We’re navigating life during a pandemic, yes — and we can still find ways to continue leading our employees and businesses successfully.
To lead responsibly and with wisdom. To make a difference and get through this trying time with courage rather than fear.
To help us lead effectively, we reached out to Bill Gallagher for his expert advice. Bill is a business coach and master facilitator with over 30 years of entrepreneurial and executive experience. He coaches leaders and teams across more than 25 cities in 11 countries and is the host of the Scaling Up Business Podcast.
We had a blast speaking with Bill (who is the lovely husband of one of our brand partners, by the way!). He provided us with radical ideas to share with you on how businesses of any size and in any vertical can move forward in these times of uncertainty.
5 Ways to Remain Present & Proactive During Covid-19
1. Name the feeling
You may have heard many people talk about taking care of yourself during this time — this is sage advice.
However, the focus here tends to be on our bodies. Take a walk, eat well, get enough sleep. And while this is, of course, vital to our well-being, we must also remember to take care of our inner selves.
Our emotions play a gargantuan role in our well-being. And when we’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s easy to feel as though we’re losing control. This is typically when pessimistic feelings can take over and weigh us down.
Rather than pushing through and ignoring ugly feelings, Bill’s advice is to stop, take a breath, and name the feeling. Lean into it, if only for a moment.
Because, as Bill says: “You can’t put icing on a mudpie.”
This simple practice allows us to take a step back and incorporate mindfulness into our reactions. And in so doing, we can practice responding rather than reacting.
And magically, naming the feeling often helps diffuse (or straight-up does diffuse) the feeling. So you can feel better and get back to your life.
2. Just lead (even if you don’t have a plan)
You don’t need to know all the answers — your job is to lead. You just have to lead your team to figure out the answers.
Holding space for your team during a difficult time is leadership.
Committing to the mission and purpose of your business during a pandemic is leadership.
Communicating clearly and effectively is leadership.
Set an example. Err on the side of over-communicating. And let your team do what they’re best at.
3. Make radical asks
Managing finances during a crisis is no joke. And it can be hardest to do once the crisis has begun and you’re in the thick of it.
Typically, this is a time to cut hours and lay off staff.
But there can be another option: making radical asks.
Most people don’t leverage this option.
Here’s what it looks like: instead of calling your contractor, or landlord, or graphic designer and canceling their services, call them and ask for free services instead. Ask for more terms.
Ask for extensions on trials or reduced rates.
You do want to remain sensitive to what the other person is dealing with. You’ll be asking for a lot and you’ll want to negotiate terms and ensure that both parties feel comfortable with it.
“I asked for free rent for a year (during the 2009 crisis),” Bill told us — and he got it.
Don’t be afraid to be bold. You’ll be surprised how many times you get a “Yes”!
4. Look for the breakout strategy
Spotting trends can help you stay ahead of the curve and turn a crisis into an opportunity, even during a massive global recession and a shrinking economy.
Bill’s advice is to take a step back and look at trends broadly, not just in your category. What trends can you spot in other industries, spanning from music to business and e-commerce?
He noted one online jewelry business that looked for the breakout strategy — and found one. Back during the last recession, they noticed jewelry purchases were struggling severely.
But there was one segment that kept going strong: although people weren’t buying jewelry for themselves anymore, they were still gifting it. The business owner noticed that people were interested in simpler, meaningful pieces at a lower price point.
So even though the store had been used to selling a lot of $200 necklaces before the recession, because these pieces were no longer selling, they tried something new. They launched a category of simpler, meaningful pieces at around the $68 — and they sold like gangbusters.
And thanks to this innovation and flexible execution, the business clawed its way out of a dark financial period.
The trick lies in adaptation. You still have to do the basics, but during a crisis you have to do them in flexible ways.
5. Be flexible and generous
Err on the side of flexibility and generosity. How can we find a way to give them an out and help out?
During difficult times when we’re all affected by pain, being giving with our time — expecting nothing in return and trying to be of service — can be both beneficial to others and healing for us.
Perhaps you can volunteer time. Perhaps you can donate money, mentor, teach, guide, contribute, or inspire.
Dozens upon dozens of our brand partners are leading by example and using the Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity to lead and inspire their customers and communities:
- Daniel Sheehan turned his passion for Los Angeles into a project that not only has donated 10,000 meals in two weeks to Westside Foodbank through Shop for Good, but has also allowed his business to survive and avoid furloughing his staff.
- Fashion and accessories brand Adina’s Jewels has raised an impactful $15K+ of funds using Shop for Good and we are so thrilled to be a part of their giving!
- Sweet shop Milkbar is using the new Donation Tiers campaign to support the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation during Covid-19, as the pandemic is hitting restaurants and the people who work there so hard right now.
- Clean beauty brand Biossance donated 100% of its proceeds on April 16, 2020 to Direct Relief, which works in the U.S. and internationally to equip doctors and nurses with life-saving medical resources to care for the world’s most vulnerable people.
- Screenprinting Elite Ink is donating $10 for every t-shirt sold to some amazing charities tackling Covid-19 on the ground plus you get a free face mask.
Businesses of all shapes and sizes can find ways to be proactive during a crisis. What we do now matters and will be remembered by those around us.
A rising tide lifts all boats. Rise with us.