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Episode 2 Stabilize, Communicate, Execute. How We Responded To Covid

Episode 2 Stabilize, Communicate, Execute. How We Responded To Covid

We’ll outline our NWO (New World Order) and how we leaned on transparency to create a plan that got us through the first wave of Covid-19.
Welcome to episode two of the CULTURE goodr podcast. Today we’re talking about our New World Order plans. Nope, no rock bands or mosh pits. Unfortunately.
Lookin’ behind the shades, once the pandemic hit, goodr as a whole was able to adapt pretty quickly. Go take a whiskey shot with Satan, because really, the devil is in the details-- let us explain while we try to hit the cross section of inspiration action. Saying, “We made it through,” isn’t good enough-- and we aren’t really “through” it yet either. Here are the details so you can absorb our wins and losses and translate it back to your business. Last week we talked about these four steps for navigating turbulence:

1. Acceptance

2. Stabilize

3. Focus

4. Execute

Breezing past acceptance, how in the world did goodr stabilize? Stabilization is crucial. goodr CEO Stephen Lease describes a touch and go on the way to Vegas. You know, like in a plane… you’re going to land, you hit the runway, and then before you know it you’re going back up. WTF. Coincidentally, Stephen was with co-founder Keri Blunt, on their way to visit Keri’s dad, a United Airlines Pilot.

Yeah, that’s gd right. Please fly the plane. That being said, our first goal was to stabilize. This meant standing in front of a room and owning how scared we were. HOW TO STABILIZE: Cultivate calm: This is achieved by leading by example, and giving people permission to feel feelings. Transparency: We gave a State of the Union, explaining where we were at as a business. A very simple explanation of, “We thought we’d be here, but we’re here.” We treated people like adults, and provided a high level transparency. Making the plan: Next comes making hard decisions, creating the strategy, and going from there. This is where you establish what’s going to get cut and how to move forward. The hardest thing in all of this was laying people off. The reality is, we didn’t expect to be in this situation ever. It fucking sucked. When your business drops to zero for a couple of weeks, you can’t just sit in your own pile of shit twiddling your thumbs like a toddler. It’s time to act. We looked at what is going on from a cross flow perspective; a significant part of our business is B2B. Across the country 80-90% of retail shops are closed. Directly relating our decisions to cash flow, and knowing that those parts of the business were going to be taking it on the chin, we were proactive in our next steps.
“We were a company of 68, we laid 8 people off. It was a rough day,” explains Stephen. There is nothing more difficult than losing people you loved to work with, people that are friends, people that helped us get to where we are. “I would like to blame covid, but in hindsight it is 100% my fault.”

As the awkward turtle walks out of the room… “To stabilize,” means the making of the plan. Stephen, the Finance Flamingo Lauren, and the Controller, sat in a room and met with each department. We made crazy budget cuts. Picture the hack job your mom did to your bangs for your kindergarten school picture, yup, that drastic.

Two or three weeks earlier, the third co-founder, Ben vomited on the ground all of his fears. (Thankfully, there was no actual vomit, and if there was, he lives in Colorado, so we didn’t have to deal with it.) Thoughts of recession had crossed Ben’s mind. The conversation went something like this:

Stephen: What would be awesome is if you could look at our revenue classifications, and look at our expense classifications, and at what point do we need to cut X to make it work.

Ben: Oh yeah, I’ve been working on that.

(2 weeks later… say in that voice they use on Spongebob...)

Stephen: ...Yo Ben, gunna need that tomorrow.

Expenses get a little bit more suggestive. For goodr it breaks down to:

Critical expenses: rent payroll, product

Important: media, content, raises

Helpful: Events, lunches for the team, contractors

Nice to haves: Continuing education, business travel

Events, gone. FUN WALLPAPER, GONE. Contractors, gone. Raises, paused. We cut a lot out. No quarantine 15 for our budgets. They were on a strict diet. The plan is to go bare bones until August 1st and then add things back in accordingly.

The first part of stabilizing was shrinking everything down and coming up with a game plan. A week later we revisited it, and revised, resulting in our current New World Order. Complete with 5 or 6 backup plans. Fast forward, today, we have 7 plans, and we know what levers to pull at what point.

After stabilizing comes FOCUS. When you lay people off, other people start to worry that they’re going to get laid off. People just wanted to know if they were putting their energy in the right place. So we needed to direct focus. We looked at our strongest source of revenue, good ol', and put our energy there.

“I almost felt like a European football GM.”
“Hey I’m going to get Duncan and Elena from Content team FC on a two month loan over to Digital Team United.” We redirected focus in different ways and gave our employees a North Star to walk towards.

In order to effectively communicate the master plan we considered, what does everybody get to hear and what does everybody need to hear? We rolled it out to the company in stages. First, as a part of stabilizing, we gave a talk on cultivating calm. Then came the State of the Union, telling people a plan is being brewed. Lastly, we shared the plan. This is the first leg of the race. The goal is that we make it to the fall exceeding our expectations so no one else gets laid off. There was no sugar coating, and we wanted people to feel closer moving through this. We shared our decision matrix and our revised NWO targets.

