Benjamin Franklin once supposedly said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Whether these words were inspired by forgetting his iTunes password or by Philadelphia’s yellow fever epidemic of 1793 is a distinction forever lost to history.
But the value of the message is timeless:
When you need to use a payment app now, the app will decide now is the ideal time to update or download itself from the cloud and take a minute to open. Meanwhile, your client is waiting.
Or you’ll realize the adapter you have isn’t compatible with the monitor, and you need to call tech support for help finding a new one or connecting wirelessly. Meanwhile, a classroom full of students or a boardroom full of managers is waiting, and now you’re slightly flustered, with diminished credibility, at a time when all eyes are on you.
Or you try to rent a movie from iTunes, and find out your payment information needs to be updated, so you need to dig out your credit card. Meanwhile, a living room full of friends or an impatient, cranky toddler is waiting.
Or you’re in a meeting, and have to pause it to plug in your laptop so it doesn’t die because you overestimated the battery’s capacity or underestimated the meeting’s duration. Meanwhile, your co-workers or clients are waiting.
Or you want to make a presentation, and find that your account has been logged out due to inactivity, and you’ll need to log in again.
Or the wifi goes out when you try to download the file you need now but could have downloaded last night as soon as you received it in an email.
Or you need to print something right now, and your printer decides to be uncooperative because printers are spiteful, ruthless beings inhabited by the souls of people you’ve wronged in a previous life.
So I try to apply Mr. Franklin’s wisdom whenever I show up a half-hour early to fix these inevitable technological obstacles before I have an audience, whether that audience is my boss or my son. I make sure my apps are updated before the meeting. I run through the presentation in an empty room. I queue up the movie before dinner. I make sure everything is charged.
That’s the easy part. The hard part is anticipating these problems and preparing for them. But as much as we rely on tech to work for us, it fails often enough that the man I prefer to be knows he must keep on top of it.