We live in very uncertain times. Everyone is worried, myself included. As a CEO, a mother, a wife, a relative, its concerning whats going on at present, and there is a period of adjustment as we face this sudden new reality.
I just want to share some of my thoughts about how I’m tackling this crisis around COVID-19, and look I’m not here to preach, to tell you what to do or to get on some high horse. And I’m certainly not going to dress things up.
What I see right now is a need for us to take some social responsibility, but also to put everything we have in front of us in perspective. And live as we see fit, but help those around us the best we can.
Just this evening I contacted my relations and friends around the world, and just asked a very simple question – are you okay, do you need anything? Just doing small things IMO makes a difference. I can’t change the world. I can though be supportive of those around me.
Likewise in Austin where I live I’m not going to lock myself up right now, I’m going to take precautions, wash my hands, be sensible, but look out for the communities around here that are in a worse position than me. That means popping over to the local brewery and sourcing beer for a work lunch there, it means buying from the local restaurants and tipping them well. Yes I know there are risks, and yes part of me is scared of what is to come, but I feel we have to partake in society, or society runs the risk of collapse. I want to play my part in keeping things moving, and I think if we all take this approach the world will be a place worth being in. It’s also worth mentioning in a couple of weeks here in Texas I expect life to be different, we might not be able to get out. Until that starts hitting I’m not going crazy, I’m taking precautions, but I see a need to try support right now.
NOTE: I wrote this just 2 DAYS ago. Since then in Texas and worldwide the situation is changing and ‘social distancing’ is coming into play here (much later than rest of world). I’m fully onboard with this, any action we can take to reduce the impact is an action worth taking. Where possible I’ll still be using restaurant delivery.
Look – we will get over this. We just need to brace up, prepare as much as possible and hold on tight. Luckily I’ve ridden a couple of recessions before, so I’ve seen what happens. And I know that now is a time to be sensible.
At ShipperHQ we aren’t funded by VC, or in fact anyone, when I first started this business I literally built it from the ground with no funds invested. My only income was my job at Reuters, and even then I was on a sabbatical at the start. It was tough. But I kept my eye on whats important – feeding the family, paying the mortgage, making sure those around me are okay. I’ve never been one for extravagance, I don’t believe in waste, and now more than ever I’m ensuring that if we have money that money is fed into protecting our staff income, and delivering for them. That’s how we roll here. ShipperHQ for me is not about a destination, its about a journey where we can make life easier for merchants, make life better for our staff, and build software to solve real life business needs. And now more than ever my job as a leader of this company is to protect my staff, and my clients.
My husband was a merchant, I’ve been there, and its tough. We had a ‘green’ ecommerce site back in 2008 during the crash, the business dried up almost overnight. But I saw opportunity out of the situation, and this is ultimately how ShipperHQ came about.
Things are different now, many people are much better off, the quality of life is improved. That doesn’t mean its easy. But think of ways you can help supplement where you are, how you protect your base, as if you can ease that stress and think ahead its going to benefit you later on. Be measured, but don’t panic. Make your own luck.
You know in lots of ways I’m gutted. I’m sure many of you are too. The impact on our population is high. But we have to put things into perspective – we need to look out for our elderly neighbors and relatives, we need to realise it will pass, and we need to say okay maybe 2020 isn’t going to be the year I had anticipated but if we get through with our health I’ll take it.
And look we can still make something here, we just need to think a little differently, and accept things might move a little slower – and quite frankly that’s okay.
From a company perspective we moved remote as of Monday – and I’m pleased. Its a headache, we have remote staff in Australia, Slovakia, UK and up in the great midwest Ohio, but this is the first time we have had Austin being remote. But I see it as a learning exercise, its going to be interesting to see how people cope, and more importantly I think we will develop remote working practises we never would have otherwise. People will care more about their colleagues who work remote today, Josh, Mike, Jason, Stan, Gen and Jane overseas will hopefully not seem so far away. We will be one team with shared goals – not split by in-office, out of office.
Outside of work we are looking at more ways to help our communities around the world. It’s early days here, but I’ve given all the remote staff $200 to spend at their local eateries. Its a small token, but I believe an important step. Yesterday we got the Austin team together outside our office and had beers sourced from the great Infamous Brewery here in Austin, and Austin Garden Pizza. We are doing little bits. And we will continue quietly to support where we see opportunity to assist, I’m expecting us to spend many thousands ultimately. It’s about being responsible and pragmatic, helping where you can, it doesn’t have to be big.
So what could you do? Well I suggest start small, but try help where you can, accept that sometimes life comes before business, and thats how it should be. Be careful, look after your family, make sure you stay upright.
If you are a successful business in the ecommerce space, please get involved, and do your bit. We know how this works, you aren’t at events, you can free up some capital to make a difference to industries that are suffering right now. Go out and make a small change. You don’t need to shout it from the rooftops, but now more than ever your little contribution will help.
Together we will get out of where we are today. Partnership is crucial, as is communication. We need to lean on each other, we need to hold each other up where required, and we need to keep moving. All of us.
Lastly I’ll share this. I was working in the evening (I’m a night owl), and went to pick my son up from his lock-in at school band. He was searching for music to play, finally he puts on “Mr Blue Sky by ELO”. It was 2.30am, I’d had a long hard day, and my immediate thought as he cranked up the sound was please god help me, I turned it down, said I was tired. Then he said “Mum, its never too late for Mr Blue Sky”. And he was right, its never too late. The sunshine will return, we just gotta hold out, listen to the music, and keep our dreams sitting there, we will get to them, its okay if it takes a little longer, just keep ploughing on, and look after those around you.