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Being Prepared for the Unexpected: The concept of Relentless Preparation. A blog by our President and CEO.

Jan 14, 2015

Earlier this week, Joanne (my wife) and I attended a day long event called #TheArtof Leadership.  There were several speakers, three of which were the “big name” draws, Arianna Huffington, Daniel Goleman and Rudy Giuliani. Most everyone knows both Arianna Huffington (except as is turns out my 86 year old mother) and Rudy Giuliani, but for those that don’t know Daniel Goleman, he is considered to be the father of “Emotional Intelligence”.  If you’ve not heard that term previously, look him up via his webpage, LinkedIn or Facebook and you’ll find tremendous depth of knowledge on the subject.  Although his and Ms. Huffington’s talks were extremely interesting and most fascinating, it’s the words of Rudy Giuliani that I’d like to talk about today.

As one would well expect, his talk centered on his experiences, with a particular focus on the horrific events of 9/11/2001 and the days that followed.  He talked about his five guiding principles that got him through not only those terrible days and weeks, but through his entire professional life prior to that as well as since.  What struck a chord for me, as I’m sure it did for others, was the quote (and I paraphrase here) “A Leader must be a visionary and must know how to carry out their vision, otherwise they’re a philosopher”.  And he went on to say “there’s nothing wrong with being the philosopher, as long as they recognize they can’t be the leader”.I’m a firm believer in something he called “Relentless Preparation” and he’s not the first person to talk about the importance of being prepared.  It’s how he described when he first recognized in his own life and career it’s significance, and more importantly, how it was a critical part of how he and his team dealt with 9/11.

At the start of his career as a government prosecutor, a judge told him that for “every hour of a trial needs at least four hours of preparation”.  He’s always followed that rule of thumb and as a result, upon becoming Mayor, applied that to the preparedness planning (which he was very much personally involved in) for the City of New York.  They had dozens of emergency plans, including one for high-rise firefighting and evacuating as many as 400K people from lower Manhattan (in the case of hurricane flooding as the area is slightly below sea-level).  From the moment he was informed of the plane hitting that first tower, he went back in his own mind and took what was in all of those plans and began applying what could be used to help deal with what he immediately knew was a terrorist attack.

Obviously no one expected the events of 9/11 to ever happen, but by being ready for virtually anything else that could happen, by being “relentlessly prepared”, he and his team were able to face any possible obstacle and “their fear of potential failure”. By “planning for everything you can think of”, you can “deal with the unplanned”, because “familiarity makes anything easier”.

So why did I want to write about this? Well as I said above, I do try and prepare for the unexpected but honestly, despite that, I’m not always successful with even the things I’d prepared for.  I will say that I’ve also been very fortunate and seen some personal and business success.  Some would (and correctly have) say that I’ve gotten “lucky” on many the occasion.  However, in every success and no matter what I’ve been lucky to accomplish, I can’t think of one time that I wasn’t ready for it to happen.  I may not have always been prepared for that specific event, but I was prepared in another way that I applied to it to make it happen. One of my credo’s in life is that luck is simply the intersection of good planning and opportunity.

Joanne will be writing more on the event in the coming days,so I won’t go into any further detail beyond this, but I would love to hear your comments, feedback and perhaps one of your own feelings on being “Relentlessly Prepared”.You can contact me via email at ceo@highvail.com.