In his 2019 book “The Messy Middle,” Scott Belsky talks about an approach that celebrates the optimization stage. We all know the business caterpillar, and we know the business butterfly. We can easily identify people, projects, or efforts at their beginning stages, and after successful launch. Most business books talk about the importance of planning—ensuring the correct strategy and generating momentum and buy-in. Many describe the key step as optimization—subtle changes after launch occurs, based on audience reaction and engagement. But rarely do we romanticize what happens between these two steps in the journey.

No time is more important than right now than to be willing to live in the messy chrysalis stage. We are truly all in this together, traversing this for the first time in real time. Make your new mantra about identifying ways to improve, optimize and adjust.

No time is more important than right now than to be willing to live in the messy chrysalis stage.

This list is hardly exhaustive but provides ideas on adjustments or reframing that are real right now. Which ones can you embrace?

  • Permanent and temporary job openings Is it time for your efforts to move to recruitment rather than branding? Particularly in health care or other essential services, finding temporary staff can happen more readily. See how one business in health care created a win with this strategy.
  • Educational support. If you offer ongoing education, now may be the time to appeal to those that have additional leisure time or need new certifications to return to the workforce.
  • Can you “go virtual” with your services? In one instance, a roofer used satellite photos to prepare quotes from a distance. How can you re-invent?
  • Delivery services/ companies, or businesses that deliver their goods. Can you partner with a delivery service to maintain business? Can you setup a delivery plan using your current team? One of our partners switched to penny shipping with good results.
  • Podcasts/ audio books/ library offerings. Consider how your content stream is available now. Are there means to better engage or reach your clientele (or new customers) by delivering your content in new ways, like a podcast?

We are all in this together. The MLive team is hearing first-hand how COVID-19 is rapidly changing how Michiganders are doing business. At MLive Media Group, we are working hard to adjust in light of the new needs we are hearing from our valued clients and others. This blog is one way we are responding. Have a particular need? Send us a note at

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