In this episode, the 49th episode of Coffee with Jody. I’m going to be taking you through the 11 steps to overcome “The Fear Effect”. I’m not a gamer, however I heard of this game called The Fear Effect, and I was like hmm, what’s that? Well, The Fear Effect is a game where the players have something that looks like an EKG, it’s called a life bar. It’s a meter that measures the amount of stress the players have. In the game if you become anxious or you get injured, then the bar goes faster and it can eventually get to where it’s red almost like a flat line in an EKG. A player can regain health by doing actions that calm down the player’s heart, and that’s what I’m talking with you about today. The 11 things that you can do to overcome the fear effect that you may be feeling like so many others, myself included in this extended version of the COVID Pandemic.
Most of us thought, okay, three months, I can do that!
I mean, even if we run out of money, we can certainly make it through the next three months. However, there’s no real end in sight. As of yet, we’re trying to take steps towards some sort of normal. There’s still a lot of fear, a lot of fear in people, about their families, their health,
their wellbeing, their children, their elderly loved ones, and also a lot of fear in many of the businesses that have been so deeply impacted. We know some businesses are doing fine and even thriving because their industry lends itself to that. But there are many others where fear can be consuming.
Here’s 11 things that you can do right now to overcome “The Fear Effect”.
The first one is to communicate with your team. We’re doing a daily LEAN meeting or huddle for half an hour every morning. We go over a number of the things that we’re focusing on, such as the taps and improvements, we’re studying LEAN principles and how it can relate to our company. We go through grateful’s, word of the week, quotes and we’re doing learning in our firm right now on how we can deepen our understanding of working to our strengths.
When communicating to the team, we recommend daily, whether it’s 10 minutes or 45 minutes, the most important thing is that you’re having a daily meeting with your team.
Next is to communicate with your clients, the clients that you interact with on an ongoing basis like we do, they know we’re still here because we’re talking all the time. However, if you have a product that you don’t sell over and over and over every day or every week, then you’ll need to let your customers and your clients know, “Hey, we’re still here!”, “We’re still operating, we’re open!” Here’s what you need to do to interact with us, to reach us. Let everyone know you‘re still here.
Then your suppliers, because the suppliers need to know that you’re still in business. So they can do their own planning around what your needs are going to be. You’ll want to let them know we need more or we need less from you. Be sure to use all the avenues available to get your message out. Obviously you can use email, social media, PR, videos, webinars etc. There’s a number of different ways that you can let people know, hey, we’re open, and this is what’s going on, these are our new products and services, this is our price change, whatever it is that you need to communicate, however you, cannot. I repeat, you cannot communicate too much.
#2 Be Positive
The next thing to do to overcome fear is to be positive. Those of us that own businesses or are business leaders of any level, staying positive can be challenging from time to time. Everybody has their moments, me too. However, when we’re interacting with others, being positive is paramount. What might that look like? Ask, what are we grateful for? What can we celebrate, such as wins even if they’re small wins. How we can find ways to improve the business, looking for the opportunity, the ability to do better, to be positive, asking how we can do better? We can implement Kaizen = Constant and Never Ending Improvement. Lastly, take responsibility for what we’re saying both out loud and to ourselves.
I recognized something the other day, Doug and I were talking and we’d heard this mantra the day before of “It’s simple, it’s easy and it’s fun” used to replace anything that you’re being challenged by. He was actually fixing a fan on our front porch and he was saying “Oh my god, this is really a pain, I don’t know how to do this the right way”. I said, “Oh honey, it’s simple, it’s easy and fun”. First thought is, “Oh good grief.” But I kept saying it and then within five minutes we had the fan working. It really does matter what you’re saying and sometimes we can be talking and we don’t even realize that we’ve said something that was negative or fearful. So just really watch and modify, take responsibility for what it is that you’re saying.
