When Opportunity Knocks, is the Aviation Industry Listening?

Andy Hudson, Founder and CEO of Down-Route Ltd,PJC aviation Group, and The Jet Fund Reflects on the Silver Linings of the Crisis Affecting Aviation in 2020

The business aviation industry is in a challenging place at the moment. Many are either taking a personal hit and/or know friends and colleagues doing the same. As a global community, we’re in difficult times. However, could there possibly be something positive to come out of the experience?

The enforced slow-down that has occurred this year has given me the opportunity to reflect on many things. I have taken stock of where I am, compared to the optimistic dreams I had when I wore a younger man’s clothes, and then looked forward, trying to imagine the further changes we will see as much of the world enters another level of lockdown.

A heartfelt review of both success and failures and the asking of many questions (many of which are still awaiting answers) has let me see a common theme underlying my career.

Serendipity.

It has become clear that serendipity has played a major part in my life. My question is that while I most definitely felt the warm touch of good fortune pre Covid-19, will it continue in the digital life we now experience as the “new normal”?

Reset to Restoration

I have considered how to successfully manage, build, grow companies, and nurture relationships for a further undefined period while we’re doing much more of our business from home, and I believe the new normal of virtual meetings is actually re-establishing some older, very human, behaviours.

Just think about it.

Like many of us, while figuring out how to maintain the relationships we took for granted while working the trade show circuit, I had to dig out the business card holders. That stack of cards held together by elastic bands, comprised of a mix of people, both business and personal. It turned out to be a richer mine of useful and interesting humanity that I ever realised, simply languishing at the back of the desk drawer. I realised that while I had been focusing on what I considered the “important” follow ups from every event, meeting or chance encounter, I had neglected all of those “I’ll get round to them later” people, and in doing so probably missed many opportunities.

And this is where serendipity once again plays its role. Most people really appreciate a quick hello, a simple how are you doing? They appreciate a little bit of the personal being mixed with the business and work.

You remember how our grandparents used to so that with Xmas cards, the once a year catch up?

The new normal seems to be reminding us that some of our old habits were actually very good, but now we have a level of technology to allow us to do it on a far grander scale if only we remember not to just focus on what we see as the best prospects, but allocate time to simply keeping in touch. Down the line you never know just how that will pay off.

I feel better for doing this. At the end of each day I feel a little lighter and more optimistic, and so, it seems, do the people I get in touch with. What a way to run a business.

“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.“ – Thomas Jefferson

Serendipity is Mindful - Not Accidental

Reaching people in their home offices is also much easier than I thought it would be. The gate keepers (bless them all) are now absent, so calls are not filtered in the same way. Interestingly, the people I do get in touch with are often delighted to receive a call and to take five minutes to chew the cud. Only a short time ago, that same conversation would have taken place after getting up early, jumping in a cab and getting on a flight. While working from home does have its down-sides, there is no denying the amount of time it has freed up. These are the conversations that lead to snippets of information that may well have passed you by otherwise. Some of these will lead to other conversations, ideas, collaborations and maybe even changes in direction. The fact you reached out in the first place was the key.

My own career in aviation is the result of such a chance conversation. Many years ago, while learning to fly, I listened to my instructor talking about his frustrations with his company. We got to chatting, I got to thinking and I realised solving his problem was a gateway to my opportunity. I never looked back.

“Ability is of little account without opportunity. “ – Napoleon Bonaparte

Serendipity in the Digital world

So, does our change from meeting in person to dealing with each other online limit the opportunity for serendipity to work its magic?

I say not. The definition of serendipity is an “unplanned fortunate discovery”. Would I ever claim the current pandemic is any way fortunate? Clearly not. The key is the “unplanned” part of the definition. We are being forced into a particular way of thinking, behaving and interacting that, in the long term, may well be a positive development for our industry

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” – Seneca

The key to serendipity in our digital lives is to be open, authentic, and prepared for the unexpected outcome. By restoring our use of some very human skills while being able to connect personally with more people than ever, we may find our business lives come out of the other side of this crisis both richer and more satisfying.

So, how do you prepare for this new world of digital serendipity? How can we leverage the core of our being to make online interactions more personable, more authentic, and keep our minds open enough to spot serendipity when it does appear?

Andy Hudson
Founder & Entrepreneur