Nancy Lazkani is the founder and chief executive of Icon Media Direct, a media marketing company in Sherman Oaks. Through the pandemic, she oversaw the transition of her 87-person workforce to operate remotely as they continued to serve clients needing brand response and consumer insights in a highly volatile market. As pandemic-response restrictions recede, she is using the lessons she learned during the last year to improve her business going forward.
What did you learn from the pandemic? How important it is to have a good company culture that supports everyone. And I really learned the lesson of resiliency. I think that’s what shines through.
How will it permanently change your business?It’s OK to show up in different ways, but you still have to show up. It might be a hybrid or a virtual meeting with some people in a room. So being unwilling to accept the way people show up – that, to me, is probably one of the hardest things that we’re going to have to do to make sure that morale is up, that we encourage people to get out there and start living and start doing things, but also be patient. And understanding about everybody goes at their own pace. And how we’re going to meld that together, I don’t know exactly. But I do know that it’s going to be a hybrid model, with flexibility and understanding so that we can keep people motivated and inspired.How has your gender influenced the way you run your business?For me, when it comes to running my business, I don’t think about it. I don’t think about business being a gender issue with the pandemic, because we all got hit with it. But mothers and women in business or working in business, and women owners, I think we have an innate intuition. And I think mothers and women are the best at balancing and multitasking the home and the business. Men can do it too, but I think women have more of a natural ability to do that.
How would you describe your management style?As a woman, and being a woman leader, I have to stay focused, yet empathetic. And that was the only way I knew how to survive. In times like this last year, we need to understand how to take care of each other. And I’m not sure if that’s a woman thing as well, but I am all about a consortium of empathy and yet still staying focused on the task at hand.
How do you plan to grow your business in the future?Well, we’re growing now. So the future of my business is more of the same as far as the business strategy is concerned. And where we’re going technologically, I think that the pandemic has brought on an emphasis to excel our technology platform and what we do. So that’s the future. Our future office looks like a hybrid model, where people still can maintain the flexibility to do what they need to do to work from home. They’ve proven themselves. You know, during the worst times, people sacrificed a lot to help get the company and our clients through a very, very tumultuous time. So I think the reward for that, and the learning for that, is that we can do this virtually, we can do this in a combination.What is your favorite memory about your business over the last year?Some of my favorite moments during those times were of team meetings, through the virtual meetings, watching everything go on in the background, and trying to stay focused, but yet having a laugh. Knowing it’s OK to get distracted, but still coming up with great ideas to help keep our clients moving forward. Those were great experiences – it was hard, but at the end of it, you know, we’re all human. And I love that human element that we could see in people.
What advice would you give other entrepreneurs?Don’t give up – and don’t become a victim of your own demise. And when those days are hard, and you don’t feel like you can get up, just get up, just keep going. I think it’s really, really important for women to enlist the support of other women, but also enlist the help of other men because we need to survive in a multicultural world and a world that is inclusive of all different walks of lives. And I do believe that, no matter what your situation is, find your peace and just don’t let anything stand in your way.