Editor’s note: Below is an internal email sent by Technically Media CEO Christopher Wink to the entire staff on the early (early) morning of Thursday, April 2. We’re republishing it below because 1.) we like transparency, and 2.) we know small biz leaders around the mid-Atlantic are dealing with similar feelings of uncertainty about what the future holds, and how to communicate that to their teams. Here’s just one example of how we’re doing it at our company.
TL;DR: We have the right foundation. We’re doing something good. Shake off the stress and follow the plan.
I rely on our company values a lot. I think our mission statement is good. I think our value words are great. We are all about to put a bunch of hours today into making our world a tiny bit better, by doing things we like with people we like. Those values words help me maintain a check on how we deploy our mission and strategy. They’re important to me.
You likely know this, from me blathering on in our monthly All Team Call. It’s no act. They feel so truly us, true years ago and now and surely long in the future:
Welcoming came from our early events focus, and our approach to business reporting — an insider read for the experts that would also help newcomers get caught up. This is about saying hi to someone who looks lonely at one of our events (or any event!), or the humility of Stephen or the infectious smile of Michelai or how weatherproof Vincent remains in any storm; It’s why you want to be Fatima’s friend and why you want to make Na’Tosha laugh.
Connective came from our business development and product work. Nobody ever cares about us until we help them meet one of their neighbors — “adjacent inspiration” is how I think about it. This is about ideas and recipes, and every time Sam can’t help himself from making sure you know about just the perfect song you may not know. It’s the excitement from Alex about seeing our work have impact and him wanting to share it to anyone who will listen. It’s my favorite, thoughtful pose that I’ve seen Holly use for all the years I’ve known her whenever she is thinking very deeply and genuinely about her hometown and how to make it better; it’s why Less is so excited to learn about new tools and proud to share them and why Katrina stepped into a complicated partnership role faster than anyone I’ve seen.
Challenging came from our newsroom, yes, but also from the spirit we’ve always had to actually have the tough, honest conversation. To say when we know something to be true, and to admit when we don’t. I have a hunch there ain’t another organization on the planet who would dare wedge this word onto its mantle. But this is why Aileen won’t be sold until she believes and it’s how proudly Sabrina reflects on communities who aren’t always represented and why Julie has never asked me a bad question (and she has asked me a lot of questions). It’s why Paige is years more experienced and confident than others her age and it’s every time Austin shares in his quiet, effortless way a different way to solve a problem.
Look, we may likely already be in a recession. That much isn’t all that scary. We’re a business publication, so we can’t be surprised by that sort of thing. All of us will weather recessions; they come every few years. We’ve been working in preparation for just that. But we’re also in a pandemic. That’s a new one. The mix is going to be something big.
I’ve been challenged and stressed more in the last few weeks than ever before. More than when we were starting in the Great Recession and more than in the two or three times over a decade that I first recognized a big new hill we had to climb. Right now, we are only beginning to go through something together. Nobody can tell you how rough a ride it will be. I certainly can’t. That is scary.
For me though, it’d be scarier if I didn’t think we had a plan or a reason to be hopeful — fortunately, we do, as growth companies will continue to need great talent, and the connections and stories we tell can increasingly be done by nobody better than us. It would be scarier if I thought my team didn’t give a damn about me. It’d be scarier if I questioned whether my organization was trying to solve a problem worth solving.
We welcome people, to give them hope and a plan. We connect people, to give them the resources to help themselves and others. We challenge people to make them smarter, wiser and better. That’s what you do. That’s what we do.
I like to think we’re all here because we believe we’re building the kind of organization we’re proud to work for. That’s why I’m here. We’re neither damaging, nor dull. We’re ambitious and irregular, and loved and forgotten. We’re scrappy and honest. We’re dissatisfied with the world but committed to being part of a solution. It’s messy and difficult and fun.
When I get scared or stressed or stuck in the next few weeks, this is what I will come back to, as a home base. I hope it might do something for you too. Have an energizing day.