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The Show Must Go On

The Show Must Go On

March 21, 2013

The Worst Business Trip Ever

 sleeping man 



What To Do When Everything Falls Apart

I scheduled three hours of meetings in my hotel room on arrival in New Orleans. I was booked the next morning to speak to a large group at the convention center across the street.

Everyone was there on time. Only one thing should have come later and preferably not at all:  an obnoxious cluster of jackhammers clearly violating maximum noise standards on the street below, and non-stop construction pounding immediately above my room.

No response to my pleas to the front desk. My invited clients were obviously unhappy, irritated, and frustrated. I was forced to end our meeting early on a sour note.

They left. I headed for the bathroom. No water. Called the front desk for help, only to hear, "That’s a tough question." Click. That night, I called far ahead to request a next morning wake-up call, and to request my car be brought up from valet and ready to go.

Nightmare in New Orleans

No wakeup call! So, I woke up late, rushed like crazy, and ran downstairs. No car. Did my best to wait patiently, but the valet parkers kept repeating, "We’re getting it." Finally, after flashing dagger eyes, they admitted they didn't even have the key. I had to take a cab. Missed my meeting. Again. Headed back to the hotel.

By now, I hadn’t showered for two days. Went to the gym for a quick workout, then back to the room to shower. Again, no water. Remember, I was scheduled to present to a large group at the conference center across the street in an hour.

Frantic, I called the front desk.

"I'll see if there is anything we can do," droned the clerk.

Wait....wait....wait...I yelled, “Now I'm really late.”

"Sorry, nothing we can do."  

"But what should I do?" I asked in disbelief.

"I don't know" was the response. Click.

In my world, the show must go on.

So I drained a little water from a water bottle into the ice bucket and tried to stick my head in. Yuck. No luck. Now I'm really late. I felt completely frazzled. And hungry.

No shower. No food. Little sleep. And I’ve run out of time.

Makeshift shower. Not the fresh feeling I hoped for.

The show did go on.  I'll tell you how in a minute.

Lost in Louisville

The calamities of travel are the stuff of legends. Just ask the cruisers aboard Carnival’s cruise ship, Triumph, stuck at sea for days, or the business owner jumping stanchions to connect out of Denver Airport in a blizzard, or one of the drivers in the 100-car pile-up on Texas Interstate I-10 last year.

Now, picture me in Louisville, Kentucky, scheduled for an important speech at PLANET, the landscape industry’s top trade show, in ONE HOUR.

My GPS landed me at the convention center parking lot, what seemed like miles to the entrance. I scaled escalators, hallways, and a slew of conference rooms, until I ran into a man who recognized me from the airport, and told him where I was headed.

 “Oh, the conference center you want is on the other side of the city, across the county,” he shared.

 Back to the car, reset the GPS. But when I got “there” there was nothing there! An empty street. I snagged a bystander who motioned me two more blocks up the road. I pulled in behind more than 100 cars lined up to get access to parking. By now, my hour leeway had shrunk to 8.5 minutes.

I got out of the car, ran like a bullet to the front to find kindly Kentucky gentleman in his late 70s, one man, handling the tickets. He heard my plight, gave me a ticket, ran back to the car, parked it in the back of the lot, some 200 yards to the entrance. Seven minutes left.

I ran the 200 yards, hopping over curbs, loaded down with a tripod, audio-visual equipment slung over my shoulder, and dragging one bag behind me. I kept thinking, “All plans fall apart when you hit the battlefield.” And this is my playing field. I will embrace. Huff-huff-puff. Gasp.

Suddenly, I arrived at the right room. Two minutes left. Cued up the presentation. Turned on the projector. And took a nice, deep breathe.  “Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.”

When Things Fall Apart

In those dicey moments when everything is falling apart?whether you’re speaking at an industry conference, entertaining your biggest client, or just plain caught up in a crisis, what do you do?  How do you cope? In my opinion:

  1. Accept the circumstances
  2. Hit the reset button
  3. Move on to the next moment

 Of course, it’s not as simple as I’ve stated. Or is it?  If we get bogged down, frustrated and anxious, guess what? We get to make a different choice. We’re in control. In every moment. Accept the truth of that moment for what it is. “Is this long line to the parking lot going to ruin my speech?  If I can’t take a shower, is it going to ruin my day?”

 Resilience is the most valuable emotional skill you can learn.

 Stress Less

The American Institute of Stress tells us that 77 percent of Americans regularly experience the physical symptoms caused by stress; 73 percent experience psychological symptoms. Sadly, one-third of all Americans feel they are living with extreme stress.

I offered up three tips to help you build your resilience muscle: Accept the circumstances, hit the reset button, and move on.

Truth be told, it’s not just in my world where the show must go on. In every business owners’ world, the show must go on. Resilience: it’s the one way we survive and thrive.

Always taking you from where you are to where you want to go.


Jon Goldman, President

P.S. I forgot to mention, my laptop crashed in Louisville, too