Perspectives – Marc Cooper – May 2022

Leading into the Future by Staying Focused

by CEO Marc S. Cooper

Permit me some understatement from the start here: any business environment at any time anywhere in the world can change quickly, and often by surprise. Take for instance the last two years. Well thought-out strategies that for so long guided companies through prosperous and turbulent times alike were suddenly called into question. Corporate leaders, me among them, across all sectors were forced to redraft their playbooks and just when a new normal emerged with revived and reinvigorated business models, things changed again in a flash. The financial markets became volatile, geopolitical pressures boiled over and prices for just about everything rose out of our control.

All considered, I say without deliberately trying to be brazen, if as a leader you resist the urge to panic and stick to the so-called “tried and true,” you’ll not just be able to endure it all, but you may find yourself better off on the other side of a crisis.

For starters, things are never as good or as bad as they seem in the moment. I’ve long considered this a part of my leadership philosophy and it’s served us well in recent years. Balance and focus with an eye on long-term goals, while never losing sight of any short-term market forces, will never go out of style.

Another timeless lesson I’ve learned is that sometimes the toughest moments are exactly the time to double down on long-term plans. When everyone else in the market seems to be uncertain, opportunities present themselves and many businesses used the last 12-18 months to grow stronger by making strategic acquisitions, investing in talent, and expanding product lines.

At Solomon Partners, we’ve long worked according to these lessons, as well as those that emerged from the global pandemic. After all, we weren’t necessarily taught in business school how to navigate such an event. But rather than panic we stayed true to ourselves and remained focused on our people, their families, and their health. We knew that our business had a solid foundation in our people. This tied back to our strong culture, which has always separated, and in many cases elevated, us from the competition.

Fast forward just a few months, with a combination of the aforementioned fundamental beliefs, plenty of hard work (and maybe a little good fortune) we closed deals at a record pace, faster than we ever had in our firm’s 33-year history. Yet, just as we didn’t panic in March 2020, we also didn’t let ourselves get too carried away because we knew the 2021 M&A boom wouldn’t last. Exercising that discipline while remaining opportunistic allowed us to make thoughtful decisions with the ultimate benefit of helping our clients achieve their goals.

Now, is this the new normal? No way. Inflation will eventually ease alongside supply chain pressures, which will be a welcomed relief, though unforeseen market forces will always emerge and uncertainty can never be fully ruled out. That’s why it’s critical that the wherewithal to remain anchored by tried-and-true business lessons are your best bet to leading a business that’s successful and sustainable, no matter what changes.

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