2021 is not going to be the same; it'll be better!

Had a very exciting, stimulating and actively engaging discussion end of the day yesterday with 30 of our CEOs, presidents and senior leaders of our customers on the 2021 workplace, and I thought that I'd share with you this morning a few of the takeaways.

CEO Dinner 2020-1Every March, we host a dinner in Boston for this team of leaders.  Men and women we do business with,  senior managers who are wicked bright, and very innovative individuals we just enjoy being around.  Last year on March 9th, 2020, we met as a group with a total of three inches of social distancing...and just by luck dodged the bullet.   

These pictures are from last March.  

We'll be back together in Boston this coming winter, but last night, a Zoom screen provided insight, innovation and experience in a variety of settings from multi-billion dollar corporations to mid market companies across a wide spectrum of markets both in the U.S. and around the world


"Hybrid" is the future

It was clear from the discussion last night that there would not be a return to the offices as we knew them in 2019.  We know from our own extensive surveying of hundreds of salespeople, that 100% of those respondents have no intention of ever going back to a centralized office of any kind.  Last night's comments, which had a much broader reach than just salespeople, ranged from...

  • formal office formulas of "3 days in / 2 days WFH". [This type of formula was frequently noted]
  • "we now have 3 shifts/ day when people can choose to come to an office or work online"
  • "we left the office in February last year and will not ever have an office in the future"
  • "we leave it up to the employees, and they log in every day, so we can plan accordingly"
  • "our road is to be inclusive with everyone; we have a variety of solutions"

No one talked...at least for 2021...of returning to what was before.  

Frequent Communication is Critical 

CEO Dinner 2020-2-1From "monthly town meetings" to weekly online chats to daily website updates, communication from the top was noted as absolutely critical to everyone's sense of company culture and personal well-being and stress reduction.  Whether the subjects are "how's the company doing?" to "where can we get vaccinated?" to specific company-related questions, we listened to a wide variety of highly inclusive experiments.  The key words were...

  • ...frequent and consistent
  • ...from the senior leader
  • ...every possible format-text, video, website & mail.  



The subject of vaccinations was very interesting and centered around two threads. 

  1. The first was to educate providing very objective, data-filled and authoritative information as to the safety of the vaccines both in daily and weekly website updates and through frequent short videos.  
  2. The second was to motivate through incentives ranging from cash, to gift cards to a day off from work
A couple of resources mentioned last night from Associated Industries of Massachusetts:



Everyone acknowledged that this is a still unfolding experiment.  The majority of comments centered around introducing formal readmission policies as we move into September which is when those who are planning to reopen their offices (still under reduced capacities and strict guidelines) will need to decide what to do with employees who refuse to vaccinate.  No easy answers here yet with ideas ranging from not being able to work at the company any longer to state-issued vaccination cards similar to drivers licenses.

Being Positive 

Most importantly and very refreshing for me yesterday was to hear how positive about the future everyone was during our discussion.  Even in difficult times with what must be extraordinary stress on the part of everyone around the Zoom table yesterday, this group of men and women leaders was emphatic about forward motion, experimenting and making bold moves

  • "We want to be the employer of choice for a new generation of employees".
  • "We will continue to be in the list of Boston's Best Places to Work"
  • "We've doubled down on training at every level" 
  • "We've created bonuses for staying on the team, not just for past performance


connections 2021As important as was the specific information that we all walked away with from this discussion yesterday was the reality of the critical importance of working and consistently connecting with very bright and innovative strong business managers to exchange ideas...especially in times like this when there are still many unknowns. 

"Connections" is one of my most often used words, and the vitality of that expressive everywhere around the  table from deals being financed to new prospects to hiring my gifted Tufts students.  

Following the meeting, I jumped in the Subaru around 6:00 to drive to Vermont last night, so I thought I would put together just a few quick summary comments this Friday morning while waiting to kick off a very busy day.  Still many feet of snow on the ground as I look out the office window across the driveway to the barn.  

Have a great day selling today, and if you have a few minutes of time over the weekend, take a look at  
our brand new edition of Writing the Winning Sales Plan, Take a look and let me know what you think.  

Jack Derby, Professor & Sales Coach


If at any time, you have a need for a confidential sounding board for Sales or Marketing, just connect with me at any time.  www.derbymanagement.com 

Text or email me, and I'll quickly set up a call.  I'm a pretty good listener, and we can get deep into tactics if you want. 

Obviously, no cost for a call or two; just an opportunity to listen intently and make a few recommendations based on decades of experience.




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