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When something dramatic happens, seize an opportunity.

I am an electrical engineer. I started my consulting engineering practice on my 29th birthday and we grew from a one man shop to the largest electrical engineering firm in Rhode Island with a staff of eleven. And I was never reluctant to seize an opportunity.

A Tragedy

In 2003, we had a tragedy in Rhode Island. One hundred people perished in a fire at the Station nightclub. This catastrophic event was the impetus for a dramatic overhaul of our state fire code. The most revolutionary thing about this new code was that it was retroactive; the “grandfather clause” did not apply. All existing buildings were required to meet the new code in accordance to a graduated implementation schedule.

My Seminar

I had recently been appointed to the RI Building Code Standards Committee and was too busy to take part in the overhaul of the fire code. But once it became law, I decided to put on a free seminar to educate fire officials and building owners of the new impact.

All my project managers were expert fire-alarm-system designers, and we had kept up with the proposed changes daily. But we spent a lot of time making sure that we understood which building types required which upgrade and the required timetable. I decided that my staff would be the panel of presenters and field the questions. I personally introduced our services with a PowerPoint presentation, describing the advantages of hiring a consulting engineering firm to design fire-alarm-system upgrades.

First Class

I rented the largest banquet hall at the fanciest, centrally located hotel in the state for a grand buffet breakfast meeting. We did a mailing to our mailing list and to the mailing lists of all the chambers of commerce throughout the state. We did radio advertisements (one-minute spots liberally mentioning our company name) starting ten days before the seminar. Note: Ethically, advertising by engineers is severely frowned upon, but these were public service announcements sponsored by an engineering firm, so not a problem. I had many sleepless nights wondering if we would make incompetent fools out of ourselves and provide breakfast to only a handful of fire officials.


We had over five hundred guests, and our seminar was an enormous success. It generated well over $1–2 million in fire-alarm-system design fees over the next five years and promoted other types of engineering work for us throughout New England.

I’m certainly not saying to take advantage of the misfortunes of others. But I am saying to look for opportunities, have the courage to proceed, and do it first class.

Follow Through

After the seminar, I mailed a new service announcement to all attendees and made a personal phone call to all who were potential clients. I thanked them for attending and inquiring about their needs. I also asked if they knew of anyone who might also need our services. If I got a referral, I always started the conversation by saying, “I’m calling at the request of _____.” Always ask for the job.

My Book

I have recently completed a book on Marketing: “The ‘Smart Guide’ to MARKETING”, that is presently on sale at the Kindle Store on Amazon. Both the paperback & hardback (Case Laminated) versions are available from:

To see my YouTube video “START THE JOB RIGHT” – go to:

To see my YouTube video “PUBLIC SPEAKING” Part 1 – go to:

To see my YouTube video “Job Search” – How to go to:

To see my YouTube video “Job Search” – How to go to:

To see my YouTube video of: “Your Disaster Recovery Plan” go to:

To see my YouTube video of: “Career Choice” go to:

To see my YouTube video of :”Your Interview” – How to prepare – Go to:

To see my YouTube video of: BECOME “Widely Known” go to:

Related topics include:

How to Prepare for a Job Interview

How to easily and quickly get the interviews that you want.

How to prepare for your interview and be ready for the likely questions.

How to start the job right and make the best first impression.

How to become known, build a reputation and make useful contacts.

How to gain credentials that will distinguish you from your competitors.

How to win awards that will make your resume shine.


Excerpted from ‘The “Smart Guide” to MARKETING’ Copyright © 2020 by Jack Gaskell. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted to copy and distribute this “Smart Guide” tip, upon condition that this message remains. Visit: for additional tips.