Things have happened fast! In March, I was looking forward to getting back to working onsite with clients. I’d finally had a break in my schedule long enough to get my knee replaced and was ready to resume my professional life. Unfortunately, my return to work lasted exactly three days before business was shut down indefinitely. I was stunned, shocked, and disbelieving as I tried to make sense of the global news. Quickly, I reached out to my colleagues and we started discussing contingencies but none of us really expected the game to change so much. Our professional community started meeting several times a week on Zoom to discuss options. Some of us suggested it might be time to explore possibilities of working remotely or virtually as we began to call it.
Of course, the world had been moving toward the digital experience for the past two decades but my colleagues and I were still providing in-person training, coaching and consulting. Our clients valued our visits to their places of business and the insights we provided came from observing their team members interact with each other and customers. Certainly, we had been discussing how customers were looking to have more of their experience online but didn’t think it was time to make a complete shift. Nor did we think we, personally, would be joining that digital experience–it was for younger ones coming up–the famous Millennial. We were Road Warriors, the mature professionals who had learned our craft before the digital age arrived. We were the ones who measured our success by the number of frequent flyer miles we earned each year. We had privileged status in airline lounges, were the first to be offered premium upgrades and vacationed in exotic places for free. That was our life–the life of the out of town Consultant.
Now flights were cancelled, airports closed and clients didn’t want to see us. We had to put masks over those winning smiles we had crafted, no reaching out for a firm handshake or a pat on the back. Life as the charismatic consultant was being reshaped.
Of course, we’d been hearing about digital marketing for years. We’d advised clients on embracing technology and building teams who engaged customers online or on the phone. But we showed up in person. Of course, we maintained relationships with regular phone contacts and, perhaps an email every now and then. Not for us were blog, texts, social media apps. We weren’t ‘liking’, ‘sharing’ or ‘tweeting”. We didn’t imagine a world that didn’t value ‘personal presence’ over virtual presence.
And, now, here we were. Phased out faster than anyone imagined, sent into early retirement by a virus. We weren’t done! We’re Boomers–we have years to go before we’re done.!Yet, this particular virus, this novel coronavirus, is very hard on the mature professional. Just read the statistics. It’s a disease impacts those over 55 more than any other age categories. And, for some of us to go back to that traveling lifestyle is likely to cause an ugly, untimely death.
So, here’s the dilemma: get out of the game before you planned, or ‘skill up’ for the new digital game And just how do we skill up? And on what?
We need to develop Digital Marketing skills to create an online presence as captivating and engaging as the one we worked so hard to craft in our early to mid career years. So, that’s why I’m taking the Udacity Digital Marketing Nano Degree course. It’s stretching me in every lesson. And I’m feeling grateful for the structure and support that help me move through fear to hope, the hope that I can have many more years of impacting the world. I’m a Boomer and I’m not done yet!