Gail Doby, the chief vision officer and co-founder of Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting, shared how she, as well as her team, dealt with COVID through a series of mindset shifts.

During these last months, through her business, she offered constructive programming for designers called Operation Ignite, which featured 10 seminars on topics from tech to social media and marketing. Always a strong advocate for marketing – and soft marketing especially now – Doby now invites you to take advantage of the Designer’s Marketing Challenge, starting today and going through July 3rd. Recorded videos wil be made available to designers once the program is complete.

These five days of teaching include program sessions and assignments. Doby’s step-by-step plan includes shortcuts, tools, coaching and bonus sessions from experts, intended to inspire you to take fast action to complete your marketing plan this week and start executing the following week to start attracting ideal clients and projects. Normally part of Doby’s signature VIP program, the $97 cost for the Challenge is a fraction of the usual fee.

The following is Doby’s article, in her own words, about courageous leadership in uncertain times.

Making tough decisions and supporting our clients and industry at the same time has been interesting. When we first heard about the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, facing a pandemic on U.S. soil seemed unreal. The year started with incredible optimism and excitement, and by early March anxiety and uncertainty set in. Thankfully by April positivity shone through.

I’ve tracked this time by emotions, actions and lessons. I am sure you can relate, and hopefully it helps.


Mindset: Focused on work, optimistic, excited, and not wanting to think about the “what if.”

We took two of our Boardroom groups* to Portland, Oregon, to meet with designer Garrison Hullinger and his team. Garrison’s team was preparing for the impact of the coronavirus with layoff plans and budget cuts. His actions seemed aggressive when we were blissfully healthy and busy. His “what if” thinking proved to be correct.

Lesson: We should always listen to trustworthy people that have the what-if thinking skills.


Mindset: Anxious, conflicted about travel, unsure of how to handle client fears and rapid changes, worried about the team.

I traveled to San Francisco for the Design Influencer’s Conference in early March. While well-attended, the unfolding news was unsettling for all attendees. On March 11th I flew to New York City for several events. While in transit, my Boardroom members who were scheduled for a retreat and a VIP client whose children were exposed to the virus canceled. By March 13th, the city was rapidly shutting down. We were able to get on a 6 a.m. flight to Denver the next day. LaGuardia was desolate and eerie.

Once home, our leadership team agreed that we had an obligation to help our clients and the industry. We sidelined other priorities, and we added 12 weekly support calls for our Mastermind groups* and mobilized a 10-Part Operation Ignite Zoom series.

Lesson: Focus on service to others and you’ll be too busy to worry about your own situation.


Mindset: Refocused and determined, and resolved to stay positive.

Operation Ignite launched within a week. Each session provided 10 actionable steps for a total of 100 immediately applicable actions. Our greatest payback has been gratitude. We are humbled by the response. As I write this article, about 90% of our clients have gotten SBA loans, new projects and devised new marketing plans. Our team implemented a 53% reduction in overhead expenses in anticipation of less revenue and a slow recovery. We’ll host virtual events for the rest of the year—a return to our original 2008 business model.

Lesson: Massive positive action will push fear aside. Leaders must be courageous and make tough decisions. Cut expenses and cut again to survive a life-altering situation like COVID-19.

History proves that we will experience setbacks every 7 to 12 years. Enjoy this rare time with your family and yourself. Rest. Learn. Give and be grateful. Clean out and create anew. Invest in improving your company’s processes and procedures and your skills. Connect with others as even the busiest people are open to conversations. Soft Market. Soft Market. Soft Market.

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