Recognize everyone will have a moment of crisis. It is inevitable. Even the most optimistic person will have that one moment that frustrates or depresses them. Managers and peers need to maintain a hyper awareness of what is going on in each person’s life.
As a part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing FARE CEO Lisa Gable.
Lisa Gable has achieved the titles of CEO, US Ambassador, UN Delegate, Chairman of the Board and advisor to Presidents, Governors, and CEOs of Fortune 500 and CPG Companies worldwide. Her passion, expertise, and fearless workstyle have propelled her to where she is today, the CEO of FARE (Food Allergy Research Education). Her organization’s mission is to improve the lives of the 32 million Americans with life-threatening food allergies. Using her steely, humanitarian approach, within a year and a half, the organization received $75M in commitments and put in place a fiscally and technically qualified team to uplift the outlook for generations of food allergy patients and sufferers.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Atthe end of my days in the Reagan White House, I was recruited by Craig Barrett to Intel. Craig, who would later become CEO and Chair of Intel was then head of Intel manufacturing. He taught me to apply manufacturing principles to solving complex problems. Those process techniques, combined with the ability to focus, prioritize, and measure what matters, have allowed me to lead organizations through significant economic downturns like the dot.com bust and the COVID-19.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
High Output Management by Andy Grove. I was brought into my current job to turnaround the organization and elevate it to a new level of operational efficiency. We used Andy Grove’s principles to focus the organization on creating sustainable revenue. We reduced our baseline operations by clearly focusing on measurable goals tied to achieve our five-year plan. We eliminated the variables as you would in manufacturing by getting rid of events as a primary source of revenue and instead implemented a sophisticated form of donor management that allowed us to tie their dollars directly to projects that have a growth plan supported by investment in research. This allowed us to retain a solid cash balance in our endowment and book multi-year revenue. Staff, donors, and partners now share numerical goals. Even today as the Senior Team reviewed our OKRs (objectives and key results), we realized that in the new realities of COVID-19, our objectives and metrics hadn’t shifted but the tactics by which we would implement them have. We believe we will come out of this crisis as a stronger organization ready to implement our plan.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”?
We know that when we are in our darkest hour, it is the time where we see the strength and compassion of our fellow Americans who demonstrate the fortitude of the American pioneer. During 9/11, we came to appreciate the goodness of our first responders, the policeman, the firefighter, the young soldier. Today, we can observe our doctors, public health officials, the Amazon delivery guy, the grocery store workers. Since our founding, each American story has an unpredictable hero which demonstrated the core underpinnings of our character — resilience, hope, optimism and freedom to make the right choices. Those uniquely American characteristics continue to drive us to support each other with grace and good humor despite our downturns. (Although I doubt George Washington would have understood memes, for some reason I believe Ben Franklin would have had a ball.)
Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
- We Care. Each FARE internal team holds a 30 minute Zoom conference update to learn about each other’s lives, challenges and fun moments. We reach out by Facetime and text staff members who live alone. We help young moms find humor in the unique challenges of work at home. We check on extended families and grandparents. We write letters to our partners, donors and activists to let them know we care. We are high touch in our approach and have come to know each other in a way that is uniquely human.
- We Laugh. Although technology may let us down and we have seen an 18th month project blow-up at launch, the team inevitably reaches deep and can find the humor, move on and figure out a new way to accomplish our goals. With a Zoom birthday party peppered with backdrops of candles, cupcakes and Spiderman decorations, we dedicate ourselves to continuing to celebrate that we are blessed.
- We Relax. For a team who had plans to travel and fundraise weekly, we can relish not being on a plane and enjoy a lunchtime walk with our dogs and flowers blooming in our Nation’s Capital.
- We Believe. We believe that a COVID-19 cure will be discovered by some of the brilliant doctors and scientists with whom we are privileged to work. We trust that at the end of the day we will emerge smarter, more resilient and fully charged to help fund the creation of multi-allergen therapies and diagnostics to support the food allergic patient.
- We Hope. As we move our events into virtual field trips, Facebook Live and online symposiums, we hope that by driving momentum in a digital world we will be able to meet our 2020 objectives in a way that is bigger, better, faster and more cost effective surpassing our original goals. We will never give up.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
- Recognize everyone will have a moment of crisis. It is inevitable. Even the most optimistic person will have that one moment that frustrates or depresses them. Managers and peers need to maintain a hyper awareness of what is going on in each person’s life.
- Forgive yourself and others for not being perfect. This type of situation applies stressors particularly when family concerns are interwoven with your workday.
- Meet people where they are at. If a staff member or peer becomes emotional, recognize that there are complexities in each person’s life which one wouldn’t normally share with work colleagues. If they can’t focus, calmly answer their questions, listen and most importantly be patient.
- Be available. Managers, these are your people and you are responsible for them. We never anticipated this moment. The lines will blur between work and home — much more than many of us normally would consider comfortable. Freely give permission to someone who needs to focus on family.
- Help your people. Mentoring and coaching are now even more important. Older managers have likely been through significant life challenges — 9/11, a death of a parent, a spouse with an illness, a child who is sick. For many young people, this is their first brush with mortality.
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
- Find your faith. Faith is the underpinning of individual resilience throughout history and shouldn’t be underestimated. No matter your religious beliefs find the overarching principles that enable you to find the calm within yourself.
- Self-reflection. If you have the financial resources, work virtually with a professional coach. Through that process you may emerge from this crisis feeling an overwhelming and renewed dedication to the career path you have chosen (hit the ground running) or may discover it never made you happy and utilize this blip in time to truly discover who you are. Michelle Woodward is an example of a great coach with an excellent reading list and inspirational blog on her site. Explore what makes you uniquely you –not what the world wants you to be.
- Reconnect with friends. By week two, everyone is going to be re-reading the old yearbook or scrolling through Facebook. Remember that person that you had a relationship with that you let slide as work overwhelmed you. Call and say hi. The friendship could rekindle or it might be a fun moment in time to settle your spirit.
- Celebrate life. Plan what fabulous things you want to do when this is over. Research a trip, talk someone into joining you, plan a lunch in the sun with umbrella drinks. Make the arrangements, now, have something to which to look forward and make sure you do it before the moment passes.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. Winston Churchill, 1941
My husband was diagnosed with two autoimmune diseases and a recurrent malignant tumor 23 years ago — right after we adopted our daughter. He has been through numerous surgeries and weighed 95 pounds at one point. We have zigged and zagged throughout our careers, but this unanticipated challenge has resulted in some of our biggest rewards as we pursued career opportunities in areas we would not have followed should we have stayed on the pre-destined career path in Silicon Valley. Life has been a wonderful if at times challenging adventure and deep friendships only made possible because of the struggles we faced.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
A movement around hope and resilience. Americans are so fortunate and yet lately we aren’t very happy. It has been interesting for me to observe my teams and partners as things began to shutter. I have watched positive changes in relationships when competition is replaced with collaboration around a common goal of survival and a unified desire to continue to achieve despite the current obstacles. COVID-19 has stripped out the normal metrics around which we measure ourselves against others and boiled all down to a basic question, “Who can you count on during this crisis?” We can count on each other. We learned that after 9/11. We watched people do amazing things in Houston around the hurricane. We are Americans. We are exceptional because our blended backgrounds allow us to tap into a can-do spirit of hope. Let’s emerge from this crisis remembering we can and we should epitomize Ronald Reagan’s city shining on a hill: “It was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace.”
What is the best way our readers can follow you online? https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisagable/
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!