Columbia, Canada

OlyBLOG is for businesses across Canada, especially in Vancouver / Whistler and throughout B.C. We also hope companies in Alberta and United States (i.e. Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and California) will find OlyBLOG interesting and informative.

  Leverage Olympic Momentum




Turin Facts
December 2005
2 months before the Games on Feb. 10, 2006

Total cost so far - $15 BILLION USD

Tickets Sales - Low - only half sold. Most tickets sold to foreigners - According to Alberto Tomba, Italians are indifferent, but the skiing legend said that will change come February. (I always thought Italians were extraordinarily passionate people.)

Catchphrase given by media -- Stealth Games

Budget cuts have decimated the marketing campaign needed to tell the world about the Games, which has resulted in the "Stealth" tag.

Level of awareness and interest in Italy - Low

Italy is regarded as a prime terrorist target due to its support of American policy regarding the Iraq war.

2,500 athletes, 10,000 journalists and 1 million spectators are expected to attend the Games

The Italian government is also gearing up to deal with anarchists and anti-globalization protesters (mostly professional protesters). Police are already arresting demonstrators in Turin. Italians who support the protesters are urging them through websites to curtail demonstrations until spectators arrive in February.

Italy has vowed to NOT suspend its drug laws regarding athletes using drugs. Athletes found guilty of doping in Italy are subject to criminal charges and mandatory jail time. The IOC is furious and accuses Italy of reneging on its promise to suspend enforcement of their drug laws.

Turin is still under heavy construction with cranes prevalent in almost every part of the city. Small businesses and residents constantly complain of noisy, dusty construction sites. Large companies say it is not a problem.

I say, Se dovete pagare esso, non dovreste avvantaggiarsi anche? If you have to pay for it, shouldn't you benefit too?

Read more from
MSNBC Newsweek here . . .

Carole Tyra Taylor Banks Lewinski

One day after this article was posted on OlyBLOG, VANOC announced that they would be looking to Ottawa for more financial help regarding Olympic overruns. This new information underscores even more clearly how important B.C.'s relationship is with ALL of Canada.

It is also important to note that two weeks previous John Furlong, CEO VANOC gave his annual report at a Board of Trade luncheon stating that VANOC was in control of costs and that we had nothing to be concerned about.

The perennial question is, "If small and midsize businesses and taxpayers have to pay for it, shouldn't we benefit too?"

Carole Tyra Taylor Banks, B.C.'s Top Model & Minister of Finance, in an article in the Vancouver Sun December 3, 2005 said that central Canada powerbrokers don't have a clue how powerful B.C. has grown. Apparently Carole feels we can forge ahead independent of the rest of Canada as long as we have B.C.'s newly embraced cash-rich friend Alberta at our side.

Taylor said the "west is going its own way." WOW! Does this mean we will not be looking to central Canada to help us cover Olympic overrun costs? Is she indicating we will NOT need to look to the Feds for help because we are doing so well in this province economically that we can go it alone? Can we keep Olympic wealth all to ourselves too? Maybe we should give Olympic sponsorship money back to central Canadian companies RBC, HBC and Bell.

Is it possible Taylor is feeling a little guilty about being a Torontonian and consequently overcompensating to show us that she is down with the B.C. hood, or is it just plain old Gordonesque boosterism run amok?

If it's Torontonianeuritis I can understand because westcoasters can put some awful pressure on a transplant to fit in and slow down, but if it's boosterism, well there is no excuse. That's just downright unethical.

