Eye on the storm

What captures our attention, piques our interest, and makes us lean forward in our seats with that insatiable urge to KNOW MORE?

A good question — and one that business owners and marketers grapple with every day.

Case in point: Last summer, northwest Michigan experienced “The Storm of 2015.” By all accounts, it was one of those rare 100-year weather phenomena that not only uprooted trees in its path on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 2, but displaced and evacuated both places and people. The unusual straight-line winds tore a swath across northwest lower Michigan, changing the appearance of the landscape it marred for generations to come, yet miraculously sparing lives.

My husband and I had ringside seats.

Traveling south by car on U.S. 31 just south of Elk Rapids in Antrim County, we watched with amazement as the skies darkened, billowed, rolled and turned unfamiliar hues of electric green and blue and a terrifying gray. Mesmerized by what we were witnessing, we pulled off the road on a promontory to take in the startling spectacle.

I caught Mother Nature in full fury and glory on video before the storm bore down and we fled for our personal safety amidst 70+ mph winds, driving rain and golf-ball-sized hail.

Views of the storm video — apparently one of the few taken during the blow — spread in a nanosecond. The local NBC-TV affiliate aired and posted it widely and, next thing I knew, The Weather Channel was calling.

Over the next several weeks, eight and a half million people viewed that 40-second clip. My video had gone “viral.”

I have thought a lot about the video’s impact, popularity and my moment in the sun … er, storm. I could not have predicted the interest that resulted, nor could I replicate it under any circumstances. It’s the oddities of life that draw us together, and the incidents we don’t always comprehend and cannot control that create unity and spark our uncontrollable curiosity.

From a marketing perspective, it reinforced my decision to not be complacent. Instead, be alert for the unexpected, act on those impulses — with caution and common sense.

Sometimes those seemingly dangerous situations are best described as rare opportunities to grow, experience and share.