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From the Desk of Barbara Karasek, CEO/Co-Owner of Paradise Advertising

In times when we’re tested to the max, it helps to think like a top athlete whose big race just got postponed. Training and preparing for the meet must go on, or else peak fitness and performance decreases significantly following pause. The runner’s focus is managing peak performance at the next race in an ongoing basis.

As a business owner, I’m constantly thinking of each client’s particular race, albeit sprints, high hurdles, relays and/or marathons. Each has seen their race suddenly rescheduled. I urge them, as I urge all of us, to take a deep breath, look inward and project outward. Revisit (or re-do) goal playbooks and envision accomplishing them. Be ready to nimbly pivot for the duration, to keep your parts moving and get back into tiptop shape. Be strategic and utilize data. Act like a wartime leader.

Here is what we advise clients to do, as we are at Paradise:

Take care of our team and company first.

Make sure your team of staff and their families are safe and healthy. We’re only as good as our people, and when a crisis happens, it is important that the company and employees are “fit” to jump right in. Ensuring the company is on solid footing operationally and financially is paramount. That foundation allows us to pivot, adapt and react to the situations at hand to operate seamlessly and maintain world class services for our client partners in challenging, fast paced crisis times. Some helpful tips? Encourage as much remote collaboration as possible. Find a way to insert your company culture into their new, home-based workplace; keeping spirits up by sharing informative, kind, and inspirational information. This is the time for your millennial colleagues to show off their best memes!

It’s a marathon conducted in sprints.

As with any race, yes, you may have crossed the finish line, but in the back of your mind you’re already evaluating what you could have done differently. For us at Paradise, our annual plans have taken a back seat and we are in week to week project sprints with clients. In the agency world, post-mortems, sprints, and launch sessions are inherent to our business and extremely important. In the present day in this crisis time, our daily sprint regroups, and our ongoing and at times hourly “should we pivot” chats, have been some of the most insightful meetings I’ve had. Helpful tips? Internal meetings need to have clear agendas outlined and key stakeholders present. Schedule the meetings/calls/web conferences for 20 minutes – 2 minutes of opening personal check-ins, 15 minutes of solid dialogue, 1 minute of fluff, and 2 minutes to state action steps, deliverables and team assignments. Meet as senior staff often (many times daily) via web conference to discuss issues across people, culture, operations, finance, legal, IT and of course, the client partners and business vendors.

Ready set, we’re off to the RACI!

If you are not familiar with this acronym, RACI, I encourage you to embrace it for your organization. The acronym reflects four key responsibilities most typically used in any business: Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. We adopt this methodology in Paradise and it particularly is of great help in times of crisis, moving fast and lessening the influx of emails in an already overloaded inbox. Helpful tips? To move fast, and accurately, it’s important to always clarify and define roles and responsibilities in cross-functional or departmental projects and processes.

Maintain your composure, and your culture.

It’s human to think in the moment, and to worry, and yet we need to remember we are captains of our teams. We need to remain calm and composed in trying times and juggle being mentors, coaches, colleagues and managers while making sure we’re still on strategy and ready to jump start at any moment. Helpful tips? Constantly take the pulse of your organization, and your culture, by checking in with staff and clients and listening to your feedback channels.

Connect and reconnect.

We have an opportunity to dig deep and find new ways to keep in touch and collaborate virtually. Those of you with remote employees have been at it for years, and extroverts like us in the relationship business are adapting quickly. We are settling in to our “new normal” of remote work and virtual communications. While video conferences and 30+ employees on Zoom the other day, and over 60+ partners on a web conference last week. Between team video hangouts, Zoom and conference calls, some days feel like a full day in the office. Helpful tips? Cherish the personal moments, the way LeBron James does with his live Instagram appearances. You want to manage an atmosphere where staff and clients feel and see your presence even without physical proximity, and that can be invigorating. You’ll learn new things about your colleagues in the process, and about yourself. I think there is something truly authentic and awesome about having serious business conversations in the living room, with kids and pets in the background.

Map your recovery strategy like a wartime leader.

It may not be easy to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but know that sooner rather later, all will resume back to normal, or a new normal. Now is the time to activate your recovery and reactivation planning to get client partners to become fully operational in the marketplace as soon as possible. And preparing for any marketplace launch post crisis can change daily leading up to the unveil. Battle plans, or in our case post-crisis plans, are designed against Periclean Grand Strategy so to speak, which I learned in my World Military History college course. The two basic Periclean Grand Strategy principles are the rejection of appeasement and the avoidance of overextension, both of which are equally important to our team of business growth strategists building plans for client partners. Helpful tips? Develop your short-term and long-term toolkits, polish and invigorate your content creation and ideation as if mapping a post-wartime battle strategy. Approach this exercise with Churchillian leadership: a fine balance of practicality, idealism and positivity. We want you, and all of us, to rise to our “finest hour.”

Seek trusted advisors.

From Winston Churchill to JFK any beyond, great leaders have surrounded themselves with great councilors, the best and the brightest. At Paradise we have the resources and proven track record to help plan your recovery. With a wide range of expertise, from crisis communication, internal and external messaging and award-winning creatives, we are ready to jump in at any moment and craft your strategies in extremely tight turnaround situations. We are ready to provide you with expert consultation and direction not just for crisis, but for the recovery and beyond. We want you to be back on track, optimized and energized. We’re a hangout, phone chat or video conference away!