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First, let me tell you how grateful I am for the good fortune Kingsford has experienced during this crazy year of 2020. While many have suffered difficult times, we have been lucky to have an expanding roster of great clients who are thriving in this weird economy and are seizing the emerging opportunities.
When I reflect on how people found success this last year, seven takeaways were evident and I’ll get to them in a moment.
But first, you may be interested in what Kingsford has been up to. We have developed two new programs this year which we call Look West and Look North. We have engaged with one of the UK’s leading Chambers of Commerce and with the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia to help us spread the message to firms wanting to come to North America. We have also started working with South American firms to help them migrate Northwards; Grandio in Argentina has developed an amazing new way to create durable and delightful manufactured homes from precast concrete. They are based in Argentina and we are helping them to establish a network of builders and partners to serve the North American markets to capitalize on a growing desire for space and safe housing; and Alladio is one of South America’s largest appliance manufacturers - we are helping them to look north to the US and Canadian markets (commercial, residential and other niches to start).
We also provide ongoing advisory services to a number of firms including those involved in engineering services, real estate development, pyrotechnics, heavy metal fabrication and mobility services. And we are pleased to continue to advise Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), helping them select the next best investment in environmentally sustainable technology.
We are advisors to our long-term client TutorOcean in their meteoric growth in the online tutoring business. They connect students with tutors around the world through their online classroom (great idea here for a last minute present that will resonate for years). And they have made significant sales into colleges and universities around the world who use their platform to manage and deliver their in-house tutoring services (IPO some day I expect).
And working with these and many other great companies, here is what I have observed as the common thread amongst those who have thrived in 2020:
The Seven Lessons
1. Their glass is half full - or this year it was perhaps 1/8 full. But nonetheless, these people retained their optimism that a way forward would emerge and that opportunities were there for the finding.
2. They have strong sense of purpose. In a crisis, leaders and their teams need a reason to put up with all the bullshit and keep slogging forward despite the challenges they face every day. The successful leaders have that core purpose in mind and use it as a focus and as a rallying point for their teams.
3. They ask for help. These people know when they can use more support and, crucially, are not afraid to ask for it. In my own case, I created a peer group of 4 consultants (Germany, Florida and Vancouver) and we meet twice a month to share ideas and to challenge and support each other.
4. They take care of their people. Compassion and empathy are a big part of their work. They want to know how everyone is coping with the changes the pandemic has wrought. They ask how everyone is doing and really care about them.
5. Connect with clients and suppliers. It's not as easy but they find ways to do it. Video calls, review meetings, phone calls, emails, newsletters and so on. And they do so with a heightened degree of authenticity – because, these days, everyone is looking for truth.
6. They plan for growth. They know that a company can never stand still – pandemics, geopolitical disruption and volatile economics mean that you have to keep hunting for the next market, the next product, the next deal. They explore new markets, they hire new skills, they develop new processes,
7. They take time for themselves. Yes we are all busy and it's cool to be “THE Person” who is holding it all together but, after a year like this, it’s time to check out for a week or two. Read a book, go for a walk, sit on a dock, rebuild a car, get your head out of the business to recharge and gain new perspectives for when you return in January.
Do good. Be good.
And, from all of us at KCL, have a great holiday - and get ready to accelerate in January!