Have you ever heard the old boy scout adage, “Be prepared?” Sometimes the simplest lessons we learn as a child can translate to affect our “grown life” in one way or another.

At the 2011 Paris Air Show, GES Vice President of Business Development Tom Merrill and I met with our SDD Exhibitions colleagues on the weekend before show opening. The weather was absolutely terrible. The rain and the wind didn’t let up and our jobs weren’t going to be put on hold for the weather. Tom and I went on a hunt all over the city to find umbrellas, but we couldn’t find them.  It was Sunday and as many of you may know, in France few stores are open on Sunday.

After a delicious French dinner, Tom and I were walking back to the hotel and he spotted a few umbrellas in a small roadside kiosk along the Champs de L’eysee. Speaking very little French, I managed to ask the man running the kiosk if we might buy, “Tous Les parapluies,” or “all of the umbrellas.” Well, the enterprising salesman disappeared to a hidden area in the kiosk and reappeared with three large boxes full of umbrellas. I (in my broken French) shouted with joy, “Oui Monsieur, je vais prendre tous les parapluies,” or “I’ll take them all!” SDD and many of our clients and prospects were thrilled throughout the week to be sheltered from the rain during the air show.

I know you’re wondering, well what’s the point of this story? Okay, you bought some umbrellas. The story doesn’t stop there. The next morning the rain was even worse than the day before. Tom and I were preparing to go to the show and came across another American in the lobby pleading with the hotel staff to secure an umbrella. Tom leaned over to me and whispered, “We have an extra umbrella.” I approached the gentleman and offered him one of ours. He was very delighted to hear this and let us know that he was in Paris to explore the possibility of securing a chalet for the 2012 Farnborough Air Show. Tom not only got to share a lot of the fine work we did at the Paris Air Show with this gentleman, but he ended up submitting a proposal to the gentleman’s company that we recently won for upwards of $500,000. Remember, this business deal all started from simply offering him one of our umbrellas.

The moral of the story is simple. Always be prepared and show kindness no matter where you are or what you’re doing. In an airport, on a plane, eating at a restaurant or even checking into your hotel, you never know where the next opportunity may come from. Sometimes it only takes an umbrella!

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