A business associate and friend of mine, Paul G. Stoltz, views the coronavirus pandemic not as a stumbling block for various enterprises, but rather as an opportunity. He told Barron’s earlier this year that he is energized by the challenge of helping companies and employees adapt and reinvent themselves during this health crisis.
“My life’s work,” he said, “has been helping people decode, measure, and strengthen what they do with adversity. … Never has this work been more relevant than now.”
While this might seem like lunacy at first glance, I agree wholeheartedly with Stoltz. There is no doubt that the pandemic has been uniquely difficult for families, healthcare facilities, and so many others, while at the same time affording the opportunity for adaptation and reinvention.
That can be seen in small businesses like Bread and Water Company in Alexandria, Va. Hit hard by the pandemic, this restaurant (like so many in the industry) transitioned a carryout-only operation. Its menu was streamlined and online ordering was enabled, something this business had never before attempted.
“We’re functioning better,” owner Markos Panas told the Voice of America in July, “and already making more money than we did before.”
That same media outlet also highlighted the plight of the Nightlight Pediatric Urgent Care Clinics in Houston. The onset of COVID-19 led to a drop in the number of patients seeking care at the network’s eight facilities, resulting in a pivot to telemedicine platforms.
CEO Zawadi Bryant told VOA that staff had to be brought up to speed on using the technology. Once that occurred, however, patients (and their parents) immediately grew comfortable with virtual care.
While companies like these have succeeded in reinventing themselves, many, many others have not, as is reflected in the grim labor statistics. Business Insider reported that over 60 million Americans had filed unemployment claims as of early October, meaning that in six months more claims had been filed than in the 2008-09 Great Recession, which was three times longer.
As I mentioned recently in an article on Thrive Global, network marketing has emerged as a promising alternative for so many who have found themselves out of work.
I had made that transition myself 20 years earlier, albeit while departing the corporate world on my own terms. Even so, I never considered the move to be a matter of cutting and running, but rather a matter, again, of reinvention. I had tired of the corporate grind, where I found myself working long hours to line someone else’s pockets, and sought instead the entrepreneurial freedom that network marketing offers.
That has led me to my current position as a diamond director and top income earner with Jeunesse Global, a Florida-based network marketing company. I have built a global sales organization of more than 100,000 people, while at the same time achieving the sort of work-life balance unique to those who enter the network marketing field.
In my mind, exploring such new avenues is the very epitome of grit. I quite like this definition of the term: “the passionate pursuit of hard goals that awes and inspires you and others to become better people, flourish emotionally, take positive risks and live your best lives.”
That’s how I always viewed my career change, and that’s how I view those who are making the best of things during the pandemic.
Stoltz has always said that when confronted with issues, it is best to “turn into the storm” -- to decide what is “utterly unacceptable” (“U-squared,” in Stoltz-speak), and what the next move might be. Others have said that displaying grit under such circumstances is a matter of courage, conscientiousness and endurance, of resilience and excellence.
But it is a definable quality, as researcher Angela Duckworth found when she studied over 2,000 cadets at the U.S. Military Academy. She discovered that those most likely to survive their first summer at West Point -- “Beast Barracks,” as it is called -- were not those who were smartest or strongest, but rather those who simply wouldn’t allow themselves to give up.
It is much the same now, in the business world. It is a matter of powering through the pandemic, but also adapting and reinventing oneself. That is what will allow one and all to succeed under such trying circumstances.