Love as a Survival Strategy

EPISODE 11

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In these unprecedented times, many businesses are just looking to survive. But how does a company survive in today’s climate? What’s it going to take? Is just surviving enough? Does love have any role to play in it? We invite an expert in this field, Jeff Brown, to help us answer these questions. With nearly 30 years of experience in building resilient companies, he walks us through his perspective on what surviving as a business really looks like.

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Feel the love! We aren't experts - we're practitioners. With a passion that's a mix of equal parts strategy and love, we explore the human (and fun) side of work and business every week together.

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Jeff Ma
Director

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Jeff Brown
M&A Consultant

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Mohammad Anwar
President

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ChrisProfile

Chris Pitre
Vice President

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Transcript

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Jeff Ma
Hello, and welcome to love as a business strategy, a podcast that brings humanity to the workplace. We're here to talk about business. But we want to tackle topics that most business leaders shy away from. We believe that humanity and love should be at the center of every successful business. I'm your host, Jeff Ma. I'm a director at Softway, an agency based out of Houston, Texas that specializes in digital transformation, culture and branding. Each episode, we're diving into one element of business or strategy and testing our theory of love against it. And today, we're gonna be talking about a very important and relevant topic for many businesses, probably most businesses, right now in these unprecedented times, we're talking about survival. We want to find out what's it gonna take to survive in today's business climate, what does it What does it look like to survive and what role might love play in it? So to help answer these questions, we've invited a very special guest to the show. But before I welcome him, let me introduce some familiar faces, or should I say voices, who will be joining me in this discussion. We have Mohammad Anwar, president & CEO software. Hey, Jeff, and Chris Pitre, Vice President at Softway.

Chris Pitre
Howdy.

Jeff Ma
All right. And without further ado, our guest today is Jeff Brown. Jeff's specialty is guiding private technology companies through growth and mergers and acquisitions. He is an experienced executive having led startups, turnarounds and many m&a transactions. And for nearly 30 years, he's helped build resilient technology companies and advise their executives, boards and investors. His newest venture is Navant Partners, a specialized consulting firm helping clients prepare their companies for sale by building resilience and driving growth. And most recently, he was Senior VP of Corum Group, a leading global investment bank focused exclusively on technology mergers and acquisitions to launch. Previously, he was president of Worksuite, a British public company subsidiary, which he restructured, led to market leadership and then divestiture he co-founded Intelligis, a pioneer in wireless computing and launched Western Hemisphere operations for another British company, Simon petroleum technology. He was an executive at geo quest systems, a venture backed leader in petroleum software, acquired first by Raytheon, and then Schlumberger. Jeff began his career as a geologist on the research faculty at Columbia University as a published author on climate change. Jeff, welcome to the show. Did I miss anything?

Jeff Brown
Yeah, no, that's, that sounds pretty complete. Thank you.

Jeff Ma
It's amazing

Jeff Brown
Glad to be here. Hello, Muhammad. Hello, Chris.

Jeff Ma
It's gonna be very confusing. I love your first name. First of all, I love it. I'm a big fan of it. But it's gonna be very confusing for this episode, but let's go with it. We have a tradition of starting with some icebreakers I have some survival themed icebreakers for us today to meet the show's theme. And I'll start with you, Jeff. If you were stranded on a desert island and could only bring three things with you, what would they be?

Jeff Brown
Oh, what would they be? A good question.

Jeff Brown
A complete collection of Bonny Raitt's music number one.

Jeff Brown
six pack, of Coors, Number two,

Jeff Brown
and an umbrella. Three.

Jeff Ma
I love it. So I've already have a mental picture of that that island is wonderful. It'll be a great hour and a half. I don't know before you run out of.

Jeff Brown
Well, you didn't say anything about resilience or survival in that question.

Jeff Ma
That's true. That's true.

Jeff Brown
I figured I was gonna get rescued at some point.

Jeff Ma
That's true.

Chris Pitre
So somebody is going to come and save him and that's always a good mindset. Like, that's always

Jeff Ma
Mohammed, what's your most? What's your most impressive survival skill?

Mohammad Anwar
The ability to stay without food and water for many hours at a stretch. Hmm, I think could come in handy. I practice it quite a bit.

Jeff Ma
That's true. You do. Chris. What's the best way to survive a zombie apocalypse?

