What if the entire duration of the Pandemic is a preparation for what is to come! Are you ready?
The pull and push of the earth, sun and moon lifts a portion of water in the sea somewhere far from away from the shore… And the drop of that lift from a different force creates a wave, and a casual on-looker on the beach only observes the wave approaching him or her, not knowing the origin of the wave!
The wave has a trajectory. And we notice it closer to the shore. And like-wise every major event on the planet has a trajectory shift. Like the lifting of the water that is yet to become a wave, the event in itself is just the beginning, setting in movement a whole new world!
Just like the stars are just particles of dust until they become a star floating across the galaxy for millions of years, the interesting thing about trajectory is the beauty of what is to come and all the pieces fitting in together like a beautiful design.
In this article, I share with you how every thing you do can BUILD up to something larger than the sum of all the individual actions. And what it means to you to integrate short-term tactical gains into long-term strategic outcomes. And I am going to use our own business and how we approached the Pandemic to illustrate this point.
When I was 7 years old… I played my first chess tournament. And it was a state level competition. I ranked 2nd. I had been in training for only a few months partly because my parent, especially my mother saw me skating (district prize winner), and she saw my obsession with speed (which later turned into bike racing) and wanted a safer sport. I loved skating, the sharp turns while maintaining the speed of the wheels and the way you maneuver your body to shift the centre of gravity and the thrill in saving a micro-second and more importantly the built up momentum. For whatever, reason our coach use to encourage skating without the brakes, so your body angle essentially is the speed control!
All that training, not so that you don’t slow down but so that even in your turn you don’t loose momentum! But for chess, I had only a few months before a BIG tournament. And they were seasoned players and the state first was also the national first and represented the country in the Olympiad in the future. And looking back, coming second in a state wide tournament when it was your first tournament ever and beating chess players who had been training for many years together feels quite exciting. But what I feel excited about the most is the training that I received in those couple of months before the tournament.
The four squares of the chess board right at the centre. This is my first lesson. My chess master told me, the person who controls the space around this area wins the game!
To an untrained chess player that would sound like non-sense. An average chess player is counting pieces, or computing the next tactical trap the opponent can fall into. Looking at space? The beauty about chess is that you can witness a game played by two grand masters and for the 99% of the players it may look like nothing is going on and then 20 moves later, suddenly one player seems to have a solid advantage enough to win the game.
And those moves which looked casual, just like everything else, where calculated strategic inches, that orchestrated that drama after 20 moves.
If Pandemic is the first move. What are you going to experience 20 years from now? What’s the trajectory of the world, economy and your relationship in it, the next 5 years… Are you prepared to pre-empt challenges and capture winning possibilities!? Do you know what are the 4 squares in your business/career, that you got to pivot around to design a winning strategy?
One of the ‘Installations’ we go after in our events, when a person wants to move from being a free-lancer to a business, is the creation of assets. While a freelancer is chasing cash flow, the entrepreneur is creating assets that ensure cash flow. So, the same service when the entrepreneur provides, he or she has added elements into the design, so that every delivery leads to the creation of an asset and not just get paid for the service or product. This is the corner stone of building a brand. And we require installations for this mindset shift because even though most people are educated about this difference at some point in their life, when it comes to day-to-day execution and closing deals, freelancers think and act like freelancers. They just can’t make every effort, every deal, every service, every solution to ADD up to an asset. While it allows them to sail through, each STEP doesn’t count to the larger outcome in itself.
And that is one of the guiding Directives I had for the A&H business during the Pandemic, to make every step count. That we knew it was going to be a lot of WORK. And unlike most business the work was not to find newer opportunities to grow or find new types of customers or deliver things. Infact, we shut down our ads, and we stopped sales (except for all the referals and urgen requests from our existing customers for their family).
And instead we focussed on building our participants and equipping our business to be ready for 2021. We knew it was going to be a lot of work, to support a large community fo people across their business, health, family outcomes across 18 industries and age group ranging from 14 to 70 is a lot of work. We had no issues doing all that work for FREE. We gave all our customer 1 Additional Year of our subscription, typically making everything we do during the pandemic year complimentary. But there was one thing that we were particular about, to make every step count.
And to make every step count means, every effort we put out there has to build a better world for the participants, the community and the business. The pandemic will come and go but what we have built when it had come has to last longer than the pandemic. And has to influence the year that is yet to come. And while the team worked very hard to support every participant, we added that additional effort to convert all of it also back into a sustained business advantage and creation of asset.
