3 Steps to Lead Through Hell (Otherwise Known as the Coronavirus Pandemic)
Gravy Co-Founder & CEO
We are all entering what might be the most difficult quarter of business that we face in our lifetime — the quarter during and (hopefully) after this coronavirus pandemic.
But before we look at the 3 steps to lead through this hell, let's take a step back to understand how we got here.
This is a lesson in how fast things can completely fall apart.
The Coronavirus Pandemic Timeline
World Health Organization Acknowledges the Virus Out of Wuhan, China
At this point, we were all planning to have the year of our lives.
Lose that weight, grow that business and watch those 401Ks reach record highs.
CDC Starts Entry Screening at Select Airports
By this point, we had heard of this new virus but nobody — including government officials — was taking it seriously.
Who knew that two months later, history would be defined by this?
We were crushing that workout routine and a few weeks into not eating those late-night Twizzlers.
First Confirmed U.S. Case in Washington State
Nobody thought this would have us locked down in our homes. Nobody at this point was scared to be in public.
Amazing how quickly things change.
From this point to March 11, the virus starts spreading. Officials know this is bad but we keep living our lives.
President Donald Trump Addresses The Nation
I want you to think about that. 21 days ago was the first time we all truly had the, "Oh crap, this is real" moment.
Within 21 days:
- Fear increases
- The economy crumbles
- The thoughts of "winning this decade" are replaced with: "Am I safe?" and "Are we safe?"
Federal Emergency Declared
- Schools start shutting down
- Businesses start shutting down
- Life starts shutting down
We went into a panic and chaos. Businesses started working remotely.
Life as we know it, changed.
Welcome to Q2 2020
Today, we enter into one of the most uncertain times of our lives.
Whether you own a restaurant, a SaaS company or were just about to launch that new course online, we all wonder:
- "What's going to happen?"
- "How long will this last?"
- "Is it okay to sell stuff?"
- "How will I pay my debts?"
The uncertainty has mounted and we realize, at least for Q2, we are stuck in an alternate universe.
Learning to Lead from 2008
So, how do you lead in the midst of so much uncertainty?
How do you step into Q2 2020 and face it with absolute, measured resolve?
To be honest, I've been reading and listening to everything I can on this topic.
I was in business through the 2008 crisis and made it.
I've gone back to some lessons learned then and put together some things from outside sources.
Let’s dive in together.
How to Lead Through Hell
1. Cast a Clear Vision
For us at Gravy, our vision is to return $1B to businesses by the end of 2023.
My stated Owner’s Intent is: To build an organization I would want my kids to work for one day if they so chose to.
Just because Q2 is going to be hell, this doesn't change these things. We are married to the Vision but we date the Tactics.
Questions to ask:
- Do you have a clear Vision for your company?
- Do you have a clear Owner's Intent?
If you don't, start there. You have to understand why it's worth it to endure the pain.
The Q2 flames will run everyone out of town who doesn't know with 100% clarity why they do what they do.
What Does Your Team Need?
Guess what? Your team needs you right now — more than ever.
They need to know that the vision you casted isn't rhetoric.
They need to know you truly care.
They need you in the thick of battle to not be shaken by the carnage and fight on.
They need your vision and a deep understanding of your why.
- Why is it worth it for you?
- Why is it worth it for them?
Communicate the answers to these questions early and often.
And if you think you have communicated your why clearly enough and consistently enough — you are probably just getting started.
Your team needs to hear from you more than ever before.
2. Embrace Duality
In Jim Collins’ book Good to Great, he talks about the Stockdale Paradox, which reads:
"Retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of difficulties. AT THE SAME TIME, confront the most brutal facts of your current reality."
Fight, Flight or Freeze?
Fear makes us do one of three things: fight, flight or freeze.
Right now, I see frozen leaders everywhere.
Sure, you might have mustered-up some bravado but you truly are not moving forward.
Your organization is waiting on you.
Your customers are waiting on you to step up and give them a plan.
