My Trip To the Disaster Recovery Journal Conference

Although we’re now halfway through the month of September I still feel the need to mention September is National Preparedness month across our great country and encourage you to become better prepared for emergencies and disasters.   I think with the earlier focus on 9/11 ceremonies, it’s easy to lose track of the rest of the month.  But, I hope wherever you live, you have the opportunity to take part in some sort of preparedness event or activity.

Listen, I also took a big step forward this month and began using Twitter – LOL.  While I don’t “tweet” often, I do try to tweet something several times a week.  If you are interested, begin following me.  Man, that sounds kind of creepy doesn’t it?

This month was also when the Disaster Recovery Journal’s Fall World Conference took place in San Diego, California.  This was the 45th  conference hosted by the Disaster Recovery Journal (DRJ) .  Richard  Arnold, his son Bob, Patti Fitzgerald, and the rest of the DRJ team hit another home run putting on the industry’s premier conference.  I had the great fortune to be asked to speak at the conference this year.  The title of my presentation was “NIMS?  ICS?  BCP?  OMG!”  In this blog, I want to share my conference experiences with you.

Bomb Scare In Kansas City

We started out in an interesting way.  I was flying on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and had a one-stop flight from St. Louis to Kansas City to San Diego.  On the first leg of my trip from St. Louis to Kansas City we were held up in St. Louis due to a bomb scare in Kansas City, where my connecting flight was flying from.  Airport security had the terminal shut down.  Later that afternoon, they reopened the airport terminal up again, but all subsequent flights – including mine – were delayed.  See the story in the Kansas City Star online .

Hey, is that Goldberg?

But, they say there’s always a silver lining and in this case on our flight from Kansas City to San Diego we had WWF wrestling star Goldberg traveling with us.  Now remember … here we are traveling by plane following a bomb scare on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.  I’m sure I speak for the other passengers on the flight that day when I say we felt much safer knowing we were traveling with Goldberg.  The only person that could have made us feel safer is Chuck Norris!   In the end, we arrived safely in San Diego.

And on with the show.

As I mentioned earlier, this was the 45th DRJ Conference.  According to our “Master of Ceremonies” Barry Pruitt, the conference drew a little over 850 attendees and by the time you add in exhibitors and DRJ staff, the conference had just about 1200 business continuity experts from around the world.  And, after you attend one, you’ll know why the DRJ conference has the solid reputation it does.

The venue again for this conference was the Sheraton Harbor Island Hotel.  What a great facility.

The Sheraton Harbor Island Hotel

Thought Provoking General Session Speakers (through Tuesday)

The conference got started Monday morning with a humorous presentation by  Joe Malarkey – motivational speaker, whose message included the importance of maintaining a sense of humor even under difficult situations.  Other terrific speakers included:

Curtis Smerud who talked about “resiliency”

Dr. Robert Chandler – presented his recent research findings about stress effects on decision-making

Pat Corcoran – reviewed the “Findings from the 2011 IBM Global Business Resilience and Risk Study”.  You can find a copy of their report on the IBM website 

Sinji Hosotsbu – talked about the Japanese earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster

Attendees enjoying the General Session speakers

In addition to the General Sessions, there was a diverse offering of workshops as well.
The workshop I presented “NIMS?  ICS?  BCP?  OMG!” took place Tuesday afternoon.  I was pleasantly surprised that about half of the 120 attendees had started to implement NIMS and ICS into their BCP’s (Business Continuity Programs).  My presentation included a primer on both NIMS (National Incident Management System) and ICS (Incident Command System).  With that foundation laid I addressed how incorporating those philosophies and tactics into existing BCPs can really add strength and great value in both efficiency and effectiveness.  More specifically, it helps us connect to our “gatekeepers”.  Sorry … you’ll need to see the presentation, which I’ve posted onto my LinkedIn profile, or contact me directly for more info.
The Exhibit Area

As with past DRJ conferences, the exhibit area included many of the industry’s key vendors and suppliers – all very willing to talk about current trends and offerings.

Entrance into the Exhibit area

Networking Opportunities

Of course you can’t have a successful conference without opportunities to network with your peers, and the two opportunities for evening networking were terrific.  On Monday, Send Word Now hosted a Mardi Gras styled event and then on Tuesday xMatters hosted a reception based around a high-end club theme.  Both events were well-attended and a lot of fun.


So, after two and a half days at the conference, I came home with the following thoughts:

  1. Our industry continues to thrive even during these tough difficult times
  2. There’s too many standards (PS-Prep including BSI 25999, ASIS International SPC.1-2009, and NFPA 1600) in our industry.  Why do we need so many?  When you think of the definition of “standard”
    shouldn’t we have just one?
  3. Concerning technology, people are very interested in what the “cloud” is and how it can help with disaster recovery and business continuity.
  4. Social media – what is it and how can we use it effectively?
  5. While technology failures make up a significant amount of our “disasters”, weather-related events (risks/threats/triggers) are just as impactful.  Emergency preparedness remains a vital tactic if a company is going to be successful.
  6. Human issues (training (including exercises), leadership, decision-making) are important topics that professionals still have strong interests in and want to learn more about.

Well, I hope that if you ever get the chance to attend a conference like this, you take advantage of the opportunity.  You’ll find that you come back rejuvenated, excited, and with a head full of great ideas to make things better.

Until next month, I wish you all the best.  Stay safe!

TIP: Perhaps this article will help mitigate a social media disaster in your life “Facebook Privacy: Uncovering 5 Important Settings” from
CIO magazine .

I just think "Birds of a Feather" plants are really interesting and beautiful.



One Response to My Trip To the Disaster Recovery Journal Conference

  1. Tim Bonno says:

    Thank you. If there’s a subject or topic that you are interested in or have questions about, please feel free to ask and perhaps I can write about it. Take care and be safe. Tim

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