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    January 27, 2009

    A Gen Y Strategy Director in Crisis: The Cell Phone Went Dark

    Recently, I faced a situation that while it has nothing to do with fundraising, upon post traumatic reflection, I think is a good example of the Gen Y mind at work and shows just how reliant we are on technology and have become accustomed to being plugged in. The convergence of technologies also became evident here. So, brace yourselves for a look into what happened when my cell phone (i.e. lifeline to the entire world as it turned out) broke:

    As I watched it happened, panic, regret, and cosmic karma payback swept over me. Why, oh why am I such a klutz? Why oh why have I been putting off switching plans so I could get a new one? I have seen the demise of this one coming for months....Why oh why did this have to happen with an ice/slush storm coming?

    When my phone finally landed on the floor, the lights went out. The flip part of my phone literally flew off and slid across the floor.

    "Ok. Stop. Breathe. Don't panic." There has to be some way out of this! MUST stop panicking. You do strategy for a living for goodness sake. Ok, let's try to approach this from the perspective of handling a client's fundraising crisis:

    First, let's survey the landscape:

    1) We know that I only have a cell phone. No landline. We also know I can't install Skype on my work laptop. %#%!

    2) We know that when working from home, cell phone is the way to reach me.

    3) We know that it's snowing, and icing, and nevermind that I am not going to drive 4o miles to work today because I am a bad-weather driving wuss, it is unlikely I am going to venture as far as the cell phone store, bc I still have not made up my mind about which new phone and phone plan to go with.

    Analyze the Implications:

    1) I use my cell phone to tell time and as my morning alarm. I am likely to have no idea what time it is and oversleep.

    2) I have long ago stopped remembering phone numbers bc I had them all in my phonebook! This is what happens when we rely too much on tech. (If I wasn't such a luddite, I'd have one of those synching phones and could at least view my phonebook on my computer...) Let's hope I don't have to call anyone whose number or email I don't have memorized by heart.

    3) No major meetings tomorrow, so if I am in the dark for a day, it could be ok. But you never know what client issue might arise...

    Think Bigger Picture. (i.e. instead of panicking, try to figure out a way to move forward)(this is an important step once the full implications of the landscape one finds themselves in becomes clear):

    1) Yes, my internet is working, yes I have TV, but I am CUTOFF from the world. I can't tell time, I am probably going to oversleep, and when my boyfriend, who is traveling, texts me that he got in safe on the other coast, I won't be able to read it, bc my screen is not working....

    2) Why, oh why, does our IT department not let us install Skype??

    Finally: develop, plan, and execute a plan to move forward and reach objectives (in my case, voice-to-voice communication ability for the next 24-36 hours). A good strategy person always has a good Plan A, and a back pocket plan B, and a real back pocket plan C:

    Plan A: see if there is anything salvageable with this phone. It
    would appear, that while I cannot answer the phone through the flip part that is
    across the room, if I plug in my headset, I can answer and make calls. But only
    to people who's phone numbers I remember. Since I can't view my phonebook.

    Plan B: should this method of communicating with the world fail, I will log
    into my other computer, sign on to Skype, and Skype out for all emergency calls.
    I will have to call everyone since they won't be able to call me. Whatever Skype
    charges for out calls is worth it to not brave the cold, ice, and whatever else
    is out there to forage for a new phone.

    Plan C: Should plans A and B fail, I will go downstairs and beg the lady at
    the front desk to let me use the phone. I will knock on my neighbors doors and
    finally meet them should the need arise.

    Plan D: I don't even want to think about plan D. This would require going

    (photo from

    Epilogue: after three days in a cell phone dusk (I could answer my phone but had no idea who was calling me, I finally ventured outside in the slush and am now the proud owner of an iPhone. More to come on how I think this "can do way too many things" gadget could be optimized for fundraising.

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