Sometimes, I feel very young in this business. And at other times, I feel ancient.
I have fun chatting with the twenty-somethings on my team about the days when we didn’t have Apple products or cell phones and relied heavily on the good ‘ole fax machine, on Greyhound buses to get packages delivered the next day, and on setting type using hot wax.
I’ve lived through the challenges of losing big clients and the inevitable layoffs that would follow. The reality of terrorism and how it would affect the way we live. And the Great Recession that followed the financial crisis of 2007/2008.
Through it all, I’ve learned humility, perseverance, and survival. Equally as important, I’ve learned how to surround myself with people who are committed, strong, and willing to be a part of something they believe in.
Now we find ourselves again in uncertain times. COVID-19 has very quickly changed the way we live, work, and view the future. As a business owner, I’ve had to take steps to ensure that my staff is safe and my clients are taken care of. Closing the office and setting up a remote working environment was unnerving at first, but necessary. I felt like I was getting ready to lead my entire team and all our clients into uncharted waters.
But from day one, my team was on board. They began collaborating together on ways to make sure we were successful in this transition and that no job slipped through the cracks. They accepted this new way of work life, and they performed at the highest levels. Together, we’ve overcome challenges for our staff—from inherent challenges of remote working to supporting our team members who now have the added role as teacher for their kids. Everyone has had to be flexible and do some extra juggling, but we’ve found solutions and truly haven’t missed a beat.
At all times, we make it a point to maintain open and transparent communication with our team, but never is that more important than during times like these for maintaining a healthy culture. Daily status calls, virtual meetings, and continuing normal activities like FUEL for Fitness and “virtual” happy hour are a few ways we stay connected. Communication, of course, is also vital for our clients and strategic partners. It is important that they have confidence and understand exactly what our response is to ensure we stay on track and reassure them that work will continue.
And as we continue to support our existing clients, we look ahead beyond this crisis to ensure we are ready to come out stronger on the other side. Work continues. Our own marketing efforts continue. Planning for the future continues. It must.
But at the end, it goes back to surrounding yourself with the right kind of people, and I can’t say enough great things about our team. FUEL has been through so many changes over the last several years, but every one of those changes has molded us and made us a better company. We are stronger now than ever before.
I have a team that is an extended family to me, and clients who we value as allies that we want to see win big. We are the stable and thriving company we are today because of the FUEL family and our incredible clients. The adaptability. The creativity and collaboration. The work ethic and commitment. Even in the midst of such crisis, we all continue to keep our heads down, work hard, plan strategically, keep the faith, and push forward.
Do I know what tomorrow holds? Of course not. Who does? But I truly believe that it is in these times we have to step up and redefine ourselves, possibly even rebuild. I’ve had to do both before. The question is, are you going to continue business as usual? Or are you going to grow and invent new ways to adapt to give yourself the best chance to survive?
Trust me—as a business owner, the uncertainties and unknown we face on the frontside of this COVID-19 curve is scary. But on the other side, we will see that it’s given us another notch in the belt of experience that will move us into a better and more successful future.
This is my hope for everyone.
Warren Griffith President & CEO of FUEL