What use is having passion and grit in times like these?

May 22, 2020
Photo taken prior to COVID-19

Like many of you, I went in to lockdown thinking I would baking gourmet banana bread, working out like a cross-fitter, juggling homeschooling like Betty Draper and remote working like a boss but is anyone?

Sitting at my daughter’s My Little Pony table typing this blog, I’m now a lot higher up on the downward spiral that reality forced me into 10 weeks ago. My control freak mentality is more in check. This is where I am now, but this is not where I was at the start.

As the global pandemic hit us out of nowhere and the government here in the Cayman Islands implemented “Shelter in Place” regulations, forcing all businesses on the island to close their offices, this hit like a ton of bricks.

Running a start-up business in “normal” times comes with an insane amount of challenges but running one in the midst of a global economic downturn was not one that I was prepared for.

The Agency is my (so far) first successful business, ventured into with two other active and experienced business partners. Although, like many entrepreneurs, this wasn’t my first rodeo having previously attempting to launch an online bikini business and an organic body butter company – but falling flat on my face. I learned a lot of valuable lessons along the way. The biggest lesson of all, was that you need an insurmountable amount of passion and adaptability in order for a business to be a success. I had the grit but not the passion in my other ventures! This got me wondering: what impact can being passionate and tenacious have during an unprecedented crisis like this?

According to Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and CEO of Verizon, Hans Vestberg, passion and grit play a major part in how both of these massively successful businesses are not just surviving but thriving during these times. After listening to interviews they did on the Master’s of Scale podcast with Reid Hoffman I was energized by the overriding message from them both: passion and grit are essential. These qualities helped them to build these businesses and by sticking to their fundamental belief’s, innovation was the end result: “The New Normal” ideas were ignited. For Verizon this included their decision to purchase Bluejeans after realizing the world needs more connectivity and for Airbnb this included a Relief fund for Super Hosts and “Frontline Stays”, which creates free housing for frontline workers.

Of course passion and grit alone will not save businesses from having to close their doors permanently or stop people from losing their jobs. For many start-ups, capital lifelines have collapsed and cash reserves have depleted. However there is no doubt that for those that are surviving in these tough times, passion and grit from company leaders as well as loyal and dedicated employees has resulted in novel strategies around diversification, innovation, risk-taking and decisive decision-making which will all be pivotal to successfully riding the storm.

If you’re a business leader looking for resources on how to continue with “business unusual” visit our Resources page. For job seekers in Cayman, if you are looking for your next opportunity, you can apply here or email chelsea@theagency.ky