My COVID experience. An update

covid experience

In early 2020 I had just come off the most profitable quarter of my life. My speaking and consulting were soaring. Books sales, especially Marketing Rebellion and KNOWN were on fire. I had just come back from dream trips to Iceland, Costa Rica, and Greece. All my lights were green.

And then the coronavirus hit.

I was an early adopter. My wife picked up the disease on a ski trip and brought it home to me. I was sick for about a month and woke from my haze to find that my business had crashed to zero. I was angry and disoriented. And then I got to work.

Writing about marketing seemed irrelevant when so many people were suffering. I completely shifted my content. I started writing about how to sell in a pandemic, how to deal with the disorientation and anxiety, and how I was learning to come to grips with the fact that my career had been put on pause for who knows how long.

Eventually, I focused back on marketing. I really haven’t been very public about my life in the COVID era since then.

We have all suffered a lot, and we continue to suffer in big and small ways. I thought I would reflect on the three big changes in my life since Zero Dark Corona hit.

1. Pivot, hustle, repeat.

A few weeks ago, I was being a cry baby and lamenting how I missed the old days. I told a friend how I had just had my best quarter ever when the bottom fell out.

“But were you innovating?” he asked.

That question hurt.

The truth was, I was riding a wave of sameness for some time. No, I had not been innovating.

One of the silver linings of the pandemic was that the constant “pivot and hustle mode” I entered pushed me in new directions.

  • I wrote a new book, Cumulative Advantage, and if you’ve read it, you’ll know how the pandemic affected the tone of the work.
  • I started teaching at a new university, Barcelona-based Harbour Space, which introduced me to amazing and inspiring entrepreneurial students.
  • Since I’ve been off the road, I believe my blogging has never been better. I think my content is reaching new audiences with bold ideas.
  • My live Uprising marketing retreat had to be canceled so I launched an online Uprising meeting format that made the event more accessible, global, and inclusive. It’s opening up new community-building opportunities. BTW, the live event is coming back in April 2022!
  • I found a new revenue source by contracting to have my books translated into Polish, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, Korean, Spanish and other languages.
  • I launched an exciting Personal Branding Master Class. I’ve learned over the years that guiding people through their personal branding challenges is one of my gifts. Now I get to scale that in new ways.
  • And most recently, I launched the $RISE crypto coin. In a few months, I’ll be announcing a bold new community effort for those who hold the coin. This is the most exciting and energizing project I’ve had in years. You can learn more about these creator tokens here.

So yes. I’m innovating now. And there are more big ideas ahead.

2. The new routine

Before the pandemic, I was on the road almost every week, including a significant amount of international travel. Then the hammer came down.

I’ve driven to a couple of events in the last two years but have been on just two business flights.

Coming off the road has transformed my life in dramatic ways, most notably in terms of productivity. None of the successes I wrote about above could have been possible if I was on the road. The road is the enemy of innovation.

Two weeks ago I had a trip to provide a keynote speech in Las Vegas. As I sat through frustrating delays at a connecting airport, I had to wonder why I was doing it.

I wouldn’t say I’m part of the “great resignation” but I really love being at home. I’m in the most productive period of my career … and I’m probably healthier, too!

We’re still in a period of unease and malaise as new waves of COVID concern ripple over the world, but I’m settling into a new, reimagined life.

3. Missing connections

A few years ago I took the Strengths Finder test. It was accurate in a spooky way and uncovered some interesting insights. I recommend trying it.

One of the things I learned about myself is that I thrive in an environment filled with big ideas. My source of this inspiration pre-pandemic was conferences, seeing friends in my travels, and connecting with students at Rutgers University (I have not taught a live class on campus since 2019).

So … I’ve been lonely, frankly. My days are filled with nearly non-stop Zoom calls from my little office in the woods. It’s hard bringing the heat every day to a little green dot on my computer.

And it’s not just missing friends. It’s missing IDEAS and being pushed in new directions. I’ve tried to fill this gap in different ways but have not been very successful.

My big hope is that the pandemic eases and that I’ll be able to enjoy some of my favorite conferences again. I’m looking forward to attending SXSW and Social Media Marketing World in March (I’ll be speaking there) and the best marketing event on earth — The Uprising in April. Fingers crossed.

Going forward

I know I’m fortunate. I survived the disease. Turned the business around. Settling in.

But I know so many of us still have a long way to go to adjust and transcend this uncertainty. If you’re stuck in a COVID funk, here are some posts that might help …

Five ways to battle the psychological disorientation of coronavirus

Coming to terms with our pandemic selves versus our real selves

You’re in a war. You don’t have to be remarkable right now.

7 Non-obvious coronavirus implications for marketing

6 Steps to deal with business uncertainty in this coronavirus crisis

For businesses to win in the coronavirus crisis, head to the bottom of the pyramid

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions. He is the author of some of the world’s bestselling digital marketing books and is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

Follow Mark on TwitterLinkedInYouTube, and Instagram.

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