Leading means keeping your cool, as Dr Eve Merceda shares. Peer groups are safe places to lose your sh*t and get support to get back in the game.

How to Not Lose Your Sh*t During the COVID-19 Crisis

How do you hold your sh*t together in the midst of a global pandemic, when it seems like the rest of the world has already lost its mind? (I’m looking at you, toilet-paper-hoarders.)

If you’re reading this article, you’re already well aware of the uniquely challenging stressors that the COVID-19 pandemic has visited upon nearly everyone around the world. For many (most) of us, this highly fluid situation is testing our emotional, financial, physical, and psychological resources in ways we wouldn’t have dreamed possible just a few short weeks ago.

Unique challenges call for unique solutions, and in this article, I’ll share several creative approaches to holding your sh*t together amidst the current craziness.

Emotions Suppressed … Lead to Pain Expressed

When we’re faced with intense stress, many of us shut down emotionally, stuffing our feelings of fear, anxiety, and anger deep into the dungeons of our psyche. We think, “the show must go on!” – and so we pretend (even to ourselves) that we’re handling everything just fine, thank you very much.

We are, however, completely kidding ourselves.

Research on the mind-body connection clearly indicates that suppressed emotional energy can (and very often does) transform itself into physical energy – often in the form of pain that doesn’t appear to have any underlying physical basis. The first law of thermodynamics (also known as the law of the conservation of energy) states that, “energy can be neither created nor destroyed; it can only change form.” And this law is as true for us as it is for everything else in the universe.

The only solution (or preventative) is to find a way to get in touch with all of the scary, negative, yucky feelings that you really don’t want to feel right now – before they show up as a mysterious pain or ailment somewhere in your body. The most effective approach seems to be some form of writing or journaling. And it absolutely does not need to be anything fancy; just do a brain dump of all the crappy feelings you’re experiencing at the moment, writing them out in their rawest, messiest, most honest form. 

The good news is that we don’t have to completely RESOLVE all these emotional issues to keep them in check; we just have to ACKNOWLEDGE them. Somewhat surprisingly, our subconscious minds are relatively easily appeased in this sense. As long as we’re willing to say, “I feel scared” or “I feel vulnerable” or “I feel anxious,” we can generally prevent those emotions from transforming from emotional pain into physical pain.

Personally, I have found the Curable app to be quite helpful for working on mind-body stuff, although I initially bristled at some of the exercises, which seemed a bit too woo-woo for my Spock-like nature.

You Cannot Pour from an Empty Cup

In the heat of a crisis, when it seems like the entire world is on fire, it’s easy to let ourselves get lost in the process; to let our own needs drop to the bottom of our priority list. Although well-intentioned, neglecting our own needs is a ticking time bomb (and we know this, often from extensive past experience). Generally speaking, we MOST need to engage in whatever counts as “self-care” at those times when we think we can LEAST afford it. Like now, when it feels like literally every. single. thing. is on fire around us.

The reality is that you will not “find” time for self-care activities right now; you must MAKE time. Make sure that you are doing what you need to do to replenish your emotional, physical, and psychological reserves. Because you WILL need them – for yourself and for others. Many of us will need to get creative with how we meet our self-care needs right now, given the increasing restrictions on normal life. Personally, I’ve replaced time at the gym (which is closed indefinitely) with 5-mile walks on the trails near my house and a “snack toll” system. My rule is that I can have as many snacks as I want during they day, but they’re not free. There’s an exercise toll to pay for each one. So, for example, if I’ve got a hankering for a piece of chocolate…well, that will cost me 25 squats. Or 30 ab crunches. And so on. At my current chocolate consumption rate, I figure that I’m going to be completely ripped by the time this pandemic is over.

Bottom line: DO NOT SACRIFICE YOUR OWN SELF-CARE. You may have to get creative, depending on what counts as self-care for you, but it’s the only way you’ll make it through this time with your sanity intact.

Helping Others to Help Yourself

Henry David Thoreau’s beautiful observation about happiness and butterflies provides a wonderful guidepost for these troubled times:

“Happiness is like a butterfly. The more you chase it, the more it will elude you. But if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.”

As much as we may be tempted to get lost in our own struggles and concerns, focusing exclusively on how we can relieve our own anxiety, suffering, and stress, there is tremendous hope and healing to be found in being of service to others.

Every one of us has unique gifts to offer the world – and those gifts have rarely been more needed than they are at this exact moment. Whatever you can do for your fellow humans right now, try to do it. No matter how small or insignificant it may seem. Sometimes, when all of the big things in life are going wrong, it’s the little acts of kindness that get us through.