We hired, we trained, we build 5 times capacity to deliver in that very year eventhoug when we had stopped all sales. Because we knew there were two ways to do this. Concentrate all our efforts on delivering to the great demand from the pandemic. Or build capacity and take on that extra effort needed to build more talent in the organization to handle the situation. The latter also means, we have just given ourselves the ability to be 5 times bigger in 2021. And that is exactly what we did!
So, while we build capacity to take care of existing participants and the handle the shift in their trajectory, even though we don’t have a physical event, the effort has strengthened the organization to do a lot more both for our current participants and the ones yet to come. And this is what I mean by every effort and every step that you take has to lead to building something larger in addition to solving the purpose for which you are taking that effort!
The 9 Phases in which we handled the Covid Pandemic
Phase 1: 2020 Readiness
The year started great… with the uP! event in a large auditorium in Bandra! For many people it was the saving grace before the Pandemic that in their own words, allowed them to both emotionally and situationally steer challenging situations during the Pandemic.
In many ways the preparation to deal with the Pandemic with emotional choice, some of the superior capabilities that leads to systemic-intelligence and creativity in business and challenging situations are the outcomes of the uP! Accelerate and FastTrack Legacy programs.
I hear John Grinder’s words “Be prepared for nothing but ready for anything”. That is the beauty of developing capability and choice of behaviours, emotions is that yo can design the best route by yourself for the situational challenges and opportunities that come your way. And I a so happy that we had the uP! event this year and in many ways equipped our participants in ways we can for what no one knew was going to come.
And this is the biggest differentiator between an Excellence Installation Program and Coaching. While Goals and Plans become irrelevant or require the need for creative adaptation during unexpected events, developing great capabilities make you ready for uncertainties while naturally fulfilling your goals.
I remember a participant who enquired for our program when it was less than 1000 USD. And eventually registered in 2018 when the price was about 4000 USD, so that she could participate in 2019 event. And she said, she paid in advance and she exclaimed when we met in 2019 that she did so because she was sure the price was going to double again. And bingo she is right but the greater gain as she herself has said, is not that she saved another 4000 USD but that during the pandemic she was ready in ways she would have otherwise not have been. And to me that is worth every bit for her to have done the event in 2019 instead of 2021.
And Covid is one example of unexpected situations. But doesn’t the world have unexpected situations of various degrees? Should we not focus on Readiness anyway, Covid or not?
Phase 2: Distilling: What is IMPORTANT?
Just like the 4 squares in the chess board. One has to really consider What Matters. Do that and results follow!
- Even if you don’t like it… Even if it has a high price…
This was a big deal. As an organisation we work in close collaboration. We often are 4 times smaller in size than the team required to do the job at hand. And especially during new phases in the business, we sit all around, like people do firecamps during vacations, to brainstorm and innovate. Every year, we are innovating atleast 2 new products and 4 significant shift to our current product. And product development requires a lot of communication and thinking together in our business.
And sending people back home means at that time meant Stopping the Core Business Functions. So, before the Government announced a lockdown, ALL the team was secure.
While at that time the whole business appeared to come to a standstill because of this decision. We did it because we one has to consider what is REALLY important. But what we didn’t know at that time was this single decision was going to make us ready for International Expansion. In the last 11 months we have been building the leadership necessary to drive the organisation even when Harini and I are not around. It is just a matter of months away from reaching a point, the business growth, product innovation, and all the wonderful things can happen integrated no matter where Harini and I are in the world.
It is not like we didn’t have remote tools. Infact, we have always been equipped to complete tasks, organize work and report remote. But the core of our business is research, innovation and translating that back to business models. And to be able to do this from anywhere in the world is something I hadn’t planned for in 2021 but thanks to sending all the team back home, we have just arrived at this possibility :)
- Even if you don’t know how…
April 10 2020: We made an important announcement. That any participant who is going through anything that is disrupting the balance in the family, wellness or their emotional readiness to handle business challenges, can seek support and we will for FREE solve that issue for the participant.
We had full faith that the community had the emotional and readiness to handle the unexpected. But we also knew there will be a percentage of participants, even if it is a smaller fraction, who may need help in atleast one area of their life. Maybe their business is doing well, but conflicts have started to come at home. Or maybe they are doing amazing with their kids but have lost the job and is not equipped emotionally and with the right strategies to find the next job. Since, we take care of ALL aspects of a person, it is fair to expect that there will be some people with atleast one aspect of their life requiring urgent attention.
Now, let me explain why this is a big deal to us. The cost for a private consultation with A&H is about 12,000 USD. But in the FastTrack legacy it comes packaged with the product and if you compute the cost it comes to around 1000 USD. Why the big difference? Timing!
