Pythons’ Pit of Halton is fishing for your good idea. Rewards are being offered.

By Margaret Lindsay Holton

BURLINGTON, ON  October 26, 2012  Last Friday, a friend and I went in search of the mighty Chinook salmon that spawn in the upper reaches of Bronte Creek. After a solid trek through Bronte Provincial Park down to the creek edge we were quickly rewarded for our efforts. The shallows were teeming with mature salmon traveling up-stream towards Lowville to lay their eggs, and die. It was amazing to watch their progress, banging against rocks and shoals on route. Watching them engendered a kind of stupefying awe. It really was profound and time stopping in an ‘other-worldly’ kind of way.  These primordial wild creatures operate on life cycles independent of our clock-watching species. They respond, instead, to the Earth’s position to the Sun.

I came away from this primal wildlife experience with a new found sense of the precarious and demanding aspects of hunting and fishing. The demarcation between ‘novice’ and ‘professional’ became acute.  Fishing, when salmon are spawning, is not only irresponsible but stupid, as any pro will tell you. Yet novices and ‘weekend warriors’ were out in abundance on that balmy Friday – trolling, fly-casting and some were even baiting with mini-marshmallows. For these amateurs the thrill-of-the-catch far outweighed all other sensible considerations about the overall health of the species.

Well-dressed fly-fisherman ignores the breeding basics of a successful spawning season.  Picturesque: Yes. Responsible: No.

 In today’s business world, the ‘catch’ is certainly different, but the fundamental rules of a responsible and successful hunt remain the same. First off, one must know the habits and habitats of one’s prey, including breeding cycles. Once that is appreciated, the hunter must carefully prepare for the hunt. During the hunt itself, the hunter has to become a cagey and attentive ‘stalker’. If these elements are all performed successfully, yes, you will eventually ‘harvest’ your trophy.

In our day and age, high above the banks of Bronte Creek, these ancient rituals of successful hunting are now applied to ‘harvest’ money. It helps to have a ‘mentor’.

Nick Bontis, business professor at McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business, and one of the judges for Hamilton’s entrepreneurial mentoring Lion’s Lair, affirmed to CBC Hamilton – “The skills of entrepreneurship don’t come naturally.” To get in the door, and to catch the eye of the Big Gamer, one needs a viable ‘pitch’, or in hunting parlance, ‘good bait’. (… And we ain’t talking mini-marshmallows here …)

Donald Trump’s tried-and-true business mentoring program, ‘The Apprentice’, spawned similar mentoring programs, like CBC’s very popular Dragon’s Den.   These shows allow ‘unorthodox’ dreamers and schemers an opportunity to engage with those who have proven business acumen – as well as scads of investing capital. Novices can, will, and do learn a great deal from these Big Game hunters.

In Halton, the De Groote School of Business, the Royal Bank of Canada and the Rotary Clubs of Halton have recently set up a similar business mentoring forum, the Python Pit.  Python Pit judges are offering inventive entrepreneurs (aka dreamers and schemers) a chance too to get a piece of the pie.

What if you could turn your ideas into money?  Graphic  courtesy

With $150,000 up for grabs, these Big Gamers have formed two groups: an open division for adults, and a high school division for aspiring youth. The open division competitors will receive investment capital from the Pythons in return for an equity stake in their business or product idea. (Remember, predator and prey is what it’s all about … ) High school students will receive cash prizes and be eligible for scholarships.

Chinook salmon caught in Bronte Creek, 2012. ‘Novice’ hunter needs to know the basics. Better to leave the salmon in the Creek so it can lay eggs further up-stream to revitalize the species. Responsible hunting IS successful hunting.

Consider that old Chinese proverb, ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’  For budding entrepreneurs – “Don’t swim upstream, you’ll die there. Swim downstream, where awaits the ocean … ” Finally, here is some practical and sound advice from that all-round Big Gamer – Sir Richard Branson:

They are pythons – this is what they do.

Do you have what it takes to move from a ‘novice’ or ‘weekend warrior’ to a full-time ‘professional’? Aspiring entrepreneurs have until December 1st to submit their applications to the Python Pit.

Remember, the key is ‘fresh bait’.

In today’s terms, that means a GOOD IDEA.

Now, go get ‘em …

Margaret Lindsay Holton is both an environmentalist and a community activist.  She is an artist of some renown and the designer of a typeface.  She is also a photographer and the holder of opinions, which are her own, that she will share with you in an instant.   She appears as an Our Burlington columnist every two weeks. All photographs are by MLH unless otherwise indicated.


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