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Somewhere between getting my luggage at the baggage claim and unpacking in the hotel, my back went into full-on spasms. The kind of back pain that makes walking to the shower look like climbing Mt. Everest. It hurt of breathe. To move. To think. And while I considered calling room service to come blow dry my hair and wondered if the concierge had a back brace I could borrow, I took about 4 Tylenol PM and tried to sleep it off.

Turns out back pain is not like a hangover, and in the morning I was no better. So I was faced with a problem. Pain. Lots and lots of pain- but I still had a presentation and meetings to do that day.

So Marcy why are you telling us this?

In my Advil haze it occurred to me that managing pain is nothing new to brands. Brands are faced with challenges, crisis and economy woes and need to push through. So how do they handle it?

1. Stay Calm: Panic is the end of productivity. Given a rough patch (low sales, PR crisis etc.) you need to remain calm and facilitate clear thinking. Clear thinking is your way to get past this bump in the road.

2. Prioritize: When you get slowed down, and bogged down by dealing with a challenge stop and re-think your priorities. In other words, throw out the old ‘to do’ list and start over. Look closely where you are putting your energy. Make sure that everything you are doing is going to help propel the brand past the challenge at hand. Let other priorities shift to the bottom of the list.  For example, if you suddenly lose a large contract for distribution your old priority of opening up a new sales region should be replaced with managing your cash flow while you secure a new distribution deal.

3. Take corrective action: While much of what we do in business is out of our hands; trends, economy etc. There is plenty that is still in the hands of the brand. Work to identify what you can do to fix your situation. Don’t sit around and wait for it to heal itself. You have to do something to move the business in the right direction again. So do. Something.

In the end, I re-prioritized what I really needed to do that day (getting dressed mattered, but curling my hair didn’t etc.)I took action by getting stronger medication and doing some back stretches on the hotel floor. I sent a series of tweets like “Your phone drops on the floor and you think ‘oh well I will just buy another’ to avoid picking it up #youknowyourbackisoutwhen” to help me stay calm.

Yes, I was able to push through the pain to do what needed to be done.

And so can you.


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