Weathering the Storm of Success

Just a few days ago the Northeast experienced a snowstorm like I haven’t seen in some time. We had more snow than I’ve seen (and shoveled) in quite a few years (we had about 2.5 feet), and as beautiful as it was it made for some big issues. Yes, I grew up with some bigger storms and I know that some people deal with way more snow than what I did on Wednesday and Thursday morning on a regular basis, but whether you’re used to lots of snow or not, when mother nature takes control things in our human world often go wrong. So today based on some of the issues that I saw, I thought I’d share a few lessons that business owners could learn from for the next time they’re faced with a crisis or the unknown.

First, weather is tricky because even with all the technology we’ve got the end result is still really a guess. Add to that the variable of humans and their interpretations, and you’ve got some serious questions and unknowns. It’s frequently said that the weather industry is the one that you can make mistakes in and not lose your job over it. While it’s probably not OK for you to be frequently wrong and give your customers a less-than-perfect product or advice that’s not helpful or accurate, there has to be some margin of error considered and understood. The weather people have good enough technology that they can tell us when something is likely on the way, but they can’t totally provide how much or what everyone is going to get or exactly how a storm will play out.

How does this apply for other businesses and industries? It starts with something as simple as being honest with your customers and letting them know that you’ll always have them and their needs and their best interests at the forefront of what you do, and always strive to bring them the best experience and products/services possible.  But also that you’re not perfect and sometimes things are outside of your control, and when those things happen you’ll be up front with them and let them know what’s going on, and do your very best to rectify the issue as soon as possible. Which brings us to the second point.

The second thing to consider is with regards to communication. Sometimes I feel that things are very well communicated, and other times I wonder what people were thinking! The issue that business owners really need to consider is the fact that there are so many free resources (and other resources) they could tap into to provide the very necessary information to the general public and the specific people who need those updates, yet they weren’t being used. There were lots of electric road signs on the highways that could have shared updated information about the roads ahead yet all they did was warn of winter weather and to drive safe. There are free social media accounts, emails/newsletters, blogs and websites that could have been used to post updates about power failures, garbage/recycle pickup, blocked roads, detours and openings/closings, providing information in a timely manner and all in one place, but they weren’t. These updates don’t take a long time to do, and don’t have to be extremely detailed, but they can be invaluable to people.

For businesses, yes, you should post that you’re open or closed or if there are weather related issues, and you should be in communication with your team so that they know what’s going on. You should also communicate with your team when it comes to serious weather about the policies that you’ve got for whether you’re open or not and if there are people who are specifically willing to work in serious weather if need be. Weather challenges also provide a reason to have an online presence and to sell something online if possible. With countless people stuck inside instead of out doing their usual activities, they’ve got time to read emails, peruse websites or apps and shop.

While I don’t think you need to be perfect or communicate every little detail about your businesses (although sometimes that can be fun!), especially when things are challenging or dangerous for people it’s important to be on top of your communication and not only give specific instructions regarding what to do now and during the danger/challenge/storm, but also be in communication about what comes next. What have you learned for your business from weather challenges?

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Christmas Carol Classics: Frosty the Snowman

“Frosty the snowman was a jolly happy soul,
With a corncob pipe and a button nose
And two eyes made out of coal.

Frosty the snowman is a fairy tale, they say,
He was made of snow but the children know
How he came to life one day.

There must have been some magic in
That Old top hat they found.
For when they placed it on his head
He began to dance around.

O, Frosty the snowman
Was alive as he could be,
And the children say he could laugh and play
Just the same as you and me.

Frosty the snowman was a jolly happy soul,
With a corncob pipe and a button nose
And two eyes made out of coal.

Frosty the snowman is a fairy tale, they say,
He was made of snow but he came to life one day.

There must have been some magic in
That Old top hat they found.
For when they placed it on his head
He began to dance around.

Frosty the snowman
Knew the sun was hot that day,
So he said, “Let’s run
And we’ll have some fun
Now before I melt away.”

Frosty the snowman
Had to hurry on his way,
But he waved goodbye saying,
“Don’t you cry,
I’ll be back again some day.””