This Too Shall Pass

Several years ago, in the midst of an intensely painful personal challenge, I created my own, modified version of the Serenity Prayer and had the key words inscribed on a ring that is getting a LOT of wear lately. In its full form, the saying I created is:

Improve the things I can. Make peace with the things I cannot. Focus my energy where it’s worth it, and let go where it is not.

Hang in there, fellow humans. Acknowledge the crappy emotions that you’ve stuffed down in the dungeons of your subconscious. Keep up with your self-care in whatever creative ways you can. Help others as a way of helping yourself. And know that this craziness won’t last forever…because nothing does.

CRISIS COMMUNICATION How to Reassure Your Team When the News Is Scary

HBR article by Allison Shapira

We’ve all had that moment on an airplane where we experience turbulence. Maybe you are rudely awakened by a sudden jolt, or you stand up to use the restroom and have to hold onto the back of someone’s seat. Within a few seconds, the pilot’s voice comes over the intercom. What are you listening for? You are listening for reassurance through the uncertainty of turbulence.

With Covid-19 concerns around the globe, it’s not just the airline industry that is experiencing a sudden lurch on its normal journey. Many business leaders are asking how they can communicate uncertainty both internally to their teams and externally to their clients — whether it’s about participating in an upcoming conference or delivering on a signed proposal. Communicating in the face of uncertainty is a constant leadership challenge.

In addition to working with the airline industry on this topic, my team and I have worked with Fortune 500 companies around the world who need to manage high-stakes communications to multiple audiences simultaneously. Here are five steps we have found to be incredibly effective:

1. Pause and breathe.
Before you start communicating to others, take a minute to pause and breathe. When you are the most senior person in a room, your team takes its cues from you in terms of how to act and how to feel. Taking a minute to center yourself will ensure that you present a calm, rational force to your
colleagues and clients. This applies over the phone or through email as well. When you feel anxiety, you transmit that to others. A study of empathetic stress found that observing others experiencing stress could cause observers to themselves to feel more stressed.
2. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes.
In public speaking, knowing your audience in advance is critical. In times of uncertainty, it’s paramount, regardless of the medium. Do a thorough strategic analysis of who you are communicating to. What are their concerns, questions, or interests? What do they need an immediate answer to? You might use language such as, “I know many of you may be thinking…” The quicker you can address what’s on their mind, the quicker you will be able to calm them down. If you are not addressing their most pressing interests, they might not even be listening to you.
3. Do your research.
In times of stress, misinformation can be especially destructive. Seek out credible sources of information, and read the information fully before distilling it into clear, concise language. Share those links with others, so that they too have a credible resource. As a faculty member at Harvard, I
appreciate that the university created a separate webpage with credible sources for more information and that it sends frequent emails with updates.
4. Speak clearly and confidently.
You can speak with confidence even without 100% certainty. You can confidently express doubt or uncertainty, while still sounding like you are in control of the situation. You might say, “Reports are still coming in, but what we understand so far is this…” Communicate frequently with your audience, even without news to report, so that they know you are actively following the issue. Fellow communication expert Nancy Duarte wrote an insightful article on this topic several years ago and said, “People will be more willing to forgive your in-progress ideas if they feel like they’re part of the process.”

5. Have specific next steps.
In times of uncertainty, it’s helpful to provide your team with tangible action items. Discussing your own next steps or recommending next steps to your audience gives them a sense of control so they feel like they are contributing to stabilization. Use language such as, “Here are the steps we are taking” or “Here’s what you can do” to demonstrate action.
Communicating through uncertainty is an essential leadership skill, regardless of whether or not you have a formal leadership role. In fact, the ability to communicate through uncertainty is part of what demonstrates to others your leadership readiness. Use the above steps to first find your own sense of focus and then allow yourself to transmit that reassurance to others.




The Power of Peers in a Pandemic

I serve about 50 CEOS and C-suite executives in peer groups designed to help them grow both personally and professionally.

While under “normal circumstances” we meet as a group once a month and I meet with each member individually, we decided it would make sense to have more frequent check ins with everyone while this was going on.

