Archive April 22, 2020

12 Tips for working from home

First, a few words about the times. Bad things are happening to many (a gross understatement). My prayers are with all who Covid-19 has impacted, their families and the health care workers who are witnessing tragedy every day. I really cannot imagine the burden the Health Care workers carry. Clergy carries the same or similar burden as they help us deal with death and tragedy.

We also see and hear a lot of people channeling their instinctive hostile energy to very negative political rants. Anger to a degree can be a motivator to action to solve a problem. Anger can also eat at one’s soul and be harmful to one’s physical health. Getting it out is better than holding it in. However, my hope is that we can all find a way to channel that instinctive hostile energy into creative and constructive outlets and not let it eat away at us. My suggestion is to avoid angry rants and find a way to productively solve the problem or issue. If you are feeling powerless, find a group and talk through potential solutions. Brainstorming can be effective in both exercising the anger and in solving the problem.

If you can, let’s not lose sight that good things are happening to many. My granddaughter recently expressed joy about getting very quality home teaching from my daughter. Some of this kind of interaction is both trying and rewarding at the same time. This time together can truly be an opportunity for belonging, growth, productivity and joy.

Many of us have expressed that we just do not have the time we need to complete priority tasks. We are picking and choosing which tasks are the highest priority.  One might just take this opportunity to go deeper on our lists and get more done. That may be reading the book you’ve been wanting to read. Perhaps it means cleaning the garage or going through possessions and getting rid of items that you no longer need. Alternatively, one could study up on that skill you wanted to learn. This may be the best time to connect with distant family who you’ve been meaning to talk with but haven’t because of a lack of time. A good friend recently said that he was experiencing Groundhog Day. After laughing and thinking about one of my favorite movies, I responded: “So when are you taking up piano lessons”.

Health care workers, teachers and other essential personnel are overloaded with responsibilities, duty and demands on their time. My best response is to suggest they think about what type of help or assistance can be productive and then ask for help. Helpers do not always know how to help or what is the most efficacious assistance. Sometimes they actually get in the way as they are trying to help. Thinking it through and then giving constructive guidance is the key to getting quality relief. Also, to the degree possible, overloaded people should unload responsibility to others in addition to tasks.

Many of you are working from home during the pandemic. That probably means you still have a job or if self-employed, you are pursuing your dream. It might mean that you are furloughed or laid off but are trying to keep your skills fine-tuned. Here are twelve items to keep productive and your sanity:

1.Decide you will make this time productive. Choose to make the best of it. A big part of life is attitude. It will make a difference in the quality of life.

2. Create a dedicated space to do your work that way it will be easier to stay focused. Avoid the TV and the couch. If you are like me, the couch signifies relaxing and I’d easily be distracted.

3. If you have family at home get an agreement with them that work hours belong to work, unless there is an emergency. Though a quick hug on their way to the park is still a good idea.

4. Make a schedule and keep to it. The schedule should be as detailed as your personality preferences will allow.

5. Get up at the time you normally get up. Routine is important for productivity.

6. Take a walk for the length of time you normally drive to work. This is a gift to yourself and your health. It will help to remain focused during the rest of the day.

7. Set clear goals for the day, listing them on paper or a white board. If you are not a list person, do it anyway. It is about creating structure and defining the day’s success. This self-feedback will be important to staying focused and minimizing the drudgery of an extended isolation period.

8. Communicate with your team. Learn about conference software and use it. I like Zoom and Facetime. There are many more.

9. Take a lunch break away from your work space. Eat and relax. You might want to set a timer so as to avoid letting the break run away with the day.

10. Be sure to take at least two other short breaks during the day. Physical activity has great merits. Exercise, walk or dance to your favorite song. Set a time limit to go back to work.

11. Check off completed tasks. That will give you visual evidence of your productivity and help you stay on task.

12. Stop at the end of the work day. Remember time off work is valuable to your health, enjoy.

If you have other good suggestions, feel free to respond to this blog.

