[VIDEO TRANSCRIPT] Hi everyone, it’s Carter with Closing Commander here. I want to quickly provide you with information about our COVID-19 response and plan. We are monitoring the situation closely, and are staying in regular communication with the vendors that supply the backbone of our service and operations. We do not anticipate any service interruptions, but we have continuity plans in place should this change. Our team is now working 100% remotely, and we are following all the recommended “Safer at Home” guidelines provided by the CDC and federal government agencies. If any of our team become ill because of the virus or for any other reason, our organization is robust enough to shift resources and temporarily cover essential roles and functions to preserve service for our users. So in short, we are prepared for the worst, and hoping for the best.

Which leads me to share with you on a more personal note. I have had the privilege of talking with many of our users about conditions on the ground and inside their businesses. Some of you have had to make difficult short-term decisions. Many of you are contemplating those decisions even while watching this message. As someone who has spent years in sales and marketing, and even started successful businesses during the bottom of the last recession, the one thing I know, to the very core of my being is this: The number one thing that is needed from you as a leader, as a service provider, and as a business owner right now is communication. That’s your number one job in this moment, to communicate with clarity and purpose, and if you do that job well, you WILL make it through this, and you may even be surprised to see that you not only survived, you thrived. In times of crisis, a lack of communication is all that is needed to create conditions for a runaway downhill slide. When employees and customers don’t know what to expect, they will start to tell themselves a story to fill the gap in information, and their story is not going to be nearly as accurate as the one you can provide for them. Right now, there is almost no possible way to overcommunicate. If you had to say things multiple times on a good day, then you have to at least double your efforts in extraordinary times. And if you do that consistently and regularly through this, your business will be on solid ground.

So quickly, here is a framework for thinking about what you should be communicating, how you should be communicating, and when you should be communicating it.

First, the WHAT. And this is simple. You should be communicating any decision you make that will impact others, whether employees or customers or suppliers.

Next, the HOW. Whenever possible, communicate with empathy and compassion. Your employees are scared.  The word you say and the tone you say it with can make the difference between sustained confidence and utter panic. Not used to choosing your words carefully? Now is a good time to get in the habit of running the message by others you trust, sticking to a script, and even rehearsing it to get it right. The more effort you put in to the HOW, the less time and energy you’ll spend clarifying and doing damage control in the days to come.

Lastly, the WHEN. And this is essential. You should be communicating always right now. A good rule of thumb for world-class communication is: Tell them what you’re going to do, then tell them what you’re doing, then tell them what you’ve done. If you’ve made a decision that will impact employees, customers or suppliers, do your best to prep them first by telling them what you’re going to do. Once the moment arrives, tell them what you are doing now. Once the decision is enacted, follow up by telling them what you have done. This kind of clarity is what military leaders practice in the heat of battle, and it not only saves lives, it brings clarity and reduces panic.

I know it feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders right now. But I want to assure you that you are equal to the tasks ahead. You will navigate the challenges you are facing, and when this is over and done, you will be a better leader than you were a few weeks ago. Our job is to provide tools and ideas to help you succeed with the task of world-class communication, now and in the future. Thank you for your support.



Carter Harkins
Founder, Closing Commander