Dave and Emma Garrison (US) : Strategic Growth Consultant’s Strategies for Businesses Affected by COVID-19

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As COVID 19 has affected the cities and countries in the different corners of the world, it’s clear that the main focus we should be on is more on containing and alleviating the pandemic. However, it is also significant to understand the economic impact the novel coronavirus has on our countries.

In my interview with Dave and Emma Garrison, the couple enlightens the listeners, most especially entrepreneurs and business owners, with their 4 Secrets of Strategic Growth during the COVID 19 crisis. It tackles mainly our strategic growth mindset in today’s environment, finding business opportunities with COVID 19, how to lead remote team members, and how to reduce overhead. 

The Speakers: Dave And Emma Garrison

The best way to describe the Garrisons is that the couple supports companies around the world through enlightened strategic growth, elevating Authentically Curious Leadership. They also aim in connecting human beings in order to increase profitability, innovation and productivity.

Both speakers are Master Practitioners in Neuro Linguistic Programming, Mindset Executive coaches and Lovers of Lifelong Learning. 

What Can You Learn from the podcast:

  • How to handle fear during COVID 19? (2:19)
  • How to create a strategic growth mindset? (6:11)
  • Finding business opportunities during COVID 19? (8:11)
  • How to manage your remote teams (10:49)
  • The routes you can take before laying off your employees (15:50)
  • Concluding thoughts: Hidden Opportunities during COVID 19 (22:38)

Connect with the Garrisons via FACEBOOKLINKEDIN or through the WEBSITE.

Make Decisions When You Are Calm

Truth be told, I was curious as to the reason behind the couple’s positivity and energy when the VP Summit began. The reason was it is quite rare to see business owners and entrepreneurs who are affected by COVID 19 to seem very calm and unperturbed.

I soon got my answer from Dave and Emma who were calling in from the beautiful Park City, Utah. They shared that the reason for their calm state of mind was that they accepted that things are in a state of disarray. 

The couple mentioned that the anxiety and stress that we are feeling right now should rather be redirected into looking for opportunities for the growth of your business. 

Dave even shared that some of the listeners might be saying that they were not oriented when they talk about strategic growth in a time when everyone is worried about staying afloat.

Emma didn’t want to take much of everyone’s time so she mentioned that we’d understand once they’ve discussed the 4 secrets for business strategic growth during coronavirus.

The Fear Factor

Dave started his piece by stating that in the Chinese language, the same character they use for “crisis” can also be referred to as an “opportunity”. 

He believes that the mindset you use to look at the situation will determine how you see the world and how you create opportunities for strategic growth, which is what the talk will be all about.

  • How Humans Process Fear

The couple made it clear that to start their discussion. They needed to disperse the negativity that we have that is clouding our minds.

Why do we need to talk about fear when we are just trying to keep afloat?

Emma mentioned how fear releases specific hormones related to stress like cortisol, which can limit our access to some parts of our brain. 

When we experience fear, anxiety and uncertainty, we are temporarily locked out of our ability to properly assess the situation we are in.

It’s also important to talk about fear for a couple of reasons.

One, is that we need to address it with our teams. 

As the leader, it’s our responsibility to help decrease the fear of our people and increase their certainty or confidence in order to allow them to be more innovative, more problem-solving,  and creative.

READ ALSO: Jake Pajarillaga (PH): Strategies for COVID-19 Affected Local Businesses from a Digital Network Marketing Company

Decreasing Fear And Anxiety

Our brains are wired to protect us. Their number one job is to help us survive and turn towards safety.

However, our brains are currently seeking a great deal of information. And while it’s beneficial to be informed, it is generating more fear and anxiety.

Emma mentions a thought experiment that if she were to tell you to look around the room and see all of the things that are blue. You’ll definitely look around and focus only on the things that are blue.

But when she follows up  and changes the question stating what was yellow inside the room, the person might not be able to remember the object that was yellow without taking a second look, because you were focused on the blue. 

That is how Emma arrives at the conclusion that “our brains are gonna go and find any and all evidence to support whatever it’s thinking right now.”

So if your employees are consuming all of the information from the media that’s generating fear and anxiety. They’re much less likely to see the opportunity (the yellow) in the crisis. 

They’re less likely to be more creative, problem-solving innovative, all the things that will really be beneficial for our business. 