Chris Pitre
The best way to survive a zombie apocalypse? Hmm. I think it's to one understand their patterns as zombies like there's different types of zombies. So there are those that that are nocturnal. There are those that like are, you know, sort of day acting and night I think so. Depending on what you're dealing with. You know, you have to study your enemy. You might find that you know, if you think I Am Legend, right, like you have to have a hideout during the day and night that you You can ward off any human, you're human scent. So you stay safe. And then during the day you got to rummage for food, but if they are fully, you know, active during the daytime, then you have to think about your weaponry. Right? And what are the ways that you can defend yourself and still stay safe? So, I mean, that's not a clear answer, but also you didn't set me up for what the style zombie attack or apocalypse. So.

Jeff Ma
So if anyone out there is wondering, yes, this is what it's like to work with Chris. For sure, but great answer, of course, as always. So let's dive into this. Jeff. I wanted to list out, um, you know, all the things that you've done, because it's really important, this conversation we have today you have some expertise and experience, quite a bit of it, in helping guide us through this current unprecedented kind of economic climate we're in. Can you give us your perspective of what we're seeing out in the world right now?

Jeff Brown
Well, sure, I'll be happy to share my perspective. It's not a very optimistic perspective right now as well. I'll give you some advanced warning on it. But it's a difficult time. And if we're talking about businesses, especially small businesses, and we're also talking about employees, it's a really challenging time on unprecedent. As I think we all recognize, we're in the midst of a virus or healthcare driven economic crisis. And it's creating an awful lot of stress and difficulty for individuals, for small businesses as well as large businesses. And unfortunately, I think the the impact will be with us for quite some time, it will be quite a while before we fully recover from the kind of challenging environment we're faced with right now.

Chris Pitre
I agree.

Jeff Ma
Well, great. Great to start off on that note, and that's why we're here. Right. So we wouldn't have an episode about survival if it wasn't necessary to survive right now.

Jeff Brown
We think it's that's a particularly relevant business topic and culture topic right now.

Jeff Ma
Yeah. So So let's talk about let's talk about survival in your perspective. Jeff, what does survival look like in that climate you just painted?

Jeff Brown
Well, I think in general terms, it's a it's a resilience. It's it's an ability to endure, whether it's an individual, we're talking about an individual, going through difficult times a family trying to navigate difficult times or a business, trying to do the same things. It's the resilience and ability to persevere or endure. And that requires adjustment to the surroundings, adjustment to the pressures, the external pressures we feel, the existential circumstance existential pressures that are now on the business or the individual or the family.

Jeff Ma
Mohammed as a business owner, what's your what's your take?

Mohammad Anwar
So obviously, these times have been very difficult for our business as well. And, you know, there, there are many options that as a business owner I could take during these crisis, like one is I could just go into cash conservation and save all of our cash assets and hunker down and wait for this pandemic in this situation to pass by before I come back out and do stuff. And that has crossed my mind and at another angle, you know, I, which is the route I'm on with with the rest of you guys, as part of her team is to take on this challenge and embrace the situation and figure out ways to survive But not only survive, but also thrive, given the opportunities that have presented itself due to the situation because there's so much change happening and so much of our environment around us is changing. While our existing business model might not be as useful or valuable during these times, it also has afforded us the opportunity to find new avenues for our business to survive and thrive. And that's the angle that I'm counting on. That's the approach that I think our business is taking and every other business is afforded the same opportunity.

Chris Pitre
Yeah, I agree with that, Mohammed and I, I know from my seat and what we're trying to do at Softway. It's not just about like the product sells and the revenue coming in. It's also really the mental shift that as leaders you have to make First, get your business in that mode of operating, right because you know, it's If you think about it, you can't really go out and attack in an uncertain world, if you haven't shifted into realizing that things are not going to be the same for a while, right. And so dreaming about yesterday or reminiscing about the way things used to be, is not productive at this moment. And if the leader is not thinking in that vein, or hasn't shifted into that thinking they could fall victim to like the conservation and the, the mode of waiting it out and not really doing much, because they're hoping things go back to the exactly the way things they way things were when we got into the mess. And I know Jeff, you probably you probably have some thoughts on that. Jeff Brown, to clarify who I'm talking to. We can call you JB from now on.

Chris Pitre
But you probably have some thoughts on that. But I think that that that shift in mindset really helps to get the goings happening around operations. But when that isn't happening, it's just a free For all from what I'm hearing and other organizations,

Jeff Brown
I do have some thoughts, Chris, I appreciate that.

