Risk & Reward (and celebrating with Chile)

It’s almost 2am – and I can’t rip myself away from the online and television coverage of what is happening in Chile. While I’ve been rejoicing with each miracle, big and seemingly small, that has brought these men out of their captivity, I’m also thinking of the terrible tragedy this situation could have been. Mining is inherently risky – period.

Center Rock Drill, located in Berlin, Pennsylvania, played a huge role in Pennsylvania’s Quecreek Mining incident in 2002. Their expertise was called upon in Chile as well. Brandon Fisher, Center Rock Drill’s company president, is like Harry Stamper of the movie, Armageddon (the hero portrayed by actor Bruce Willis). No one, perhaps, knows better how these men’s lives will change after they are rescued, and the inherent risks they will face because of the experience they have survived. What further peril lies ahead for these men and their families?

But we also take risks, perhaps not quite so dramatic, in our lives and businesses on a day-to-day basis.

I’m thinking of one of my students, who is a single mom with seven young children, attempting to continue her education. She moved here (where she has no relatives) from the south because she thought this area gave her the best opportunity to help her reach her goals, give her children a quality education, and give her the environment she needs to start, succeed and thrive in her child care consulting business. She is a remarkable and intelligent woman, fully deserving every opportunity we can give her to help move her life forward and increase her self-sufficiency. Only an incredibly brave person would take a risk like this, believing there will be great reward from this giant step of faith.

“Joe & Sally” (names changed to protect their privacy) have been facing some pretty tough odds. Both are veterans; “Sally” has many physical challenges. “Joe” has worked in a mini-market for years; while this job has provided for his family, there’s not much money left after all the bills are paid. They came to me nearly three years ago with a dream of buying the convenience store where he has been working. I don’t think I’ve ever counseled clients with so many “ifs” in moving forward. And I have never seen two people work so hard to write a (killer) business plan that impressed everyone who read it. IF they hadn’t been veterans, IF John hadn’t had a good deal of experience in the grocery business, IF they didn’t live and work in what qualifies as a “disadvantaged neighborhood,” IF they didn’t have complete belief that they could serve their neighbors in a way that is desperately needed, IF they hadn’t met each kernel of discouraging news along the way with additional resolve, they would have given up. We’re still waiting to see IF we can get funding for them through a new state program to purchase this store. They have shown remarkable resolve and patience as we negotiate all the red tape involved. While they might not have a huge financial risk at this point, they have a sizeable emotional and sweat equity investment at this point – and risk terrible disappointment.

Amy Howell (@HowellMarketing) in Memphis, Tennessee had a vision for a social media event to help brand her company and demonstrate the power of an early adopter of social media. With the help of sponsors The Vanick Group, FedEx, The Memphis Daily News, The Peabody Hotel, Pinnacle Airlines, and the Judy McLellan Team, she brought social media superstar @ChrisBrogan to Memphis this past May. Amy and her incredible staff booked the largest ballroom at The Peabody Memphis, worked tirelessly, and waited with “bated breath” to see how this risky event would pan out. Twenty-two of her fellow marketing professionals with whom she’s connected on Twitter flew in to share in the occasion and embrace the opportunity to meet IRL (in real life). I was honored to be among those colleagues; as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, this was a life-changing experience for me. We’re all truly excited about the synergy this event created, built on some foundational work by Jeff Ashcroft, @TheSocialCMO. Ever the marketer, Amy spun the media story to talk about the social media powerhouses flying in from around the US and Canada to take part in this event. And her risk was rewarded: the advance registrants were joined with a good many walk-ins, Brogan delivered on his promise, her sponsors were delighted, and Memphis recognized Howell for the true “Power-Tweeter” she is.

Vincent Van Gogh stated that “Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.” What small things can you, in your business, bring together to mitigate risk and move forward to achieve rewards worthy of measure?

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