I woke up in the UK on 9th November 2016 with another sinking feeling in my heart. The Brexit decision on 24th June was bad (in my view). President Trump... just indescribably random. To think that a nation the size and complexity of the USA had such a seemingly narrow choice of candidate seems simply extraordinary.
The drive to school with my 17 year old daughter was unusually quiet. "What's going to happen?" she asked. Like Brexit, it was hard to give her an answer. "We all have to see what happens and not over-react" was the best that I could provide. Then she set to wondering. "What happens to Hilary Clinton?" "I hope she's got a Plan B" I said. An eyebrow got raised in my direction. "Do you mean an alternative plan which she can put into action if her ambitions don't get realised in the way she'd anticipated?" she said (memo to self: never underestimate a 17 year old).
Having got so close to being the first ever female president of the USA and not succeeding must be the most astonishing experience. How do you come back from that? Trump had a business to return to, even if some sources were saying Brand Trump would be irreparably damaged if he didn't win. For Clinton, it's different. She's always been a politician. The after dinner speaking circuit? The Clinton Foundation? Who knows. I just hope that whatever it is, she planned it in advance. Waking up the next morning after a defeat like that is not the best time to start thinking about what you might do next, let alone to identify a path capable of moving her on from forever being 'the woman who didn't break the glass ceiling'.
I'm never going to run for president, but I do know the importance of a Plan B.
I think I first learnt it when I had very small babies. Before I dropped exhaustedly into bed after finally settling one of my beautiful daughters back to sleep, I would make a Plan B. "What is my plan if they wake up again? What will I do?" The knowledge that I had a plan made the thought of being woken up again within minutes, if not hours, more bearable. It removed that feeling of panic when your child wakes you again and you've simply run out of ideas about how to respond. It essentially allowed me to drop back to sleep.
Secondly, it reminded me of waking up the morning after a pitch at work. In our business (digital, advertising, communications) pitches are extraordinary experiences. For a relatively short period of time, teams within the agency work in an unbelievably focused and co-ordinated effort to take the best possible ideas and proposition to the client. Sometimes you win them, sometimes you don't. You need to plan for both. If you don't get them then you definitely need a Plan B. It should be the next thing to work on, the way to keep the door open on that relationship, the next exciting thing to be thinking and energising the team about. Sitting around thinking "oh hell, what's next" is something you can't do in business.
I just hope that is not what Hilary Clinton is doing today. Someone who has got that close to being the first female president of the USA clearly isn't stupid. But in my experience, anyone who has a positive Plan B in their sights, one that's both positive and achievable, will be OK.