Jeff Brown
You know, certainly there are businesses that will thrive through this difficult time. They're well positioned. They're in the right markets, or they have a business model where, fortunately, the stars have aligned for them. But I think the majority of businesses will be challenged in ways that they haven't been challenged before. And enduring the difficulties is going to require them to make some changes in the way they think about their business, their customers, their products, and embrace those changes. And as Mohammad was talking about hunkering down and conserving in order to survive through this difficulty, that's the strategy and it's, we all need to cut back on things through these difficult times. But as part of that assessment, I think we also need to be thinking about how do we position ourselves To begin to thrive, when this is over, because this will pass, we will get through this, this situation will pass. And businesses want to as a result of this difficulty, take advantage of the challenge, take advantage of the need to make changes and emerge from this a stronger, healthier business, or at least ready to become stronger and healthier, as a consequence. I mean, it's a it's a bit of a, I think, a crude expression, but several have said "never let a good crisis go to waste." And I think there's opportunity in the crisis. Right?

Jeff Ma
Now, you used the word resilience earlier, which kind of resonates as this critical path to move forward. Can you define what you mean by resilience in this context?

Jeff Brown
I think resilience is a is the central concept that businesses need to be thinking needs to be rallying around at this moment. Businesses need to be rallying around at this point in time. In good times, we think about growth as the rallying point for our business. And really the outcome that we're looking for from the way we run the business. But I think in these times, we should be replacing growth, the concept of growth with resilience, at least on the short to medium term. So that we're positioned for for growth when these things when things change. But a resilient business is you know, there are many attributes or many dimensions to what makes a resilient business. We can talk about revenue models, business models, customer need customer segments, etc. And they all come back to they come back to being able to generate results or performance out of the choices you've made in the model you've chosen. I mean, a good example in the revenue model side is a business that is no longer project dependent, but might be dependent on recurring revenues, so that they have some predictability about the revenues that are coming in because customers have signed up for the long term rather than the short term under a recurring revenue model. on the product side, a good example might be a business that has good upsell potential. Once they've entered a customer account and sold something initially into the account. It's a land and expand model. So a business that has that kind of potential, because we all know it's much more expensive to acquire that customer initially than it is to hold on to that customer once we've acquired them. And it's all about customer satisfaction, meeting their expectations and creating customer satisfaction and loyalty. And also it's about process efficiency, how efficiently do we operate as a business? and economically? Do we operate as a business? Our process and procedures? Do they yield good profitability or sustainable profitability? Or is there a lot of waste in the business in the way we're running it? So those are some examples of what creates or what the attributes of a resilient business are.

Mohammad Anwar
So Jeff you mentioned quite a few examples around process and procedures and market strategy, client strategy and so forth. So can you help me talk more about your team and the the employees of the organization are also going through this economic stress personally in their lives and, and we're as a business, how can we get everyone on the team and the company to become resilient as well?

Jeff Brown
You're teeing up the culture discussion, aren't you? Mohammed?

Chris Pitre
That's what it sounds like to me and I'm glad to called him on it. That's a great catch.

Jeff Brown
Well, I yeah. And it, it is. It's the culture is absolutely essential, right. So, you know, culture is, is the behavior of the organization. It affects so much of the organization that use another cliche. Culture eats strategy for breakfast, right? If the organization and the people in the organization aren't of the right frame of mind, if they don't exhibit the right behaviors, and the right attitudes, the business is going to have a hard time pivoting, transforming, even enduring under stresses, like we're feeling right now. And so that culture, that whole element of culture really is the foundation of growth in a strong environment, but even more so resilience in a challenging environment like we have right now challenge, challenging economy, like we have right now.

Jeff Ma
So, so how does a company go about building that resilience then? Do you have any insights into that or any first steps?

Jeff Brown
Well start by putting the pressure on Mohammad and Chris.

Chris Pitre
That's a great strategy. That is a great strategy, Jeff Brown.

Jeff Brown
And this is why. the behaviors start by those that are modeled by the leaders of the organization. If the leaders aren't modeling the behaviors and the attitudes that the organization needs to embrace, then it's really difficult to permeate those behaviors and attitudes down through the organization. So it does start with leadership. Right? Yep. And the leadership behavior. So I'll stop there and give Chris and Mohammed a chance to comment before I go.

