Uncomfortable Together: COVID-19 Thoughts From Our CEO

Matt Cheuvront Proof Branding

I woke up this morning wondering what today would bring. It feels like every day and every moment in 2020 has brought adversity to deal with. A loss to cope with. Another obstacle to overcome. If it’s true what they say about “when it rains, it pours”, then 2020’s forecast has felt like an unrelenting monsoon. 

A month ago, before all of this, I said goodbye to my stepmother, who lost her long fight with infection after months in the hospital. A couple weeks later, a devastating tornado hit East Nashville and the surrounding community – demolishing businesses, crushing people’s dreams, and taking lives – all while, thankfully, leaving our office and home unscathed.

Not more than a week and half after that, COVID-19 hit with full force, and we’ve been stuck at home ever since, all while seeing the death toll and devastation continue to mount around us. My wedding is on hold. I haven’t seen my daughter or my family for weeks – and it’s looking like those weeks will turn into months. All that side, my problems pale in comparison to the real problems so many are faced with in this moment. Life, my friends, is hard.

The other day my fiance looked over and saw tears in my eyes. She asked “what’s wrong?” – I couldn’t even articulate how I felt. Thankful to not be alone? Scared? Sad? Hopeful? All of the above. Odds are, you’ve caught yourselves in moments of overwhelming emotion like this lately. You don’t know how you feel, but you’re feeling everything all at once.  

These are trying, strange, uncomfortable times. But through everything, I know that opportunities exist where we find obstacles and brilliant ideas are often born from adversity and hardship. I have my health. I have a company that fortunately can withstand and survive this anomalistic moment in time. We’re going to be ok. 

This time of social distancing and isolation gives way to room and space to think, be creative, and plan ahead. Unless these are in fact the end times, things will turn around and it’s important for all of us to not only think about surviving today, but thriving when the dust settles. To move away from “panic” mode and into a state of preparation with your eyes toward the horizon. 

Don’t Keep Your Head In the Sand. 

We now know this won’t be going away in a couple days or a couple weeks. This is our new normal for the foreseeable future – and –  this situation is teaching companies about the logistics of working remotely and going digital with product and service offerings in a way that will forever change the way many, many brands do business even when we return to “normal”. Be smart. Stay home. Stay healthy. Now, reset and look up. You’re going to be okay, but you can’t sit back and wait for things to pass. Now, more than ever, demands that you remain diligent and focused toward sustaining and building momentum. While easier said than done, try to look at this as an opportunity, not an obstacle.  

Don’t Be Afraid to Adapt.

If you’re anything like me, you have always prided yourself on a particular process and/or a certain way of doing things. I respect the commitment to who you are and how you work. But, unique circumstances demand unique responses.

Don’t be afraid to adapt your perspective, shift processes, offer online ordering, and refocus on how your business can maintain cash flow and build momentum for the future. Who knows? You may find a new, profitable revenue stream as you adapt and shift your business that you can take with you long into the future.

We’ve started conducting our intensive Understand Your Brand kickoff workshops through Google Hangouts – a step in our process that we have always prided ourselves on being an in-person session for rapport building and much-needed face-time at the start of each project we take on. It’s been a challenge, but with our first one in the books, we were pleasantly surprised at how comfortable everyone felt and how much fun we had. Now, more than ever, our team understands the need to adapt and evolve, putting our “Yes, and…” philosophy to work in order to build up, not break down, new ideas. 

Don’t Panic.

The worst thing you can do is panic right now. Remember what got you here. Rest easy in that, while we don’t know how long things will be this way, it is temporary and there is a return to normalcy at the end of the tunnel. Understandably, we’re all refocusing and shifting to survive and sustain something none of us have really faced before.

No one has all the answers, and “figuring this out” looks very different for each of us — but don’t panic. Take things in stride. Be open to change and new ideas. Be flexible with what you may have to do to sustain and survive in the near term so you can sprint out of the gate when things return to normal. 

Breathe. Just Breathe.

EVERYONE is in panic mode right now. You are not alone. Even as I write this, I’m thinking about my own business and how we are adapting and evolving to the rapidly and ever-changing climate. I’m looking at cash flow for the month and quarter ahead. I’m reaching out to past clients to see how they’re coping with things today and planning for tomorrow.

Out of this panic will come potential and possibility. Keep a positive attitude and make sure your brand exudes that positivity, resourcefulness, and support we all need right now. When you’re feeling scared or anxious, meditate, take a break, watch a rerun of King of Queens — or check out another Tiger King meme. 

Returning to business-as-usual may seem like a far-fetched priority with the current State-of-Emergency lockdown, but the show must go on. We have to keep moving forward. 

We’re in This Together.

Find (some) comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Think about how much you have seen our community come together through adversity. Sometimes it is the worst of times that brings out the best in us. 

As a small business owner, as a father, as a partner, as a confused guy just trying to figure it all out – I’m right there with you. I’m fucking scared. But I’m also hopeful. I’m determined. I’m focused. I know we will continue coming together and will come out of this stronger than ever. Focus on gratitude. Allow yourself to be present (and sometimes silent just to feel your emotions). Focus on positivity, as hard as that may be. 

Please send your thoughts to our healthcare professionals who are on the front lines. Please stay home and take this pandemic seriously. And please know that there is a bright future ahead. Take care of yourselves. Take care of each other. I’m right here – we’re right here –  if you need a helping hand along the way. 

– Matt

On behalf of everyone at Proof, we are thinking about you all and wish you good health and safety as we all navigate through the COVID-19 storm. If we can be helpful with your brand or business, don’t hesitate to reach out and get in touch. 

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