Sandy Reminds Us What We’re Made of…and the Importance of Stepping Up

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By Jon Silvan

It doesn’t take a major natural disaster for me to recognize the extraordinary members of our team at Global Strategy Group or the great partnerships we are fortunate to have with our clients. Nor, as a New Yorker who has raised my family and grown my business here, does it take an act of nature for me to sing the praises of our great city.

But as I reflect on the events of last week, I feel compelled to underscore these above points. It sends a significant message about who we are, and what we’re capable of achieving under challenging circumstances. Hurricane Sandy humbled us all with her destructive power. But in the days after, I think it’s safe to say that we have also humbled and inspired one another with our determination to keep going and to help each other.

I’m sure that all of us who were affected by Sandy have our own personal examples of how this storm brought out the best in people. I thought I’d take this opportunity to offer a few of mine.

First, our amazing team at GSG. With the Election a week away, Sandy’s arrival didn’t diminish the urgency to deliver to our campaign clients. As the storm barreled down last Monday night, our pollsters pulled off two critical Election surveys. One team member did a conference call via candlelight; another fired up a generator in order to get the work out the door.

This dedication didn’t end with our Election-related work.  GSG’s NY office remained without power until late Friday evening, as did many of our New York, New Jersey and Connecticut-based employees’ homes. In fact, we relocated twelve team members to hotels in Manhattan for much of the week. But you wouldn’t know it – they continued to deliver for our clients, day-in, day-out.

The most inspirational piece for me was the team spirit and dedication to each other and to our clients demonstrated by all. We rallied around those team members in crisis, made sure every last one of our people was taken care of, and then got back to work. In New York, we coordinated by phone, email, and sometimes even via Twitter, on projects and flashlight-lit trips up dark flights of stairs to our offices to retrieve critical materials. Meanwhile, our stalwart DC and Hartford offices, who also weathered the storm but were able to re-open more quickly, jumped to action to take on additional responsibilities as New York got back on its feet.

This past week, I was also reminded why I’m so proud to be a partner to our clients. We work with organizations across business, politics and causes, and there were extraordinary contributions made of expertise, time and resources. Our client United Way of New York City is on the front lines of organizing the national United Way Sandy Recovery Fund. Another client led a clean-up of their community in the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park section of Queens. Many of our corporate clients have made generous donations to relief funding. Our clients in politics and government are helping to coordinate relief efforts in their local communities, and at the national level. And a financial services client even offered their Midtown Manhattan office space to our NY team until the power was restored to our Union Square headquarters.

Of course, there are numerous other examples throughout our region of folks meeting Sandy’s challenge head on. I mention these not because we deserve extra credit, but because it underscores the determination, resourcefulness, and loyalty of all of us in this community. It has been inspiring to see the efforts of our communities to begin to coordinate the rebuilding effort. But is also a reminder of how far we have to go. Many of our neighbors lost everything. As much as this last week brought out the best in many of us, it is critical that we all remain at our best in the weeks to come. Our neighbors need us at our best to help them begin to rebuild.

As many of us head back to our offices this week, looking to find some degree of normalcy, let us not forget that this is just the beginning.  Here at GSG, we have made financial commitments to storm recovery efforts, and are also looking for ways that we can all volunteer our time. I know that for my part, I look forward to working with the GSG team, our clients, and our community to find ways that we can make a continuous and lasting contribution to the recovery effort.


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