|by Brenda Fields
- No matter how hard we have it, someone else has it worse.
Remember the British Petroleum oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico
off the coast of Louisiana? For about three months, oil gushed
unchecked into the Gulf of Mexico and images of devastated wildlife and
oil-slicked beaches were publicized around the world.
The oil spill is considered by many experts as the worst environmental
disaster ever in the United States. Tony Hayward, former Chief
Executive Officer of British Petroleum, said in April to fellow British
Petroleum executives, "What the hell did we do to deserve this?"
Ironically, environmentalists and the families who lost loved ones in
the explosion could ask the same question. On May 31, 2010, Hayward
told reporters, "The first thing to say is I'm sorry." However, he
continued, "We're sorry for the massive disruption it's caused their
lives. There's no one who wants this over more than I do. I would like
my life back."
- You can't underestimate the power of good public
relations. Tone-deaf, Tony Hayward probably set new standards for
public relations disasters. But a close runner up was Hewlett-Packard
and its former CEO, Mark Hurd. In August, the HP board condemned the
exec for authorizing over $75,000 in compensation to Jodie Fisher, a
former adult film actress who was hired to do marketing work for the
company. Hurd abruptly resigned, but left the company with another PR
crisis. It came to light that Fisher, who accused Hurd of sexual
harassment, also alleged that Hurd informed her about a major HP
acquisition before it was announced.
If that's not enough, far crazier was the way that HP handled the
entire debacle, leaving hundreds of unanswered questions to be explored
relentlessly in the press, exposing a board of directors in great
turmoil. In late August, it was slapped with a shareholder lawsuit for
"gross mismanagement." In the end, the board cleared Hurd of any sexual
harassment charges. Hurd settled with Fisher and even landed a nice
little job at HP rival, Oracle. At HP, meanwhile, what remained was
mounting legal bills and the bitter taste of Hurd's awkward departure,
not to mention a fall from grace in the public eye.
- You can't control Mother Nature. Despite great
planning and great foresight, life can and does hand us a curve ball!
For example, who knew that an ancient volcano in Iceland named
Eyjafjallajökull, would erupt and cause complete chaos throughout
the world. Volcanic ash turned day into night and grounded flights,
stranded travelers, and cost individuals and businesses money, time,
and effort, not to mention heartbreaks when lives were disrupted and
once-in-a-lifetime events were missed. There was an unprecedented
number of flight cancellations, more than 100,000 between April 15 and
21, affected millions of travelers, and the fallout by all accounts,
cost the airline industry alone approximately USD$1.7 billion. And more
recently, snow and blizzards resulted in a total disruption of and halt
of travel plans in the US and Europe, up to and during the Christmas
holiday period, with flights cancelled and travel in cars and on
- There's always a light at the end of the tunnel. The
world shared the in the grief and horror of the Chilean miners who were
trapped 2,000 feet below the surface in a collapsed mine; and was
united in its elation when the 33 miners were miraculously rescued
after being trapped for 69 days. For the first 17 days, all miners were
believed to be dead.
But in mid-October, after 69 days trapped below the earth, one by one,
each miner was brought to the surface and was welcomed by family and
friends. There was an overwhelming out-pouring of love throughout the
world. One of the miners, 63-year-old Mario Gomez, was brought to the
surface breathing from an oxygen mask. Gomez had worked as a miner for
50 years. After he was helped out of the escape capsule, he immediately
dropped to his knees to pray. "I never lost faith that they would find
us," he said. Esteban Rojas also knelt and prayed on arrival. The
44-year-old had promised to wed his wife formally in church if he got
out alive, to seal their civil marriage.
U.S. President Barack Obama hailed the rescue operation as an
inspiration to the world and stated, "This rescue is a tribute not only
to the determination of the rescue workers and the Chilean government
but also the unity and resolve of the Chilean people who have inspired
So, here's to learning and growing and to a better and
brighter 2011! Happy New Year!
This article was reprinted with the permission of the author.
About Brenda Fields
Brenda is a hospitality sales and marketing
consultant and industry leader with 30 years of demonstrated success.
She is a member is the International Society of Hospitality
Consultants; serves on the America's Board of Directors for HSMAI; is
past president of the Greater NY Chapter of HSMAI; and was named "Top
25 Extraordinary Minds in Sales and Marketing by HSMAI. Brenda can be
reached at www.fieldsandcompany.net
, email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or call at +1 518 789 0117.