Category Archives: Personal Success

Contingency Planning – At The Highest Level

Well, here we are. In the USA, we are at the beginning of an unprecedented event in our lives: the pandemic COVID-19.

A key phrase I heard (which is definitely ringing true): Life as we know it will change.

Again, it has only begun!

Next, the country will move more towards ensuring critical services (emergency response, healthcare workers, grocery stores and gas stations) remain available, while at the same time a complete lockdown is considered.

If this isn’t real to you yet, it is about to become VERY real.

At this juncture, there is no time for, or benefit from, spending ANY energy laying blame or politicizing this situation as nearly the entire planet is in the same boat.

Instead, let’s do what we can (which is a LOT) to minimize the spread of the virus and the socioeconomic impact that WILL be felt far beyond the event itself.

I shan’t cover what has been said repeatedly during White House briefings and other communications about personal hygiene and social distancing. And, if you haven’t been watching the White House briefings, (hearing things from the horse’s mouth) you are getting critical information 3rd hand, spun by the media, resulting in confusion (even panic) as to the true state of affairs.

The next scheduled White House briefing is at 3:30pm Eastern. Tune in!

A critical resource I’d highly recommend staying on top of is the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) which you can view by clicking here. This is sound guidance for all of us to heed – as individuals.

Now, to business. And, I’m not sharing this to ensure companies remain profitable. I am sharing this to ensure companies remain VIABLE.

Said another way, if drastic measures are not taken NOW there are companies which will not make it, resulting in shuttered employees as well as the loss of the important products and services manufactured and/or distributed by these firms.

The most critically important are those companies which provide products and services CRUCIAL to society, to ensure they continue to do just that (as the TOP PRIORITY) ahead of any other initiatives.

To achieve the above, there is a key guiding principle that must be adhered to:

Production MUST Prevail

This, to the exclusion of ALL other / non-essential activities.

To support this, a very clear message must be delivered “from the top” that the number one priority is to ensure all resources understand the importance of this mission critical goal (production must prevail) and that any activity that would impact this should take a back seat.

So, what is a company / leader to do?

Following are practical steps that can be taken to plan, prepare and execute accordingly.

  • Identify mission critical:
    • Processes – What are the key processes needed for Production to Prevail?
    • Personnel – Who are the key personnel?
    • Resources – What are the key resources?
      • Tools of collaboration for a remote workforce (email, Webex, etc.)
      • The manufacturing facilities which produce, and distribution centers which move, critical products
      • What about key partners and suppliers?
  • Identify activities which can be paused or de-prioritized
    • Example: All companies will likely experience disruption in their supply chain. Those that produce a critical product for healthcare need to ensure existing customers continue to receive life-sustaining product. To do so, it is worth considering ceasing all NEW customer acquisition so that ALL production and inventory can be allocated towards fulfilling demand of existing customers to ensure they don’t run short.
  • Command and Control / Communications Protocol
    • Define a management / communications structure to ensure the upwards and downwards flow of information, solely focused on the status of critical operations.
      • Who is responsible for monitoring updates from the government and health-related authorities?
      • Who is responsible for interpreting the above as relates to the impact to critical operations?
    • Conduct daily (or more, as necessary) status checkpoints with critical operations
    • Provide daily (or more, as necessary) company-wide updates.
      • Via email, Webex, etc.
      • Include contractors and consultants who may be on the fringe.
  • Determine backfill strategy
    • If (when?) critical personnel are impacted by the event, who will backfill to perform their crucial role? Better to leverage existing / internal resources who are already oriented and trained (to a degree) vs. attempting to hire in this environment.
  • Identify and fill gaps that materialize with a near-fully remote workforce
    • Example: How do signature approvals take place? Yes, email approvals “can” work in the interim. However, in highly regulated environments these email approvals are often required to be followed-up with “real” signatures. This will create a backlog of work (and potentially loss of “official” approval-related documentation). If something like DocuSign hasn’t been implemented, it may be time to do so – now!

The above is meant to provide some “initial”, practical advice for business leaders to consider in responding to this unprecedented event. The failure to consider the above could very well mean failure: failure of the firm you represent.

We are Americans: Failure is NOT an option!

In closing, the above guidance results from decades of experience including, but not limited to, preparing for and executing numerous disaster recovery / contingency planning-related activities and scenarios (both real and imagined).

I hope you find this helpful for you / your firm!

