Client Successes in COVID-19

The COVID-19 outbreak is changing the way people interact with society – from how we work to the way we consume information and goods. In fact, a recent study found that 71% of people say if they perceive that a brand is putting profit over people during this sensitive time, they will lose trust in that brand forever. With this in mind, many businesses are rethinking their marketing strategies or pivoting offerings to put the customer first.

Dotted Line clients are no exception. The businesses we serve are creating innovative solutions to better serve their clients and communities. Here are just a few of their stories.

Pediatric Associates of Richmond

One of Richmond’s longest running pediatric practices realized they had to shift the way they care for sick patients to alleviate patient and parent safety concerns. The team at Pediatric Associates of Richmond (PAR) immediately shifted their office procedures to allow designated space for wellness visits and separate space for sick visits. They began by offering mobile check-in option, so families could limit their exposure before heading in to see their pediatrician. They also started doing telehealth appointments for non-emergency cases, to lessen the flow of patients on-site. And finally, to provide an easy pathway to care for families not yet exposed to the disease, in in need of information, the team also launched a COVID-19 Blog to help parents navigate the crisis with reliable and trustworthy information. And the patient-first cherry on top: a downloadable coloring book to keep kids entertained at home.

Key Learning: Consider creating channels to communicate directly with your audience where they are. This transparency builds trust and preference.

Innovation Lab

With the shortage of PPE being felt worldwide, the team at Innovation Lab, a healthcare innovation incubator in Southern CA, recognized the need for a better way to protect caregivers and their patients in the ICU. The Lab looked at solutions within its pipeline that would address risks associated ventilators and the infectious agents often released during the transition between mechanical and manual ventilation. The team worked diligently to fast-track a product called the Baywin Closed Circuit Valve to help curtail the spread of virus. With their manufacturing partner and the FDA, they are in the process of manufacturing 5,000 of the valves for delivery to caregivers at the front lines.

Key Learning: Sometimes, the solutions we need are right in front of us, but it can be hard to see the forest through the trees. Let your customer’s demands help determine your priorities.


Petra, a construction and design firm, has been looking to support efforts in California to increase bed capacity. They have made contact with the State and FEMA to see how they can help. Their president Craig Beam says, “We play an important supporting role to those on the front lines. It’s important that we continue to serve our ministries so that they are ready to provide the care to those most in need.”

Key Learning: Leverage your contacts for the greater good. You never know what may come of it, but more often than not, it leads to a positive outcome.

Tech Knowledge Associates (TKA)

One of TKA’s values is to be a proactive industry leader in Healthcare Technology Management (HTM). The leadership team has shifted to use a real-time messaging platform to build an atmosphere of free-flowing ideas and information. TKA teams on the ground in hospitals in Northern California mobilized to build over 1,200 3D-printed face shields to distribute to local health groups.

Key Learning: No one knows what the “new normal” will look like. Consider innovations or process improvements that make your business stronger in the long run, even in a non-COVID era.

Knowledge Advisory Group

As a business that works almost entirely with nonprofits to analyze their data and guide business decisions, Knowledge Advisory Group was presented with a unique opportunity when a large portion of their client-base was forced to close their doors due to COVID-19. A local children’s museum came to Knowledge Advisory Group for help polling their members to see what it would take to return to the museum and when they would feel comfortable doing so. Knowledge Advisory Group designed and sent a survey that was able to outline the current landscape and how the museum could best reengage with their audience. Because of the financial restraints placed upon the museum and the business disruption caused by COVID-19, Knowledge Advisory Group performed this work pro bono, being a true champion for those in need during this difficult time.

Key Learning: You’re in business because you have a unique set of skills. Use these skills and your strengths to help your customers in new and creative ways.

In a time where we constantly hear stories of calamity and chaos stemming from this pandemic, we are proud to partner with and support the organizations that are doing their part to help us all navigate this crisis. It reinforces our commitment to our clients, our team, and our community to work towards making a positive impact. The work of this select group is inspiring but there is much left to do. We hope these stories of action and innovation are the impetus for positive change in your personal and professional life.

Pandemic Positivity: Silver Linings in Dark Times

I wouldn’t say I’m a morning person, but I do have a very consistent morning schedule. Each day I set my alarm for 5:45 and wake up promptly to the dulcet tones of my alarm clock gently beckoning me toward endless possibilities… before invariably pressing “snooze” once or twice and actually waking up closer to 6:15. When I do get up, like any good millennial, the first thing I do is roll over and check my phone. I unlock my device and go straight to my New York Times app to read the news.

Starting in mid-March, my skim of the morning news transformed from trying to stay abreast of relevant political, social, and sports related happenings and became a depressing trudge through trauma and terror. Each day, I was bombarded with another volley of the tragic details surrounding the pandemic, the personal and corporate disruption it has caused, and the catastrophic ruin it has brought to economy and our sense of safety. My morning check-ins turned into hourly examinations as I tried to remain stoic in the face of this unprecedented horror, but like so many others, it soon became too much to handle and the fear started to creep in.