This is what I’ve seen:

  • I’ve seen members share their best practices so others members employees could be safe in their workplaces.
  • I’ve seen information sharing so everyone could be up to speed about what the loan programs and employee leave requirements really mean and how they really work.
  • I’ve seen members have a safe place to express their fears and concerns with each other.
  • I’ve heard stories of owners “talking employees off a ledge” because they were fearful about the virus, their job, the future and the unknown.
  • I’ve seen more communication, compassionate communication and intentional communication.
  • I’ve seen friends support one another and buy local at lunch for their employees who are still deemed essential.
  • I’ve seen candid conversations with peers who need to be pragmatic in a time when everything seems crazy.
  • I’ve seen business owners who got busier as a result of this, offer to temporarily hire employees of those whose business slowed down significantly.
  • I’ve seen business owners offer up supplies to other companies to help them stay in business and keep their employees safe.
  • I’ve seen relief on members faces who realized they weren’t the only ones going through this AND they weren’t going through it alone.
  • I’ve seen incredible decisions come out of different perspectives and candid observations that made a difference in the future of members companies.
  • I’ve seen owners give raises and bonuses because the work is so crazy, and I’ve seen owners take personal pay cuts so their employees could keep getting paid.
  • I’ve seen powerful relationships get even stronger as these smart successful people navigate this new normal and help each other.
  • I’ve seen an opportunity to take a few minutes with peers, connect, let their guard down and be human so they could get back to leading in a healthy way.
  • I’ve seen commitment to taking care of themselves, each other, their families and their people and reinforcement that they each need to take time to make that happen.
  • I’ve seen human kindness, caring and connection during a time when people can feel isolated, disconnected and alone.

If you feel alone, reach out. Find some peers. Touch base regularly. It can make the difference between struggling through this and thriving through this. I’m honored to be here to help.

Janice HoneycuttChair, CEO Peer Advisory Groups
Vistage Worldwide Chair of Excellence GiANT Worldwide Certified Consultant 

janice.honeycutt@vistagechair.com

The US Chamber simplifies the CARES Act for SBA Loans.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. Known as the Paycheck Protection Program, the initiative provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to
small businesses who maintain their payroll during this emergency.


Importantly, these loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward.

The administration soon will release more details including the list of lenders offering loans under the program. In the meantime, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has issued this guide to help small businesses and self-employed individuals prepare to file for a loan.

Here are the questions you may be asking—
and what you need to know.

1 – Am I ELIGIBLE?

You are eligible if you are:
• A small business with fewer than 500 employees
• A small business that otherwise meets the SBA’s size standard
• A 501(c)(3) with fewer than 500 employees
• An individual who operates as a sole proprietor
• An individual who operates as an independent contractor
• An individual who is self-employed who regularly carries on any
trade or business
• A Tribal business concern that meets the SBA size standard
• A 501(c)(19) Veterans Organization that meets the SBA size standard
In addition, some special rules may make you eligible:
• If you are in the accommodation and food services sector (NAICS 72),
the 500-employee rule is applied on a per physical location basis
• If you are operating as a franchise or receive financial assistance
from an approved Small Business Investment Company the normal
affiliation rules do not apply
REMEMBER: The 500-employee threshold includes all employees:
full-time, part-time, and any other status.

2- What will lenders be LOOKING FOR?

In evaluating eligibility, lenders are directed to consider whether
the borrower was in operation before February 15, 2020 and had
employees for whom they paid salaries and payroll taxes or paid
independent contractors.
Lenders will also ask you for a good faith certification that:
1. The uncertainty of current economic conditions makes the loan
request necessary to support ongoing operations
2. The borrower will use the loan proceeds to retain workers and
maintain payroll or make mortgage, lease, and utility payments
3. Borrower does not have an application pending for a loan
duplicative of the purpose and amounts applied for here
4. From Feb. 15, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020, the borrower has not
received a loan duplicative of the purpose and amounts applied
for here (Note: There is an opportunity to fold emergency loans
made between Jan. 31, 2020 and the date this loan program
becomes available into a new loan)
If you are an independent contractor, sole proprietor, or self-employed
individual, lenders will also be looking for certain documents
(final requirements will be announced by the government) such as
payroll tax filings, Forms 1099-MISC, and income and expenses from
the sole proprietorship.

3- How much can I BORROW?

Loans can be up to 2.5 x the borrower’s
average monthly payroll costs, not to
exceed $10 million.

