So, here’s where the last post ended: In the copy room at Funger 315 I realize my Powerpoint presentation displays as Gobbledygook, I have no workbooks (“printer warming up”), there’s a lobby full of attendees downstairs, and I have two minutes until I’m supposed to begin speaking.
Oh, yeah, and a bunch of the folks in the audience are social media folks.
This failure is about to go viral.
8. 58 am With the Gobbeldygook presentation pulled up on the screen in the copy room, I text downstairs to my team and said,
My txt: “Does the PPT look normal?”
Team txt: “It looks fine!”
8.58 am I can wait no longer.
My txt: “Someone needs to come up here to wait for the workbooks with the security guard.”
I figure I’ll give the intro, and pray the workbooks are printed and brought down as I’m talking. If they don’t print, I seriously don’t know what I’ll do. Oh wait, I know:
8:59 am I walk out of Funger 315 and head downstairs to the lecture hall. The printer hadn’t even started, but Sis U must go on.
9.01 am When I step into the lecture hall, everyone is seated. Their backs are to me, and I see what they are viewing at the front of the room on the large screen. The WRONG presentation. It’s dated June 2010. So when my team was texting about the presentation that “looks great”…it was not the right presentation. I am not quite sure how this happened, and, at this point I don’t care. Action mode continues.
9.01 and 30 seconds: I go over to the camera guy, “How much additional time do you need to set up?” I ask. A delicious five minutes of time. I feel like a character in a video game (sound effects) “By stapling papers in the hallway earlier, YOU earned FIVE bonus points to cash in with the CAMERA MAN!” (Sound effects)
9.02 am I make an announcement in my calm Stepford voice,
Me: “Welcome to Sis U! We need about five extra minutes while the camera finishes setting up, so please, relax, chat, and here’s a little music for you!” (Smile, hiding inner panic, of what I will find on that Powerpoint).
9.03 am From the podium control panel, I blank out the LCD, and look for the USB drive in the computer menu. It’s not there. The USB with my presentation is not showng up. I remove the USB from one socket (or whatever you call these things) and plac it into another. Bingo. It shows up.
9.03 am and 15 seconds. I hold my breath and double-click the document to open it. Will it be Gobbletygook? One of my adorable team members tries to ask me something and I respond in my robot voice, “Can’t talk. Crisis mode.”
9.03 am and 30 seconds. Cha ching! The presentation comes up and the fonts are readable. I quickly page through the presentation, all okay. They are not perfect, but they are readable.
9.07 am I fire back up the LCD screen, look at the camera man – who gives me the thumbs up – and turnoff the music.
Me: “Welcome to Sis U! Today, you are participating in a pilot where you will engage in exercises, learning never-before shared. Our goal is to produce measurable results for your career in three hours.”
I know I can handle it from here if my team walks in with those workbooks. I keep on with the intro.
9.18 am My team walks in with the workbooks. (dot, dot, smileyface)
I breathe a sigh of relief. A big one.
So – fast foward: Ultimately, Sis U was a success and exceeded my and my team’s expectations in terms of results (measurable results). Here is a fantastic write up from WUSA Community Content Producer Leigh MacDonald (@NiceShuzNoDrama) and LiveYourTalk.com’s @JillFoster
But in those moments, where I was one step away from severe failure, I was not confident about success. And afterwards, my knee-jerk reaction to chaos or disappointment is always to say, “How can I prevent this from happening again in the future?”
1. You can’t. One viewpoint is that I CAN’T prevent all crises in my life and work. They ARE going to happen. Accepting myself as an imperfect person, who cannot manage everything into perfection like a cyborg, is a big part of my learning here. I just breathe into it, feel happy it turned out okay, and know that I can survive this…and probably other things that will surface in the future.
2. Time management. When I first thought about this crisis, I was convinced the “answer” was time management. Ideally, I would have done everything early, tested the PowerPoint, had the workbooks printed days before. But, in reality, I had – perhaps – one spare hour during the week. This is not to make excuses. This was just reality. I ask you, what should I have said “no” to of the below items to give myself extra prep time? The White House Council for Women and Girls Conference, my two classes launching that week, my husband’s guys golf trip (planned to coincide with a music fest in Austin).
3. Delegation. And, of course, the zinger of all lessons for me here is “delegation.” If I did it over again, I’d have people I trust involved earlier in the process. I cannot cap my own business by my limitations as one person. I need to EXPAND my vision of the business, and I believe that more people and partners is the way to do that.
Parting Thought: Is Your Business Fat or Thin?
A local business owner down here has described the “Fat / Thin” theory with business. He says, “Sometimes you business is fat. You have a surplus of staff and you are waiting for the business to support them. Then, there are the thin times. You’re spread too thin and need to hire staff and bulk up to handle what you’ve got on your plate.” This experience showed me that, despite the ultimate success of the event, we’re in a thin time.