Chris Pitre
Yeah, thank you. The first thing for my end from looking at it sort of personally, as I mentioned before the mindset first, like getting your mind into the place of, Okay, this is a new environment and there's uncertainties, right? And I can try and predict all day long about what could happen, when the markets will return, etc. But that's actually a waste of time. And so, taking from that sort of standpoint, it becomes about really embracing risk. Because at this point, as a small business or a medium sized business, you really have, you don't have anything to lose. Right? Like, like all all you have is the ability to try out new things. And so, you know, we've tried to implement and really test a culture of experimentation where, when our team see leaders are willing to experiment and try new things. And that means that doesn't just mean new products, I mean new ways of working new ways of communicating new ways of collaborating new ways of organizing calendar, like all of those things are on the table, like nothing is too sacred to test out or try or scrap, right? And having everyone see that approach and see leaders embrace that wholeheartedly. You know, it removes that fear of punishment if something doesn't go according to a quote unquote plan, or doesn't happen according to expectation, but it does open up the learnings, you know, you get the chance to see if there's a new way to work, earn revenue or even, you know, produce said deliverables or products. And so for me, that's been the biggest learning is that the way I used to operate is not necessarily going to help me out in this case. So you know, what got me to before COVID is not going to get me through COVID right. So how do we you know, as leaders help everyone understand that risk taking and being okay with not meeting maybe the outcome initially. But learning all along the way and using those learnings to catapult the next initiative that much more is one of the the easiest things to try because it doesn't require you to be an expert at anything but curiosity.

Mohammad Anwar
I would also add that resilience from a standpoint of leadership to help influence the whole organization is, is being able to showcase to the rest of the team, how you can feel and still pick yourself back up and move forward and take it as a learning. And so similarly, instead of instead of demonstrating, you know, punishment, or remorse for making a mistake, or failing at trying things instead, if us as leaders, we can encourage learnings from the failure and quickly move on to trying other things and knowing what you learn from that failure and know what not to try and what to try, I think demonstrating that by example, us as leaders we can we can encourage that resilience and that mindset and the attitude to not give up and keep trying. And I do agree with Jeff that I know it starts with the leaders and that's a lot of pressure, I can tell you that's a lot of weight on the shoulder of a leader to be able to lead and guide their team through these crisis and show the resilience and demonstrate the toughness. But I also think at the same time, being able to be vulnerable and being transparent and showcasing to the rest of your org that you are human just like them and you can make mistakes as well and you can have bad days and and be anxious from moment to moment but also demonstrate how you overcome those feelings as a human and become resilient is key to try and help the whole organization follow your lead.

Jeff Ma
I always had the sense that I mean, I've always believed that humans by nature are resilient. Like, as humans, we are just built to be resilient. That's how we evolved and got to where we are today. But it's almost like, that's what's that's the problem when we're trying to build this culture is that we don't always see each other as humans, especially our leaders. Sometimes you see a leader up top as just this, this Pinnacle, you know, sitting in a chair and commanding you know, the you don't see them. As a human, it's really hard to, I think, buy into a culture of resilience when you don't first see that you're being led by a resilient human, first. That's, that's that's a perspective that I'm seeing in this environment.

Jeff Brown
For me, it gets back to a fundamental comfort level. I mean, Chris talked about taking risk. Mohammad talked about excelling. To me, it comes back to a fundamental comfort level with change, the willingness to change, we all get pretty comfortable when things fall into a predictable pattern. And I agree with you, Jeff, as humans, we're more resilient than we give ourselves credit for. And, this sort of resilience requires that we all get comfortable with change and experimentation as well. Because not all change is going to work out as we anticipated. And it's recognizing that Yeah, some failures are acceptable so long as we learn from the failures, but it takes a collaborative model too to consider change, implement, change and embrace the results of change as well. And it takes that trust in one another, also vulnerable ability that Mohammed was talking about.

Chris Pitre
And Jeff, I'm Jeff Brown. I'm curious, you know, you've been, you've been within a lot of companies, but you've also consulted with a lot of companies. Have you seen examples positive or negative of how resilience was or was not a part of culture and how that played out when it came to business outcomes or acquisition or mergers, and you know, not to put you on the spot, but to put you on the spot, would love to learn and see if there's, like some good use cases and scenarios out there that our listeners can learn from?

