As each one of us continues to adapt to the new reality of life, the dominance of COVID-19 has brought a myriad of both challenges and opportunities.
As a founder of a successful digital marketing agency that’s been in business for almost a decade, with years of prior professional marketing experience in uber competitive industries like IT, hospitality, and media, I had yet to see anything similar to what has transpired over the course of the past month.
It has sent shockwaves through people and businesses across the globe. While uncertainty continues to be a strong theme, one certainty is that things will get better.
Earlier this year, my business partner Eddy introduced me to the “Daily Gratitude” routine. Essentially it’s the morning ritual of focusing on things you are grateful for – major things such as your family, your health, your freedom, and your team.
In addition to these foundational pieces, you can also practice gratitude for the little things, from the warmth of the shining sun to the taste and smell of your morning coffee. Even “distressing” things can be reframed with gratitude: a full email inbox invites gratitude that you have some many clients you can help and serve; noisy kids running around the house during isolation invites gratitude that you have a healthy, energetic family.
The more appreciative you are, the more you can shift your mindset and can help to create a positive attitude. In times like this in particular, I have never been more grateful for everything in my life and this practice has really helped stay positive and focused in such a challenging time.
With the sweeping changes across our communities, including the switch up on our daily routine, a change in workplace, the sudden prominence of remote work, and the widespread lack of social interaction, each and every one of us is feeling the impact of COVID-19.
As the weeks have progressed, and with the ups and downs, I have had lots of time to reflect on all of the challenges and opportunities that have come with the changes. With that here are 11 ways to carry yourself in the face of crisis:
Start with your mission.
For seoplus+ it is to “Make Life Better.” For our clients. For our team. This should be your north star in the face of crisis. Even at my lowest points, when I visualize our mission I immediately feel re-energized and re-focused. When could this mission be more meaningful than in challenging times? This is an opportunity to offer reassurance and solutions to make life better for everyone we interact with. Every company has a different mission, but it should be core to your values and act as a compass as you navigate these unprecedented times.
Positivity sets the tone. This is not to say you won’t have moments of distress, shock, fear, sadness, or anger. Every time you see a news update about a possible subsidy, your mood might spike, only to be followed by a call from a client to pause a campaign which brings you right down. However if you wallow in these feelings, you’re not helping yourself, your team, and your clients. When you set the tone with a positive outlook, you set the stage for a positive outcome. Choose to have a positive mindset and live it out in your daily behaviour and communications, and you will see others model the same behaviour.
We’re all human, after all. Let’s help each other in this time of need. Now is not the time for canned responses or automated follow-ups. This is our time to connect with each other and be truly grateful for what we have in life. Pick up the phone. Connect with each other.
Aim for lowest time investment which will yield the highest impact. Optimize where possible and take advantage of any extra time if you have it. Look for organic solutions on social media. Tons of eyes are on devices all day everyday during this time. The opportunity is now.
Demonstrate your expertise.
This is how you can be of value in this time. You are a leader for a reason. Provide help and guidance to those who need it. You can host a free webinar or Facebook Live Q/A session, or just let your people know your calendar is open if they need to talk. If you have the means, consider making charitable donations to the organizations and people who need it most.
Teamwork is absolutely vital right now. Teammates who come together, win together. Strong bonds are forged in difficult times. Take advantage of the remote communication tools like Slack and Google Meet to keep your team pulling in the same direction. Now more than ever it’s important to keep the mood light and fun when you can, so don’t neglect virtual team building activities. Our team is still doing our weekly #TrainingThursdays lunch-and-learn, and we’ve scheduled a virtual games night as well.
Communicate, be timely.
Now is the time to be proactive AND reactive. You want to be thoughtful and measured in what you say (I’m sure we’ve all read stories of companies who have botched their response to COVID-19 or crassly tried to capitalize on it), but you also need to have timely communication that speaks to the issues on people’s minds. Plan what you can, but know that you need to be flexible as news changes daily.
Take advantage of the time.
When have we ever had the opportunity to have weeks of focus time? No sitting in traffic, virtually no interruptions, all in-person gatherings cancelled? This is your time to get ahead. Whether it’s using the time to work on your business systems and processes, conduct a nitty-gritty audit of your site architecture, or build out evergreen content to be published at a later date, be strategic with the use of your time and make it count.
Be diligent, go above and beyond.
It is easy to be complacent in these times, especially outside of your normal routine. However, successful owners don’t take the easy road. And does complacency really align with your values or your mission? Instead, flip that instinct on its head. Now is the time to be more diligent, more hard-working, and more helpful than ever before. Go above and beyond in everything you do. You will make a difference for those around you and you will feel invigorated.
Some days, it feels like the world is repeating a holiday period on loop, where time has no meaning, diets are out the window, and pyjamas are the only attire. Don’t fall into this trap. Skip the video games and save Netflix binges for weekends, if at all. Be balanced and find routine wherever you can. Change into and out of “work clothes” when you’re on the clock, even if they’re casual. Get fresh air when you can. Exercise regularly. Eat healthy.
Celebrate the wins.
Focus on the end goal. This is only temporary, things will return to normal sooner rather than later. Take your losses in stride and choose to celebrate the victories, big and small. Whether that’s signing a new client, retaining an existing client on a reduced package, or just celebrating a good deed, let yourself find joy where it can be had.
We don’t know when this crisis will be over, only that it will certainly end and life will return to normal in due time. I hope that these strategies can help you not only navigate these challenging times with a little more clarity, but also return to a better “normal” when it’s time: with a more positive and grateful mindset, a more tight-knit team, better relationships with clients, and a more robust plan for the future.