Our Collective 2020 Rollercoaster

Maija Hoehn

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Written by Maija Hoehn | SVP, Engagement

Before you set foot on a rollercoaster, you know you’re in for some ups and downs. All are anticipated –even celebrated – as it’s a choice you made to get on the ride. However, I think it’s safe to say that 2020 has been a rollercoaster ride we didn’t expect or sign up for. A devastating global pandemic, intense sociopolitical unrest, a reinvigorated racial justice movement, and still so much yet to come – including what’s likely to be the most heated election of our times – have produced twists and turns that have left everyone feeling uneasy about the future.

I’d like to suggest, however, that we have the power to navigate this rollercoaster by taking some simple, yet powerful, actions:

  • Learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable. I think everyone has realized that we don’t have as much control as we once thought, so by shifting your mindset to embrace the unknown and lean into the mess, you can reduce the anxiety around new situations.
  • Embrace “test and learn.” While it may feel like the world around us is on pause, we are actually in a period of great acceleration. People are trying things they never thought they could do before. Innovation is at an all-time high. Our clients have been more receptive to ideas that embrace the new “all in” digital world, and we’re trying new media vehicles at a faster rate than I’ve seen in my 20-year career. And, along with this, I’ve seen more acceptance of “fast failures” that we might encounter as we test and learn, because those “fast failures” are often where we can learn the most.
  • Gather info. Ask for help. Seek out experts. This is not the time to go it alone. Resources (time, money, energy) are tight for everyone, so now is the time to call in the experts. By enlisting the experience of others, solutions can be reached more quickly, executed more flawlessly and results generated much sooner.
  • Don’t get stuck on what your plan was supposed to be. Sure, a lot of work has already been done for what 2020 was supposed to be – business as usual. But now is the time to be adaptable. Embrace an iterative process. Be nimble. If Plan A doesn’t work, move to Plan B. If Plan B doesn’t work, move to Plan C. We have quickly changed client plans to address the shift in media usage; we’ve realigned brand messaging to be relevant to the times; we’ve implemented engaging digital programs to replicate meaningful one-on-one, in-person interactions; and for many, we’ve fast-tracked into new e-commerce solutions to capture a share of this burgeoning market.
  • Be mindful. What we are going through is hard. There is no playbook. And it can easily be overwhelming. By practicing mindfulness, you can reset and recharge and show up in this world in a more positive way. Pause. Breathe. Observe. Be kind.
  • Get going! Don’t sit still and let opportunities pass you by. Business is still happening. With an approach that is adaptable, innovative and rooted in data and insights about the current landscape, success is possible even during these times filled with the unknown.

One last consideration: This rollercoaster we’re on is a collective, shared experience. None of us actively chose to get on this ride, so let’s be nice to each other, help one another out, and know that eventually this ride will come to an end. But until then, hang on and know that we’re all in this together.