“Out of life’s school of war—what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.” This famous 1888 quote from the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzshce is aspirational and motivational. On the other hand, some find it overused and controversial. But is it accurate?
For me, I think that the trauma, the hiccups, the curve balls, and all the euphemisms for the unexpected (and not necessarily positive) events that come into our lives can make you strong. But I think there’s a critical step that must be taken before you can claim victory. And without it, you’re not necessarily stronger—you’re just not dead. Although you could be.
A TALE OF TWO ADAPTERS
That step is adaptation. Adapting to new realities is more than a feeling. It’s a process. And in business, as we’ve just experienced, new realities don’t always announce themselves far in advance. They just up and happen. And you deal with them, or you “die”. You don’t progress to achieve those big-bodacious dreams and goals that sparked you to go into business in the first place.
I’m going to share two examples of adaptation that I experienced during the past 18 months. I witnessed business adaptation as a consumer and a partner. Fortunately, I benefited from it in both of those roles.
ONCE UPON A PUSHKIN
For some time now I’ve wanted to write about Pushkin Restaurant, touted as the best Russian Armenian restaurant in San Diego, California. I had never heard of them until the Pandemic hit. In the early days, when all nonessential businesses had to close their doors, Pushkin found a way to stay open.
Like many other restaurants, it seems that Pushkin had to lay off personnel. With no revenue coming in, they probably couldn’t make payroll—totally understandable and not unusual. But they quickly pivoted.
ASSESS AND STRATEGIZE
Pushkin already had a supply chain for their restaurant. And it just so happens that the very staples they used to create fabulous and, to me, anyway, exotic dishes and run a restaurant were the same necessities that were impossible to find in grocery stores. Stuff like rice, potatoes, meat, toilet paper, homemade sanitizer, gloves, and spray bottles with alcohol solution.
The products that they couldn’t use could be made available to the community. They had to have thought about what that would look like and what they would need to get it going.
INTEGRATE AND MOVE FORWARD
So, they created and opened an arm of the business that took their large portions of these items, broke them down to household size, sold them online, and delivered them to homes. And in so doing, they became essential workers.
Therefore, many, if not all, the employees that had faced layoffs as restaurant workers, were put to work because these goods and delivery services were in dire need. And their restaurant remained open. In fact, when you went to their website, they had a message thanking the community for supporting their grocery delivery business and making it possible to keep their employees on board.
Full disclosure: this story is based 100% on observation. I didn’t interview the folks at Pushkin. They’ve shut down the grocery delivery business and are back to creating those phenomenal looking Russian and Armenian dishes. I don’t know if they would think they are stronger now. But the community is certainly stronger and grateful for that kind of forward thinking and action in the face of adversity.
But I made a promise to myself that when everything reopened again, I would eat at that restaurant and thank them personally for their service during the early days of the Pandemic. Mind you, I had never heard of them before I found out about their grocery delivering side hustle. So, they will have gained at least one new customer as a result of their heroic adaptation.
SKY’S THE LIMIT FOR FRIENDLYSKY
So, my next story involves a company I’ve worked with on a couple of projects. FriendlySky’s main business for forever was working with large sports venues. They would map out the entire venue for seating at ticketed sports events, which they sold online. They also provided VIP packages that might include hotel stay and merchandise.
ASSESS AND STRATEGIZE
When the Pandemic hit and sporting events across the country were cancelled or closed to the public, FriendlySky quickly assessed the situation and decided they had to pivot. So, their technical staff learned how to do streaming services to expand their support to digital events.
INTEGRATE AND MOVE FORWARD
That is how they began working with music artists who needed a way to stream their live concerts. This move ended up carrying them through 2020. They also created a good pricing model that benefited smaller events, allowing a broader array of performers the opportunity to continue their work as well.
As a result of their adaptation, now that the restrictions are lifted FriendlySky is the only company that can do both physical and digital ticketing for livestreaming in-person events. Now potential customers can hold hybrid events. The company is able to map out all the seating for the physical tickets and also provide streaming services and digital ticketing. FriendlySky leads the industry by being able to support both live and livestreamed events, simultaneously.
ADAPT “AS IF” YOUR LIFE (OR LIVELIHOOD) DEPENDS ON IT
These are two examples of adapting that came from the Pandemic. But, in truth, there are other seismic events that could be disruptive and damaging to your business. Before you throw in the towel, stop and:
- ASSESS the situation and the market.
- Create a STRATEGY to stay relevant, perhaps by meeting unmet needs.
- INTEGRATE a change-up into your portfolio of goods and services, either temporarily or permanently, to better serve existing clients, provide the same services to a broader array of clients, or reach a new kind of client with new services.
- Move FORWARD and Implement your plan, including analytics to support a reboot of the assessment-strategy-integration-forward motion (“AS IF”) cycle.
In each of these cases, adaption was key to survival and advancement. I feel that both companies grew stronger, because they were able to quickly move in a different direction, for the short or long term.
I’m reminded of my own recent adaptation experience when, two weeks after our agency was launched, the family had to pivot, change work schedules, and refocus our initial work plan so that we could watch over and care for my 93-year old grandmother around the clock. She was surrounded by love until she passed peacefully at home three short months later.
It was a special and rewarding time, as well as a challenging time. But our change of focus and round-the-clock work on various aspects of the business actually helped prepare us for the growth we began to experience. And that growth started on the day of her funeral. That’s when the phone started ringing and it hasn’t stopped since. (Thank you, Nonnie for sending new business our way!)
So, if you need to pivot, and you need help with a new strategy, creating a new marketing plan, launching a new product or marketing an existing product in a different way, CSD Marketing and Consulting is here to help.
- Our co-created marketing and product launch plans ensure that you walk away with a fully aligned and integrated strategy after 6 1-hour work sessions.
- You will be equipped and ready to operationalize your strategy with a short-term implementation plan in hand.
- Then we can help you harness the power of social media to recognize your ideal customers and the best ways to approach them.