Last September 19, Bluethumb held a roundtable discussion on Clarity and Confidence—How Strong Leaders Take Action Amidst Uncertainty. We invited two business leaders to share how they overcame obstacles during the enhanced community quarantine. Here we recap the insights from the recent webinar.

Guiding the community

During the pandemic, we spoke to friends and fellow entrepreneurs about their challenges. Common questions that had most of us up at night and sleepless were—

“My business is not an essential. What essential business should I go into?”

“How do I stand out from other essential businesses? How do I go digital?”

“How can I earn when everyone does not seem to want to spend?”

“My cash is diminishing; how do I stay afloat?”

To help leaders move forward, our team, led by Cherry Kho, our Chief Brand Strategist, created a way to “un-stuck” our train of thought. The goal of the Vision to Action framework is to start getting answers with the right questions.

This quote from Nelson Mandela, a visionary and former president of South Africa, motivated us.

Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. But vision with action can change the world.

We realized that our purpose is to help and guide leaders towards a clear vision. Together with the right actions, businesses can create a positive impact in the world. By starting from the top, we can affect change that can scale meaningfully into the future.

The deeper you understand your value and purpose, the more confident you and your people can be in choosing the right actions to achieve success.

Not only did the Vision to Action framework benefit our company, but it also helped other leaders of organizations. Months after the pandemic created the New Normal we now live in, we invited two of them to speak about their struggles and achievements.

Continue your journey with the Vision to Action Toolkit

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Changing one’s mindset to see new opportunities

Our first speaker is Lindley Rebuyon, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of HLM Pharmaceutical Inc.

Started six years ago, HLM Pharmaceutical Inc. focused on providing vital medicines to hospitals. Though not yet as big as their competitors, Lindley is proud of the success they have achieved. Between ups and downs, he and his team of 35 employees continued to pursue their dream with passion, determination, and faith in the Lord.

As a leader, Lindley didn’t see at first the necessity to come up with a Vision-Mission statement. He thought that an effective marketing strategy is enough to be successful, to rake in sales, and to expand.

Roadblocks to success

There is no elevator to success. Step by step, as if taking the stairs, they got ready for the new year to expand with business plans in place. Yet the pandemic brought their hopes down. The crisis disrupted the pharmaceutical industry’s supply chain and sales were down by 80%. Movement and business travel, which were vital to HLM, were also restricted. Low morale affected his team and his own thinking.

He admits that there were moments that he felt like giving up from his life as a businessman to live a simple life without this much responsibility. Yet he also remembered that his people depended on him during this difficult time. He knew he had to strengthen his resolve and change his mindset.

A step towards the right direction

With his business plans scrapped, he was back to the drawing board. He focused on learning as much as he can to rebuild his confidence. He attended webinars, and read business strategies and reports available online. He sought knowledge that can direct him to the right solutions. 

The shift in the market and industry prompted him to diversify—moving from a business-to-business strategy to providing for customers directly. He saw the opportunity to launch a new brand of supplements. He found a way to make his business essential. 

A pivot like this is a step in the right direction. He knew that health and wellness was a top priority for many individuals which influenced market demand. Yet he didn’t stop there. He understood that his employees played a key role to this move. How can he keep them motivated when most of them felt down and uncertain? The shift also presented challenges related to performance. Employees were more adept at dealing with businesses than customers. How can he continue to push them to learn new skills? Everyone had to step up.

Revisiting one’s purpose

Our sessions with Lindley uncovered his aspirations for the future of his company. He realized the importance of having a vision, and a holistic view on success that is not limited to figures. It brought to light his purpose, which is to help people and empower lives. Prior to the pandemic, HLM was known as Health Leverage Marketing. Now, it stands for Health & Life Matters.

Lindley believes in the power of mindset. The brain is like a magnet. It takes more effort to continue to be optimistic, to find opportunities when everyone is complaining. Now is a great test of who we are and what we can do, but it is our vision that anchors us, to not lose hope and strive to do better.

Changing strategies anchored by the same values

Next is Sujata Mukhi, Executive Director of St Michael Playhouse, the only full-day service for Waldorf early childhood care in the Philippines.

St Michael Playhouse, or SMP, has been operating through various ups and downs since 2007. One of their core beliefs is that since children at a young age learn by imitation, we, the adults in their lives, whether as parents, caregivers, or teachers, must be worthy of imitation. It implies that to raise children to be compassionate, socially-engaged, and free-spirited, we need to work on ourselves in relation to them.

Thinking beyond the obvious solutions

Initially, they were complacent, even announcing summer classes that April. When the Department of Education canceled on-site classes, they had to rethink their strategies to cope, living with COVID-19.

One of the obvious solutions is to shift to distance learning, offering online modules for children to watch. There is an obvious skill gap, when SMP’s teachers (called “Nurturers”) are more adept at showing the wonders of a spider web than holding a webinar.

