Coronavirus, Business, And Snowboarding: Strange But Connected Bedfellows

I’m trying to see spaces, not trees. 

Trees, I have always taught students as a snowboard instructor, are gorgeous but hulking obstacles in the way of those trying to get down mountains. It’s essential to look through them, visualize a path, and find your line. 

First-timers tend to find it super scary and nearly impossible. They question how they can possibly make their way through seemingly insurmountable barriers. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’ve too often seen trees win. But the thrill of victory derived from figuring out how to navigate around immovable blockades is immense. 

A lesson that clearly applies to business and life as we know it these days. 

Charting a course during corona-induced insanity is undeniably tough and challenging for parents and professionals scrambling to survive and even thrive during the pandemic. It’s hard, but companies across sectors that are focused on spaces and not trees are driving innovation through adversity. 



It took Dyson just 10 days to design and build a new ventilator to help COVID-19 patients. The company’s CoVent machine is slated to be in market by April and will fill giant voids facing overrun global, healthcare systems. A product extension of the times that will aid the sick, keep employees working, and boost Dyson’s bottom line. 

DoorDash is also doing a great job capitalizing on spaces and weaving through hurdles. With doing good at the core of the delivery service’s effort to bring food to home-bound consumers, the company is helping countless restaurants and employees survive during the pandemic. 

Doors may be closed, but kitchens – as illustrated in a heartfelt campaign – are still #OpenForDelivery. The “we” mentality we too often eschew in good times for the embraced “me” view is turned on its head as restaurant workers are seen carefully creating meals DoorDash drivers are at the ready to safely deliver to home-locked consumers. A nod to the hourly workers on the front lines keeping us nourished and a move that will undeniably make loyal DoorDashers feel good about their choices and attract multitudes of new fans. 

At a time when corona-fleeing people are hunkering down and hiding, cooking food at home to reduce the spread of the virus, they’re reminded not to forget the people who always take care of them. A great example of a mindset shift that removes some delivery concerns consumers might have and provides a way for them to eat well and support local businesses. 

Talk about a move to help trees fade into the background and open spaces to come into view. 

Like snowboarders and consumers, marketers have to train their eyes and mind to see the space. Too many companies are continually stymied by trees. They just can’t see the big picture. They are the antithesis of agile. 

With markets crashing, businesses shuttering, and consumers consumed by financial worries, being agile is more essential than ever. 

AT&T was the first of the telecommunication giants to waive internet data overage caps as remote work becomes mandatory. LVMH is making hand sanitizer in perfume factories. Hanes is making masks for healthcare workers on the front lines. 

Moves big and small will win hearts and loyalty while we’re all feeling pretty shitty. My Cardi B loving kids are now singing along with Neil Diamond. Nope, I never would have thought that would happen. But new, corona-appropriate lyrics have fans old and new singing Sweet Caroline

Zoom is now a household name. Creative kids, adults, artists, and musicians are using it to connect. From global efforts like DJ D’Nice’s Club Quarantine and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra’s Beethoven performance from artist bedrooms, to local efforts like the Quarantine Academy, new spaces are being opened by the second and are fueling connectivity, consumerism, and compassion. 

Change is difficult. It’s fear-inducing and too often keeps people on the same loop. A circular course. Kind of like skiers who find it impossible to reallocate their postures and shift their mass and balance so they can snowboard. It requires real behavior change, especially now that the obstacles marketers and world citizens are trying to maneuver around are nearly impossible to see. 

As new disruptions pop up daily during the corona crisis, it’s critical for companies to act like startups every day. 

Corona is bringing a new business playbook that calls for companies of all sizes to embrace acute collaboration. With corporate leaders providing air cover and keeping troops (hopefully) safely hunkered down at home, creativity has the chance to go into overdrive. 

We are truly living in an unprecedented world disruption which makes it even more important to be acutely aware of where trees lie but stay focused on the spaces. Yes, danger lurks all around and we’re all forced to navigate through more hurdles than ever. Moving through tough terrain might cause you to slow down and take more cautions but focusing on the spaces will get you down mountains and – perhaps more importantly – help others start to climb.

Next story loading loading..