“I’ve been furloughed, now what?” or “I’ve been let go, need to pay mortgage, help!” – these are the two things I’ve been seeing on forums, on some private consulting and corporate groups that I’m part of, and on LinkedIn. I have previously spoken about why this crisis is different but if you’ve been furloughed or been let go, you need to really to step up your game, because guess what? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but no one will come save you.
“Easy for you to say, Sudeshna- you’ve not lost your job!” you may say, but guess what? That was by intentional design. Now I don’t claim to be a crystal ball reader but if there’s one thing my degree in Economics taught me, it is that there are two certainties in life – death and economic downturns. In fact, I started working in the aftermath of the last recession in 2011 – my first “real job”! When everyone claimed that the market was shit and that it was a risky time to graduate, I bagged multiple offers with the big guys. And what’s more interesting is that I had a tiny business that was minting money through the depths of the 2009 recession.
Lucky? Of course! Lucky to have been born to a set of parents who valued education. But my parents didn’t know much beyond their academic bent of mind- in fact no one in my family did. All my aunts and uncles were professors and teachers! However, by that logic, every class topper should be a millionaire. Are they? NO! Why?
Because luck is when preparation meets opportunity they say. And not everyone is lucky enough to spot an opportunity. Did you hear me? Not everyone is lucky enough to spot an opportunity. Luck has as much to do with you being able to spot opportunities as anything else…
Throwback to 2009, the global market had gone bonkers and people lost trust in bankers. What did I do? Take all the possible quantitative and risk management courses I could opt for during my Masters while others were debating about which courses will get them better grades? No, not me! In fact my grade sheet is shambolic! But did I prepare myself for the real world? You bet! Everyone and their dog were looking to hire risk professionals back then… Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Repeat that again! Now tell me, have you been fired or furloughed? It’s about to get much much worse than it is currently if the global lockdowns continue. But what are the industries that are making money now?
Grocery shops, healthcare, online education, virtual yoga classes, and basically virtual anything! Watch this interview where we were discussing the virus and how it has affected the Zoom stock. Now put this into perspective. You either are at risk in your job or don’t have a job, but there are these people in other industries and roles who are unaffected and thriving. Why? Lucky? Well, for some may be that they fell into it unconsciously but for most others there was a long term view I’d say the grocery shops got lucky but online education providers lucky? No way! They had a long term view about the future of work and society and knew their day would come eventually and even though that wasn’t the norm, they heavily bet on it.
Thing is, once you become good at spotting opportunities, you can be lucky in spite of a massacre. It requires 3 things:
Observation: Don’t just see. Observe. Observe how some people are still switching careers and earning six-figure incomes in spite of an oncoming recession or downturn. Once you see what they are up to and what makes them desirable to the job market, observe how they learn, and where they learn from.
Education: Once you find out what to learn, why and from where, learn it. Education is the best way to be prepared to for an opportunity that’ll make you lucky. And education is something every single top performer I know invests in. I have mentioned earlier that not only technical skills but soft skills are more important than ever in a recession.
Commitment: I have talked time and time again about focus. And if there’s one thing “lucky” people have, it’s focus and commitment to reach their goals. Especially now, in this pandemic situation where we’ve been talking about basics of healthcare and having a job, I understand that asking this of ourselves isn’t easy. But it is now, more than ever, that we need commitment to not give up on ourselves.
Very easy for me to say. Much harder to practice in real life. If that’s what you’re thinking, sign-up to my 30 days career-change productivity challenge where I help you figure out what sort of work suits your personality the best and implement ruthlessly on achieving that, yes, even during an economic downturn.
Or if you think 30 days is too long and you need money to keep yourself afloat right now, read this guide by my good friend Brad.