As the pandemic started in mid-March, I was settling in to a new marriage, a new house, and a new reality for my work, my wife and I decided there’s no time like the present to completely redo our backyard from the ground up. As we tore up and put back together our yard, I began to see a parallel of the transformation of my yard and the transformation of the brands I was working with and how they face the global pandemic. Here are some of the lessons I learned on how to thrive as a brand during a pandemic while working in my backyard: Everyone (and every brand) is winging it. No one knows what they are doing the first time they do it, whether it’s redoing a backyard or adjusting strategy to make it through a pandemic. As I tore up my backyard I quickly understood that what I viewed as a mistake in using the wrong type of wood for my fence ended up being a benefit that changed the materials for our deck and made our entire project better. As digital consultants, we’ve worked with brands to pivot strategy, test new things (with failures and successes), and create entirely new ways to provide product and service to their customer. While the end result of the pandemic is a changed strategy, the learnings from the process is what has ended up being the foundation to benefit brands for years and years to come. Embrace the criticism. There are many ways to put up a fence, build a deck, or create a curbside pickup strategy – but if you think you have it figured out, and you don’t listen to different perspectives, you will fall short. As a brand, having an open mind and listening ear will not only teach you new ways of thinking, but also formulate more comprehensive perspectives, in a shorter amount of time. In times of crisis, criticism can actually serve as a very quick information gathering tool and strengthen your end result. With vision, over emphasize short term planning. No matter what you do today, it will need to change and it will always need to be maintained in order to stay relevant. My backyard looks great, but it already needs a different level of care based on climate, wear and tear, and our needs. The brands we work with must continue to evolve and be open to change as the pandemic progresses. Store fronts may shut down, and curbside delivery may ramp up, but what I know for sure is that whatever the best strategy is for today will look very different three months from now, six months from now, and into next year. Bring on the imperfection. To be successful you must give up being a perfectionist. Being a perfectionist, which we all are at times, makes being narrow sighted and miss the big picture and eventually slows you down and gets in your way. For my project, I started on the fence and the first panel I spent over an hour making sure everything was too perfect. At the end of the day, what the fence looked like hour 1 was going to be completely different when it was the background of brand new yard that was not created yet. I was too focused on making that panel perfect that I lost my focus of the big picture of the yard. My backyard is now finished and is the perfect temporary “home office” as I continue to work to evolve it for whatever lies ahead.  

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