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Scolaro: Coronavirus forces leaders to get creative

By   /   Friday, March 27th, 2020  /   Comments Off on Scolaro: Coronavirus forces leaders to get creative

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By Sierra Scolaro

When I founded Wayve with a mission to provide the world with easy access to clean water, there was no way I could predict what lay ahead.

Some days you feel on top of it all, when the pieces fall into place and the path to success is a freshly-paved road lined with an audience cheering you on. Other days, you’ve tripped over a pothole and aren’t even sure which way is up.

This is a natural reality for founders and business owners everywhere. The leaders who strategize, adapt and persevere, however, are the ones who recognize change and think of creative ways to keep moving forward.

The world has recently hit a pothole.

Millions of people have been struggling to adapt to changes introduced by the COVID-19 outbreak. There have been countless effects that are out of our control, but the success of your business doesn’t have to be one of them.

Now — more than ever — is the time for us to get creative.

Luckily, advances in technology have allowed the Wayve team to remain productive remotely.

We’re holding team huddles, one-on-ones, and advisory board meetings over video call. We’re utilizing workspace communication tools, such as Slack, to facilitate team discussion and maintain a quick feedback loop.

We’ve brought our dual-monitors to our bedroom desks and have packed up our 3D printer to continue rapid prototyping at home.

We’re fortunate to be able to continue our work and nourish our company culture outside of the office, especially when some don’t have the ability to adapt in this way.

We’re also fundraising, and the recent increase in “free time” for many people presents the perfect opportunity to build relationships with those we feel would be a great addition to the Wayve investor team.

While I definitely prefer face-to-face interactions, virtual meetings are a great alternative that have allowed us to uphold communication and continue strengthening connections with our stakeholders and key partners. Never underestimate the power of a web-call.

Fortunately, most of my work with Wayve can be done from home. However, I’ll be the first to admit that my first few days of working remotely were not as productive as I had planned.

My first mistake: working from the couch. It’s difficult to be productive when you’re not in an environment that feels productive.

Soon after, I set up my laptop, external monitor, and borrowed a kitchen stool to form a makeshift desk on my bedroom dresser. It’s a laughable sight, but sure enough, I’m now able to switch into “work mode” with ease.

When I feel too isolated, I join the ongoing video chat of other startup founders from our coworking office. When I feel the need to stretch my legs, I throw on my running shoes or eat lunch on the back porch. I won’t claim to hold the key to productivity; I’ve simply found a new rhythm that works for me.

In times of uncertainty, it can be difficult to “prepare for the unexpected.” While preparation can’t hurt, it’s the adaptation to those changes that can make or break your company. After all, why avoid the pothole when you can find creative ways to fill it?

Sierra Scolaro is founder and CEO of Wayve, a San Luis Obispo startup that makes portable water purifiers.

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