Having just moved to New York a little over a year ago from London, I was unsure what to expect from Hurricane Sandy. Although the media had done a great job painting a doom and gloom picture of how hellish the hurricane was, there was a part of me that just didn't believe the hype.
My husband advised me on Saturday that I should go to the store and buy food; I laughed and said, 'Why you are making such a big deal about this?" He responded, "Because it was."
On Sunday while watching a movie, I heard an unfamiliar alarm. Unsure as to where it was coming from, I decided to grab my phone and walk outside. Well, it turns out the alarm was from my iPhone. The alarm was a push alert with an evacuation message. It was at that moment that I started believing the hype. My first thoughts were to buy some food to keep us going for the few days that I thought the storm would last. I arrive at Whole Foods to see queues wrapped around the store. I purchased what I believed is hurricane food; well, was I wrong.
Monday rolled in and I was working as normal, still, if I'm honest, not taking the storm seriously. I sent my final emails in the evening, say around 7pm, and decided I'd have a glass of wine and watch a movie. I could hear the winds picking up but again, I wasn't worried that anything serious was about to happen.
Around 9pm I saw what seemed like lighting out of the window, it was a bright white light that seemed to grow is shape. About 20 seconds after seeing the light, everything around me went dark. I called my husband and friends that live locally, and they too had no power.
I was shocked how could this be happening -- this is New York. We can't have a blackout... or could we? Being the adventurer that my husband is, he asked me to meet him outside and explore the outside world. To be honest, I wasn't really up for it, but hey what else was i going to do without power at night? After exploring we found a local pub that had stayed open. We sat and drank with other locals discussing the blackout and Hurricane Sandy. To be honest, we all thought the power would be back on by Tuesday... how wrong were we. Did I mention that I live on the lower east side?
Tuesday morning I woke up to a cold apartment and a phone that couldn't make any outbound calls. I could receive texts and pull up some emails but not much else. Oh, and did I mention that my phone didn't have much battery and my laptop was dead? Yep, it was at that point that I knew that I was well and truly in trouble. I am a business owner, well, I run two companies. I work for myself and rely on phone and email communication to run my companies. Without it I am cut off, unable to produce projects, get new clients or check in with operations. I felt helpless, powerless and very aware that perhaps I needed to re-look at how I run my companies to ensure that they do not rely so heavily on my input.
A few entrepreneurial friends of mine were in the same boat, if not worse. They had left Manhattan to escape the storm and were now told that they could not come back in unless they could find three people to share a ride in with.
So what's the lesson that Sandy taught me? Well, she taught me that it's important to have a backup plan, to ensure that my business can run without me and my local team. Sandy has inspired me to look at ways in which I can delegate more. Although I am a CEO, sometimes I still run my business as if its just me, which although makes my inner control freak happy it doesn't make good business sense. Especially when there is a 900-mile wide hurricane coming my way and leaves me powerless for four days!