How To Pivot In The Pandemic

"How to pivot in the pandemic?"

This is a difficult question to answer because everyone has different starting points.

Some are in Category 1: Start with a lot of resources.

Some are in Category 2: Start with a few resources.

Others are in Category 3: Start with no resources.

So, using my example to provide context, I started as Category 2, some resources. There are 6 Steps here, and not all will apply to everyone: Analyse, Audit, Experiment, Leverage, Sustain, Syukur.

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, I was still in my stride of travelling to Cambodia monthly for work. When I got home from my last trip, I began noticing that Malaysian clients began cancelling our scheduled courses.

Step #1: Analyse
Be aware of what is happening and quickly do a projection on 4 resources - Cash flow, Flexibility, Time and Drive and score them out of 10, that being Cateogory 1 resources.

Cash flow: As a Professional Learning Facilitator, I get paid for jobs 30 days after I complete them, so last month's jobs would pay out in April. I would still have 1 month to survive on. I didn't want to touch our savings unless absolutely necessary.

Flexibility: Because of the positive cash flow, I still had breathing space to pivot before I became stuck into one track. So, I had to act quick before I lost the breadth of choices that I could make. Alhamdu lillah, with cancelled courses, my expenditure such as petrol, toll, food also zeroed.

Time: These are how much time is released because of less responsibilities. I reclaimed quite a bit of time from my clients and training providers due to cancellations, but my family time remained. This gave me extra space to work on something else.

Drive: I was fighting bouts of depression because of fear of what would happen if the money ran out. Growing up moving around from rented house to rented house gave me a fear of lack of money linked to failure.

Verdict: C-5/10, F-5/10, T-5/10, D-2/10 = 17/40

All of this told me I had to act quick.

Step #2: Audit

I had to ask myself some difficult questions. If I couldn't teach in-person, what could I do? Could I leverage off of my other skillsets? How would I make it work?

The travel ban and lockdown ensured I had to do things from home. What could I do from home?

I basically had 3 coherent skillsets:

1. PLF

2. WordSmith

3. Silat Teacher

Starting from Silat Teacher, I had not been maintaning my skills and my reflexes were shot and students need to travel to learn. There were too many minuses to pluses. I kept it for consideration.

WordSmithing? I still had the necessary writing, editing and translating skills and credentials, but I no longer had quick access to the market, nor any channels to go through. I would have to start marketing all over again to build my brand. KIV.

PLF: Right off the bat, I knew this would need to be virtual. But clients haven't been convinced to go virtual. So this would mean, I'd need to go to the public. But would public pay? What do I have to sell to the public? And what kind of audience would that be? Interesting proposition. KIV.

Did I have any other coherent skillsets that I could monetise quickly? Building LEGO. Nope. Loving cats. Nope. Raising kids. Nope. Love of reading. Maybe. Bingeing on tv shows. Er, nope. So, I was left with 2 choices, of which PLF seemed a faster way to set up.

Step #3: Experiment.

To answer the PLF questions, I decided to target trainers, who now had time from their cancellations, too. What could I offer them?

My greatest achievement as a PLF has been my 28 Workforce Performance Skills workshops.

Since the basis of those workshops has been the content and tools that I use in them, I decided to run an experiment.

I ran a 20-hour virtual course for 20 nights in March and April 2020 to share 20 of my best 1-hour modules for other trainers to use.

I called it the Workforce Performance virtual classes.

For someone not so known, it was a good run with about 25 pax from Malaysia and Singapore.

As I was considering a 2nd run even before the first one ended, friends started asking me how they too could run virtual classes and if I would teach them.

So, I decided to run another experiment, this time with a course called the VLC | Virtual LearnCaster.

As everyone knows, that experiment bore a lot of fruit and the course has almost 22 cycles to its name in its 11-month lifespan, having run in Malaysia and Qatar with graduates from 18 different countries.

I never expected it to blow up like that.

Step #4: Leverage.

After the VLC exploded, I had become known as a virtual learning facilitator. Every VLC I ran was an opportunity for the graduates to spread news of the course and my name in the industry.

Training Providers I used to work with and TPs who I still worked with gained confidence in my ability to run virtual classes for their clients.

They could now go to their clients and sell me as the founder of the VLC, which was a huge boost in credibility. I could now run my Workforce Performance classes online.

To help them do that, I built a website which showcased the uniqueness of the VLC and by extension, myself. Then, TPs started asking me for recommendations. Who could teach online?

Hey! Of course they would be the VLCs themselves. So, I prioritised promoting the VLC Facilitators, then those VLCs whose performance was exemplary.

As a result, this improved the branding of the VLC, which in turn improved my own brand.

Step #5: Sustain.

Since the VLC was mostly a stopgap measure to earn and help others, it wasn't meant to take over my life. I still had many other things to build, so I began certifying trusted VLC Facilitators.

First, 15 VLCF in Malaysia then 2 in Qatar, to take over from me while I continued developing the brand from behind the scenes. 

This would help them earn on their own, and I earn a licensing fee from their VLC runs.

Step #6: Syukur

Take a step back and appreciate what Allah has given me. This then feeds in to Step #1 Analyse.

While I am grateful for what I have, I also realise that VLC has to grow to remain relevant, or it will stand still.

So, to practice Syukur, I continue developing VLC as a main offering and soon, as a team, the VLCs will be launching new ideas into the market.

For the corporate sector, 7 digital enculturation workshops under a program called LIVE: Leading In Virtual Environments.

For the public, specifically professional education sector, several courses such as Virtual Sage, Virtual Facilitator, Virtual Teacher, Virtual Instructor, Virtual Gamification, Virtual Experience Design and more.

What Now?

I hope this has helped you to figure out how to pivot if you haven't already.

If you are in Category 1 of starting with a lot of resources, you probably don't need this.

If you are Category 3 of starting with no resources, I suggest you Analyse your Cash flow, Flexibility, Time and Drive.

If you scored low on all of them, I recommend you find someone in Cat 1 to offer your services for a fee. They usually want to outsource their efforts to free up their own cash flow, flexibility, time and drive.

I pray all the best for your pivot and may Allah bless your efforts.