In the FastTrack legacy, I meet participants one by one in batches, based on a schedule that I have conveniently planned way ahead of time. So, that Harini and I can focus on my research and innovations to take the technology to Millions of people.
So, to distract the team from the ongoing work and to put attention out of a scheduled plan for the participants is a huge cost to the business. And it doesn’t make any financial sense because we had already informed participants, that the events are post-poned and we are giving 1 year of the subscription extended. So, anything we do this year, is just added cost for the business. And to do it as Critical Support, to be available immediately was a huge financial decision.
The other reason why this was a big thing was because we didn’t know how to do it. We have never done this online. And often we notice, muscle movements and changes in colour of the skin tone to understand internal unconscious response on an on-going basis. We just didn’t know how it can be done.
But we knew one thing. That this is the MOST important thing in the business. To support the community IMMEDIATELY at the time of their need. And to do it. And figure the way on the way.
And that is exactly what we did. And although we opened Critical Support to take care of our current participants who wanted that additional help, what came from these efforts in addition to turning the trajectory positively for every single person who participated in critical support is the creation of a new product. Something that I am very proud of and something I think has done Time Compression for our business.
You got to know what is important and do it, even if you don’t know how to do it.
- Orienting the Community to it…
May 12th to June 11th:
Puru called ALL of our participants or atleast one person in the family. He got to speak with most of them. And we had understood that 85% of them are doing well and have managed to do well or soar through during the pandemic. And the remaining 15% required a review or consultation.
While a Critical Support was sufficient to handle the emotional challenges, stress and state related challenges. An A&H review was necessary for re-orientation, to maximise the opportunities in the current situation and for those 15% to change the underlying circumstances in their family, business and well-being.
The logical thing at that point in time, seemed to help uP! Participants first because the majority of the 15% came from there. And they had financial challenges, and then the FastTrack legacy participants because it was directly connected to their life outcomes and finally the participants enrolled for EIT Education because EIT education in itself was an aspirational outcome for most of the participants and not necessarily a time-sensitive outcome.
But what if we looked at it differently, what if we enabled the people who could enable other both within the A&H Community and outside.
So, we reversed the above order totally. Except for the 15%, we started with EIT Education. And we immersed in it for 2 months (June, July and August). And when the reviews did start, we completed a FULL cycle for FastTrack members. And it was interesting how we found many of the members, just helping and being there at a personal capacity for the uP! Participants.
The difference in starting with the EIT Participants, is that they understood the significance of ATC and Capability Acceleration than someone who is not been through the EIT Education.
And in many ways accelerated the ATC thinking spreading through the community, and I cannot think of a greater gift from the EIT participants to the individuals in the A&H community.
Seeds of thinking and installations at the community level is much more complex to design and implement than doing installations with an individual.
While this topic deserves a book in itself, I can share this much from my experience in creating an eco-system where people from all walks of life and all ages groups enhance and enrich each other, that a tiny shift in the orientation of a community will create ripple impact in the lives of each of the individuals connected to that community.
We believe there are a set of adjustments that are essential for anyone to maximise the opportunities in the world post covid and the EIT education in 2020 has set in movement a wave and in its due course all the A&H Community will benefit from this.
This was not easy. It took us four times more effort to sort EIT Education first and then complete review for the uP! participants. I had to stretch myself in several occasions to the point it felt at times, like I was doing an uP! event every month.
But orienting the community to what is important is significant. And how many people in their life-time get the opportunity to orient an entire community with newer capabilities and legacy directive and in that sense I am grateful and glad to have invested that effort.
In this sorting we managed to equip the community as a whole with superior ATC skills and have come following that to the acceleration of each participant personally
Phase 3: Adapting Rapidly
- Adapting to Challenges
The one thing we knew to do remote was Sales. So, it appeared like that is what we are going to do and stock up new customers. After-all, we just got done with uP! And we had the full bandwidth and space of mind to work just on the business of our business.
But within a week after sending the team back home, the lock down happened. And we knew intuitively, this is not the time spread a Launch Your Legacy advertisement. The business stopped all Advertisements.
This was even more a challenging thing to do because we had just recruited a whole new set of team members exclusively to do sales. So, now we have not just the burden of not doing sales but also the challenge of continuing to evolve team members who are otherwise going to stagnate for an entire year.
And we did something that I still can’t believe we did. We opened the doors to PRE EIT Education for all the team members. While we did this to avoid stagnation for the team, the business has due to this, cracked how to train people on preliminary change-work, to meet capacity challenges from growing demands.
