10 things businesspeople can do to adapt in the new economy

It’s rough out there.  Customers have lost their discretionary income.  Some have no income at all.  If you do business to business  then you know budgets have been severely cut back.  It seems like nobody’s buying.  So what do you do while things are slow.

10.  This economic situation is temporary and if you can wait it out, times will be good again.  But the world will be different and you can be ready for that.  While things are slow, use the time to reevaluate your business strategy.  Who are your customers and what do they really want?   Now’s the time to go visit or call or email them and ask!  You might be the only business person who does, making you stand out.

9. Catch up on your reading, and not just books but online resources as well. Often the most relevant information is available on the web first.  Set up news alerts and RSS feeds for the area you are in.  Keep tabs on the new thinkers, not just the old faithfuls – they might end up redefining your world. 

8. Make some new friends.  If you’re on Twitter, try going to a TweetUp, or Jelly. Try some new activities in your business or home community.  Ask someone new out for a coffee, someone in a different business entirely.  Ask them about their business and interests.  Be curious and open and you may synthesize ideas into something no one else in your industry has thought of.

7. Start a conversation.  Start a blog, join Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.  Sharing your knowledge for free and being transparent about your thoughts and actions is the new business model.  It gives people a sample of the kind of thinker and communicator you are and creates trust and connection.

6. Learn something new, go to a class, try a webinar.  The possibilities are enormous for learning new skills and methods of doing what you do.  Also, the connections you make at learning events can open doors to new ideas and customers.  While you’re learning, take the opportunity to connect with others in the audience or class and find out what kind of work they do, how they do it and genuinely seek to keep in touch.  This isn’t about selling something – it’s about creating authentic connections.

5. Help someone else.  Mentor a young business person.  Provide free speaking engagements to chambers of commerce, Rotary clubs, colleges and universities and other business groups.  Write articles.  Volunteer for organizations that provide services you are passionate about and get to know the people involved.  

4. Focus on your strengths. Here’s where you start looking inward and perhaps start making some changes.  Start by understanding your values and strengths.   Take the VIA signature strengths test  to identify the strengths that come most easily to you.   Then work on projects that align with your values and use those strengths.  Try some of the other questionnaires on the site as well – learn what makes you tick.

3. Check your intent.  When you connect with customers do you intend to create a relationship or simply to sell a product and move on?  Do you intend to adapt to changing circumstances, even if you don’t yet know how, or are you content to join the grim chorus calling for the end of the world?  Be honest.  People can smell a snooker a mile away.  And remember that optimism is contagious and your customers will sense your good intent, strength, optimism and belief in your business, and be attracted to you.

2. Think and act positively.  An accurately positive attitude, including confidence and optimism about things you can control, is attractive.  People want to be surrounded by, and support, positive influences, especially now.  Seek out others who have the same approach and who will support you looking for opportunities to make realistic and achievable changes.  Lead the change you want to see.

1.  Ask for help.  People love to help, both professionally and personally.  In addition to the help you receive, you can make some great connections by asking experts to help you.  And one day you will be able to help in return.


Resilience thinking and adapting exercise in the dark months

There are a couple of ways to look at what I did this morning.

One is that I started exercising.

Another is that I resumed exercising.

I’ve been reading a lot about resilience and reflecting on how it helps people adapt.  One way to test your resilience is through your view of  yourself, “Am I a ‘me, always, everything’ person or a “not me, not always, not everything’ person?”

I use to be, and sometimes still am, a “me, always, everything” person.  If I didn’t exercise the way I had imagined and sometimes achieved “exercise” in my world, then I had failed to be committed to fitness, I had failed every time I tried, and in fact I failed at the entire fitness model.  The result was I was scared to commit to getting fit again because I didn’t want to face the shame (I’m a bad person) when I inevitably didn’t exercise, proving yet again that I was a failure.

Now I see my taking action on fitness, or not, as “not me, not always, and not everything”.  There are specific circumstances that lead me to stop exercising.  Those circumstances are temporary, and I do continue to pursue physical activity that keeps me reasonably healthy until I resume the intense workouts I know my body likes.

Today, I started it up again, doing what I know will give me strength, flexibility, a sense of self-efficacy, better sleep and a good appetite.  I did a long walk, some serious lower and upper body work, and some good stretching.  And I’m going to ask for help.  I’m going to use my network of coaches, friends and family to help me talk through my high and low energy days, and keep me in action.  

And I’m going to keep adapting!  If some days on the journey I don’t bench press 80lbs, then it’s not a character flaw, it’s temporary (one day), local (circumstantial) and impersonal (I’m still a good person).  I can adjust for days when I haven’t had much sleep, or when work really is more important.  There will be days when it just makes a whole lot more sense to go tobogganing with the neighbour kids than to do lunges in my spare bedroom.  There will be days when we have to tramp through the woods and cut firewood because the ground is frozen and we will best be able to pull the logs out over the snow.  And there are firehall dances where Twist of Fate will keep me moving like a teenager for two hours.  Those are the temporary, local, impersonal triggers to exercise adaptation.  And they themselves are exercise.  I can adapt my “vision” of exercise to the goal I want to achieve – physical strength and endurance, healthy weight, and positive mood.

References: The Resilience Factor: 7 Essential Skills for Overcoming Life’s Inevitable Obstacles

Keeping exercise up in the dark months

I was just talking to my own coach about my frustration at not having exercised for 3 weeks and I realized I need to document my thoughts now so I have something to remind me!

