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The Focus You Had a Year Ago is Misplaced

At the risk of going all Debbie Downer on you—and please stick with us here, there is a point!—consider these observations and predictions:

  • Research shows that rates of depression and anxiety have increased during the pandemic—especially among younger adults.
  • Some data suggest that divorce rates are on the rise.
  • A new generation of poverty and debt is emerging (World Bank), and the IMF says developing nations risk getting set back by a decade.
  • Domestic abuse cases are skyrocketing.
  • The wealth gap is expanding because lower-paying jobs (affecting working-class Americans) have shrunk, and financial markets (affecting the already affluent) are recovering faster.

Plus, with more than 500,000 Americans taken out by the virus, grief is rampant.

On the upside, according to research by the Cleveland Clinic and Parade magazine: “…34% of those who responded said that they feel closer to their family and, in households with kids, 52% reported feeling like they’ve forged new connections. Additionally, 78% agreed that quarantine made them value their relationships. As for that stress with kids, 27% of those surveyed who have kids in their households say their children have benefited from being able to spend more time with family.”

Plus, many studies show that people are eating more healthily and exercising more.

These are all macro points-of-view. We all know that life has changed irrevocably since the start of 2020, and we’re still learning how exactly. But it’s time to start thinking about these facts with more of a micro-lens.

After all, these trends impact the individuals your organization depends on in very personal and very relevant ways. From your employees to your customers, your funders to your boards, people may be experiencing:

  • Heightened anxiety
  • Personal physical or emotional abuse
  • Financial setbacks
  • More dependents
  • Divorce, and
  • Grief.

They also may demand more time for their families and themselves.

The point we’re making is that the pandemic is not just a global phenomenon; it is personal. And that personal level impacts what your organization does, how it does it, and absolutely how you talk about it.

The focus you had a year ago is most likely misplaced—slightly or broadly. Whether or not it is, your message has no doubt lost some of its impact.

The fix? Ask. Check-in with all the people your organization depends on to thrive and find out where they are. Identify the struggles and the opportunities you have to alleviate them. Find out the new expectations and the ways you can meet them.

Do your homework. Reassess your focus. Update your message. Then, thrive.

If you personally are dealing with any of these, get help. It’s out there. Remember when we used to fly? Put your own oxygen mask on before helping others.

Douglas Spencer

Douglas Spencer is founder and president of Spencer Brenneman and an independent consultant with the 2GO Advisory Group. Douglas is a brand strategist who helps mission-driven organizations reframe their focus and remaster their messaging to thrive in any environment. He has more than 30 years of branding and marketing experience, working with professionals from around the world in verticals such as financial and professional services, high tech, higher education, healthcare, and not-for-profits. He has worked with professionals from around the world in verticals such as financial and professional services, healthcare, biotech, media, and nonprofit. Before starting Spencer Brenneman he was most recently Vice President, Global Head of Brand Management for Thomson Reuters, a leading provider of intelligent information with offices in more than 100 countries worldwide. In that role, he guided the migration of the multiple Thomson and Reuters businesses to form the new Thomson Reuters brand which consistently ranked within the top 50 of Interbrand's Best Global Brands survey. Douglas is also the author of Do They Care, a book that shows business leaders how they can create meaningful connections with customers, employees, and others. He is a frequent speaker on how strong brands improve business performance through strategic alignment, employee engagement, brand governance, verbal and visual identities and more.

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  1. Duke P.

    Thanks for the helpful article! Indeed, all these things are now happening in our society. I also suffered from this, having experienced divorce from my wife on the basis of emotional and financial quarrels. Luckily, I found a cheaper way to get a divorce – through this website The specialists of this service know their business well, they helped with the preparation and submission of documents to the court. Now my ex-wife and I live apart, but sometimes we call each other, find out how each other is doing, and we can even help in trouble, if necessary.

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