Something else for fun:

  • Some say the glass is half empty -Pessimists
  • Some say it is half full – Optimists
  • Some say it is the wrong size glass – Engineers
  • Some say that there is not enough information, it depends on whether the glass is in the process of emptying or in the process of filling (momentum) – Physicist & OD Consultants

Bob Stackhouse, President, Asset Commercial Credit

© Bob Stackhouse – All rights reserved – April 2020

Disaster Assistance- Is there anything else we can do?

We regularly talk to clients and prospects about their businesses, their opportunities, strengths and weaknesses. In the middle of the Coronavirus Pandemic the conversation has changed. We offer as much support as we can while creating a win-win scenario for our clients, their customers, our investors and of course our company. We thought that putting some of the information on a blog would be helpful.

Management operating a business that is affected by the Pandemic should consider applying for an SBA Disaster Loan. The President has declared a Nationwide Disaster therefore disaster funds are available throughout the United States. Information is available on the SBA’s web site: 

As of Friday, 3-27-20 the Senate has approved the CARES Act. The house is expected to pass it today and the President is expected to sign it. For a copy of the details before the House of Representatives, click here.  STOP THE PRESSES! In the middle of writing this blog the House passed it and the President signed it. It will be interesting to see if anything changed. YEA for government support.

This act provides for individual and business support in many ways. Businesses that keep employees have access to a special program called The Paycheck Protection Program. That program allows businesses to borrow at low interest rates and long maturities. Certain expenses that the business pays during an eight-week period will qualify some or all of the loan to be forgiven. The biggest focus is on keeping employees on payroll. This is certainly something that businesses need to look into.

Also, several counties have created programs to support businesses in their jurisdiction. One example is San Diego County (CA).  Details of their program is available here Be sure to check with your county and also any State programs that develop.

After discussing the above with a prospective client today, they asked, “Is there anything else we can do”. It’s a simple question that often has a complex answer.

Not meaning to be wishy-washy it ultimately comes down to the identity of the company, their vision and what level of change management is willing to implement. Let’s start with the understanding that no one can be an expert in everything. That then leads me to management. Are the right leaders at the helm? Do they know their limitations? Are they willing to bring consultants to the table to support areas of weakness? Keep in mind that consultants have knowledge in their area but are not experts in everything too. An ethical consultant will not consult in areas where they do not have sufficient knowledge and experience to be valuable.

My good friend Larry Mandelberg is a Change Mentor for Executives. He has developed a methodology to quickly center focus on the most serious issue that when resolved will fix a multitude of business symptoms. He calls it the Mandelberg Business Managers Realty Index (mBMRI). I’ve independently tested it and found it to be fully in sync with my observations in financing over 3,000 businesses in my career.

So back to the question, is there anything else we can do?

  • Some companies need to look at their mission and are they really in tune with accomplishing it.
  • Some companies need to look at their values and are they really in tune with their decisions.
  • Some companies need to look at the vision and is everyone focused on accomplishing it.
  • Some companies need to look at their procedures and processes to see if they are appropriate.
  • Some companies need to look at management, do they have the right people in place to accomplish their vision
  • Some need to look at employee training, supervision, support and feedback systems.
  • Some need to do better planning, whether broad plans or marketing plans.
  • Some need to merge with other companies to get economy of scale.
  • Some need to shrink because their market has shrunk or they overgrew the market.
  • Some need to find investors, selling a piece of the business in order to correct capitalization issues.
  • Some need a line of credit or term loan to properly leverage their capital.
  • Some won’t qualify for traditional bank credit facilities so an SBA guarantied loan may make sense.
  • Some need to factor their receivables thereby creating cash in the short term while they wait for additional relief.

I could go on but I bet that you may have stopped reading the bullet points half way. Ultimately it is up to management to know where they are driving the business and how to get there. If you need a consultant contact the IMC (Institute of Management Consultants) for a specialist to help guide you through your path.

Bob Stackhouse, President, Asset Commercial Credit

© Bob Stackhouse – All rights reserved – March 2020