This year posed unprecedented challenges for every facet of daily life, from the workplace to the home front, and forced questions about how to run companies amid upheaval and how to be resilient in the face of strong headwinds.

It’s in that light that global leaders, industry experts and YPO members shared their best advice through YPO Presents, a live series of conversations offering guidance that runs the gamut from how to make decisions and lead with strength, to how to be vulnerable, build trust, and keep burnout at bay.

In 2021, global leaders will be called upon to bring a sense of humanity to the workplace; to embrace the reality of this time to emerge with stronger businesses and mindsets, with grace and grit. Here’s some food for thought:

Prioritizing people

“Far too often, accountability and development somehow become elusive when talking about diversity, equity and inclusion goals. … Goals should be set. Progress should be measured. And leaders should be held accountable, just as they would for any other organizational priority.”
Lanaya Irvin, President Coqual 

“Make it a core value of your company to make people feel like they belong.” Doug Tomlinson, CEO, Vino Volo

Learn more about diversifying your organization: YPO Presents Ask the Experts – Diversity Edition

“First, recognize your role in providing assurance to your team. … Acknowledge the uncertainty. Then pivot to the certain. Secondly, be curious. You do not need to make decisions on your own. Include the team.”
Dave Garrison, Chief Navigation Officer, Garrison Growth

Learn more about steps for decision making and how to pivot the in the midst of a crisis: YPO Presents Ask the Experts: Strategic Re-Pivot Edition with Dave Garrison and Shari Levitin

“Reconnect with all your key employees. Triage their engagement, their happiness, because when things pick up [post-pandemic], there’s going to be a lot of PTSD.”
Mandy Gilbert, CEO, Creative Niche

Making it personal

“I think we need to … put even more energy into what you’re grateful for in this world. Because that’s the fuel that’s going to carry us through, and that’s also going to be the base from which our creativity and our survival and thriving in the future come from.”
Scott Mordell, former CEO, YPO

Learn more about about the effects that coronavirus has had on business leaders and their communities: YPO presents Ask the Experts – Coronavirus Edition with Elizabeth Zucker and Scott Mordell

“This is an ideal time to be taking time to work on improving relationships. When relationships in businesses improve, then people share more of what they think and feel. And when people share more of what they think and feel, more perspectives, more creativity and more innovation emerges. …This is the one thing that, when improved, raises all boats simultaneously.”
Scott Zimmerman, Founder,  Adaptive Edge

Learn more about how to build trust in your relationships: YPO presents Ask the Expert – Trust Edition with Scott Zimmerman

“Well-being should be the highest priority in everybody’s strategy.”
David Sun, CEO, Coaching International

“Ask yourself if you’ve aligned what you’re doing with your passion.”
Chris Larkins, CEO, Coaching International

Read more about effectively managing your cash during a crisis: COVID-19 and Beyond: How to Manage Your Cash to Weather the Crisis

“It’s very challenging [right now]. Find that alone time. Sometimes that can come from just waking up earlier. … I’ve replaced the time [I used to spend taking my kids to school] with me-time.”
Jennifer Vaughan Maanavi, Co-founder and CEO, Physique 57

Read more about a holistic approach to staying healthy during stressful time: 5 Tips for Staying Sane and Healthy During and After COVID-19


“In your 20s, putting yourself in the best possible companies, organizations, leadership programs — that is going to make the biggest difference in your life in 10 years [versus] the amount you’re paid.”
Robert Glazer, Author and CEO, Acceleration Partners

“If everybody wants to turn right, I turn left. … If you follow everybody else, I don’t see how you’re going to make it work. Have the courage of your conviction to stay the course. Have a plan and stick to it.”
Jerry Kohl, President, Brighton Collectibles

Read more on what’s the future of retail 2021 and beyond: The Future of Retail: Perspectives from 3 CEOs

“You are going to run into a lot of naysayers. All you need is a small group of supporters who believe in you, who believe in your mission. What I love about being a YPO member is it’s a supportive community, but they will also challenge me. And that’s the type of people you want to surround yourself with.”
Rana el Kaliouby, Ph.D., Co-founder and CEO, Affectiva

“In a crisis, focus on what you can control, the things you can do. See technology as a growth opportunity.”
Christoph Maichel, CEO, Wahtari GmbH

Read more on thriving in the new normal: Navigating the New Normal: Inspiring Leadership Advice From 3 CEOs

Finding the opportunities

“At the end of the day, a business’s goal is to activate its users. To do that, your customers have to have an amazing customer experience. … So, what do companies have to focus on to get to that goal? It’s a question of what can you automate, what can you accelerate, what can you anticipate and how do you adapt?”
Fred Thiel, Chairman and Chief Advisor, Thiel Advisors, Inc.

Read more on saving and growing your business during times of uncertainty: Entrepreneurship In the COVID-19 Age: 4 Tips From Investors

“Everything in this world is possible. If you know where you want to be, even though the journey will be very difficult, with many obstacles, sometimes you have to go around it or climb over it to achieve what you want to achieve. Don’t allow those challenges to take you off course, because great things are possible if you put your mind to it.”
William Kwakamba, Inventor, Author, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Learn more about the climate change fight and the power of personal resilience: YPO Presents Ask the Experts – Climate Action Edition

“The first thing to consider is the investment horizon. … Secondly, I would ensure that one is looking at the sustainability and scalability of a company – the actual business model. … And lastly, get clear on [your] values and tolerance levels for a variety of issues.”
Bridgit Lombard, Founder, Marea Partners

Learn how to align your personal values with your investments: YPO Presents Ask the Experts: Impact Investing Beyond COVID-19

“Imagine a better future for all. Let’s think about how we as leaders work toward creating a better world for everyone. And how do we play a role in doing that, one step at a time?”
Sarah Dusek, Co-founder Under Canvas, Managing General Partner, Enygma Ventures LLC

Learn more about what travel will look like next year and beyond: YPO Presents Back to Business: Travel Edition