Extra Points: Calamity Doesn’t Call

This past week, Southern California and Nevada were rocked by two earthquakes. If you were watching the news, you saw plenty of video footage of people at home, at work, and recreating when the last quake on Saturday night hit. Having been a part of several earthquakes in my life, I know that sinking feeling when you realize the world you are standing on is no longer stable. The duration seems like forever; and in fact the last one did last 30 seconds, which must have felt like an eternity!
These incidents serve as reminders for all of us, whether we experienced it or not. Yes, if you live in an earthquake zone (especially on the West Coast), then you are likely reading news reminding you about readiness and safety. However this quake should serve a reminder to business owners that their employees must be prepared for ANY calamity because calamities don’t send a calling card ahead of them. They just show up unexpectedly.
Your business – whether you are CEO or employee – must be prepared to respond quickly to any calamity. Each one has different response requirements for safety and business continuity. In earthquakes, safety means getting under tables because falling objects are the biggest concern. Get away from windows, even if you’re outside. From an operations standpoint, the building and contents might be fins, but what about the infrastructure, communications, and transportation?
Here’s the deal: It’s never the wrong time to prepare your employees, co-workers, and family to respond to calamity. Safety is job one, continuation of business is second. My analogy is if no one knows how to use a fire extinguisher, that resource is useless. There are plenty of perils to be concerned of: earthquake, fire, water, wind, and weather. You might have to evacuate or shelter in place. How confident are you in your team? How do you know?
Here’s your assignment for this week: Pick one peril to prepare your team for and do it. Then update your business continuity plan. If you don’t have one, then call me because that plan is a necessity to run a business.
Calamity never sends a calling card, but is always expected to come when you least expect it. Why not be ready for it?
Quote of the Day:
“The return we reap from generous actions is not always evident.”
~ Francesco Guicciardini
© 2019 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Unleashed is the registered trademark of Toro Consulting, Inc.

Extra Points: The Cost of Waiting

Dan_Weedin_022I enjoy cooking. While weekends seem to allow me more time to try new recipe ideas, the weekdays can also be a good relief from the work day. Barb and I try to share the duties, although I often need reminding (which won’t shock many of you who know me well). When it’s my turn, I have great intentions of starting the process early by taking out anything that’s frozen and making sure that I have all the accompaniments ready to go.
Then the day gets started, and I decide to wait and do it when I take a break. I’m reminded about 4 pm when Barb says, “So, what’s for dinner?” I have a definite cost of waiting (or cost of not doing anything). It usually entails loss of my time and money in running to the store to buy something I can quickly put together! The meal is never as good and keeping up my part of the bargain is diminished.
We all are guilty at times of waiting on things we know are important. We are waiting for some extra time, the right time, or we aren’t sure if we even want to do it. Whenever you do a cost benefit analysis on your decision-making for moving forward, ask yourself this question, “What’s the cost of waiting – or the cost of doing nothing?”
Let me share with you three examples from my business and industry:
The cost of not creating a business continuity and disaster recovery plan is that a crisis happens and you lose hundreds of thousands of dollars to your profitability and company value.
The cost of delaying purchasing life and disability insurance is that you suddenly can no longer work – due to death or disability – and the people who are most counting on your income no longer have it available.
The cost of not developing leaders in your company through strategic planning and training turns into decreased employee morale and increased turnover, damaging your brand and company value.
Here’s the deal: We are all very busy and often don’t intentionally procrastinate. If you make asking yourself the question I posed above a part of all your decision-making, the cost benefit analysis will determine it’s priority.
Here’s your assignment for this week: What have you been putting off until “the right time” that would have a terrible consequence due to the delay? We all have one. Identify and fix it this week and you’ll be one step closer to improving your costs!
Quote of the Day:
“We aim above the mark to hit the mark.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
© 2019 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Unleashed is the registered trademark of Toro Consulting, Inc.