In March we were looking at 35% down in revenue. The only reason it wasn’t worse was because we were halfway through the month-- 65% down in April, 55% down in May. The summer is our hot season, so experiencing revenue loss in the sunny months burns a little worse. Puns intended. The revised revenue chart has a line for the NWO target and the OG target. If these lines connect in August, we’ve made it to halftime with the lead.

This communication was delivered through decks. Decks, aka Google slides are our natural communication at goodr. Decks, on decks, on decks. Each presentation starts with The Overview slide. The Overview breaks down the purpose, wild success, rules we play by, and deliverables for the entire presentation.


We fed this plan through one of our strategic anchors, the four Fs… Fun, Fashionable, Functional, Ffordable. To be clear, “Fun is not laughing all day long like an idiot. Fun is rewarding and doing hard work,” explains Stephen. A lot of brands were talking about how to make face masks, we wanted to lean into being fun… not doing the lazy thing and giving home workouts, but giving people a respite from that. Functional to us means always questioning, what’s the purpose? And is everything we’re doing on the “ffordable” level? We are a company that started on bootstraps, and we had to go back to our roots. Dropping everything through this filter really helped drive our focus. We made strategic shifts, and a lot of them we’re going to keep.
The staff at goodr knows what their prime directive is. Every employee knows that if they’re doing x, y, and z, they’re doing exactly what’s needed of them. This created the space for people to be calm. In hindsight, it’s like, how did we not do this before?! Every team has an ecosystem, so we had a rough sketch of the idea, we just didn’t have the blunt force of creating a primary and secondary focus. This intentional focus-setting will continue regardless of Covid’s next move. Our budgeting decision matrix will also still roll on. This will enable us to make cuts with a sound mind, and not in panic time. Ultimately, we were forced onto the fast track. We were able to get clear, but also, by implementing these changes quickly, we were able to turn the ship back around before going Titanic status.

The experience drove the business forward in other areas too. For example, by forcing us to create a recession plan. It also was an opportunity to cut things that we didn’t really need anymore, things we were wasting time on. There is a silver lining in this. But we obviously wish it didn’t happen.

Alrightyyyy, here comes the LIGHTNING ROUND, make sure you’re wearing rubber on your feet, and don’t touch any metal.

Most difficult decision:

Layoffs. No question.

Most important shift, or biggest milestone in all of this:

Shifting most focuses (if anyone knows the plural of focus, DM us) to, and letting people know the milestone is August 1st and that’s what we’re working towards.

Proudest moment:

The response from the leadership team.


We were fast, but we should have been faster… We talked to supply chain about Covid, and fucking, like idiots, didn’t have the hubris to say, “Oh this is going to hit you next.”

Something surprising:

The team has been amazing about infusing fun virtually. Our quarterly meeting slash celebration, goodrSTOCK was held virtually and included a virtual talent show. Customer reactions have also been surprising. At the end of this it is all about connection and we feel like we connected through it all.

Most excited about:

Strategic shifts and creating space.

One thing from today you want to answer go back on:

Today we talked about stabilizing, which means making a plan. We covered how to communicate said plan, and the importance of establishing focus, followed by execution. Also, a funny side note: During every Tuesday meeting, the entire company pauses for “Dance goodr.” The first virtual Dance goodr (yup, Covid couldn’t shut down our dance parties)… Stephen played REM’s song “The end of the world as we know it.” Clearly a perfect choice, not as danceable as most, but it felt right.

Create your blueprint. How do you plan to stabilize, communicate, and execute? We didn’t have a blueprint to this, and we fucked up a lot of things along the way. You’re getting a glossy version, we miss hit on plenty of things, and are still trying to figure out how to project accurately in this NWO. The big thing, once you make a plan, stick to it, because it’s too stressful to change it. Be clear in setting the bar upfront that mistakes are expected.
Review last week’s deep dive into making your revenue and expense classifications, and once you make your NWO plan, learn from it, and make 6 additional plans. Then, communicate it effectively.

Join us Wednesday, June 3rd for episode 3, we’ll shift away from the germy weirdness we’re living in to discuss more of our fun OG culture connection points.

And as the wonderful Shaun Tinney says, “Until next time, be excellent to each other.”

Tune in Now: Listen to the Episode Here

Get to know the dynamic duo

Meet the hosts

stephen lease

Stephen Lease is the CEO (Chief Executive Octopus) of goodr and the co-host of the CULTURE goodr Podcast. Since Stephen co-founded the company in 2015, goodr has grown to over 140 employees, with award-winning sunglasses sold in more than 5,000 doors worldwide. Stephen’s spirit animal is an octopus, he’s soul-bonded with a basset hound, and he is 16% flamingo.

shaun tinney

Shaun Tinney is the Dean of goodr University (Head of Learning and Development at goodr) and the co-host of the CULTURE goodr podcast. When he’s not helping goodr employees level up their behaviors, he’s writing and performing music. Recently he released his first EP, Living Driven, about the quest for self-reliance, fresh perspective, and creative freedom.

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