In The Trenches

Whatever happens…

Published on November 8, 2016 Back to blog

Today is bound to be an interesting one, as our eyes and ears are glued to the news outlets to see who will be our next leader. Regardless of the outcome of the vote, many people across the country may be upset, scared, frustrated and, at some level, feeling helpless. However, without taking any political sides, I am writing to provide encouragement, perspective and guidance through the lens of a situation I experienced just a few weeks ago. 

As I awoke on the morning of October 21, the day of our annual Be Bold, Be Bald! cancer fundraising event, I excitedly opened the admin page of our site to see how many donations had come in so far. Traditionally, the day of the event is the most active day of fundraising as participants around the country are putting on their bald caps, sharing photos/videos in social media and asking for donations. However, my heart stopped when I saw what I saw – a long list of donations, each with a status of “failed.” I then went to our public home page and was presented with an error message in the center of the screen. %&&%$$^&##)(&!!!! 

This was not a good time for our website to be down. We were losing thousands of dollars right before our eyes. We immediately called our development team to address the situation. However, after checking every possible issue, they determined that it was not an issue with the code. We then frantically called our web hosting company to see if they could identify the problem. They could see that our website was unable to connect with PayPal (among other sites), but couldn’t seem to fix it. 

Around noon, we learned that there was a major internet attack preventing access to many websites including Amazon, Twitter, Netflix, New York Times and, our payment processing partner, Paypal. It was out of our control. So, rather than focusing on fixing a problem out of our control, we took a different strategy:

1. Re-focus – As soon as we realized that the issue was out of our control, we shifted our energy away from what we couldn’t do and huddled together to figure out what we could do.

2. Minimize the impact – We immediately posted alerts to our social channels and sent an email to all participants and beneficiaries to let them know about the problem, and ask for their support. This helped address the influx of emails and phone calls from people reporting problems, while also activating the community to spread the word of the issue and encourage their friends and family to keep trying or come back later to make a donation. 

3. Make lemonade out of lemons – As we watched the media report the Internet attack, we saw an opportunity for our story to be told. We called our PR guru (Kim Ring), and reached out to our media connections, asking them to include us in their reports. Within hours, local and regional news media around the country were calling and including us in their story.

4. Learn/Improve – Since the day of the event, we’ve huddled together on a few occasions to identify ways to improve BBBB and determine how we can reduce our dependency on just one day. Lots of great ideas have come to light, and we are excited about bringing them forward in the months ahead. 

Although fundraising is open until the end of the year, we don’t expect to raise as much as we’d hoped for. But, without the right attitude and response, it could have been worse. And, we got more media exposure than expected and have identified new opportunities for moving forward. 

So, today, as you watch the polling data come in and learn who our next President is going to be, I encourage you to follow our approach. Once your vote is cast, the result is out of your control. If the outcome is not what you wanted, try not to get frustrated. Instead, focus on what you can do to minimize the impact and make the most of the situation. Maybe it’s an opportunity to move to Canada (or, if left up to my kids, Australia). Or, perhaps it is an opportunity to get more involved in your community and take a more actionable stand on the issues that matter most to you. The future can be bright – it just depends upon how each of us respond and act. 

Have a great day!

Jeff Freedman
CEO/Managing Partner
Small Army | Finn Partners