Extra Points: Abandon Ship

Dan_Weedin_022I was on the ferry over the weekend when from my car I heard the announcement by the captain that the crew would be performing an abandon ship drill. They were recruiting passengers to help; I now wish I had volunteered since it might have helped this missive! Next time.
It dawned on me as I heard the drill being played out on the speaker, that the only way to really simulate an abandon ship scenario was to pressure test the crew on a regular run that includes real passengers. Of course, nobody was actually going to leave the boat, but the process of using real passengers on a real run makes the exercise as real as possible to prepare and train.
When was the last time you pressure tested your business continuity plan?
My question first assumes that you have a plan in place and that you’ve at some point run a crisis simulation exercise. In my experience, neither plan or past simulations are often in place for small and medium sized businesses. Why? The major reason is the age old excuse of lack of time.
It was important enough for the ferry system to run an exercise in the middle of a crowded weekend run. While they are required to do this, the point still stands. If a crisis like an emergency evacuation needs to be done well, it must be practiced and tested.
You have the same obligation for your business to protect property and more importantly, people. If you never pressure test your people to deal with a crisis, why would you expect they can do it?
I’ve helped many clients perform these exercises and without exception, each one comes away with areas to improve and an awareness of the critical nature of this practice.
So what’s stopping you from running your own “abandon ship” drill this summer? Here’s what you do. Schedule a time. Find someone to help you create and facilitate it. And then do it. Learn from the experience and reduce the chance of exacerbating a calamity because you weren’t prepared.
Bonus: Don’t run or operate a business? Do you have a home? When was the last time you pressure checked your personal evacuation plan to assure you and your loved ones (and pets – Captain Jack wanted me to remind you) are prepared to save lives?
Are you and your business prepared to abandon ship? How do you know?
Quote of the Day:
“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.”
~ H. Jackson Brown Jr. – 20th century American author
© 2019 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Unleashed is the registered trademark of Toro Consulting, Inc.

Extra Points: Close Calls

Dan_Weedin_022The time-frame to walk down 20 floors of a hotel, discover the emergency is a false alarm, and then take an elevator back to your room is 15 minutes. I know. Just did it.
I was in Las Vegas to teach a class last week, staying in a nice casino on the strip where the class was to be held. I was happily surprised when my room was upgraded to a suite on the top floor because of my single night stay. Of course, as luck would have it, at 11:30 pm as I’d fallen into a deep sleep, the fire alarm went off.
I did what I was initially trained to do in grade school: checked the door to see if there was fire directly outside; grab my keys, phone, and wallet; and find the nearest exit by stairs and start descending. I was part of a group of people all doing the same thing.
When we got down to the ground, we noticed that Vegas was still Vegas. No fire trucks, no throngs of evacuated guests and customers. As it turns out, it was a false alarm and 99% of the hotel had no idea what happened. Thankfully for me, the elevator to my tower was operational and I ascended happily knowing that taking the stairs back up would not be required!
False alarms can at first blush be considered an annoyance. In reality, they are a great learning opportunity. In my consulting practice, I discuss the concept of “close calls” with my clients. A pattern of close calls generally turn into a crisis if left unattended to. This concept is real in operations both physical (near collision by forklift or vehicle) or mental (data input errors).
We all deal with close calls professionally and personally. I encourage you to not brush them off as happenstance, but to add one important activity – to consider what was learned to be better prepared.
What was my lesson in the evacuation from the 20th floor, you may ask?
While I did seemingly bring the most important things with me, one more thing could have been included. It would have taken no more time to throw my laptop into my bag and bring the entire thing with me. There’s important information stored there and in the event of a real emergency, would have taken extra time to recover.
Bottom line – in your next close call – whether it be a near miss in traffic or a false alarm at work, make sure that you take advantage of the lesson it will offer you.
Post script: The exact same thing happened to me exactly 10 years ago except it was January in Providence, RI and about 70 degrees colder outside. That time, I didn’t bring my cell phone with me, so I’m getting better at it!
Quote for the Day:
“Experience is simply the word we give to our mistakes.”
~ Oscar Wilde
© 2019 Toro Consulting. All Rights Reserved
Unleashed® is a registered trademark of Toro Consulting, Inc.

