July 4 is one of Boston‘s B I G DAYS. (Others would include the Head of the Charles Regatta in late October, celebratory parades for our professional sports teams’ periodic championships, the Boston Marathon, and Sail Boston when the tall ships are in town.)
The Boston Pops Esplanade concert and fireworks are the Jewel in the Crown of the July 4 celebration. Roughly 500,000 people line the banks of the Charles River to hear the music and see the fireworks.
This year, we decided to move from our usual observation perch, the Boston University Bridge, a little bit more than a mile upstream, to the Esplanade itself, a little upstream from the Hatch Shell, where the Boston Pops performs.
With Boston Pops set to kick off at 8:30 pm, we and thousands of our fellow citizens headed toward the Esplanade between 7:30 pm and 8:00 pm. Arriving without any particular plan in mind, my companions decided that they would like to get as close to the fireworks as possible, so our objective became the outer Esplanade, toward the Mass Ave. bridge, reachable only by a narrow, arched foot bridge at the mouth of which stood several hundred spectators, 10 Massachusetts state troopers, and two very overworked gatekeepers, guys with wands scanning people seeking to get over the bridge, periodically shouting to (or at) the crowd pressing toward them that “bags are to the left, no bags are to the right.”
The line moved VERY slowly. Starting in the herd about 25 yards from the bridge, we moved roughly 3 feet every 10 minutes. Once wanded and approved by the gatekeepers, we crossed the bridge, and faced the task of navigating between and among people who had arrived earlier with the same idea in mind, to find a place to settle down for the show.
Happily, our search ended well. The view was magnificent. Smiles all around. But I felt we were lucky.
This time, we danced to the Pops’ schedule. Next time,we’ll set the schedule for our advantage – pick entry point and landing spot and get in early rather than waiting for the clock (or, in sales land, the calendar or an RFP) to mobilize everyone else, attracting a big crowd, creating gatekeeper traffic jams, and increasing competition for the spaces we seek.
Nick Miller is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. He assists banks and credit unions to generate more and more profitable relationships, faster, with business clients, their owners, and their employees through better sales strategies and execution. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.
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