If you stick your head in the sand, feel sorry for yourself or retreat into numbing yourself though Netflix & Chill, you and your business will not make it.
We must cast a vision that we will prevail. That's why having a vision is so important.
And yet, at the same time, we must confront all facts head on.
- Sales are not happening.
- We can't pay these people in 12 weeks if things don't change.
- I have to take a pay cut now.
- We must tell our customers we can't fulfill the obligation.
- We must call the investors and tell the truth.
Here's what else is true: Don't make the facts worse than they are. Confront them as they are.
It's time to confront all the fear. Today, make the calls. Make the decision.
Keeping in mind:
- This is temporary.
- The days feel like years but in years these years will feel like a day.
As a leader, you must embrace the duality of hope and facts.
It is not for the faint of heart, but you did not sign up for easy as a leader.
It is, however, the answer if you are going to lead well through Q2.
3. Create Your List of Will and Will Nots (Q2 Values)
At Gravy, we have 5 core values.
Frankly, they didn’t matter until now; they were never truly tested.
I don't believe in corporate values or culture. I don't think you can create culture or values; you can only model them.
5 Value Statements for Q2
1. I will meet all obligations I have committed to
We have promised our team they will get paid through Q2, no matter what. I have committed to repaying investors.
There are other commitments I've made, and my yes will be my yes and my no will be my no.
Simply stated, I will do what I say I will do.
2. I won't take myself too seriously
I will not make my bad days my family’s bad nights.
I'll still laugh, smile and realize that even if I lose everything I own, I still have everything I need.
We take ourselves too seriously when we fear loss. I will have moments, but I won't live this way.
I'll be calm when the world is not. I will be loose, light and approachable.
I'll send memes and play jokes.
3. I will believe we will win in the end
I've gone through a dark night of the soul personally before. During it, it felt like my whole life would be defined by those days.
It's now just a sentence in my story.
I'm leaning on my past of overcoming to believe in the future I will win and we will win.
4. I will seize opportunities
I will take massive action during this time to find opportunities.
I've become a leading voice on the Coronavirus Stimulus Bill for small business owners because I wasn’t going to wait for someone else to do it
The time to take ground is now. The time to advance is now.
- I will wake up every day and find a deal.
- I will find a solution.
- I will act.
- I won't just wait until things get better.
When the Opportunity Highway is clear, I'll speed down it at 100 mph.
People aren't starting businesses now. Competitors are frozen. Your competitors are frozen. What will you do?
For me, I will act. I will go. I will lead.
I invite you to do the same.
5. I will help others more than ever
I will take calls from business owners and build them up.
I will keep adding value to our team. I will keep seeing myself as having enough so I can give more.
I will encourage others. I will make it a point to find what people are doing well and reinforce it.
I will help others, even if it means helping them find what's next after Gravy.
- I'll cast a vision until I can't breathe.
- I'll confront the brutal facts but never waiver in hope.
- I'll live according to who I say I am.
Leading through hell (otherwise known as the coronavirus pandemic) requires you get clear on these things.
It's Now June 30
Who are you going to be known as after Q2?
You get to decide that today.
It doesn't even mean you will succeed at all endeavors; it means you will have lived according to who you said you were before it all hit the fan.
What will be written about you?
Just as we saw everything can fall apart quickly, everything can turn around just as quickly, too. Including your resolve and effectiveness as a leader.
While much has been out of your control up until now, so much more is now in your control starting now.
Your time to act on how you are going to lead and who you are going to be is now.
It’s June 30…
Gravy is Your Q2 Revenue Lighthouse
Gravy will be a safe harbour for your revenue through our industry-leading, human-driven failed payment recovery and customer retention service, which can recover up to 55% or more of your company’s failed payments.
Revenue matters more than ever before. Let us help you secure it.
Schedule a Call with our team today, and the experts in revenue recovery will help you come out of this crisis stronger through retaining your customers and returning failed payments for you seamlessly — and successfully.
We will prevail and we want to help you as well. Schedule a quick call today.