Years ago I was asked to speak in Turkey. About a month before my trip I emailed my contact and asked “who else is on the agenda? What are they talking about?” I wanted to know when I’d have my hour, and make sure my presentation was complementary to the other presentations for this conference. Her reply changed my next month:
“You are the entire conference. You will be speaking from 8 in the morning until we end at 5.”
I spent the next month brushing the dust off of all of my presentations. 45 minutes on LinkedIn. 45 minutes on Twitter. 45 minutes on Facebook. 45 minutes on blogging. 45 minutes on personal branding. 45 minutes on career management, etc.
The trip was exhausting. I didn’t schedule enough time to acclimate to the time change and got very little sleep the “night” before the presentation. Also, my presentations rely on a bit of humor, and I get my energy from the audience reaction. However, in Turkey I had an interpreter who was in a little box in the middle of the room. I’d say a joke and about about 30 to 60 seconds after my joke, 33% of the audience would quietly chuckle. It was a stressful day, on very little sleep. Alas, I did fine and the audience was gracious.
After my day full of presenting a guy came up and said “a group of us meet privately once a month to talk about business and stuff, we’d love for you to come tomorrow morning.” I went, and it was amazing. Eye opening.
I remember thinking “my friends at home are so worried about the next episode of [insert sitcom or drama series here], while these entrepreneurs in Turkey are HUSTLING.”
The level of strategic thinking and desire to build and create and perform was almost scary. The difference I saw in that small group of people who met in a little restaurant compared with my own network back home made me want to scream. We, in the U.S., needed to focus more on progress and creating and entrepreneurship and careers and the future and less on our comfort.
Those were some of the thoughts I had in that morning meeting.
Don’t get me wrong… it was super exciting to be in that room with that high level of strategic thinking. I loved it.
And so here we are today. We’ve gone through the Great Recession of 2008. That impacted people I (and probably you) know. On the flip side, we’ve recently gone through a recent “great economy,” with super low unemployment, and a time of less stress and worry, which for many led to letting our guards down.
And then overnight we went from talk about the best economy ever to “we are approaching the Great Depression.” The news announced over 36 million people filing for unemployment. I’m sure the numbers are much greater with entrepreneurs who have had to close doors, and people who just haven’t filed. One out of five, I read. That is NUTS.
On social media people were saying “this is the time to retool, to get better, to go to school,” or whatever. Write your book, do that project, etc. If you didn’t… if you chose to binge-watch Netflix, you were wasting your quarantine.
Dorks waste their quarantine, right?
So, I honestly don’t care if you binge watched stuff. If you needed to do that just to mentally survive, go for it. Maybe you have been hustling with a ridiculous commute and a non-stop schedule, and this quarantine was finally a time for you to take a breath and slow down. If that was you, I’m glad you were able to finally slow down. I hope it was a time of self-reflection and gave you a minute to really think about your future.
But here is my invitation to you: think about your future, and your skills, now. And tomorrow, and for the rest of your life.
Don’t wait for a better economy when there is less stress. Don’t wait for a worse economy when you have some down time. Figure out where you want to be, and figure out how to get there.
Should you go to college? Maybe. Should you upskill on Pluralsight? I’d almost always say absolutely yes.
Maybe you should just change the books you read, or the shows you watch. Maybe take one $10 class on Udemy or Coursera. See what your community college offers, or go to a Home Depot Saturday class.
Don’t wait for the kids to move out, or the weather to get better. You can learn, and upskill, NOW. Prepare for the next upswing in the economy, because it will come. Or, prepare for the next downswing because that too will come.
That group of go-getters in Turkey wasn’t waiting. They weren’t waiting for better living conditions? They just needed a laptop and an internet connection and they were off and running. No excuses. They wanted a better way of life for them and their families. There was no “when this happens, then I’ll do that.”
Early in JibberJobber, when I started to see some very moderate successes, people would ask “are you happy?” I thought about that a lot… I wasn’t unhappy. And then I realized what my real answer was:
I was happy. Definitely. I was just not satisfied.
I invite you to be happy with where you are at. Enjoy what you are and what you have. Be proud of what you have accomplished. And then, out of dissatisfaction, and a yearning to be and create more, learn. Skill up. Try more. Do things. Make progress. Not because you are unhappy but because you know that you want to make progress.
It doesn’t have to be crazy progress. This is a long-term game.
Do it NOW and you’ll be ready when opportunities come up. You’ll have done the work, put in the time, have built the skills, and know the value of opportunities. You’ll also be educated enough to know what “opportunities” are dangerous or not worth it. Because you spent time skilling up.
That is my invitation to you. Now. Not when it’s easier, or some mythical time of when it’s better for you. Now.
Want to chat about it? Drop me a note and let’s jump on a call.