Extra Points: Exit Plan

Dan_Weedin_022I’m doing an inordinate amount of air travel over the next six weeks. It often comes in chunks and I’m in a chunk!
It’s interesting that most people ignore the safety information given by flight attendants prior to departure. Most of us have flown enough to know the spiel by heart, right?
That’s a problem because too many people may have a general knowledge of what to do in an emergency; but will panic in the event one actually happens. The “warning” has been heard so many times that before long, it’s no longer “heard.” But it’s still as important…
One of the most crucial is how to evacuate; and I mean exit any place you are. That can be an airplane, a grand ballroom, a house, and most especially your place if work. Do you know how to safely exit your house or work in the event you must leave in seconds?
There is a lot of research done on how people react and respond in crisis. The results are clear; people who know how to exit a plane, building, or situation are less likely to freeze and more likely to escape. If you are in a position of leadership of employees, it’s your responsibility to assure they know what to do. For any individual, we all must take ultimate responsibility for ourselves and then our co-workers and families.
You’ve heard flight attendants say, “Place the oxygen mask on yourself first before trying to assist others.” The same concept is true on your business and life. No how and where to escape so you can save yourself and others.
As an epilogue, let’s be clear. An exit plan to save lives is most important; however an exit plan to leave your business or career is also, critical. Exit planning saves lives and profits. Make sure you know how to save both…
P.S. My normal place to sit in a plane is the second to last row on the aisle. I’m next to the bathroom and exit with no one in front of me!
Quote for the Day:
“Set your course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship.”
~ Omar Bradley
© 2019 Toro Consulting. All Rights Reserved
Unleashed® is a registered trademark of Toro Consulting, Inc.

Extra Points: Chip Shots

Dan_Weedin_022Watching the World Golf Championships Mexico tournament on Sunday, there was a point in the round where Rory McIlroy did something that I often do when playing golf (and believe me, Rory and I do very little in common on the golf course). He hit his ball right next to a tree. I mean the ball was nestled up directly next to this huge tree with literally no swing available.

McIlroy called over an official to see if he could gain relief and he was denied. He quickly grabbed a club, turned it upside down and proceeded to play his shot left-handed back into the fairway. McIlroy is right handed, as our his clubs. He basically did a McGyver to create a possibility to escape and recover. Although he went in to bogey the hole, it was a remarkable play that minimized damage.

Here are a few business lessons for your consideration:

McIlroy never complained or berated the official as we see in other sports. He owned the fact that he put himself in that situation.

He quickly surmised the quickest and most effective way to get back to the fairway. Faced with other options that would have taken him away from the hole he was playing, he chose an unorthodox play to get back on course.

His short swing left-handed with his club facing the opposite direction was flawless. That means he’d done it before. Likely at some point in his life facing a similar situation, and knowing he might one day again, he practiced the shot until he became more than just competent. If he’s like most golfers, he likely turned the practice into a game.

Your challenge to take into next week and beyond:

Focus always on taking ownership of your actions and behavior. Too many people have a victim mentality where it’s always someone else’s fault. In my experience, the majority of times we find ourselves stymied by a tree is because we hit it there!

Always have a plan to recover quickly to get back in course. You should always know where the exits are in a building or an airplane. Likewise, you should know where the quickest exit to get back to your own fairway is. Not doing so is negligent to your employees and clients; and perilous to your profitability.

Finally, practice your recovery. The reason amateur golfers like me shoot high scores is because we never practice hitting out of the woods; rather focusing on the perfect position created by driving ranges. You must practice your escape and recovery plans in order to be prepared to hit that difficult shot when it’s most needed.