#3 Recognize the Economic Cycles
The third thing is recognizing the economic cycles. I want to take a little bit of time here because there’s economic cycles or seasons, if you will, winter, spring, summer, and fall. Clearly we’re in winter right now. This is everything you would associate with being winter, it’s cold and harsh; there’s not a lot of movement, all of the harshness of winter. I was reading a paper on the economic cycles and it was saying the typical length of a winter cycle is about 11 months, derived from a study from 1947 through 2019.
The last recession was December, 2007 through June of 2009, a total of 18 months. But on average, it’s a year give or take. We’ll be in spring a year from March or April 2020 maybe from the middle of the summer right now, It’s not entirely clear, but think of it as about a year. The studies also said that the typical expansion period lasts about 65 months and the last one from 2009 to 2020 was 128 months. So we had a long expansion period. So as you think about winter, think you’re mending the nets. You’re getting ready for spring, you’re getting ready for activity, you’re getting ready for growth and all of the things that are associated with that.
We took Paul Akers book, “Two Second LEAN” to heart in our business to accomplish just that. You may have heard me talking about this a lot lately because over the past four months, five months now, we’ve been learning something about the concept of Two Second LEAN; just fix what bugs you and eliminate waste, and we have become raving fans. Our server’s been cleaned out, the office space has been cleaned out, the files have been cleaned out, the way we do things, everything is being examined and tweaked little by little, that’s having a compound effect, right? This is the period of time where you’re really getting ready for the growth that happens in the Spring cycle, the season of early economic recovery. Summer is an economic boom cycle, that period of time, just ahead of us in 2021.
When you start to see some of the rumblings of fall where maybe things are slowing down a little bit, that’s where you go and start to prune the trees. You begin to cut back. You’re conserving cash that you’ve been able to accumulate over the spring and summer economic cycles. I will tell you, quite frankly, we were in the last recession that ended in 2009, we’d only been in business a few short years and I didn’t even know what lessons necessarily to take from that. What I know now is I would have a much greater cash reserve and I’m very, very grateful for the PPP and the EIDL loans that allowed us to make smart decisions about how we would move forward and keep our team. We are in an economic winter, so do the things that people do in the winter time.
#4 Embrace Change
The next way to decrease fear is to embrace change. I say a funny saying once that goes, Change is Great YOU Go First! Honestly though this will require long hours of thinking to shift to a leaner, faster, better business model. As I was just saying, we’ve embraced the book Two Second LEAN by Paul Akers, however there’s a plethora of resources, there’s videos, free books, audio books, all kinds of resources are available to learn more about this concept. In Paul’s books, when you go to the chapter in the book, it has other resources from other companies and other people, including the Toyota Way. The simplest approach is exploring and fixing what bugs you, little tiny improvements that compound over time. We’re absolutely 110% raving fans. Yesterday I was talking with a client and we were examining their business model and looking at what else we can add here? And what else can we do here? And they came up with a number of different ideas that would be very easy to implement and have a huge impact, not only on their business community, their client base, but also on their bottom line. It takes thinking though, you have to set aside the time to think either alone or with an advisor a mentor or your coach.
#5 Cut Back
The next is cut back. You have to survive. If you can cut back even more, cut back, but you’ve got to survive and get through to the other side. If you don’t make it through, then it’s all about having to start over. If you can cut back whatever you can to be able to stay in the game, don’t be afraid to cut back whether it’s hours or prices, you do whatever you need to do to cut back. One area we recommend investing in is marketing, stay present to the market place.
#6 Get Credit
Next is credit. If you took the actions early on in the Pandemic, you may have been able to take advantage of increasing a line of credit. We know some of the large corporations pulled down their entire lines of credit, just so they’d have cash on hand. They’ve also had enormous opportunity and refinancing. This is the lowest interest rates I’ve seen since I’ve been an adult.
Some under 2%, if you can refinance, do it. If you can increase your credit line, if you’ve got really good credit scores and you’re paying your bills on time, you may be able to extend credit, extend payment terms a little bit, in whatever way you can, try to keep conserving cash, increase your cash as much as you can.
