This is “break out” week for Lynnda and me. For over two months our travel consisted of a weekly trip to the grocery store and me going to physical therapy. This week we got our hair cut for the first time since mid-March. Saturday, we get to dine in at our favorite restaurant. Sunday, we go back to church. We will wear our masks as appropriate and social distance.
We are starting to put money back into the economy for the salon people, the restaurant owner and their wait staff. We are starting to drive more so I will need to buy gasoline for the first time in weeks. When you only drive 250 miles in a month you don’t need gasoline, an oil change or tires very often. No surprise gasoline prices are low, since demand is low.
The world changed again! Last Saturday the speaker for our NSA (National Speakers Association) Ohio Chapter meeting was Mark, a young man in his 30s who built a seven-figure professional speaking business in less than 5 years after he left the military. We scheduled him before COVID-19. Our chapter members who are all small business owners and professional speakers, trainers, consultants and coaches wanted to learn how he built his business. Because of the virus we had our meeting on Zoom. Mark was in Arizona.
Mark opened with the apology, “How I built my business won’t work today.” Because of the virus live meetings are canceled for months. Mark is a keynote speaker. No live meetings mean no keynotes for Mark and no money.
Our chapter members have the same problem. Most saw 6 months of their business disappear in 2 weeks. The world of the professional speaker just like the restaurant, hotel, airline and many other thriving businesses fell apart overnight. When America went into lockdown, meetings, travel and most eating out stopped. We have no idea if, or how long, it will take to come back.
At NSA Ohio, we could have had a three-hour pity party. Instead, Mark facilitated a brainstorming session with the entire chapter. The focus wasn’t on the virus or the problem of canceled meetings. The focus was on the opportunities the problem presented. If most meetings were going to be virtual how could our chapter members be part of them and get paid for their expertise? Mark closed with a segment of his original pre-virus presentation. In the middle of a depressing market we all felt positive, energized and hopeful. We had ideas we could use in our own businesses.
We can all learn from Mark and his attitude. We can focus on the problem or we can look for opportunity. Like we did Saturday, if you can surround yourself with like-minded people a brainstorming session can be very effective. As the economy opens back up, are you focused on the problem and what you can no longer do or are you focused on opportunity? To keep your attitude positive and your creativity high make sure you surround yourself with positive people. Also watch what you allow into your brain. I have had to minimize my exposure to movies, TV and network news programs that are negative.
Mark closed our chapter year and my presidency on a high we all needed. I conducted our first virtual awards ceremony. Our members deserved the recognition. The awards were all Made in the USA, purchased locally from and engraved by a small business owner in Pinch, West Virginia.
One of the opportunities for Shale Crescent USA is using radio to get our message on the advantages of locating or expanding a business in this region to all of the United States. We are busy doing radio across the country from New York City to Tampa, Missouri and Michigan to California along with nationally syndicated shows. The only reason I share this is to let you know for the first time in a long time based on people I talk to, Americans have something we all agree on. Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, urban or rural, Americans all agree we need to bring manufacturing back to the USA, particularly from China.
People realize we are dependent on other countries for our PPE and medical equipment to protect our health care workers and citizens from COVID-19. Today 80% of our prescription medications come from outside the US, much of that from China. People across the country want high wage manufacturing jobs. Suddenly “experts” on TV, radio and in print are saying what Shale Crescent USA has been saying for years, “We need to bring manufacturing back to the USA.” Shale Crescent USA has hard data companies can use to justify expansion to the USA. With our advanced manufacturing and our abundant economical energy, it is more profitable to manufacture here than anywhere in the world, especially for companies who want to sell products here.
This is opportunity in the middle of a disaster. Manufacturing PPE for health care workers like gloves, face shields and gowns is a good best place to start and is already happening. Companies are making ventilators and hand sanitizer. We saw last week how Solvay in Belpre, Ohio is making a ventilator shield to protect healthcare workers. Businesses can look for other products made overseas that can now be made cheaper in the USA. A product like a simple toothbrush, now made in China can be made 22% cheaper in the Shale Crescent USA because of our location, low feedstock cost and availability. Supply chains can now be regional and secure, saving companies time and money. All it takes is one unavailable overseas component to shut down an assembly line.
What opportunities are there for you and your company? We are now taking our live presentations and making them virtual. Break out of negative problem focused thinking. Look for the opportunities. Change the future.
Greg Kozera, firstname.lastname@example.org is the Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering who has over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert and the author of four books and numerous published articles.