Revenue Plummets, Confidence Soars. Wait, what?
Updated: Apr 27, 2020
I’m not one to put on rose colored glasses. Though our projected revenue for May is dramatically lower than any month in the past quarter, I'm feeling remarkably calm and confident. What's up with that? Sure, it would be great to see the linear growth continue, but I don’t feel the need to exert control to make it happen overnight.
This is not the first time I’ve seen a sharp dip in the topline. In fact, the same thing happened this time last year: revenues plummeted in May and rebounded in October. I don't want to wait four to five months to rebound, but that's not going to be necessary. Why am I so confident at this juncture? Here's a look at why things are different this time around.
Last September I began a “recession proofing” initiative that was projected to take a year to complete. No one could predict the pandemic but we could be relatively certain that the economy was going to turn downward in the coming months or years, so I set out to de-risk our business model.
Multiple lines of service: For the first two years, Green Hill only had one program or line of service. Last year we added a second program, Green Hill Outpatient, which is more affordable and has a broader appeal.
Medical Integration: We’re in the process of establishing evaluation and management services under the Green Hill umbrella. We have always partnered with local medical providers but in an effort to provide integrated care, we deemed it necessary to bring those services under our banner. This will also make us more appealing to clients -- allowing them to receive all of their treatment through a single practice.
Insurance Contracts: Our transitional living (residential) program is primarily a private pay model, which means it’s not affordable for most families. For us to have a large impact, Green Hill needs to become more accessible. While private insurance (and coverage for mental and behavioral health specifically) is fraught with issues, It’s important to us to broaden our scope by contracting with the major insurance providers. Green Hill will likely be in-network with the four largest insurance companies sometime between now and July.
Reflection & Experience
As noted above, I’ve seen revenue swings before. Being a growth minded person, it’s hard for me to make conservative decisions but that’s exactly what I’ve done (with the help of a great partner) over the past six months. Using the mental model of inversion, which I discussed in my Q1 review, has been tremendously helpful when making growth-related decisions.
Cash on hand: After operating without a cash-cushion last summer and fall, it was important for us to keep a few months of operating expenses on hand. This has allowed me to keep working on the long-term vision, not worry about this month’s financial performance.
Nixing growth: When volatility entered the macroeconomic picture, we decided to hit pause on the expansion-related initiatives. We haven’t overstretched ourselves, so now we’re poised to take advantage of good opportunities in commercial and residential real estate.
Partnership & Team
We have evolved. A year ago things were dramatically different -- I had a new partner, the leadership team was largely carving out their individual roles, and we didn’t have a clear vision. Now I’m not making big decisions in a vacuum -- I’m able to tap into the wealth of knowledge that others possess.
Last year was all hands on deck as we navigated a difficult financial situation. Now that we’ve been operating with a shared vision and EOS as our company-wide “operating system,” we aren’t reactive. We know what needs to be done to make Green Hill more durable and we’re moving forward deliberately, one step at a time.
Clarity of vision: Now that our vision has largely been clarified (more to follow on the latest iteration of communicating the vision), we know what we need to do and we’re not sitting around constantly evaluating whether we’re on the right track.
EOS / Quarterly Goals: Vision is the first step but it takes deliberate action to make the vision a reality. We have set realistic quarterly goals, increasing our value proposition to clients, which will ultimately affect our bottom line.
Coaching and mentoring: As I mentioned above, I’m no longer making decisions in a vacuum. That also means that I’m not the only one who is thinking about important decisions. I am focused on co-creating a vision and sharing a map of reality. By investing my time in helping others understand the strategy, others are able to share the mental load. No longer am I trying to “protect” others from a potentially grim reality. Others are now equipped with the information and understanding necessary help steer us in the right direction.
Self-Care & Identity
I’m committed to thinking about the things I can control: personal growth and self-realization.
What I control: If things don’t work out, I want to know that I made the best decisions possible. That means I’ve got to take care of myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. That also means that I want to lead calmly and confidently -- nothing is more destructive to an organization’s culture than anxious leadership. I am in control of my daily habits and by managing myself first, I’m able to provide grounded leadership to my team.
“I am”: So much stress and anxiety is driven by the mind’s attempt to manage ego projections. Last year I was constantly wondering “what if.” What if we ran out of money? What would others think of me? What if I’m not “successful”? These questions can be useful if you answer them and move on. They are not useful if they’re part of an unending internal dialogue. These days, I’m tuning into my actual first person experience -- what’s going on now. The ego will always have problems to solve, but behind all of the mental movement, I am aware. There is nothing that threatens "me."
121s: I began conducting one-to-one (121) meetings with everyone on our leadership team. The feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive and while I think it will take one or two months to see major organizational changes, we’re already doing a better job of information sharing. It’s also a lot of fun for me.
