Storm-Chasers (Issue 530)

In which we are reminded that early warning systems are the key to generating timely new ideas for clients or to avoiding trouble.

After a week of rainless record high temperatures and dying grass, the wind blew and wet smudges on my windshield announced the arrival of rain as I drove away from my house on Saturday morning.

The rain picked up a bit as I drove through the rotary and onto Commonwealth Avenue in West Concord.  I passed the new ice cream parlor, then the West Concord 5 & 10 where I spied its owner, Chris Curtis, and one of his employees standing in front of the store, looking alertly skyward, studying the clouds.

OK, so not a big deal, right?  Looking up at the rain? Wondering whether to put out the Saturday sidewalk displays? Feeling grateful?  Except that…

Chris is a storm-chaser, one of those WiFi/GPS/radar equipped van volk who chase before, during, and after spring tornados in Tornado Alley – most recently Missouri, where he and his team were among the first responders after the Joplin tornado. (Over the wall-side cash register in his store there is a picture of Chris in a New England Patriots jersey, standing a couple of miles in front of that tornado before it hit Joplin.)

So… when HE looked up at the sky and craned his neck to see this way and that, I felt a serious twinge in my belly.  Like…. What does he know that I don’t yet know and, if HE is on the alert, should I be finding a basement?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hmmmmm.

I took a deep breath….. and drove on.

As it turns out, West Concord received even, steady rain with a couple of gentle wind gusts. However, it does give one pause…

How lucky might that have been?  For me to be driving by the West Concord 5 & 10 at JUST the precise moment that Chris stuck his head out, potentially giving me a signal that  could have saved me.

Yes, an over-active imagination is a joy forever and…. who provides such storm warnings for us in our major accounts or prospects?

Sure, we can get news from on line news releases and periodic meetings with our “best face forward”  internal contacts.  That’s like reading about tornados in the newspaper, the day after.

So who are the internal “storm-chasers” whose skyward vigilance and radar help them monitor evolving company atmospheric conditions and anticipate internal disturbances or opportunities… which of them are willing to share that information with us real time so we aren’t caught off guard… and how often do we check in with them so we can plan ahead and either share timely new ideas and proposals or get out of the way?

No warning system works unless we turn it on!

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