While crafting our vision for 2024 we have been called back to the mental discipline of a United States Medal of Honor recipient.
Carrier Air Group Commander Jim Stockdale’s plane was crash landing over North Vietnam in 1965. He was 40 years old and knew his age and rank would be held against him and in the 30 seconds that he parachuted down from his aircraft and into the middle of an angry North Vietnamese village he estimated he would spend the next 5 years of his life as a prisoner. The torture Stockdale and his fellow captives endured was inhuman and led to the creation of the Stockdale paradox he penned upon being freed after 8 years.
Whilst sequestered in our home in April of 2020 we published an article about what we could all learn from the Stockdale paradox and the principles of endurance and persistence. Looking at the 4-year anniversary of that experience in the face we think it rings as true today as it did then. We wondered then and still wonder today if the pandemic is really a 5 to 7-year calamity.
All the major institutions like the federal reserves and the federal governments made decisions that while having certain short run impacts created medium term consequences. It has been a turbulent time for business owners and their employees. As we turn towards year 4 post covid the Stockdale paradox would advise us to not think about a terminus date like 2025 or 2027 but rather to be convinced of our ability to survive and make living at this time the defining moment in our careers and all the while stick to our daily basics.
What are the basics?
We wrote a book about the basics called “The Next Gen Almanac” in 2016 and will be highlighting the essentials in our 2024 editions of Branches & Roots. We created a quick diagnostic for the key areas of your life so you can easily handle what life throws at you and keep adapting and moving forward. Here are the categories.
Look for some fun announcements in this area in 2024 as the new AI tools continue to allow all of us to productize our offerings in new and hopefully impactful ways.
Thank you for your readership and friendship in this our 10th year as a company, let’s put the pedal to the floor together in 2024!
Drew & Sara
CV Crisis Chronicle: May 5, Are you Stuck in Irons or are you Peering around the Pandemic Bend? Colonel John Boyd's OODA Loop can help.
This is a series of articles from emails that we were sending out to clients and friends as the CV Crisis evolves. Hope it is helpful for others and also provides a historical context as we all reacted and learned about the seriousness of this virus.
The last 7 weeks have been intense, with health and economic fears hitting our midsections like Muhammed Ali punches. The loss of life has been an cruel lottery, everywhere in some places and seemingly nowhere in others. Job loss has been far easier to spot, its on every street corner and apart of every Zoom catch up call with friends.
Job loss doesn't kill you, but it can push some closer to poverty's edge and for others push out a retirement timeline, when those sands of time feel like they are slipping away. Both scenarios cause grief and grief works on humans like rust on metal, it never sleeps.
Three weeks ago we wrote about our new social and economic normal being in place until we get a Vaccine + 6 months and in those three weeks we have seen businesses adapt by severely cutting their spending to extend their cash runway. They are doing this because V+6 is so hard to peg and 24 months while easy to picture is hard to plan for. The image we came up with for this is when a sail boat is pointed directly into the wind, it can not tack and this is called being "Stuck in Irons" as the sails flap about making a ton of noise, while to boat goes nowhere. Is there a lot of noise around your family and business, but you aren't sure if you are going anywhere?
However a couple of things appear to be coming out of this period as well. The brutal truth is getting shared more, customers and vendors and channel partners have lost the ability to bluff and while the truth can hurt, it also can be a great teacher. As a leader of a family and a company you might ask, what did I learn, and what does it mean and the end of each day or week?
Your best customers identified themselves in the last 7 weeks and so did your worst.
Your best vendors identified themselves in the last 7 weeks and so did your worst.
Your best friends identified themselves in the last 7 weeks and so did your worst.
On the customer front, make a map of those best customers, there are others like them and you need to say hello right away and start the process of acquiring them immediately, the good news here is that you have more clarity on why you will be a good fit which should help in the awkward early stages.
On the vendor front, you probably learned how strong their balance sheet was, the more they freaked out, the worse off they probably were. Seek higher ground with better players in this space because you really have to expect more bad news in the future.
With your good friends, even if it is just one, pour into them with your compassion and empathy and allow them to do the same to you. We all need allies now.
Here are some thoughts on How to go from Stuck in Irons to Peering around the Pandemic Bend?
Airforce Colonel John Boyd was a world class fighter pilot and changed how our war planes were built in this country, his biography is worth the listen or read depending on your preference. Colonel Boyd also left behind a decision making frame work that is the standard for our military and might be of use to all when it comes to adapting.
The OODA loop stands for Oberve, Orient, Decide, Act and is born out of air to air combat training that earned Colonel Boyd the nickname (40 Second Boyd) because he would allow his combatant an advantage position on him and within 40 seconds would be in a position to kill them.
Most of us can now relate to feeling like we are in a disadvantaged position and maybe it is time to take a page from Colonel Boyd's book and run the OODA loop to help us Peer around the Pandemic Bend both from a family but also a work stand point.
Observe what is causing your discomfort of pain, measure the size and scope and do not hedge the size or seriousness of its power.
