Healing the Coronavirus’ Effect on Small Business
25 or so years ago, a prestigious design magazine held a competition; They asked famous graphic designers to create a poster about themselves.
Needless to say, most of the winning responses were beautifully designed examples of the designers’ egos run amuck.
All but one.
My friend Michael Bierut’s poster was a simple accumulation of business cards of all the people in his life that allowed him to be him. That is, it was a collection of cards from his barber, his yard guy, his mechanic, his pool service, his air conditioner repairman, his plumber, his dentist, his tailor, and so on.
Besides winning the coveted competition, it won my highest praise for graphic design: “DAMN!! I wish I had thought of that.”
Sitting around thinking about how to deal with business during today’s Coronavirus outbreak, my mind flashed back to Michael’s poster that I saw a quarter century ago. And while I don’t remember exactly what the poster said (it was at least 25-years ago, after all) I do remember what a brilliant concept it was. Mostly, I remember how simply it demonstrated that we are able to do what we do because other people do what they do for us.
If you’re reading and watching the news (and who isn’t watching the news 24/7 these days?) you’re hearing about plans to rescue businesses, restart the economy, and try to get things back the way they were before Coronavirus brought our financial system to a screeching halt. Pretty soon words like “economic recovery,” “recession,” and “trillion dollars” are rolling of your tongue and into your conversations like they’re words you use every day.
But how about the people you depend on every day?
If you have small children bouncing of the walls at home, all of a sudden you realize what a contribution your kids’ elementary school teachers make to your own peace of mind.
If you’ve been to your physician’s office or the hospital, or have loved ones who have, it doesn’t take long before you figure out just how important nurses, nurse practitioners, and physicians’ assistants are to your continued health.
If the Coronavirus pandemic has kept you from being able to visit your hairdresser for a few weeks, maybe your silver roots or shaggy hair (I resemble that remark!) will remind you how important those artists are to your own self-image.
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Isn’t interesting how so many of the people who make such important contributions to our lives – nurses, teachers, firemen, police officers, personal trainers, gardeners, hairdressers, wait staff, delivery drivers, cooks, grocery store checkout staff, and so on – are also some of the lowest paid workers on the employment org. chart?
If you are lucky enough to still have a paying job, or to have money in the bank, maybe now is the chance for you to show your appreciation for those who do so much for you.
Why not prepay for the next two years of your haircuts and manicures?
How about drastically increasing the amount you tip delivery drivers and restaurant staff?
If you go to an independent mechanic, why not prepay a couple of oil changes?
These small efforts, paying for things you’re going to buy anyway, can both help someone out of a bind and let them know just how much they mean to you.
And for the people in our lives who still have jobs but go to work and show their bravery and commitment every day – doctors, nurses, teachers, mail carriers, and so on – why not make it a point to let them know how much you appreciate what they do for you every day?
As I say on every one of my Marketing Minute videos: “A good brand makes people feel good. But a great brand makes people feel good about themselves.”
Who do you have to take care of to show how great your brand is?
I loved this blog.
I must say it caused me to recall a quote from the recent movie Tom Hanks stars in “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”. Tom portrayed Mr. Rodgers, who at the poignant private moment in the flick says to a downcast costar, (forgive me don’t know the name of the star or the character) “think about all the people who loved you to get you to where you are. “😊😊 Talk about a line that makes a person feel good about themselves and maybe blessed!
Bruce, I’d like to thank you for the effort you put forth to produce meaningful, valuable insights each week. I remember interviewing to work for your agency way back in the mid ‘90s, and have followed your journey since. While I don’t subscribe to many blogs, I genuinely look forward to reading your articles. Each one has a quality nugget of truth that helps provoke introspection.
This post echoes a sentiment I’ve felt strongly about for many years – that there’s truly no such thing as a “self-made person.” No matter how much success a person achieves in life, we are the sum of many things including the silent contributions of people all around us. I don’t grow the food I eat, manufacture the clothes I wear, clean the streets I drive on, or so many other things we very often take for granted.
I hope your message resonates loudly with your audience and beyond, and that you and are family stay healthy and safe. Onward and upward.
Bruce, you have a knack of being able to communicate the obvious and give a reason to think and act! Thanks for your excellent comments at a time when we all are searching for clarity and meaning. Juan G. Robbin, Key Biscayne, FL
I have recently found your communications to be significantly valuable for my team . .. now 50% what it was when the economy was booming a short 30 days ago. You can google my firm . . . Murphy O’Brien . . . we get it.
Loved your story about the business card accumulation . . . it maps fairly perfectly to how I have built my business. But what happened this morning as I was looking out my home office window is indelible. The garbage truck pulled up and my Maltipom went ballistic as usual. Then I saw the driver get out of the truck, pull out his phone and take a picture of the view from my house. I wanted to run outside and hug him but I know the rules of social distancing and also did not want to ruin his moment. I would love to help him with any request that I could fulfill. Our planet needs a reset and so do we.
Hi Bruce, thanks for share this idea, is powerful.
And here I am thinking of how to help.
Perfectly written. It is amazing how many people we depend on to facilitate our lives. Can we live without them. Maybe, but there are exceptions. My 5 year old grandson is always on. Where is the housekeeper? I can’t always get what I want from the grocery. This exercise of self-quarantine teaches us an important lesson but you have to interpret yourself. Stay safe and healthy.
Your thoughts have been contributing to my well being for a long time – thank you. We (Sharon & I) will make it our mission to pay it forward as often as possible. As Passover approaches and we think about the 10 commandments, you have “honored your father and mother (#5)” by taking care of their last names.
It’s great to think for a few moments about the type of people we can be AFTER the COVID-19 crisis is over. I hope I am a more appreciative person and a more generous person. Thank you for the reminder and challenge. And if you ever find a picture of that winning graphic of the business cards, please post it!
Thank you, Bruce. I really like your comments.