Two Reasons for BC Professionals to Join the Association of Contingency Planners: Better Results For You and More Money (Also For You)

24 07 2014

I’m probably a little shy of the age (that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!) when I can use phrases like “back in the day” but I don’t remember there ever being so very many options for different industry organizations to join.  I remember groups like the American Institute of Architects and the American Medical Association – old school professional organizations that seem to have been around for eons.  Now, however, and especially with the explosion of activity on LinkedIn, there seem to be half a dozen DONT-KEEP-SECRETSprofessional organizations for every industry, sub-industry, niche profession and one-of-a-kind vocation on the planet.  If you’re a left-handed pediatric veterinary cosmetic micro-surgeon, there’s a place for you.  The dilemma we sometimes face now: too many options.  But for BC pros, the Association of Contingency Planners makes it an easy choice.

Naturally the Association provides a number of excellent reasons for joining but for me it boils down to a single reason: opportunity.  Or maybe two single reasons: opportunity that leads to more money earned and more money saved by our clients.  Then there are the opportunities for education, networking and enhancement of my company’s BC and DR plans and suddenly, joining up makes a whole lot of sense. Annual dues (just $125) are pro-rated monthly so if you join this month you only have to pay for the rest of this year.  It’s a bargain.  Full disclosure: I don’t work for ACP in any capacity but Continuity Housing is indeed working with the Association in order to re-introduce their popular and free webinar series for its members.

[Speaking of which . . . the first of the webinar series will be "Securing Guaranteed Hotel Rooms For Your Organization In a Deployment: A Tale of Two Companies (Case Studies)" on Tuesday, August 12th at 10:30 Central presented by yours truly.  There are more than 60 negotiable terms in a hotel’s group booking contract, and this session will equip you with creative, unique ways to craft those contracts to your organization’s best advantage to fit the unique aspects of a crisis management booking.  Find out more and register for this free, fast-paced, 45-minute webinar here.]

So what’s the ROI on joining the ACP?  Results will vary depending on your level of commitment but let’s take a little field trip across the last eight years of my professional life:

  • 2006: I created Continuity Housing’s patent-pending program to guarantee companies hotel rooms on a contingency basis without having to pay an arm and a leg for them.
  • 2009: I joined ACP. (Should’ve joined earlier.)
    • Which begat a presentation I made to a local chapter about avoiding the pitfalls of securing guaranteed housing for critical personnel in the event of a disaster and/or a business interruption.
    • Which led to me being asked to present similar material to other chapters.
    • Which resulted in me getting to meet ImpactWeather’s business continuity team managed by Ed Schlichtenmyer and, at that time, Mike Thomson who asked me to present not once but twice at the company’s annual Hurricane Symposium.
    • Which in turn introduced me to Ed Goldberg enabling me to present in a number of the original ACP Webinar Series which started in 2011.
    • Which fomented (I’m running out of terms that mean “which led to”) a continuing series of invitations for me to make presentations at national industry conferences hosted by Continuity Insights, EEI, ACP and CPM – as well as the webinar next month for ACP (we posted about that this past Wednesday) and presentations to local ACP chapters in CA, CT, FL, MA, NY, TX and WA.
    • And they told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on… (Click here if you’re too young to understand that reference.)
  • And all along the way and with increasing frequency, Continuity Housing has been exposed to more opportunities. And by opportunities, I mean contracts.  And by contracts, I mean revenue.

Also as a direct result of my membership, I got one degree closer to Kevin Bacon.  Just kidding.  Although that would be awesome and I encourage you to check out The Following some week.

