Business and life have changed in the past few months, haven’t they? What plans you had made for 2020 probably had to go through some overhauls or be put on hold until 2021 and beyond.

Our views on what matters, too, might have changed. Family and friends, always important to anyone with a modicum of success, have been looked upon even closer in the hopes that none of them caught the coronavirus. It also probably pushed entrepreneurs to ask deeper questions about their purpose, passion, and direction in all aspects of business.

Take a big step back from your business for a minute. Look at what you have built and created over the past few months or years. Can you feel proud of it? Does it weigh you down too much, making you feel like it is more of a drudgery than something exciting?

Success is a beautiful thing to happen with anyone. It can be as simple as getting a new client or finally breaking through that six-figure level. Deep down, though, you and I are being asked to look at success in a different light.

I’ve come to believe that every single human being on Planet Earth has a soul within them all. It is a guiding light that houses so much information about your life and calls you to switch from hustle-and-grind mode. Quietness, calmness, peace, and good health provide your soul with a balance that you might have lost in recent years.

Let your soul be an anchor for success

Why talk about your soul when it comes to success? Well, many people reach the pinnacle or mountaintop in their chosen field, get all the golden goodies, praise from social media followers, acclaim from other high-profile entrepreneurs…and still feel an emptiness inside.

I’m not saying that you don’t have the hunger or thirst for helping people solve their problems anymore. Not in the least. Your soul, though, can definitely play a bigger role in grounding you when everything feels like it is falling apart. 

What do I mean by grounding? It’s a term that people who meditate probably have heard before. Grounding means to sit still, let your butt get comfortable on the floor or in a chair, and visualize your inner energy helping you feel more centered inside your body. 

If you read about many high-profile, successful entrepreneurs, then you will see many of them speak about the value of meditation. It is quieting your mind from the constant chatter, the to-do lists, the appointment calendar, and the friggin’ cell phone tied to your hand. This quieting of your mind has been a success suggestion since the days of Napoleon Hill’s “Think And Grow Rich” and other new thought writers. 

This process allows your soul to become an anchor for success. Imagine being connected to so much information inside yourself that you can bring it forward into new interactions, content, new ideas, and possibilities. Your soul’s deepest longing is for you to feel loved. I truly believe this is one of the most important ideas in today’s world. If you grasp this even a little bit, then you are one step further toward a successful breakthrough.

Admittedly, thinking about success through a lens of spiritual wisdom might not be your cup of tea. It’s understandable because if you’re not busy 24/7, then you aren’t a success. Is this what you have been taught? Is this what your entrepreneurial “gurus” are teaching you? If so, then I’d suggest that you take a step back and sit with the idea of your soul being an integral part of your own life.

“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Let your soul be your guide

There’s an old saying that says, “Let your conscience be your guide.” That’s quite true, but your conscience lies within your mind. To me, it can be a valuable force to lead you into making congruent decisions and choices based on your business goals.

The soul knows a lot, too. It is a reservoir of patterns, thoughts, intuitions, “gut feelings” and so much more. Your inner wisdom lies within the soul and can definitely give you a perspective far beyond your income stream. This perspective looks at all aspects of success…from your team and employees to your personal life. If you are successful in one area but not another one, then changing your perspective might be a good idea.

Listen, everyone gets caught up in their own heads a lot. It happens all the time. Many people learn to feel ashamed when they are overthinking their work. Overthinking leads to procrastination, which turns into inaction and can turn success into failure. This is not your intention at all because it is feeling and seeing success in all areas of your life that matters a lot.

But you do have the ability to let your soul be your guide, too. As I said earlier, if you look at the histories of the world’s greatest businessmen and businesswomen, then you will find that they have tapped into powers far beyond their conscious mind. This “inner wisdom” or “inner guidance” has led many to make decisions that changed the course of what they were doing. If they can do it, then you can as well. 