Also fundamental to SMP’s way of teaching is limiting to no exposure of children to media or any gadget. It could have been so easy for a nurturer to sing the songs from the usual afternoons at SMP on screen. This loss of face-to-face interaction affected the nurturers who thrived in developing social bonds with children and other adults. Most importantly, it was not beneficial to their students, who learn social and early negotiation skills by being with fellow children. 

Listening to your community

It prompted the need for a deep self-reflection. Finally accepting the New (Ab)Normal, SMP needed to make their move.

First, Sujata and her co-nurturers launched a survey among parents, asking what do they need, their challenges, and the future of their participation with SMP. The parents themselves may be experiencing fatigue due to constant video conferencing. It was crucial to know how much time parents can spend online for SMP. Nurturers had to plan further on how to make their sessions worth attending.

They also resolved to not push through with distance learning, as it goes against what they stand for. It could have been the easier route, but it is not for SMP. They have to stick with the plan of working with the parents, who work with the child.

It is essential to be clear with what you can, and what you can’t do if you think about what you value. 

Next, they asked other Waldorf schools, not in the spirit of competition, but of community. Thankfully, everyone was generous with their ideas. Prior to the pandemic, SMP had a strategic location in Makati. They were the most accessible among their peers. Now, they lost this advantage and had to refocus on what is unique and authentic to them. 

And finally, they knew they needed a mentor. “We were lucky that one of the parents runs her own branding agency. We knew that Cherry was a stakeholder in the future of SMP. As a parent and brand strategist, her insights are practical and forward-thinking”, said Sujata.

Guided by a clear vision

The Vision to Action framework helped Sujata and her team distill their thoughts and organize it into something meaningful and actionable. The conversations kickstarted everyone’s brains. It helped SMP gain a deeper understanding of what they do as an institution. Key questions to ponder were—

“What does success mean for us?”

“What are our core values?”

“How might we bring the values of Waldorf into homes?”

Even as they considered “pivoting” their endeavor from face-to-face interaction to distance learning, they didn’t lose sight of what their values were.

They also had to put in the time to learn new skills like producing their own videos. They had to step out of their roles to take a look at what they do, and “annotate” or document their actions.

The SMP experience shifted from one playhouse in Makati to a playhouse in each children’s home. The nurturers evolved from carers of children to coaches of families, bringing the best of SMP within reach. The values stayed, but the vessel or what held those values just changed.  

Success exists in various forms

We used to focus on the numbers, how much we earned, or how many new branches we have opened. But during the pandemic, we cannot discount the other ways we have gained—deeper learning, improved relationships, stronger leadership, a chance to innovate. These contribute to how we can thrive and become resilient in the future.

With Lindley and HLM Pharmaceutical Inc., success took shape with a new consumer brand and the growth of his people. A change in mindset and his optimism inspired his people to act in support of their shared goals.

For Sujata and the nurturers at St Michael Playhouse, the shift was in their focus, from interacting with children to reaching out to the families. The new strategies took a life of its own. Nurturers were able to expand, if not transform, their impact on the children and their homes.

Tools to gain Clarity & Confidence

Regardless of what industry or stage your business is at, we all aspire to be resilient leaders. This confidence to take action starts with a clear mind.

The Vision to Action framework guides you to articulate your goals with clarity and to build confidence in choosing the right actions that can help you achieve success. Launched as the Vision to Action Coaching, our Chief Brand Strategist and creative associates will lead you through the critical questions. Tailor-fit to your business, we will help you organize all your thoughts into something understandable, holistic, and inspiring.

It is the same framework that worked with Sujata and Lindley to gain clarity and confidence in their actions.

For larger organizations gearing to become future-proof, our Brand Strength Assessment would be a better fit. It aims to bring your people on board in working together to build a trusted brand.

We aim to help as many leaders as we can, and the Vision to Action framework can get you moving to thrive in the future.

This October, we’ll also be releasing the Vision to Action Toolkit, an interactive PDF containing key ideas and questions that can help you become clearer and more confident, at your own pace, of course.

Vision to Action Toolkit—A clear roadmap that guides you at your own pace.

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In pursuit of impactful change

As business leaders, we need to ask ourselves the hard questions: What is the value that you bring to your stakeholders—your clients, customers, and employees? If you pivot, can you sustain that for at least a year? What are other “vessels” that you can develop into which to deliver your values?

These are things that we already know intuitively, but the pandemic—a time of pause—is a good time to take a step back and reflect on our intentions as leaders and entrepreneurs. Accept that mistakes will happen. If you know your values, it is easy to revisit your vision, and if necessary, start again.

A video of our webinar on Clarity and Confidence is available here.

To receive a free copy of the compiled insights from the Q&A part of our roundtable discussion, Click here.