The next time you see or hear a politician or the media extolling the new-found strength of our province look closely to see if they quote gross numbers to indicate how powerful we really are. Using percentages to demonstrate growth is statistically manipulative. If you want a better idea of where we really stand on the big stage compare the gross product values between provinces. Growing 10% of $100 is not like growing 5% of $1,000. Percentage growth means nothing, especially in the short term. Check out the following numbers to get a real view from 40,000 feet . . . (in case you're still trying to do the math - 10% of 100 is $10 and 5% of 1,000 is $50)

Real Gross Domestic Product,
expenditure-based, by province & territory

2004 figures from StatsCan
(in millions of dollars)

Newfoundland and Labrador 15,248
Prince Edward Island 3,365
Nova Scotia 25,271
New Brunswick 20,867
Quebec 234,445
Ontario 470,026
Manitoba 35,136
Saskatchewan 33,168
Alberta 135,837
British Columbia 139,205
Yukon Territory 1,206
Northwest Territories 3,838
Nunavut 862

Taylor draws on her vast experience of living in Toronto in an effort to educate westerners that we are becoming an island unto ourselves, except of course for the support of our good neighbors the wealthy Albertans -- although I'm not sure if anyone has told the Albertans about Taylor's brothers-in-arms manifesto.

I hate to refer to the "R" word, but some people in Vancouver, and I'm not naming names, consider Albertans to be, well, you know . . . rednecks. I'm curious as to exactly when Vancouverites started to so warmly embrace our cow-punching neighbors? I'm a Vancouvian (not born and bred here) and I'm glad it's finally happening, but it's a bit weird to go to the Cloverdale Rodeo and listen to rodeo announcers bash Vancouverites for bashing the rodeo, and then the next day read in the local papers that Vancouver thinks the rodeo should be sent back to Alberta. Tell me Carole, are we down with the Calgary Stampede, or up with it? I'm all confused. Jiggy? Not Jiggy? fo'shizzle redizzle dog . . .

Maybe Vancouverites started to warm up to Alberta when B.C. politicians started to realize they are over their heads in the struggle to manage Olympic costs. Pardon me Carole, but Albertans aren't going to support us as much as they are going to bail us out when we start to drown in Olympic debt, and bailing out comes with a price tag. Taylor tells us that she is worried about Central Canada's envy of Alberta's wealth -- as if Alberta needs a protector. If you read OlyBLOG regularly you know that I welcome Albertans to the Olympic trough, but I also think that the invitation should be open to all of Canada, and yes even to our neighbors to the south, especially considering that the Olympics is now primarily a US entity. Don't listen to Jacques Rogge when he tells you the Games are an international enterprise. Americans control the field through television broadcast rights. NBC has a very serious stake in 2010 and so does the USOC. It's why they time-shift Olympic sport events to reach continental U.S. viewers. They control the Olympics the same way they control softwood lumber tariffs - through brute force. You don't go head to head against someone ten times your size. You learn to work with them.

A favorite story I often relate is of the quest for a large gold nugget. It sits glistening on a podium in the middle of a small room. There are eleven doors in the room. One door leads to Canada and the other ten to the United States. A per capita proportionate amount of Canadians and Americans are milling around in the room - in other words 1 Canadian and 10 Americans. At the sound of the starter's pistol the goal is to grab the gold nugget and take it back to your country. It's not hard to envision that if the Canadian expects to win he or she will not only need fast reflexes, but also strong negotiating skills in an effort to convince a sizable portion of the Americans that he or she should keep the nugget. Grabbing the nugget is one thing, getting it through the door is another.

I've said it in other articles and I'm going to repeat it because it is important. B.C. politicians are notorious for blanket-blaming central Canada for ignoring the west when in fact the problem is the poor negotiating and lobbying skills of B.C. politicians. Plus ... Ottawa is not central Canada. The average citizen in Ontario is just as frustrated with Ottawa as everyone else is in this country. If Carol Taylor wants to pick a fight with all of Ontario she should continue to direct her comments at central Canada, but if she really means Ottawa then she better learn to differentiate. Of course though it's hard to criticize Ottawa when you are genetically connected through Liberal DNA to Ottawa.

