Guest: Evan Nierman, the Founder and CEO of Red Banyan, an international crisis management and public relations firm. Evan is also the co-author of The Cancel Culture Curse: From Rage to Redemption in a World Gone Mad.
Overview: Crisis management isn’t a question of If. It’s a question of When. CEOs who haven’t anticipated what could get in the way are especially vulnerable to one customer service slip-up, one tone deaf memo that leaks, one disgruntled ex-employee, or one resurfaced social media post that hasn’t aged well. And in a world where cancel culture is running wild, forgiveness from key stakeholders can be hard to come by.
On today’s show, Evan Nierman explains why every CEO needs to have a crisis management plan at the ready so that your next emergency is just a blip on the way to BIG.
Evan Nierman on preparing for a crisis:
“Here’s a misconception that’s out there: crisis is just this ambiguous thing. It’s going to come like a bolt of lightning, out of the blue. I’m not going to know where it’s going to come from, therefore I can’t really be prepared for it. And nothing could be further from the truth. Organizations can know with a relatively high degree of certainty where they’re most likely to have a problem moving forward. So if you’re willing to do the hard work of taking a critical view of yourself and your business, you can actually game out well in advance, what are the areas where you’re most likely to face a threat. And it can be an uncomfortable exercise to go through because no one wants to think about even the possibility that they could get into an issue that threatens their reputation, their revenue, even the viability of the organization. But responsible CEOs and smart leaders can actually go through that process. And a crisis communications plan is like insurance. You don’t wanna spend your money on it, but when you need it, you’re damn sure glad you have it.”
Evan Nierman on 5 key elements of a crisis management plan:
“You can do all this in advance:
- Imagining where your vulnerabilities are likely to be.
- Figuring out in advance who is going to comprise your crisis management team.
- Deciding who is going to be the spokesperson, the face of the organization in a time of need.
- How are people going to be able to contact you? Is there an easy way to filter all inbound communications to one central place?
- Who are the key audiences with whom you will need to communicate in a time of crisis?”
Evan Nierman on cancel culture versus accountability:
“Cancel culture is eliminating the ability of organizations and people to make a mistake, but then move forward. And I think it’s a very dangerous phenomenon and I think it’s very negative for all of us to be held to this standard where we have to be perfect. Because guess what? None of us is. Every single person has done or said something that we would take back or that we probably, in retrospect, shouldn’t have done. And the problem with this world that we’ve created right now is, where does it end? You can go back and you can find something that someone said 10 years ago, 15 years ago. You can find what someone said that wasn’t even necessarily true. And then you can hang them based on that.”
“But I also think there is a path forward. There is a way to hold people to account. We have due process in this country. We have a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. And I think the American framework that the founders had in mind has worked pretty well. Yes, we’re an imperfect country. We can always do better. There are tons of areas where we have to improve. But I think we as a society need to move back to a time when you could make mistakes and you could learn from them.”
“In Silicon Valley, they champion this notion of fail hard, fail fast. You make a mistake, make it quickly, learn from it, and pivot. So I think business owners and entrepreneurs fundamentally understand that there’s a process that has to happen and you learn through the mistakes. But what we can’t do is allow this cancel culture mentality whereby people are held to an impossible standard and they’re never ever allowed to make a mistake and to learn and to grow from it.”
Evan Nierman’s Cancel Culture website – Visit Evan’s site for all the details on his book and to learn more about cancel culture.
Connect with Evan Nierman on Twitter @EvanNierman
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About CEO Coaching International
CEO Coaching International works with CEOs and their leadership teams to achieve extraordinary results quarter after quarter, year after year. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 1,000 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 60 countries and 45 industries. The coaches at CEO Coaching International are former CEOs, presidents, or executives who have made BIG happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from startups to over $10 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight, nine, and ten-figure exits. Companies working with CEO Coaching International for two years or more have experienced an average EBITDA CAGR of 53.5% during their time as a client, more than three times the U.S. average, and a revenue CAGR of 26.2%, nearly twice the U.S. average.