How do I calculate my average monthly PAYROLL COSTS?

sum of INCLUDED payroll costs
minus sum of EXCLUDED payroll costs
equals PAYROLL COSTS

INCLUDED Payroll Cost:
1. For Employers: The sum of payments of any compensation with
respect to employees that is a:
• salary, wage, commission, or similar compensation;
• payment of cash tip or equivalent;
• payment for vacation, parental, family, medical, or sick leave
• allowance for dismissal or separation
• payment required for the provisions of group health care benefits,
including insurance premiums
• payment of any retirement benefit
• payment of state or local tax assessed on the compensation
of the employee
2. For Sole Proprietors, Independent Contractors, and Self-Employed
Individuals: The sum of payments of any compensation to or
income of a sole proprietor or independent contractor that is a
wage, commission, income, net earnings from self-employment, or
similar compensation and that is in an amount that is not more than
$100,000 in one year, as pro-rated for the covered period.

EXCLUDED Payroll Cost:
1. Compensation of an individual employee in excess of an annual salary
of $100,000, as prorated for the period February 15, to June 30, 2020
2. Payroll taxes, railroad retirement taxes, and income taxes
3. Any compensation of an employee whose principal place of
residence is outside of the United States
4. Qualified sick leave wages for which a credit is allowed under section
7001 of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Public Law 116–
5 127); or qualified family leave wages for which a credit is allowed
under section 7003 of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

4- Will this loan be FORGIVEN?

Borrowers are eligible to have their loans forgiven.
How Much?
A borrower is eligible for loan forgiveness equal to the amount the
borrower spent on the following items during the 8-week period
beginning on the date of the origination of the loan:
• Payroll costs (using the same definition of payroll costs used to
determine loan eligibility)
• Interest on the mortgage obligation incurred in the ordinary
course of business
• Rent on a leasing agreement
• Payments on utilities (electricity, gas, water, transportation,
telephone, or internet)
• For borrowers with tipped employees, additional wages
paid to those employees
The loan forgiveness cannot exceed the principal.
How could the forgiveness be reduced?
The amount of loan forgiveness calculated above is reduced if there
is a reduction in the number of employees or a reduction of greater
than 25% in wages paid to employees. Specifically:


Reduction based on reduction of number of employees (calculate as follows)

PAYROLL COST (multiplied by)Average Number of
Full-Time Equivalent
Employees (FTEs)
Per Month for the
8-Weeks Beginning
on Loan Origination
(divided by) Option 1:
Average number of FTEs per month from
February 15, 2019 to June 30, 2019
(divided by) Option 2:
Average number of FTEs per month from
January 1, 2020 to February 29, 2020
(divided by) For Seasonal Employers:
Average number of FTEs per month from
February 15, 2019 to June 30, 2019

Reduction based on reduction in salaries (calculate as follows)

PAYROLL
COST
(minus)
For any employee who did not earn during any pay period in 2019 wages at an annualized rate more than $100,000, the amount of any reduction in wages that is greater than 25% compared to their most recent full quarter.

What if I bring back employees or restore wages?
Reductions in employment or wages that occur during the period
beginning on February 15, 2020, and ending 30 days after enactment
of the CARES Act, (as compared to February 15, 2020) shall not reduce
the amount of loan forgiveness IF by June 30, 2020 the borrower
eliminates the reduction in employees or reduction in wages.

Prepared by the U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE









Lots of moving parts as a leader today. Here are some tips to make sense of what’s important to successfully navigate through.

A 10-Point Small-Business Survival Plan for Dealing With the Coronavirus

This guide can help guide you and your business during difficult times.

It’s safe to say that this current crisis is like none other faced by small business owners in the recent past, and it’s certainly daunting trying to tackle all of the unique issues it presents. Regrettably, the predominant voice we hear hasn’t offered a lot of specific steps to take or advice on how to save our business, let along come out on top.

Below are 10 issues to address with detailed considerations and action items that might make the difference in being able to keep your doors open and calm your employees and customers.

1. Immediate financial triage.

The greatest concern for most business owners, at least initially, is how am I going to pay my bills this week, next week, and how long will this last. Of course, this is a very difficult question to answer and moreover, most business owners are facing a reduction of business owners. Here are some important steps to take on the financial front as soon as possible:

  • Create a cash-flow budget listing with fixed versus variable costs. Fixed costs will generally keep the doors open and must be paid. Create a list of priorities about which ones are most important and try to set money aside based on the timing of when they are due. 
  • Analyze cuts to unnecessary costs that aren’t producing revenue or securing key business functions.
  • Layoffs, terminations or furloughs of employees. Remember, your employees can be one of your greatest assets, and if you cut too deep, you may not get them back. 
    • Layoffs are considered to be a temporary request for an employee to take unpaid time off. These employees will most likely seek unemployment benefits, but our hope is to have them back as soon as possible.
    • Furloughs can be a variety of things and tailored to your situation. It may be that employees work at a reduced rate, maybe they don’t work at all and stay home, they may be paid a minimal amount, or might be paid fully at some point in the future. However, don’t ask employees to work for free — you will probably face problems for doing so under state law. 
    • Terminations are just what they sound like. You’re letting someone go and they probably won’t be coming back. They’ll more than likely seek unemployment benefits as well. 
  • Find additional financial sources of revenue. Be creative in your sales and marketing (more on this below).
  • Consider any savings or resources, including possible loans (more on this below).

