What SMB’s Can Learn From Pilot Sullenburger

While I write about internet marketing most days it’s impossible to ignore the amazing story that occurred in the Hudson River in New York City yesterday. I am a native of New Jersey and have worked in Manhattan so I can easily picture exactly where this happened and just how bizarre it must have looked when a commercial jet used the river as a runway for an emergency landing. As a result the pilot, Chesley B. Sullenburger III, and everyone involved is being hailed as a hero today because they were able to take a potentially disastrous situation and turn it into a study in quick thinking and selfless action. Before we move on here I just want to thank God that this story has the most incredible and happy ending possible where there were no fatalities. Wow!

Sure many would argue that ‘Sully’ had some self preservation motivation but he apparently took responsibility to make sure that his passengers were able to get off the plane that had quickly turned into a sinking boat. Amazing. I have many more thoughts on what was really at work here but we’ll save that for another day.

 So how am I going to trivialize such an amazing feat by tying it to internet marketing? Well, hopefully I won’t. What I will say though is that this pilot exhibited some qualities that are more important than ever as we try to keep the economy and individual businesses from turning into a crash of tragic proportions.

  • Awareness – Sullenberger was well aware that the aircraft had been struck by birds and that something wasn’t right as result. He was completely aware of his surroundings and the impact on his ability to perform. As internet marketers are you completely aware of your surroundings? Do you see what seemingly harmless thing could possibly bring your business to its knees?
  • Preparedness – Did you know that two years ago this pilot started a consultant practice to help others understand more about safety in the airline industry? While we don’t wake up every morning expecting something that could throw our business into a tailspin, we do need to be prepared for anything that can happen. There can be no contingency that we should not have at least considered when we look at our businesses
  • Vision – Let’s face it. If you are faced with having to perform an emergency landing directly over the New York metropolitan area you don’t have a lot of open space. In a matter of seconds a decision had to be made as to where could this plane be put down that could preserve the people on the plane and not impact who knows how many people on the ground. When things go haywire in your efforts to build your business do you have the vision to pull off a safe landing for all involved?
  • Creativity – Talk about taking lemons and making lemonade! Mr. Sullenburger got real creative real fast. Can you do the same with your internet marketing efforts if something you are doing or some circumstance is going to ground your business?
  • Training – Only a well trained and experienced pilot could have pulled off such an amazing feat. He has been in the industry for 29 years and has seen it all. Of course, very few of us reading this have been in anything for 29 years but our industry allows for the best and the brightest to find training to exhibit experience that belies the calendar measurement of experience.
  • Cool – This pilot kept his cool. The crew kept their cool. The passengers, as a result, kept their cool. The way that everyone responded to this incredible event is amazing and commendable. I think that it is fair to say that after this plane came to a halt in the river that many could have drowned but they didn’t. Why? Because they kept their cool and worked together, as partners, to make sure that they all made it out. They also had a lot of help due to emergency crews that seemed to show up out of thin air. Are you keeping your cool during these economically tumultuous times?

So we can learn something here. Let’s not lose sight of reality though. What we do on a daily basis isn’t heroic like what happened on the Hudson yesterday. It is important though because how we conduct our business affects many, many others. How are you impacting those people? Do they see you as someone who is aware, prepared, visionary, creative, well trained and cool under pressure? They need to so let’s get there.

SMB Takeaway – As internet marketers we need to exhibit qualities that will create success. It is not an accident that those who survive extraordinary times were intentionally well equipped to survive. In our world of internet marketing you need to be aware, prepared, visionary, creative, well trained and cool.

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