And no, it’s not all, or even mostly, about the monetary gain.  It’s the less tangible bennies that keep me coming back to ACP.

acp-webinars-awesomeOne of the Continuity Housing team members goes fairly far offshore to fish from time to time and more than once in the past he’s told me about the informal but rigidly obeyed tradition of mariners helping each other out whenever a nearby crew or their boat is in trouble and that the entire BC community acts in much the same way.  We don’t keep secrets.  We share what we learn so that we all get better at what we do and learn new ways to keep even more people more efficiently out of harm’s way.  In fact, we attended a gathering the week before last hosted by the South Texas Chapter (see photo) and had a great time learning some new things, making some new connections and reconnections and hearing about what’s next, which for this particular chapter is a  very cool 90-minute boat tour of the Port of Houston in mid-August before the monthly chapter meeting and lunch.

So that’s what you get out of the ACP.  An engaged, devoted community, new approaches, better results.  And that’s the real benefit.

The best looking, most interesting ACP local chapter in America.  Click to enlarge.

The best looking, most interesting ACP local chapter in America. Click to enlarge.

For more information – including where your nearest chapter meets – visit the ACP website and click on the Membership tab at the top.

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Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or to find out about a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.





Return of the Association of Contingency Planners Webinar Series: Just in Time for Wildfire and Tropical Storm Season

16 07 2014

ACP-logo-onlyThe extremely popular webinar series hosted by the Association of Contingency Planners debuted in 2009 with the goal of providing interesting and genuinely educational (read: “not a sales pitch”) free webinars to members – and hopefully future members – on a monthly basis.  Since that time, thousands of people have attended the dozens of webinars and the response has always been extremely positive.  And by “extremely positive,” I seem to remember a total of about 3 or 4 attendees indicating in the post-webinar surveys that they found the webinars to be less than good or great and the majority of the respondents rated the content as excellent.

not-roteWe’re proud to announce that Continuity Housing will begin sponsoring the resurrected series when it returns on Tuesday, August 12th.  Personally I’m elated because I produced and often emceed the series every month for more than two years after it first started and I really and truly get a kick out of sharing valuable continuity and general knowledge information with people.  (A perfect example.)

Understand this:  these are not rote presentations of dry material, checklists or procedures.  You will find yourself at many if not most of them with that “Wow, I did not know that” feeling.  And they are very definitely not sales pitches . . . well, except for about a 20-second reminder of who the sponsor is.   On purpose we tend to keep the webinars on the short side of 25 to 45 minutes and we always host them mid-morning on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday so they’re easy to catch, although we will always provide the recorded versions of each one on both the ACP site and on the Continuity Housing YouTube channel.

register-button

Granted, my enthusiasm for next month’s webinar may have a slight bias to it but it’s a perfect learning opportunity for anyone involved with a potential continuity deployment for their company.  The title of the webinar is “Securing Guaranteed Hotel Rooms For Your Organization In a Deployment: A Tale of Two Companies” and it’s a gritty review of the specific lessons learned by two different companies that chose two very different housing management plans before the Spam hit the fan.  A few details from the webinar description: “This is not an abstract session. Instead, you’ll learn the exact steps taken with regard to housing by these two large corporations and we’ll discuss what worked and what didn’t. There are more than 60 negotiable terms in a hotel’s group booking contract, and this session will equip you with creative, unique ways to craft those contracts to your organization’s best advantage to fit the unique aspects of a crisis management booking. ”

With Q&A the webinar will run about 45 minutes, the presenter is Continuity Housing principal Michelle Lowther and you can register here.

I’ve known and worked with Michelle for almost 4 years and she’s an excellent presenter.  More than that, I respect both her and the value of the content of her presentations.  She doesn’t ever waste your time.  Ever.

Register now and we’ll see you on the 12th.  Almost as importantly send me your ideas for future webinars.  We like to keep them in the realm of BC/DR but I’d be happy to field any suggestions that help make all of us better planners, more valuable contributors to our organizations and better, more productive folks in general.

***

Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or to find out about a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.





