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Learning and Pivoting: The New Normal in Uncertain Times

May 26, 2020

Special thanks this month to small business and marketing consultant Cathren Kayce for contributing this guest blog on the skill (or shall I say the art?) of pivoting! I'm not sure anything defines the last two months better than the word "pivot". If you're finding yourself in a place now where you need to pivot professionally, this blog is for you:

With unemployment skyrocketing almost overnight, when times are so uncertain, especially around our jobs and careers, the skill to adapt is a powerful tool to have in your toolbox. It’s your ability to pivot to changing times.

Pivoting in business means that you’re able to take your company in a different direction than originally planned because circumstances changed. It’s a strategy. It’s the same concept for your life. Learning and the skill to be able to pivot are becoming the new normal for many.

For example, most recently people and companies have started to make designer face masks. Who would have thought of doing this a year ago? What opportunities are open now, that were not open just a few months ago? Is it time to take your career in a new direction?

Here are three ways to begin to think in terms developing a pivot strategy for yourself.

  1. Be Open to All Possibilities. If you’ve been in a stable job and recently lost it, now is the time to be open to all possibilities. If you allow it, a whole new world of potential positive outcomes awaits.
  • Consider contract and gig assignments.
  • Consider opening a business or a side business.
  • Consider teaching others what you know.

If you’ve only worked full-time career positions for most of your life, consider now contract positions and side gigs. It may not be forever, but it can lead to something even greater.

Arun Sundararajan, a management professor at New York University and author ofThe Sharing Economy,says "this is the work arrangement for the future." The new normal will be freelance work. "Twenty years from now, I don't think a typical college graduate is going to expect that full-time employment is their path to building a career," Sundararajan says. – Source: NPR, Freelanced: The Rise of the Contract Worker.

The key is to keep an open mind, take all calls, emails or LinkedIn messages as potential opportunities. If you immediately think, “this isn’t right for me,” you also shut down the energy of possibility.

For example, a prospect called me and inquired about my services. We went through a phone call, a Zoom video call and the prospect asked for my references. I had one of my references talk to this person directly. When I had my final call with the prospect, he decided not to use my services afterall, because he was moving out of the country. But what he did provide for me was where I could go to find a new customer segment for my business and he even made a direct introduction to his vendor. It was a customer segment I never thought of approaching. The information my prospect provided me was more valuable than securing him as a client. Instead of disappointment, I remained opened to possibilities.

  1. Stay Relevant and Keep Learning. Not only is learning good for your career and job prospects, it’s good for your brain health. Unlike any other time in history, you can learn new skills on YouTube, LinkedIn and many other sources. Your local library will have resources for you to look into and the majority of them are all free.

Learning is hot in business and according to a March 11, 2020 article, 5 Big Benefits of Learning New Skills, “Learning new skills is essential to advancing your career. It diversifies your job options and helps you develop new techniques to keep up with the fast-changing world.”

While I was writing this article, I learned that upskilling means to learn new skills within the same job function and reskilling means learning new skills for a different job function. So instead binge-watching Netflix, use your time to learn new skills. With so many interesting learning videos to watch, think of learning as fun instead of something you have to do.

  1. Continue to Develop Your Network. It’s always important to continue to grow your network and build relationships. Reach out to people, either on social networks, email or phone. Get to know people, see what they are doing and what they are up to. See if there is anything you can do to assist them or connect them with people you know. One social network that is important is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is growing in leaps and bounds and if you don’t have a profile now, it’s a good idea to get one and maximize it. LinkedIn even offers online classes to teach you to maximize your profile.

We are certainly in changing times, and it’s not going to stop changing. Nothing is going to go back to exactly the way it was. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed us and will be a part of history. The sooner that fact is accepted, the sooner we can all move forward. So, what is your pivot strategy?

Cathren Kayce has been a small business and marketing consultant for more than 15 years and has a talent for helping people develop new ways to reinvent themselves. For more information, she can be reached at