Jeff Brown
Yeah, well, you warned me, you're gonna put me on the spot at some point in this

Chris Pitre
I did, but you know,

Jeff Brown
yeah, I'll speak from I'll speak from personal experience here. I was part of a of a company that at one point in my career, in an operating role, I was running a portion of the the global footprint of the business. And the business at the top was run by engineers. And and we in Part of the business were much more entrepreneurially oriented. And you see this, this dichotomy in a lot of businesses where you have individuals who have more of an accounting or engineering mindset, trying to work closely with those who have a much more entrepreneurial or nimble, results oriented mindset. Not that not that we all weren't, aren't focused on results generating results. But we were also separated by an ocean. And so communication wasn't what it needed to be was really hard to get face to face with one another. And the situation just contrived against us, conspired against us and we just never were able to pull it together and get on the same page. As well as and work as efficiently together as we would have liked and created a very difficult situation and the organization struggled struggled through this and never really made it through this and never really reached its performance potential as a consequence, which is a shame because it had a product that was, it was ahead of its time required some attitude change on behalf of the customers to embrace it, the early adopters, if you will, innovators to embrace the product, but it had tremendous potential. It was just it was a terrific product. But we just never were able to take advantage of the opportunity because of the culture. Culture got in the way. cultural differences got in the way behavioral differences management, approach to management, communicating. hierarchy got in the way of collaboration.

Chris Pitre
Yeah. I've lived in a company that had a very similar challenge. And it's not fun when you're not in any leadership position. But you're watching sort of the leaders fight against each other and not want to collaborate, and you're trying to make things happen and you need everybody to be on the same page. And you just you're constantly just every day is a battle internally to the place where like you have no more energy to focus on even your competitors. That was not a fun environment when I was in it.

Jeff Brown
Most of my career has been in small businesses, small entrepreneurial businesses or working with entrepreneurial leaders as they work hard to grow their businesses. This stuff is hard. You know, it's not. It's not for the faint of heart. And there's just absolutely no reason to make it more difficult than it needs to be. Right? Building product, recruiting customers, and keeping them happy is hard. There's no reason why working together should be hard as well. And it's, you know, culture shouldn't be collaboration shouldn't be a difficult issue shouldn't be getting in our ways.

Chris Pitre
Yep. And I know that when it comes to time Back to resilience when, when you're faced with an economic calamity or situation that's out of your control. And it's that much harder to communicate, collaborate or get together to figure things out. Like, I really don't know what survival looks like to be honest. I don't know how resilience is even a conversation to embark upon if you can't even just talk about everyday things.

Jeff Brown
Right, right. Well, I think you guys are doing a great job of creating a resilient organization, the way you have approached the whole business, as I call it, business to employee, model, employee, you know, focus on the employee, making sure employees are happy, productive, safe in this environment. is really is so important to establishing the kind of culture that you need to create to survive and thrive in this sort of environment.

Jeff Ma
Flattery will get you nowhere, Jeff.

Chris Pitre
It will get you everywhere with me. Forget Ma and Anwar. I'm kidding. Go ahead.

Mohammad Anwar
So Jeff Brown, what are some of the things that you've been implementing in your personal life and your business? To demonstrate resilience during these tough times?

Jeff Brown
You didn't warn me about this question.

Chris Pitre
Surprise!

Jeff Brown
But it's a fair question. Number one, I think is is choosing an area to work choosing a consultant domain adviser domain that I have a passion for, rather than I do believe Because I need to make a living. So having a real enthusiasm about what I do, is is important. And once again, I'm running a small advisory practice right now. So that's part of it. But I enjoy what I'm doing. I enjoy the the m&a work, I enjoy the advisory work, number one. Number two, it's choosing people to work with customers to work with, who I enjoy working with, so that you know there is joy and satisfaction that comes from those relationships. I'm choosing to work with customers who have, who are coachable, who take advice, take guidance to collaborate and communicate well. Very importantly though, it's choosing customers who have strong business models and who in my opinion, are likely to survive, who have resilience, an attitude of resilience and attitude of adjustment, who are likely to survive. You know, at the end of the day, a big part of this is putting food on the table for our families, right. So working with customers that have little hope of surviving is probably not a good business strategy and doesn't create a resilient business. And working with working with clients who are actually really truly committed to their business and building a resilient, stronger business. Because they're going to put in the work in the effort. And it's building those relationships with them. And it comes back to relationships, right? building those relationships that will endure every relationship is going to have a Rocky, Rocky part of it. Rocky period, or difficulties, we won't always see eye to eye on things, but building a relationship that will endure a resilient relationship with those clients as well. Some of the things I look for so I build my business.

Mohammad Anwar
Right, good. Thank you for sharing.

