It was an extraordinary beginning. My first day at Vivaldi – on March 16, 2020 – was not like any other first days I’ve experienced. I showered, shaved and got ready for work – yeah – but I didn’t leave my house. I didn’t go to the office and I didn’t shake dozens of hands that morning.
13 months later, I’m still not at the office (but I’ve stopped by).
It’s still Corona Time. I still haven’t met most of my colleagues.
But I’m still with Vivaldi and I couldn’t be happier.
The Icelandic saying “Fall er fararheill” is true. It means a journey that starts badly is going to be great.
Here are some things I’ve learned:
Marketing: Doing marketing online is wonderfully cut-throat, deeply complex and an endless learning challenge. There’s always a new channel or a new problem-solving method to explore. At the end of the day, it’s still about your brand and who you are. It’s about reducing the distance between you and your customers, while distancing yourself from your competition. It’s about standing up for how you’re different. Daring to be different.
Management: As a working-from-home people manager, you lose most of the antennas you used to rely on. Yeah, you learn things on video calls and chats. But you don’t see the nonverbal cues. You can’t know for sure that people are doing OK. You can’t depend on small talk or the friendly nod across the room. The trick: build just enough structure to allow people to take care of themselves and each other – and then pile on the trust. Easy to say, hard to do.
Humanity: One year ago, I said it was hard to predict the impact of Covid-19 on humanity. Today we know (more about) the impact. One the one hand, there’s no way to underestimate the sadness and despair the pandemic has caused. On the other hand, it has opened our eyes. We have shifted our focus from cheap travel to rich experiences at home. We have learned that we don’t have to jam into office buildings. And we have learned that our survival this time depended on an organism made of cables, servers and wireless connections: the Internet. Most significantly, though, we have proven that we can truly change our behavior and rejig our relationship to nature. One day we’ll find that our continued existence on this planet depends on it. Big question: Will we go back to our pre-Covid behavior of opulent travel and consumption? My bet is that we largely will. Because we can.