To get back to ineffective politicians, Ottawa doesn't ignore any province that puts a strong agenda forward. The reality is that unless we back it up with money our laid back west coast demeanor and dropping hints won't work in Ottawa. Sometimes you have to jerk the chain. East coast politicians and their oil issue proved it when they got Ottawa to sit up and take notice. Western politicians and their supportive media would like us regular folk to believe that politicians in B.C. are doing their jobs, but those of us paying attention know better. Hell, Senator Larry admitted he's no politician, but there he is, proud as punch politicking in Ottawa with a grin on his face like Sylvester the cat.

Except for our completely out-of-control drug issue, when was the last time you heard an average Canadian criticize or speak poorly of a Vancouverite? I'll tell you when. Never. Like Taylor, I too spent the bulk of my career in Toronto, plus I traveled extensively for almost twenty years on business all over Canada and the world, and I can assure you, the only people I have ever heard denigrate B.C. are B.C. politicians who falsely claim the rest of the country is speaking badly of or ignoring us. It doesn't happen on the street in any Canadian city I know. The rest of Canada loves and respects B.C., Ontario included. It's not average people in Canadian provinces you have to worry about, it's ineffective politicians close to home you should watch. Maybe if local media and politicians quit taking cheap shots at Winnipeggers, Newfoundlanders or Torontonians they wouldn't feel so obligated to keep regionalism alive. Guilt breeds contempt.

Too many Vancouverites have self esteem and identity crisis issues. Get over it. Local politicians are playing on your have-not sensitivity. Canada loves you. Quit looking in the mirror and constantly feeling you have to compare yourself to everyone else in order to justify your worth. You're cool. Quit listening to manipulative politicians.

We have to start thinking more like Canadians and less like Americans and elect politicians based on their brains and not how good they look or their PR potential. We need politicians who are capable of negotiating and lobbying in the grown up world. Carole Taylor certainly is something to look at and it seems she has the intellect, but if she really feels that central Canada isn't aware of how powerful we've supposedly grown maybe instead of "whining" about it she should call on a few of her Toronto buddies and fill them in. After all, that is part of her job -- isn't it? Apparently not, because instead of pulling us together her plan is to drive us apart. It reminds me of every teenager that thinks they are smarter than their parents. Give a young person a little confidence and they think they can rule the world alone. Yikes.

It pains me to write the following because you know what I think about the Vancouver Sun, but if you want to get a more accurate idea of what is really transpiring in B.C. and on the Olympic economic front pay close attention to what people like Daphne Bramham from the Sun have to say. Bramham recently reported what I've been warning you about for almost two years. Olympic overrun costs will spiral out of control and taxpayers and SMBs will pick up the tab. Thankfully some members of mainstream media are finally starting to catch on. Unfortunately though Bramham's perspective is often buried in the nether regions of editorial-like limbo.

On Saturday, December 3rd, 2005 the Vancouver Sun ran two articles, one featured Carole Taylor and her whining diatribe about central Canada ignoring us, and the other by Bramham warning us that VANOC needs to be more transparent regarding Olympic costs. My suggestion to the Sun is that considering the Olympic overrun issue is so important to B.C. businesses and taxpayers, plus considering that 98% of business in B.C. is small or midsize, instead of placing articles like Taylor's on the coveted third page of the 1st section why don't you place articles like Bramham's front and center? That's the kind of real information we can use to make informed decisions about our future. Rants from beauty pageant politicians are misleading. The information is about as useful as those out-of-fashion long nails and the hot red lipstick Taylor sports. Get with today's program - fo'shizzle

This is not the time to drive a wedge between B.C. and the rest of Canada. In less than four years we will need more federal money than we can imagine. We should be playing Ottawa, not giving them a reason to ignore us in our ramp up to Olympic overrun need. If anything, Taylor should be pulling a Lewinski and cozying up to Ottawa, not pushing a Duceppe.


The Vancouver Sun on November 3, 2005 ran a feature on the front page of their BusinessBC section listing Olympic opportunities available to small and midsize businesses. BIG headlines screamed / implied that local SMBs are going to strike it rich as a result of $4 billion in opportunities. As usual you only got half the story.