Attention! Free Stuff! (Well, Mostly…) Handy Links to Info and Apps for Business Continuity and Life in General

1 07 2014

Seven years after Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, we’re all securely addicted to having a world of information in our pockets.  Even when there’s not an app per se for different services, the latest step in the evolution of smart phones is mobile versions of websites, so I just save them as bookmarks on the desktop of my phone.  As BC professionals, we must be able to quickly manifest and distill pertinent information to help our stakeholders make crucial decisions during a crisis.  My goal with this piece is to include not only the obvious and most logical apps and links but to get you to think of how you can use different resources in different ways than you have before.

It pains me that we live in a time when I have to start by saying that Continuity Housing does not endorse, recommend or vouch for the accuracy or validity of the following services yadda yadda.  Sheesh.

Disclaimer #2: the more regional links provided here are for those of us in the Houston area, since that’s where Continuity Housing is based.  Okay – on to the really important stuff.

go-take-a-classFirst and foremost, a variety of regional utility providers now offer mobile versions of their outage maps, some of which include estimates on when power will be restored to specific areas.  Check your organization’s provider to see if they have one.  If they don’t, ask them why.

There are a variety of free and fairly reliable weather sources including JustWeather (website) and WeatherBug (website and app), some of which allow you to customize the automatically pushed alerts based on time of day and type and severity of threat(s), although JustWeather’s coverage is currently limited to a small number of cities.  Your local TV stations might also provide free or inexpensive weather apps that are more attuned, and therefore probably more accurate, to your more immediate location.  I prefer the AccuWeather  version that many of the ABC affiliates provide.  iMap Weather Radio is another good app that I use and not too  pricey at $4.99

Live in quake country?  The American Red Cross has a good app that provides information on recent events, how to prepare and what to do after one hits.  They also have similar apps that are geared towards tornadoes  and wildfires.

Whether you and your team are deploying on the road or not, the Gas Buddy app helps you find the lowest gas prices in your immediate vicinity – although the accuracy and whether the information is current relies on user participation.  Crowdsourcing when you’re running on empty isn’t the best option but the app is free.  Hot tip: by checking the time stamps on the updates you can see which stations are actually open.

There are a bunch of first aid apps that provide basic instruction on how to provide emergency medical assistance should the need arise, although you get two BC demerits if you don’t already know CPR.  I like First Aid Pocket Guide (below left) because of the way they’ve designed the progression of actions based on different types of medical problems.  Wiki has a more generalized instant how-to app but it will also tell you how to deliver a baby.  And don’t forget the version for pets.

first-aid-app-screen-shotAlong the same line, Medical Emergency Response is a relatively new “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” app that provides one-touch notification of the fact that you need help to one or more pre-programmed contacts as soon as you hit the icon.  It also dials 911 so you’d need to use good judgment on when to activate it.  I’m a little on the fence about how this could best be used after a disaster and I’m curious to know what the rate of accidental activations is but it might apply to your situation or that of a loved one.  And what happens if someone finds you unconscious?  There’s an app for that, although you should so very totally already have a clearly delineated ICE (In Case of Emergency) number loaded into your phone’s contact list. That one’s three bucks but it also allows you to include information for first responders on any medical conditions you have as well as your insurance info.

Survival Pocket Ref is a catch-all “quick reference guide on basic survival, evasion, first aid and recovery information” that I have on my phone and it’s only 99 cents.

Worried your car might break down or you might get a flat tire from all the windblown debris and broken stuff after a powerful storm, a painful lesson I learned while touring some of the hardest hit areas of New Orleans after Katrina?  There are several apps for that but seriously, go take a class.  At the very least learn how to change a tire, safely use jumper cables and at least temporarily restore your car’s radiator to operating status.  And in addition to all the other stuff you should have ready to go already (go read that one; it’s really good), always, always keep a fully charged standard size fire extinguisher, jumper cables and powerful flash light in your trunk.

