May 7, 2020
Observations — The New Social Convention
We’re eight weeks in and by now we‘re all working within our habits. Not shell-shocked or overly fragmented, people we know seem to be keeping to a steady work ethic, eating healthy and engaging in regular exercise even if via ZOOM. We have turned some attention inward and are enjoying our homes— the ubiquitous symbol of why we work in the first place. Sure, we are restless, but we’ve adjusted and that’s good. We are, after all, an inherently industrious species.
I don’t know anyone who has “checked out” to their boat in the Gulf of Mexico — and we all know some folks who could. Instead, people are applying themselves to the problem, their role in figuring out the next steps in the economy, and their responsibility in keeping themselves and others healthy and safe. For the first time in a long time, we are (mostly) highly democratized in our reaction to a major global issue. It’s terrible and it’s a wonderment, this new social convention.
What I observe mostly is calm determination. Everyone we know is contributing in some way beyond themselves even when they may never see their results. They are strategically looking at the next phase economy, keeping employees employed, making masks, and wiping down shopping carts. They are doing it as much for others as themselves. Some are heroic in their own small way— my daughter gave blood knowing well that she would faint (she always does) — and donated anyway. Most people are pretty quiet about their efforts to help—they send money and supplies to the Navajo Nation, sew dozens of masks for anyone who needs them, (after the first dozen it’s not that fun) donate meals to front line workers—they’re just doing what they can do. My observation? We are, at this moment, becoming better.
Opportunities — Response and Responsibility
With our Clients: They say we’re in the second inning of a nine-inning game. Right now, it’s hyper-critical to measure every client expenditure against returns, to over-perform, and to keep client interests before ours. We’re thinking beyond “triage”; we look to where the client’s puck is going, their forward vision. We all knew the frothy years had to end and the smart folks have been preparing. Our smartest clients have been advancing new asset classes, incorporating new team modeling, expanding investor relations, and exploring new industry technology. We’re at their side to create heightened visibility and new awareness, raise their profile, assist with the gaps in their outflow. Working on these future-forward initiatives is invigorating, and where we see the opportunities.
With our Team: Sieb employs lots of young people, many contracted team members, some with kids, some whose spouse is suddenly out of work. For Eric and me, this is an opportunity, an obligation, to demonstrate compassion and humanity, and put our experience to work. Many of these young people didn’t have the luxury of learning from the last Great Recession or preparing for this one. Now, it’s up to us to help where we can. Some things, like fast-paying invoices, are simple but help. We’ve made sure our key players are set up for success at home— upgrading home computers, archival access, updated creative-suite software, more day-to-day help with prioritizing. Mostly, I try to remember that I live in one of the most successful cities in the most successful country on earth. I have it good. But there are people really suffering; really hungry and really scared. They can’t make their mortgage, or are struggling to teach their kids at home, or have an isolated grandmother, or are not a registered citizen, or are in a refugee camp. My biggest opportunity is to escalate helping others. To develop better habits.
The Sieb Organization, Principal
Vice Chair, Urban Revitalization Council, Gold
Leader Emeritus, WLI AZ