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How to disaster-proof your business and your life

Leaders weigh in on how to handle the coronavirus disruption and what lessons you can learn to prepare for the next upheaval.

5 min read


How to disaster-proof your business and your life

Unsplash photo/SmartBrief illustration

For most of us, the coronavirus pandemic has been the single greatest disruption we have experienced. As traumatic and unsettling as Sept. 11 and the Great Recession were, they were limited in their scope and direct impact. By contrast, this pandemic has affected the globe on many levels and remains a scourge that we are ill-prepared to contend with.

In response to this pandemic, I conducted a series of conversations with leading thinkers, business experts and LinkedIn influencers. I wanted to learn what we could have done (and should now be doing moving forward) to get ourselves ready — mentally and with our businesses and learning — to better position ourselves for this (and future) disruption.

The respondent focuses were wide-ranging but could, to a large degree, be boiled down to a handful of key areas.

  • Think positively. There’s a better day right around the corner.
  • Add value, early and often.
  • Continually work on making meaningful connections and building relationships.
  • Learn to ask the right questions.
  • Understand your clients’ wants and needs, even better than they do.
  • Plan for disruption before you need to.
  • Keep reading and learning.

In this first post, I share the insights from the first three conversations. More to follow.

How to disaster-proof your mindset, with Cory Warfield, chief visionary officer of Shedwool

According to Warfield, we have entered a new era of doing business. Companies won’t last long after the pandemic if they show up to sell without laying a solid foundation of care and connection with their clients. Now more than ever, people want to know what we believe in and stand for; they will do business with folks who most align with their purpose.

Too often, he says, “disruption sellers” take advantage of our fears. This is a mistake. If you want to succeed moving forward, he says, don’t sell fear but rather hope, value and connection.

Warfield, a believer in expectancy theory, is also a proponent of the benefits of a positive mindset. When we think about getting sick and losing our incomes, our expectancy helps to drive their realization. The opposite is also true. (“Where your attention goes, energy flows.”) Warfield strongly suggests that we focus on creating an expectant mindset of happiness, health and success.


How to disaster-proof your sales, with Phil Gerbyshak, vice president, sales training, Vector Solutions

Gerbyshak, a veteran sales trainer, stressed that the fundamentals of selling remain intact during the pandemic, but have new applications in today’s environment. Sales professionals need to keep thinking about the “3 P’s”:

  1. Pain: What is the other person struggling with right now? What the pictures and conversations going on in the heads of your clients?
  2. People: Who in the organization do I need to be speaking with (i.e. who is affected most)?
  3. Packaging: How can I create different packages to ensure that they can keep buying from me?

Gerbyshak adds that successful salespeople keep planting seeds. Relationship building that we do today may not pay off for years. If we want to become “disaster-proof,” we need to have a broad enough base of customers that we can tap into in every situation and relationships that are solid enough and rooted deeply in trust, so that we can serve as a guide and sales leader even when the boat starts to rock.


Disaster-proof your business with Isaac Bardos, business coach, BreakThrough Business LLC

Bardos spoke about how the coronavirus pandemic has focused us more intently on business and personal relationships because of the degree to which interpersonal contact and connection has been challenged. As much as we live in a world of increased “connection,” we are actually more disconnected, and it took a global pandemic to bring people together and realize that they have been apart.

According to Bardos, the pandemic created a new definition for what consumers and clients define as “essential” by magnifying their existing problems. For business owners to be properly prepared for what lies ahead, they need to see things in three different “C” (or corona) time zones: BC (before) DC (during) and AC (after.) These “eras” help people gain perspective on how they must plan for all the changes in the economy and their business.

“COVID-19 is its own economy,” Bardos says. While many are struggling, many others are thriving.

Some may have gotten lucky in the sense that demand spiked for their goods or services. Others, however, adapted a can-do attitude, pushed forward, demonstrated their value and “became essential” by identifying and solving a problem that was already in people’s heads.



Naphtali Hoff, PsyD, (@impactfulcoach) is president of Impactful Coaching & Consulting. Check out his leadership book, “Becoming the New Boss.” Read his blog and listen to his leadership podcast. Download his free new productivity blueprint and his e-books, “Core Essentials of Leadership,” “An E.P.I.C. Solution to Understaffing” and “How to Boost Your Leadership Impact.”

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