Boating and Business: Surviving the Summer

Originally published via LinkedIn May 10, 2017

This past weekend, many of us celebrated a poignant and emotional holiday: Memorial Day. This holiday weekend represents several things. First and foremost, remembrance for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. May they rest in peace and never be forgotten. Amen.

Secondly, it’s the official start of summer. Hallelujah, pass the Hawaiian Tropic! And finally, it’s the first weekend of boating season. #Yaaaasss

Because I am a nerd, I’m constantly connecting everyday things to aspects of my job that I enjoy the most. So naturally while living out my fantasy life on Three Rooker Island, along with dear friends and family, our American flags waving proudly atop our freshly polished T-tops, I thought about all the ways boating can help make me a better at my business.

Don’t over salt the margarita: The perfect margarita is made with tequila (and a little Cointreau if you’re fancy), lime juice, and salt. (For the love of Peter, if you have any sour mix in your bar, jettison it immediately to the nearest drain.) A little salt is necessary to cut the tart, tangy, limey goodness of the classic margarita, but too much salt and you ruin it (“like an asshole” as one of girlfriends says). The same is true for marketing. The best marketing is simple, to the point, and with just an adjective or two for impact and emotion. It’s difficult to write good messaging. It’s way easier to pack a mess of marketing jargon and industry buzz words into a paragraph that doesn’t say anything. Unfortunately, the latter just makes you sound like, well, a you know what. And I don’t want to be one of those. So moving forward, every time I start to write copy, I’m going to have a margarita…wait…no, I mean I’m going to be much more cognizant of my ubiquitous use of flimflam words like bergschrund. Just kidding. I don’t even know what that word means.

Know when to wait for an opportunity: On the water, the larger boat has the right-of-way. Why? Because they are harder to stop and you are not trying to die. It might seem counter intuitive to yield to the big guy when you’re trying to get ahead but keep in mind smaller boats are faster, more nimble, and can react to obstacles much quicker. As you both depart the next no-wake zone, take that opportunity to pull ahead. You’ll be on a plane while they’re still building speed. I’ve find myself sometimes hurrying from one project to the next, eagerly anticipating next steps, standing on my tip toes (mostly because I’m short as hell) to peer over the crowd to see what’s going on down the line. This summer, I’m going to try a new tactic: hanging back a bit to wait for the perfect opportunity to present itself. Let’s hope that pans out!

Take the outside: The channel can be crowded both on and off the water. It can get choppy and rough, because everyone is supposed to remain in a designated pathway. Don’t under estimate the benefits of the taking the outside. Sometimes the longer route is smoother, has less traffic and more open space, and you arrive at your destination quicker, drier and less sea sick. Not everyone takes the outside because it removes you from the relative safety of the inner coastal waterways, but when was the last time you heard a CEO/Founder/Trail Blazer/Leader/Super Hero suggest following the status quo is the path to ultimate success? Never. No one says that.

Mind the chop: The ocean is the industry and the chop represents disruption. I tried to think of a slick metaphor here but I’m a few lightly salted margaritas in and it’s hard to type on a boat. If you allow the waves, either from the wake of another boat or an impending storm, to hit your boat in the wrong way, you will at best, get soaked and at worst, risk being capsized. You cannot ignore the chop. Well, you can but those are the boats you see pulled off on the side of the channel with their crew hanging their heads overboard losing their lunch. Navigate effectively. Face the disruption, the obstacles, the challenges, the lay offs and reorgs, the new manager, the next trend, whatever it is, head on and with determination.

Help a brother out: Always assist a fellow boater in need. You never know when it might be you who needs to be towed back to the boat ramp or who runs out of beer. Being willing and prepared to help others will come back to you in the form of admiration, gratefulness, favors, and good karma. Now who doesn’t want that?

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