Recently, Feedonomics CEO Shawn Lipman joined “The Sur-thrival Guide” podcast to answer the question: What does business leadership look like during a pandemic? The podcast, hosted by leadership consultant Marc Stcherbina, is a series of conversations with experts aimed at helping people “thrive in survival mode” during the coronavirus pandemic. Here are four key takeaways from Shawn’s conversation with Marc about how Feedonomics has been able to sur-thrive as a company.
1. You need open and honest communication, internally and externally.
One of the most important steps Shawn took at the beginning of the pandemic was to assess the company’s situation honestly. Shawn recognized that the pandemic was a life-changing global event, and that anxieties ran high for everyone. Accepting that reality allowed him to make decisions early.
In light of an uncertain future, it was clear to Shawn that he needed to conduct personal meetings with leadership, our clients and our employees to fully understand their fears, concerns, and needs. Shawn says, “We’ve got to make sure we’re talking to everybody, and not allowing people to just be floating with their anxieties.”
During the first four weeks, Shawn worked 16 to 18-hour days, coming up with contingency plans, monitoring the impact of COVID on our team’s safety and figuring out how we could help our clients through these troubled times.
When it comes to customers, Shawn’s edict is simple but powerful. Listen to your clients. Learn what their needs are, their concerns about the future, and ask how you can help. “The irony is that you need to be doing all of this stuff pre-COVID,” says Shawn.
Shawn’s internal focus was to provide his employees with a clear sense of direction, especially after the sudden shift to working from home.
2. Your company culture will be the foundation you lean on to overcome challenges.
As Marc notes, “When you build a business on your culture, at times like these, you rely on that culture and the people that make up that culture.”
The founders of Feedonomics decided early on that their overarching goal was not to just build cutting-edge technology, but to also create a meaningful culture for something bigger. Shawn’s background as a rugby team captain, a coach for kids’ sports, and his experience running other companies, taught him that the winning formula for success rested on a strong set of values and principles. When presented with challenges, you need to be able to rely on the people around you, and vice versa.
“If you’re coming into this on a really poor foundation, whether it be as a company with a poor cultural foundation, or a foundation that’s not really based on a lot of trust, you’ve got a lot of challenges,” says Shawn. “Because if you’re trying to mobilize people in a certain direction, they’ve got to trust.”
3. Find a balance to sustain your energy.
Shawn shared that he has a daily routine that he follows almost religiously to build energy and decompress. He allows himself to watch the news only while he exercises to remain informed but not be overwhelmed by turbulent events.
The goal is to focus on what you can control, work hard, and then decompress and recharge. Shawn likes to go for walks with his wife in the evenings and hikes on the weekends to make sure he’s maintaining a balance, mentally and physically.
4. Play the long game and attack, attack, attack.
At the end of the pandemic, there will be companies that are still standing, some even thriving.
“We’re trying to mobilize around approaching the market in a very proactive way,” says Shawn. That looks different for every business, but the recipe for success will still rely on finding creative, innovative, and proactive ways to survive. The top companies will be forward-thinking.
Building goodwill with your client base and your employees during this period of uncertainty will pay off when the dust settles. This means focusing on everybody’s success, and finding ways to make sure they get through this time period with you. “Because if you don’t focus on that, you’ve got nobody to actually do business with you. And if you help your customers come out on the other end, the amount of loyalty that you’re going to build within your customer base is going to be immeasurable,” Shawn says.
Watch the full episode below:
We strive every day to be a culture-led business. If you are interested in developing a winning culture like we are, check out more of “The Sur-thrival Guide” podcast with Marc Stcherbina, and read about the culture of empowerment at Feedonomics.
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Brian Roizen is the Cofounder and Chief Architect of Feedonomics, a full-service feed optimization platform that optimizes product data for hundreds of channels. He has been featured on numerous podcasts and eCommerce webinars, and regularly contributes to Search Engine Land and other industry-leading blogs. Brian graduated summa cum laude from UCLA with both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.