Jeff Ma
So we mentioned the role of leader in all of this and we opened with how critical that was in terms of just flat out. How do you you know, how do you build resiliance, well it comes from the leader. So if I'm a leader, trying to embrace this concept and make a change, what what am I looking at? What do I need to be changing and looking at today, for the listeners here? And this is to anybody, we got a lot of leaders here.

Chris Pitre
Yeah, I'm gonna let Jeff Brown go first.

Mohammad Anwar
I agree.

Jeff Brown
Well, I think we need to start a new podcast and if we're going to try and answer that question. There's an awful lot, I think, to the answer to that question. Um, you know, it starts with a close examination of the business, the business model. You know, it's a top to bottom assessment of the business. What are we building? what problem are we solving? What customers have we, what customers are we addressing how strong is the need, that those customers feel for what we offer? Can we be sustainable and differentiate in the marketplace, with what we're offering, right, can we so we stand out from amongst the other alternatives, our target customer may have to solve that problem. Are we really bringing value to the customer in the way we solve a problem that's sustainable as well, enduring value for the customer? Can we do this on a repeatable basis, a scalable basis? So if we do it once, can we do it two times three times 10 times and do it efficiently and profitably over and over again? Those are some of the things and can we do it? While we're keeping our employees happy, motivated, growing, as well in the organization, one of the biggest challenges we have is employee turnover. It is so expensive and there's five hidden costs in employee turnover. The cost of recruiting an employee, training an employee and getting them up to speed is significant, it's very high. And if you couple that with the downtime that you have, because a prior employee has left for whatever reason, see a gap in productivity that you have to fill to last. And then you have to find somebody and bring them up to speed in the organization, all very expensive propositions. So, employee retention, employee satisfaction is a big part of very big part of building a resilient business.

Jeff Ma
Moh, earlier you had mentioned that, you know, we're talking about leaders and you talking about your own context. But we talked about how you said how you have to start, you know, walking the talk and basically demonstrating these growth mindsets, essentially, right, you have to start showing that you're resilient. I get the feeling that like even when uppermost leaders might be demonstrating There's still people in the ranks that are just waiting for this to pass, or expecting things to go back to normal or to some sort of normal. Right? I feel like demonstrating is one thing and an important part of it. Like, if you're not doing that, then you're going to miss the mark. But what else? What else can we be doing to generate this culture that brings folds everybody into resilience? Because, you know, I, this is my opinion, I guess my perspective is that people are, there are a number of people who will see you be resilient, but they're either so far removed or not yet bought in enough and they're still just kind of taking their paycheck and waiting for waiting for resilience to benefit them. What do we do about that?

Mohammad Anwar
I think the answer lies in practicing empathy and an empathetic form of leadership. And during these times, I think it's important to have care and compassion for your team. members and employees, given the circumstances that we're all put into and the predicaments that come with it. But we have to also make sure that we are able to hold our teams accountable. Yes, times are tough things are going the way that they're going. And we all have a lot of different problems are facing in our personal lives, work lives because of this pandemic. But I think as a leader, besides just walking the talk, we also have to be able to hold our team members accountable. And that starts with empathy doesn't mean I don't hold them accountable because I am compassionate and care for them. But it means as a leader, how am I going to have the necessary conversations with their team to make them understand how to overcome these situations? How do you help them navigate around these crisis, even in their personal lives, that they're going through stuff? How can I step in and help them and how can I guide them and coach them to deal with With their personal situation, and still get them to achieve the outcomes that are needed from them, for our business and having those crucial conversations and not shying away from it, and talking about the realities that we are up against, is, is one way to start building resilience in your team. And it's not through fear, but it's rather through giving that hope and confidence and showing them that you care and you can, you're there to support them and you want the best for them and, and by by demonstrating that you are able to encourage motivate your team to have that resilience to get through this crisis. And that's something that I I firmly believe in and I am trying very hard to practice it. I sometimes call that kind of relationship with my team as tough love, because I love my team but at the same time Have I'm going to have those tough love conversations and, and make them realize that we got to pick ourselves up. And we got to move on, we got to fight the situation sure where we may have failed here, or we may have made mistakes here. But we can let that keep us back. We gotta get up and keep fighting. And here's how I can show you I can help you, here's what you need to do. And have those tough conversations with your team, to make them realize what, what we're here to do and how we can collectively overcome these crisis. And so having those type of Crucial Conversations leading with example, being transparent, you know, not withholding information, talking about things how it is in a responsible way, but also guiding your team to be resilient is is something that leaders have to be ready to do.

