Lisa Mann and Stephanie Mehta

6 Takeaways from Raines’ Webinar, Absorbing the Shocks of 2020: How Top Companies Will Rebuild and Recover

Raines Chief Marketing Officer and Managing Director of the Consumer Practice, Lisa Mann, hosted a webinar on June 9 about innovation, culture-building, and business in a post-pandemic world. Lisa was joined by Stephanie Mehta, editor-in-chief of Fast Company. With the level of capital raised this year expected to top the five previous years1, and 2021 to date already having more than half of the level of IPOs in 20172, 2021 is ripe for business growth.

Below, see six takeaways from the 45-minute webinar on absorbing the shocks of 2020. You can also watch the webinar recording at the bottom of the article.

1) Increased and improved communications and technology: Most of the webinar’s live audience shared that the best change to their company in the past 16 months has been increased and improved communications and technologies. “We needed to have so much communication and over-communication. You see organizations creating these multilevel executive teams that are getting together on a daily basis and saying let’s hear from all quarters of the organization and bring everybody together so we can get a sense of what’s happening in the field,” Stephanie said. The combination of improved technologies and the crisis, necessitated CEOs and other top leaders having frequent communications with all employees and increasing engagement across the organization. “The toothpaste isn’t going back in the tube on that one,” Stephanie commented.

2) Incredible innovations: From using UV lighting to clean airplanes to the vaccine itself, life-changing innovations have entered the market. But just as important are the smaller innovations and projects that weren’t getting adopted quickly. “We’ve been talking about telehealth for decades and for a variety of institutional reasons, we really struggled to get this kind of consumer adoption of telehealth, but in this day and age I can’t think of a single person — and certainly not a single working parent — who isn’t excited by the prospect of being able to do certain kinds of healthcare visits remotely,” Stephanie shared. “It’s all very intuitive to us now.” Likewise, Lisa pointed to online or curbside grocery shopping, which consumers were slow or reluctant to adopt pre-pandemic.

3) Leadership matters and DEI accountability: “It just comes down to leadership” when building and maintaining culture, Stephanie noted. The actions of the CEO – and what he or she buys in on – make tremendous shockwaves throughout the company. Regarding diversity initiatives, “For the last 25 years, it feels like a variation on the same conversation,” Stephanie said of DEI efforts. “What’s different now is absolutely the commitment from CEOs. This is not something that is the domain of the chief HR officer, who then assigns it to a diversity expert or a diversity committee.”

4) People will move faster when the next crisis hits: Lisa noted that many companies lagged in responding when the pandemic reached the U.S., at first waiting out the initial shutdowns. Next time, that won’t happen, she predicts. Leaders should have “the confidence to try new things, the curiosity to learn quickly, and throw out new ideas.”
Stephanie added that companies shouldn’t strive only to be resilient, but instead anti-fragile. “I actually think the word resilience is just a smidge off because if you think about the word resilience, in science it means that you absorb the shock and bounce back to where you were, and there’s another term that Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who wrote Black Swan, has coined called antifragile. He says antifragility is not just absorbing the shock and bouncing back to where you were, antifragile things actually get better with adversity, they get better with shock… I think organizations need to think beyond resiliency, resiliency is good you need to be able to return, if you get hit you need to come back, but how do you come back better?”

5) There’s a war for talent: “Companies are in a war for talent so if you want to not only attract the best talent but you also want to make sure you have a robust group of individuals to choose from, in some cases that is going to mean rethinking the way you hire,” Stephanie commented. “And so the other thing we’re starting to see more and more is not just broadening the pool of applicants, and we’ve seen a real outreach to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, but there are also companies starting to say, ‘Does this job really require a 4-year college degree? is this a job that an associate can do? is this a job we can train people with strong high school grades and a year of training?’” In addition to the shift toward virtual interviewing, Lisa noted that clients are moving faster than before, often thanks to the advantages of virtual technologies.

6) Building back stronger: Companies that stop, listen to clients, and adapt will be stronger. “Things like what Raines just went through — understanding we have to listen to our clients what are our clients saying to us, they need advisory services — that makes Raines a stronger organization,” Stephanie commented. “You’ll continue to have your core business and that doesn’t change, but you have this whole new business that you have built up that enables you to serve your clients in all sorts of different ways, and at some point, the tail may wag the dog. People may come to Raines specifically for the advisory services and then gravitate to more of your core business.” Stephanie continued, “We’ve seen companies use this time to build new infrastructure if you will, that has made their companies more robust, stronger, and the kind of diversity of portfolio that you’ve now built at Raines will hold you in really good stead next time there’s a downturn.” Lisa added examples like Chobani, which recently created a Fair Trade movement for dairy, and Nasdaq, which now requires boards to have at least one woman. “Companies that are choosing to institute changes that are good for them, good for the world, good for profits, around sustainability and ESG” will be stronger.

View the webinar recording below.

1Source: Pitchbook data, https://pitchbook.com/

2Source: Pitchbook data, https://pitchbook.com/

Follow Raines International on LinkedIn or sign up for our newsletters to learn about our upcoming webinars and events. For more information on finding the right leader for your consumer-facing organization, reach out to Lisa Mann at lmann@rainesinternational.com.