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August 20, 2005

How can anyone know the future, or completely understand
where they are currently standing? I don’t think you can. However,
where you are and where you are going are up for interpretation, so you
might as well think of them in the best possible light. Jackson Kayak,
and the Jackson family role in it is just like that. Where we are is in
a great place, where we are going is equally good. Why is where we are
going not a better place? Because, when you decide that you aren’t
happy with where you are, you don’t enjoy the life you currently
have, but instead, always chase tomorrow, which never comes. So, I have
decided to look at life, my business, my family, and myself, like this:

Things couldn’t possibly be any better than they
are right now. I am the luckiest guy in the world, my business is as good
as they get, etc., etc. So, where is my motivation to improve or change?
I get bored quickly, I need a challenge and change to stay happy and feel
like I have a purpose in life. So my goal is not to improve my life, per
se’, but to make changes that require personal improvement, that
improve other’s lives, and that allow me to be more effective in
helping others. Those changes include, making a better relationship with
my family, making Jackson Kayak more profitable and larger overall so
more kayakers, and our dealers can benefit from our company’s policies
and product. To create more and improve upon our current products so that
Jackson Kayak can affect as much positive change in the world of whitewater
kayaking as we are capable of.

This slight variation in attitude from, “If only
I was in this position I would be happier.”


“I am completely happy today, but I see
opportunity to improve my delivery of efforts to others, which will make
me equally happy tomorrow, but proud of something new I have accomplished.”

Seems to make me stop and smell the roses more and
understand just how many people forget to enjoy what they have, and appreciate
how lucky they are. Certainly, I like to think I am the luckiest man alive,
not since I became a world champion, started my own company, married Kristine,
had Emily and Dane, but since I started thinking that I am the luckiest
man alive, because I am me, period. What B.S. that must sound like to
anyone who really thinks that I am luckier than they. It is easy to think
you are lucky when you have a life like mine many would say. However,
I am lucky and have a great life, only because I have decided that a great
life is what I want. For me, happiness is great, and happiness only comes
from deciding right now that life is great, and then assuring that you
always have a reason to feel that way. I don’t think anyone can
feel happy that gains any advantage from putting someone else down or
by cheating in any way. It took me years to learn that lesson.

I had specific goals for Jackson Kayak in 2005 that,
if I achieved them, would have afforded me enough cash to build my dream
house (down payment and mortgage payment) on my property. Because of production
issues in the spring, I will fall short of my goal of 5,000 boats and
do about 4,000 boats. This shortfall means no cash, no salary gains, etc.
All of this effort for naught? Of course not. We have a great staff, that
are doing great things, the 4,000 boats we did sell are in good hands
of happy customers. Our business is a great business, perhaps missing
the pie in the sky second year goal, but still blowing away any whitewater
companies second year sales by quite a margin. What about my dream house?
It will either have to wait, or I will have to secure money from somewhere
else, like sponsors, or perhaps reduce the up front costs of the house,
etc. Can I do that? Certainly worth a try, but I won’t sink my ship

I am just coming off the couch from my injury. My undefeated
season is finally up for grabs in one week. I am competing at the Black
in Watertown, then the Ottawa. I am untrained, not in good shape, and
facing the world’s best paddlers who are quite ready to finally
beat me this year. Will I be able to win? Hard to say. I am not as quick,
nor have I done a single freestyle move in over 5 weeks. I will use my
experience and see if perhaps my competitors will still feel like I have
some magic in me that gets me to that next round each time to paddle my
way into first place again. If I don’t I am not particularly worried
about it. I have the best season of my life behind me already, regardless.

I have been quiet about my new slalom boat, because
the first two prototypes haven’t been up to snuff. However, the
final plug is being finished now, polished up to 800 grit (will look like
glass!). This final boat is unbelievable. I am quite excited about slalom
racing and training again. It won’t be a daily activity, but I will
teach my kids how to race through gates, and train myself in the process.
I needed a really good boat of my own design, that paddles like I want
to paddle in order to get super excited. I finally have that. It has been
10 years since David Knight and I designed a slalom boat together. I will
put up photos, etc. in about one month. Larry Parzynski is making the
mold and boats for me. He is making me a 19 layer mold, one layer at a
time (19 days), sanding each layer, adding foam core, etc. to make the
best slalom mold on the market for vacuum bagging, glass smooth, picture
perfect boats, I can’t wait!

Both of my kids helped with Jessie’s camp. They
are unbelievable kids. Mature, caring, intelligent, and educated. They
are fun to watch teach. Dane was so excited after yesterday. He said to
me, “Dad, I had my first real full on student! I did my first T-rescue,
taught him to roll…” He was talking about Matthew. His eyes
were all lit up as he described his day. I didn’t occur to me until
that moment that all of his teaching was as an assistant to me to that
point. Neither of my kids complain about me putting them to work. They
enjoy it, and accept it as a part of being a Jackson, it is one of the
things we do. I couldn’t ask for more from them.

Today is New York City day! We are at Jessie’s
house in Purchase, NY and heading to the city for a day of Broadway, eating,
site seeing, etc.. We leave in 10 minutes, so I am signing off.

Have a great day today and everyday!

See you on the river!

🙂 EJ