Posted by: drewdice | April 26, 2010

Mother Nature, LLC

I’ve written about my wife, JoAnn, previously, so you probably have a sense of what an amazing soul she is. Recently, I turned 40, and she really outdid herself, arranging a surprise trip to Paris (with a day trip to London), and even went so far as to round up a couple of our good friends to surprise me double by showing up at the airport to join us.

This was a trip of a lifetime, for sure, and the memories will be with us forever. Paris was more beautiful than I imagined, we weather was sunny and 65-70 degrees every day, and the people we encountered were truly delightful. We took a trip to Versailles, saw the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, took a trip up (and down) the Sienne river, went to Moulin Rouge, had dinner in the Eiffel Tower, visited amazing gardens, visited an old, historic Jewish part of town and had the best (and I mean the BEST) fallafel in the world…I could go on, but you get the point. What an experience.

The thing that made this trip particularly unique, though, was that the vacation got extended by 5 days due to the volcano eruption in Iceland. Over 95,000 flights cancelled. Millions of people stranded. Billions of dollars (?) lost by the airline industry (not to mention the vendors who serve the airlines and rely on this business to stay afloat). Mother Nature sure threw everyone a curveball, and so I share some thoughts, and also put it to you: How do you deal with the unforeseen, adjusting strategy at a moments notice to continue your path towards your goals, fulfilling your brand promises, and not missing a beat?

Here were some of our considerations:

What is most important to us, as vacationers and business people?
Was it to get home as soon as possible?
To conserve cash and resources?
To put ourselves in the least risky position possible?
To be patient, letting the dust settle a bit, to see how things shake out before acting?

We took the last option, especially in light of our pre-trip preparations and that we have great teams back in Baltimore that can keep things moving ahead with our businesses. We saw no benefit in trying to re-enact Planes, Trains and Automobiles, working feverishly to make travel arrangements to another spot in Europe that wouldn’t have assured us safe travel home any sooner than staying in Paris. I can assure you, we had some heated debates about what was best, and, in your business, shouldn’t you do the same? After all, opposing points of view can create the best decisions in the end.

A big lesson for all of us is that even when you have a flawlessly constructed plan (and I assure you, this trip was airtight!), sometimes things are just out of your control. Seemingly at the same time, we all arrived at that realization, and once we did, the stress of the situation was released, and we realized that we could accomplish our work remotely, reschedule the non-critical issues, and enjoy the extra time in Paris. The latter portion of the trip may have been even better than the first. During the first 5 days, we jammed in as much as we could, knowing we had limited time. During the back half, we really got time to explore, with no pressure, no timetables, and we were able to enjoy the many splendors that Paris has to offer.

Thank you, Mother Nature, for the life, and business lesson.

Please share your life and business strategy lessons, too!





  1. Great take on an interesting predicament… Your outlook is truly amazing and certainly puts the decisions we make both personally and professionally into perspective. I’m glad you were able to enjoy a remarkable trip that due to interesting circumstances was made even more remarkable.

    My only question is, who feed your dogs for the extra week?

    • Thanks Jeremy,

      Thankfully, JoAnn’s folks had the dogs; believe me, they were very well fed and cared for. Hope to catch up with you soon.

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