Ricanstructing our Business after Hurricane María: Going Back to Basics

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“I will contribute to Puerto Rico’s recovery by not becoming an unemployment statistic.”

Bernardo Fiol-Costa and The Big Think Group employees after Hurricane MariaThat statement became my mantra as soon as I knew my family, friends and employees were safe after Hurricane Maria wiped out Puerto Rico’s power, telecom, and basic needs infrastructure.

Yes, we have helped in volunteer efforts and community building initiatives, but making sure that my clients were properly served and that we kept our jobs became a top priority, especially the first days after the storm.

This is how we “Ricanstructed” our business during the first 72 hours after Hurricane Maria:

Knock, Knock. It’s me.

As all wireless telecom systems collapsed after Hurricane Maria, we needed to get in touch with our clients, immediately. No calls, no texts, no email – nothing worked. We are communications experts and we must be available. So just like in the old days, we stopped by each of our clients’ offices – even at their homes – unannounced. It was worth it.

The New “Backpackers”

Because of lack of electricity and safety issues, we couldn’t go to our office – but it didn’t stop us. We’ve become WiFi pirates, expert nomads, temporary tenants in client’s offices. For many, co-working spaces and backpacking travel are a fad; for us, it’s survival.

Radio Killed the Video Star

With low Internet, cell phone and TV penetration, audiences turned to radio to get their messages. It was literally time travel – writing down PSA’s with pen and paper – and driving to the radio stations to deliver them.

Egos at the door, please.

As all our client’s existing plans changed overnight, so did our roles. Need a driver? Lunch delivery? Babysitting? (Not exaggerating). We’ve done it all. But we’ve been side by side with our clients, weathering the aftermath, blessed to be working.

It’s been more than a month after Hurricane Maria hit, we haven’t been able to return to our office and we are getting used to our “new normal”.

We might still be deprived of electricity for many more weeks, but we have power.   The power of resilience. The power of having a job and serving our clients. The power of Ricanstructing a New Puerto Rico.

Bernardo Fiol-Costa is President and Founder of The Big Think Group, based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

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7 Comments

Jean Y Arenas

Good going Bernardo. Seems like the values we were taught at Baldwin are still going strong!

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Rodney

This article has been a very encouraging reminder of the reasons that made The Big Think Group the agency of choice when I was located in Puerto Rico. This level of commitment to customers and to running the extra mile was evident in every project we collaborated on! It is wonderful to see that spirit going strong still! Good job Bernardo and team!!!

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Julie Dennehy

You and your staff are every day heroes. May your goodness and positive, can-do attitudes come back to you tenfold once the economy rebounds. Great post!

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Angela Zayas

My best wishes on your efforts to continue serving your clients and at the same time adapt yourselves to the present needs and help everyone and yourselves ❤️ God bless you all 🙏🏽

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