A good friend once told me that I should write a book about my adventures as Division 1 Mascot at the University of Maine as it would make a great read. I am not so sure about that, but what do want to write about are some of the traits that not only make a great mascot but an expert in resiliency planning. These traits or characteristics are based on the experiences both as a mascot and as a consultant with over 20 years of experience in business resiliency planning.
When I first started as the Mascot for the University of Maine. also affectionately known as Bananas the Bear I had no idea of what I was getting myself into -let alone on how to act, what to do, how to get the crowd into a game, etc. (Probably how many you felt when you first started in the world of BC/DR) I was a shy kid from rural Maine – where would I start. The obvious choice was to ask my predecessor and when that wasn’t an option I asked a friend and my first mentor. – Nancy Dysart (affectionately known as Miss Nancy , due to her experience on a local Romper Room television show). Miss Nancy’s first words to me were “Show NO Fear” and just put on the costume and just do it. It wasn’t quite as simple as that, but I got the message. First thing I had to do was learn how to skate because Game #1 was a UMaine Hockey game and I was expected to be on the ice between periods. The key I soon discovered was to turn my fear and weakness into a strength. If I couldn’t skate – so be it, be the bear on skates like at a circus. Whoever heard of a skating bear anyway? I did practice and learn how to skate (some would say I didn’t) but that is another story in self.
So how does showing no fear translate into becoming an expert in Business Resiliency? It’s easy. As a business resiliency consultant, it is about being able to demonstrate the ability to bounce back or overcome disasters and learning how to persevere, take constructive criticism and in turn helping businesses to #prepare, #respond and #recover from disasters. I was never a cheerleader in high school and was a marginal athlete at best, but in time Bananas the Bear was named a top 10 Mascot in the US, named an all-American Cheerleader for 2 consecutive years featured on one of the very first ESPN profile on mascots. Taking that background and turning what a self-preservation move due a job layoff in 1997 to becoming a conference speaker and an in-demand builder of Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery Programs was a piece of cake compared to hearing chants of “Shoot that Bear”, and the ensuing boos during my first season as the University Of Maine Mascot – Bananas the Bear.
The next lesson is being flexible and being able to adapt to changing conditions. Stay tuned for the next blog entry on that Topic