Do you sleep in a storm?

There are a number of ad campaigns that have, to the creator’s delight, left an indelible mark in my brain. I was watching the Super Bowl when the original Macintosh ad ran – still gives me chills to think about it. I loved the Budweiser ad when the farmers clapped for the Olympic torch runner. And if you’re familiar with American Standard Air Conditioning, my friend Mike Minogue from DarkHorse Creative is responsible for the ‘Maybe it’s too comfortable’ series of ads.

But in my mental file cabinet, is one series for the Boy Scouts of America. It featured several famous people, including President Gerald Ford. The theme of the campaign was centered on the concept that you never know where scouting will take you. I was a Boy Scout, and while I can’t claim to recite the pledge and probably won’t become President, I do remember the motto, ‘Be Prepared’; two powerful words that provide a valuable lesson for life and business.

2010 Men’s Retreat

I recently attended the 2010 Men’s Retreat hosted by August Turak at his farm. A group of very successful entrepreneurs, attorneys, teachers, consultants, a black belt, and others from various walks of life, gathered not for idle chit chat about sports, females, or money, but to explore their faith and share their toughest and most intimate personal and business challenges. To understand what it means to ‘spend time in the desert’ as Joseph Campbell describes in his book, “The Hero’s Journey”. And, ultimately, to prepare for the challenges we will all face in our lives.

The study materials for the weekend came from the Bible and were based on The Book of Job. An article entitled, ‘The Cup of Trembling’ provided the basis for discussions among the group. Perhaps it was the stunning scenery, the abundant and wonderful food, or simply Augie’s hospitality, but I cannot recall spending time with a group of men so engaged and open about their triumphs, their tragedies, and the challenges that lay ahead.

Each one of us has faced, or will face, tragedy and setbacks in our life, our family, and in business. Augie once told me that, “A small business owner dies a thousand deaths”. I understand completely. Baking cookies is honestly a pretty good occupation, but running and managing a business with world class service, like Anna’s Gourmet Goodies is tough and there are ups and downs like waves in the ocean. The key to surviving and succeeding is to understand and accept that adversity and ‘time in the desert’ is a part of the process. You can embrace it and gain strength to persevere, or wallow around and ultimately die of thirst – it is your choice.

One of the readings from the weekend was an excerpt from Mitch Albom’s book, ‘have a little faith’ – taken from one of ‘The Reb’s’ sermons. In it, he describes a farm hand looking for a job. The man presents his letter of recommendation from his former employer that states simply, “He sleeps in a storm”.

After he is hired, a terrible storm comes up and the owner panics, calling for the hired hand to help secure the farm. But he does not answer. When the owner runs out into the storm to check the animals, the hay and the grain, he finds that all are secure, in preparation for the storm. The hired hand is sleeping.

Storms will come. Again and again. The question that I ask myself, and you might as well, is this; are you prepared? People ask me about Anna’s Gourmet Goodies all the time, and I’d be untruthful if I said that we have not weathered our fair share of storms over the past 9 years or so. And in my personal life, I’ve spent some time in the desert as well. But through it all, we try very hard to take care of our resources, to cover the hay and lock up the grain, so that we can sleep through the storm.

As I was editing the video for this blog post just after midnight, something happened to my computer that I cannot explain. All of the icons from my desktop disappeared and some of the files that I had saved were gone. But every day, I create a complete image of my machine. So I simply backed up the current files, started the restore process, and went to sleep, knowing that when I woke up, the sun would be out and my computer would be running again with everything in place, ready for the next storm.

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