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Rockefellers, Reader’s Digest, and Bilingual Best Practices for Business Continuity

February 13, 2015 Leave a comment dridrive

By Buffy Rojas, DRI Director of Communications

When I think of Reader’s Digest, I think of Edith Bunker quoting words of wisdom gleaned from its pages just seconds away from another of Archie’s  “Will you stifle?!” smackdowns. The only other place I’ve ever seen the publication is in my chiropractor’s waiting room. So, imagine my surprise when I recently ran into Reader’s Digest on the Rockefeller Foundation’s twitter feed @RockefellerFdn.

Intrigued, I clicked. The article “22 Successful People Confess the Best Advice They’ve Always Relied On” quoted Judith Rodin, PhD, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, among other newsworthies and notables. It also got me thinking about the best advice I ever received and how remarkable it is that a bit of best practice I picked up as a college kid very much applies to the people I serve today – business continuity, disaster recovery, and crisis management professionals, the people who keep it all going no matter what.

That advice was: “You cannot use what you do not have.”  It was 1992. I was in Spanish class and Profesor Marcelo Coddou was in my face pushing me to be more fluent than I felt. I was stumbling, fumbling for a word: fork (tenedor, I’ll never forget it now). And as I ummed and ahhed and hopelessly stalled the conversation in search of that one perfect palabra, his fist slammed down on my desk as he thundered, “You cannot use what you do not have!”  Click. So since I didn’t “have” the word fork, I described a fork – the thing you use to bring food from the plate to your mouth – with the words I did have and the conversation continued.

Of course, if I’d had the time and had been writing a paper, I’d have gotten the-thing-I-needed-and-didn’t-have simply by consulting the dictionary. But conversation isn’t like that. Conversation is an immediate exchange. It doesn’t suffer those kinds of pauses gladly. I think continuity and crisis response are like that too. You have to make McGuyver-like calls in the heat of the moment, patching all the pieces together with duct tape and a paperclip all the while trusting in your instincts and your ability to improvise.

So, business continuity community, let’s take a page from Reader’s Digest. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received and how do you apply it to what you do every day? Shoot me an email at I figure if we share, then it’s more likely we’ll all have what we need when we need it.

Follow Buffy Rojas on Twitter: @buffyrojas