You're probably thinking, "I didn't see that article." Well, you probably did, but after scanning down the list you discovered that there was nothing there for you or your company so you dismissed it. The list of products and services needed by Olympic organizations is in fact quite short compared to the number of different companies in the region. After all, how many of you supply event products or services like fencing or porto-potties? When most people see the list below they get about half way down and lose interest, especially when they get to that old chestnut about the knitting company that won a long-shot contract at a previous Games. How many of you have knitting companies -- raise your needles?

The reality is that there are not as many opportunities as Olympic organizations led you to believe during the Bid. And ironically, even when there are opportunities, contrary to the Sun story, they quite often go to out-of-region companies. I'm sure it was very frustrating for local companies to read that IT contracts are being awarded to a technology company in France (Atos Origin) and that Atos will import all their key management players from Paris and only utilize locals as "volunteers." Maybe the finance minister would like to explain this to the local IT industry. Apparently we're not as good as we thought we were and not capable of providing this type of expertise locally. TechVibe members can feel free to jump in and offer their take on the situation at any time, but please spare me the "it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to volunteer for the Games." That's the sucker's response when you consider that official Olympic sponsors are going to make a killing at your expense. If you have to pay for it through higher taxes and a higher cost of doing business in the region shouldn't you benefit too?

Here's the list of opportunities reported in the Sun;

Barricades, carpeting, cleaning and waste removal, drug testing, electrical appliances, flags and banners, furniture, housekeeping, laundry services, materials handling, portable buildings, portable kitchens, security, sports equipment, temporary seating, temporary toilets, tents ticketing and transportation.

The article failed to tell readers that many of these products and services will be provided as value in kind, which means that many of them will be supplied for free by sponsors. And if they are not provided as value in kind you can bet that the government will be negotiating some pretty frugal agreements. You probably forgot that when you deal with the Olympics you are really dealing with not one, not two, but three levels of government. When you toss in the IOC and VANOC it's literally a five ring circus and you're the organ grinder's monkey.

Here's my list . . .

Olympic organizations spend millions of dollars training people. They need professional trainers, supplies, video production services, duplication services and experts to create training curriculum.

They have to train customer service reps, sports and recreation people, art and broadcasting professionals, and building and trades people. Training includes orientation relative to the Olympic organization (cult training), familiarity with facilities, security, transportation, public relations and specific job training for the tens of thousands of positions.

They also need expert human relations services to interview, hire, pay and manage the trainers.

Trainers come from all walks of life and must devote many months to the process, sometimes years. People with previous training experience are usually hired as supervisors or to train the trainers.

Trainers often come from corporate training departments, or from associations with high degrees of professional organization like the fire department or charity organizations.

Two sectors of workers have to be trained independently - volunteers and paid workers. Everyone has to be trained including cleaners, security, transportation, food service, and also engineering, logistics, operations and medical professionals including doctors.

The bulk of expenditures outside of facility construction is devoted to the cost of managing human resources. If you know how to manage people you will be of tremendous value to Olympic organizations. It is by far their greatest challenge and easily the best place for local entrepreneurs to profitably leverage Olympic momentum. If you are interested in profiting don't be too focused on providing dry goods, because many products are supplied by sponsors as value in kind. Think instead of how you can bring value to the traffic in human trade.

Also, don't be surprised if you approach Olympic organizations to sell them a widget and they instead contract you to manage human relations because your company has experience with minimum wage temporary workers and high churn rates. Olympic organizations often manage human resources so poorly that they have to interview three or four times the number of positions to be filled because workers quit in frustration at alarming rates. In other words, if they need 25,000 volunteers they must find and interview 75,000 people in order to meet the mandate.

Why would you want to give them a widget
when you can sell them a solution?

Here's something else you should know;

Olympic organizations want SMBs in the region to register on their master database for these and other opportunities. However, if you do be careful that you are not inadvertently limiting your access to opportunities through alternative avenues. Olympic organizations are control freaks. There is no hard and fast rule because each RFP is designed independently, but when you sign up to play on their team they often demand that you offer your services to them exclusively. Sometime, just submitting info regarding a RFP seals your commitment. You should also be aware that in almost all cases the companies that win the contract resist using the official master database and opt to manage their own because among other things their own database is way more efficient than anything Olympic organizations manage.

