I am, by trade, an entrepreneur. I started my first company when I was eleven and haven't stopped.
I like learning and I like creating. And my wife is just about done with that nonsense.
In all of the companies I've started and led, there was a common thread in the culture. Because, simply, the culture came from me and my personal values (you can read about our culture here)
When a company is driven by one leader, the strength and weaknesses of that company are simply mirrors of the strengths and weaknesses of its leader.
Each company I've created has thrived off my strengths and struggled from my weaknesses.
If you give me fifty minutes and a couch I will explain to you why I don't feel entitled or think I'm better than anybody else. Suffice to say, this comes through in my company culture. Because of this personality trait, I believe that leadership is not about a title, it's about behavior. In all of my companies everybody is empowered to make decisions without asking for approval, and they know which types of decision they can and can't make on their own. That leads to a company of self-driven, roll up your sleeves type of people who can recognize and resolve issues on the spot.
As Todd Whitaker said:
The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate.
I think we can all agree that we are in a time of crisis. If you can't agree with that, I'd be scared to know your definition of crisis
Most every industry in the US has been economically decimated, and it all seemed to happen so quickly. For the endurance business, March 15 was the day the revenue suddenly stopped. Since then, 90% of the money spent on social gatherings just disappeared. Poof.
People are freaking out. And rightfully so. They have no idea if they will have a job - or a business - by the end of this year. Plus whenever you turn to the news, there are more updates on sickness and death and politically partisan shenanigans.
But here's the thing, a crisis isn't just about freaking out. With every crisis comes opportunity.
Some day in the near future we are going to get through this. We are going to once again have social gatherings and athletic events. And one day down the road, we will be sitting around with others talking about how we acted during the global pandemic of 2020.
I trust and hope that, in the words of Winston Churchill, we will look back upon this time as our finest hour. When response to a virus tried to destroy our economy, destroy our industry and destroy our spirit, but we didn't back down. We were strengthened. Despite everything working against us, we rose above the fear and we built a better tomorrow.
The mayor's of Los Angeles, New York City and New Orleans have already indicated that there will be no sporting events or large gatherings until 2021 and health experts are starting to say it will be in the fall of 2021.
I, personally, agree.
Unless there's a magical vaccine that can be given to us before November, our best case scenario for wide spread comfort in large gatherings seems to fall closer to summer 2021.
I really would like to be wrong, but we have to pretend I'm not. Because if we don't, we are acting short-sighted. It's time to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
In the same way a company culture is a mirror of the strengths and weaknesses of its leader, the way a company acts during a crisis is an exaggeration of its culture and leadership personality.
If you value creativity, you're probably being highly creative now. If you value responsiveness, that's probably showing already. A company's ability (or lack thereof) to make decisions and pivot, will become blatantly evident during crisis.
How you do one thing, is how you do everything. And who you are is being laid bare right now for everybody to see.
The thing is, we are still at the easy part of this crisis. The basic requirement of us all right now is simply to survive this - personally and economically.
But survival is far different than thriving. In order to thrive on the other side of this, we have to do everything we can, as individuals, as an industry, as humans, to emerge stronger and wiser than we were before.
You know those scenes in every Rocky movie where he's been jabbed and hooked and hay-makered to oblivion. He's beaten to within an inch of existence, but he stays standing.
But then, suddenly, he realizes he's succumbing to the onslaught and not fighting back.
He is a fighter who is not fighting. Thats about when the theme song kicks in. And out of the rubble comes a hero, battling for his survival - made stronger by the crisis.
We are Rocky. And the theme song just started playing.
I see some great things out there.
I see the Quad Cities Marathon team putting on a virtual run where all the proceeds go to local sponsors impacted by the pandemic. I see them buying hand sanitizer and delivering it to police departments, and engaging two of their sponsors to deliver food to local hospitals.
I see over five hundred industry leaders joining together in the Endurance Sports Coalition to lobby government.
I see the IIRM and World Athletics working to create medical and safety guidelines for the endurance industry.
What are you doing to ensure you thrive?
It's time to take a good long look at how you're acting during this crisis and how it mirrors your company culture. Are you being selfish or working to help others? Are you innovating to ensure your company thrives on the new normal, or are you just sitting and hoping that everything turns back to the ways of yesterday?
The ones who are leaning in to the tornado are the ones who will emerge the strongest. They always do.
Its time to look within, understand who you are and how you act during crisis, then lift your chin, push back those shoulders, turn on your theme music and come off the ropes swinging.
Let me know what you're doing to ensure your company thrives on the other side of this.