2. Tax payments.

Taxpayers have an unprecedented tax payment extension from the Fed for 90 days, until July 15th. This is up to individuals and small business owners of up to $1 million in taxes owed, and up to $10 million for C-Corporations.

However, taxpayers still need to file their taxes or extensions. Still file or extend by April 15th. There are penalties if you don’t file, but again, no penalties or interest if you don’t pay (for up to 90 days).

Taxpayers might also be able to find some extra money by filing their taxes, because there’s a good chance they could have a refund. In 2015, it was reported that over $1.4 billion in tax refunds went unclaimed and were kept by the treasury department. 

Important note: Don’t fall victim to thinking you can wait to pay payroll taxes. If you are an employer, those payroll taxes are considered sacred funds by the government. You’re playing with fire! Payment of these taxes is not extended and penalties and interest are significant for not paying payroll taxes.

3. SBA Disaster Assistance Loan.

The Federal government through the Small Business Administration has authorized loans to small business owners of up to $2 million. These are mean to be used for business debt, covering payroll, costs to operate the business. The terms can be up to 30 years to repay and a low 3.75 percent rate. 

A business owner will need to provide financials to qualify and a personal guarantee from the individuals owning 20 percent or more of the company. At best it could take up to two to three weeks to get the loans as well, so don’t think it’s that quick of a turn-around either. 

On the face of it, this may seem like a safe or logical choice. However, remember this is still a loan that has to be paid back. If your business is already barely getting by, it may not be the time to do into more debt. Maybe it’s wise to close the doors entirely and re-open in the future. Taking such drastic action doesn’t make you a failure. 

4. COVID-19 policies within your organization.

Be clear with your employees regarding your specific policies within the business and safety protocol regarding the virus. It’s probably wise to follow as closely as possible the CDC guidelines, social distancing, clean work areas, environments and good hygiene.

Be flexible on sick leave that employees want to take, and try to reduce areas of the company with groups of more than 10 employees. Cancel large events and use conference calls and webcams to communicate when possible. 

Following any federal, state or local government directives regarding guidance for employers and looking out for the safety of your employees and customers, although a pain, will be appreciated in the short and long run.

5. Employees and your talent.

It’s not all about cutting costs with payroll. It’s important for business owners to show leadership. Set the tone and be the calm in the storm. You’re riding a wave, you’re on a surfboard. Don’t complain about the wave or gripe. It’s not going to change. Pay attention to it though and adapt. 

Don’t plan too far out and remember things are changing often. Make a plan for the next few weeks, then the next month. These plans will change, but here are a few specific ideas or steps to consider with your team:

  • If you have employees, make sure they are assured about being protected. You want to retain the key people who drive your business. In the end, it’s people who make every business successful so focus on your key people. 
  • Don’t get stuck in decisions you made last week. Be willing to adapt and have new plans. You are going to have to live with these changes once the crisis is over.
  • Communicate any changes to your sick leave policies. Make sure your employees know to not come to work sick and that you are being generous with sick leave at this time (helps your payroll costs too). 
  • Stop hiring unless there is a candidate you’ve been trying to recruit and don’t want to lose. Communicate with them.

Unfortunately, hard decisions will need to be made. Make a talent assessment in your company on who is valuable and how your business will be different if this person isn’t working for you next week. 

6. Marketing and sales.

Make sure to communicate clearly and consistently with your customers. If you are open for business, make sure they know that and how to interact with your organization. Make it easy for them to purchase your product and services.

Use your social media presence to keep your customers up to date. If you typically don’t use social media, it may now be time to build one. 

Implement a newsletter or series of emails to your customers if you aren’t already doing so. Use it to communicate your ability to help customers and any changes to how you regularly provide them. 

Be creative and find new opportunities to market and sell. Given the current conditions, what resonates with customers right now that you can provide? This is a good time to focus on your existing customers, provide excellent service, make sure you retain your important relationships and customers. Let any key relationships know you are still there and how you can be of service. 

Finally, consider new ways to deliver your service or product. It may be through home delivery, mail or through virtual web-based services. Offer discounts if necessary and think outside the box.

