Never Waste a Crisis – how one incredibly resilient CEO effectively reframed a business crisis.

Karen Fleming

Gaurav Khemani, CEO of Rollick Ice cream, tells his personal story, which exemplifies 3 critical aspects of resilience: optimism, solution focused language and creating positive energy.

How Corona damaged my business

“Ice Cream helps spread Corona!” this, and many other WhatsApp rumours that circulated in our region effectively devastated the ice cream industry in India.  At least, whatever remnants of business were left from the lockdown.
The Corona Virus has disrupted normal (as we know it) life for everyone and some industries have been more severely hit than others. Travel, Hospitality, Retail and Ice cream are among the many industries that have been hit.
I am the owner of an Ice cream brand called Rollick based out of Kolkata in Eastern India. 50% of our sales for the year take place from March to June and this year our entire season has been lost. Needless to say, this is not a good place for anyone to be in.

Almost 5 months into a nation-wide lockdown, I must say that I have never been more positive about the future than I am now. I know I will not only survive this pandemic, but that we will emerge stronger than ever before. Why do I feel this?

A Shift in Perspective

I am an avid goal setter. I always have 3 main goals for each year, and the goals for 2020 were – To increase sales to INR 1.2 Billion; Run 25 KM in less than 2 hours and lead a happy life. These are just headlines and each goal is broken down into SMART goals A few weeks into the lockdown, I realized that I will not be hitting goal number 1 for 2020 but I could hit goals 2 and 3. Instead of focusing on what I CANNOT do; I started focusing on what I CAN do . I could still run in my building compound; I could spend a lot more quality time with my wife; I could read more; I could catch up with my friends more – when I started listing down all the things that I COULD do – I was amazed. So that was mental shift 1.

Building networks

Mental shift 2 - I also started reaching out to business groups and associations to build networks with peers going through the same troubles in order to learn from them. I had a conversation with Harsh Mariwala, Chairman of Marico Industries, who simply said, “Gaurav, never waste a crisis.”    

A simple comment, but it had large ramifications for me. I started looking at my business with a fresh pair of eyes. Started looking at things, which I would not have looked at had this crisis not been present due to my busy schedule, and I realised that many costs had crept into the business. I realised that some strategies that we were adopting, were not really our own, but our competitors. My team got together on various Zoom calls, and we made a Vision for the business for the first time. We have become leaner and more focused as a result. I also changed my goal 1 for the year to ‘Rebound stronger post Covid’.

Celebrating victories

My wife, Anisha, is a strong believer in celebrating small victories. I started looking at what we could celebrate. When our April sales came in at 2.8 million versus our budget of 150 million – we could have been depressed – but I looked at it as for the first time in history, Rollick had done more sales than Maruti (the largest automobile manufacturer in India) – and we celebrated that. We celebrated running 230 KM in a month – the highest I have ever done. We celebrated everything that we could. I mentally shifted from being upset about what I cannot control; to celebrating whatever I can control.

Focus on what you can control

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! The Covid situation is not in our control.  However, how we choose to react to it, is! Focus on what you can do versus what you cannot! Focus on your goals and change the goals if need be! Reach out to others! And lastly, don’t stop celebrating!

Incorporated about 30 years ago, today ‘Rollick’ has successfully established itself as one of the largest manufacturers of ice cream in Eastern India. With a state-of-the-art ISO certified manufacturing unit, a vast distribution network encompassing 500 distributors, and a strong sales team, Rollick is making its presence felt in a big way across 15 states in India.

Final Thoughts

This case study highlights the importance of the “Maintaining Perspective” and “Building Networks” components of the R@W sustain 7 Model - a psychometric assessment that we use to assess and develop levels of resilience in our clients.

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