The Cycle of a Pandemic: An opportunity for leaders

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The cycle of a pandemic – for most of us something we have never experienced – will have devastating effects on our country and our communities for years to come.  Leaders have the opportunity to find the silver lining of it all. And what really matters most.

This month is the first month in six years I haven’t gotten on a plane. 

My life’s normal rhythm – including monthly travel to meet face-to-face with HR partners and coaching clients – has ground to a halt. Instead, I’m perched at my home computer, watching the park I have lived next to for most of two decades fill with families. The afternoon light is filtering through my window as neighbors I barely recognize take in the fading sun with kids in tow. I experience a feeling that has been showing up more and more frequently these days, a feeling that I never expected to feel during a pandemic: gratitude. 

We are in the midst of a great rebalancing. Not just of the stock market, and our impact on the environment, but of people’s lives. In 2009, post-economic crash, we had a moment to rebalance, to move away from our incessant drive to create more money, a shift away from products and consumption and wealth generation as the center of our lives. But when the market bounced back, we rebounded with an intensity and ferocity for wealth and growth at a speed that was even more extreme than before. 

While of course, I wish we could bypass the devastation that has already been created by this pandemic – sickness, death, grief, homelessness, inequity and unemployment among others – I also know that there is also a silver lining emerging. For the leaders we work with, it’s providing a precious moment to take stock: To assess what matters most and quietly realign inner priorities around the answers that are emerging. 

And what are leaders finding that really matters most? They’re finding that family matters. Health matters. Education matters. Service and helping others matters. Community and connection matters. These may sound obvious and elementary but – finally standing stock still for the first time in months or years – the preciousness of these basic values has never been more profound. People are refocusing with clarity and adaptability on being of service, on living with less and appreciating the simple joys that drove human existence for so long: preparing food, getting your hands in soil, composing a song, walking in the park, reaching out to a friend. 

I for one, am encouraged by the creativity that is coming forward from leaders facing these new conditions. And while adversity reveals genius, prosperity can conceal it, so I’m learning to look for evidence that our collective genius is rising to meet this challenge. 

We know that this cycle will not last forever. The opportunity of this moment – to turn inwards, to source from self and others, to re-prioritize, to get creative – will evaporate as surely as the sun will rise again and we will be carried away in the tide of another upswing into growth and prosperity. And so I encourage you to take in this moment with curiosity and presence and yes, even gratitude, and answer one of the questions that really matters: How will you allow this experience to change you – and the rest of your world – for the better?

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Lori Mazan

Co-Founder & Chief Coaching Officer

Lori Mazan is the Co-Founder and Chief Coaching Officer of Sounding Board, the preeminent global leadership development enterprise platform changing the face of leadership development through innovative technology for leaders at all levels of an organization. Lori is a seasoned executive coach who has guided hundreds of corporate executives through 1:1 coaching focused on business outcomes and developing critical leadership skills. Client companies advanced by Lori’s expertise include Fortune titans such as Chevron and Sprint as well as high growth and public companies like Intellikine, and Tapjoy, plus 10XGenomics, which became a public company in 2019 while top executives worked with Lori and the Sounding Board team.
Lori has spent the last 25 years coaching C-Suite executives to leadership excellence. Many of those public and private company CEO’s expressed that they would have liked this caliber of coaching earlier in their careers. Inspired by these experiences, Lori joined with Christine to launch Sounding Board as a feedback-driven, cloud-based leadership coaching platform that could maintain best-in-class leadership coaching while lowering costs to make it affordable and scalable for leaders at every level of their careers.
Before founding Sounding Board, Lori received her Masters’ in Adult Educational Psychology/Counseling from the University of San Francisco and a Bachelors’ in Psychology from the University of Virginia. Lori is an educator and has spent over 10 years as a professor of social psychology and group dynamics while acting as the interim Dean of Students at Holy Names University, She is certified by the industry’s gold standard, the Coaches Training Institute, and is a founding member of the Genentech Preferred Network of Coaches. Sounding Board is one of <3% of sole female founded startups receiving venture funding. In 2019 Sounding Board was selected as 1 of 7 startups (out of 100+ applicants) as part of SAP’s HR tech cohort, a group that represents the rising stars of the next-gen HR ecosystem.

Christine Tao

Co-Founder & CEO Sounding Board, Inc.

Christine Tao is the co-founder & CEO at Sounding Board, a Silicon Valley startup redefining how organizations are developing their leaders. Her extraordinarily rapid career growth to executive management in the media, mobile and tech sectors of Silicon Valley became her inspiration for founding Sounding Board. As she began to manage larger teams and be responsible for growing revenues, it became clear that she needed a “sounding board” to coach her on the development of her leadership skills. That’s where her Sounding Board co-founder, Lori Mazan came on the scene. A seasoned executive coach focused on leadership development, Lori coached Christine on real-world leadership skills that had a direct impact on business outcomes. Based on her positive and impactful experience with leadership development, Christine was driven to make leadership development coaching accessible to people at all levels of the organization.
Christine advises several startups, is a budding angel investor and is also a Tory Burch Foundation Fellow, a foundation dedicated to investing in the success and sustainability of women entrepreneurs.
Prior to co-founding Sounding Board, Christine was a Senior Vice President of Developer Relations at Tapjoy, a venture-backed, leading mobile advertising & publishing network. She led the growth of Tapjoy’s publisher advertising business from 0 to over $100 million in revenues in less than 3 years. Prior to that she led e-commerce partnerships and strategy at YouTube. Christine holds an MBA in Marketing & Operations from Wharton and a BA in Business Administration from UC Berkeley.

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