Quote of the Day:

“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you are doing.”

~ W. Edwards Deming

© 2019 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points: Workarounds

Dan_Weedin_022This past week, I attempted to purchase a business license for a new LLC we formed as part of our insurance brokerage practice. I thought it would be pretty simple. I was wrong.

First, I was forced to wait two weeks because the state doesn’t allow me to get a business license on an LLC prior to it’s formation date (although they were happy to take my money and form the LLC in advance). Seemed odd, but I played along.

On January 2nd (LLC formed effective January 1), I went online to finalize the business license. To my frustration, the system still didn’t recognize the UBI number and wouldn’t allow me to proceed. I called and spoke to someone in the Department of Revenue to get help. She determined that it was a system glitch and would call me back, which she did promptly. She told me that the only way to fix the situation was through a workaround. Those of you familiar with workarounds know this is a secondary method or process to use (often in technology) when the primary way has an issue.

The workaround suggested was using paper. That’s right, paper. She wanted me to print out an application, fill it out, stick it in an envelope, mail it, and then wait for six weeks for approval (online applications take a few days). This isn’t a workaround; it’s a failure. Ultimately, we were able to contact someone that was able to help me deal with this more mercurially. But the point was made…

I had knowledge of the process, as I’ve done it before. I feel bad for those who are attempting it for the first time and don’t know who to ask, or merely succumb to a failed workaround.

Primary methods and processes will fail; sometimes for reasons outside of your control. How effective are your workarounds? If they are as bad as the one I shared, then you have a problem. Your employees will waste time and effort, and consequently lead to lost profits; your clients and customers will become frustrated and ultimately may leave; your brand and reputation will be tarnished as others might think you’re ability to deal with crisis as ineffective, undisciplined, or antiquated.

Here’s the deal – crises happen. They may not seem enormous but when a calamity that impacts your operations in some way rears its ugly head, you’d better be prepared with a good workaround. Regardless of whether its related to technology, employees, or any other critical business factor, your ability to manage workarounds is crucial to your success and viability.

Quote of the Day:

“The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.”

~ Henry Ward Beecher

© 2019 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points: Find The Helpers

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40As I attended the graduation ceremony at my local high school, I was impressed specifically by one of the graduate speakers. She mentioned a quote by that great American philosopher, Mr. Rogers. She said that Mr. Rogers was influential in her mother’s life (which reminded me of the generation I’m in) and he had once said that in this world, there are “helpers” when people are in trouble. Her mother explained, “whenever you see a crisis on television, look for the helpers. You will see them.”

That simple statement is so very true. Think of even recent calamities like the Boston Marathon bombing, the devastation of natural disasters, and countless school shootings. You always will find the helpers.

You’d like to think that we are all “helpers,” but it’s not the case. We are all wired differently and bring value, however others are intrinsically wired to be helpers.

This week, we will be performing a crisis simulation exercise for a client. These exercises often reveal those that are leaders, those that are talkers, those that are followers, and importantly, those that are helpers. Every organization – for profit and non-profit – need to identify helpers in their organizations. Every neighborhood and community must identify the helpers. And every family should know the helpers. It’s paramount for resilience and survival when calamity hits.

We all play a role in the affiliations we have. Those of you that have a leadership role in business or in your personal life need to take heed of the wise words of Mr. Rogers. Go find the helpers.

Quote of the Week:

”My father gave me the greatest gift anyone can give another person; he believed in me..”

~ Jim Valvano

Happy Fathers Day to all the fathers out there!

© 2018 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The key to personal and professional improvement is accountability. My mentoring and coaching program has availability. Contact me at dan@danweedin.com or (360) 271-1592 to apply.

Extra Points: Baby Steps

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40Babies are a lot like dogs. Wait for it…

They are able to teach us a lot about our business and life and don’t even know they are doing it! I get the opportunity and joy of spending a lot of time with my 7-month old granddaughter. One of the interesting things about her age is that she’s just discovering that she can actually discover! In other words, reaching, scooting, and crawling are now part of her daily adventures.

