Our copywriter, Brad Dunn, jumped in his car and headed south on an epic road trip with his son to view the solar eclipse a few weeks ago, here are a few business lessons he learned. Take it away Brad…
Did you participate in the solar eclipse last week? I did, and it included an epic road trip for father and son and some amazing lessons.
Why go anyway? First, who needs a reason for father and son to spend some quality time together tripping down the road with the top down and the tunes blasting? Second, the next time the United States will see another total solar eclipse is on April 8, 2024. I think a solar eclipse has so much to teach us in those brief moments that it is visible.
I should start with why I’m interested in astronomy, planets, and the solar system. It all started at the age of 14 when I received my first telescope bought at Toys R Us. I remember my mom taking on a special trip to purchase a four-inch reflecting telescope like it was yesterday. Once home and assembled I was out every night, and Jupiter was one of my favorite targets. I was recording the four inner moons movements each summer evening – charting the changing positions. One night – it was well after 12 AM, I witnessed one of the inner moons disappear behind Jupiter. It gave me goosebumps. I was reveling in the majesty of the cosmos – until my father stuck his head out the door and said, “Bradley – come inside now.” I came crashing back to earth and into bed.
From my nights of astronomy on my parent’s roof, there is a lesson that still holds true today in business at 53 years old.
Lesson 1: King For A Day
Our solar system is vast, and sometimes we can feel insignificant just like in the everyday business landscape, but we all have multiple opportunities to make our work story – king for a day. The Dalai Lama once said, “You are very small in the universe, but you are also an emperor.” We have the power to control certain actions in our business lives and make wise decisions that will empower not only us but the others around us as well.
Southbound with my son. When I learned about the total eclipse in August of this year and knew it would go through South Carolina – I couldn’t resist. And my sister lives in Greenville, SC – so I’d be killing two birds. My 17-year-old son Ethan would be my fellow road warrior. We loaded the car, selected our music and off we went, picking up scenic Route 29 in Virginia – we decided to take ‘the back way’ all the way down to Greenville. It was the right choice.
Lesson 2: How Far Are You Willing To Go For An Opportunity?
Many people took planes, cars, buses – and even ships – to get a glimpse of this unusual phenomenon. They spent hours, days, and even weeks preparing for just two minutes of joy and beauty. Many people casually talk about doing something unique or rare – but don’t follow through: There’s a huge difference between our goals – and necessary commitments. That’s why many goals go unrealized.
Once there, I got settled down at my sister’s. I had to decide on a place to view the eclipse. It came down to Furman University or Paris Mountain National Park. I couldn’t make up my mind, so I hit up my son. ‘The park,’ was his reply. Now I had heard that thousands of people had descended on Greenville – which was an almost dead center in the path of totality. However, I didn’t get that impression casually driving around town: I just kept seeing local plates. All that changed the next day when we drove up to the park: Several rangers and police officers were barring the entrance – turning people away. When I saw the sign: PARK FULL. Ouch. My heart sank as I rolled down the window to speak to a ranger. He said someone had opened up their property just down the road. More confident now, we drove to the site and saw some people on a lawn by the road – with cameras, solar glasses, chairs, family, etc. We parked on a dirt road which led back to a beautiful home – some event place where people got married, etc.
Lesson 3: When Opportunity Knocks, Answer By Creating Demand
Many people knew the eclipse was coming, and you needed special solar glasses to enjoy the event. Only four or five companies in the U.S. makes these ISO-regulation special glasses. At first, it wasn’t that hard to find a pair. A lot of people waited too late and got a rude awakening when most places had run out of solar glasses. When a business has the opportunity to create a niche or grab a particular slice of the market, do it immediately so your business can become a “demand creator.” Market maker develops differentiators; these differences are not accidental. Product or service “market makers,” are a special breed who design new goods and services, recognize the enormous gaps between what people buy and what they want – and use those differences as a springboard to see differently.
The groundskeeper was touring the property in a golf cart, helping the park refugees get settled for the upcoming event. I talked to a guy from Colorado, a couple from New York, and a family from Houston. Just after 1:00 p.m., I looked up with my solar glasses at our all-important star: Solar glasses are about 100,000X stronger than your typical sunglasses. So, the only thing you saw was a yellow disc surrounded by darkness. However, sure enough, a rounded dark edge was cutting into the yellow: The eclipse had begun.
As totality approached, our surroundings grew darker – not night-black, like many people believe, but noticeably darker. Almost like dusk which cued the crickets to start up in chorus and the birds to begin their evening routines. The other thing that struck me was the temperature. It got a tad cooler, but there was an even more significant drop in the humidity – which is often brutal in a southern summer.
The path of totality would only be in South Carolina for eight minutes. Everyone knew that it would be 100% total in Greenville at 2:39 p.m. – the magic minute. So for at least two minutes, one could remove the protective glasses and look at it with the naked eye. Things some people wouldn’t see in their lifetime would now be visible: The corona (Latin for ‘crown’) – the sun’s beautiful atmosphere which is usually not visible. The ‘Diamond Ring’ – an oval-shaped part of the sun is sitting atop the ‘ring’ of the sun’s circumference. ‘Bailey’s Beads’ – small dots of randomly placed lights around the edge – which are the sun’s rays cutting between the mountains on the moon’s surface.
At this point, people were cheering. I guess I was expecting a more mystical/spiritual experience – but alas, it didn’t exactly happen that way. Looking at a total eclipse was strange: It was real – but it was also dreamlike. Regarding life, business, and psychology – what is the big take away from a solar eclipse?…
Lesson 4: Even Small Things Can Be Powerful
The moon is tiny relative to the gigantic life giver our sun and is 93 million miles away. However, every once in a while – the moon has significant and lasting influence. Most people don’t realize how much power they have or think their actions won’t have much consequence in the bigger scheme of things. After a few years, most small business owners figure that passion, determination, and inventiveness aren’t the only catalysts for small business growth. Patience also plays a significant role.
The key to small business success has to be the slow and gradual addition of services and learning to compete with much larger businesses and organizations. The solar eclipse proves this wrong in an instant; small can be powerful, agile, and create an effect felt around the globe.
The road home back to Maryland was a little more stressful. There was construction going on Interstate 85. Near Charlotte, we were at a standstill for roughly an hour. My son didn’t have his license yet – so I was getting tired and hungry from being behind the wheel.
We exited and went into Concord, North Carolina. I found a homemade banana split, and Ethan indulged himself with two chicken Caesar salads from Panera Bread. We eventually got back on 85, which had started moving again, and coasted home.
Yes, it was a long drive. And yes, I could’ve stayed home, but I witnessed something rare and beautiful with my only child, a memory I’ll always have.
Do you need help with your team, processes or overall business strategy? Because remember, just like the moon, you have the power to create an effect felt around the world and we want to help get you there. Let’s chat, schedule your free consultation today!