I am not a big Rudy Giuliani fan. Recent personal events, however, have me thinking about two messages from a closing keynote Rudy Giuliani delivered at a customer conference I produced back in my Fortune 500 days.


The two messages struck me strongly, and I have tried to adopt both of them into my strategic planning since; one is professional, and one is very personal.

How do you handle the unimaginable in strategic planning?

The professional message came through his discussion of 9-11 that took place several years before our conference. Rudy Giuliani said when the attack and collapse of the World Trade Center buildings happened, New York City had no strategic plans ready for what to do if two planes fly into the World Trade Center and they collapse.

What the city did have were various plans for things that were happening in the aftermath of the collapse. The strategic thinking key was putting the other plans together and executing them rapidly to address the crisis.

For Brainzooming, that means embracing the idea of rapid strategy planning and development to create mini-plans.

Rather than developing overly elaborate strategic plans with too many assumptions about the future and too many critical moving parts, we are oriented to create more streamlined, straightforward strategic planning documents. These strategic plans are quicker to prepare, allowing us to create more of them to accommodate a greater variety of things that might happen. They can also be more readily adapted, improving the effectiveness of strategic planning

What is optional, and what is mandatory?

The other lingering lesson from the Rudy Giuliani keynote speech was that when it comes to attending events, weddings are optional, but funerals are mandatory.


Previously, I found excuses for not attending funerals I should have attended in order to support friends and family members. It was always too easy to say work responsibilities or travel prevented attending.

Since then, although far from having a perfect attendance record, I have made a concerted effort to travel to funerals I'd have found easy excuses to miss previously, including one this past weekend.

Not once have I ever regretted making decisions to attend these funerals, but I absolutely do have regrets over ones I did not.

Thinking about all the speakers I have seen before and after, two big, memorable, and actionable lessons from one keynote seems remarkable.

I’m so thankful for hearing both of them when I did. - Mike Brown

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