Staying Connected – We’re Better Together

I produced a video yesterday for our local leadership networking forum, First Fridays Fort Wayne.  I wanted to share the text of what I said on video.  This is all about how we can stay connected during this quarantine environment that we are all hoping ends soon.

child zoon

…We’ve moved meetings and events to Zoom and Skype platforms.  We’ve been entertained by the sound of barking dogs, children asking a parent for something to eat, and squealing brakes of a garbage truck in front of our house while these meetings go on.  We’ve hoped and prayed our internet speed holds up.  We’ve been bombarded with emails, instant messages, and more meetings.

And we do all of this in relative isolation from each other.

We are suffering from what someone in our area has called technology fatigue.

Don’t get me wrong.  Technology is great!  But is cannot ultimately replace the face-to-face interactions that so many of us are missing.

So how can you stay connected professionally during this quarantine?

  1. Talk with another leader outside of your company. Pick up the phone, Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, etc. Literally, talk with someone you were connected with prior to the quarantine.  It does not have to be about work or your career.  Just make a person-to-person contact.  A friend called me the other day to ask some questions.  It was SO GOOD to hear his voice.  We need this kind of interaction.  Just like the old telephone commercial says, “Reach out and touch someone.”  (just don’t physically touch them…we’re not supposed to do that!)  You get the jist…

Contact me

  1. LinkedIn connections. So many of you are on LinkedIn today.  This is a great tool to stay connected.  When you read someone’s post, comment on it.  Send them a message.

 

  1. Write a note and mail it. Let me say that again – write someone a note and mail it.  That still works!  Encourage someone.  Tell them you are thinking of them.  Ask them to pass this idea along and to send someone they know a similar note.

 

  1. Email someone. About once a month, I send a few people an email thanking them for their contribution to our community.  I thank them for how their company is positively impacting us all.  It makes a difference in that person’s life.  Try it.

book                                                          podcast

  1. Recommend a book to read or a podcast to listen to. Do this through your socially media channels.  There are many of us out here who are looking for the next book to read or a podcast that will help us grow.  You can be a resource for someone’s personal, professional growth.

 

  1. Even in the midst of a quarantine, you can network. Attend a First Fridays online event.  As I shared earlier, we have some great online events coming in May. Greater Fort Wayne (our local chamber of commerce) is offering a variety of sessions with flexible times/days to connect with others.  Take advantage of these great opportunities.  Make technology work for you to network!

 

  1. Give back. We all know how devastating this quarantine has been.  So many businesses are at risk of closing never to open again. I’ve driven by small businesses in town seeing their site closed with For Sale signs out front.   Support local businesses in any way you can.  Order carry out from local restaurants.  Buy a t-shirt from them.  Buy other products that they offer.  Recently I order a t-shirt and hand sanitizer from Three Rivers Distillery Company here in Fort Wayne.  It was a simple way to support a local company who has pivoted their business to serve the needs of our community.  It was an investment of $24 from me to do this.

three rivers distillery

 

hand santizer

 

I hope that this quarantine comes to an end very soon.  We need to get our economies going and growing again.  But in the meantime, do what you can to connect with local leaders.

Let’s keep our community’s foundation strong.  Encourage one another.  Help one another.

As my new t-shirt says, “We’re better together.” 

Change the Way You See Situations

As I stated in my last post, I have been reading Change the Way You See Everything.  In fact, I just finished it during my lunch break today.  This is probably the fourth time reading through this incredible book.

In the closing pages I read today, authors Cramer & Wasiak challenged me to change the way I see situations.  What is the current situation right now on April 27, 2020?  The ongoing quarantine due to the corona virus.  The economy of the world is crippled.  Millions in the US are unemployed – and this happened in a mere matter of weeks.  Small businesses are closing never to reopen.  There is a lot of depression, fear, and despair.

If we’re honest, most of us focus on that last paragraph.  The 24/7 news channels feed viewers a never-ending diet of gloom and doom.  It seems as if everything is focused on what has gone wrong.

But what if we could see this differently?  

Think back to September 11, 2001.  When that day happened, I’m sure many thought New York would be forever devastated.  But Mayor Rudy Giuliani provided this vision:

“Tomorrow New York is going to be here…and we’re going to rebuild, and we’re going to be stronger than we were before…I want the people of New York to be an example to the rest of the country, and the rest of the world, that terrorism can’t stop us.”

And New York did rebuild.  One year ago, I stood at the World Trade Center Memorial.  I walked the streets of the city.  It has rebuilt.  Our nation became stronger and more vigilant.

How did that all happen?  How will we climb out of the hole we were thrown into these past few months?  Can we?  Yes, we can!

foucsCramer & Wasiak challenge us to apply the 80-20 rule…in reverse.  “Instead of focusing 80% of your attention on problems and 20% on opportunities, concentrate 80% on opportunities and 20% correcting what’s wrong.”

 

So what are your opportunities?

  • Devoting time to invest in your personal growth and development.
  • Investing time to discover a better/more efficient way to get work done (hey, you already changed where you work – focus on how you work!)
  • Ask, “How are my customers interacting with me now?  What is working with this?  What small tweaks can I make that would make it even easier for my customers to do business with me?”
  • Ask, “How can I become more financially fit during this situation so I can better be prepared for the future?  Who can I turn to for help with this?”  (locally, here).
  • Ask: “Who can I help right now?  Who needs encouragement, support, or a friend?”

“…what if you could reach into the depth of that problem and extract a treasure – a wealth of information that could propel the situation forward in a way that benefits everyone involved, exponentially!”

Cramer & Wasiak offer solid advice:

  • Get a new vision of your world today.
  • “Turn yourself on by sharpening your vision” of what could be.
  • “Link your passion, vision, and skill set with the strengths and capabilities of those you have attracted into your circle of influence.”  
  • Change how you think about problems and set-backs.

This is not an impossible situation we are all in.  But those that will rise to the next level and challenge will be those who focus on the 80% of the opportunities this time is presenting to us.

“How can this be the best problem we’ve ever had?”

Leading a Remote Workforce

business unusual

We are all navigating in a strange new world with the news changing from day-to-day.  We’ve all had to be nimble and flexible in ways we have not expected.

In a meeting I was in this morning, we were asked what we’ve learned with our team working remotely.  My team is comprised of 3 different departments.  Two are working from home and one is onsite right now.  It has been different, but it has worked.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned from having a remote workforce:

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!

  • We are not setting up a lot of meetings, but we do have the option of using Skype for Business.  It has worked as we use it.
  • I’ve asked my leadership team to communicate when:
    • a process is changing
    • a procedure is changing,
    • when they need help, etc.
  • Missing the face-to-face interactions, we need to become very clear in our emails, instant messaging.  Keep communication simple and focused.
  • Pick up the phone and call to avoid miscommunication that can at times happen in an email.

Get closer.

  • I have been reaching out to individual team members to check on them and their families, find out how remote is working for them, their challenges and how I can help.
  • I send notes and tell team members more than ever how much I appreciate them.
    • I visit our call center and “remote” team in another building to check in on them. I say “Thank you” a lot these days.  Note to self:  when this craziness is over, don’t stop saying “thank you” often.

Working remotely works.

  • Introverts love it.  Extroverts miss their team.
  • But this has worked.  It’s different, but it can work.
  • Collaboration between workers and IT has been critical in making this happen in a secure fashion.

 

I’ve shared with my team that right now, it’s not business as usual, but it’s business unusual.  And we are up to the task.

 

What have you learned?