One night, as I sat across from my partner and enjoyed a wonderful home-cooked meal (something we rarely did before all this started) this growing fear and stress led to the genesis of an idea. We would no longer empower the pandemic by expressing our sorrow or despair during this climate, no more negatives at all, in fact. Instead, for the rest of the night we would only share positives that came from our new quarantine-necessitated routine.

We spent the next hour talking about all of the silver linings and bright spots we had been fortunate enough to experience in this new normal that we wouldn’t have had a chance to encounter otherwise. We smiled about having more time with each other and our dog-child Leo, purchasing and enjoying a new spin-bike for the home gym, and all of the great recipes we had tried. The celebration of these unexpected joys shed light on a new perspective of which to view the pandemic through.

After that night and the positive mood shift that it brought me, I suggested the idea to the rest of the Dotted Line team and extended it to our clients and others in our network as well, hoping that if it could provide some solace, even for a moment, it would be worth it. The responses that came back were awesome.

“I’m most appreciative of this feeling that we’ve gone back to a simpler time where we value community — albeit socially distanced. My kids are spending their afternoons outside, right until the last second before dinner is served. It’s reminding me of the power of a strong network and the emotional relief it provides.”

“I’m spending less money and time on frivolous things. I’ve found joy in the simple things in and around my home — like sitting in the sun on my patio, enjoying nighttime fires, playing worship music, and having church outside!”

“Having more time to just slow down. I’m no longer rushing from one thing to the next. I’ve started to enjoy running again and have been getting to know my neighbors better.”

“I’ve been able to connect more with friends who I otherwise wouldn’t have, via FaceTime dates. Life can get so busy and it’s rare that we slow down, so it’s been nice to refocus on connecting with friends.”

“I have seen and talked to many neighbors I never knew in the 12 years I have lived in my house… I have had some of the best most open conversations with other small business owners that I would not have otherwise had. And, I have seen and experienced people pulling together to help one another in meaningful ways.”

“My father-in-law keeps sheepishly telling me that he is going to miss his commute to work. He works in California and his drive is now half as long as it used to be.”

All of these silver linings are individual to those who found them, but many contain parallels and describe an enhanced sense of community, camaraderie, self-care.

We all want to return to a time that feels a bit more normal – but meanwhile our team at Dotted Line is taking solace in this brilliant sense of community and compassion that has developed as a result of this pervasive darkness. To truly understand this moment, in all its complexity, we owe it to ourselves to celebrate our silver linings, and where appropriate, work towards incorporating them into the new normal that’s sure to come. Now’s the time to take stock, before our busy lives begin to pick back up. Once we emerge from this challenging environment, what souvenirs will you and your organization choose to carry with you?

Navigating a Pandemic with the Support of Your Team

As the Account Director at Dotted Line, I have the privilege of being a champion for both our clients and our team. During these unprecedented times, that means listening often, checking in frequently on more than the status of work, and trying to offer support at the other end of a Zoom call. While there is no rulebook or YouTube tutorial for how to best navigate a global pandemic – believe me I’ve looked – what I’ve learned is sometimes the best guidance and solace comes from the support of your team.

While acknowledging the oddity of our situation, as a person who likes to have a plan, wading through these uncertain times is a wholly uncomfortable experience. As I often do in instances where the path feels a little shaky, I found myself turning to the experts and came across a Brené Brown podcast that really captured my emotional response to this experience in a way that only a nationally accredited author could; we are in what Brené calls a FFT (freaking first time). And during this wobbly FFT, we all need a collective reality check. We don’t know how to do this, we’ve never done it before and we’re not going to have all the answers. But we need to realize that is all right. Reconsider your expectations and rely on the support of your team to get through.

Even with this understanding, this pandemic is indiscriminate – it affects everyone personally and professionally. Like so many other organizations, Dotted Line is facing new challenges every day; adapting to new routines and schedules, juggling parenting and working from home, and trying to figure out if we have always looked this tired or if that is just the camera adding bags under our Zoom-overloaded eyes. Things we previously took for granted, such as morning coffeeshop catch-ups, brainstorming sessions in the bullpen and popping by someone’s office for a quick question, are becoming magnifications of just how impactful those in-person touchpoints are and how severely they are missed in this “new normal.” But through the ebbs and flows of each day, the one constant thing that keeps pushing me to do more, both as a team member and a leader within our organization, has been the people I’m constantly cheering for and supporting – our team.

