A Thank-You Letter to 2020 (Really)
What gifts has 2020 given you?
On March 1st, 2020, I came to work for Apex North full time. Over the next thirty days, our company would lose 70% of its revenue. The stark reality we were facing was the same one our clients were facing: how to stay afloat, much less “scale up” in the midst of a crisis? Apex North’s Profit Per X - our economic engine - is the amount of in-person, client-facing hours we have. How to continue helping CEOs and leadership teams achieve their goals when 1) they might no longer be in the mindset to scale and 2) we couldn’t even get in a room with them?
During those first several weeks of uncertainty, we heard everyone talking about “pivoting.” But looking back, what actually happened for many of our clients was something more like iteration, or even closer to innovation in order to keep moving forward. We had to do the same.
That first Monday in “the new normal,” the question facing Apex North was the same question facing our clients: “How do we keep going?”
We latched on to Simon Sinek’s “Infinite Game” thinking. We reminded ourselves that the challenge was not “how do we get back to normal?” but “how do we stay in the game?” What tools did we already have at our disposal that could keep us iterating and moving forward, and where could we innovate?
It’s been a long road since then. Looking back on the year, I feel as many emotions as I felt looking ahead in those first few pandemic-shadowed days in March. Fear and uncertainty, yes, but also curiosity, gratitude, and even hope. Because if we can iterate, innovate, and show up strong for each other in a year like 2020, I know we can do anything.
Here are some of the gifts 2020 has given us:
2020 has been a year of innovation.
One client of Apex North said it best: “This forced us to do three and half years worth of initiatives in six months.” They now have a better business model than they did before, with a greater ability for online retail, tighter execution and accountability, and a higher level of trust in their team, knowing they can innovate as they had to do several months ago.
At first, we struggled to translate live coaching sessions into virtual ones. Our early sessions were too long and not engaging. We lost one of our largest clients because of it.
But throughout the summer, we pushed ourselves to adapt. Now, the Apex North virtual coaching session is not just translated from the live experience, but transformed, with the use of applications like mural.co and virtual facilitation.
Apex North CEO Glen Dall credits this increased tech adoption with moving him closer towards his original goal in becoming a business coach: “Our BHAG is to help 1000 CEOs, Business Owners, and entrepreneurs achieve their visions for the future by 2026. The challenges of this year will help us achieve that goal even faster. We’ve been pushed to adapt to virtual coaching, and it has sped up my adoption curve so that I’m able to successfully coach clients anywhere – some I’ve never even met in person before!”
This year we saw more clients than ever before adopting, adapting, and leveraging our coaching tools to suit their needs. Where we assumed businesses would focus only on cash this year, many in our network surprised us by drilling down into their team’s KPIs and role definition, to great success.
Pushed to do so because of remote work, David Carnes, CEO of ArcStone and Apex North client, refined his team’s KPI tracking using coaching tools like the Core Functions tool and Metronome Growth Systems. He reported that “it’s vastly increased visibility on accountability. We’re already seeing productivity gains, and identifying areas for improvement in workloads and training.”
James Miceli, CEO of Epoch Lacrosse and a participant in the Apex North CEO Roundtables Series, says, “We find out really quickly that it’s lonely at the top. The Roundtable has been an opportunity for me learn from some others who have the same concerns as I do, to sit back and realize, ‘hey, I’m not doing this alone.’”
Glen, CEO and Coach of Apex North, started the Roundtable Series in April as a means of bringing together those at the top of their businesses to share insights, support, and lean on each other in a challenging time. “It’s an absolute joy to see how bringing together CEOs in a nonthreatening, safe place to talk about their issues changes the game for those leaders and their teams.”
Among all the innovations, iterations, and leaps forward we’ve made this year, the CEO Roundtable has been the one thing that has reaffirmed our faith that we are better when we work together.
Strengthening The Core
In such a tumultuous year, it’s easy to assume everything would change. But for Apex North, and for so many of our clients, one thing has definitely not changed: our purpose.
Faced with uncertainty back in March, Glen Dall remembers asking himself, “long-term, what do we want to do? Our Core Purpose is helping people find their success and their North Star. Has that changed one bit? No.”
In this way, 2020 clarified our purpose, and we watched it do the same for our clients. In fact, by doubling down on the Core (Purpose, Values, and Vision), many of our clients strengthened their teams and the drive to make their vision a reality, no matter the current conditions.
As we near the end of 2020, our business is stronger than ever. And I’ve grown personally as a part of that. When I came on full time two weeks before the pandemic hit, I never would have imagined my role to be what it is today. I’ve developed processes for fully remote onboarding of new clients (and we’ve had several!), gained coaching clients of my own, and most of all, I’ve learned how to expertly facilitate those virtual sessions we were so daunted by at the beginning of the pandemic.
In a year that has called on everyone to be open to uncertainty, I’ve been inspired by the continuing drive to innovate, iterate, and move forward from our clients and colleagues. It has been a transformative year, though not in any way we could have planned. But I am inspired to see that we are all striving towards the same goals: to stay in the game, and do the best we can.
Here’s to a bold 2021, everyone. Cheers to us.