Let your heart play a role, too

Empathy, compassion, and inspiration are words that get overused at times. In business, they get the short stick because they aren’t too sexy and beautiful. Some of you want the “gimme the tips, tricks, and hacks” stuff like a junkie looking for their next fix. This isn’t good as a regular thing and I’ll give you a couple of reasons why.

First, all the tips and hacks in the world — even though they might work for someone else — are not representative of who you are on the inside. They are simple band-aids you stick on your business and hope it all works out. Is this something that comes from your heart or from the latest how-to book on the best-sellers’ list? Think about that for a minute.

Second, clients and customers truly want to feel like they are important. Empathy and compassion call for you to listen with your heart wide open. Rate sheets and bank balances are good and should be important to have around all the time. Do they replace empathy and compassion in your business model? I hope not. When empathy starts showing up in your advertising, content, videos, and other things, that becomes a magnet for people. 

“Empathy is simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of you’re not alone.” – Brene Brown

There will never be a shortage of individuals who hunger for someone showing them empathy. Look around your world right now and see if you can find examples of empathy in business. In these times, it might be easier to spot because people desperately want and need someone with a heart to help them out.

This is where your heart comes into play. “Have a heart” isn’t a pithy statement or outcry. You really need to have a beautiful heart and soul together for success. Head knowledge only goes so far. Statistics and data are great barometers for your business, no doubt about it. But your heart is something quite special because, well, it’s all yours and allows you to feel emotions and feelings inside you.

If you have been spending so much time on your business that you are devoid of feelings and emotions, then stop whatever you have been doing and change course. This will give you a new and different perspective on success.

Be willing to bring your soul and heart into the middle of your business. Let it be lighthouses that lead you into greater success not only for yourself but for the world around you, too. When you do, everything starts falling into place more and more every single day.

You’ll also have a different perspective on success. It will mean more to you than ever before…and that, my friend, is a good thing.

What does success mean to you? Share your thoughts with us below!

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We all know by now that
leaders must communicate in a crisis. It’s approaching the point of cliché
because it’s true. The benchmarks for effective communications from top leaders
are honesty, transparency, frequency, facts and empathy. Judging by the acclaim
and appreciation he’s been receiving the past couple of weeks, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York has been providing a
great example of how an effective leader checks all of those communications

In times of crisis, it’s
almost a societal default to look to the people in charge to transmit what they
know when they know it while painting a picture of how we’ll get through this
together. Its why Napoleon Bonaparte observed 200-plus years ago that leaders
have a two-part job: the first is to define reality; the second is to offer

So, yes, top-down
communications that originates from both the head and the heart is vitally important
to successful crisis management. There has been so much emphasis on top-down
communications over the past month or so, though, that it can be easy to
overlook other aspects of crisis communications that are at least as
important.  The best crisis leaders
understand that they need to be not just top-down transmitters of information
but also facilitators of side-to-side communications and receivers of bottom-up
communications. They run a 360-degree communications approach that incorporates
these three elements: top-down, side-to-side and bottom-up.

We’ve already touched on
what great top-down communications looks like; here are some ideas on how to
bring side-to-side and bottom-up communications into your 360-degree crisis
communications plan:

Side-to-side: When crisis leaders
focus on facilitating in addition to transmitting and receiving, they help their
teammates create connections that solve short-term problems while building
long-term cohesion. Facilitation can look like something as urgent as bringing
the right people together to develop a unified plan to allocate, distribute and
share scarce resources during the crisis. Or, facilitation can look like the
not urgent but highly important task of making it easy for colleagues working
remotely in different locations and circumstances to share their stories and
needs in ways that build empathy, connection and collaboration.

Bottom-up: Recognizing that it can be all too easy to get cut off from what’s really happening on the ground, the best crisis leaders take time away from transmitting and facilitating to make sure they’re also receiving bottom-up information and perspective from the folks on the front-lines who are dealing with the day-to-day impact of the crisis. It’s a well-observed phenomenon in history that top leaders are all too often sheltered from what’s really going on by staffers who, for whatever reason, are afraid to share the whole truth. So, the best leaders cultivate relationships with people closer to the action who will tell them what’s going on. Often, the very best leaders will visit the battlefield, as Lincoln literally did on numerous occasions, to listen and see for themselves. What leaders learn from those bottom-up communications channels enables them to make better-informed decisions during a crisis.

