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  February 8, 2013
Life on a Rollercoaster...


Mondays aren’t always bad. Some Mondays  are in fact pretty darn good.

This last Monday was no exception.

Life is good...

I spent the previous weekend in San Francisco celebrating my wife’s birthday. Although it’s only a short one-hour flight from San Diego, we decided to take Friday afternoon off to get an early start on the weekend.

The weather in San Francisco was perfect; clear and crisp. Due to perhaps the offseason time of year and the special occasion that we were celebrating, the hotel upgraded us to the hotel’s honeymoon suite.

Friday evening, we had the opportunity to meet up with some old friends for an evening of drinks, laughter, and the recalling of fond memories.

Saturday night we discovered a hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant in the heart of North Beach with fantastic food and dark candle lit ambiance.  

In between dinners, we strolled along the streets and shops of the Marina District, rode the cable cars, and ate a picnic lunch in a park near the Presidio with the Golden Gate Bridge, sailboats, and Alcatraz in the background.

Sunday, we celebrated with locals as their team, the 49ers, attempted to bring a second major championship to the City within the last 6 months (with the SF Giants already a winner on the front end the daily double).

We arrived back home rested and refreshed... the perfect get-away weekend!

When I arrived at the office on Monday morning, I was greeted with smiles and good news from the team. Two very large projects... ones that we had been working on for several months... had closed and were now on the books. 

Throughout the day our phones rang with new opportunities for us.

Monday was a good day...
Life is not so good... 

Tuesdays... well... they are a different story altogether...

Tuesday I arrived at the office, grabbed some coffee and went to my office to start returning e-mail.

Shortly after I sat down, my phone rang.

The call was from an irate customer who had been promised delivery of some critical parts a week ago but never received them. She received some other OptiFuse parts that morning, but the most critical parts were missing from her shipment.

She was extremely upset and frustrated. I asked her some pertinent questions about the delivery... part numbers, and order numbers... and told her that I would have someone look into the matter right away.

Immediately I enlisted the help of our customer service and shipping team members to find out what happened to the missing package.

In very short order, we were able to determine that the package was incorrectly labeled and sent to another customer on the other side of the country by mistake. The most unfortunate problem was that this package was not even expected to be delivered for 3 more days and there was no additional product in our warehouse to re-send.

I needed to inform the customer we had no alternative other than to wait for three days until the parts showed up at the wrong customer, and then have that customer over-night the parts back to the correct customer adding a fourth day to the delay.

I picked up the phone and began to dial the customer’s number, when the line went dead.

"Now what?", I thought to myself.

I walked over to our general manager’s office and asked her to see if her phone worked... no... hers was dead too.

I immediately called the phone company on my cell phone. The representative on the line confirmed that service to the building switch was operational so that meant that our phone system had died.

I tried resetting the phone system but to no avail.

After calling our phone system company and performing some basic diagnostics, I was told that an onsite repair was necessary but that the earliest that they could get a technician out was the following day.

This meant no phones for the rest of the day.

Not a good way to run a business.

Still needing to call back the customer, I returned to my office to look up the phone number.

That is when I glanced at my outlook mailbox and saw an email from an engineer who was performing some testing on a new circuit breaker application.

The e-mail began, "Dear Jim, I regret to inform you... "

I knew that I wasn’t going to like what I was about to read from that point forward...

It seems as though the circuit breakers that we have asked the engineer to test did not pass the company’s stringent elevated temperature testing (well beyond that of UL’s standard testing) and were being eliminated from consideration for their new project.

Wow... just yesterday things were going so well... we were on top of the world... what the heck happened?

Life teaches us lessons

After a deep breath, I sat down to reflect on the events of the past few moments...

There was a preventable simple shipping mistake that has now caused a great hardship to one of our customers.

We needed to do three things immediately: 

  1. Figure out how to remedy the problem, if possible, quickly.
  2. We needed to communicate with the customer as to what we were doing to correct the problem.
  3. We needed to improve the process so it doesn’t happen again. 

Mistakes happen... but mistakes can help us to become better at what we do.

Sometimes, a unexpected problem will  arise out of nowhere and can cripple us.

Our phone system was operating perfectly... until it wasn’t.

We were perfectly healthy... until we got sick.

We had a great job... until the economy crashed.

Misfortune happens... but misfortune can also help to point out our vulnerabilities and present us with a bit of humility and empathy for others going through a rough spell.

Our customer had a problem... we proposed a good workable solution (at least in theory)... only when we try to apply the solution... it failed to work like it was supposed to.

Thomas Edison reportedly failed 10,000 times in trying to invent the light bulb. He responded to his critics by telling them that he never once failed... he just eliminated 10,000 ways that didn’t work...

Miscalculations happens... but miscalculations can test our fortitude and cause us to keep going in the face of adversity.

The rollercoaster of life goes up and down... one day you’re on top of the world and the next you’re in a hole... that’s what makes it exciting and exhilarating.

We can’t control a lot of what happens in life... but we can control our responses... it’s not so much about what happens but rather how you react to what’s happening...

Throughout our lives, there will be good days and bad... our setbacks give us a chance to learn... to grow... to be human... to overcome challenges...

... and to help us to appreciate the good days even more...

Thank you for your support OptiFuse, where we know that we’re not perfect... but we never stop trying to get better...


Jim Kalb
Email -
Website - www.optifuse.com

Blog - www.optifuse.blogspot.com
Twitter - @OptiFuse

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