At Dotted Line, amidst all the uncertainty, we’ve continued to stay connected, add new motivational elements, build in surprises for our team with kind gestures, and push to help our clients and community above and beyond the normal call of duty. While it was difficult to know exactly what to do or where to start, we just decided to trust that if we stayed committed to our mission – and to one another – we would emerge from this situation for the better. Below are a few efforts and gestures our team has made and the impact they have had on our business and culture:

  • Team Zoom calls that resulted in a brainstorm for a future Dotted Line Tik Tok, April Fools jokes to remind everyone not to take the day too seriously and the constant reminder that someone inevitably is still on mute when they start to talk.
    • Remember that the office banter and sidebar conversations that had you laughing for no reason can still happen! We’re proof of that.
  • Helping Celebrate RVA with a campaign to continue supporting their mission to give children a memorable birthday during uncertain times.
    • Recognizing that families and children will be affected in ways that those of us without children can’t even imagine. Being able to help an organization working to do good gave us all a smile.
  • Sharing personal COVID-19 wins and fails during an agency meeting – telling stories of learning how to do fractions, still trying to track down toilet paper and enjoying more time with family and neighbors.
    • It’s the vulnerability and honesty that signifies a human connection no matter how far apart we are.
  • Hosting a surprise birthday party for two team members by inviting everyone to a “fake meeting.”
    • Taking the time to celebrate one another and the milestones that continue to happen even while we’re apart.
  • Sending our team gift cards for Door Dash to help make family mealtime a little less stressful.
    • While we can’t eat together or try the new restaurant down the street, we can remember that mealtime should be shared and treasured and we can support local businesses that need it most, while we do it.

No one can say when this pandemic will be a thing of the past and what our world will look like when it is, but while we’re going through it together, we need to focus on how we can make the most of our opportunities as a unit. When approaching a crossroads or a difficult proposition, have faith in what got you to where you are and rely on the support of your team to get you through. If that’s the guiding principal and compass rose we are all using, more often than not, good things will come out of even the darkest of situations.

Moving Toward Better: My Interview for Greenhouse Culture’s Podcast

“There’s rarely a straight line from here to better. But there’s usually an arc. The slog won’t last forever. And winning streaks aren’t endless, either. As we move through time, we’re often presented with opportunities that are carefully disguised as problems. And every day, we’re forced to make a choice. The default might be to hold back, but it’s not the only option. The chance to move toward better can become a habit.” – Seth Godin

When I look back at the major shifts I’ve experienced over my life, both personal and professional, the cause wasn’t a single decision or audacious goal that propelled me forward. It was the collection of small, oftentimes daily, decisions I made as a result that had the greatest impact. I love Seth Godin’s quote because it talks about the power of habits as the catalyst for moving toward better—habits, compounded over time, making a world of a difference.

In a recent interview for Greenhouse Culture’s podcast, I shared parts of my journey in starting Dotted Line and the three small, yet impactful, habits that have served me best through the ups and downs.

To set the stage, the idea for Dotted Line started years before I officially formed the company. I grew up in a family of small business owners. My grandfather, who owned an oil and gas company in a rural part of Virginia, held strong beliefs around business purpose and community enhancement, and I grew up with conversation about the subjects taking place frequently in my home.

I have often written and spoken about the impact his funeral had and how it shaped me as a leader. I have vivid memories of listening to the hundreds of attendees share stories about how he used his business, leadership, and resources to enrich their lives. Those stories, coupled with the behavior I bore witness to, are like a north star for me and how I run Dotted Line.

In the six years since the company’s inception, our team has grown and I’ve experienced my own opportunities for learning, personal growth, and leadership. Much of that type of growth starts with small habits. For me, moving toward better starts with better management of my time and the way I think.

Learning to manage stressors and distractions.

Throughout the day, distractions come up—childcare questions, team member challenges, sales prospect requests—so it’s important to have a system in place to put them aside for the moment and focus on the task at hand. I do that by allocating time in my schedule to work through just those sorts of challenges. And because the time is already on my calendar, I know they won’t build up and become a source of stress.

Setting intentions at the start of every day.

I used to think this was hokey, but now I’m hooked. Spending five to 10 minutes thinking through my schedule at the start of every day also helps me maintain perspective. I think through the ways I can be bold, drive excellence, and show up for those around me. I also jot down some of my responses to these themes. At the end of the day, I look back to see what progress (or sometimes lack of progress) I made.

Making time to think and dream big.

This is such a big one that people miss! It gives me a future to look forward to and keeps me energized in my work as I know I’m moving toward bigger, better things ahead. At Dotted Line, when we’ve looked to launch a new program or venture, this dedicated time has given me the space to think through all the possibilities without being interrupted.

When things feel out of control (like in a pandemic) or if I feel stuck (often because I’ve gotten caught up in things that aren’t part of the big picture), it’s hard to focus on moving toward better. I have found that this time at home the last few weeks can eat me up if I don’t maintain a focus on my small habits. So if you’re looking for ways to make the most of our current situation, I encourage you to think about one or two small habits you can start today that could have a lasting impact, far beyond a pandemic.