Is Your Business Thriving, or Struggling, During COVID-19?

Hope you all had a great Labor Day weekend. I imagine there were fewer and smaller barbecue parties than in other years. I hope you were able to enjoy the holiday with your families.

As regular readers know, I’m a huge fan and proponent of coaching in all forms. Anyone who tries to learn a skill without help is making it harder than it has to be. Kevin Ryan of Inc. magazine, tells us here about a company offering on-line sports coaching from Olympian athletes.

Omer Atesman built and sold a fast-growing solar company, then used the proceeds to start The Skills. He enlisted the help of his well-connected former colleague to engage top Olympic athletes. A great example of the value of good connections in business. Working through your network can make good things happen fast. Several big name players and many less-known athletes have signed on. Two, Maria Sharapova (tennis) and Larry Fitzgerald (NFL football), have taken equity stakes in the company. Both are also coaches and advisors.

Tennis great Maria Sharapova is a contributor, advisor, and equity owner in The Skills. As many coaches and observers have pointed out, sports is a microcosm of life and business. Maria discusses the value of the coaching to other pursuits in life.

The companies who do well in the COVID-19 era are those whose leaders think “out of the box”. Those who pivot to offering new and adjusted services and products. Often this means attractively offering something on-line that’s traditionally been delivered over-the-counter or in-person. The Skills is a good example.

We’re seeing here several aspects of the concept of working with your network to get things done. In some cases you pay for that help. In others, it’s a win-win transaction among friends and associates. So find the people who have the skills and/or connections to help you.

And enlist their help!

Do You Value, and Nurture, Your Friendships?

John Stevens

Friendships! Positive relationships! How much do these elements matter in business? In health? In happiness? I suppose many people might agree that they’re important for health, especially mental and emotional health. Probably most people would agree that they’re important factors in happiness. But in business?


According to Shasta Nelson, they’re just as vital for business as for other areas of life. Give a listen while she explains all this in an interview with Alex Sanfilippo. Scroll down on that page for related links and textual explanation of some of Shasta’s ideas.

My Birthday Party in 2017

Many entrepreneurs describe themselves as lonely. Shasta starts her discussion by defining loneliness. It’s recognition that more is possible in personal relationships than we’re currently experiencing. It’s often not a lack of social skills – just a matter of seeing other things as more important. We may be communicating with many people in business. However, we don’t have enough or strong enough ties with people we want to be more intimate with. Shasta says studies show 70% of our happiness comes from relationships.

She also reports that many medical people find loneliness to be the prime factor in many serious ailments. Proper sleep is the only factor which may be more important to overall health than how supported and how loved we feel.

Entrepreneurs may experience this more than some others. According to Shasta though, 61% of all Americans describe themselves as lonely, so entrepreneurs are not alone in their loneliness,

Alex relates a story about an acquaintance who died in his early 70s. Outwardly this guy appeared to be very successful – in business, in finances, etc. He told Alex during his later years that he realized his life lacked in friendships and close relationships. He was sure he’d have been happier and healthier with more close relationships. He regretted his inattention to those things.

A little aside: This all supports my belief that my tranquil life among friends in Argentina might well add 10+ years to my life-span.

Shasta defines “frientimicy” – the close relationships in our lives that are unrelated to romance. She says the lack of frientimicy is much more prevalent for men than for women. I agree. And…they need it just as much as women. Men are culturally discouraged from pursuing these relationships. Perhaps they’re also less inclined. If so, social cultures support that disinclination.

Shasta has polled 15,000+ people on how they rate the friendships in their lives. Average self-scores are about 6.

That’s too low! The three things she says are most important to meaningful relationships are:

  • Consistency
  • Positivity
  • Vulnerability

Look in these areas to see how you might improve your frientimicy. And remember to include your business life as well. Contrary to some people’s belief, you can be friends with those you work and do business with. Some of those friendships can have great depth. Well-run businesses recognize this and promote supportive relationships.

We need to have a mix of relationships where these factors are present in varying degrees. We need some frientimate relationships and some more distant ones. As in most things in life, variety is important.

Shasta explains these concepts in more depth and thoroughness than I can in this short message. I recommend you listen to her interview with Alex to get her full import. It’s about a half hour long and well worth your time.

This relates loosely to the article I wrote a couple of weeks ago on the subject of “play” in addition to, and part of, work. I’ve posted other articles on related subjects on my blog page. Search for relationships – you’ll find several.

Your Employees are Your “Front Line”!

John Stevens

Simon Sinek opens this TED talk with a story about meeting Noah, a coffee bar tender at his hotel. We’ll call this hotel A. He enjoyed a lively conversation with this guy so much he left a 100% tip. Noah told Simon how much he loved his job and looked forward to coming to work.

Why does Noah love his job?

He says that all day long managers ask him, “How are you doing? Can I help you in any way?” Not only Noah’s manager – any manager! Noah feels cared for. He feels that his employer “has his back”.

Noah Preparing Coffee

Noah also reported that he did similar work at hotel B. There, the managers were often critical – catching people making mistakes. I’ll let you guess how much Noah liked that job! Also importantly, do you think Sinek would have enjoyed a conversation with Noah at the other hotel? He said that there, he kept his head down – tried to stay “under the radar”. His only interest in working there was to collect his paycheck.

The managers at hotel A are leaders. The managers at hotel B are just managers, not leaders. Leaders are responsible for the well-being of those in their charge. Employees who feel like Noah does at hotel A will do the best job they know how to do. If they want help to understand how to do it better, they’re comfortable asking. And the help is there.

This is how business is done right! Take good care of your employees, and they’ll take good care of your customers. Any company emulating hotel B is missing a huge opportunity.

Sinek believes many obsolete business attitudes were born in the booming 1980s and 90s. That may be. I would suggest that true leadership has been pretty scarce throughout the history of employment. It matters not whether times are good, bad, or indifferent.

Managers like those at hotel B believe they’re “in charge”. Sinek suggests they should be responsible for those “in their charge” This clear distinction needs to be conveyed throughout any organization. It must be understood from top to bottom. The difference in attitudes between the two hotels surely reflects senior management style. If the senior managers at hotel A were harsh and critical, the floor managers would act like those at hotel B.

What’s needed here is empathy, which builds trust. Sinek contends, and I agree with him, that it’s in short supply all through society.

The concept we’re discussing here goes a bit deeper into leadership concepts than I did here, a few weeks ago.