Building Together

Written by Seth Derner
These are unprecedented and unpredictable times for our public health and our economy. There are some forecasts that paint a very bleak outlook for both. Sometimes, it’s hard to stop reading the news articles because the scope of the crisis is almost too big to fathom. All the while, none of us can predict how the pandemic will impact our families, daily lives, our company, or the country as a whole. I’m guessing that we’ve all experienced fear and worry over the past few days.

The great challenge before us, however, is to not let fear and worry paralyze us into inaction.

It’s not healthy. And, it denies the part of us that yearns to be driven by purpose, not fear. And, inaction is not what our clients need from us right now.

We are very fortunate to be in an industry mostly unaffected by the immediate aftermath of the current crisis. Many people in other industries, however, are facing unemployment that seemed impossible to fathom 10 days ago. Millions of people are worried about bills, rent, health care, and their family’s future. When there are people in society that face need, the rest of society is called upon to provide. I know this team and we’re all doing what we can to help in our local communities. Collectively, however, we also have the opportunity to help our clients be as productive as possible while navigating through these uncertain times and entirely new ways (to them) of working together. Our action will help good organizations thrive so they can continue to employ people, grow the economy, and do good work in the world.

Doug, Carrie, Emily, Candice, and I met yesterday and agreed on this simple commitment: this is the time for us to show up for our clients. In the same way we’d each show up to help a neighbor in need, now is the time to show up and help our clients. This isn’t about business development. This is about doing the right thing and using our collective expertise and experience to make a difference for others.

We’re calling it our Building Together commitment and we’re asking you to be part of it. Building Together means building up one another to be a stronger team while also building up our clients to help them navigate the future. What does this look like? Starting today, we’ll share a daily-ish message of encouragement with suggestions for reaching out to one another and to our clients, suppliers, and other partners in ways that cultivate hope, purpose, and determination. Our request is simple: take time to read the message and consider what small action you can take that day to build others.

We all see the bravery and commitment of nurses and doctors on the front line of fighting the virus pandemic. It’s inspiring. I am so grateful for their service and I pray for their safety. I hope that, in our own small and humble way, we can help be on the front lines of helping great organizations survive and thrive through this economic crisis.

Message #1 – When Palm Trees are Tested by Hurricanes (Durability)

Our symbol for the value of Durability has always been a palm tree because despite the ferocity of the hurricane, the palm trees almost always survive. That’s not a coincidence. It’s by design. Many other trees are more effective at establishing a canopy to shade out competitors and are more efficient at developing root systems that tap deep into water and nutrient sources. But, when storms come those very features – a few deep roots and large canopy make them vulnerable. A palm tree has a vast, fibrous root system that anchors it to more soil and its leaves are on fronds, not branches, that can fold up and provide much less resistance in the blowing wind and rain.

We value durability, and the example of the palm tree, in the solutions we suggest because we pride ourselves on not creating large, expensive solutions that only work in optimal conditions. We want our solutions to be able to weather some “storms” and be useful for a long time.

Despite the ferocity of the hurricane, the palm trees almost always survive

But what else can we take from the example of the palm tree’s durability in midst of the current crisis?

First, give yourself permission to recognize that you may need to fold up your “leaves” for a little while to ride out a rough moment, a rough morning, or a rough week; but don’t lose sight of the many connections to friends, family and teammates that are there to keep you grounded and in secured. If you need, make a list of all of the people that love and support you and post it where you can see it while working. Use it to draw strength in the safety of knowing you are not going to get uprooted by this or any “storm”.

Next, lean in to your empathy when talking with teammates today to try and recognize the level of “storm surge” they are facing today. We will all take a turn being overwhelmed by the possible toll on people we love, by the economic fallout, by the stress of being isolated in our homes. However, remember that none of us needs rescued any more than the palm tree in a storm. We are all strong and resilient. We may need a bit of time, an empathetic ear, or some help to get a task done; but we don’t need rescued. When we attempt to rescue others, we take away their opportunity to demonstrate that strength and resilience to themselves and others. Reassure teammates that you realize how strong and capable they are.

Finally, our clients may feel like they have been uprooted and tossed around because they are working in completely new situations and are facing a lot of uncertainty about the future. If you haven’t already, send a note to let people know that you are thinking about them and hope they are well. Offer to connect in the near future and remind them that you have a lot of experience in working in a virtual team setting and would be happy to help them navigate any questions they might have. Hopefully we can be part of the extensive “root system” that help them feel secure and able to withstand this challenging time.

Thanks for being the most amazing group of humans a person could ask to work with!

Seth Derner
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