This is why we need to start allowing our team to see not just the yellow in the room but the entire rainbow rather than just the darkness or fear.

“Oh Crap!”

Dave also supported Emma’s point by sharing his jet training as a pilot for American Airlines.

When Dave was still in training, the first thing that teachers told them to do if hypothetically, they lose an engine is to say “Oh crap!” and to take a brief pause.

As the interviewer, I believe Dave meant to accept the situation first before deciding the thing to do.

Dave clarified that you gotta take that pause because if he just starts reaching for things and pulling things, he would likely do the wrong thing, because he doesn’t have all his resources.

The Third Person Point Of View

Dave also added that the second thing to do is, if you are in a meeting with your leadership team and everybody agrees that this is what you have to do, that’s also the time to ask about:

What would opposing viewpoints be? What else should we be considering?

4 Secrets of Strategic Growth During the COVID-19 Crisis

In this unusual time. Dave shared what they’ve learned about best practices among leaders during COVID 19. He broke it down into a couple of things: 

  • The strategic growth mindset in today’s environment,
  • Finding opportunities,
  • How to lead remote team members, and
  • Reducing overhead. 

So those are the four topics Dave and Emma are going to address. 

1. Strategic Growth Mindset

What would encourage leaders to do, is to not lose sight and to put up on a whiteboard, while they are deciding on what to do. 

The whiteboard must contain and list out your vision, values and strategies which will be used as anchors.

Dave explained that although the world may look very different after the current crisis, you are still going to have an organization. And by anchoring those points, you will drive your certainty and stability for your customers and employees.

So we’re looking to create a more solid foundation that they’re standing on right now and honing in on the things that we’ve really focused and spent a lot of time developing before, will really help support that.

Why do you need to anchor yourself? This is mostly because the media is fighting for your position as the leader. Their message is everything to your employees and they mostly revolve around the notion that nothing will ever be the same again.

By maintaining your position as the anchor and leader, your values, vision and strategy will be your chance to say “Wait a minute! There are some things the same.”

With this, you are developing certainty and reassurance with your clients, customers and employees. 

The whiteboard will help increase the resourcefulness in your employees brains, to help create innovative solutions, and different thought patterns.

2. Finding Opportunities

Dave also mentioned some businesses that are really thriving with the first strategy. 

Dave narrowed finding opportunities by making it simple such as “Pivoting as a team.” Finding opportunities means you’re doing a pivot and you have a resourceful state of mind.

To further clarify Dave mentioned some examples:

In the town in China where this disease first originated where the virus first was found.

Dave cited that there was a department store where their branches had to be closed. They had a hundred cosmetic sales clerks and they wondered: What do we do with their people?

Dave shared that the store assigned them to customers and asked them to call the customers, household to household, and offer consultation on cosmetics.

They established a solid relationship while also increasing their business sales by 200 percent even though their store was closed.

  • Another company in China which is an international distributor.

Although this distribution company wasn’t in operation during the crisis. They recognized the need for masks and gloves in the U.S and shifted to that focus.

  • In Detroit, General Motors is looking at how to make respirators using their factories that are temporarily closed.

Other distilleries were also looking at how to make hand sanitizers. Another company that made scrunchies in Vietnam even repurposed their material to make face masks. 

Dave stated that those actions are pivoting or being resourceful. 

Heading back to your white board, what are you uniquely good at? 

How can you reapply those competitive advantages in this time to be real about what’s going on and create revenue. 

  • How to manage remote teams

Dave stated that although a lot of companies had remote workers for a long time, for some, it’s a brand-new concept.

There are things to be prepared, problems or hurdles to be acted upon such as the bandwidth or number of ports to access servers remotely. Or how your telephone switch is set up to route calls, to people at their homes on their cell phones.

The problem isn’t only about the company’s infrastructure but also the employee’s. 

Does your employee have a quiet place to work? How are their kids gonna be cared for? Who’s gonna take care of their pets?

Those issues are also critical business issues to acknowledge and honor. You have to discuss with your employees.

  • Sense of Teamwork and Connectivity

Another hurdle that your business has to tackle is that remote workforce can sometimes be lonely and there is a low sense of teamwork, loyalty and connectivity.

Dave actually encourages each manager or owner to call out for a half hour call every single week to every employee who is remote. And ask two important questions:

The first one is, How are you?

So when you ask the first question. You are trying to find out how they are as a human being not a human doing.

If leaders can’t acknowledge and embrace the human being, it’s gonna be very hard for a person to be fully on board and to execute and be creative.

The other side of that is also to remember that a lot of the people, who are now going to be working at home, have children or families.

They will undeniably have a bunch of other fires that they’re working on putting out. 

As a leader or figure, you also have a role to be their saving grace. In a sense you are someone you can be confided in and to speak their fears.

Contrary to what most people believe is that you don’t need to solve anything. You just need to be a space for people to be able to speak their concerns, their frustrations or whatever they might be.

This is also a competitive advantage. It is connecting with human beings and believing that is a crucial thing to be doing right now.

It will drive loyalty and retention because when all of these are said and done. Your people are gonna have a positive connection for you as you took care of them and stood by them.

The second question to ask at the beginning of every half-hour conversation, or your team meetings are: What are the causes for celebrations?

Dave mentions how everyone is being bombarded by all this bad news and uncertainty. A cause for celebration is your opportunity to step up and lead.

It’s not about the company announcing birthdays or anniversaries. But rather the individual cause for celebration, which could be about their personal life, that could be about their work life. 

It doesn’t need to be groundbreaking rather as simple as a thank you for collaborating with the company during these trying times.

The third is really just about managing your remote workforce and encouraging people celebrating and checking in on how people are doing.

4. Reducing overhead

Dave mentioned how they’ve heard from a lot of their clients that they needed to pay attention to the overhead and reduce it.

Of course, the eyes are all on the payroll since it’s the business’s largest expense. They go directly into cutting heads or rather laying people off.

Dave started this part stating that we could take note from CHG Healthcare’s playbook in the 08-09 global financial crisis.

CHG pivoted and placed their people first. Because instead of an executive sitting in a room and deciding who would be laid off or what percentage of payroll to reduce.

The first thing they did is went to every employee and asked for their ideas on how to reduce expenses. 

They were very real and they invited people in to be part of the solution. Including people who are gonna be laid off.

They implemented about a thousand of the ideas they got that helped them reduce the number of layoffs.

Dave meant that it is crucial to ask your team for their input. What can your team do differently? Dave couldn’t stress the idea more concisely as how you can be surprised to what you learn from the people who actually do the work. 

Then the second step is the payroll. Eliminating employees is not as simple or as black-and-white.

There are plenty of options to choose and really creative solutions before you act on the ultimate decision.

One example mentioned by Dave was instead of laying people off.  You can say to your employees that you need to reduce the number of days a week they work, and their pay will also be reduced.  

So you’re actually caring for employees, while retaining all the knowledge and experience that they’ve built in all the relationships. Because those relationships are really expensive when replaced.

Another example, is that everybody in the company took a 10% pay cut as a preventive measure. And this CEO said, “I also expect you to do 10% less. And I’d like you to use that time to spend with your family.“

“If that’s not speaking to the values and reducing expenses in a creative and honorable way, I don’t know what is,” says Dave.

Another option Dave has heard was that,  before you go to reductions in force ask: Who would like to have a voluntary vacation? Who would like to have unpaid leave? 

There may be people or employees of yours whose kids are home from school and they want to connect with their family. They might even gladly give up a week of pay to do it.

If you truly have to lay people off, be very thoughtful and humane about how you do it. Do it with honor and give them the support they need. 

It’s a hard pill to swallow for everybody but the way you handle those who will leave, will also determine how those who stay will feel about the company.

Concluding Thoughts

Dave mentions that there are more opportunities being created today than there have ever been in any point in history for businesses.

The reason they can say this with confidence is that things have never changed so quickly in our lifetime. And with every change, opportunities are created.

The question for you is, what opportunities that create for you and how can you take advantage of that? And then pivot your organization based on what it is you do well and apply it to the current situation.

Dave mentions that the changes we’ve seen now are merely the tip of the iceberg. We’re gonna see a very different environment 30 days or even after the quarantine and lockdown.

Lastly, your ideas and your stories will determine what you see.

If we say this is the end of the world, for your company, then you will probably fail. Think of this as a challenge and wonder where they are. You might just start to see those new opportunities. (A. Menchavez)

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