I noticed this past week that she has moments of displeasure when she can’t meet her objective. These include things that I’ve kept her from doing: e.g. sticking a pillow’s tag in her mouth; chewing on my finger with her two new (and sharp) teeth; or pulling my hair. In her world, these unmet objectives might seem momentous to her at the time, however she has the uncanny knack (just like Captain Jack does) to recover quickly and not allow them to become ongoing angst.

Her Recovery Time Objective is very fast…

Recovery Time Objective is something every business should identify as a goal to bounce back to full strength. Obstacles to goals are daily occurrences. Some are small, yet others can be significant and cause a lot of distress to a company. Research indicates that unplanned downtime that stalls operations for a company will cost between $926 and $17,244 for every minute that their operations are stalled. Those costs include lost revenue, lost productivity, recovery expenses, equipment replacement and more. By creating an objective metric to shoot for, an organization can save tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to it’s profitability.

Don’t own a company? Well, yes you do. You own your own professional career. How often do we as individuals get sidetracked, distracted, or completely thrown off course by a calamity? How much does this distraction cause us to lose valuable time and energy through worry, anxiety, and lost productivity?

Recovery Time Objectives are small for babies and dogs because they have better things to do than to fret. As businesses and adults, we must plan on recovering quickly and set measurements around it to know if we are successful. That way, we can go from crawling to running in no time at all.


What’s your RTO?

Quote of the Week:

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”

~ Aristotle

© 2018 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The key to personal and professional improvement is accountability. My mentoring and coaching program has availability. Contact me at dan@danweedin.com or (360) 271-1592 to apply.

Extra Points: Plan B…C…and D

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40As we begin a new calendar year, businesses and organizations are fervently putting together and starting to implement plans for success. Metrics and mileposts have been set, and hopes are high for a better year in 2018, regardless of how 2017 turned out. The problem is, the majority of businesses and organizations (especially non-profit) fail to take into account one thing…how to respond when the bad thing happens. And then what to do when Plan B doesn’t work. Let’s discuss…

Most every business has plans for growth over the next 12 months. The savvy ones have strong metrics to keep track of the growth based on sales, marketing, and performance objectives. The most sophisticated companies also take time to figure out what obstacles stand in the way. To that end, they figure out a Plan B if Plan A doesn’t work. And then they figure out a Plan C and often a Plan D. Redundancy in strategic crisis planning is crucial to resilience and business continuity.

What are common obstacles your business might face to hamper your biggest dreams for this year?

A physical loss (e.g. fire) that forces your from your building. A cyber attack that compromises your data and reputation. The loss of a key employee or owner. Loss of business knowledge through lack of pre-planning and documentation. A new competitor emerges in you territory. A weather-related calamity that causes you to stop operations for an extended period of time.

While insurance may reimburse you for some of these, it’s negligent not to have a plan to immediately stay open for business to reduce the financial and emotional impact. Too much damage can result that is not protected by insurance. It’s incumbent on you to make sure your plan to mitigate the damage and reduce financial risk to protect your property, people, and profit. The consequences of not doing so will result in loss of profit, damage to people, and going out of business.

Bottom line, I believe you’re resilient. That’s part of the makeup of an entrepreneur and business leader. The problem is that if you’re a “brawler,” you might win the game but come out battered, bruised, and bloodied (bleeding profits). If you fight like a boxer – with a planned strategy that includes obstacles to success – then you’ll come out of the next calamity (and they will happen) moving full speed ahead toward higher profits and business wealth.

P.S. This concept applies to your personal life, too. What are the obstacles that can derail your personal goals, dreams, and lifestyle? You need to create contingencies for your family to assure that your personal hopes and dreams all come true both now and in the future.

© 2018 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved