Thoughts on the new normal we find ourselves in and our company's encouraging response.
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This is normally the point in the show where I set up the episode with a clip or an intro of some kind, and I’ve written and recorded different versions of this for an episode around telemedicine. Where it’s been, where it is now, where it’s going. But it somehow kept falling flat. Even given that socially distant care couldn’t be more timely, it felt tone-deaf, and inauthentic to not acknowledge the paradigm-shifting elephant in the room we all find ourselves in.
I’m scared. I’m not sure how long this is all going to last. I’m not sure what handshakes, concerts, or meetings where someone coughs are going to look like. I don’t know if, after months of making it a habit, we’ll stop social distancing.
This was a week. My parents, who live in Buffalo an hour and a half away and certainly in the “at higher risk” demographic tell me they went out for groceries Wednesday. I’m torn. Do I go out there and help them? Do I keep working? I’m lucky to still have a job.
On Wednesday, I was told to start developing a proposed furlough schedule for my team. We’d each be taking 2 unpaid weeks off in April, and 1 in May, with some of them starting the following Monday, today, the 6th.
On Thursday, a global announcement was made about the furloughs and for most of that day, work seemed a little harder to do. I’d fight the temptation to look at whether there were new cases in my county in between scripting a video trying to position our scanners as a solution for home workers, which they could be by the way. Emails between our team keep circulating trying to find exactly the right message, the right statements to make on our dedicated COVID-19 response landing page. Crafting just the right partner e-mail.
Friday, it occurs to me that no matter how well we think through that. No matter how clearly and convincingly we articulate our value props or present case studies, the reality is there is no case study for this situation in this new vertical we’re all suddenly members of. There is no e-mail in the sea of hundreds you’ve probably received from companies you didn’t know you’d ever signed up to receive e-mails from that can change our collective circumstance.
There’s only waiting. Until Easter. End of April at the latest. As late as June.
As the weekend arrived, my fear about the future of our business had subsided. I’m in an Executive MBA program at the University of Rochester, and we had class Saturday. In talking with some of my friends in the program, many of whom were in this same boat of uncertainty, one of them reminded me of a case study from our first year about Barry-Wehmiller, an equipment manufacturer in Missouri who prides itself on what they call, “human-based leadership”. In the recession of 2008-2009, employees accepted pay cuts and furloughs to prevent any of their co-workers from being laid off. At the time, I remember thinking, “that must be awesome to work for a company like that. A year later, and here I was, working for a company doing exactly that. Executives leading by examples by taking both furlough and significant pay cuts. And instead of dread I was filled with relief. It felt great to see them make that move in that spot. It shows strength, unity. It shows that as soon as life settles on whatever normal going forward is, that we intend to be here, at full strength, with the same people and teams that make our reputation what it is.
That evening, I did a virtual exercise class with my family over facetime.
Sunday, I got a garden freed up from last fall’s overgrowth. I cleaned my garage.
And Sunday night, I thought, rather than fall asleep watching TV, I’d write all of this down, record it in the morning, and see how it felt.
It felt great. It felt a lot better than the telemedicine episode, which I promise you’ll get someday. It felt honest. And I hope at least some part of it was relatable.
Then it occurred to me that maybe the best message going out to all of you isn’t a message at all. Maybe it’s just to listen to you, to your stories. Whatever is going on with you, with your businesses, with your families. After all, we are all data points in this completely uncharted course humanity is now on. And as just one point myself, I’ll tell you it felt pretty good to put this out there. If you have a story you’d like to share about anything you or your business is going through in this extremely strange time, please reach out.
And if there is any place close to you inundated with paper as a result of this crisis that could be helped by anything we do, we’ll help as best we can. Please reach out.
I’ll leave you today with a clip of my dog and I sitting outside in the driveway around sunset Sunday evening. We live on top of a hill, and all around us, birds are going crazy, our neighbors’ kids are playing, someone across the street is welding. Every time I think he’s ready to go in, he protests, rolls around on his back and puts his paws in the air.
And all around us...is life.
My thanks to Kodak Alaris for demonstrating truly human leadership. My thanks to you for listening. Be safe. Stay at home. Take care of each other.