2020 Manifesto: I spent a significant amount of time last week putting my detailed vision for the company in writing. This process was largely influenced by Simon Sinek’s Start with Why. After outlining my vision for Green Hill in a 10-page document, I shared the document with my partner and our COO. We all came away sharing a vision for the future and feeling energized.
Project prioritization and coordination: The combination of clearly articulating my vision for Green Hill and conducting 121 meetings gives me confidence in how we're tackling important initiatives. Last quarter some of our major projects stalled out due to lack of departmental coordination. We’ve spent more time this quarter clearly identifying why we’re undertaking projects, which leads to a shared understanding of how we’re going to complete them, which in turn leads to clarity around what everyone is responsible for. The more we share a vision (or desired endstate), the better we can work as individuals to move the projects forward.
What is my first person experience like? Many of my contemplative practices center around becoming more aware of my first person experience -- what it’s actually like to be me. Let me explain. Typically when I think about myself, it’s some mental picture of my body; I’m thinking about myself from someone else’s point of view. I’m wondering what other people will think of me if X, Y, or Z happens. Will they think I’m a failure if Green Hill flounders? Will they respect me more if I write ‘deep’ reflections? All of this takes me out of my first person experience. My thoughts are certainly one part of me, but they are only one part. My thoughts are often driven by anxiety and fear about the future me.
Through glimpsing practices (Loch Kelly), first person experiments (Richard Lang/Douglas Harding), and nondual meditation (Sam Harris/Adyashanti) I’m becoming more aware of what it’s like to be me. A big part of this is just being at home in my body and noticing sensations, which always seemed so basic in the quest for enlightenment. Last week was certainly a turning point for me -- I’m starting to “get” the feeling of being me versus the feeling of “projecting” me.
Meditation: Meditation isn’t really a “thing” any more. I’m sitting for 75+ minutes of silence and usually a 15-20 minute guided meditation daily, but it’s just part of the day. It feels like it’s in the “brushing teeth” category of activities -- I don’t really think much about it, but it’s certainly part of the day. Living an embodied experience is the flavor of the week.
Ashtanga: My back has been on the mend from some small injury a week ago and most of my practice last week was standing and the first few seated postures. What does feel good about that is I’m not approaching yoga practice in my typical all-or-nothing manner. It’s been great just to move, check in with the body, and then go about my day. Again, nothing special just practice.
Running: Ran 11 miles last week, including one five-miler. I worked up to running a ten-miler in early March, but since then I have not run over four miles. When I started running more frequently, I figured it made sense to run a marathon this year. I’m not sure if that will happen, but I’m glad to have running in the arsenal of stress relieving / mind clearing activities, especially during the pandemic.
“Bike-shedding happens because the simpler a topic is, the more people will have an opinion on it and thus more to say about it.” - Farnam Street Blog
I’ve devoted a lot of time recently to discussing higher level topics in meetings -- instead of focusing on some detail of the service we provide, we’re focusing on the processes that reinforce the service delivery and even more time on why we’re doing what we’re doing. Now when I notice that everyone has an opinion on the matter at hand, I’m going to ask whether we’re really addressing something valuable.
This is one wave of deja vu after another. I can’t imagine going through Ranger School again, but I’m thankful for all that I learned from the experience.
Weekly Goals Review:
Meditate 80-90 minutes/day - COMPLETE
Practice yoga six days/week - COMPLETE
Use mindful glimpses throughout the day (specifically, find 5 glimpsing practices I’d like to use and then employ them each day) - COMPLETE
Enjoy re-reading - COMPLETE
Run 11 miles - COMPLETE
More quality time with Kelsey (2-3 bike rides, cook dinner nightly, 3-4 long walks with Gizmo) - COMPLETE / NEEDS IMPROVEMENT
Shift into a coaching and mentoring role with my leadership team (conduct five 121s) - COMPLETE
Focus on supporting Green Hill’s community program - NEEDS IMPROVEMENT
Develop one lesson for our mindfulness curriculum - COMPLETE
Develop one lesson for our personal growth curriculum - INCOMPLETE
Write down my conceptualization of Green Hill’s needs/growth over the next year - COMPLETE
Meditate 80-90 minutes/day
Practice yoga six days/week
Use mindful glimpses throughout the day
Finish reading 20 Minute Guide, Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention for Addictive Behaviors, and continue reading 15 Commitments
Run 12 miles
Take at least one morning or afternoon off from work to spend time with Kelsey and relax.
Complete outline for updated family program (table of contents, schedule, etc.)
Complete community program glidepath
Develop one lesson for our mindfulness curriculum
Develop one lesson for our personal growth curriculum