Accepting Help During a Pandemic

As we are all still sheltering-in-place at Sounding Board and working remotely like the majority of the country, the time has given way to team members who are sharing their own personal experiences with the pandemic.

As we are all still sheltering-in-place at Sounding Board and working remotely like the majority of the country, the time has given way to team members who are sharing their own personal experiences with the pandemic. Nina Patel, our Customer Success Manager, shares some great advice she has given permission for herself to do, and we all are able to benefit from her wisdom.

As leaders, we have never needed the practice of asking for help more than this moment. While it may seem obvious, it took a crisis for me to learn how to lean into the support of my community and truly receive help.

When they asked us to start sheltering in place in the Bay Area, my immediate inclination was to hunker down in my tiny one-bedroom apartment and weather the storm solo. A lifetime of making brave choices for myself – moving out to SF on my own, leaving a profitable consulting job to work at a startup, refusing to settle for mediocrity in my personal life – has instilled in me a lasting sense of pride in my independence and self-reliance.

And for the first few days, I was fine. Since Sounding Board is an online coaching and leadership development company,  I am used to working remotely for people that are direct and self-aware, dialoguing early and often about what we need to show up to be at our best. My bosses were even quick to start putting out videos that give tips and tricks for balance and self-care, checking in with me on slack daily as I powered through my weekly to-do list and quietly started to slide into a pit of panic and anxiety I couldn’t even name.

By the second week, my boss started to notice my mental health had deteriorated. “Nina, how are you really doing?” My boss asked on a zoom call, trying to lock eyes with me across the slanted screen. I could feel the digital distance gapping between us, and suddenly I was paralyzed by shame and incapable of articulating an answer.

It was my cousin who finally shook me out of my stupor. “Stop being so stubborn,” she quipped over the phone late on a Tuesday. “I’ve asked you three times already to come and join me, how many times until you say yes?” My cousin lives in Las Vegas – alone – and had been patiently insisting for days that I come to join her for our mutual benefit. I had put up every imaginable excuse in my mind to stay away, fearing I’d contaminate her, or myself, somehow endanger us both. But what really kept me from saying yes was an old story about my imposed self-reliance, my default pattern of soldiering on alone instead of asking for help and leaning into my support system.

As it turns out, the bravest decision I could have made was to accept her help. When I finally made the decision to pack up my life and drive to Las Vegas, I knew that it was the only decision I wouldn’t regret looking back on this period of my life. As I finally pushed past my fear and limiting beliefs to share my choice with my coworkers, I noted the relief on their faces and approval in their voices: They had wanted this for me, silently cheering me on and helping me to see something I needed that I didn’t even know at the moment.

Now, happily settled in a new co-habitation and co-working rhythm, my mind is much clearer. I feel like I have a foundation to stand on. The ground is back under my feet and I tell my cousin every day how grateful I am for her insistence. Next time, I won’t wait until someone asks me three times to say yes and receive the help that is being offered.

For all the leaders who are being offered help in this new context, be it connections, groceries, a free pass at work or even just a neighborly smile, my advice to you is: Take it.

It may be that the great opportunity of this moment is a chance to:

  • Practice letting go of our old patterns of self-reliance
  • Lean into the support that is always available to us
  • Stop over-indexing on execution
  • Simply connect with compassion for each person


I now know that together we can achieve more with greater clarity, calm and enjoyment, and come out on the other side with a new set of tools to build our collective future.

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Piyush Gupta

VP of Product and Technology
Piyush Gupta is VP of Product and Technology at Sounding Board and champions the voice of customers and users with deep empathy. Piyush envisions Sounding Board to be the first window of coaching experience for professionals and leaders worldwide. His approach is deeply rooted in proven scientific research, modeling human behaviors, and data-informed insights to deliver mindset shifts and desired business outcomes for organizations at scale. He believes that a world-class UX is key to drive simplicity that will lead to millions of professionals to access coaching for their development. Piyush co-invented the world’s first ‘landmark intelligent driving directions’ technology that led Google to redesign their routing algorithms for the Asian markets. For the next decade, he led two disruptive FinTech companies to the market leadership positions and delivered two award-winning products that serve more than 70 million users worldwide. His teams filed 20+ patents while he himself authored three patents. He is an active startup investor and advises selected AI-driven startups on business and product strategy. He is the recipient of the World Summit Award, one of the most prestigious international honors for product innovators. In addition, he is a James Swartz fellow, the most prestigious fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University funded by the founder of the iconic venture firm, Accel Partners. Piyush holds an MS in Software Management from Carnegie Mellon University.

Tommy Perkins


Tommy is at his best helping clients think through complex challenges in order to create a positive impact on their organizations. He thrives when interacting with others whether helping his team succeed or working with clients to build long-term partnerships. He has extensive experience consulting with organizations on driving their employee experience, guiding organizations through change, and working to ensure organizations are moving the needle when it comes to their results.

Most recently, Tommy was a Client Services Leader overseeing some of GP’s most prized accounts on a global level. His responsibilities included overall client growth strategy, retention, and satisfaction. He represented all of GP Strategies’ major business lines including leadership, coaching, and engagement, digital transformation, outsourced services, and technology implementation solutions.

Before GP Strategies, Tommy spent several years with TTEC Digital (formerly rogenSI) where he led the sales team,  eventually becoming the regional Learning & Performance practice leader for North America. While managing the P&L and sales team he also led the largest global relationship for the firm (Deloitte Globally). During his time at TTEC, he focused on delivering blended learning solutions that incorporate technology and hands-on training. Before TTEC Digital, he spent several years dedicated to strength-based leadership disrupting the business landscape regarding performance management and employee engagement with thought leader Marcus Buckingham at The Marcus Buckingham Company / TMBC (now ADP).

Tommy has had the privilege of working with some of the most well-known global brands in professional services, retail, technology, and healthcare including Deloitte, Facebook, Microsoft, Bank of America, Novartis, Gap Inc., lululemon, and Intel. Several projects he led for Deloitte were Global GNPS, New Partner Pivot, NextGen Partner Program Deloitte China, Present to Win, the RPM project on performance management, and Unconscious Bias.

Tommy holds a BS in Health Sciences from Texas A&M University, and an MBA from Universidad del CEMA.

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