The Steady Voice of Leadership
This article contains the discussion with Charles Antis, during the third episode of Marketing Trail Guide’s Podcast Season 1: Opportunities in Crisis
Everything we’re seeing and hearing right now is related to COVID-19. And this crisis it’s going to continue to hit businesses hard. Charles and I talked about how to deal with fear, the critical importance of focusing on your people, and how to survive and thrive as a leader in times of crisis through mindset, attitude and personal disciplines.
Kevin: These are hard times. And businesses in all industries, including non-profits have had to massively adjust. Can you talk about how you have had to adjust as a corporation and what has that been like as a leader?
Charles: There’s been a mass interruption. If we look at what we’re reading and if we look at what the economists are saying that will happen, we can’t contextualize it. We can’t imagine what it’s like to live there because we’ve never lived in it before and we’re watching a wake occurring of uncertainty. There’s a big dose of fear that hits me like it does probably so many other leaders right now. But in the moment, leadership today for me has been to be that steady voice, the ballast on the ship that doesn’t allow that quick knee-jerk thinking, especially at the price of our people. There is a rallying cry within the leadership team at ANTIS Roofing to put the people first and to be really adaptive so we can not only survive but thrive as well. And we do not know what is going to happen, but if you want to have the chance to thrive, the number one investment has to be your people.
Manifest out your day
Kevin: You mention the necessity of leadership to be a steady voice in the midst of chaos. What are you doing to get your mindset where it needs to be? What are your disciplines? How do you stay positive as a leader?
Charles: My job is to not show my fear. Because if I don’t check off my fear, I’m going to wear my fear. And I’m not saying I don’t wear my fear. But one of the things I’ve learned is to be very selfish with my mornings. I get up early and that’s when I do things that would center me. I have a Five Minute journal. This is one of the most important tools for me. The one, I recommend anyone to get. The first thing I did when I got up this morning was to write three things. Three things that I’m grateful for and that would make the day great. So, in the morning, I manifest out my day. Remember, thoughts become words, they become actions and they become things that are done.
Kevin: We know that there is fallout. We know that there is challenge. Do you have any predictions? What are the opportunities?
Charles: We have to experiment and try to adapt. I don’t think we’re anywhere near the new normal right now, the new normal isn’t going to look like it looks today nor will it look like how it looked last year. Does that mean I know what it will look like? No, it’s really clear to me that nobody knows what it will look and feel like or how deep the economic impact will be. Those are the things that nobody knows but knowing that it’s not my job. So, I focus where we can focus. There are so many things happening and think it’s critical that the one thing we focus on is our people, that’s our opportunity. The one thing that I can see that’s clear is that if we want to be adaptive, we have to teach an adaptive mindset and we have to invest in our people. So, whatever I invested in my people before, I have to invest more now, because if I can keep my people, I can be adaptive.
Kevin: We’ve talked about a couple of things. We talked about fear earlier in the conversation and how as leaders we can’t inspire fear. We have to inspire confidence. What are your thoughts on the balance between fear, authenticity and vulnerability?
Charles: I was doing a podcast a few weeks ago and I said something that was authentic and scary to say, I didn’t want to say this, but I knew I had to say it because it was true. And I knew it would scare people. And I knew some of my employees would be listening. I said, we’re a hundred percent invested in our people first. However, in my opinion, a year from now, our company is going to look a lot different. And we’ll be using more technology and that is what is going to rise to the top, but people will rise to the top as well. And, I had to talk about the fear and how I have to expect they’re having fear. There is a conversation and you have to invite them to the conversation. And what we do is that we ask them, what’s wrong? Are you scared? Are you okay? What do you need? We include them in the conversation.
Adapting and Giving Back
Kevin: One of the things that you’ve mentioned is the ability to adapt. What are your thoughts around adapting and experimenting with things that you’ve never experimented before in order to adapt?
Charles: I think pivoting is a question every company should ask itself right now, whether they’re full flush or not. Take this for example, Nick is my pool guy. Nick’s worked for me for about less than a year. He took over the account. About a month ago during the height and the fear of the COVID when it felt like we were going to be the next New York, I look out at six o’clock and there was Nick. I walked out in the patio and I wanted to ask him, is this an essential service? That’s what I was going to ask him. But instead he said, “I brought something for you”. He goes, “I brought you an inner tube and a ball for Charlie and Gracie your five-year-old twins because I was thinking what it must be like for them to not be around their friends”. I get emotional telling the story because I got the greatest spa guy in the world. Let’s talk about a marketing spin here. This guy said, I’m going to go on my route. And I’m going to think about my people and find a way to bring them something of value. And that was such a powerful moment. And it hit me so profoundly that I was able to take that back to my marketing team. And we’ve created our own beach ball and inner tube. It’s a gift certificate that they can donate to their favorite cause and we’re sending that to every home we do a repair on and that’s thousands.
Kevin: You mentioned the gift certificates with the ability for people to donate, and I look at your brand and I think you’re doing more than just roofing. You actually have a mission that drives you. That’s broader than just the thing you make. And I think that that really drives your mentality too.
Charles: I always say, my dad raised me to do the right thing. I always do the right thing, whether it’s painful or not. And I think when you look around as a business owner, there’s an opportunity to give back. I’ve worked hard for what I have, but I also believe it’s my job to build the way for my employees. And if I want to be successful today, it’s also my job to build the bridge all the way to everyone in the community. And that’s what I want for myself as the essence of how to run a business. To be able to take care of my family and those families within my company, as they take care of those families. If you look at the demographic of those people that work in the construction industry, they are mostly immigrant Latinos, and they have a talk about generosity. I’ve never met a Latin born worker that doesn’t send money to his family. It’s like a sense of generosity to family and that’s how we feel here at ANTIS Roofing. And, I believe that is what is going to make us relevant for a long period of time. I believe that our ship will come back in and we’ll be even more straight coursed than we are today.