Frosty was first recorded by the famous Gene Autry (with the Cass County Boys) in 1950.   The year before Autry recorded Rudolph, which was also a big success.  As a result of the song’s success there were lots of TV shows and books and other materials made.  One of the things that made this song stand out and be so successful was the concept of it.  We’ve all made a snowman that we wished would come to life, or at the very least thought about how cool something like that would be.

While most versions never talk about Christmas, we typically think of it as a Christmas song, probably because of all the magic in it.  After all, how else would a snowman come to life? When it comes to this time of year it does seem like there’s a little extra sparkle in the world, a little extra something showing up in our days that just makes them a little better.  Maybe it’s all the cheer, maybe it’s the goodwill, or maybe it’s just the desire not to get caught doing bad things before Santa makes his famous run.

But the song ends with Frosty saying that he’ll be back again some day.  I love that the song ends this way because it’s a great reminder that as much as life is made up of individual days and moments, there’s a lot more to life than just the individual moments.  Each day is an opportunity to build on what the previous day accomplished or start over because you’ve realized a mistake you were making.  Of course there are special moments that come each year like Christmas and Thanksgiving that are important reminders to celebrate life and gather together.  So whether you’re anticipating the magic to return, leaving the magic behind for the time being or dancing and singing with that magic, find a way to add a little magic to your day.

Joy in Seasons

Can you believe another month is almost over?  Today is our last post really looking at our topic of the month: seasons.  What I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is the joy that can be found in each and every season.  I know, you’re mentally complaining about at least one season in your head right now, like how much snow there is in winter, how much rain there is in spring/the rainy season, how hot summer/the dry season is, how cold fall gets and miserable it is to watch the leaves fall off the trees etc.  You don’t have to like every season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find some joy in each of them.  For example,  I don’t like snow but still find joy in watching kids go sledding, or sitting in a comfy chair watching the snow fall with a cup of hot tea and a good book.

Like so many things, the seasons are really what you make of them.  Last Wednesday I talked about what to do if your business is heading into a slow season for the summer.  Just because you may not be making many sales, it doesn’t mean there is nothing you can, could or should be doing during this time.  Just because it’s raining out today doesn’t mean that you have to do nothing because your outside plans were cancelled.   Just because you have a broken arm or leg doesn’t mean there’s no summer fun to be had.

I really believe that life is what you make of it a majority of the time. If you are feeling miserable, that’s the life situation you’ll create around you.  If you’re feeling like a winner, that’s the situation you’ll create around you.  If you want to enjoy your least favorite season, I believe you’ll be able to find reasons to do so!  But it only happens when we choose that path.    So what path will you choose this summer? Will you choose to find some reason for joy in each and every day?

The Season of Spring

This week I’ll be sharing a message of spring. That message is one of both hope and challenge, so while I will be sharing encouragement, I’ll also be calling you out on ways you may have been slacking or holding back and why you may not have what you want or be where you want to be. I want to start by sharing my understanding that hope and challenge are usually seen hand in hand rather than separately. We don’t usually talk about hope when things are awesome and amazing, we talk about hope when things are tough and you can’t see the end of the tunnel, or if you can it doesn’t look very good.

One reason that these two topics come up so often in our lives is because our lives are like the seasons: we have times of death and rest and times of growth and abundance. It’s a cycle we go through during our lives, it’s called the journey of life. It’s not something we can stop, nor is it something we should. Think about how it feels when your boss keeps piling work on your desk, you start to get frustrated because even as fast as you do things more things get added. You never get ahead, never catch up, never make progress, you’re just trying to keep your head above water. So we need those times of quiet and less activity so that we can have the strength to get through those more difficult times.

As we enter the season of spring it’s important to remember that even in this time of growth there’s still stuff to let go of: dead plants, the snow, and our winter jackets. We look forward to the growth but we can’t get there until we allow that growth to happen. It’s not as much of a letting go as fall to winter is, but with change there’s always a little that has to be let go to make room for the new, the bigger, the better.

So this week as we approach spring what will you be hoping for? Just more sun? More time to walk and be outdoors? Freedom from the restrictions of winter? Happier people? And what do you need to do to be ready for spring to enter your life?

“I believe in process. I believe in four seasons. I believe that winter’s tough, but spring’s coming. I believe that there’s a growing season. And I think that you realize that in life, you grow. You get better.”  Steve Southerland