On April 15-16th, we held a virtual conference and fundraiser called Business Unusual.
36 business leaders from around the world (yes, the world!) with varying areas of expertise shared specific insights and advice to help you navigate business during the pandemic and think proactively about finding success in this new reality.
Whatever you’re focused on right now—marketing, managing finances, supporting your team—it’s important to think strategically.
Explore one (or all) of the sessions linked below. Enjoy!
- Session 1: Collaboration, Prioritization, and Time Management…from Home
- Session 2: To Pivot or Not to Pivot?
- Session 3: How to Support Your People in a Chaotic, Virtual World
- Session 4: Retailers Thriving in a Digital Reality: Lean Into the Right Features and Keep Customers Engaged
- Session 5: Strategically Re-engaging Your Workforce After the COVID Crisis
- Session 6: Scenario Planning in Turmoil
- Session 7: Smart Marketing During COVID
- Session 8: Above the Noise: How to Communicate with Your Customers During COVID
- Session 9: How to Sell in a Down Economy
- Session 10: Money Talk: Managing Finances and Understanding the Relief Package
- Session 11: Talent Matters: A Business and Employee Perspective During COVID
- Session 12: Decision Making Now for Success After COVID
Session 1: Collaboration, Prioritization, and Time Management from Home
As the author “Sprint” and “Make Time”, John Zeratsky is an expert when it comes to helping improve productivity and efficiency. In this session, John gets specific about tools to help you make the most of work from home, including a framework he and Jake Knapp developed that, when followed, will ensure accountability and success. John also provides insight about teamwork versus individual work (there are right and wrong activities to do as a team) and synchronous versus asynchronous activities (again, for many of us – we’re doing it wrong). Tune in, and start getting better work done in less time!
Session 2: To Pivot or Not to Pivot?
“Like a basketball player, when they actually have the ball and they’re gonna pivot, they still have one foot that’s very firmly grounded to the court.” Mylinda Viola
“To Pivot or Not to Pivot” brings you perspectives from leaders in different roles within their companies who share similar sentiments and approaches to the crisis. While they admittedly have not been able to perfectly predict the future, they share tactics for rolling with the uncertainty and doing so in a way that contributes to their resiliency and longevity. If your company is considering or executing a pivot, this conversation will help keep you focused and provide tools for navigating the change responsibly.
- Kristof Hamilton (Head of Digital, Pride in London)
- Thomas Gardiner (Head of Product Marketing, SpotMe)
- Mylinda Viola (Founder / CEO, Gameday Gateway)
- Justin Brown (COO, BigMarker)
Session 3: How to Support Your People in a Chaotic, Virtual World
“Everybody is dealing with this differently and it’s about putting the decision to that person themselves instead of trying to dictate that to them on an organizational level. It turns out that people know how they work best.” Derek Nelson
“Supporting your People in a Chaotic, Virtual World” is a conversation among leaders. But more importantly, it is a conversation that demonstrates true leadership. This group leads with empathy and describes the specific practices they’re employing to support their teams while honoring their work commitments. You’ll learn about their approaches to communication, self care, preparing for the future, and more.
- Evan Purmort (CMO, Central Insurance Companies)
- Emily Drake (Owner, The Collective Academy)
- Derek Nelson (Founder/Partner, Clique Studios)
- Amanda McLernon (Founder / CEO, McLernon & Co.)
Session 4: Retailers Thriving in a Digital Reality: Lean Into the Right Features and Keep Customers Engaged
“Retailers are using bubblegum and duct tape to bolt on processes for their consumers to continue to engage with their brand.” Sterling Smith
Prior to the pandemic, retailers were beginning to embrace the importance of digital technology. Now, digital technology may be the key to retailers’ survival. As the Founder and Head of Product of Sandbox Commerce, a platform to bring eCommerce to mobile devices, Sterling Smith intimately understands this space, the customers, and the technology. Sterling fields every customer message that comes through Sandbox’s website to get the insight he needs to drive the direction of the company. Tune in to get insight you need to make smart decisions about adopting and using mobile technology for your retail business.
- Solutions to Help Retailers Handle Curbside Pickup (Silicon Hills Technology News)
- Sandbox Commerce Blog
Session 5: Strategically Re-engaging Your Workforce After the COVID Crisis
“Most people think about clarity as this “Aha!” moment, this lightning strike, and the reality is that clarity is a process.” Brad Deutser
This session is full of business strategy insights from a team dedicated to helping leaders improve their organizations. This group digs into the details of game-changing elements of a business including psychological safety, clarity, and the power of positivity. Their insights are backed by impressive data, and although we learn clarity is a process not a moment, this session will very likely be part of that process for you!