Speaking of driving, Google Maps now include a decent traffic overlay but I usually rely on this one because it’s based on embedded road sensors and camera observations.  Even medium-sized metro areas now have similar municipally-provided data.  Check and see what might be available by simply searching for “(my town) traffic map,” compare different maps for accuracy from time to time and definitely pre-load the one you choose on your phone.  I use mine several times a week, even when hell isn’t breaking loose, and it’s a real time-saver.

Speaking of hell breaking loose, this one you just have to look at to get an idea of what’s going on.  It’s zoomable but you can also hit the root URL and select specific regions.  I’ve heard it referred to as “crisis porn” but glancing at it every so often helps keep things in perspective although it also makes me a little jittery.  And yes, somebody else provides a mobile version.

Finally, those of us in hurricane country know about Whataburger’s admirable allegiance to their own “last to close / first to open” policy and hitting their store locator at whataburger.com comes in handy when you need a break from the canned tuna and Triscuits.  Same for Academy Sports and Outdoors or the big-box sporting chain in your region.  Think batteries, cots, coolers and portable lighting for those of you who didn’t prepare ahead of time but expect competition for whatever is left on the shelves.

Which ones did I forget and what similar links do you use?  BC resilience thrives on all of us sharing what works best and we’ll post an updated list based on your input.  And remember, if you can’t find or load the links or apps that you want to have in case there’s an emergency, ask the closest 15-year-old.  They can do it faster than you can change the batteries in your flashlight.

***

Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or to find out about a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.





Tweaking Your Business Continuity Plan: Delegating Wisely Is As Important As Hiring The Right Person

27 06 2014

When it comes to hiring it’s not only critical to hire the “right” person for the job but also to utilize that person to the greatest benefit and capitalize on their strengths.  At least that’s how we see it.

And that’s how we see business continuity as well.  Think of your own organization.  A plan gets written and then it sits on the shelf until it needs to be activated and when that happens, it’s not enough just to have written the “right” plan.  You have to utilize your resources – including the human ones – in a way that’s smart, efficient and plays to people’s strengths.  If you don’t, you jeopardize the success of your recovery, not to mention your mojo at work.  As your organization grows, so grow the number of people on your away team and the size of your plan overall.  And it’s up to you to keep pace and continually reimagine the “who will do what” part of your plan.

So it’s no surprise that, as business continuity has evolved into a ‘real’ industry and grown so much in the last 10 years and, lucky for us, Continuity Housing has evolved and grown right along with it, we have occasion to step back, take a breath and reimagine the “who will do what” part of our own company.  And when we did that very recently, we quickly decided that it’s time to create a new position.  Namely a Team Lead who will oversee the daily operations of our Account Executives, making sure that we meet our deadlines, troubleshooting any problems our clients have with hotels, ensuring the accuracy and redundancy of our record-keeping and supervising Continuity Housing concierge personnel when our clients’ deployment teams arrive onsite.

Sounds great, right?

Well, meet Julie Hicks .

Julie

Julie

If you take me out of the picture, Julie has been with the company the longest and has worked more deployments than anyone else on the team.  It can be hard sometimes to play to her strengths, though, because she has a number of them.  The ones that earned her this promotion are her organization, her leadership and the diligence, tenacity and creativity she shows when contracting with hotels.  She’s worked both sides of the check-in desk since 2000 so she knows exactly how hotels operate and how to get the most out of that relationship on behalf of Continuity Housing clients.  And the part our clients like best?  She doesn’t take no for an answer from hotels – at least not until after an exhaustive effort – and she holds our hotel contacts to their word.  (Personal note: besides all that she’s also a genuinely pleasant person and a joy to work with.)

In short, Julie has been there and done that.  In her new role, she will continue to manage our largest client’s program – 950 rooms spread over 25 hotels in four cities – and will add to her plate all the responsibilities mentioned above.

She’s no slouch!

Asked to describe her new responsibilities, Julie responds that, “I will serve as a mentor for our Account Executives as well as ensure that our clients’ needs are met in a timely manner.  I am here for the team to understand their challenges, offer solutions and jump in to assist when needed.”