Once you get tied up on the official master list you might be prevented from dealing independently with the company that won the Olympic contract. It is a possibility that you will not be able to subcontract your services to the winner of the contract at a higher rate than what you originally offered. In other words, you will be locked in to your original bid - even though you lost the RFP. Keep in mind too the company that won the contract will likely be your competitor, so think about the position this could put you in after the Games leave town. Your competitor will literally increase their visibility in the community and grow their business on your back. Double whammy. It's bad enough working for your competitor, but doing so at a loss is even worse.

Quite often Olympic organizations go into panic mode when they cannot meet their deadlines. When they do they look for alternative suppliers, and they quite often pay premium prices because their backs are against the wall. If you jump in too soon you could effectively limit your opportunity down the road when it could actually be profitable. So be careful and think twice if they demand that you to sign any type of agreement that limits your freedom to compete in other markets at different rates, or if they insist that you sign confidentiality agreements for no apparent reason. Agreements like this are put in place solely to wield control over you. It has nothing to do with protecting their commercial secrets. If you get in bed with them too soon and without thinking you could pay dearly for it down the road.

Don't fall for the 4 billion dollar bait and switch promoted by media. Never let your short term greed get in the way of your long term greed and real profitability. If RBC makes a profit off the Games while your taxes and cost of doing business goes up shouldn't you profit too?

It's great that information about Olympic opportunities is made available through mainstream media, but it is not so great when the information is prepared exclusively by corporate sponsors who are influenced by shareholders. Did you know that in many Olympic regions the conventions regulating RFPs are written by the sponsors who also award them? It is clearly a conflict of interest that is not tolerated in other business environments. RBC, Rona, HBC, GM and all the other 2010 sponsors have no business writing RFP regulations and then deciding who wins them. If they do it is an unfair process, especially when you consider that they are competing against you by offering products and services as value in kind.

Mainstream media have an obligation to tell both sides of the story and they clearly are not doing so. Instead they are taking Olympic organizations and sponsors like RBC at their word. Local journalists have a responsibility to give us all the information so we can make informed decisions.

All is not lost though. If you want to leverage Olympic momentum and get in the game there are opportunities, but as you are slowly starting to realize, they probably won't present themselves in the manner you at first thought. Click here for info about profitable opportunities . . .

On a side note; on November 10, 2005 I attended a seminar at the downtown SFU campus. It was entitled Making Media, Creating the Conditions for Communication in the Public Good with guest speaker Marc Raboy professor of ethics and media at McGill.

At the end of his presentation one of the questions from the audience was prefaced with a statement that the Vancouver Sun has a reputation for being the worst newspaper in Canada. All heads including mine turned to see who made this bold cutting remark.

The theatre was three quarters full and included many journalists and media professionals, some I presume from the Sun. In subsequent questions and statements over the next forty or so minutes not one person in the audience defended the paper.

I had no idea the Sun had attracted national criticism. All this time I thought it was just me.

* We invested two years and a six-figure budget researching Olympic organization relationships with sponsors, contractors, suppliers, partners, etc. The results surprised us too -- mouseover below

  Leverage Olympic Momentum

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Olympic organizations are
BIG BUSINESS MACHINES that attract corporations like CocaCola, McDonald's, Wal*Mart, etc. Consequently, VANOC (Vancouver Organizing Committee) will be stretched thin trying to also develop ways to assist small and midsize businesses leverage Olympic momentum. Surprisingly, many people don't realize the event can also be lucrative for smaller businesses including agriculture, manufacturers, entertainment, technology, retail & obviously tourism, even when they don't have products or services that appeal to Olympic fans or serve a direct Olympic need.

The information we share here is invaluable in helping small and midsize businesses leverage Olympic momentum.

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