We talked to Addicted.org’s CEO, Marcel Gemme, on how he helps fight the drug epidemic amid the pandemic, and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Marcel Gemme: We are doing well. In these times of crisis, the important thing is to keep the morale up by creating in your life. For me, I started to play more music and creating songs.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Addicted.org?
Marcel Gemme: I am a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist and have worked in the field for 20 years. I started my career as an intake coordinator and did that for five years before deciding to build a website to help more people. As the internet became more popular, I assisted more and more individuals who needed treatment.
Though I had a lot of substance abuse and addiction recovery experience, I was not very computer savvy. With my four young daughters’ help, I learned everything from scratch and brought my first website #1 in Canada in my field.
How does Addicted.org innovate?
Marcel Gemme: The way we innovate is by having a team of people who have experience in addiction, so we know what people want and need. I did not want to base my innovation on studies and theories, but my field experience.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Marcel Gemme: It affected our company because addiction treatment had to adapt and put in place protocols. This reduced the number of people they can admit. Some centers even closed their doors. Clients could not travel freely as before, so they were limited on where they could go.
As far as our company, we put Telework and utilized video conferencing software to stay in contact. Fortunately, we did not have to lay off any staff.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Marcel Gemme: During the pandemic, there was a noticeable decrease in website traffic. If this happened in the past, I would have made drastic changes to fix it. I decided not to make any changes in the way we were operating because I believed the issue to be directly related to the pandemic. In the end, it was the right call, but it was a difficult choice. I learned that I would not have been able to make that decision had it not been for my years of experience.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Addicted.org in the future?
Marcel Gemme: I deal very well with stress as it comes when someone has a hard time to control certain parts of his life or cannot solve problems. The importance, as I mentioned above, is to keep creating your life. Start new projects that you have dreamed of for years but never had time to do.
As for myself and my company, I feel the future is bright. We have recently decided to expand our operations and are excited to help more people get help.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Marcel Gemme: Our competitors are big companies investing millions in marketing and have hundreds of staff members. Our budget is nowhere near that size, and we operate with around 20 staff. We need to be smarter and intelligent to stay in the competition. We are! Our field’s main factors are innovating and keeping alert, and predicting our field’s tendencies as the drug epidemic is totally out of control. Sometimes, the solutions for it create a new and often more significant problem.
Your final thoughts?
Marcel Gemme: For any business owner, the vital thing is, in these crazy times, to become very creative. Of course, we need to work harder, but the reward will be directly proportional.
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