A Time to Evolve

In business, what’s dangerous is not to evolve.” Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO.

I thought of that quote as I see the businesses in our communities rise to the occasion during this unique period of peril in our world.

Sit down restaurants pivot to a takeout model, delivery services cope with a monumental increase in volume, hospitals and their workers perform heroically, auto companies retool and crank out ventilators, educators figure out ways to reach their students and schools find a way to feed families.
It’s breathtaking.
Yes, finding  toilet paper can still be a challenge, but Americans by and large are rising to the occasion.

It’s heartening to see because I suspect that our political dysfunction obscures our sense of what’s possible.
So this is a good time to observe how entrepreneurs in all walks of life figure a way forward. That’s not to say that everyone is going to make it, this pandemic is a monumental challenge and there will be plenty of businesses that won’t make it.

The Palm Beach Post ran a poignant story this week outlining the toll the pandemic has had on new businesses. We are seeing how hard it is for newspapers and magazines to pivot to digital. You can report online but finding a business model that pays for good journalism is hard.
Still, companies large and small are not going down without a fight.
And it’s that fighting spirit and our innovative chops that will ultimately get us out of this mess.
It will come at a cost. A high one at that, in terms of lives, illness, mental stress and trillions of dollars but we will get out of this and we will thrive again …someday.
Speaking of evolving, this is a good time to look at our leaders and see if they are evolving too.
This crisis will force leaders in business, government, education, health care, the non-profit world and the military to adapt and evolve.
Some will have to evolve their leadership styles. Others will have to adjust their governing philosophies or their business models.
Those that do, will succeed. Those that don’t, won’t make it.
This is a time when leaders communicate more and in better ways. This is a time when real leaders cast a wide net and ask for help and advice even from their rivals and competitors.
It’s an era that will require strength and empathy, vision and attention to the day to day blocking and tackling which just got a whole lot harder.
Leaders are defined by how they navigate challenges. It’s easier to be in charge in good times when investment is pouring in and opportunities are abundant. It’s hard when everywhere you look is a minefield and the path forward is shrouded in fog.
Partisanship aside, I’m impressed with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. He strikes me as someone steeped in facts, willing to take responsibility, empathetic and wholly human. He’s providing us a real time master class in leadership.
In business, I’m liking what I’m seeing out of GM CEO Mary Barra who is reconfiguring factories to crank out hard to make ventilators. Her workers and engineers are amazing.
I’m also impressed by our Firefighters Union for stepping up and pooling their cash to support local restaurants and their recent public appeal not to buy them meals or coffee but to save those efforts for families in need.

We often see our unions slammed during election season. But this proves what I’ve always known (because I’ve worked with these men and women) that these people are dedicated professionals who are loyal to our community. Sure they care about their pensions and benefits ( as they should)  but they also care about us. They have always gone above and beyond and that’s to be commended and cherished.

Same with nurses, doctors, teachers, restaurant workers, grocery store employees and those who deliver packages.
We are fortunate.
Yes, even in this horrible time of pandemic, we are fortunate.


  1. Michael D. McCleary says

    Thank you Jeff! You were a true professional as Mayor! You always found a way to bring people of all walks of life together to make a better Delray Beach. The respect you have shown our firefighters and union will never be forgot. You continue to be a spokes person and sounding board for the people of Delray Beach. Stay safe and look forward to hearing more from you.

    • Jeff Perlman says

      Thanks so much Mike.
      Deeply appreciate your comments.
      Those were good days. I enjoyed working with you.
      Please stay safe and see you on the other side of this crisis.

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