7. Operations, research and development, product or service improvements.

If things are slow, this is an ideal time to tackle those projects you have been putting off. Invest in this time, don’t waste it on Netflix or getting sucked into the never-ending news coverage. Instead, consider this time for you or your team to be invested in improving products, services and finding efficiencies. 

If you or your team have more time available (because you have less work or fewer customers), use this time to improve your processes and efficiencies, improve products and services or make the changes you’ve been meaning to do over the past few years or months. We know we all have them in our business, and we’ve been too busy to get to them. Well, use this time now. Come out of the storm stronger and have a better product or service. 

Conduct training in your company or get training yourself as a leader in areas you know will improve your company. If you know you are weak on social media marketing, or accounting and budgeting, IT, or a niche thing in your business category that could drive your business, invest your time into this. Get your team doing the same. 

8. Remote work for your employees.

Many small businesses are having employees work remotely for the first time. Make sure you set the expectations for those working remotely. Many business owners already operate on nights and weekends remotely, but your employees probably don’t (at least, that’s been my experience this week). 

Increase your level of technology if necessary as quickly and as affordably as possible. Hopefully, you aren’t on an old-school server and have your key software and company functions in the cloud. If you are on a server, you will need to set up VPN accesses for employees to access their work computers from their home computers. If you are on the cloud, this is much easier (Gmail/Google, Outlook 365, Salesforce, most modern CRMS, etc.).

Implement a work-from-home agreement in writing with your employees and have them sign it. Set-forth expectations and implement a procedure for a weekly productivity report to be completed each day and then summarized by the week (excel spreadsheet is what we use) so that employees are tracking their workloads, customer interaction, and projects. You can also include in this agreement terms for reduction in pay if necessary based on productively or sales.

Assess what functions can be done remotely and what must be completed in the office. For most businesses, not everything can be remote. A small team may need to be on-location for certain functions (mail, packages, shipping, etc.). Try to have a measured approach and get as many people as possible to work remotely but realize it’s probably not possible for all, depending on job function, employee skill, family situation at home of the employee and more. 

9. Assess your business’s 2020 strategic plan. 

If you didn’t make a Strategic Plan for this year, it’s certainly time to make one now.

This is a great time to make modifications. Start on projects that have been on your wish list and revaluate your objectives for the year. Adjust the plan and outlook for 2020 as you know more about your business. 

You’re going to have weeks or months dealing with this mess. Are you going to use the time wisely or waste it? 

10. Be charitable, show humanity and note what you are learning from this.

We are all learning a lot about how we could have better prepared for this disaster. Use this time as a wakeup call and learn from this experience. Start taking notes and don’t return to the status quo when this is all over. 

  • Have a financial reserve or savings account for your business that could help in times of need or disaster.
  • Have a personal financial reserve of a few months of living costs. 
  • Build a small food storage at the least. Maybe a few months’ worth of household goods, such as toilet paper, soap, feminine products, laundry soap, etc. Do your best with the resources and space you may have.
  • Consider new revenue sources and small diversifying your business.

Finally, try to serve and help those in your community. The more you help others worse off than you, the better you’ll feel. As even a short history of the United States has shown, this too will pass and we should do all we can to help one another through it while we all learn and grow from this trial.

Article from Entrepreneur Magazine by Mark J Kohler VIP Contributor

John O’Leary shares some insights, history and a perspective we could all benefit from. My hope is that you are still hopeful and willing to strive for an even better world.

A Lesson from JFK and 1962

With ever-expanding anxiety around coronavirus, it can feel as if the end is near, there is no reason for hope and we are all doomed.  Just go home, wash your hands and wait for the end.

And yet, it’s heartening to remember: This is far from the first time we’ve stewed in adversity as a nation or as a global marketplace.  

I wanted to share a brief story from Chapter 1 of my forthcoming book IN AWE to remind you that not only have we weathered even mightier storms together, but ultimately are able to move forward when we lead with a mighty vision.

It was a swelteringly hot day in Houston, Texas. The date was September 12, 1962. President John F. Kennedy was speaking in front of an audience of forty thousand people at Rice University.

Although it was only twelve days into the month of September, it had already been an eventful month. A 7.1-magnitude earthquake in Iran killed more than twelve thousand people. The entire world was on edge on the eve of what was to become known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. Global financial markets remained sluggish. The Supreme Court had just ordered the admission of the first African American student to the segregated University of Mississippi.

