We meet once a month and share issues both personal and professional. We learn from one another as well as from the incredible presenters before us at each meeting. As a member of Vistage International (the leading CEO and business owner network), I feel blessed to continually gain knowledge and inspiration from this opportunity. But more importantly, our group has become friends, advisors, consultants and mentors for one another.
Lee Keyroovs (yes I changed his name to… “Leaky roofs”) is an owner of a roofing company. He is an extremely aggressive business owner and has been growing his operations rapidly over the past couple of years. However, for the past six months, his business has declined. He claims the roofing industry is THE leading economic indicator for recession or growth and he has been preparing our group for an upcoming economic contraction.
Each month, he flatly states: “Sorry guys, I’m hoping for a natural disaster of some kind. Give me a hurricane, tornado or snowstorm. If the economy is going to suck, I need something that forces folks to replace their roofs!” We all give him an uneasy laugh, hoping that his business turns around as a result of economic improvement. We could do without the natural disaster.
Well Mr. Lee Keyrooves, you asked for it! You’ve got it. Sandy is a storm unlike any other we have seen in our lifetimes. It is a natural disaster on steroids. You will have no problem filling your calendar. From what it seems, I may be giving you a call as well. Here is how my builder responded to a text asking about our roof:
“We will have to cross our fingers on that one!”
There is little we can do today about our roof. There is little anyone can do today to properly prepare for this incredible storm. Our ability to survive has little to do with what we do now. It has everything to do with what we have done to prepare in the past while the forecast was calm, the skies blue and the tides at sea level.
The same is true for your business. And one book that coaches us to best prepare for tough times is Great By Choice by Jim Collins. It is a must read for corporate storm preparation and how to survive and thrive to become great. It’s your choice! Here are some thoughts to consider directly from the book describing truly great companies:
- They must prepare with intensity, all the time, so that when conditions turn against you, (and they will), you can draw from a deep reservoir of strength.
- They systematically build buffers and shock absorbers for dealing with unexpected events…long before they are hit with a storm.
- They adhere to their recipes with fanatic discipline to a far greater degree than the comparisons, and how they carefully amend their recipes with empirical creativity and productive paranoia (allow them to become great).
- They shine when clobbered by setbacks and misfortune, turning bad luck into good results…Resilience, not luck, is the signature of greatness.
- They create huge margins of safety… (Their motto is)… If you stay in the game long enough, good luck tends to return, but if you get knocked out, you’ll never have a chance to be lucky again. Luck favors the persistent, but you can persist only if you survive.
- The luck of finding the right mentor, partner, teammate, leader, friend – is one of the most important types of luck.
Last night my company systematically shut down all systems. We are closed to wait-out the storm. The expectations of damage are unprecedented. However, when we open again, which we will, I plan on meeting with my partners to review just how prepared we are for the economic version of Sandy. I would like to be aware of the choices we are making to keep the company on the path towards greatness. Are we choosing to be great or gone? What are your choices?
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