Julie-family-at-beachWhich is the ‘what’ but exactly how does Julie feel about all this?  “I love to see a great plan come together in an emergency. It’s our time to shine, and our clients’, too!”  Julie lives in Frisco, TX with her husband, John, 2 kids, Harrison and Halstyn and their weimaraner Barron (named after William Barron Hilton from her 10-year career with Hilton Hotels) and spends her weekends as soccer/dance mom on the sidelines of soccer games or in the lobby of a dance studio.

If you’d like to send her a congratulatory note, you can reach her at Julie.Hicks@continuityhousing.com.  I’m sure she’d love to hear from you.

***

Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or to find out about a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.





$#@! Business Continuity People Say (Rated G)

20 06 2014

A few weeks ago I was listening to a guy being interviewed who’d recently published a book aimed at college kids encouraging them to pick up some good habits and drop some of the bad ones in order to not only get a job but actually keep it.  One of his comments was that “Some of the older truisms are now considered cliché and therefore disregarded in general. But there’s a reason they’re called truisms.”

What's seriously wrong with this picture? Click to view our webinar on post-storm (and general) electricity safety webinar from last week presented by Warren Rogers of Connecticut Light & Power.

Recovery truism #439: any damaging storm has the potential to seriously impact the IQ of some of the people involved. What’s seriously wrong with this picture? Click to view our webinar on post-storm (and general) electricity safety presented by Warren Rogers of Connecticut Light & Power.

Which made me think of think of my habit of encouraging people to charge their phones whenever they have the opportunity because, “Even on a sunny day, you never know when the power might go out.”  I’m a BC geek. So I asked a bunch of our clients and friends – all BC pros – for their favorite examples of $#@! that BC people say.  Given the nature of the BC mindset, I wasn’t surprised that I got a lot of responses and here’s the list.

  • “Only a quarter tank left?  Time to fill up.”  (Same for AA batteries, toilet paper, etc.)
  • “So what’s your generator’s exercise schedule?”
  • “Come on over! We’re eating down last year’s hurricane supplies so we can go buy new ones.”
  • “You didn’t tell your neighbors you bought this, did you?!!”
  • “You dropped your cell in the toilet?  I don’t even take mine into the bathroom!”
  • “First one to fall asleep cleans the bathroom tomorrow.” (Said jokingly during a hurricane ride-out at headquarters.)
  • “Sandals?  Never.  Even to the beach.  If there’s an emergency, you can’t run in those.”
  • “Hope someone checked the emergency elevator brake.”  (Heard at EVERY BC/DR show while standing in elevator with multiple BC planners.)
  • “Never miss an opportunity to market a disaster.”
  • “Got a pen? Surely somebody has a pen.  We always have a writing tool backup.”
  • “SPAM and beanie wienies can taste amazing together.”
  • “I’m tired of IT saying their disaster plan is a ‘revised resume.’”
  • “Beware of sharks swimming in your neighborhood.”  (Beachside neighborhood after superstorm Sandy.)
  • “Good news, IT fixed my laptop.  Bad news, they cannibalized our disaster backup equipment to fix it.”
  • “Will we be getting some cots for this year?”
  • “Who’s in charge of catering for the long weekends?”
  • “Is the Last Person Out out of the building?”
  • “OK, where’s the fire?!” (With thanks to @BCMAC7 for those last four.)
  • “You and your friends ate all of the MREs while we were gone for the weekend?  Do you have any idea how many calories each one has?”
  • “Never run out of snacks and caffeine in the Command Center!”
  • “Always expect the worse and you will never be disappointed.”
  • “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” – George Patton

Another submitter contributed the Top 10 Signs your BC program is in trouble:

10. Following your last disaster, the first words spoken by your Incident Commander were:  “Who’s in charge here?!”
9. Corporate Headquarters are right next to a nuclear plant in the flight path of Miami International.
8. You have more resources devoted to continuity efforts than to production systems.
7. You frequently hear the question, “We have a Business Continuity Program here??”
6. Instead of a plan, most people just keep a copy of the local yellow pages and a link to monster.com.
5. Your boss thinks resilience means being able to make the corporate softball tournament 3 years running.
4. The latest DR procedures mention something about punch cards and floppy disks.
3. Managers show up to your exercises . . . in gym clothes.
2. You see a Boy Scout Handbook and wonder if anything in it might improve your program.
1. You just realized this Top 10 list is meant to be humorous.

Our friend Aaron Milner at Agility Recovery Services contributed the following (he created the one at the bottom):

AARON-vert

 

And then there’s this fairly humorous video that Homeland Security produced.

Share your favorite $#@! BC people say.  Email me or comment and we’ll post them in a few weeks.  Include whether you want credit or not and we’ll link back to your company website or LinkedIn page.

And as a follow-up to all this, are BC professionals – at least the good ones – a little bit OCD?  Discuss.  We’ll follow up on that, too.

***

Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or to find out about a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.





The Folks Who Keep Our Lights On All The Time: A Fly on the Wall at The Annual Gathering of Experts

10 06 2014

To be fair, I was a little more than just a fly on the wall.  I got to deliver my very favorite message: a hotel room night is a perishable good.  In good news though, if you want to guarantee those rooms will be available to your organization on a contingency basis should you need them for business continuity, there are ways you can work around that.  But that’s another topic for another blog.

Last week I had the genuine honor of attending and presenting at the annual Edison Electric Institute Business Continuity Conference in Kansas City, MO organized by the Edison Electric Institute.  The Institute headquarters out of DC but the conference is held in different member cities and the host this year was Kansas City Power & Light.  (Special thanks to Les Boatwright from KCPL for his terrific presentation on exercising cybersecurity.  It gave me a lot to consider in my own business and with my clients on their drills.  Oh, and hello, barbecue!  Outstanding, which is saying a lot coming from a Texan.)

The conference was productive and informative, and as a fly on the wall, I sponged up everything I could to add to my BC/DR knowledge.  The biggest thing to come out of this for me, though, was the clear indication of how much the electric utilities share, communicate, innovate and plan in order to keep our lights on.  Impressive.

Ed-and-Michelle-selfie

Ed and me. We were evidently very happy to be there!

I was invited to attend by the esteemed Dr. Edward Goldberg who was there representing Northeast Utilities.  He presides as vice-chair of EEI’s Business Continuity Committee but ended up running the entire event, as the actual chair experienced travel delays making her unable to attend at the last minute.  But not to worry – Ed is highly accomplished professional and he did a bang up job.

The conference opened and closed with an impressive and polished color guard provided by KCPL, a nice touch that added a sense of gravity and pride in the importance of the gathering.  This 2-day conference generated conversation between 32 high-level attendees from electric utilities from 19 different states and Ontario.  With such a cross-section of North America, the event gave me a seat at an experienced and knowledgeable table, and throughout the 2 days I was able to really drill down in regional discussions that will ultimately enhance our service to our own customers.  I’m grateful to have been so welcomed and appreciate the insights of everyone I met.  I was surprised that there weren’t more coastal states represented than the eight in attendance, given the season, but then that might be the very reason they were not there!

Educational topics included:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Guaranteed housing
  • Tying together BC, emergency management and risk management through an all-hazards approach
  • Crisis management best practices
  • How utilities can leverage their own workforces to deploy them on secondary assignments to support contingencies
  • Industry benchmark survey results
  • Lessons learned and the ES-ISAC (Electricity Sector Info Sharing Analysis Center)
  • ESCC (Electricity Sub-Sector Coordinating Council): government/industry partnership roles and responsibilities
  • EEI’s own business continuity initiatives
  • A general discussion of what keeps this group up at night – i.e., we lose sleep so the public doesn’t have to

Perhaps the most important part of the discussion in my opinion centered around a new initiative to help keep the entire North American electric grid stable in the event of a calamity.  We’ll post about that next week. It’s great news.

kclp-color-guard

The KCPL Color Guard.