Chris Pitre
And I think the only thing that I would add to that is a lesson that I learned from my sister actually just yesterday Which is during these times, not everybody is going to click in and get everything 100% even if you've been talking and giving them examples, and you know, explaining everything 100% to the best variability, people are just not all going to, you know, are going to be quick on the uptake. And so as a leader, instead of reacting negatively, when they actually click in and start understanding things, and start applying the, the mindset, or the approach, or the ideas that you've been trying to get them leaned into, encourage that. Like, let people click in when they click in because that energy that they have now can actually fuel a lot more productivity, engagement and ideas and innovation, rather than more or less punishing them or complaining that they took this long to get into the program. And so practicing that's that's still part of empathy. But it's more being aware as a leader. When you feel like Well, I've been fighting all this time and you guys are just now realizing I need to start fighting Hey, what's going on, like, you know, I've been, you know, trying to fight, you know, 10 different battles with everybody just watching me. And instead of like reacting to the team, encouraging that, you know, recent, you know, a revelation or epiphany that people have had and encourage them to like, okay, now that you get it now that you're clicked in, now you go own it, you go drive it, right, like you got it, and being that support system, and that, you know, that motivator to keep people into that frame of mind that they may have just clicked into. And I think that in times like these is very easy for leaders to get irritated with teams that are slower on the uptake or who we feel like are not listening, and they hear from some outside perspective, and all of a sudden, you know, they've, they've been enlightened and everything makes sense. And you're like, I've been saying this for three weeks. Okay. So that's been a recent learning of mine that I think is just a part of that resilience play, which is it's very easy for everyone to be hyper emotional, including the leader in times where you're trying to survive and trying to push a company to stay in survival mode. So I would just encourage all the listeners out there to just be mindful of the fact that everyone's sort of uptake is slower, and at different paces, and you're gonna have some people that get it right away and are ready to run. You're gonna have some people that want to see other people running before they get up and run and they're gonna have some people that you know, are gonna watch the entire race until they see you that until they see that like, Oh, my team really needs me and I was I need to get off the bleachers and go, you know, carry the baton right? And that's okay. It's just you have to know that not everybody is moving at your pace as a leader sometimes.

Jeff Ma
Great. So I want to kind of tie this back to love of course, and we know that there's a lot of strategic and tactical Places to understand this. And, Jeff, I'd love for you to expound on some of those connections because I'd love to know like, you know, I, we're always out to prove what does love have to do with any of this? I think this is a great, great place to really sit and talk about that a little bit because there are a lot of tactical business decisions that have to be made to survive. What's you know, what's your take on where love fits in this equation specifically?

Jeff Brown
Wow. I haven't quite clicked in yet Chris. Can I add a little bit more time?

Chris Pitre
And that's okay, Jeff. We all have different paces. It's okay.

Jeff Brown
You know, love is, I think it's the underpinning of the kind of culture that we're trying to create here. Love, I think is is the is the word that that we're using here to capture and describe the kind of productive coachable, empathetic, productive culture that we're trying to create. And so, you know, I tend to think in more hard terms than soft terms. And I look at outputs outcomes. And the outcome of a loving business culture is one that is a business that is fulfilling its mission. Its original mission it set out to fulfill while adhering to its core values at the same time. It hasn't given up its its value set in the process of fulfilling its mission. And that takes a certain it takes a certain foundation of love, if you will, collaboration, teamwork. I think they're all all shades of grey. Same color, if you will, when we're talking about what drives the business forward. You need that human element that collaborates and works well together in order to get anything done. And love is that strategy that optimizes that collaboration.