The business always wanted to know the time-frame it takes to train someone on change work without A&H being involved and without the participant coming to the uP! event. We tried solving the challenge of avoiding stagnation for our team and ended up cracking an important metric for the business.
This is very different from keeping employees ‘busy’. Infact, it is the opposite of that while you are taking care of people in the present, you are building an asset (in this case the online CW skill development) that is required for the future. From this entire exercise we managed to get ONE person fully ready for WiSH Implementation and two other who can assist in the change work during the reviews. But it is significant because it means, we can and we know how to train high quality change agents outside of the uP! eco-system.
It is important to not just handle challenges. Adapting is different from adjusting. Adjusting means you accommodate and tolerate the inconvenience. Adapting means you master the circumstance, to creatively solve the problems Making Each Move Count. (for the future and the present)
- Adapting to Uncertainties
I have found this question about Chess very amusing. When you meet someone who has just learned to play chess and when they know that you played the game professionally, they ask you a variation of this question – ‘so in how many moves can you mate?’.
I am going to give you a little primer into chess and the logic behind that question to bring to your attention a very significant quality about uncertainty that is useful to discern.
When beginners play chess, they setup what are called ‘traps’. Typically a 3 – 4 move sequence leading them to win the game when the opponent makes a particular mistake. And when the opponent is also a beginner, this seems to work fairly well.
But the problem with that approach is that in setting such a ‘amateur trap’, the person is moving away from the 4 square focus that I had mentioned earlier and in essence makes their position strategically weak in anticipation of the winning using the trap they have set up.
This is how Amateurs play, they wait for the opponents mistake or oversight to win the game. The opposite to this is the way a Grand Master would play they game, the Grand Master makes his move assuming the opponent would make the BEST possible counter move to his move. Here the anticipation is not about whether the opponent will ‘wishfully’ make an error, but whether, the Grand Master himself has not seen a better move for the opponent.
In the Amateur scenario, the risk and uncertainty is about the other person, making a move the escapes the trap. In the Grand Master scenario the risk and anticipation is about the possibility that you have missed a better possibility in your calculation of the moves available for your opponent.
When it comes to Pandemic and the Uncertainty, I would rather rely on the strength of our brand, the community, the impact that has happened already, the ongoing value creation and the potential in the future and not be complacent on wishfully thinking and predictions on when the Pandemic impact will end.
And that is exactly what we did.
We have invested so much time on Innovation. We are equipped to deliver the value we have delivered in physical events, online, including group events!
We assumed what is the world never changed and we can never have physical events, what next? At, this moment, the only thing I can disclose is that it is just mind blowing and amazing to see what IT enablement can do for EIT.
Given the current trend, I am glad we will have an event in a physical space in August 2021 but the doors that opened from the constraints will continue to remain open and open newer doors.
- Adapting to Unplanned Opportunities
There was something strange that we noticed during our review with the FastTrack Legacy members.
When we saw the ATC list generated 2 months ago by the cream of the EIS, the EIS fellowship and the person in review, there was a total mismatch.
And this baffled us. The fellowship team has always created exceptional ATC list. How is it possible that the set of Capability Acceleration doesn’t match what intuitively felt relevant for the participant we met.
After carefully reviewing what was going on and back-tracking we found, the person we met in about 2 – 3 months after meeting the EIS Fellowship had already completed one Cycle of Mini Evolution. And the person we met was the NEXT version of himself/herself.
This was not what we had planned. This is what happened. Due to a variety of different things including the community impact we discussed earlier, the extra attention to future pacing and state installation by the fellowship team during diagnostics, the implementation being orchestrated by people in EIT Education. And in the space of 2 months, most implementations that were not scheduled had already auto-generalised. And the changing contexts due to Covid gave many of the participants the life contexts required to accelerate their personal evolution. So what we witnessed was a completion of cycle that happens over 4 – 6 months within 2 – 3 months. So, Harini and I in our review accelerated another cycle on top of it :)
We didn’t plan this. This happened! So, we decided to take this to the uP! Participants too.
So here were our choices:
Choice 1: Do reviews we have always done. And be done with in a month.
Choice 2: Make every review, a mini uP! for every participant even if it means we need MONTHS to complete the review for everyone and can go into 2021.
We chose the latter! If we have the opportunity to complete an ENTIRE evolution cycle for our participants then why wouldn’t we even if it meant additional work?
It could have been an impediment for the business of my business because it means our business has lesser time with the team to get back fully into the action of acquiring newer customers. But in our hearts we knew this was an unprecedented opportunity and we are not going to miss it.