And because we’re all hard-wired with the various fundamentals of our professions (especially when you love what you do), I couldn’t help but make a few observations of the hotel I stayed in.  I know . . . but when you do what I do for a living, it’s hard to just simply “travel.”  Sometimes I wish I could turn it off!We stayed in the Country Club Plaza area of town, which is a great pedestrian mall-type area with tons of dining, shopping and entertainment.  It was designed by J.C. Nichols who began acquiring property for the project in 1907.  Initially branded as “Nichols’ Folly” because the area to be developed was considered undesirable, the Plaza was an immediate success from the time it opened in 1923.  And today, I bet any one of us can name at least 3 places in our own backyard that are designed this same way.

The Sheraton Suites Country Club Plazaisn’t the newest or the fanciest property, but the staff there was one of the best I’ve ever seen and here’s why.

  • There was a couple who’d made repeated attempts to check in over a period of a few hours, and each time they were told that their room wasn’t ready yet (presumably because they needed a very specific room type that wasn’t plentiful at this property).  On there 3rd visit to the front desk, the desk agent came out from behind the desk (during a time when the desk was slow) to sit down and talk with them.  He found out where they’re from, what brought them to KC, etc. and then escorted them to the restaurant to have some wine on the house.  I happened to be sitting in the lobby working on my laptop at the time, and he had no idea what I do for a living.
  • Same for the housekeeper who cleaned my room.  She was actually in it when I went back to pack and check out during our lunch break on the second day . . . and she offered to help me get my things together!  Who does that??
  • And then there’s the bellman who stepped out from behind his desk to do a magic trick for a couple of young kids who were waiting in the lobby. NICE.

I couldn’t be happier to have attended the conference – nor more in debt to Ed – because I learned a lot about how the utilities come together to support each other during an event, how they share best practices and resources and generally support one another.  This was a very experienced group of professionals and I was 100% honored to be a part of their conversation.

In fact, now I might even lose a little less sleep at night.

***

Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or to find out about a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.





Don’t Forget to Register: Free, 35-Minute Webinar on Post-Storm Safety and Electric Utility Familiarization

4 06 2014

Just a reminder that time is running out to register for our extremely educational and fast-paced 35-minute webinar at 10:30 Central / 11:30 Eastern on Thursday, June 12th.  Space is limited but you can register here now.  The webinar does include a sales pitch that lasts all of about 20 seconds. If there’s a conflict on your schedule, register and you’ll automatically get a link to the video recording the day after the webinar.

register-buttonI’ve been involved in the production of more than 100 webinars in the last 8 years and I’ve probably attended at least 100 more and this is one of the single best general information presentations I’ve ever seen.  The presenter is Warren Rogers, Safety Supervisor – Eastern District for Connecticut Light and Power.  He makes this and similar presentations almost weekly and he does an outstanding job.  I asked him to give me a few bullet points and this is what he sent:

Did you ever wonder . . .

• What is all that stuff on the utility pole and is it dangerous?

• Which is more dangerous, the wires coming to the house or the ones on top of the poles?

• If my family is in a car-versus-pole accident, what should they do to stay alive?

• What can I do to live a long time and not die by electrocution?

Obviously the presentation is not just about storms.  It also deals with your daily exposure to electrical hazards which are much more likely to be the cause of an injury or death.

I rarely suggest to anyone that they should do something because they’ll “be glad they did”; the phrase rings hollow and sounds disingenuous.  But you will.  Register and watch this one.  You’ll realize five minutes after it starts that it’s a great use of your time.

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Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or to find out about a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.








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