Many Silver Linings in Clouds of Stress

By Mike Higbee – Vice President, Economic Development & Community Resiliency

Charles Darwin is thought to have said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

There is little doubt, now that we are five months into a pandemic and engaged in a long past-due introspection regarding systemic injustice, that change surrounds all of us. It is also clear that many of us do not especially care for this newfound reality. Social distancing, wearing masks, and being accountable for past bad deeds are the minimum requirements toward progress in today’s world.

However, there are signs, big and small, of positive shifts taking place. Major companies are entering the fray on an overdue national conversation regarding the inequities we have tolerated or reinforced. The multi-faceted economic and social disruption is beginning to produce evidence of some silver linings. A few examples:

  • The SBA has innovated in response to the economic disruption with a public-private partnership by creating the Small Business Tech Coalition to help small businesses grow by incorporating needed technological change.
  • The CEO of Twitch has donated $1 million for a New Deal Program in San Francisco designed to keep small businesses in business.
  • Bank of America committed to spending $1 billion over four years to address racial and economic inequality.
  • Five restaurants supported each other by establishing a $35 dollar punch card good at any establishment for take-out. The Good Hood Punch card sold out to an overwhelming response, even supporting a newly opened diner.
  • Rice University MBA students established a business model designed to get snacks to clinicians while providing a needed boost to local small businesses.

Let’s not forget there is much positive coming out of these difficult times.

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Leadership Through Clear Communications 

By Lori Davis – Marketing Professional 


Exchanging information is vital to any company’s image, reputation, innovation and morale. A communication plan allows businesses to express goals and objectives, build and maintain relationships, and create a robust dialogue between management and employees. A plan also mitigates the risk of communicating the wrong information.

But because of recent world events, even organizations with well-defined communication plans may be grappling with how and what to say to stakeholders. In any crisis, companies must decide what and how much, to convey to their audiences.

So, how much communication is too much? Relevant, timely information is never too much. It is not the amount, but how to say it.

The best practice is to stick to your plan. Guidelines in the plan are a roadmap to crafting messages. The plan should include a company’s values, mission statement and a clearly defined voice, which can guide crafting appropriate messages.

A few other best practices should include:

* Do the research. When a company must take a stance on an issue, it is crucial to not put out a disingenuous or ill-informed statement.

* Be transparent. Provide accurate, concise information. A knowledgeable audience will feel satisfied with the news they received. Informed stakeholders usually do not draw inaccurate conclusions, which could harm an organization.

* Be deliberate. A company should be able to affirm that its communication is thoughtful, intentional, genuine and expresses the exact purpose of the statement. Also, a company should not be afraid to communicate information that may not agree with someone’s stance. If a statement aligns with a company’s values, it is appropriate to express its stance.

Communicating is challenging and comes with risk. However, done correctly, it affords an organization the ability to maintain a positive image, shows leadership and keeps all who are invested well informed.

Contact Lori at:




Putting Others First is the Path Through the Crisis

By Nithya Pramekumar – Senior Project Consultant

As the world attempts to navigate the complexities of a global healthcare crisis, racial injustice and a downward spiral of the economy, I am adamant to thrive, not survive! We have had to make many decisions very quickly while balancing risks and outcomes with little to no data to support strategies. I don’t know about you, but this has been very stressful for me!

Once I am done being grateful for having a wonderful job while almost 40 million people have filed for unemployment, my thoughts shift to how I can and MUST continue to be positive, productive and profitable. I am lucky to do that as a consultant with a firm that aligns with my philosophy, values, and certain expertise.

Thus, with gratitude as my fuel, I continue to find solutions that help me remain relevant.

But HOW? I had just presented at a Southeastern Employment & Training Association conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, one week before the world as I knew it ended. I was scheduled to present at the National Association of Workforce Professionals annual conference in Florida in May.

Most, if not all, in-person conferences are canceled for the rest of 2020, and let’s be honest. We don’t really know what the future of conferences looks like.

These conferences are my opportunity to network and learn from my peers and develop business. How can I reach out and engage my clientele? How can I continue to be a conduit for information and the exchange of best practices?

My gut tells me to go back to the basics. Reach out to my network, leverage technology, and take the opportunity to reconnect with peers. I am driven to ask questions, keep my ears open and offer to make connections where applicable, sharing resources and information where available.

This is not the time to be stingy with my time, knowledge, or connections. There will always be room for everyone to eat at my table.

Contact Nithya at: