When the unthinkable happens

lightning_strikeBeing in the coaching business for over 22 years, distress calls from owners are all too commonplace. They come by phone, email, text message, Facebook Messenger … and at presentations and seminars with a conversation that begins with, “Can I talk to you privately?” Most often, it’s about a financial crisis, employee challenges and the proverbial “staff walkout”. Next are the fires, floods and acts of god. And then there are the unthinkable crises like life-threatening or fatal diseases, accidents, and partner/employee suicides.

Life and business is about dealing effectively and courageously when the unexpected … and the unthinkable … rock your world. When engulfed in crisis, the best strategies and decisions are difficult to see and can quickly overwhelm and overstress even the most experienced leaders.

Today’s Monday Morning Wake Up was inspired by a Facebook message I received a few nights ago from a business owner that had the unthinkable happen in her business. The message read …

Hi Neil,

I’ve meant to reach out to you for a few days with a suggestion. While I am not a TBP salon, I have been a Strategies fan for years and catch you as often as I can on the “lecture circuit.” That being said, I have a question. Maybe it’s a suggestion. I’m actually not sure. Twelve days ago, one of my team members was the victim of a random murder by a serial killer. I have a media background and was able to maneuver my way through this crisis. It was a difficult dance to balance the needs of my team with the needs of our guests, especially during the holiday season. Couple that with trying to keep my team safe until an arrest was made and trying to keep my business out of the story.

Several times throughout this process, I wished there were a place I could turn, a “how-to” for crisis management for business owners when you’re in a true crisis … there were none to be found. Fortunately, it is rare for a business to need this sort of guidance and I am now more than grateful for that.

In recent days, I have thought of you as a place some might turn … because I would have reached out to you had I not had the experience to work through this crisis. Do you have a Crisis Management Handbook? If not, would you consider developing such a resource? If not, where would someone turn in the midst of disbelief and confusion? Just some thoughts. Please advise.

(Owner’s name withheld)

I thought about her crisis and message all night. First, I wish she would have called me … but I applaud her courage and skills to lead her team and company through the crisis. Second, her message made me reflect on just how much crisis management coaching we do at Strategies. For the record, Strategies’ motto is not, “Bring us your broke, beaten, burnt-out and stressed-out business owners … yearning for prosperity and a good night’s sleep.”

FACT: Owning, leading and growing a business today is tough work … especially when everything you own is on the line. Whether by accident or just plain bad luck, bad things can happen to well-intended good people. According to Bloomberg, “Eight out of ten entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months. A whopping 80% crash and burn.” It takes skill, experience and pure grit to make it into the exclusive two out of ten that succeed club. That’s why Strategies … myself and my team of coaches … spend just as much time coaching owners out of crisis as we do coaching business owners to that elusive next level.

The following morning, I sent this response …

Hi (Owner’s name withheld),

First, thank you for being a fan. Team-Based Pay (TBP) is not a prerequisite to call me. 🙂 My best and only response to you is that Strategies has been dealing with “crisis management” for over 22 years. We have serviced thousands of business owners over the years and have hundreds of active coaching clients, so talking owners off the ledge and keeping them focused and moving forward is what we do.

Every week for the past seven years, I write my Monday Morning Wake Up – 363 in all. Many are meant to inspire but most deal with the realities of being a leader, making tough decisions … and creating a business culture that is least susceptible to contamination, drama … and, when crisis strikes, having the ability to move through it quickly. Lastly, we do get distress calls and emails every day. We never turn anyone away and willingly offer guidance.

As a business, there is a limit to what we can do without the person becoming a coaching client at some level of commitment. Still, we do what we can. As for developing a “Crisis Management Handbook,” I’m not sure what the market is for such a book.

So … Strategies’ purpose is to help owners and the companies they lead find their version of success … and to work through all matter of crisis encountered along the way.

Call me next time you need someone to talk to.

Here’s my standing offer to all MMWU readers …
When your business and world goes sideways, don’t allow the situation to consume and derail you. Reach out to Strategies and my team of amazing coaches. You will always find a friendly voice that listens, doesn’t judge, and possesses the experience to help you turn volatility into vision, uncertainty into understanding, complexity into clarity, and losses into measurable gains. We’re the best at what we do. No compromise!

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Please share your thoughts with me about today’s Monday Morning Wake-Up. Click above to comment.

Pass this e-mail on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They will appreciate it.


1 Response to “When the unthinkable happens”

  1. January 5, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    Neil, you are the best friend a owner can have..Just reading your advise. listening to you for the past 30 years has helped me keep my balance. Have a healthy and wonderful year. David Cohen, Davids Beautiful People

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