It was a time of turmoil and tension, frustration and fear. There were natural disasters, political protests, and cultural uprisings.

Sound familiar?

It was with this background that the president prepared to speak in Houston. Kennedy knew what was in the hearts and on the minds of the American people. He understood they were feeling bewildered, nervous, lost, and unmoored. And he set before them that day a grand, compelling vision, a mighty goal. A goal many thought impossible, if not outright lunacy.

It was a massive dream, one that would require all the best of America: collaboration, brains, innovation, and determination. He set before us the goal of landing a man on the moon before the end of the decade.


In an unusually lengthy and poetic sentence, he reminded those listening of both the weight of the challenge and the solution to it.

“But if I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to earth, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun—almost as hot as it is here today—and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out—then we must be bold.”

It was an unprecedented vision.
A daunting task.
An impossible dream.

And yet before the decade ended, just as Kennedy had promised, Americans heard astronaut Neil Armstrong, upon stepping on the moon’s surface, announce, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

A couple of guys, strapped into a metal lunar module launched 240,000 miles away from earth, landed safely on the moon, bounced around a little while thanks to the lower gravity of the moon, planted a flag, grabbed some rocks, took some pictures, got back into their vessel and returned home safely. All with computing technology far inferior to that found in your old flip phone.

It seems impossible.

But they did it. When Kennedy urged America and Americans to be bold, he was saying that to accomplish this goal, we would have to throw out the rule book, put our boundless creativity, curiosity, and determination to the test, and keep at it relentlessly until we accomplished our goal.

We had to utilize our sense of wonder. The sense that doesn’t allow us to give up in the face of failure. The sense that is always seeking new solutions. The sense that prods us to ask questions, get curious, and dig deep to find the way.

This is how we make big moves and enact true change. We put our minds together and invite our sense of wonder to push boundaries, reject limits, and go where no one has ever gone before.

Regrettably, our government leaders today speak less of bringing people together to create something bigger than themselves and more about protecting what we already possess. Our focus as individuals seems to be less about how much we can accomplish together and more about getting through the day. Far more effort is spent guarding what we have than expanding what, and who, we could become.

Why have we stopped thinking differently, and aiming for the moon?
It’s because we’ve lost touch with our sense of wonder.
And it’s time to get reacquainted.

My friends, it’s critically important in our lives (individually and collectively) to still have visions of going to the moon and not becoming a victim to headwind, headlines or hesitations that keep us bound to fear. 

As you launch into your day, be aware that last year 43 million cases of the flu were diagnosed. Understand that 650,000 people were hospitalized and more than 60,000 people died of the common flu. This is not stated to minimize coronavirus. Instead, to serve as a reminder that what we really need during scary times – as markets fall and rise, as offices close and open, as cases spread and recover – is perspective that we’ve been here before, we’ve weathered it together, life is precious and is intended to be lived fully. 

Today I choose to soar forward in my life.

And, in all sincerity, to wash my hands with greater frequency, elbow people rather than hug them, get plenty of sleep, but live this moment with the expectation and wonder that the best remains ahead.  

This is your day. Live Inspired.
John

What can you do in the midst of the corona contraction? How can you prepare for when we come out, or take advantage of opportunities that are presenting themselves in this crisis. Stay focused.

Management Objectives™ for Trying Times By Lauren Saidel-Baker

Recent black swan events have precipitated market upheaval to a degree not seen since the Great Recession. Our team has produced several blog posts and articles covering COVID-19 and the recent oil price shock specifically, but the real question for business leaders is what to do now.

Our Management Objectives™ for the back side of the business cycle – Phase C, Slowing Growth, and Phase D, Recession – offer a good starting point.

Certain Management Objectives on this list are especially relevant to the current situation:

  • Cash is king – While cash is always important, uncertainty makes it even more so. Evaluate your cash position. Be in touch with your banker, as liquidity is still present in the system and interest rates are still low.
  • Evaluate your vendors for financial strength – Quarantine efforts are disrupting supply chains and distribution channels. Consider not just your direct suppliers, but tier two and tier three suppliers as well. Similarly, consider whether your company could stand to benefit from nearshoring as businesses worldwide reassess risks to their supply chains and look to diversify. This may be an opportunity to win back business that was lost to Asia in the past decade.
  • Offer alternative products with a lower cost basis – Your customers may be delaying their orders in the face of ongoing volatility. Work with them to understand their concerns and explore alternative solutions. These should enable you to maintain market share and build on existing relationships. Your actions today can build customer loyalty for the long term.
  • Perform due diligence on acquisitions while valuations are falling – Be opportunistic. Consider purchasing capital equipment on favorable terms or locking in low prices on raw materials.
  • Develop programs for advertising, training, and marketing to implement later – Having plans solidified in advance will allow you to implement them more quickly once the uncertainty passes, keeping you ahead of the competition.

