From Rob’s Desk: We’re Ripe For A Renaissance

I remember sitting through high school history class, bored, drawing cars, not really paying attention to the topic being discussed. The teacher was going on about the Renaissance, an enlightening period of innovation and artistic accomplishment that came in the wake of the stagnant Middle Ages.

The excruciatingly-bored teenage version of me heard, simply: People in a really old time discovering new things with limited tools. I didn’t think much of it until now, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Renaissance, not my doodles.

This virus, and the pandemic it has spawned, is providing us the opportunity, if leveraged correctly, to launch a new renaissance across the United States – like the industrial revolution and the tech boom did in the wake of other difficult times. And with the numbers the way they are, and the economy in the shape it is, what a renaissance it could be.

We just need to be comfortable getting a little uncomfortable.

What a terrifying thing, right? Embracing discomfort. It’s an oxymoron, isn’t it? But the only reason we fear change is because it’s unknown. Change, even if it’s uncomfortable, could be better than the constant we know. How about that?

If you have ever worked with me, you know I love to look at situations from 30,000 feet. It’s the only way to gain clarity and see what’s ahead.

I developed an exercise that I run clients through called “Prophet to Profit.” It gives leaders an elevated view of the work they do, in order to better predict or envision the direction of an organization, an individual, or even an industry. More importantly, it provides a 15,000-foot action plan, so the zero-foot, boots-on-the-ground efforts can spur profit.

I guess I’m doing that now, with our collective whole as my client.

Industries are already demonstrating their abilities to pivot when they’re forced to – when the need to survive weighs more heavily than the need to stick with tradition and the “way we’ve always done things.” Companies that don’t make ventilators, are. Businesses that don’t produce masks, suddenly do. Breweries are stirring up sanitizer.

We are able to change. Especially when we have to.

This is our chance to reset the clock. How does your business, your approach, your life pivot? Now.

Nothing is normal right now. No business, no pantry, no errand, no home life, even as we begin to emerge from our mandated social isolation. We’ve already experienced radical change and new ways of doing things. We’re teaching our kids at home, we’re grocery shopping at weird hours, we’re standing six feet from one another and we’re washing our hands 316 times a day.

What’s one more change, especially if it proves a fruitful opportunity for the future?

Change is only uncomfortable because we don’t know what it holds. And we like what we know, which is one of the reasons we align ourselves with certain brands. But what if we took a view from above? Would change look different? I think so, yeah. And, I’ve seen it work.

The truth is we don’t know where this thing will end or how we will come out of it. The unknowns are endless. And, we have no control over it. So, when you’re thinking of your renaissance moment, ignore the landing.

Don’t worry about it. Instead, embrace change and consider where you fit, discover how these changes could catapult you to something that always seemed too scary before now. Because, to me, there’s nothing scarier than getting left behind…in the Dark Ages.

We Value Time. Especially on Friday.

If you emailed all of us today at WHYFOR, half of us would respond with an “Out of Office” message. Okay, maybe fewer, because there’s always those people who forget to turn theirs on.

The point is, we’re half-staff down today. Nobody’s sick. Nobody’s on furlough. Nobody’s on vacation, we think — we’ll check the shared calendar to be sure. Eventually.

We just like Fridays off in the summer. And we don’t wait around for a holiday to give it to us. WHYFOR exercises a Summer Friday policy, which more than half of American companies offer as an employee benefit, according to Business Insider.

It’s pretty amazing. We use our time to sleep in, adventure, run, chill with our family, catch up on Netflix, go to Target or generally….just. not. work.

Research indicates that Summer Fridays, where employees get the whole day or a portion of the day off, boosts morale and improves productivity. And who doesn’t want that? That kind of seems to reflect at least a couple pillars of operational success.

This year, though, it seems more important than ever before. At a time when we’re all working from home, a place we share with bored kids, working spouses, and dogs determined to bark their way into as many conference calls as possible, a little time off the clock is precious.

It’s hard to disconnect when the commute is just a flight of stairs, especially when the avenues of escape we’ve come to rely on are unavailable and (gulp) not really safe right now. And despite the current climate in society, deadlines haven’t disappeared, urgent needs haven’t gone on hiatus and challenges haven’t taken the summer off.

That would have been amazing — any one of those.

So, time is valuable. It always is, but particularly right now. Time to not work on a day we usually do — it offers a bit of mental freedom that has been hard to come by in recent months.

That, and WHYFOR believes it’s just good practice to acknowledge hard work.

We Built Three Websites Barefoot. That’s Our Kind of Hat Trick.

We recently talked about shoes, a collector’s item for our owner who prefers custom Nikes, sees them as a tribute to WHYFOR and loves them for all their nostalgia. And for a minute, we had to be reminded what shoes actually were — those relics of wardrobe that now feel so foreign. 

Because, for the past few months, we’ve been barefoot. A lot.  You have, too. Don’t even lie — we know sneaker sales are down 75 percent. 

Like most of the country, a reported 88 percent of it, we went remote in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, moving our workspaces from our desks at our office to our own kitchen tables and our own, breezy back patios — back when nice weather was still a thing here.

And then we just kept going.

We kept going so hard we launched three new websites for two clients a week apart. Because, that’s what we said we’d do, pandemic or not. And to be clear, we went “hard” in a “we’re in a zone” way, not in a “we’re slaves to our jobs” way.

That’s not our thing.

It totally could have backfired. Creating websites in a shared space is hard enough, let alone doing it across a dozen or so different households. Moving everyone home, including team members who had only recently joined WHYFOR in the days and weeks before the pandemic, forced us into a new, who-needs-shoes routine. And, it didn’t backfire.

It clicked.

With WiFi, laptops, Zoom meetings, Slack chats, patience, humility and creativity, we ushered projects to the finish line, bringing new life and functionality to the online home for a trio of brands that trusted our ability to shepherd their organizational missions — the anatomy of who they are — to their audiences. 

And then we exhaled, for just a minute, before teeing up new projects, from COVID-related crisis response to lead generation campaigns to additional website design.

It’s just how we do things, wherever we are.

Now, Pine Canyon, a luxury golf community in Flagstaff, more accurately appears as the refuge it is, tucked among pines with unbeatable views of the San Francisco Peaks.

And the spirit of Talking Rock, a rustic retreat in Prescott, shines through, illustrating the energy that comes with vast, high-desert open space and the freedom owners are afforded to build a distinct western getaway.

For Springboard Healthcare, we synthesized their critical strengths, fusing their ability to build meaningful relationships in the medical field and their commitment to continued education.

Remote work works for us, and for the people who want us to work for them. This whole barefoot thing works, too. It might be a secret ingredient. Or, even a superpower. 

Stay tuned.