Top-down, side-to-side and bottoms-up. When practiced together, they form a 360-degree approach to crisis communications. Which one could use a bit more of your time and attention right now?

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As I write this, most of us in the United States are marking
one month of stay at home and work from home orders to mitigate the public
health impacts of the coronavirus. Those of us who are working from home
recognize it’s a privilege to do so and have enormous gratitude and admiration
for the health care workers, grocery store clerks, delivery people, first
responders and so many others who are going to work so the rest of us can stay

That said, staying home and working from home can present
some unexpected challenges. The biggest one that I’m noticing in talking with
my clients and observing myself is that many of us are actually putting in more
hours working from home than we did pre-pandemic. That’s not at all what I
expected when we started this new phase a month ago. In the early days of WFH,
my expectation for my clients was since their commuting time was going to shrink from
“home to office” to “bedroom to den,” they would suddenly
have way more time available to them during the day than they did at the end of

Initially, I thought, “Great, everyone will have more
time to sleep and work out.” What’s happening instead for most people I
talk with is that they’re spending that found time on more Zoom meetings. Then
things get compounded by the fact that a day of Zoom after Zoom means you’re
sitting at your desk even more than usual. Before you know it, it’s dinner time
and you haven’t done anything in terms of physical, mental, relational or
spiritual routines that help you be at your best for yourself, your family,
team, colleagues, customers, etc. You’re sitting more than you’re used to
because all of your meetings are in front of a screen and there’s no conference
room down the hall that you have to get up and walk to. You’re not going out
for lunch or coffee since you’re doing your meet-ups virtually from home. As
one client pointed out to me last week, your brain is becoming rewired from the
lack of fresh visual input when you drive back and forth to work. The days run
together because they all feel exactly the same. As I wrote to a client in an
email this morning, “Happy Monday – second verse, same as the first.”

So, what can we all do about this? As it happens, this is
also the period that in normal times a lot of people would be taking Spring
Break trips with their families. One of my CEO clients reminded me of that when
we talked last week. He, his leadership team and everyone else in their
financial services company have been working overtime these past four weeks to
take care of their customers and each other. He told me that he asked his
leaders to pick a weekday or two in the next couple of weeks to go offline for
a mini, stay-at-home Spring Break to renew and refresh the health and
well-being of themselves and their families.

That’s good advice for all of us. Just because you’re working
from home doesn’t mean you don’t need a little Spring Break time away from the WFH
routine. And, when you’re working that routine, make sure to schedule little
breaks throughout the day that get you out of your seat and away from the

In following my own advice, I took an extended nature walk
today and found the guy in the accompanying photo along the way. It brings me a
small sense of peace to consider that this bird has no idea there’s a pandemic
going on. It’s just another day in the pond for him.

So, this would normally be the point in the post where I’d
give you a little list of things to do to take a break. I’m not going to do
that this time. You know what to do. Please do it. Take care of yourself and
stay healthy – physically, mentally, relationally and spiritually.

Please share what you’re doing to take care of yourself during the pandemic. We’ll all benefit from the collective wisdom.

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If you’d like to build yourself up so you can continue to perform at a high level no matter the circumstances that surround you at the moment, sign up for the free 90-Day Master Class hosted by the founder of, Joel Brown

I’ll admit it, I’m a little scared. I don’t know how this is going to pan out, let alone the short term and long term effect it will have on my business. As a business owner, this is the worst time to hide. It is your responsibility to address your staff and let them know how your organization is going to respond and survive.

I won’t tell you how to run your business. I know that some businesses have to furlough and lay off people. I get it. I also know that good people are hard to find. Especially leaders. I’m going to share with you 3 tips on how to keep your best people during a crisis.