My personal favorite Management Objective is the final one on the list: “Lead with optimism.” The impact of COVID-19 will be temporary. Life, and the economy, will go on. Fear-based decisions may prove rash, and overreacting may result in your locking in losses. Instead, communicate proactively with your customers and your employees about your response.

As always, stay connected with ITR Economics for more on the eventual business cycle low and the timing of the subsequent upswing. Singular data points will be volatile in the coming months, and focusing on the long game is more important than ever. As the world recovers, don’t be caught having to play catch-up. Instead, put your plans in place now and be ready to execute when the time comes. The recovery is likely to make a V-shape as markets bounce back from the sharp drop. It will be up to you to catch the rising trend.

Leading with the 4 C’s in the Corona Crisis – Here are the 4 Characteristics from the leaders who are doing it well

Navigating with the Four C’s

Working with CEOs and Business Owners in every industry during this pandemic allows the cream to rise to the top.  Here are The 4 C’s that I See from the leaders who are doing it well:

  1.  Care for yourself.  They would not put this first; they would put taking care of their people first, but they also know if they don’t take care of themselves, they cannot take care of others.  Get enough sleep; pray or meditate; exercise; eat right; drink water; and take breaks. Encourage your people to do the same.  Model it for them.
  2. Communicate.  This cannot be stressed enough.  You need to communicate with your employees, your customers, your vendors and your family.  As humans we fill every void with negative and usually something more negative than reality.  Tell them what is going on, what you are doing, even if it is a tough conversation.  Remind them what they are here for. (Whether “here” is on-site or virtual, the work is still important.) Tell them more than once.  Be the Chief Repeating Officer during this time. 
  3. Compassion.  Sometimes we hunker down, or we power through.  What is your tendency and how is it showing up for those you are leading? Check-in on your people: How are they? What’s going on for them? How can you reassure them? Maybe they just need to be listened to for a minute.  You don’t need to solve their problems. Hearing them out is a huge gift. Acknowledge that this is a scary time for everyone, no matter the paygrade.  We are all in this together. 
  4. Connect.  CEOs who have a network of support weather these storms better than those who go it alone.  Reach out.  Ask for help. 

Remember that our job as leaders is to help everyone around us be successful.  Sustain these priorities as you navigate the new waters we are in.  Stay safe, stay healthy, and lead on! 

How are your people experiencing you? A tool to use to help you lead in this crazy time. (and any time)

What are your tendencies when faced with a crisis?

How does that play out, and how do your employees experience you as a result of those tendencies?

If you could be more aware and intentionally lead yourself differently would you be the leader that they need?

Do you power through? Do you shut down? Do you lash out? Do you question yourself out loud?

What causes it, and what reality does it create? 

Firecracker Leadership/GiANT groups are working through these concepts and members are supporting one another as they grow to become leaders worth following. 

Please use the tool if it can help you in this time. 

Reach out if a group like this could help you now or in the future. 

Sign Up for GiANT TV! https://www.giant.tv/janicehoneycutt

Something to think about. Are your healthcare directives and those of your adult children in place???

Please get your Healthcare Directives in place…


Two weeks ago a friends daughter (let’s call her Jan) flew back to college and at the time had “the sniffles.” She told the Director of the dorm about the flight and her cold and immediately the college quarantined Jan and ordered a Coronavirus test. The school delivered food into the sectioned off room wearing hazmat suits. Jan was not allowed to leave except to use the bathroom. Jan’s parents were understandably concerned and immediately called the school and the doctor to find out what was going on. Because there was no Healthcare Directive in place, Jan’s parents were legally prevented from receiving information on her condition (Jan is a legal adult.) Unbelievable! But true.


Fortunately Jan tested negative but the entire incident was scary for everyone involved. The situation could have turned out much different.
The Coronavirus is a stark reminder for all of us to make sure to have your Healthcare Directives in place and your Financial Power of Attorney too.

60% of Americans DO NOT have these vital documents in place and they are playing with fire. Not only does your college kid who is 18+ need their own Healthcare Directive and Financial Power of Attorney, but of course YOU do too.


Your Medical Directives and Financial Power of Attorney are legal documents naming those people who can act on your behalf and make important decisions. These documents detail your exact wishes.