Be safe, healthy and practical!

More to possibly come…

Follow Your Bliss – Part 2

What a great summer it has been!

Several months ago I posted the article Follow Your Bliss, sharing background and an update on my becoming a Registered Maine Guide. More specifically, earning my Recreational Guide license.


The purpose of this post is to share an update on what has been going on since then, as well as a related accomplishment, recently achieved.

In summary, I am pleased to report, I had the opportunity to be “on the water” almost every day this summer. At a high-level, this summer’s activities included:

Note: You may click on the links above to learn more about any of these activities.

While the above was going on I was, in parallel, preparing for an upcoming test to earn my Fishing Guide License.

It is here, I’ll preface the update: in the spirit of full disclosure…

That is, my “original” Fishing Guide test took place in June, on the Monday after we had returned from our Allagash adventure. Unfortunately, I did NOT sufficiently prepare for one area covered in the test. And, I failed…

Zowy, that was humbling…

You see, when you test for a guide license, there are “at least” two major segments, based on the nature of the license being pursued. First, a written test, which I passed with flying colors. Second, an oral test, in which the applicant meets with a panel consisting of Game Wardens and Master Registered Maine Guides.

During the oral exam you are literally hammered with questions and scenarios covering fishing laws and techniques (hook and worm, lures, fly fishing, trolling and ice fishing) as well as the safe and efficient operation of watercraft and related regulations, the identification of species of flora (trees and plants: edible and otherwise) and fauna (birds, mammals and fish), and finally, handling situations you may encounter with clients (illness, injury and/or behavior).

What makes this part of the exam most interesting is that the panel of interviewers are quite coy, in true Mainer fashion 🙂

As an example, one of the questions asked was: “How do you adjust the freeboard on your canoe?” Here, the interviewers are determining if you understand the anatomy of a canoe, and if you don’t will you try to B.S. your way through it. Fortunately, I “do” know the anatomy of a canoe, so I responded with “Well, I suppose that would be based upon how much you put in the canoe.” You see, the freeboard is the amount of a canoe’s side which is above the waterline. The more you put in the canoe, the less the freeboard.

At the end of the test the scrupulous interviewers indicated I had demonstrated significant knowledge in the area being tested, but I had missed on an important item. I wasn’t able to identify a sufficient number of flies. And, since Maine is well known for its fly fishing, they felt this was an important area to demonstrate significant competency. 

Damn! Especially, since I used to tie flies as a kid. And, I am quite good at fly fishing. I simply didn’t take the time to refresh my memory banks and prepare for the identification of a sufficient number of flies.

Upon humbly, yet wholeheartedly, agreeing with their decision, I graciously thanked them for their time and promptly put in my request for a re-test.

It is here I went into cram mode, which included preparing flashcards covering a number of flies. I studied these at least weekly, awaiting my retest, increasing to multiple times daily, leading up to test day.


Example flashcards prepared for fly identification

Well, re-test day was yesterday, and I am happy to report that I passed. I am now a Registered Maine Guide with Specialized licenses in both Recreation and Fishing!


A Togue caught while trolling Sebago with my neighbor, Tom Roth, also a Registered Maine Guide and owner of Sebago Lake Guide Services.

What is next?

Later this month I’ll be guiding a group (upwards of 10) on a hiking / camping expedition on Mt. Katahdin. More on that soon!

In addition, I’ll be updating the website for my guide business (Maine Adventures) to include Fishing Guide services.

And, finally, now that summer is over I’m entertaining a Project Management gig, with one of my long-standing clients. We’ll just need to make sure it wraps before next summer’s adventure season 🙂

In closing, never give up on your goals and dreams. And, when (not if) you have a setback, get up, dust yourself off and give it another go.

All the best and more to come!

You only live once – Make the most of it

I hope you find the following article to be a refreshing alternative to what we typically experience in the media.

The link shared below will take you to an article I wrote for and was published by The Windham Eagle, regarding the author of the book: Finding Kurdistan: A Kurdish Iranian American’s Journey Home.

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Hawreh Haddadi is interviewed by Adrianne Shetenhelm, Windham High School APEX Program Leader.

Click here to view the (short) article.

Briefly, the article summarizes the account of a Windham, Maine family, who journeyed to their homeland and what they realized about America. If you’d like to read the detailed account, feel free to acquire his book which is available at Amazon.