On April 7, 2020, we held a webinar featuring Rich Lyons, longtime JuntoMentor and CEO of LyonCG, who shared his experience navigating his company through the 2008-09 recession.

Rich and his co-founder had to let 24 people go, leaving six on the team. In addition, they changed their business model and became “maniacally focused.” Not only did LyonsCG make it through the crisis, the company grew rapidly thereafter, ultimately reaching 450+ people in 2017, when it was acquired by Capgemini.

Listen to Rich’s inspiring and emotional story as well as how he made it through this crisis, both professionally and personally. Below the video are summary notes from the conversation.

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  • We kept an eye on the market and examined it to understand the shift the business might need to make.

  • The biggest question we had to answer was, “How do we survive and what do we need to do to generate revenue?”

  • As a leader, I had to have the self-awareness of the feelings I was experiencing along with the empathy required in making tough decisions.

  • I realized I had to tell the truth.

  • We had good banking relationships.

  • It sounds like B.S., but in crisis comes the biggest opportunity.

  • I couldn’t express my emotions to employees but I had an outlet with my wife, business partners, and friends to release them.

  • We put energy into strategy and planning along with finding creative solutions to shift the business.

  • We focused. We had to answer the question “What are we good at?” and focus on it. And we were prepared to say “no” to everything else.

  • I had to express myself and not try to muscle through the emotions or figure it out myself.

  • I asked for help, asked what we could be doing different, I had to be vulnerable.

  • My integrity was the most important thing.

  • I had to have unconflicted consciousness to say, “We’re going all in.” I had to show passion and provide the direction for the company.

  • I chose to be optimistic. It was genuine.Not to say I wasn’t afraid, but I’m telling them, “Listen, I believe in this, this is the direction we’re going in, and we’re going to put everything behind it.”

  • Regardless of how I felt, I could choose how to be and manage my emotions.

  • “Burn the canoes” – after they row to the island, the tribe that is going to win burns the canoes because they are going to win, they are not leaving.

  • As we were coming out of the crisis, we became maniacally focused on customer success and KPIs.

  • At a time like this there is a chance to reset, and make sure processes and delivery are exceptional.

  • There are fits and starts along the way as things start returning to normal.

  • Having friends that believe in you is like being in the boxing ring. You go into your corner and you’ve been hit and you’ve been beat up and you’re bleeding and someone turns to you and they say, “Okay, get back out there and start swinging.”

  • Looking back, if I had the emotional intelligence I now do, I think I would have gotten more support. I think I would have spoken more. I think I would have talked more.

  • I wish I had self-nourished more. It’s important to attend to yourself so you can attend to employees and encourage them to attend to themselves.

  • Right now, we’re asking, “What does the customer need? How can we help?”

  • Over-communicate with your team or they will create their own stories if you don’t communicate.

  • Have hope and compassion. And keep trying.