Where were you one year ago today?

Where were you one year ago today?

One year ago. I remember the day exactly.

I was working in my office at Loyola and was planning to have lunch that afternoon with the participants of our Governance Institute. I was running late and remember hurrying out of my office and across campus to Lewis Tower. I'm sure by then my phone must have started blowing up with messages and emails, but the morning had been a busy one and I was oblivious to how fast things were happening. That is until I stepped into the classroom. I knew right away something was wrongI was met with a wall of anxiety that stopped me in my tracks.
Andrew Keyt was teaching the class that afternoon; he quietly pulled me aside and caught me up. Each of the execs in the room were getting hammered with texts and emails. They needed to make decisions now—right now. Shut down? For how long? A day? A week?
What the heck was happening?
The virus we’d been hearing reports about was suddenly a crisis and required decisions to be made immediately.
The air was tense. The CEO’s and senior leaders paced the meeting room, reading and sharing texts in staccato shorthand to Andrew and their classmates. How were the companies reacting? Not everyone in the room was from Chicagoland—what were other cities and states doing? What were HR leaders saying? How was each industry reacting?
Ironically, that day’s morning session had featured a live case study (thank you Jim Wils) about managing risk and building resiliency.
I have never been more aware of what we do and why it matters. None of the leaders in the room that day could have known what was coming—that they’d be dealing with a worldwide crisis that would last for the rest of the year and beyond. But in that moment, they were all in the same boat—as family business leaders they understood each other’s fears and uncertainties, and the weight of responsibility. They shared the burden and supported one another. None of them will forget the day that Chicago shut down, where they were, who they were with, and what it meant to be together. Community matters. And our community of families in business matter to each other.
This week marks one-year of changes brought on by the pandemic. I’m conscious of the time that has passed and all you have carried. You have been, and still are, being tested. But we see you living your values and supporting your employees, families, communities, and one another.
We are coming up for air now. We believe we’ll have more good news soon about our ability to come together in small groups, in celebration and support of one another.

What I'm reading this month

Certain to Win by Chet Richards
If you're interested in strategy for rapidly changing environments, check this one out.

True Believer, The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee by Abe Riesman
If you’re a Marvel Comics fan, you’ll like this nuanced profile of a less than perfect human being and creative genius.

The Sum of Us, What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee
If the U.S. was a family, it could practice what we at the Family Business Center teach. Families and countries are stronger together than apart, and a cohesive republic benefits from understanding that zero-sum games end with losers on all sides. This well written book weaves together a story written before we were born and that continues in the present.

Himself by Jess Kidd
Put down the heavy stuff and escape to a small village in Ireland in the 70s. Charming and suspenseful!

Spring is coming so hang in there everyone. I can’t thank you enough for your patience and persistence in seeing this crisis through for your people, your communities and your businesses.

Anne Smart
Director, Family Business Center
March 11, 2021