3 things I learned during COVID
There is no playbook navigating COVID as a business owner.
How can we help clients and prospects without sounding hollow or opportunistic? Our email boxes are overflowing, some with empty offers of help – “we’re here for you” or “we salute you” or “COVID resources during these unprecedented times.” We have become numb to these messages as we all work through resiliency and survival. Taking a pause (especially from social media), I felt it more fitting to share reflections I’ve experienced during the pandemic. Thanks for listening.
Don’t have regrets.
The speed of COVID diagnosis to death has been astonishing – even for seemingly young, healthy people. The thought of dying in one week is frightening – or worse if it’s someone close to you. Many of us are facing uncomfortable thoughts of mortality for the first time in our lives. What if….? Do I have my affairs in order? If I had to say my last loving words to family and friends, what would they be? Have I said all that needs to be said? Is there a nagging wrong that I need to make right? One of Steve Jobs infamous quotes comes to mind “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today?” Jobs was a world-class jerk (even though Apple is my tech stack), but those words ring true.
As a long-time corporate executive and now CEO of my own Fractional Marketing company, my mantra has always been Go, Go, Go! And Work! Work! Work! The Shelter-in-Place order has forced me to stay put and revert to old-fashioned methods of communicating, albeit with virtual technology. I treasure the weekly virtual calls with my friends and family and will forever remember my extra time with them.
“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today?”
Be kind to yourself.
It’s ok to just let things go and recognize that you’re only human. I have so many mixed feelings – especially late at night. I’m scared. I should be doing more. I’m stress eating. I’m not productive enough in my business. My normal rigor and discipline has gone out the window. Before coronavirus, I would have my weekly and quarterly plans locked down early. Those familiar with EOS, I haven’t held a Level 10 Meeting since February and have yet to start writing our Q2 Rocks, and we’re already one month in to the quarter!
But the emotion I most keenly feel is guilt. I feel guilty looking back at days end, feeling gratitude that I was happy most of the day. Then I feel bad for others financially destroyed by this pandemic. I have had days that I’ve spent fretting about how long it will take to rebuild my lost revenue from COVID. Then I feel sadness for the millions of small businesses that have made the devastating decision to shutter their businesses – including one of my clients.
I can’t control the uncontrollable, but what I can do is stop judging myself so harshly. It’s time to turn to my favorite motivational coach – Dr. Cindra Kamphoff and put her recent words of wisdom to use from a recent Twitter post:
During this time period of change & adversity, we need to protect our mind.🧠
We need to stand guard to our mind.💂
Protect it from negativity, blame, frustration & boredom.😫
Pay attention to the meaning we are giving to our experience.👀
We each have the power to choose.👊
— Cindra Kamphoff, PhD (@Mentally_Strong) April 28, 2020
Ok, Cindra, I’ll start working on that now!
Pay it forward. Be a boomerang.
When you look back, how will you answer – “What did I do during COVID?” We need to relax, but I hope it’s not only binge watching my TV playlists or completely Marie Kondo’ing my house. In our neighborhoods, we’ve all seen remarkable and heartwarming stories of people helping people in need. I especially want to acknowledge the front line workers who never imagined they’d be putting their lives on the line every minute of their shift. Thanks to all grocery store employees, meat production workers, maintenance staff for apartment buildings, and all the folks that perhaps we took for granted in our busy lives pre-COVID.
Back to my original question asked another way. Looking inside, how have you used your professional expertise to help clients and prospects in need? For those of us sales and marketing professionals, it’s really hard not to do our ABC’s – Always Be Closing. It’s what we were trained to do! But now is not the time for a full court press to close deals you were working on prior to the pandemic. What clients need has changed dramatically, even from just two weeks ago. Ask how you can help. I’m grateful to be able to lend a hand to my clients that are essential service providers. They are small business owners desperately fighting for cash-flow and survival, so I have repivoted my fees and services. As many other businesses have done as well. Because when prospects ask you “What did you do during the pandemic?”, you can feel good about how you helped others. Unlike no time in history, people will base their future buying decisions – whether consumers or business-to-business professionals, based on how organizations conducted themselves in this crisis.
Pay it forward, because it will come back to you in spades. And it’s the right thing to do.
“We can’t fix all problems but we must fix the ones we can.”
Thanks for listening.
Jessica Kelley is a seasoned leader with more than two decades of marketing and finance experience in B2B and B2C channels. She has worked extensively within healthcare, consumer, commercial, and software industries in diverse environments ranging in size from a $100 billion corporation to a startup firm. Her company, HPZ Marketing is certified by the WBENC as a Women’s Business Enterprise.