Despite the infomercial like headline this is a rather confronting, we-all-need-a-kick-in-the-pants-occasionally kind of blog. I have structured it in terms of this happened to me, this is what I did and the lessons I can share for you to learn from. To set the scene shit happened to me, it resulted in learning a lot about myself and others in my life and taking a serious look at my priorities – leading to this blog because I think you need the same wake up call I just had.
The shit that happened
My father fell critically ill and within 2 hours of hearing he was in ICU I was on a plane before camping there beside him until he was out of danger. He is 66 and otherwise healthy so is recovering now, those first 4 days when his prognosis wasn’t that great are a complete blur for me, and everyone in our family, as are the weeks since. It’s only now 5 weeks later that I am sensing control returning to my world.
Dropping everything to focus on something that important is unquestionable, realising coming out the other end I literally dropped everything came as quite a shock. I couldn’t remember where things are at, am still emailing and calling people to say “sorry I didn’t get back to you…”, gradually piecing it all together.
What did I do about it
Truth is I did nothing really, I became the full-time medical care advocate dealing with that fascinating and hugely complex world, my family were there too and rallied to deal with the farm and our businesses operationally in Nelson, our staff there rallied and help through what was a significant key person absence – my Dad, who is my business partner and their operational manager being completely uncontactable.
Good design meant the OptimalHQ group of companies kept going thanks Shane and our great team (especially Rachel and Geoff thanks), things suffered where I am solely responsible, pipeline, product cadence etc but the operational nuts and bolts carried on without me.
What I did do eventually was a lot of thinking. This was a scenario nobody had foreseen, so what other scenario’s should I be prepared for – what if something happened to me? to Steve? to my children wherever they are in the world? my other business partners? What if a natural disaster happens in Nelson or Wellington or Auckland? The reality is we all “kinda” think about these things, we write DR and BCP’s for our companies, we maybe have some earthquake preparedness gear but until I found myself sitting in Nelson Hospital ICU I hadn’t really thought it all through at a portfolio level – macabre I know, but necessary to confront.
What I learned about my own preparedness for Shit happening
It’s a simple list, open and honest and reflective:
- Family comes first – self explanatory with the added note of needing to talk to/see/do stuff with them more
- My portfolio is complex and I need to write it down, while each individual company is in order but across my investments I do ned to dot some i’s and cross some t’s so if something happened to me Steve isn’t left facing a massive challenge figuring it all out (worse still if something happened to both of us….)
- Who I can really count on and who I can’t – the biggest shocker for me was despite my responding to calls/texts/emails with “I can’t deal with this now because….” there are people in my life who have no empathy! none.
What I need to put in place to protect
- Businesses are investment vehicles – there should be no key person risk for any role at any scale, business interruption takes many forms and must be planned for – I knew this on one level, need to put it into action pronto
- Staff – it is my responsibility as a director and employer to ensure all of my holdings will sustain any kind of business interruption and maintain operations to protect those who are dependant on that income
- Partners – with a complicated portfolio, shareholders and business partners differing across entities I need to insulate each of those individually. I apply the hit-by-a-bus test to my teams, need to extend that to myself.
- Family – they are why we do what we do, the world has moved on from inheritance and legacies but it is important for me to put protections in place for my family, to enable me to drop everything should anything like this happen again, and to enable them to do the same for me.
3 Lessons to Share
Hopefully this post has got you thinking already, to help focus those thoughts here are my lessons to share:
- Build a personal Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan – sounds a tad clinical but worth taking the time to do, this should help you identify your blind spots and weaknesses or gaps. Do a map of everything then run through what if scenario’s to build the worst case plan.
- Confront your own thinking – worst case planning is hard emotionally and just hard to force ourselves to do, if you are a parent, have debt, an Entrepreneur, a growth business owner – or all of those like myself – you need to confront yourself to create your personal plans.
- Revisit your insurance position – we live in a world where we can insure for almost everything, key person, life, health, management liability you name it. Take a good hard look at your personal BCP/DR and then map that against the insurances you hold – is it enough?
Don’t put this off, start your planning today, Shit can happen anytime, to anyone, you need a plan – it can be simple and shared with your significant others or ideally written down. This should be something we all revisit annually just to confirm circumstances haven’t changed and therefore remedies don’t need revisiting.
This might all sound a tad scare monger but until Shit happens to you I feel it’s my role to share this wake up call moment with my network. I am lucky enough to have a wonderful network of people (the ones who have no empathy will be the subject of another post soon) in my life, fabulous business partners and Steve (the dude I live with) insulating them as much as possible is my new mission.
So here’s to No Shit Happening in your lives while you are all comfortable in the knowledge there are plans and protections in place just-in-case it does. Happy Sharing, Vic.
I searched for images of Nelson Marlborough DHB and stumbled upon this awesome photo of NMDHB staff from their website – one of those awesome people is my little Brother whose office coffee machine was put to excellent use while we were camping at the hospital.