Diversify Your Risk

We have all heard the phrase, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. I am sure you know what it means. But, just in case you aren’t sure, it means that you should diversify your choices as much as you can. Diversification is a good way to mitigate your risks. So, for example, you should not keep all of your money in one place. This term is most commonly used in investment parlance, but I believe it can apply to all areas of your life. Here is an example of what I am talking about.

Last Friday, there was a massive telecommunications outage across Canada. Millions of people were without internet or cellular service from the east coast to the west coast. Why? One of the nation’s three major telecommunications providers had a system failure, which brought down their entire network. I was one of the unlucky millions of customers impacted by this outage, which lasted almost 24 hours. I woke up to find that the TV was not working.

Photo By Mario Caruso on Unsplash

At first, I thought, “ok, no big deal. I’ll just reboot the modem. That should solve the problem.” Well, once I rebooted the modem, it would not reconnect. Now, I had a problem because no modem connection means no internet, which means no ability to work. That is a big problem. So, I tried to call the provider in an effort to resolve the issue before logging in for the day. Once I dialed the number, I realized that the call was not going through. I tried to call  my husband and that call did not go through either. I attempted to call two other people and got the same result. At that point, I realized the problem was bigger than I initially thought.

With no TV, no internet and no cell service, I needed to find a way to get some information. I needed to know what had happened and how widespread the problem was. So, I got into my car and put the radio on and I suspected this outage was more significant than any that had happened previously. I was right. On the radio, I heard that there was a nationwide outage of all service from one of Canada’s top 3 providers – my provider. I was now in a precarious position. Rather than diversify, we had instead chosen to bundle our phone and internet service from the same provider. So, I was now stuck with zero communications.

Photo By Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

How could this be? At the time, the company did not know why the outage had occurred and they could not provide a timeline for when they would be able to fully restore service to their customers. The ramifications were huge. People were unable to call emergency services, people could not make debit card transactions and the list goes on and on. Around 11pm, more than 18 hours later, I finally had data services on my cell phone, but still no voice service and no internet. While the issue did not impact the customers from the other two major telecommunications providers, I was not so lucky. Instead, I was incommunicado for almost  24 hours.

Had we made the decision to diversify our providers, to ensure there was redundancy, I would have had either internet service or cell phone service and that would have been good enough. But, because we had not made that choice, choosing instead to stay completely in one ecosystem, we paid the price. I know this was an exceptional situation but it is a lesson learned and we will not make that mistake again. From here on, we will ensure that all our eggs are not in the same basket, even if there are generous discounts from doing that. Take it from me, it is important to diversify your risk!


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