Normally when we hit the mid-year point, we’re thinking about how to finish off the year strong and even begin planning for next year. But 2020 has obviously been anything but normal, and this year as we enter July it seems like everything is just getting started.
In reality, the year so far has been divided into two distinct parts: the first almost-quarter, until about mid-March, and then the COVID-19 Era, which will long be remembered as the time when everything changed. On March 10, I got off a stage in Las Vegas after speaking at the Catersource annual conference – my third keynote speech in nine days, and also likely my last for the year. Less than a month later, every single paid event on my calendar for 2020 had been canceled.
I’ve always been a glass-half-full kind of guy; I prefer optimism to pessimism, calm and happiness to stress and fear, and believing the best about people and the future. I guess that’s why I’ve always focused on positive customer experiences instead of negative ones; I figured the brands that were screwing up had enough people piling on publicly in social media, and there is so much to learn from companies who are doing it right.
It’s been hard to be an optimist during COVID-19, especially with the addition of racial injustice, petty politics, and soaring unemployment in the United States and elsewhere. One way I’ve been coping is to focus on the future and how to ensure my business survives – and thrives – in a post-pandemic world. By focusing on the long-term instead of the short-term, I put my attention on developing products and services and planning for the future instead of wallowing in the drastically-reduced-revenue present.
Almost immediately, I wrote off any chance of public keynote speeches in 2020. Since that was a large part of my business income, it was a tough pill to swallow, but I only allowed myself a day or two of disappointment. Then I started writing Book Number Two, and in less than 2 months I was 85% done. I am now talking to publishers and can’t wait to share the book with the world in early 2021. It will also be the basis for at least one new keynote speech.
Like other speakers, I pivoted to virtual presentations, but I knew I’d never have the best lighting, cameras, microphones, and other technology, so instead I focused on quality content delivered differently. The result has been a bunch of projects with unique and fun videos, podcasts, and other recurring content that clients and audiences absolutely love.
Finally, I am in the process of launching my customer experience coaching business, and I couldn’t be more excited. Customer experience has never been more critical than right now, and coaching allows me a different and more personal avenue to help others make real progress in their CX endeavors. The initial response from my “beta testers” has been phenomenal, and I predict this will become a big part of my business in the next year. (To that end, if you are interested in a complimentary 90-minute CX coaching session with absolutely no sales pitch but tons of value you can start using immediately, please grab a spot on my calendar. Spaces are limited.)
Do I miss speaking on big stages, traveling, and talking with conference-goers in person? Of course I do, and I can’t wait to get back to that sometime next year. But in the meantime, this horrible time in our planet’s history may just end up the turning point in my career as a solopreneur. It can be for you too, if you take the time to focus on what’s important to you, what you love doing, and how you can make positive change in the world.
Whether the glass is half full or half empty is up to you.