Hang on Tight, Stupid, or (Better Yet) Get out of the Way.

April 15th, 2013 by Rich Christiansen

One week ago I took my family on a much-needed family respite to the Southern Caribbean as my children were on Spring Break. These are some of my favorite islands in the world. It’s just a grand adventure. There was one destination in particular that I was excited to visit and that was Maho Beach or what is better known as the Airport Beach in St. Maarten. I pride myself that I’ve visited many of the “Ten Most Dangerous Airports in the World” including the Lukla airport in Nepal. ?Indeed, the St. Maarten’s airport is one of the ten most extreme airports in the world. Large jumbo jets come barreling over this beach and you feel that if you were to jump up in the air you would touch the planes’ underbelly. ?Watching these jets blast past you as they fling debris, sand, and dirt is actually extremely exhilarating.

I watched with great interest as several fools attempted to hold on to the back of the chain-link fence that separates the beach from the airport runway, staring down the barrel of a 747. As that engine roars up it throws up debris and sand and everything goes flying, including those tourists who can’t hold on tight enough to the fence. A few of them hang vertical for a while but eventually lose their grip and fly back, sliding down the sidewalk and pavement. ??As they are doing this I think, “You’ve got to hang on tighter than that, stupid or better yet just get out of the way.” (You see I stood behind a smaller airplane and that was enough for my pallet.) Nonetheless it was really fun to watch these idiots attempt to hold on to the fence. As I looked at that I could not help but liken it to a business analogy as I always do. Today I have five strong tips to help you know how to either hang on really tight or get out of the way. Here are my five tips.

Number One: When you see many other failures occurring. Similar to that airport, when people are flailing around on the ground, trying to find a stronghold it means it’s probably time to run and get out of the way of the jet engine’s blast. It is the same way with a business.

Number Two: When there is great confusion in the industry. Take note when everyone’s confused as to what’s going on in the industry. We’ve recently seen that with Google and their Panda and Penguin updates. Everyone’s confused. That often means it’s time to sit down, hunker down, and get out of the way. In the case of the airplane it kicked up all kinds of sand, dust, and debris. People couldn’t even see until the commotion had died down. Once everything settled down it was easy to navigate the beach again.

Number Three: When prices decrease dramatically. When your margins or prices are rapidly decreasing that is typically a sign you are on a downward wave and that the wave is about to plummet and grind you into the ocean floor.

Number Four: When there’s a lot of noise and blather. When you get the industry experts and pundits all standing up and blathering and making bold statements about the confusion that’s a pretty good sign that it’s time to stand back, let the dust settle, and get out of the way.

Number Five: When you see non-natural or contrived ways of doing business happen all around you. This is a pretty good sign that some disaster is soon to follow and it’s time to take a step back. Indeed timing is everything. ?In business just getting on the front of the wave can mean great success that will push you for a long time. On the other hand trying to ride the back of a jet airplane and having it thrash you into the ground is a time to get out of the way.

In business people frequently just hang on too long. I’m confident as you watch for these signals it will help you navigate the storms of business and of jet airlines blasting you in the face and enjoy it. In closing I’m including a couple of bonus YouTube videos as a bonus that shows just how close the airplanes get at this beach and just how dumb some of the tourists act and if you ever get the opportunity to go to St. Maarten take it and go visit this airport beach.

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