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[SDS] Surprises are a firm maybe

[SDS] Surprises are a firm maybe

Liston Witherill
Liston Witherill
2 min read

When I was in Maui last week I went on an excursion to Molikini, a volcanic crater off the main island.

And since it made me smile so much, it’s worth mentioning that Molikini is officially an “islet,” as in a small island, not the hole you thread your shoelaces through.


The thing to know about Molikini is that it’s remote. It’s 2.5 miles from the closest shore, so it takes about 45 minutes of high-speed cruising to get there.

Hawaii is known for its year-round sunshine, but not that day. It was overcast, with foreboding clouds hanging overhead. Pooh would’ve said “it looks like rain.” And soon enough it did rain. Not an ideal day for a reef snorkeling adventure.

Then came the surprise.

“Molikini is a weather-dependent trip.” Hold on…what???

When I heard those words spoken over the boat’s PA system I was quite surprised. I never would’ve asked for rain, but as far as I was concerned we were going to Molikini even if it started snowing on the open water.

This is the kind of the surprise that’s no good. My expectation was that we’d go to Molikini and snorkel. That’s what I thought I paid for. What I actually paid for was a guaranteed boat ride that usually visits Molikini but may not if the weather turns mildly unfavorable.

I was in the red at that point.

I’m happy to report that we did make it to Molikini. On the way back to the harbor, I was in for another surprise, but this time it was a good one. The open water was dotted with humpback whales, and we saw several that breached the surface and playfully slapped the water with their fins.

Whereas I was questioning my purchase at the start of the trip, but by the end I was pleasantly surprised by the bonus whale watching.

This time I was in the green.

And here lies the trick of setting and managing expectations during the sale. On the one hand, you need to set expectations high enough to inspire action.

On the other hand, if you set expectations too high then you’ve cooked up a recipe for disappointment.

Most surprises are relatively neutral. They can be good or bad.

It’s all a matter of how expectations were set from the start.