Lessons from the Lockdown:
3 Ways I Pivoted, with Positivity, for Profit!
And how you can, too…
As we approach the one-year anniversary of the “two weeks to flatten the curve” initiative, have you found that you have needed to change the way you do business – within your business?
I own a luxury activity company in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Travelers who buy goods and services here fund our little valley of about 16 thousand residents. Seasonal population typically balloons with the addition of about 500,000 winter sports enthusiasts each year, and over 3 million visitors saunter through our little bit of paradise while exploring the nearby national parks in summertime. Some residents here are billionaires, and many residents make our mortgages and feed our families by providing products, activities, and services to travelers, in addition to our fellow neighbors.
Each year, area businesses bring in approximately 1.7 billion dollars in traveler-generated purchases, and 8,720 jobs are generated via tourism, per the Travel & Tourism Board’s reports. This is where the people in our town thrive! We’ve got chutzpa and passion, and a spirit to serve! But when we get a stick stuck in the spoke of the tourism wheel, the effect on residents here is exponential.
When my business, the Jackson Hole Shooting Experience, was shut down, my husband, Shepard Humphries, and I had less money to buy groceries. Buying fewer groceries affected my neighbor’s ability to keep her job bagging my groceries. I wasn’t driving much, so my car’s mechanic had less income, and my hair stylist couldn’t earn money to pay her rent.
I also had staff members to whom I felt accountable. Now, we’re not a huge corporation, whose employees clock in with a serial number; we’re a small-ish family business. I work side-by-side with amazing humans. My teammates come to our home for dinner after work on a Tuesday. I get to learn about their new grandbaby, the struggles and highlights in their marriage, where they dream of vacationing next year, that their car broke down on the way to church.
By affecting our little ole’ business, the trickle-down effect on the number of people who counted on me, from the grocery store ‘bagger’ to our family’s car mechanic, hair stylist, and business team members (and all of their families, neighbors, and service providers…), my fear was growing – for every one of us – with each passing day that I had less money to hire their services.
As my fear grew last spring, I worked to identify the things outside of my control. 100% of my mortgage was still due, even though I had no income. I could not control that my potential guests couldn’t even come my way anyway. Yes, I was worried.
I had to pause to evaluate the old adage: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” …So many things in our world had been flowing along, swimmingly, for a hot minute. Would my little slice of paradise continue? Could it continue?
My husband and I had worked hard (and sometimes, smart). We’ve invested a combined 60+ years as serial entrepreneurs. We have been graced with unexpected windfalls, losses, and hard-earned gains. Our failures along the way have been devastating ~ and have taught us more about life and business than our ‘wins’ ever had.
Finally, there we were, enjoying our middle-class lifestyle, with a cushy roof overhead, red wine complementing our dinner, and frothy frou-frou creamer in our morning mugs of joe. We finally bit the bullet and hired an operations manager, then a business manager. We were finally working ON our business rather than IN our business.
As winter drew to a close, we clung to the prospect of being able staying afloat. April 2020 rolled in, and many things were out of our control. It was time to pivot. 11 years of creating my flywheel was intentionally stopped by forces outside my control. A stick had been stuck in the spoke of my bicycle. The big boot of “authority” kicked over the ferris wheel of my livelihood. These were things beyond my control. I HAD to pivot to survive.
Have you ever had to pivot in order to survive, too?
Pivoting to the Positive
If, as Tony Robbins says, “where focus goes, energy flows” holds true, we knew we needed to pivot – with a positive attitude. If the “Lynn & Shepard Enterprise” failed, we would lose our business, our home, and savings. Our dreams and vision for our future would be moot. How would we support our family, our teammates, fellow servers in our town? I had identified the umpteen things in my life over which I had zero or little control due to the response to the virus. I now needed to shift my mindset and focus my energy and efforts on things that I could actually influence.
There were three things which made a difference for our personal and business’ finances in the following 12 months:
- We identified – and leaned on – our raving fans:
So, who were our raving fans, and why were they raving fans?
- 18,000+ guests from the 11 years since our launch. (Ours is the most unbelievably fun family and corporate bonding experience they’ve ever enjoyed. I knew they would step up for us.)
- Personal friends whom we adore, each met somewhere along the path of engaging in 22 years of our community’s activities (church, friendly “hello’s” and hugs in the grocery store aisles, and walking our puppy by the creek). (If you’re friends with someone, it likely means you’ve connected with them in some way, shape or form.)
- Fans from our prior businesses (hey, serial entrepreneurs always have lists of all of 127 businesses they have failed or won in, but you probably don’t need the 14-page list, amIright?!). (As serial entrepreneurs, we’ve met many people on our paths, and the good ones tend to stand out, like cream rising to the top…)
- Concierge teams at the local hotels and resorts, the server plunking our beer down on the counter at the restaurant (who gets asked 73 times each day “what should I do while I’m here?”), and the neighbor bagging the traveler’s groceries. (These are the people in front of our clients!)
- My Teammates. More than ‘staff’, this is where I get most emotional. We poured everything we had into helping them succeed; they poured everything they had back into helping us, personally and our business, succeed. We nurtured each other and had a strong ‘mutual admiration society,’; a reciprocity of love, trust, and commitment. …This was a big deal. (A BIG deal.)
How did this help?
- Now, we didn’t set out to make friends with people with the goal that they would provide value for our business, yet all of a sudden (in the blink of 22 years) we saw that our raving guests, friends, fans, concierge teams, and coaches and crew, became our marketers. Hundreds of individuals became personal referring agents on our behalf, talking about us within their circles …and we wouldn’t be here today without their belief in us, personally, and the value of our service!
- We made an Investment in learning – a commitment to intentionally expand our skills.