- Kristy LaPlante (President / CEO, Insight DCS)
- Rob Kaczmarek (Managing Partner, Deutser)
- Brad Deutser (Author, Speaker, and Founder, CEO, Deutser)
- Peter Morelli (President, Deutser Clarity Institute)
Session 6: Scenario Planning in Turmoil
“You need to write your future plan today” Anders Sorman-Nilsson
Anders helps viewers think through their company’s possible futures and develop strategies for each. He presents a simple 12-step framework with real-world examples woven through a compelling narrative. Anders’ unique approach is that of a premortem rather than a postmortem, which is key to building sustainable brands. You’ll walk away from this session thinking like a futurist and approaching your business as a strategist.
- Anders Sorman-Nilsson (Futurist, Thinque)
- The Founder’s Field Guide for Navigating This Crisis: https://firstround.com/review/the-founders-field-guide-for-navigating-this-crisis-advice-from-recession-era-leaders-investors-and-ceos-currently-at-the-helm/
Session 7: Smart Marketing During COVID
“When you have a strong brand, the idea that that brand has a way of walking and talking and being in the world that can apply to any situation you find your business in is really, really important.” Lizz Kannenberg
If you’re wondering how to reach your audience in a way that is both sensitive to the times, yet effective, you will love this session. This talented group of marketers gets specific about their mindset, the data they’re using to inform decisions,, and tools that can help you decide the right approaches for your brand.
- Todd Davison (CEO / Founder, Demand Frontier)
- Lizz Kannenberg (Creative Director, Sprout Social)
- Joe Lazauskas (Head of Marketing, Contently)
Session 8: Above the Noise: How to Communicate with Your Customers During COVID
“In a crisis, you have more time to react than you think.” Amanda ReCupido
Communicating to your audience is especially tricky right now. You’re competing for attention among countless brands that are similarly inclined to share their COVID response, updated policies, new initiatives, and “We’ll get through this,” messages. In that environment, there’s a real risk your communications will get lost in the shuffle. You’ll gain insight to help you clarify how to approach your communications and remain authentic to your brand. You’ll also be inspired by the several examples they provide of companies that have reacted well and are being rewarded for their response.
- Amanda ReCupido (Vice President, Public Communications Inc.),
- Heather Whaling (Founder/ President, Geben Communication)
- Dave Tabor (Host, Proco360 podcast)
Session 9: How to Sell in a Down Economy
“‘Hey, just checking in.’ That’s laziness.” Matt Green
The state of the economy has been everyone’s mind, especially salespeople. This group of successful and diverse sales professionals provide do’s and don’t’s to help you make the most of your efforts during the pandemic and down economy. You’ll learn about how to adjust your messaging (less about growth, more about efficiency), how to sell to a new buyer (you’ll be doing more selling to CFOs), and strategies for thriving rather than just treading water during this time (hint: address. a. need.)
- Allison McEntee (Sr. Account Director, Some Spider Family)
- Kunur Patel (Industry Manager – CPG, Twitter)
- Moderator: Kristy LaPlante (President / CEO, Insight DCS)
- Matt Green (CRO, Sales Assembly)
Session 10: Money Talk: Managing Finances and Understanding the Relief Package
“The stock market is not the economy.” Jonathan Ellis
Managing finances correctly has always been important, but for many companies it is now the near-term determining factor of survival. In this session, you’ll hear from the experts about where to cut costs, smarter approaches to negotiation, mistakes to avoid, making the most of the relief package, and much more.
- Ryan Harris (Speaker, Super Bowl Champion)
- Jonathan Ellis (Managing Director, Sandalphon Capital)
- Chris Schwalbach (Founder / Managing Partner, AVL Growth Partners)
- Joanna Kanakis (Director of Enterprise Sales, Halo Investing)
Session 11: Talent Matters: A Business and Employee Perspective During COVID
“When you are trying to bring the best out of others, the best is brought out of you.” Dave Bacon
This session approaches talent from a business and employee perspective. This group demonstrates empathy-based leadership and offers many unique ideas for caring for your workforce and yourself during these hard times. Employers will learn about the gold standards for managing your talent during these challenging times – hiring, furloughing, lay offs, and bolstering engagement, and supporting mental health. On the other hand, if you’re a job candidate, you’ll learn how to stand out, get your foot in the door for an interview, weigh opportunities, and secure your next position (hint: your LinkedIn might be more important than you think!). You may even be interested in setting up your own LLC after listening to these panelists’ advice.
- Lindsay Knight (Director of Platform Chicago Ventures)
- Vikki Caruso (People Success, Clearcover, Inc)
- Samantha Strube (SVP of People, LogicGate)
- Dave Bacon (Founder / CEO / BWBacon)
Session 12: Decision Making Now for Success After COVID
“It doesn’t matter how well you execute the wrong strategy.” Peter Sheahan
This session could single-handedly be a game-changer for any business right now. Peter Sheahan specifically addresses three categories: (1) What should you do right now? (2) What plans should you be making now for the next 3-18 months? And (3) Where are the opportunities? His advice is clear, actionable, and backed up by anecdotes of other high profile leaders navigating COVID and previous crises. This is one you do not want to miss.
- Peter Sheahan (CEO, Karrikins Group)