1. Repeat your purpose

If you tell a brick layer to start laying down bricks with no specific purpose or vision of what is being done, the brick layer will eventually quit from fatigue or boredom. If you tell a brick layer that every brick they lay is for a wall that is going to insulate and protect their country, or to shelter their own family, the brick layer now has a sense of purpose.

What vision are you painting for your team right now? Doom and gloom? Or are you sharing your emergency response plan? People only care about food and shelter in moments of desperation, but with people being forced to stay at home, there has been a surge in the home fitness industry, food delivery services, and the need for in-home entertainment. TMZ even reported that there was a strip club using Instagram to live stream their dancers.

I’m confident that somewhere in all this craziness there is a demand for your product or service. Remind your team of that need. Right now you have to sell, sell, and resell your team on the current and future demand of what you have to offer.

2. Delegate

When things get tough and money gets tight is when business owners and managers pull the reins back by letting people go. Then to make matters better, they try to assume all the responsibilities of those they had to furlough or let go. Now is not the time for you to put more on your plate unless you absolutely have to. Now is the time for you to lead and find solutions.

Get your best people and delegate more responsibilities to them. This might sound counterintuitive but there’s a reason you’ve identified them as your leaders. I am often surprised by the results of giving my busiest people more work.

During this crisis I have assigned members of my own team new projects to work on. Ideally I’d recommend projects that can generate immediate revenue, but these projects might also include long term growth opportunities that the team hasn’t gotten to yet because of time constraints. Most people are going to have a lot more time on their hands right now.

3. Virtual Hugs

Zoom shares have skyrocketed in the midst of this crisis for obvious reasons. Microsoft Team users have risen by 40% in the last week. Face it, we’ve learned that we can do a lot of things remotely. The compound effect this will have on commercial office space is yet to be revealed.

Productivity aside, there is an additional benefit to these virtual meetings. Human interaction and connectivity. Human beings are social animals. Leave us alone too long in confinement and we’ll start talking to ourselves. The biggest plus to these virtual meetings is the ability to connect with people again. When one of your best team members feels like they are a one woman/man island, they are easier to pick off by other organizations who are willing to listen to them vent.

Take a couple extra minutes to connect with your team. Ask them how they are doing. Listen. You’d be surprised how important lending an ear is for the well being of your tribe.

May we all come out of this united, stronger, and wiser. I hope that these 3 quick tips help your business or organization weather this storm.

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My Crisis Leadership Playbook

Along with testing our public health and economic systems in unprecedented ways, the COVID-19 pandemic will test leaders at all levels in all organizations as never before. When I talk about the ideas in my book, The Next Level, one of the first things I usually say is that the next level is any leadership situation which requires different results. Since different results require different actions, leaders need to make adjustments of picking up new behaviors and mindsets while letting go of others to create the results that are expected or hoped for. Well, here we are. The apple cart has been turned completely upside down and leaders everywhere are going to need to make some big changes to restore health and well-being for the people in their organizations, their communities, their nations and our planet.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how what I already know about
leadership applies and what else needs to be in the mix for all of us in
leadership roles now that the world has changed so dramatically. The ideas I’m
sharing in this post are the basics of a crisis leadership playbook that is something
of a work in progress. I’ll update my thoughts as I learn more but wanted to go
ahead and share what I have now in the hope that there is something in here
that may be helpful to you and the people you love and lead.

The first thing I’m sure of is that effective leadership in
this new era begins with effective self-management. When I was writing the 3rd
edition of The Next Level in 2018, I summarized a lot of what I’d
learned in the 6 years since writing the 2nd edition with three
leadership imperatives:

Manage YourselfLeverage Your TeamEngage Your Colleagues

You can think of these three as forming a pyramid with
managing yourself at the base. Nothing else works as well as it could or should
if leaders don’t manage themselves effectively.

