15 Feb

The Phoenix Talks are a series of webinars set up for members to explore the themes of recovery and regeneration. In the second of the series, World Trader Zoë Buckingham interviewed experts Nicole Yershon and Mike Weston on the mindset, character and strategy needed to build back better post-pandemic – while never following the crowd.

The CEO of NY Collective, Nicole Yershon founded Ogilvy Labs and is the best-selling author of Rough Diamond: Turning Disruption into Advantage in Business and Life. One of The Drum’s ’25 Women Who Shaped the Digital Industry in the last 25 Years’, Nicole was among Wired Magazine’s ‘Top 100’ in its first annual survey of the UK’s ‘Digital Power Brokers’.

Drawing on her experience, Nicole explained that while the world has been forced to face up to change, resilience doesn’t happen overnight – but is instead built by practice, both professional and personal. Even adapting to the digital world, she noted, has been – and continues to be – a long process.

Part of the challenge, she added, is that people aren’t afraid of change, but of what implementing the change will cost them. The trick, according to Nicole, is finding a leadership able to face up to vulnerabilities and, above all, open to fostering a culture of curiosity.

Mike Weston, creator, teacher and mentor for the OpenClassrooms / Stanford Center for Professional Development masters-level diploma in Digital Transformation, agreed. He explained that any chance of growth depends on an eagerness to “learn, unlearn, and relearn” – recognising that reinvention is at the heart of an entrepreneurial mindset.

Mike identified the most adaptable leaders as those that leave room to make mistakes, and who are fearless enough to open the door for transformation, all the while maintaining trust in an organisation’s core vision and values.

Noting that disruption has effectively been forced on all of us, he argued that the coronavirus, for all its challenges, is nevertheless a golden opportunity. A chance to be open, transparent and honest about tackling “post-traumatic disruption”, to welcome more women into higher positions, to embrace more sustainable practices, and to do so pragmatically.

In this thought-provoking and honest webinar, all agreed that fostering a mindset open to change clearly applied not just to this pandemic, but beyond.

Thank you for an engaging and forthright discussion!

Harry Lesser