The effects of that decision meant reviews are still going on instead of having wrapped it in October. We haven’t resumed AD’s yet fully instead of having gone into business action in November.
But this is what happened… It time-compressed the Launch of Installation Genius (priced at 136,000 USD) by atleast 1.5 Years.
The fellowship team and few other received several Super Specialisation that is not part of the core EIT Education that people sign up for, complimentary. And Harini and I had alwasy agreed that we will keep it that way until a certain count of people reach a certain threshold in their skill.
And choosing option 2 and helping our participants with a full cycle of evolution has accelerated the skills of the EIS in the making. And I can clearly see how many of them will have crossed a particular threshold mid-term next year, when in the earlier trajectory it would have happened in 2023.
Sometimes unplanned opportunities look expensive, may look like it is coming with a lot of struggles but there is always a solution that maybe invisible to most that can convert that situation into a win-win-win for everyone.
And for us, we only intutively knew that it was the right move for everyone. But now, looking back, we are so thankful we didn’t aim for cosing reviews in October by doing it the way we had always done.
And besides everything else, it just feels wonderful to have done an uP! Equivalent one-on-one for everyone who has completed their review. And I know it is only going to get better for the ones coming next in this months and the next month.
Phase 4: ProActive Clean uP!
We are still talking about the Pandemic right? It was an unexpected challenge to every one… Some people were equipped and ready to handle such a situation better than others. We mentioned how choosing what matters made a big difference and the power of adapting! But adapting has it own ‘load’ and ‘risk’ on relationships!
When playing chess, one of my favorite style of playing the game was known as gambits. And I opened my game with Gamits when playing chess. A gambit is where you make what sacrifices of high value coins for low value coins or something for nothing, in exchange of a positional advantage. The thing about a gambit is often, the opponent doesn’t have much choice than to go along with your play. It is a very risky style of playing chess but one that differentiates legends like Bobby Fischer.
The thing about a Gambit is what happens after a Gambit. You have let go of things, you have exposed certain positions and made some areas of the board vulnerable. And you have gotten back an increased gain over the next 10 – 20 moves.
But you still got to come back and cover, strengthen the weak areas that you left vulnerable during the rapid escalation that comes from a Gambit.
Adapting to challenges, uncertainties and capturing unplanned opportunities are like Gambit in the sense, how fast you have to act without in rapid singular focus to make things work. And when you do that, some important things are delayed.
Some forms of adaptations require War Speed. Even in ancient days, roads were built, fleets equipped and walls constructed in days that which otherwise takes weeks or months.
And through-oit history you notice that during massive adaptation of any sort, there is a place for mis-understanding, missed critical communication and delayed progress in several areas.
Some People may mis-understand that your action as a comment on them because they don’t necessarily get where you are heading and why somethings are done (or not done) because the nature of rapid adaptation by in itself, means moving into a form that you arn’t already!
But not everyone who is offended will communicate, and not everything that is broken will show itself. Pro-active cleanup becomes possible only when you already know the things you have let delay or given lesser attention because of the series of rapid action the business had to take during the rapid adaptation. And going back to each one of them and giving it the due attention it requires.
In that sense, although the Proactive Clean uP! happens after you are free from the rapid series of actions during the spontaneous adaptation, the preparation for the Proactive Clean uP! happens parallely. And in many instances that is a superior capability! Or in the game of chess, just because you rushing in to close the gain from the gambit doesn’t mean you are unaware of the positional weakness that is created in some other areas that you need to fix!
When people don’t have a culture of pro-active clean uP!, they discover the cracks later and may never learn that the beginning of those cracks were much much earlier than when it seemed to surface to their attention.
You have raised a monument by your rapid adaptation but the pro-active clean uP! ensures what was already there is preserved, in that sense what you have achieved is progressive and additional to what was already there.
And when Pro Active clean uP! is missed and you fix issues created by the lack of time and attention during Rapid Adaptation then you would have paid a bigger price for the outcome you achieved.
This is different from giving your car to service periodically before the problem occurs. This is not the equivalent of watering your garden every day and watching which plants need special care and pesticides. This is the equivalent of a flood and you making a list of all the fixes you have to do in the garden and deciding whether or not the car needs a service after the water settles down!
When you go through Accelerated Adaptation, your focus in on the outcome and the way ahead but there is a garden behind that might have been flooded by thrust. Can you take care of it pro-actively?
What are the outcomes that you orchestrated to deal with the Pandemic. Did you just manage to sail through or did the things you did to sail through create a ripple impact potential for the years to come…