So, what does it mean to do that well? Back in the old days
(February 2020 and before), I focused on four domains of routines – physical,
mental, relational and spiritual – that are the building blocks of effective
self-management. I practice what I preach with those routines but, like
everyone who is reading this, have had to learn over the past couple of weeks
how to adapt those routines to the new realities of social distancing and life
and business operating rhythms that are radically different than what they were
pre-pandemic. I’ve always talked about optimal routines and “good enough for
today” routines. For example, my optimal physical routine is a 75-minute hot
yoga class in a room with 60 other people and a great instructor. That’s not
happening now so, like a lot of you, I’m using online yoga and fitness classes.
Not my old optimal but good enough for today and it’s helping me be at my best.

What I haven’t spent as much time thinking about over the years that I am definitely thinking about now is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. There’s about a 100 percent chance you’ve heard of it, but if you haven’t looked at it lately, Google it and give yourself a refresh. The base of Maslow’s hierarchy is Physiological needs like air, water, food, shelter, sleep and clothing. (If Maslow were alive today, I imagine he’d add toilet paper to that list.) The next level of his pyramid is Safety needs like personal security, employment, resources and health. The pandemic strikes right at the heart of this level of needs. The third level of the hierarchy is Love and Belonging with characteristics like friendship, intimacy, family and a sense of connection. Have you noticed how many FaceTime or Zoom calls you’ve been on the past couple of weeks to check in with family and friends? That’s because, even in the age of social distancing, you have a need for love and belonging. The top two levels of Maslow’s pyramid are Self-Esteem and Self-Actualization. My sense is a lot of high achieving leaders are not as immediately concerned about these two as they were a month ago. Other, more basic, needs have taken priority.

crisis leadership

And that brings me to a new way that I’m thinking about
leadership in these early days of the pandemic. As the accompanying picture
illustrates, it’s about the way great leadership radiates across concentric

The center and smallest circle, but a very
important one, is You. To be any good for anyone else, you have to take
care of yourself and manage yourself effectively. Your personal routines may need
to be modified but you still need ones that will help you be at your best.

The next circle is occupied by your Family
and Friends. You want to meet their physiological, safety and relational
needs because you love them and care for them. When you do that at whatever
level you can, you then free up mental and emotional bandwidth that you need to
serve and lead your Team.

Your Team is where your leverage is. When
you lead and serve them well, you can do great things together. The first task
is to do whatever you can to help them meet their own basic needs. The second
is to role model the approach you want them to take. Remember, as a leader, you
control the weather. However you show up is completely predictive of how your
team shows up.

From there, your work is about how you engage
with your Colleagues, your Partners and other Stakeholders
and, ultimately, the Customers and Citizens that rely on your

I’ll wrap up for now with some basic building blocks that,
along with self-care and caring for others, are essential for leading
effectively in a time of crisis:

Establish Clear Short-term Priorities: Long-term
visibility is impossible to come by right now, so focus yourself, your team,
colleagues and other stakeholders what you’re trying to solve for in the next
90 days. What do you collectively need to do in the next 30 days to create that
90-day picture? What can you and your team do this week to support the 30-day agenda?

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate: The old cliché has never been more true than it is now – you can’t over communicate (virtually as much as possible of course). As you organize and execute on your communications strategy, consider using William Bridges’ Four P’s checklist:

Purpose – what are we trying to do, why
are we doing it and who are we doing it for?Picture – what will success look like in
the timeframe we can envision?Plan – what’s our plan for doing that?Part to Play – what are the roles and
responsibilities of everyone on the team? Where are the interconnects and who
has accountability for what?

Create Way More Connection and Touch Points Than Usual:
As the leader, be super intentional about keeping everyone informed,
encouraging and creating opportunities for support and celebrating the wins
along the way. There will be some to celebrate!

So, those are my current thoughts on running a crisis
leadership playbook? What resonates with you? What would you add? What’s
working for you? What else is on your mind? Please let me know. I’m here to
support you.

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