I was working at a small startup when we got a call from our sales manager.
“We’ve got an earthquake and it’s going to be devastating for us, so we need to get ready,” he said.
He paused, and I was struck by how quickly I was to be able to react.
“That’s what we’re here for,” I said.
“Are you ready?” he asked.
I was not.
The first time I heard the word earthquake, I was terrified.
I had just been a 20-something college student in a small town in Texas.
It was the kind of place where the local community and schools were well-connected.
But a sudden, devastating earthquake in my hometown in the middle of nowhere was the equivalent of a tsunami, and there was no way I could survive.
What if I had been a young, inexperienced startup founder?
What if I’d had no idea what was going on, and the earthquake was so severe it would have killed anyone?
I had never been in a quake before, and yet, in my panic, I had thought I was an expert.
But what if you were in a different place, and it felt like you were living through a tsunami?
I was in the second year of my MBA, and in the first year, I’d never experienced a quake in my life.
The earthquake I was seeing at the time would never happen again, but I was still in awe.
The day after the earthquake, my company had an earthquake tracker in beta, so I sent out an email to everyone at our company.
“We need you to be ready,” it said.
At the time, I didn’t even know if I was ready.
I had just worked on an open-source project that was supposed to help people make earthquake-preparedness plans, and a quake happened, and everyone panicked.
I went home and wrote an email that would become one of the most important pieces of advice I ever gave.
It was a lesson in how not to panic.
A few weeks later, I got a phone call from a sales associate at my company.
“I have an earthquake in California, and we need you,” she said.
She paused, then said, “We need to be prepared for it.”
I was completely unprepared.
She said I should do some research on what to do if a quake hit.
I immediately started reading about the quake, and realized that I didn�t understand a lot about how earthquakes worked.
I started reading more and more, but the knowledge I had gained was not enough.
The more I read, the more it was becoming clear that I had no clue what to expect.
My phone started ringing.
I called a couple of times to check in with her, but nothing ever came.
When I finally called her back, she was still on hold.
That was the first time in my career that I’d ever heard my manager say, “If I’m in a position to evacuate people, then we need your help.”
The call was a little surreal, because I knew she was an emergency services person, and she had already been through the entire disaster recovery process.
But it was an entirely different kind of surreal, as she was telling me I should prepare for the worst.
After we hung up, she said, she went back to her desk and got the most crucial piece of information she needed to know: “It was like, I’m getting this from you.
I’m totally in this.
I have this for you.”
I wasn’t sure what she was getting at, but it made me feel better.
In retrospect, I realize that it was the best advice I could have gotten, given how unprepared I was.
The idea that we could actually do something to protect ourselves and the people we love, like the way we are right now, is scary enough.
But when it comes to preparing for earthquakes, we should all be willing to put ourselves at risk, especially when it�s a potentially life-saving situation.
For a startup like ours, we had just raised about $1 million in funding, but that was just a starting point.
We were in the process of developing a prototype of the earthquake tracking app that would make it easier for people to find out if they were in danger, so that we would be able more quickly respond to earthquakes in our area.
But the biggest hurdle was a lack of experience.
The app would have worked if we were only doing the research, but as soon as we started testing it, we discovered that we had a huge database of earthquake data that would be useless without the earthquake tracker.
I wanted to make sure we could build it, but we weren’t ready for it.
So we went to the big data firm that was building earthquake prediction tools for banks and other