Note: some details (e.g. people or company names) have been changed or story points editorially embellished, but the story is basically true)
“Well, that was pretty epic, wasn’t it?”
Continuity Insights Management Conference 2014. The conference for Disaster Recovery, Crisis Management and Business Continuity Management in the US. Hundreds of attendees from major organizations. Vendor list included MIR3, VirtualCorp, MissionMode, IBM, The BCI, Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy Tulane University, all of the major players. Attendee list read like a Who’s Who of business continuity management, operational risk, emergency response and compliance. Lots of breakthrough thinking in resiliency and preparedness. Big focus on the people aspects.
Closing reception, “The Sights and Sounds of New Orleans”. Great food, drinks, games, networking, and of course a jazz trio. One of the vendors, Roland Johnson, is introducing his friend to Bob Nakao, Continuity Insights Publisher and Conference Chair. “Bob, this is Martina Fišerová.” Nice to meet you, Martina, where are you from?” “I’m from the Czech Republic, now in New York City and I’m a singer.” “Wow, so you’re enjoying New Orleans?” “Oh, it’s wonderful. It would be a dream to sing in New Orleans some day!”
Bob looks at her. “Really? Wait a minute.”
He walks up to the band and says a few words. The band leader smiles and nods. “Folks, please welcome Martina from the Czech Republic onto the stage!” With a shocked look and a big smile on her face she climbs up. A brief huddle with the band and they swing into a couple of numbers. She’s absolutely jaw-dropping fabulous. The vibe in the room is humming.
A big finish, a resounding round of applause, and she’s climbing down with her eyes as wide as saucers. “You were amazing! Did you enjoy yourself?” “Oh, my, it was a dream come true! Singing jazz in New Orleans! Fantastic! Almost as great as singing in the French Quarter!”
“Really? I think I know a guy…” Bob spots their friend Marty Plevel over at the bar. Walks over, brings him back, and they’re having a quick conversation with the band. The band leader says, "Wait, I might know a guy..." He grabs a few business cards out of his wallet. Marty turns to Martina. “Let’s go. Hey guys, let’s take a walk!”
So now there’s a dozen of us heading down Bourbon Street with Martina in tow. We find Fritzel’s Jazz Club. Oldest operating jazz club in New Orleans. Small, impossibly crowded benches, four-piece band in full swing. The manager stops us at the door. “Sorry, club’s full.” Marty pulls out a card, they have a chat. Next thing we know, she’s leading us in (PS she’s also from the Czech Republic – who would’ve known?). The manager walks up to the stage and chats with the band leader. Another under-the-breath conversation with Martina and off she goes up to the stage. One last exchange… “Folks, please welcome Martina from the Czech Republic onto the stage!” Martina is in absolute shock! She climbs up, huddles with the band, she smiles, they nod, and she’s belting out a Billie Holiday number that blows the house down. Wild applause, and she’s climbing down from the stage yelling “Let’s give it up for the band!”
She’s in seventh Heaven. The manager shepherds us out to the back of the club. We’re having a drink in the back space, and Martina still can’t believe what’s happening. One of our group is saying, “I’m a semi-pro photographer when I’m not planning for emergencies, I’d love to help you with your album cover.” Another is a Risk Manager for a media conglomerate: “I’m not in the talent part of the business, but I might know a guy…” Suddenly, the manager comes out of the club. “Martina, the band wants you back on stage.” She is positively gob-smacked (as the Brits would say). We all squeeze back as the band is announcing, “One more time for Martina from the Czech Republic!” A rendition of “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love” that knocks it out of the park. More wild applause, and we finally make our exit. It’s right out of a movie. Marty looks at me, smiles and says, “Well, that was pretty epic, wasn't it?” I nod my head. “Marty, you are such an operator. Leave it to you to make it happen.”
Our entourage starts back up Bourbon. I leave the group at Fat Katz and make my way back to the hotel. The lesson from that night: Business Resiliency is like so much of life. It’s really about people. And sometimes, knowing a guy… who knows a guy…
Martina’s website: http://martinafiserova.cz/
Fritzel’s website: http://www.fritzelsjazz.net/
Watch Martina here (and excuse the quality. Hey, it’s a club video from a smartphone, OK?)