What did we choose to learn, and why?:
- Technology – I’ll claim it; I am likely the most technologically-incompetent tool in the box. I didn’t like it; I wasn’t good at it. I have lots of excuses not to have learned tech in my first 48 years, I mean, geesh, “I’m a shooting instructor,” “I need to go get another cup of coffee first,” and yes, my dog needed me to go play ball with him. Yet for a couple decades, I’ve had this sneaking suspicion that technology might just be here to stay… SO, I joined Video Rock Starz, a weekly meet-up where I’ve learned about video, gear, and pivoting my marketing strategies. I enjoyed 90 hours the past two weeks, learning in PodFest, an educational and inspirational time to learn new ways people are getting their voice and message out to the world. I’ve spent more time on LinkedIn than Facebook in the last six months, intentionally expanding my professional knowledge base versus learning what someone had for dinner.
- Mindset courses – I said to myself, “Self, if you’re going to pivot – and you must – you might as well do it with positivity!” I’ve since participated in online learning and motivational courses from Tony Robbins, Jay Shetty, and Donald Miller. EndWell, The Conversation Project, Mindful Mojo, and The Daily Stoic remind me of the importance of living in the now. All encourage me, in one way or another (when I choose to accept the lesson), to keep my head on straight, remembering that “life doesn’t happen TO me, it happens FOR me.” (-Tony Robbins)
- Intellectual growth – We’ve focused on our intellectual stimuli, reading from dead people 🙂 (as Terry Brock encourages in his 5K content creation series) and current, relevant researchers, such as Jeffrey Tucker and the American Institute for Economic Research. We actively, intentionally and regularly communicate with thinkers, forming and continuing relationships with philosophers, the logic-based analysts of the social world. There is a lot of information being thrown at us this day and age, often quickly and without research. Typically regurgitated content, when we hear what we are told is ‘fact’ over and over and over again, our brain tends to start believing the narrative. Turning off the ‘news’ ten years ago was a good start; actively and intentionally seeking more than the two sides to every story has led to some persuasive ‘ah-ha moments’ for our business’ rebound.
How did this help?
- I never plan to have a podcast, and I dissect and belittle every mistake I make when on video. Yet my increased knowledge into tech-awareness has had a significant impact on how I understand pivoting in marketing, communications, and sales. Sometimes I slide in my positivity quotient, and yet I know how to make the choice to regain my mindfulness chutzpa. …And to know HOW to think instead of being force-fed WHAT to think? Always ‘priceless.’ I have new skills (in all three areas) in my back pocket for when we need to pivot again.
- An unintended and wonderful consequence of growing in all three areas has also been the professional networking and personal relationship-building. Other people are looking for quality content and are now marketing my business/products/services for me, and I have developed new friendships while climbing out of the pit….
3. We re-thought our tech and communications foundation and resources.
Why did we think this was important?
- In a rapidly morphing world, bad guys can gain access to our information. Scammers steal personally identifying information to buy and sell TVs for their personal profit. Governments push for censoring information they don’t condone. Some individuals spit on another if they don’t like the color of their skin or what they do behind their bedroom walls. In a span of 2.5 weeks last March, many families, individuals and small businesses were placed on the precipice of impending collapse. Can you imagine, paying 100% of your office or restaurant rent, while being allowed to open at 25% capacity? That would wipe out most families’ savings accounts pretty quickly. And if they had spent the prior two years building their video and social media base as they grew their business, only to find out that they had lost all of those contacts because someone else didn’t like their thoughts or methodology? They may not even ever be ABLE to rebuild; the information wasn’t really theirs, because other people could control it.
Are there other options? How might this help?
- In light of information security breaches and potential censorship, many companies are moving to private (decentralized) technology and communication platforms. Brave can be chosen as a browser, and Duckduckgo as your search engine. Information in your emails can be encrypted with ProtonMail to better protect your information and that of your clients. Have a video you’d like to watch? Why not check to see if it’s been uploaded on Odysee.com? Flote, Element, and to a lesser extent, MeWe, are private social media and communication platforms with less regulation and censorship. Telegram and Signal can be used to replace text messages. Take the options or leave them – decentralized alternatives are popping up, and they seem to be emerging for a reason. This might be a lonely road until more get on board, but at least you would still have access to your information if the ‘mainstream world’ shuts down again.
Through it all, we had to move through our very real fears and find our resiliency. We could finesse the other fine points in our businesses as we pivoted with positivity. In the end, what was our one constant, unchanging, unshakeable goal? We bring families together for life-changing Experiences!
When our team chose to stay on board and earn their way, when our referring partners sought us out to fill their guest’s needs, when we kept our focus on providing incredible value for families who were eager to pay us for our service, I found the will and the way to pull up my big girl britches and say “Yes! Let’s continue to help people have the most unbelievably memorable family bonding experience of their lives!”
…And step by step, choice by choice, with new perspective, perseverance, and positivity, we climbed out of the pit. One hard conversation at a time. One relationship at a time. One new challenge at a time, we focused on:
- Nurturing our raving fan base,
- Learning new skills, and
- Moving our foundation for communication and technology to more private platforms over which we have more control for our future.
How might you change the way you do business – within your business – to strengthen your business and pivot, with positivity, for profit?
Lynn Sherwood is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for helping fellow business owners become unshakeable. “Lessons from the Lockdown: 3 Ways to Pivot with Positivity, for Profit!” explores three ways that she and husband, Shepard Humphries, pivoted to survive – and thrive – and how you can, too.
Lynn owns and operates the Jackson Hole Shooting Experience in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and is a TEDx speaker and “end-of-life conversations advocate” (definitely in separate conversations from her tourism-based activity business ? ), authoring “Lung Cancer 101” and “My Croak Files” since the death of her daughter in 2018. Life is wonderful, hard, and short – and we’ve only got one. Let’s take control and LIVE it well.