Prosper in the Midst of
by Karim Jaude
Change hits, whether you invite it or not. The best you can do is to get
ready for it and navigate with it. Only then, can you and your business prosper
in the midst of change.
Uncertainty abounds around us, as seen in today's corporate climate. We
feel the discomfort, confusion, insecurity and high stress. We see change
and feel incompetent to deal with it.
Imagine you've been a faithful employee for the past 13 years. Then one
day, no fault of your own, it's over. You find yourself without work. The
one thing you know how to do that you've always done, no one is hiring for
that same job anymore. You've become unemployable, obsolete.
Or, suddenly, less experienced, less educated, younger colleagues become
your boss. Change and disparity happen. The workplace has a glut of 24-year-old
company ex-presidents from the former hi-tech boom (many of whom didn't know
what they were doing, and still don't). I'm 56. At a recent Brentwood meeting
I walked into a room full of young executives, the oldest was 35.
What do you do?
Change happens fast. Then, we're stuck with it. But how we deal with it
will determine our success. I recommend you prepare to:
- Recognize it.
- Admit it.
- Accept it.
- Benefit from it.
- Have fun with (vs. resist) it.
Preparation for the unexpected reduces the hard knocks. The loss can often
create a new opportunity for you, instead of an obstacle. Maybe now you can
start that new training you thought you might need some day.
How ready are you for change in our ever-changing world? Rank yourself on
- How comfortable am I in my current situation?
- In what ways might I already be obsolete?
- Do I have the skills to evolve given a dilemma?
- How do I plan to re-engineer myself?
- Do I respond or react to change?
Let's look at what you can do:
- Give up something. (Including denial.) Be willing to see change
as part of the overall package. To get what you want in life, you have to
forgo something else. It seems hard to let go… until we realize - finally!
- it's much harder to hang on. Old School managers have the toughest time
(terminal denial). They still operate under Army Style Management: "This
is your job. I tell you what to do. You do it. (No questions asked.)"
Consider my 60-year-old client who ran a $130 million operation. Himself.
It ran his way, though he had 2 sons, 1 brother, and a sister in the business.
He controlled everything and signed every check himself. He trusted no one,
yet felt he ran the place like Swiss clockwork. Until, one day, a computer
virus showed up. We hired a consultant to fix it. However, in the process,
he also discovered that 1/3 of the company's 100 employees wasted up to 4
business hours daily in computer game playing, gambling, and porn. My client
first denied the assertions, then only acknowledged the problem when the
consultant told him exactly who did what on which computers. Aghast, the
ol' guy finally agreed to let go. He dismissed 35 employees; fired himself;
hired an interim manager; and, brought someone in to groom his unprepared
sons to become CEO and President/COO. Remember, the greater the value of
achievement usually means the greater the cost.
- Change with change. More than one successful businessperson has
made their fortune in a field other than the one they started in.
I know a lawyer who, after the war in Lebanon, could no longer continue
his practice for lack of demand. Instead, he established an import/export
business. Eventually, he built a plant to manufacture construction materials,
specializing in window glass. My client now sells glass throughout the Middle
East and earns more money than I do. The very war that had shattered his
profession had also shattered buildings and windows nationwide, from which
he then derived his new fortune.
- Assess your confidence. Avoid under-estimating a situation's
In a local business group, I met a very proficient, young businessman in
money management. You could tell he had learned a lot over the years from
the corporate and executive positions he had held. At one of our meetings,
I learned he had been offered the presidency of a small company and turned
it down. I became furious! Why would he ever think of refusing such a prime
opportunity? Sadly, he admitted, he did not 'feel' competent enough for the
position. Thus, he lost an opportunity to earn 5 times his current income!
Great change came, but he wasn't ready for success. Maybe he didn't think
himself qualified, but the VP of HR who offered him the job sure did. Know
your strengths, and trust the positive assessment of others.
- Diversify or specialize. It works as well on Main Street as it
does on Wall Street.
I know a family-owned office supply business. They've done well over the
past 2 or 3 generations. Then Staples came to town, Office Depot opened
up near them, and they could no longer compete. The owner, his wife, and
their sole clerk became despondent, faced with loss of their livelihood.
After consultation, he decided to convert their product-line to distinctive
items the others didn't carry. Today, he provides specialized supplies and
repair for office equipment exclusively, and employs 17 staff in a business
that has prospered better after the crisis than ever before.
- Project into the future. Weigh the past and imagine future trends,
but get ready for them in the present.
The IT industry moves so fast that, by the time information reaches your
hands, it 's already outdated. I consult for an entrepreneur in the computer
installation and service field. We need to forecast not just his business,
but also his industry as a whole. Together we imagine potential software
and voice recognition systems that will be needed when today's hardware-specifically,
the keyboard-becomes obsolete. We approach his business with queries such
as, "What will happen when today's computing media goes the same route of
LP's, or VHS tape…?"
Let's summarize the steps from the case studies above for prospering amidst
- Know and work on yourself.
- Improve your skills.
- Build confidence.
- Know your industry.
- Be prepared (or at least, aware) for the unexpected.
Visionary leaders take 15 minutes every day to prepare. Each day, they ask
themselves, "What if…" It may mean "What if I loose 10 clients tomorrow? What
are my choices?" Or, it may mean, "What if we take the risk? How could we
benefit from that chance?"
How ready are you to prosper when change offers the opportunity?
Karim A. Jaude (The Coach) is the founder of "BusinessCoach1"; a business
and professional coaching service. For over six years he has been coaching
entrepreneurs, executives and professionals to develop their skills, promote
and grow their business, their teams and themselves; and to achieve peak performance
while have fun in the process. He coaches by phone or in person. He practices
in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles. Karim can be reached at 310-471-4185.
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