Now, I have to qualify this by saying I do one or two dog walks every day for 2-4 km. When I say exercise, I mean an hour of weights, lunges, pushups, etc. You know, the stuff that gets results.

The backstory to this is that I had a couple of setbacks in my otherwise pretty good fitness commitment in the last two years. The first came when I was on top of my fitness and could clean and jerk 30 lbs in each hand, hold a plank position for over 2 minutes and do jacknives on the exercise ball. Then I got plantar fasciitis – I couldn’t put weight on my foot. I stopped exercising. I gained 20 lbs. I was very unhappy.

I slowly got better, got back into exercising, rebuilt my strength and felt better. Then the iron deficiency hit. I was exhausted all the time. Exercise no longer gave me an energy boost, it shut me right down.

Now that I’m on iron pills, I got back in the game again. I had a summer of gardening, hauling, digging, turning compost, rebuilding the veggie garden beds – all the heavy stuff. I swam in the lake regularly, climbed staging to paint the outside of the house, walked, dug a pond. I felt great.

But now that the days are short and cold, my enthusiasm for lifting weights is at a low ebb again. Maybe it’s SAD or maybe it’s fear of that overwhelming exhaustion again. But something has to be done. And I know my iron is back up.

So here’s what I have decided to do:

1. Recognize that my body has a cycle. By attending to my body and rating my energy on a scale of 1-10, I can sense when I’m prepared to kick butt, and when I need to curl up with a good blog. When my energy is high, instead of writing blogs and reading coaching books, I can use my high body energy to get in some good muscle-strengthening. When it’s low I can rest and read.

2. Since my energy ebbs and flows over the course of the day, I am going to get right into my exercise gear as soon as I’m up in the morning. That way there’s nothing standing between me and my workout when I’m feeling ready to rock.

3. I need a milestone every week, so I will put one workout in my calendar, set up a checklist of moves and make sure I get through it. That way, I’ll get my body going at least once a week regardless of my underlying sense of energy. The more I do it, the more I’ll want to do it.

4. Everything I ever needed to know I learned from my greyhounds. They are the ultimate couch potatoes. They sleep 23 hours a day, upside down like dead cockroaches on the sofa. But they have two distinct playtimes every day when they get up, shake themselves, have a big stretch, and start running, chasing, tossing toys in the air. If they get to go out in the meadow, they will run hard just for the fun of it. They seem so proud of themselves! I am going to use their get up time to signal me to get up too. When they play I will go play with them – run around outside, play tag, hide and seek, etc.

5. And finally, I will be accountable to myself by tweeting my success on Twitter.

Exercising in the dark months means structure and adaptability, the yin and yang of life.
Getting exercise in the dark months takes a little structure, and a little adaptability. I’ll report back and we’ll see how it goes.

Spiders are adaptive – are you?


A recent Globe and Mail article tells us that spiders sent to the International Space Station were able to make webs in zero gravity. The author compares their initial failures, and quick adaptability, to the path we can all take in the new economy.

The spiders did not strike for better gravity, sink into helplessness, or demand compensation. They just got on with it.

The spider experiment is a great metaphor for human adaptation: Notice, respond, learn, adapt. They tried webmaking as usual and failed, but learned something from the failure. Taking action is the key, and continuing to take action after failure using the new learning is the way adaptive organisms thrive.

Can you adapt and get on with it?

Reflections on my maiden voyage as coaching teleclass trainer

As one of the learning opportunities in the ICA Train the Trainer class, I had the chance to lead a normal ICA teleclass.  I had the wonderful experience of working with Michael Monitz as my mentor coach/trainer.  He generously supported me leading one of his classes – Getting Started –  and gave me solid, supportive feedback and encouragement both before and after the class.  Thank you Michael!

While I’ve done training by conference call in the past, usually as a fallback when in-class training was not possible, it was always in the context of a consulting contract in which I already had a relationship with at least a few of the participants, and I already knew their challenges and corporate culture.  

In contrast, the ICA model is pre-designed to support adult learning in the teleclass medium.  It’s not a “second best” approach.  Participants can come from a variety of backgrounds, time zones, cultures, first languages, visions for coaching, styles and types of coaching, business backgrounds, and so on.  So there were a few new elements to the training that I knew were necessary to work on:

  • Because it was a Foundation Level class, some of the learners might be in their very first ICA class – I wanted to warmly welcome them into the community and support their courage in taking the first steps
  • I had never met the learners before, nor had they met each other: it was necessary to build a safe learning space, trust and rapport in minutes rather than the hours I might have as a consultant
  • The training I do with my consulting clients is very familiar to me – I’ve done it for years and have had enough feedback from clients to know they like my approach and it works; in contrast, leading the coaching class meant new material, new learner types, new lesson plans, competencies, assessment approach, etc. – there was really no common element except the human one

The class was a Saturday afternoon class, and very small.  There was, indeed, one person for whom this was the first class at ICA, and one person who had started months ago, took a break, and was back to start again.

The lesson plan is in another post, but in essence, it’s all about what it will take for you to start coaching, to begin to build your model and approach, and feel confident enough to make and keep supportable agreements with clients.

I was humbled by the power of silence and the “aha” moments for the learners.  My supportive  silence allowed them to think, think again, go deeper and share with each other.  The sense of trust was palpable by the end of the class.

All in all it was a fantastic learning experience!  Thank you ICA!