Mohammad Anwar
Yeah, for me, Jeff, I think my lesson in resilience and love comes from a football game that I was physically present to watch back in 2015. I was able to watch a football game between University of Houston and play University of Memphis Tigers, and they both are ranked. And it was a it was supposed to be at the game of the season for Houston and they were undefeated. This is a lot in line for the team and going into the fourth quarter of the football game, the Houston cougars were trailing by over 20 points and had their third string quarterback out on the field because their first string quarterback, and the second string quarterback got injured. And there was literally from a statistical standpoint, ESPN was predicting we had point 01 chance of winning that night. And I ended up watching the University of Houston cougars come back and win that match that night. They came back with less than 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter. And one by one point against the 21 ranked University of Memphis team. And what I learned from that football game, after, you know, two days when I tuned in to watch Coach Tom Herman speak about that victory, when when he was probed by the reporters as to how their team was so resilient, and how did they end up winning that match that night? What was going on? Tom Herman attribute it all of that to the love that the teammates had for each other, the culture of love that that sports team was following, and embracing. And he said that every single football team member out there wasn't fighting for themselves. They were fighting for the brother, who they love on the field, they were on that field to support one another. And they were, they were, they were fighting to the last second for each other. And that taught me a very important lesson in resilience that resilient teams, whether they're in sports are inside of an organization like our company. When you care for each other to that extent, then you are now becoming resilient for the sake of those that you care for, and love. And so, in an in a crisis like this, I see the culture of love and support for one Another can help build those resilient organizations to achieve those outcomes that the business needs. And you're not just doing it for yourself, but you're doing it for each other, and you're willing to fight for each other. And so that's where I see the parallel. And the benefit of having a culture of love inside of a company where you care so much for one another, that you don't want to see this go away. You don't want to, like quit, you don't want to give up or see this crisis or this situation, you know, keep you from winning. And it drives you even more to keep fighting for each other.

Jeff Ma
That's a great point. I think I'm thinking about myself right now. And, you know, I think there's, there's something to be said about, you know, in this COVID specific crisis, right? Nobody's prepared, like, and it's kind of like, nobody knows what they're doing. A lot of times, like, it's like we're all doing brand new things and when this crisis first hit, I made this mental assumption that I'd be just busy working as soon climb out of this, but as we've played it out, I've actually found that a lot of my time is actually spent connecting and coaching. And, and, and, and connecting to, to people and working. But, but also mainly because it feels like without that we're not able to, to do these new things and step into these really scary places without each other right now, and trying to imagine this entire ordeal with the old mindset of, you know, of a secure and stable, unchanging world or environment is just impossible for me to imagine right now and trying to, you know, try to imagine, you know, without the culture that I feel we've built well, surrounding me I just see all these efforts and initiatives and changes that we need to make falling very flat because I would be scared To bring forth my, my potentially terrible idea or, or product, and I would be and I would be possibly critical of others in the same way without this relationship that we have that kind of forges the trust that I'm like, Hey, I know you're going through it. I'm going through it. We're both in it together. We feel that connection, bring your best, I got your back kind of feeling is so important to me right now. So you saying that helped kind of trigger that thought for me that, that that's where that's where culture really feels necessary, not just beneficial to being resilient right now.

Jeff Brown
Well stated.

Jeff Ma
So, survival. So we're saying survivals about resilience. Resilience is formed through culture, and culture's developed through love, by by our definition, right. Did I miss anything?

Jeff Brown
I think that works. Yeah.

Jeff Ma
Sorry, Chris, did you have anything to add on that?

Chris Pitre
I think everyone summed it up so beautifully that I would ruin it. If I contributed anything, I know people like the sound of my voice. But I will have to refrain and let the words of Mohammed and Jeff Brown and even you Jeff Ma conclude us. I think it's like, I mean, But Michelle doesn't close after Beyonce, Beyonce. I so I feel like Beyonce is already closed this so

Jeff Ma
I asked for that. I asked for that beyond the reference, or did

Chris Pitre
I think everyone wanted it too.

Jeff Ma
Well, with that, I want to first end by saying, Jeff Jeff Brown. I am Jeff but I'll make sure everyone knows I'm talking to Jeff Brown. Thank you so much for being here. You know your your expertise. And your perspective on this matter is, is not only benefits to our audience, but you're helping software through some some tough times as well. And I just really appreciate you taking the time to have this conversation with us today.

Jeff Brown
Well, Jeff, Ma, appreciate that. I've enjoyed it. I've enjoyed working with you guys as well. You guys, there are a tremendous group to work with. And it's wonderful when you can work with a team who you feel you can have an impact working with. And so you guys have created a very exciting culture a soft way. And so you need to feel good about that. And I think it'll serve you well, in the future very well as you go as you go forward.

Jeff Ma
So we post new episodes of love as a business strategy every Tuesday. And if there's a business topic you'd like us to cover something some feedback you'd like to give us. Comments, questions, anything. Find us at softway.com/laabs. That's LAABS. And if you liked what you heard today, please do leave us a review or subscribe on Apple. That would mean a lot. And we will see you all next week. Thank you, Mom and Chris for joining us as well.

Mohammad Anwar
Thank you, Jeff.

Jeff Brown
Thank you, guys. Appreciate it. Thank you.

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