By: Melissa Lentz
I am a glass half-full person. In regular years, I find those silver linings and make that lemonade.
But this is no ordinary year. More than six months into the pandemic, I suspect everyone is craving something stronger and something brighter: the platinum linings.
Where silver linings offer hopeful insights, platinum linings have the potential to truly transform.
I recently spoke with three incredible business leaders about the platinum linings 2020 has revealed for them, and how their organizations have navigated to meet this moment.
Revisiting the foundation to spur organic evolution.
Shanna Tellerman, Founder and CEO of Modsy, is no stranger to embracing possibility when presented with a problem. While designing the interior of her home years ago, she was confronted by the obstacle of visualizing furniture elements in the context of her physical space.
The perennial problem solver, Shanna married her background in 3D development with her business savvy working at Google Ventures. Modsy, the super successful online interior design start-up, was soon born.
Fast-forward to 2020, and we are all rediscovering the importance of home in our everyday existence. Like so many companies, Modsy’s business model was challenged by the onset of the pandemic. Tellerman shares:
There were so many questions. Are we entering a major recession, are people going to stop moving and buying furniture, are our retail partners’ distribution channels operational?
With more unknowns than certainties, Modsy has focused on what they can control: the customer experience. Tellerman explains:
Many of our customers are experiencing heightened levels of stress and we’ve embraced the opportunity to be the bright, creative spot in their day.
From the growing importance of home offices to multi-purpose living rooms, Modsy has helped visualize and bring to life homes that deliver on the needs of these comfort-craving times.
Tellerman suggests the unusual twists and turns of 2020 have tossed her company a rare platinum lining. While more normal times see later-stage start-ups like Modsy focused primarily on rapid growth, the CEO shares:
We’ve had a moment to slow-down, reset, and revisit the foundation. We’re evaluating our fundamental services, reviewing our packages, and taking time to think about our organic evolution.
Tellerman shares the news that Modsy will soon launch service extensions that address the nuances of renovations and usher the online firm into the kitchen and bath space.
[Related: Back to Basics: Do You Know Your Mission and Vision?]
Reassessing how travel shapes our lives and destinations.
With international borders closed and business travelers grounded indefinitely, the travel and hospitality industry has been impacted more than most sectors this year. Nick Friend, the Senior Brand Manager for Luxury Brands at IHG, shares:
The impact of the pandemic in our business cannot be overstated. It has sadly brought the business as we knew it to a standstill, overshadowing any previous disruptions, including World Wars, The Great Depression, and 9/11. Our business is down about 75% year over year.
Despite this sobering reality, Friend anticipates positives shifts in traveler behavior that will shape how and where we travel in a post-COVID world:
Bringing travel to a standstill made it apparent how much and how far we all have been traveling over the past decade. With long-haul travel becoming more affordable, it appeared that ‘fast travel’ for the ‘gram was becoming a mainstay as much as fast fashion or fast food.
But as travelers crave more meaningful moments, Friend suggests “travel with purpose” will present a major pivot in not only what travelers want to experience, but also the impact their travel has on that local community.
A widened appreciation for travel destinations may also serve up a platinum lining for the industry:
Virtually overnight, consumer demands greatly shifted from connectedness to other people and cultures to traveling for connectedness to nature. Rather than be in the center of the action, the ambition is to be away from it all.
For brands like IHG, which recently acquired remote luxury wellness brand Six Senses, travelers’ expanded appetite for varied travel destinations may provide a new halo of opportunity.
[Related: Pack Your Bags to Grow Your Leadership Skills]
Increasing capacity for exponential impact.
There is perhaps no greater voice of American business than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Representing over three million companies across the country, the organization serves as the business community’s chief advocate. Justin Waller is the U.S. Chamber’s CMO and Head of Operations.
For Waller and the Chamber, COVID-19 has galvanized the acceleration of important and urgent work-streams that support business leaders as they navigate the now. Waller shares:
The upending of business as usual has been a transformation enabler for our 100 year-old organization. Our mission hasn’t changed, but how we serve our members in their moment of need has evolved.
The intricate relationships between business health, jobs creation, and community strength has never been more palpable than in 2020. To serve the growing list of businesses seeking real-time counsel and community, the Chamber has pivoted how they convene and communicate with businesses navigating these unusually trying times.
Virtual-first formats have expanded our capacity to deliver for our members where they are and when they need it. We’ve supported more businesses digitally in two months than we might typically engage during the calendar year in-person.
CO-, a digital destination the Chamber launched last year for small and medium businesses, has further augmented the organization’s capacity to reach business owners at their doorsteps.
Companies are seeking content that can inform their real-time decisions in this constantly evolving business environment. The audience CO- serves has increased 20x.
The pandemic has also inspired new partnerships forged at warp-speed. The U.S. Chamber and Inc Magazine joined forces, creating the National Small Business Townhall series.
We mobilized and launched the partnership within 48 hours, providing nearly ten million businesses ongoing and actionable guidance on the newly released CARES Act and its implications for their companies.
Raising that half-full glass.
Whether it’s resetting, restarting, or adapting your business, I believe there is a platinum lining out there for all of us this year. Let’s raise that glass in honor of its pursuit.
[Related: Harnessing Courage to Overcome Fear]
Melissa Lentz is the founder of M. Hatter Consulting, a growth consultancy that helps marketers and agencies maximize their organizational potential. She is also the Global CEO of MAGNET Global Network, a leading international network for independent agencies.