#7 Smart Staffing
Smart staffing for your company. We were able to bring our team back, maybe after a month or five weeks, something like that. Where we had cut back to four days a week, actually did less hours per day. We were able as soon as we got PPP money to bring them back on full time and it’s our intention to keep them on full time. What we’ve done is we’ve taken on every kind of project that we would want to do to improve our business and now have the time to do it by adding in the training for them to be able to do it.
With Luisa, our marketing coordinator, we’re doing a lot more videos, more content is getting out there because marketing is super important. Everyone wants to cut back on marketing when really what you might want to do is invest, just make sure you get a return on your investment.
#8 Remote Working
I was just in a conversation maybe an hour or so ago about how people are still really afraid of remote working. We’ve had a results only work environment here for years, so we’re comfortable with it. We like being together but all there is to do is to make sure that you have clear parameters around what the deliverables are, when they’re due and a great reporting system. Remote working may quite likely be here to stay, some people aren’t really looking to keep their offices. We don’t really know what that’s going to look like as the next years unfold, in terms of people paying really high even exorbitant rents to have their offices in the heart of the city. Do we really need that? You know, I don’t know. I do know that for remote working we all found a way to make it work. Some of us have had remote workers for a long time. My executive assistant Maria doesn’t live in Miami, she lives in North Carolina. She’s been working remotely with me for years. So create a results only work environment where you trust people and for the most part, they’ll step up, the ones who don’t, well it’ll be self-evident pretty quickly.
#9 Alternative Ways to Deliver Your Products/Services
Next look at other ways that you can deliver your products or your services. We’ve become very dependent on UPS, FedEx and the Postal Service. We don’t really know what is going to happen with the postal service right now, but we’re still using them. We sent a package out today and we’re delivering all of our coaching over zoom. So, how can you deliver your product or your service and make it easier for people. Do you really need to speak as often? Is there another way that you can communicate? Do you want to send things over and have them reviewed and sent back? I mean, just looking at how can you deliver it and yet continue to deliver an extraordinary customer experience? Here’s an example my sister told me that she booked a hotel online and within 20 minutes, the hotel called back and said, we’d like to let you know, here’s some things that you might want to add to your stay,
we want you to know these are restaurants that we have contracted with, that they can deliver to your room and these are some restaurants that are open. Here’s what you can do when you’re here in our community. She was just blown away. You know, talk about a great customer experience. www.thepontchartrainhotel.com
#10 Sales and Marketing
The next area is sales and marketing. You want to have the marketing be so targeted, so clear, so educational that the sales process is greatly shortened because people already know, I want that, or that’s a fit for me, or why wouldn’t I do that, that makes so much sense. The only question you have to ask is “how does this fit with what you had in mind?” When you do you’re going to know right away that they’re ready to purchase or, whatever objection or concern it is that you need to handle. Marketing is absolutely positively critical right now, up your marketing and with the ease of being able to do things on video and putting them up on YouTube and putting them on social media. I mean, marketing is a lot easier than it used to be. All you got to do is think about what you want to say? And if you were a customer, what would you want to hear?
#11 Rinse and Repeat
The last one, number 11 is rinse and repeat, go back to the beginning. You start all over again. If you’re doing this every day, awesome. If you’re doing it every week, okay. Communicate, be positive, understand the economic cycles and the cycle that we’re in and prepare for spring, be willing to change, be willing to pivot, be willing to modify your business model, cut back where you can, get credit, increase cash, wherever you can use smart staffing, be open to remote work and make it work for people (particularly those mothers and fathers whose kids are staying home, and being schooled at home) ask how else can you deliver your product or service? A friend was telling me that she’s teaching yoga in her backyard. That’s really cool! Up your marketing and let people know what it is that you have to offer that will make a difference for them in their world. Rinse and Repeat.
That’s it for today. Those are the ways that you can bring your heart rate down, things you can do to calm yourself; because when you’re in action and you’re doing these things, knowing where you stand, you can regain your health and overcome fear. The fear effect can get shattered!
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