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By and large, crises are a wet blanket to shenanigans. Obviously! But that doesn’t mean fun isn’t important. A positive work/life balance is essential when life is circumscribed by quarantines and social distancing. So, while this article does touch on COVID-19, what I really want to talk about is a good party.

The other day, I experienced something I never expected: a cousin of mine called to ask my professional advice. If you’re in HR or investing, this may sound like no big deal. I get it. But as a business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR) professional, this never happens. We’re a niche industry, to put it nicely. But the events we’re seeing today are creating a weird cosmic alignment where BC/DR skills are relevant and interesting! Perhaps it’s vanity speaking – I’ll admit to a little vanity – but it’s about time we were in the spotlight!

If you’re reading this, it’s likely you are part of the BC industry. Which is great, because that means we can geek out about our successful DR tests or when “that plan” completely crashed just like you knew it would because some manager refused to put in the time. There’s a rule in the BC/DR trade: any gathering of three or more BC/DR professionals eventually leads to disaster. Unlike most parties, our get-togethers are full of crises, disasters, and emergencies. And we like it that way!

Alas, most of the parties I attend are non-BC/DR functions. Over the years, my wife and I have developed a set of secret signals for non-BC/DR parties. Most of these signals involve her shoe and my shin. To be honest, my wife is usually right. We’ve all been there. You’re chatting away when the discussion comes around to what you do. “I do disaster recovery,” you say. Initially, they’re like “Ohhh! Did you go to [recent site of disaster] to help the people there?” Each time, I consider saying: “Yeah, that was me. We parachuted onto this white sand beach, fought off evil eco-terrorists, and distributed EMKs (emergency makeup kits) to the desperate students at Vogue Modeling Academy.” But I don’t.

As much as I want to be “that guy,” I am not. You know who I’m talking about: the guy or gal who brightens up an event like fireworks at a picnic. They draw the spotlight to them like moths to a flame. Inevitably, these folks are consultants or entrepreneurs. Perhaps they are doctors or even academics. Restaurateurs, brewers, and vintners are almost certainly in this crowd. Rarely will lawyers or judges fall in this group. Neither accountants nor actuaries. And, sadly, not business continuity planners.

Of course, there are always exceptions. During the OJ Simpson trial, lawyers and judges were hot! Just ask Judge Ito. When Lehman Brothers was crashing, accountants were “in the know.” But when do BC planners get that spotlight?

I’ll tell you when: never! And I am not happy about it!

I can hear you responding, “That’s not true, Nick! Right now, we are it!”

Let me tell you, from my perch in lovely Beverly, Mass., we might be “it.” But “it” is no party. Why? Because social distancing is the antithesis of a party. Tell me, is anyone in your neighborhood throwing a party soon? Nope! Not a single festive occasion on the calendar.

No birthday bash. No coffee klatch. No happy hour.

TV watching party? Season canceled.

Game night? You lose!

Coming out party? Really? What do you think “shelter in place” actually means?

It is irony of epic proportions. These very events make BC planners desirable party guests prohibit throwing parties.

Thus, as I hung up the phone with my cousin, having dispensed undoubtedly sage advice about continuity planning and preparedness, I was both elated and depressed. I realized this was probably the zenith of my professional social desirability. They called me for advice! Which is cool. But when we finally get together in person, their interest in BC/DR planning will have fallen back to the level of etymology and pin collecting.

I just had my “shining moment”… locked in a closet with the blackout curtains up.

Which is okay. Even if the rest of the world doesn’t get it, I know you do. BC planners are cool. What we do is important. It keeps critical services available, businesses open, and people employed.

Maybe we don’t get to be in the spotlight often. But we’re stars, nonetheless.

And there is always DJ D-Nice’s Club Quarantine.


Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson, MBCP, lives in Beverly, Mass., and works as a risk manager for John Hancock. Along with being a passionate partygoer, Johnson enjoys reading science fiction, tennis, and sculptural woodworking.

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