Orient yourself and your assets to the enemy. How can you adapt given what you have currently within reach?
Decide on action to take.
Act on that decision.
Reflect and run the loop again.
Much of the OODA loop training in the military is how to run the loop faster than your enemy, to get inside their OODA loop. Today's climate is perfect for taking that same point of view. Consider running a daily OODA loop for yourself, and family. Run a daily OODA loop for your work team. These simple questions will allow you to get to a brutal truth as quickly as possible which will allow you to adapt.
May appears to be a month where the country will tear itself apart at the seems as the battle for economic safety pits itself against our collective health. Our regional differences will be on display and their will be a few Gollum moments as the pursuit of "our precious" rings will get ugly.
Our aim in May is to work with those self identified best customers, vendors, and friends and improve our OODA loop skills as we push forward through the fog of this pandemic war. Call or email us if you need help.
This is the third email and second checkpoint in our 1/1/2022 Victim or Victor Series.
A quick disclosure on the title.
Early in the pandemic a friend mentioned the phrase "Victim or Victor" off hand in a conversation and it seemed appropriate, not in a dominance sort of way, but as a mental puzzle.
Kind of like we all get to choose our mindset in every situation and the hope is that you will see the good and work towards the victory.
That friend just lost his wine crop for the year in the recent fires and we are crushed for him.
2020 has been a year of so much loss and required so many people to work so hard to keep things going that it is humbling to even have the audacity to write and expect anyone to have the time to read our prose.
We write to share what we are learning to encourage others and as a form of self therapy to look for the good amidst the clouds and for us in Northern California the seemingly endless smoke.
Thank you for your friendship and readership.
Drew & Sara
Uncertainty reigns right now. (Don't forget to still Plan)
Meaningful Shared Experiences are being created every week in 2020 (this bodes well for the future)
Checking in with people in the next 45 days before the holiday rush might be a good idea.
In closing if you want to help out our friend who lost his crop you can sign up for their periodic offerings and wine sales here.
Click for the NEXT post in the Series or the PREVIOUS post.
Email continues to be the killer app for developing and maintaining a respected position with your clients, customers and prospects. Recent data shows that enterprise and individual customers spend the vast majority of their time reading and communicating inside of an email application.
What does this mean for you?
It means that unless you have a business which really wants to attract a customer that it doesn’t know and offer them a commodity (think owning a McDonalds franchise) you don’t really need to spend a ton of money on social media. Your best course of action is to have a well-developed email communication plan that integrates with your website and sales team.
The frequency of your email communication should depend on the type of service or product you are delivering. It can range from a travel service emailing you multiple times a week, to an estate planning law firm that shares its findings once a quarter. If you want our advice on what your cadence should be, click here.
Don't worry, we have not picked up a new bad habit, a recent trip to the library had me opening up a new book, and the combination of the adhesives and paper gave off a smell that made me smile. If you can imagine that smell right now, then you might really enjoy this edition.
When it comes to reading, word of mouth seems important. We just don’t want to make a book purchase and end up with a dud. With that in mind we suggested for the past summer 12 book ideas for the 12 weeks of summer. We hope you find one of our selections interesting and that you find the time to read (or like many of us listen to the book).
We have divided up the recommendations into five categories:
Most of these books are not new but they all were worth the investment of time, money and enrichment a good book can bring. CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR SELECTIONS
It was front page news in 1982 when IBM announced it was laying off employees, the security of lifetime employment with Big Blue was in doubt. The undertone to others was this meant that almost no private sector employee was safe. From moments like that 35 years ago to today, the idea of a personal brand and its cultivation have been forming. You, the individual, have the ability to create what the brand marketers will define as a 'promise wrapped up in an experience' and LinkedIn has been building a platform for your brand since its founding in 2002.
In the last five years LinkedIn has not only been a great place to store all your contacts, it is a great place to share your thoughts and perspectives. In a business world where almost all employment contracts are “at-will” (which means you are working week to week at the whim of your boss), it is increasingly important to have a place to share what you have to offer an industry or marketplace.
There are several key actions to consider when it comes to publishing on LinkedIn. The first is to share what others have posted and add your comments. This is easy lifting and benefits the person who created the original content. The second is to....
If your network is the sum of all your shared experiences, and your production is the outcome of your efforts, than we would like you to consider that your personal flywheel is the combined influence of all of your connections. The great thing about having a network of people you have shared life experiences with is that they are a primary source on you and your character. Another benefit is that your network also cares deeply about their own success, and they are actively growing their own careers. As the calendar year turns towards the summer months, consider allocating some of that lost time of production to feeding your relationships with genuine inquiries regarding well-being and current plans. We wrote a white paper on this topic so if it feels awkward, you can follow our script. The interaction with your network will keep your activity and acuity levels at game-ready speed at a time of year when things can slow down. The norms of reciprocity will also be in your favor, as you seek to understand what’s new with them, they will return the inquiry. Give it a shot and let us know how it goes.
Next read our post on The Long Tail of networking on LinkedIN
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