6 min read
During much of her career, Judy Smith was on speed dial for some of the world's leading companies, high profile celebrities and individuals.
Smith is one of the most sought-after crisis management experts in the world. He has, among others, historical events such as the Iran Contra investigation, the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the hacking crisis of the Sony Corporation as well as the reaction of the United Nations Foundation and the World Health Organization to the SARS epidemic. Her incredible career as a "fixer" in Washington was so legendary that it became the foundation for the hit TV show "Scandal," in which Kerry Washington followed in her footsteps as the fearless Olivia Pope.
After decades of advising CEOs, brands, politicians and celebrities faced with real moments, Judy Smith founded Smith & Company, a powerful collection of crisis managers, strategists, storytellers and digital specialists who help clients achieve their goals around the world to reach globe. Among other dynamic initiatives, her company has led the way in bringing together executives and medical professionals to tackle the devastating health and financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. They have also advised companies on issues relating to social justice and corporate culture.
Smith recently sat down for an in-depth discussion of her career, the art of crisis management, and what it takes to run a global organization in good times and bad. You can listen to the entire conversation above and read the highlights of that conversation below, edited for length and clarity.
Have (no) plan
"I founded Smith & Company almost 20 years ago. And I had no strategy or plan! I had left the American company and had just started receiving calls on various topics from people who wanted to see if I could work with them wanted – if I could help. And I said sure. And that's how business really went over time. And probably like most people who start a business, I've done anything. I said I could do anything, right “From an ad campaign to brochures. But what I found is that I really couldn't do everything. So I started focusing on my sweet spot, which is providing strategic advice and advice and showing companies how to assess and assess risk Can alleviate problems. Then I feel like it really came together. "
Related: What Michael Jordan's Relentless Drive Can Teach Us About Working Through A Crisis
About taking risks
"I would encourage people who are thinking of starting a business to take risks. And get out of your safety zone. Every job that has led me to really incredible experiences has been because I took a risk. I said," Well, let's try! "And I think it helped. But you can't just be willing to take risks, you have to be willing to learn that there are some things that you will be good at and some things that you can't. But you will learn from these mistakes, and that's a good thing. "
At the root of all successful crisis management
“Often times, problem solving and crisis management really come down to the common denominator: what would you expect from the other person? So if I said something inappropriate or something that didn't come out the way I intended, I have to If you make a mistake or need to correct yourself, come out immediately and explain your mistake to the person who hurt you. There's nothing wrong with that. I think people will appreciate that. "
Related: 26 Inspirational Quotes About Crisis Management And Teamwork From Military Veterans
When recruiting and expanding
"I never wanted to be a big company. I just really wanted to be a really, really, really good company. Not to really say that you can't do both, but for me the work we do and the brand that we have is vital and I think we do our best business by providing strategic advice and advice with a really strong, close group. I'm very conscious of the people I hire. I don't want any Hire people who are like me. Different opinions and backgrounds are important. You want people who bring different perspectives to the table, don't you? Anyone who works for us will tell you the interview process is grueling! It takes a lot to get in here. "
On the Covid 19 crisis
"When the pandemic broke out, we kept hearing from so many people that they needed science-based information to make good real decisions about their workforce. They needed facts. That's why we formed an incredible partnership with Johns Hopkins, we have unmatched Science gained. We have trained nearly 10 million people since we started this partnership. We share this information with large corporations and their employees, as well as schools and other organizations. Wanted to bring out facts that people can rely on when they decide what needs to be done to keep everyone safe and healthy. "
Related: How will the Covid-19 crisis affect the next generation of entrepreneurs?
About Olivia Pope, fact versus fiction
"No, I don't move bodies! That's the main question people ask me about my life and my scandal. But yes, I wear a lot of white, that part is true. What was really important to me on the show. It was developed, that this character, Olivia Pope, had to be strong, confident of who she was and what she was doing, and that she was really good at it. And she wasn't shy about it. She didn't apologize for it. She was excited about her job and had Compassion for clients. And I think the show was successful with that. And you know what viewers don't always realize is the collective force they had in making the show and legacy the millions of people who have seen the show, made history because it was the first television show to have an African American head start in 35 years! And you can see today that this collective power has changed the landscape in the entertainment industry. "