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F-Suite - From Crisis to Struggle

All over the world Founders and CEO's are united by a common crisis, COVID-19. None of us could have
F-Suite - From Crisis to Struggle
By Deborah Okenla • Issue #3 • View online
All over the world Founders and CEO’s are united by a common crisis, COVID-19. None of us could have predicted a global pandemic, that would impact the lives of so many of our loved ones and plummet the economy.
Over the past couple of months, we’ve seen CEO’s deal with the crisis in a myriad of ways, from slack firings to team zoom parties - there is something about a crisis that brings out the best and worst in people.
Nonetheless, I’m optimistic that we will get through COVID-19 together.
However COVID-19 is not, and will not be the only crisis you will face as a CEO. Ben Horowitz, talks about The Struggle in his book The Hard Things About Hard Things. The Struggle is a place where you lose confidence in yourself and your business, as result of external and internal factors. Horowitz describes how he was able to become a very experienced CEO running Loudcloud and Opsware, by fighting The Struggle for years, where he later sold his company for $1.6 billion.
The Struggle can consist of the following: angry clients, loss of clients, team members leaving, hackers, cash flow problems, sickness, faulty products, investor pull outs, nervous breakdown, loneliness, acts of God, pandemics - the list goes on.
The Struggle is something CEO’s have to deal with on a constant basis, with little control over what elements of The Struggle will decide to show up. But with experience and resilience CEO’s can manage how they navigate through a crisis and deal with The Struggle.
I’ve always believed the best place to start is with COMMUNICATION! When faced with turbulent times it’s always best to over-communicate with your team, board and customers. At YSYS we launched #YSYS2023 campaign in a different way than we had originally planned, to first and foremost let our community know that we are here for them during the current COVID-19 crisis and sent an immediate update to our Advisory Board.

Other communication styles include:
TownHalls: these are (virtual) meetings intended for everyone in the company, where the CEO shares and reports on the company’s’ : vision, culture and strategy. Recently, Microsoft leaders held their first employee town hall since moving the entire company to remote work in response to COVID-19. Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella shares here, how he used this as an opportunity to bring employees together and address many of the hard questions they were asking.
Ask Me Anything (AMA): is an open conversation between the CEO and team. This is a great way for CEO’s to open up communication and allow their team to give honest feedback, and express concerns they may have. During AMA’s team members submit their questions anonymously, and CEO’s respond to as many questions as they can. The best place to host this is via Slack. I’d suggest creating an #AMA channel and doing this quarterly.
Open Memos: I’ve always admired CEO’s who are empathic and transparent during a time of crisis. A great way to share how you plan to navigate through a crisis with your team and users is by sending an open email or video. Some of my favourite open-style communication comes from:
  • Airbnb: A Message from Co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky - read
  • Buffer: A Security Breach Has Been Resolved, from Founder and CEO, Joel Gascoigne - read
  • Propercorn: The Next 100 Days, from Co-founder Cassandra Stavrou - read
  • gal-dem: Covid-19 Updates, from Founder and CEO Live Little - read
I hope the above helps you communicate how you plan to overcome the current crisis and future struggles. If you found this email useful, share with three of your friends and let me know how you get on by using the hashtag#FSuite.
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Deborah Okenla

Musings and resources for Founders transitioning into CEO roles.

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