[002] Build Back Better

Like many people, I’ve spent most of my adult life searching for balance. If each day was an empty glass I would see how much I could pour into it, until the liquid precariously crowned at the top and unfinished tasks began to slowly drip down the sides. The unintended consequence?  In my pursuit of trying to do everything, I was often making a mess of anything around the glass. 

This “Great Pause” has been a reminder that there can be a lot of room in the day if we’re intentional with our time, and by forcibly limiting our previous commitments it’s possible to be more purposeful. What we choose to do now is for us to decide. Will it be “Alive Time or Dead Time” as Robert Greene so perfectly describes it?

This can be Alive Time. To make the most of what is in front of us. To use this time to expand, explore, and express ourselves through effort. Will we sit around and wait for things to happen, or will we prioritize curiosity to learn and improve, then grow?

That applies to business as well. 

Recently Masters in Business released a podcast episode that contained a phrase that struck me due to the power of its simplicity: Build Back Better. While the term was popularized in reference to disaster risk reduction, this concept is ingrained in our human existence as we continue to react and adapt to circumstances both within and outside of our control. 

Building back better starts with observation (What happened?), leads to intentional action (This is what I will do differently in response.), and results in a change or improvement of some kind (Progress towards “better”). It’s a pretty simple concept.

Looking for a place to make a change during this new “normal”? Try Connection.

Reconnect with a friend you miss, or a family member that moved away, or a business contact that you loved working with, or someone you met in a Zoom call. Chances are they’re home just like most of us, with more than a few free moments to fill with a productive and meaningful conversation. Or, find new opportunities to connect. Amazing things can happen when you take the initiative. 

Putting yourself out there can be terrifying and exhilarating but remember, you can’t always predict the outcomes. Around the time I wrote our first blog post, I shared my concerns about the effects of COVID on Scout and our clients’ business in Trends, a Facebook group full of fellow entrepreneurs and trusted voices. That led to an interview and article published by The Hustle, a daily newsletter that goes out to 1+ million subscribers. (it’s a great resource for business and tech news in 5 minutes or less, subscribe). 

Put your energy into something and you will be rewarded in unexpected ways. I swear by this belief.

With my “extra” time, I’m continuing to connect with a group of amazing thought-leaders and makers including many of our current/past/prospective clients. I’ve made it a daily priority to contribute guidance and support, answer questions about brand identity and activation, and to be a resource of opportunity as folks turn this Dead Time into Alive Time

At Scout, we solve problems. So, I ask with heartfelt concern for you and these circumstances, what good can come from this current situation? What decisions are you making now for your future? Will you choose to build back better? How can I help?

– TM 


P.S. I couldn’t find a way to fit this into the writing above but smart people like Marc Andreessen are talking about rebuilding on a larger scale, in a very inspiring way. Check it out.


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[001] Cleaning The Office

Growing up I spent most of my time in a single-parent home, so chores were split between my mom and me. Sure, she handled a majority of the upkeep but it meant that I had to help with tasks that all of my friends didn’t have to do until they started college. Even then, most of my roommates saw dirty dishes as an obligation to be ignored and certainly never felt the satisfaction of seeing straight lines in a freshly vacuumed carpet, which a designer can appreciate more than most.

I’ll share the secret that I never told them: I actually like to clean. I find the process cathartic. There’s nothing like a dirty toilet to remind you that no matter how important you think you are, we all have a responsibility to take care of the things around us. Cleaning also connects me to the tangible assets of life and gives me a deeper appreciation for the possessions in my care. So after a very tough week of business, I spent a few quiet hours on Sunday cleaning our studio and reflecting on how rapidly things have changed due to COVID-19.

I’m obviously worried about the health of our communities, but I’m equally worried about the impact this is going to have on our economy and businesses like mine. Just last week Facebook reminded me that five years ago I left my last full-time position to start Scout Collective and I thought to myself with a bit of excitement, “50% of businesses fail in their first 5 years. I made it this far.” Two days later I was having an open and honest conversation with our team about the possibility of having to restructure the business depending on how things shake out.

It was the worst day of my career.

A few years back I made a decision to work almost exclusively with founders and owner-led businesses. I love our clients and I’m in constant awe of the leaders, visionaries, and hardworking folks who often risk their personal financial stability to pursue their passion. It’s incredibly rewarding to help them tell their unique brand story and connect them to customers that value their ideas, products, and services. We’re kindred spirits and together we’re invested in the pursuit of something bigger than ourselves.

That also means that when things go bad, we feel their pain. And right now, there’s a lot of hurt amongst this tribe. Small businesses are going to be the first to feel the effects of an economic slowdown. Doors will close, temporarily. Layoffs will happen. It’s inevitable.

“You don’t control what happens, you control how you respond.” *

You’re probably asking yourself, “Given these changes where do I start?” If you’re running a business that can thrive remotely now is your time to shine. If you can provide a service that will help keep people connected then find a way to make it available to a larger group and scale. If your business is forced to shut down for the time being do what you can to take control of your brand narrative and secure customer appreciation and loyalty. There is meaningful work to be done, you just have to know where to look. Give us a ring, we can help point you in the right direction.

For those of us at Scout, we now have an empty, spotlessly cleaned office but we’ll be working from home as we continue to help our clients navigate a challenging landscape. We plan to use the extra time to work on our own brand, write more blog entries, and to reach out to potential clients. If you have someone in mind, please send them our way.

We’re on this journey together.

– TM

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