A few years ago, my father-in-law and I attempted some plumbing work in my basement. Our primary drain was backed up, so we rented an industrial strength power drain snake and set about to clear any...ahem...debris. The work went smoothly enough. We fed the snake into the drain and did our best to stay out of its way. It chopped up some roots that had grown into the pipe and we pulled out various bits of nastiness in the process. The drain started working again. Mission accomplished.

At that point my wife arrived home from some Saturday chore and shouted down a hello from upstairs. We replied and began discussing just how we'd go about replacing the big drain pipe that had been cut loose for access and what we might do for lunch. No worries. That's when it started: a faint sound of trickling water followed by a great, big WHOOSH.

My wife had used the facilities and promptly flushed.

I recall shouting NOOOO when the spray gushed from the pipe and covered the two of us in who knows what. Actually, we all know "what" but let's leave that part unsaid.

We weathered the storm and my father-in-law let fly with these words of wisdom: "don't lick your lips."

Words to live by. Especially when life showers you with $#!&.

Every business has a mess to clean up from time to time. In the marketing realm, a poorly received campaign message or the sudden need to merge visual assets with those of another company can derail years of careful brand building. Crises happen. The right response from the marketing team is to assess the situation and take the proper steps to rectify it. Don't shy away from input. A 2014 episode of Brain Games on the National Geographic Channel revealed the "wisdom of the crowd." A group of people were asked to guess the number of gum-balls in a giant gum-ball machine. The range of answers varied as widely as the guessers and not a single one of them was correct. However, when averaged, the 20 people came remarkably close to the right answer of 2,447—missing it by just 22 gum-balls!

All data points matter. Seek them out and listen when offered. Critical statements or contrary opinions are just as valuable to the mix as those that confirm what we already think we know and can lead to an inspired solution. Remember, should a crisis environment become toxic, keep your ears—and mind—open.

And for goodness sake, don't lick your lips.