We Must Be Adaptable

by Marnee Palladino, MARN, Inc.; edited by Stephanie Bray

Just like the last time, I found myself wondering: “What should I write for this editorial?” Trying to pick an apropos topic (not already covered by my fellow board members!) was proving challenging yet again. We thought about continuing our story from last January (after all, we did share many things with you) and, in some ways, that is what we have done here.

Like everything in life, there are two sides to the coin, and no change ever comes without its downside. New manufacturing lines bring their own particular issues; new software requires the burden of learning it; automating things means taking the time to set those things up. But if there’s any lesson that drilled itself home during the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s that we must be adaptable. It is with that uppermost in mind that I write this “Editorial in the Field” to share with you.

Recently a principal insisted they wanted us to go door-to-door to find them new business. We did it — only to learn that some of the businesses we visited still aren’t opening their doors. As much as things may have started re-opening, it’s clear to anyone paying attention that it’s probably never going back to the way it was. But this also means there are opportunities if we are open to finding them.

I’m sure many of you are wondering whether we regret going to door-to-door (or the money spent last year on our new CRM, updated website, automated marketing platform, and videos.) And the answer is a resounding “no.” Some things have gone smoothly, some have been bumpy rides, some still aren’t finished, and some haven’t paid off yet — but we don’t regret our choices. Life (and a successful business) means change. As hard as it can be to accept, change sometimes means failure — but that is how we learn. How can we know the climate (or what we need to weather it) if we are unwilling to step outside our comfort zones to try something new?

For me, the biggest challenge has been accepting that as much as we may want to control everything, the simple truth is that we can’t. While this is certainly something we already know, times of pressure often lead to our trying harder than ever to control the little we can. Sure, I recognize that other people are better in some areas than I, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to let them do it! This rep firm is my professional lifeblood, and with that comes the joys, the responsibilities, and sometimes the instinct to hold on too tight.

And that is the point I most want to make today — the attitude we take as we work in these unprecedented times is what will make all the difference. We all know that Zoom meetings are here to stay and that some businesses won’t open to let us in anytime soon. That workers are scarce, materials impossible to find, lead-times too long, and no one can know when this will improve (or possibly even get worse.) As stressful as it can be, change is here to stay, so why waste our energy trying to fight it? If we are all willing to be a little more flexible, who knows what new things we may stumble upon? And if we support each other and choose to learn from each other, I have no doubt that we will come out on the other side stronger and wiser, with all the tools we need to face whatever else is coming our way.

Marnee Palladino is CEO and president of MARN, Inc., a manufacturers’ representative firm in Middlebury, Connecticut. In 2020 she was elected to the MANA Board of Directors. Prior to launching MARN in 2014, Palladino worked in sales and marketing for Palladin Precision Products (now one of MARN’s principal manufacturing lines). After graduating from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Science in facilities planning and management, she worked in Manhattan for a financial corporation and later launched ML Project Management Consulting.

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