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Sailing and Business: What it takes to stay afloat

In the mid 1980s at Urbach Kahn & Werlin (now UHY), Eli Werlin used sailing and boat metaphors to describe business and the importance of having employees who support business with a stable base (the hull) and with driving business and supporting growth (the sails).

I had initially assumed I’d always be the hull. Today, I believe I’ve become a bit of both.

We still use many of the same metaphors to describe situations that happen in business today. Mr. Werlin’s words have stuck with me throughout my career.

        “When conditions change, a savvy captain will react accordingly.
          Usually, it means tacking to change the position of the sails.
          And it means risk-taking.
          So, sailing is a great metaphor for business. Entrepreneurs, of course, face turbulence, too.”
        – Biz Coach | Why Sailing Is the Best Metaphor for Business Solutions

Like sailing, businesses need to be prepared for course-correction. In both, staying afloat means keeping an open mind, staying agile, assessing risk and evolving quickly for any changes in the environment.

I only knew Mr. Werlin for a short few years before he passed, but he had an impact on me and my on my family. My dad used to run a hotdog cart for him in Lake George when he was just 16 years old. Even early on, Mr. Werlin was supporting small business and our community.

I wonder if he knew how impactful his words would be to those he mentored early on in their careers?

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